Yesterday I got an email that upset me on so many levels!!
We, here at Amazon, have removed your book! And if you aren't careful, we'll delete your account!
(Obviously I've paraphrased!)
But it was a little disturbing.
I'm not one of those authors who makes her living from Amazon. (Like most authors, I actually go out to work to earn a crust.) But I do give a large number of my books away on Amazon, and since I want my books out there, I count that as a good thing.
So what was my misdemeanour? What Book-Crime did I commit to get such a hostile missive on a Sunday morning?
I published a children's book in Ukrainian!
The book did not have violent or disturbing scenes, it was in no way subversive or revolutionary. But it made the huge error of not being in a language that Amazon supported. Because of that, the book was removed, and if I ever try to upload any others like it, my account will be deleted!
I expressed my disappointment that they were not supporting the Ukrainian language. I suggested, considering that millions of Ukrainians had fled their homeland with only the clothes on their back, publishing books in Ukrainian would be a huge blessing for them, and a bonus pay check for the Mighty 'Zon.
I received a reply.
Nope! I was still a naughty girl and I shouldn't do that again.
I felt frustrated to tears. Here's why.
My bridesmaid fled Kyiv when the bombing started on the 24th February. She planned to take her five children to their village in the North, where Granny was staying. But after getting stuck in traffic for 24 hours, the message came from Granny - don't come here, the Russians are coming.
They turned and fled south.
The children had a backpack each, with their toothbrush, and a warm jumper, and were just wearing the tracksuits and sliders they had put on that morning before they left.
She is one of the lucky ones. She had a car and a job which continued to pay her money. (And Granny miraculously survived the Russian Occupation!)
When she and her four youngest children got accepted on the UK scheme, They put on their rucksacks and walked across the border, not knowing if or when they would see their family or their home again.
The last thing on her mind was books. Although they had been struggling to stay caught up with on-line school, through the constant air-raids, the children's education was less important than their safety.
They are now safe in the UK, and very grateful.
And now she is looking for ways to help them keep their Ukrainian. It is difficult for us to understand, but their language has become an important weapon and part of their national identity. All Ukrainians are bilingual, speaking Russian and Ukrainian. However, in the last six months, every Ukrainian I know has moved away from Russian totally and now speaks exclusively in Ukrainian.
For the adults, including my Russian-speaking bridesmaid, this has been helped by keeping up with social media and reading Ukrainian news. However, for her children, such language sources are not appropriate.
I wanted to get my books translated, so that Ukrainian women could share these stories with their children, enabling the child to spend screen-free time relaxing in their native language. The books have discussion questions in the back, which are perfect opportunities for the children to use the vocab they have read in the stories.
For most children, this book will be the only book they have in Ukrainian. It is impossible to buy Ukrainian books on Amazon (as I found out!), as it isn't a supported language (there are a few bi-lingual picture books - but no chapter books). Most Ukrainian books were printed and distributed in Ukraine, and obviously very few publishing houses are working right now and shipping internationally is very expensive.
Imagine raising your child without being able to read them a book in your own language. I can't! In fact, when I moved to Ukraine in 1999, I had a rucksack full of clothes, and suitcase full of books. And as you are reading the blog of an author, I assume books are important to you too.
So, my little children's book has been rejected. But I'm still looking for ways to get it out there!
Can you help?
I assume, if you are still reading, you understand my tears. Please let people know that this book is available in Ukrainian.
You could pop into Waterstones or WHSmith and ask for it - ISBN 9781915034168, or buy it in bulk, from my website at print cost.
But the Ukrainians I know are adults. Would they want a children's book?
For Ukrainians wishing to study English independently, there are very few bilingual resources. Unlike German or French, Ukrainian does not translate word for word into English. It is more interpretive and must be translated phrase-by-phrase. This is why Google Translate can still lead to some amusing misunderstandings. The language pack was designed to allow learners to compare the language phrase-by-phrase, appreciating the difference in construction. The audio books will help with pronunciation and intonation, which are also vital in language learning.It consists of three paperbacks: the two Kai books in English and the Ukrainian omnibus; and the link to the two audiobooks in English; all for only £20.00. It is available from my webshop.
So, here's hoping this little blog will lead to a few sales, and together we can show the world that we don't need Amazon to publish, and show Ukrainians that we care about their language and national identity.
And I'd better keep my nose clean and not be so controversial in future (fingers crossed!).
Thanks to a lovely reader, we have now found out that Ukrainian is supported for PRINT books (not ebooks!). So my print books are back up, and I am so glad to know that other Ukrainian print books can get out there.
Regarding my ebook, that is for free on the Google Play Books Store, and being given away all over the world!! (Feeling happier today!)
Use this form to:
Sign up for my newsletter,
Send me a message,
Discuss trade discounts.
I'd love to hear from you if you enjoyed my books or if you want me to talk to me about other resources.