In one of those “good news/bad news” events last week, I got an email from someone who wanted to buy one of my books. I considered this most definitely good news.
She wanted a copy of “Subtraction by Sheila Deeth,” and guessing, very sensibly, that “Subtraction” on its own might not find my book on Amazon, she typed the whole thing in. Her search returned the message “0 results found for Subtraction by Sheila Death,” and her email asked why my book wasn’t available on Amazon–definitely bad (oh, very bad) news. I proceeded to panic.
After getting the same result on several other of my books (including Divide by Zero), I read the fine print, specifically the fine print that mis-spelled my name in Amazon’s reply. I hadn’t mis-spelled it, and neither had my potential customer, but Amazon generously corrected a supposed “typo” in my surname, changing Deeth to Death and resulting in “0 results.”
I complained. They fixed it. For one book.
I complained again. They told me I shouldn’t expect my books to appear at the top of any search until they sell better, which didn’t help. So…
I complained again, with examples. They fixed the examples. But for any other book, Sheila Deeth still gets “corrected” to Sheila Death. Unless Amazon is inspired to try a second correction (e.g. Infinite Sum to Infinite Sun) they won’t offer the option to search for what was originally typed in the search bar, and the message “0 results found” will discourage my rare (very rare) and invaluable (greatly valued) customer.
I know I can fix this (and no, not by changing my name). I can send Amazon a complaint listing of all books and they’ll correct all the searches, each in turn. Then I’ll have to remember to beg whenever another book comes out and they’ll fix that for me. But the QA engineer in me wants to tell their programmers, “Stop! If the search yields a result, offer the result or at least path to the result.” Meanwhile, the Prisoner in me (remember that TV series of my youth?) wants to scream from the rooftops, “I am not a typo,” just as he screamed, “I am not a number.”
So… if you’re ever searching for a book on Amazon and get the result “0 results found,” make sure to check what Amazon actually searched for. I can’t be the only author with a name that’s only one letter away from a dictionary word. And I am not a typo!