Oh My! Does How We Write Really Matter?
Guest Post by Irene Watson
Well…it sure makes me think it doesn’t matter anymore. In last week’s editorial I gave you two examples, both from authors, indicating the inability to read or write. Well…this week you just have to see what was received from “professionals” in the publishing industry.
A publicist for a publishing company wrote me:
Hi Irene [name removed] here again this is the kind or stuff thats put in there so anything type of info for example pictures our any blurbs on how a event went for [name removed] would be great… i’m new at this so i appreciate any help you can offer.
Frankly, I’m appalled I would get an email like this from someone attempting to represent an author. Would you believe I was actually stuck for words on what to say to the publisher other than just forward the email to him and tell him I’m appalled at how unprofessional his staff is? What really upsets me is this person is asking me to help her promote an author for which I instigated a contract to have the book published with this traditional publisher.So yes, I have reason to be horrified and go directly to the publisher because I have a vested interest in the book.
But, then maybe it’s just the nature of people and I haven’t quite “gotten it.” David Belkin emailed me saying:
I had a job some 62 years ago (I’m 82) at NBC, answering letters from the public. Many of them were inquiries from would-be TV/radio writers, to whom I sent rules for submissions. Most of the responses were on a par with the examples in your blog. Technology changes, people don’t. Thanks for the memory trip.
A little backstory on this next one. We’ve posted some reviews on BarnesAndNoble.com but many have been rejected because of “inappropriate language.” A notice on our account page says if we edit the review they would reconsider posting it. Well, one truth is there is no way to edit the submission and the other is there is absolutely nothing in the review that is inappropriate or even anything remotely close. I got no response from my emails and no satisfaction from phone calls so I just let it go assuming they were competing for poor customer service with Amazon.com. Another review service, Feathered Quill, was also having the same issue, however; she did get a response which goes like this:
We reviewed your concerns regarding editing your review. Your feedback is very important to us at Barnes & Noble and we appreciate your taking the time to send us your opinion. We assure you that we have reviewed the issues you have raised with the appropriate department. We truly
value your patronage; your online shopping experience is extremely important to us.
It’s obvious this is a stock email and the person sending it doesn’t have a clue what is going on otherwise Ellen wouldn’t be thanked for the patronage and told the “shopping” experience is important to them. Shopping experience? What does editing a review have to do with shopping experience? It’s also obvious that there have been enough complaints for them to create a stock email to send out and supposedly pacify the reader. I personally think they have a technical issue that no one knows how to fix and wouldn’t admit it. This issue is near 8 months old. To me it says Barnes and Nobel suits really don’t care what customer support sends out.
But wait…here is a real doozie sent from Amazon.com to one of their customers attempting to close one account because he had two:
When researched the account, I see two accounts, with the name [name removed] (Seller ID: …) and [name removed] (Seller ID: …), out of which the one with the Seller ID: … is closed.
Please let us know as to which account you want to close so that we can go ahead and do the needful.
Huh? Account is closed but he needs to know what account needs to be closed? Even trying to decipher this gives me a headache.
I looked up “do the needful” on Wikipedia because I suspected this might be a cultural expression and this is what it says:
“Do the needful” is an archaic expression which means “do that which is necessary”, with the respectful implication that the other party is trusted to understand what needs doing without being given detailed instruction.
The expression is now current mainly in South Asian English (Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan). The expression was current in both British and American English well into the early 20th century. In later years it was sometimes used as parody example of contemporary South Asian English.
This is so sad it becomes comical.
It is obvious the suits at Amazon.com have no concept of what is going on in their customer service department either or let alone care whether the support staff use archaic or language not customary in the Western world where the majority of their customers reside.
I’m a baby boomer with English as my second language but I gave my all-out to learn the language so I wouldn’t be categorized into some paradoxical faction of using archaic or regional language. (Canadian, eh?) Or, maybe I am the one that is archaic and setting my standards and expectations too high for the emerging 21st century professionals. Nope…I don’t think so or at least I wouldn’t admit it, ya’ll.
So what is your take on all this?
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.