Saturday 26 February 2011

Self Published!

I've done it. Self published! See book link opposite. Can I give up the day job now?

Friday 25 February 2011

Starting the fire with kindling

My wonderful dad bought me a kindle last week. I'd been toying with the idea since well before Christmas, but hadn't been able to justify the expense. Wow. I didn't realise how much I wanted one until I got one.

So there's the fact that it's an e-reader. Straight away I bought a couple of books from Amazon's kindle site (Burn, Baby, Burn and Impeding Justice if you're interested - both thrillers and I can recommend them). So easy - one click on the kindle and two minutes later I have them. Where I live, there isn't a bookshop other than WH Smiths within 15 miles and a lot of the best stuff is no longer commercial enough for the big publishers to touch, so the only way we get to read these gems is via kindle anyway. Since I'm not interested in celebrity memoirs or chick lit, I'd far rather be able to read what I want, rather than what some arbitrary gatekeeper decides I can have. So I'm convinced. I love my kindle and I look forward to a long and fulfilling relationship.

Then there's the writing angle. Last week I had an epiphany of sorts. I've spent many many years trying to interest commercial publishers in my writing. And the key word here is commercial. I've been told I can write by people whose opinions count (friends and industry professionals). I've had some great reviews. But I'm not commercial enough. Publishing is a business, and in these days of recession, if you can't make guaranteed megabucks, you don't stand a chance. Only established authors and celebrities are sure wins; nobody can afford to take chances on unknowns, unless of course you are really good and commercial - like my friend Ellie whose debut fantasy novel is due out from Gollancz in June. Which is where kindle comes in. What have I got to lose? Readers will decide if they want to pay for my books - if they like them then hopefully they'll leave some good reviews and tell their friends. If they don't, well I'm no worse off than I was before, am I?

Watch this space...

Saturday 12 February 2011

Customer - over the top - service?

Let's continue in the customer service saga, shall we?

British Telecom this time. Now normally I am seriously not a fan of BT's customer service. Minimum of 10 minutes on hold listening to tinny music before you get a call-centre employee with a script that you dare not deviate from. Customer says A - turn to page 2, customer says B - turn to page 3, customer says Z - panic and return to start...

BUT, I have to hand it to them with this new BT fibre optic broadband thingy - BT Infinity. I've had maybe 3 or 4 calls from them now. Would I like to upgrade? Would I like about 27M speed rather than 0.5M for a few quid more per month? Hell, yes. Can I upgrade? Er - no. Not until March 31st in your area. So why are you phoning me then?

Saturday 5 February 2011

Customer - actually pretty damn good - service

In contrast to last post - B&Q, this time, where we just bought a posh Cooke & Lewis shower cubicle, on account of the fact that it was 50% off plus a further 15% last weekend. So we arrange a delivery date and go home, only to realise that it won't fit in the shower room, without banging the door on the loo every time the door is opened. So we phone up B&Q, expecting to be fobbed off but are told very pleasantly that it's no problem at all and of course we can swap it for a different model (corner door), even though the model we now want wasn't actually in the sale catalogue. And of course they can still deliver on the same date. And no extra charge.

Well done, B&Q. You shall retain my custom in the future.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Customer - lack of - service?

Ten levels down customer service’s button-activated telephone helpline system….

  • “My washing machine won’t spin.” In depth detail about what I’ve tried to do. 
  • Have you tried another full wash?”
  • Do I sound stupid? “Er – no. I don’t fancy a machine-load of soggy washing that I can’t get dry.”
  • “What type of washing was it?”
  • Does it matter? “Towels”
  • “How many towels?”
  • What make? What colour? “Just a couple.”
  • “Ah, it’s the sensors. These modern machines can tell how much of a load there is and if it’s too small, the machine will switch off to preserve the life of the machine.”
  • I can tell you’ve never washed towels before. They’re not exactly lightweight. “So can you get an engineer out to fix it?”
  • “I can arrange an appointment. But if the engineer can’t find a fault, there will be a charge.”
  • Of course there’s a fault. “So how do I spin my towels then?”
  • “Have you tried putting something else in with them?”
  • That’s not really the point, is it? “I have 2 towels and I want to spin them. It’s spun my very lightweight  handwashing before with no problem.”
  • “And what type of washing was that?”
  • You want me describe my underwear? Over the phone? From my desk in an open-plan office at work? “Just some tights.”
  • “I think it’s probably that the sensors aren’t picking it up.”
  • I don’t want a technical report. I want my f***ed washing machine def***ed. It’s only 3 months old. “So can you send an engineer out to fix it, please?”
  • “It’s not faulty.”
  • “Just give me an appointment. Please.” Before I kill myself.
  • “I can arrange one for Friday.”
  • “Friday afternoon would be great, thank you.”
  • “Oh I can’t guarantee when on Friday.”

So I go home, put a full load of duvet covers and sheets in and it works perfectly.