In case you read the old, free edition and want to know what has changed, let me make that easy for you: everything. This brand new edition is a full-length book (over 75,000 words) breaking down how the Kindle Store, and how you can seduce Amazon’s giant recommendation engine.
Most importantly, it goes deep on how to profit from that knowledge, showing you exactly how to tweak your metadata and marketing plans to sell more books.
In fact, Amazon Decoded goes one step further than that and hands you a series of strategies and tactics you can use right away – launch plans and backlist promotions to suit your needs if you are wide or exclusive to Amazon, or whether you are looking to maximize income, expand your audience, promote your work on a limited budget, or spend a little more and send a whole series into orbit.
Amazon Decoded also comes with a stellar set of bonus resources, housed on a private part of this here website, which will help you put all this information into practice and raise your marketing game.
Want to sell more books on the world’s biggest retailer? Amazon Decoded will show you how. Read More…
The CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple were grilled on Capitol Hill yesterday, stepping up the anti-trust chatter that has been percolating over the last few years. While some of you might be tempted to reflexively dismiss these hearings as political theater, many commentators seem to agree that this time feels different.
Political sands have shifted. Public sentiment towards tech companies has soured — companies who were once almost universally loved. Well, at least in the case of three of them; Amazon always attracted some measure of criticism, I guess, probably given the particular companies it disrupted.
Indie authors, in particular, perked up at the news of these hearings, given that three of those places are where we sell most of our books, and the fourth is what many of us predominantly use to drive sales of those books.
Whatever your feeling on these individual companies, their effects on society, or the forces driving these hearings, the mere prospect of anti-trust actions creates uncertainty in business terms, at a time when we already have a significant amount of it. Which makes this an excellent time to examine how well your author business is future-proofed, given the average indie author’s dependency on this set of companies currently in the anti-trust spotlight. Read More…
There is more nonsense written about Amazon than almost any other topic because mere mention of Amazon will get you more clicks than anything else — although the “A9 Algorithm” might be the most ridiculous topic of all.
Amazon also happens to be an incredibly divisive subject generally, one of those where little nuance seems to be permitted — and someone writing articles about Amazon tends to regularly get labeled a “shill” or a “hater,” depending, sometimes off the back of the same piece!
Talk of Amazon can also be quite lucrative. The currency of the internet is attention — as I think was once said by Jeff Bezos, although I’m scared to Google it in case I start getting hunted down on every corner of the internet with hyper-personalized ads offering to make me a Kindle Publishing Millionaire or help me build a Drop Shipping EMPIRE.
Internet marketers are not known for their rigorous application of the scientific method. One intrepid black-hatted pioneer will discover a tasty data-morsel, dress it up in distracting finery, and then parade it about as part of a $2000 course. And then a dozen more will riff off that for their own courses and Patreons and books and masterminds and exclusive online workshops and virtual conferences; it’s like the most expensive game of telephone ever.
Sadly, it’s also quite value-free if you like hard facts.
This kind of environment shows some of the drawbacks of the brave new world ushered in by the internet and Google. If search for the phrase “amazon algorithm,” for example, the very first result is an article titled “Everything You Need To Know About Amazon’s A9 Algorithm,” and my BS alarm immediately goes off — use of the singular “algorithm” is a dead giveaway that the person doesn’t have a clue what they are talking about. Use of “A9” in this manner is another. Read More…
This blog has been a little quiet in 2020, but I’ve been beavering away at a veritable smorgasbord of stuff for authors which I can finally start talking about.
The headline news: three new books for authors, a huge surprise which isn’t book-shaped, and then lots more cool resources coming to this here website; let’s expose each of these projects to the merciless glare of publicity.
First out of the traps is Following: A Marketing Guide To Author Platform and it is FREE – exclusively available as a bonus when signing up to my mailing list – which you can do right here. (If you are an existing subscriber, check your inbox – you don’t miss out!) Read More…
There are serious problems in publishing right now with black hat authors. Nobody is talking about it either, because the cost of speaking out is simply too great. Scammers are increasingly litigious. Dirty tricks abound. White hat writers are suffering in other ways too as readers come to mistrust any name unknown to them, and the only entity with enough power to enforce any kind of justice doesn’t like going on patrol. But maybe there is something else we can do.
My first introduction to the concept of black hats and white hats was not via cowboy movies – I am not American and my own cultural milieu was less focused on that… frontier – but from Philosophy classes as a college student. Particularly what is known as the Hat Riddle (or the Prisoner Hat Riddle).
There are many variations, but in the version I heard, four cowboys – two wearing black hats and two wearing white hats – are captured by banditos who decide to have a little fun with them. They bury the cowboys up to their necks in sand so they can’t move or even turn their heads. The banditos swap their hats around so each cowboy doesn’t know which color hat they are wearing. And then they are asked to guess… and if they get it wrong, they die. Read More…
A situation blew up at Amazon over the weekend which is ghosting most KDP ebooks (and many Amazon imprint titles) for international readers who use the US Kindle Store — which has also exposed a glaring security problem. Amazon appears to be unaware of either issue.
This issue — which is either a bug or a very badly bungled roll-out — is causing great confusion as its effects are only visible to those outside the USA, which might explain why Amazon has been so slow to address it, or even understand the problem, it seems.
The first reports of this issue were from a few weeks ago when Australian readers who use the US Kindle Store were unable to see a handful of new releases. It seems to have spread significantly since then. This weekend I noticed the issue myself for the first time. Buy buttons had disappeared from a couple of my ebooks and they were no longer appearing in Search results or on my Author Page. It was as if they had been ghosted. Read More…
A real horror story has been slowly building for the last year or so and I’m getting a lot of emails on the topic so it’s time to deal with this head-on: what the hell is going on with Also Boughts?
For those unaware, the strip of books right which are usually placed underneath your product description on Amazon, headlined with “Customers who bought this item also bought” are popularly known as “Also Boughts” and have become the subject of much attention lately, as our knowledge of their importance grows in tandem with Amazon’s seeming desire to muck about with them.
First their importance: if you have read Amazon Decoded you will already know just how critical Also Boughts are and can skip ahead. For the rest of you, Amazon’s system is always trying to determine what kind of products you personally are most likely to purchase, so that it can display more of those to you. One thing it looks at very closely is the connection between products. People who buy printers tend to buy ink, for example, and recommending a printer-buyer some ink to purchase will elicit a lot of clicks. Read More…
I get so many emails about Amazon categories and keywords that I thought it would be useful to dig into all the opportunities at your fingertips, and clear up some confusion out there too. Useful for me, that is. Now I’ll have something to point people to! Should be useful for you too, even the old timers, because I bet there’s a least one hack in here you didn’t know about, and smart use of the category system can greatly increase your visibility on Amazon — critical for all authors, doubly so if you are in KU.
I’ll start basic then drop some tantalizing secret hacks.
Let me just note first that a version of this rather handy post first went out to my mailing list a few months ago. If you’re not signed up, you aren’t just missing out on stuff like this, you also missed the entire (free!) series I just did on BookBub ads. And without blowing my own oboe, I think I’m doing a few things with BookBub ads that are a little different from the norm. So you don’t overdose on FOMO and also miss the (free!) series I’ve just started on Facebook ads, go here to get free tips and tricks in your inbox every Friday and a free copy of Amazon Decoded too. Read More…
The Amazon charts continue to be plagued by book stuffing, ten days into the new regime. Aside from one rather notable head on a pike — Chance Carter appears to have had his account shut down, but quite possibly for other actions — book stuffers are continuing largely as normal, only making minor tweaks to their presentation, simply appending the words “Collection” or “Compilation” to their titles and covers. And not even bothering to do that on all their (still) stuffed books.
The stuffers are clearly thumbing their noses at Amazon. They seem pretty damn confident that minor tweaks will fly, and that the whole new regulatory regime is, well, a sham. What will happen with someone like Cassandra Dee will be a good bellwether.
Cassandra Dee is the #1 author in Contemporary Romance, and she is a major book stuffer. Because of KDP’s catch-and-release approach to these guys, they are able to constantly make minor tweaks to how they stuff. I can only presume that KDP sends them communications about problematic breaches of the Content Guidelines, the stuffers make a minor tweak, and are allowed to continue… until the next time they get a KDP letter. Read More…
Amazon quietly rolled out new content guidelines on Friday to tackle the plague of book stuffing, along with some new metadata rules which all seem to be aimed at cleaning up the Kindle Store – something long overdue. However, one infamous book stuffer is already bragging about a loophole. This is a huge test for Amazon’s new policy and whether KDP will actually enforce it.
There was a push among some authors a few weeks back to get Amazon to lower the max payout size in Kindle Unlimited to 1,000 pages. Everyone proposing it knew it was an imperfect solution but argued it was better than the status quo. That was true, but the reason I didn’t join that call was simple: Amazon didn’t need new rules to tackle book stuffing, it needed a change in attitude. Stuffing was already breaking existing rules, Amazon was just not applying them. I was wondering what the point of new rules would be unless it was also accompanied by actual enforcement.
And now Amazon faces a test in the shape of book stuffer Tia Siren, who has made the most cosmetic of changes to her stuffed books — she has just appended the phrase “A Romance Compilation” to her book titles. — and is clearly thumbing her nose at Amazon and her fellow authors, while she continues to hoover up money from the communal author pot. Read More…
#Cockygate has been rolling for a month now and is quite multifaceted — touching on some pretty existential issues for writers, and indeed all creatives. This post from lawyer Marc Whipple tracks the beginning, in case you have been in a coma for the last month. The story also broke out into the mainstream briefly where it was covered by Vox and The Guardian, among others.
More recent developments are as follows. Multiple authors made creative stands against Faleena Hopkins’ extremely questionable trademark and even more dubious attempted enforcement of same, in the form of various Cocky-themed books and parodies. Hopkins responded with a video — which she since took down, presumably in case it destroyed her acting career — as well as a series of equally ill-advised posts.
Hopkins then filed suit against three parties: Kevin Kneupper, the author/lawyer who is formally challenging her trademark; Tara Crescent, an author who had published books with Cocky in the title previously; and Jennifer Watson, a publicist for an anthology raising funds to cover legal expenses of authors affected by all this. Read More…
There’s an article doing the rounds at the moment from the Washington Post suggesting that the Amazon is undergoing some kind of fake review crisis. There are problems with Amazon reviews, of course, but this article is based on some pretty flawed data. At least in how it pertains to the world of books, which is what I know, and what I’ll focus on here. I can’t speak to the world of diet supplements or fake tan or giant tubs of lube – alas.
The article’s claims are largely based on a flaky site called ReviewMeta, which seems far better at getting publicity for itself than correctly analyzing the trustworthiness of reviews, which is a pity as it would be a wonderful tool if it was in any way accurate.
I first heard about ReviewMeta back in 2016 and was very excited to test it out. Naturally, I started with my own books, as I can be pretty sure there are no fake reviews there, being the author, publisher, and marketer of all these titles, and someone who is fastidious about the rules as my name is literally my brand.
However, ReviewMeta seems to call into question a large number of my reviews and reviewers. And by extension me, I guess. And all of you too, because many of the random selection of books I checked had similar issues. The ReviewMeta site helpfully gives explanations for why its system made these determinations, and you can actually break down each component and get a further explanation. This transparency is hugely commendable. Read More…
A new organization is being formed which is aiming to give a voice to indies – the Indie Author Support Network. The idea was proposed by indie author Marie Force, and it’s still at the very earliest stages, but what I’ve heard so far is very promising indeed – particularly that it will be exclusively focused on high-level advocacy and interfacing with retailers on issues which concern indies.
I’m not a member of any writer organization. I joined one here in Ireland when I first returned home, but didn’t renew after they wouldn’t even take the most basic stand against a local publisher who wasn’t paying his authors.
I know people join organizations for lots of different reasons, whether that’s continuing education or competitions or even just the social/networking aspects at conferences, which are desperately needed in such a solitary profession, and I think those needs are pretty well met with the various genre-focused organizations out there, and NINC too. However, advocacy has always been of most importance to me and I think there is a critical need right now for a very focused group which specifically speaks to the rather curious set of issues that indies are dealing with in 2018. Read More…
I’m excited to be gearing up for this release, as I’ve been working on the concepts behind it for a year. Here’s the blurb:
From the author of Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible comes the book that will change how you think about marketing forever.
Strangers to Superfans puts you in the shoes of your Ideal Reader, allowing you to view your marketing from her perspective. You will:
*Learn the 5 stages in The Readers’ Journey.
*Identify failure points quickly to manage backlist efficiently.
*Optimize each stage to increase conversions.
*Boost sales by making the overall process frictionless.
*Build a legion of passionate, engaged readers who do the selling for you. Read More…
Let’s Get Digital 3 was announced this week and it is going very well indeed, with 1,000 copies pre-ordered already. The amount of sharing and recommending and tweeting has been spectacular – I’m very grateful to you all.
In fact, I have a gift for you.
Amazon Decoded: A Marketing Guide to the Kindle Store is now available. And it’s FREE. All you need to do is sign up to my mailing list to get a copy. That’s it. And you can unsubscribe right after if you wish, I don’t mind at all! Really. Read More…