Louis XIV invented bureaucracy in its current form to keep the up and coming bourgeois and the old noblemen occupied and out of his way. And I hope he burns in hell for it.
There is a scene in The Twelve Labors of Asterix that completely captures what I’ve been going through for the last 3 days trying to prove to Amazon that I have my permission to publish my own work. It’s when Asterix has to go through the House That Makes You Mad.
He has to get a permission slip to go to the window that gives permission slips, so that the permission slip can be validated to get another permission slip.
We have now gone up one level, because after making me sign a contract with myself (Who the F*CK else would sign for Goldport Press) they didn’t like it because both signatures are the same.
The last message, since the name involved is Brazilian was composed in Portuguese and said in essence “Honestly, guys, for the love of the poor souls in Purgatory can you stop acting like monkeys with keyboards?”
They now claim it will take them five days to prove that I’m me. I offered to get an affidavit in my legal name saying that I own Goldport Press, and get it notarized, or show them copies of my tax returns. I suppose I could also get our bank to certify that my signature is valid on Goldport Press.
But seriously: THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A COMPLAINT AGAINST GOLDPORT PRESS, and if they look, they can tell it publishes my name and my pen names. This should not, in any way be a problem. I could understand this level of scrutiny if I were someone who regularly publishes other people and/or out of print books. BUT why expend this kind of effort on someone who is JUST publishing herself and her pen names?
I do understand wanting the reversal letter, though I’ll point out even with that, they weren’t that tight in the beginning, and I don’t think there was any issue. I got all my reversals legally, sometimes after hiring a lawyer. I had friends though that when stonewalled by Ace and DAW both of whom were experts at ignoring requests for reversal as a way of denying them (and at one time my editor at Ace, who is a cartoon character, but not a funny one, tried to tell me I had to ask for reversal through the agent that initially sold the books, knowing I was no longer with that agent. The lawyer took care of that) sent them a letter, registered, with proof of receipt, saying that if they didn’t answer within ten days the rights reverted, and she used that to publish her own stuff. I don’t think they had any problems with that.
Yes, they have problems with (mostly foreign) scammers publishing other people’s books. For a while there was a fad for collecting the free portion of like three bestsellers books, and publishing them as a “collection.”
However, this has gone beyond all sanity. I could understand their behaving this way if:
a) Goldport Press was a new account and had NEVER published anything by Sarah A. Hoyt.
b) Goldport Press had never published reverted books by Sarah A. Hoyt.
c) Goldport press had had complaints about publishing author’s books without permission.
d) I hadn’t sent a reversal on Baen stationary.
e) I hadn’t multiple times signed emails from Goldport Press with “Sarah A. Hoyt.”
f) I hadn’t emailed them about the case from my customer account.
Now they say they’ll take 5 days to verify that I’m me…. which will probably devolve, by tonight into asking me for a cheek swab so I can receive the form that verifies I’m me.
I’m having flashbacks to getting my entire school grades with courses taken and curriculum, so it could be validated in the US so I could get a job as a college instructor (Look, I NEEDED it at the time. I was 25) and going to my old High School to be told I’d flunked out in 9th grade. Turned out they still used paper records, and were copying the page adjacent to mine (the girl’s name differed from mine by a middle name. We were actually friends and she was the originator of the famous joke-phrase (stage whispered at her during a test by another friend and ignored by the teacher) “Just copy what I did, don’t try to think. When you think you f*ck up everything.” We managed to drag her, yes, sometimes by allowing/encouraging her to cheat through 9th grade, but she couldn’t pass the exams to go further. For the record, we had a reason to help her. She was one of the decoys in our gifted form (see, the socialists made gifted forms illegal, but the school still wanted them. Mostly because… uh, some day ask me about my gifted from. One of our stunts was rewiring our classroom. Another was accidentally (kind of of) giving a nervous breakdown to a new teacher. So the school threw in three or four non-gifted students into the form. And because we were going five times the speed, the poor girls, who would have been fine in normal classes were DROWNING.)) That was solved after my dad came by and deployed what mom called “The power of the mustache” (Actually the power of the height, because he’s six one in Portugal) and was all polite and forceful at them. Before that they were refusing to acknowledge that that was NOT my middle name.
Which is the problem with any bureaucracy. By giving petty half-trianed (if that) clerks the power to deny or accept things that are vital for the people applying, it quickly revolves into permit-raj and banana republic operating rules.
Which, yes indeed, is the problem with our vast and completely insane governmental bureaucracy. They’ll all now permit-raj and insane, which is why we’re operating by banana republic rules.
If a company like Amazon, designed to MAKE MONEY can fall into this kind of insanity, imagine how much easier it is for governments.
To make the folly of this complete — they’ve now cost me three days of work, and imagine how many I’ve cost them. There are apparently three people dealing with this now. And probably stepping on each other — it would not stop any actually scammers. Which I helpfully pointed out to them, yes, because I live to make friends and influence people. (Shush you.)
If I were a, for the sake argument, South Elbonian scammer, I could very easily fake a reversal letter from Baen by taking their symbol and making up more convincing letterhead than theirs, and being all formal (which their reversal letters never are, being a note from Toni to me.) Then I could trick out an amazingly official letter from Goldport Press and make up a name of an editor to sign it. It’s not actually difficult, and how are they going to verify this person doesn’t work for Goldport Press? There is a contract.
And with that, if I were a scammer and thus inclined, I could publish any bestseller I wanted to. No problem. It would be denounced in three days, and then I’d use the same files and start another account. This is how they do it. (I once accidentally bought a scammer’s version of an F. Paul Wilson book.)
Except I’m not a scammer, so I tried to do things above board, and in return ended up mired in the House that Makes You Mad.
This is why if there’s any justice Louis XIV is burning in hell (forget his mistresses, those are peccadilloes. Forget murders and judicial murders and wars. He deserves to burn in hell for inventing bureaucracy.) And why all bureaucracies should be burned to the ground and this kind of process rationalized.
And also why companies should stop acting like banana republics.
While I still have some hair left.
UPDATE: So, apparently cursing at them in gutter Portuguese works. The ebook and paperback are now publishing. The hardcover isn’t, because they’re crazy. (I mean, if I have the rights to publish the book, you’d think that means I have the rights to publish the book, right?) I’ve poked them on that.
I want to announce that I’m available to curse in Portuguese at them if any of you has similar difficulties. It apparently is the magic sauce, at least as long as they use Brazilian flunkies.