I'm delighted to say that I am alive and well. Google never sought revenge, and they even responded the way I hoped they would in the end.
So...I went up against one ultra-powerful corporation that I do business with and survived to fight another day. Who to fight next, then? Well, if Google didn't come for me in the middle of the night, then surely Amazon will...right?
Well, here goes...
In many ways I am at the mercy of Amazon. Increasingly, the entire world is at the mercy of Amazon. They have cornered the market on...well...on MARKETS.
My books are 'available wherever books are sold.' You can go to your local independent bookstore and, even though you won't them stocked on the shelves (except for a small list of stores I know of) you can go up to the counter and ask to order them. you don't NEED Amazon to order my books online - you can order them through Barnes and Noble - but in the end the vast majority of my book sales are through Amazon.
A few writers have many hundreds, even thousands of customer reviews on Amazon. Compared to these mega-writers I have to humbly hold onto a small number of customer reviews. Those few reviews mean a lot to me.
So...when customer reviews disappear from the site, especially when they disappear for what I am fairly certain are reasons, not of policy or standards, but reason of confusion and miscommunication, it gets under my skin a little.
My Key West series - 1950, corrupt politician vs. a relentless journalist - is really just 2 books in various editions. It is this 'various editions' business that has become a problem for Amazon. the original novel was published in January, 2013 by Wheelman Press, a small independent press in Atlanta run by Greg Banks who, bless his soul, has since passed away (R.I.P. Greg). In 2014 he contacted me to say he was in the hospital and would have to close down his company. He very graciously helped me start my own company - Azzurri Publishing - based on the same model as his company. He transferred all original files over from his account to my new account. The original novel remained available throughout this process, but even though the original novel was unchanged, it now existed on a new page on Amazon. Then I added the "Special Edition," (original novel plus prequel short story).
For a while Amazon managed to understand what was going on, and moved all the old customer reviews over to the new 'original novel' page. Then for a while they 'bundled' the original novel and the Special Edition. I didn't like this. It meant that people who were looking at the kindle page for the Special Edition, then clicked on 'paperback,' were taken to the paperback of the original novel, not the Special Edition. They are different editions, I told Amazon through email, and should not be bundled.
So... Amazon unbundled them. Prior to this they had about 20 customer reviews applied equally to both editions. There was also, somehow, an additional page for the original novel, which I was pretty certain belonged to the old Wheelman Press page. It was all very confusing.
So...in my attempts to straighten out the various different editions and sales pages, Amazon somehow decided to delete a good chunk of the customer reviews.
Are you still with me? This is where it gets good...
I emailed Amazon to try to get the dropped reviews put back up. I received the following corporate-speak meaningless form-letter email: