One of the downsides of lockdown for me has been that I am unable to get out and about to share my love of all things historical with many wonderful people. It has been inevitable but sad, to watch one speaking engagement after another tumble like a domino rally. Fortunately, I am starting to replace some of these talks with online versions. A consequence of not meeting audiences in person is that I have lost one of my main book-selling opportunities. This is not just financially significant. In a couple of months, a pallet containing a very large number of boxes of novel number two will hopefully be landing on my driveway. I need to shift existing stock to make space. Oh, you want another clue? Happy to oblige, novel two includes little known facts about what is a fairly well-known local incident. Very soon there will be a title/cover reveal. The cover is amazing – thank you Robin of The Branch Line.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, selling books, or in this case, not selling as many books as I need to in the next three months in order to have any room whatsoever in my tiny cottage. In the past, I have added myself as a potential book seller on Amazon. I stopped doing this because it was a pain removing myself again on the many occasions when I was away from home. You can’t just leave the items up for sale as you have to be able to send out purchases within 48 hours. As it doesn’t look as if I will be going anywhere anytime soon, I thought I’d reactive my Amazon seller status. Well dear reader, how long have you got?
I suspect because the dreaded GDPR has loomed its ugly head since I was last a seller, I am required to jump through the hoop of proving I am a person and that I am actually me. I assure you I am me, although when I look in the mirror, I do wonder why I am my mother. ‘Send a copy of your passport’. Thankfully, I do have one. I photograph my passport. Maybe I didn’t get its best side or something but back comes the message ‘your details do not match, change your surname to FEWB’. Well the whole deed poll thing seems a bit unnecessary, especially as FEWB is not my name. Was three letters too short or something? My passport didn’t have a superfluous B on it. I heave myself off the chair and go to scan the passport instead, on the highest possible resolution. It takes ages, whirring merrily away. I now have a jpg (acceptable format) of two pages of passport when I require only one. It is also 11MB and the maximum I can upload is 10MB. Fine, I will edit it. I edit jpgs all the time. For some reason, which ever programme I choose, it will not let me edit the file. Eventually, I use my snipping tool to take a screen shot. Ok so the instructions do say ‘we cannot accept a screen shot’ but how will they know? I send it off. Back comes the message ‘your passport is too faint’. Too faint? Well that’s hardly my fault. I haven’t irresponsibly been leaving it to fade in high sunlight or anything. I click on the link for ‘if you are having trouble’ and compose a message expressing my frustration and seeking advice.
Time passes. The process has already been spread over two days and taken me a couple of hours to not sort. An email arrives. It sets out a carbon copy of what to do, exactly as it appears on the webpage where you upload faint passports. ‘Does this answer your question?’ they jovially ask. Well, errr, no. Then it occurs to a fisherman of my acquaintance that, although passports are mentioned, my driving licence contains similar information. Worth a shot. By this time, I really can’t face another journey upstairs to the scanner. In my defence, this is not the height of lockdown laziness (well not entirely) but my back does still prefer it if I don’t move from sitting to standing too often. No immediate rejection message. I cross my fingers. No ‘this has worked’ email either though. I wait. Finally, when lamenting my plight to a friend, she checks and discovers that there my books are there, happily listed, so it must have worked! Now all I need is people to buy them in droves and if that happens, people to donate recycled bubble wrap! Actually, if you are reading this, please don’t buy my books on Amazon at all, just contact me. It will cost you the same but it saves me a few pennies (actually quite a lot of pennies). A thousand sales before the end of July isn’t too much to hope for is it? Ok, so it is but I can dream.
What with this and the shopping order that mysteriously disappeared (long and really not very interesting story – even less interesting than the one you’ve just read), I am reluctant to face the next learning curve, which is finally giving in to entreaties to do my tax return online. I have no problem at all with completing it on paper and it would normally be done by now. This year however I have had a letter saying they are not going to send me a paper form. I do know, that if I ring up and wait on hold for a couple of hours (because my call is important to them), they will send a form but I am fairly proficient with online, I should be able to do it. Shouldn’t I?