Kindle Unlimited – A Cheater Magnet Amazon Bewares

For a month or two, though, things improved. The charts cleaned up. Real, actual authors — not faceless book stuffers powered by ghostwriters — started surfacing again. Readers were saying that it was easier to find good books in the charts. I noticed the difference myself in July when helping someone with a launch; it seemed to take less of a push to get in the Top 100. I stopped paying attention to what the scammers were doing. Life was good.

It seems like Amazon stopped paying attention too. It was far harder to get into the Top 100 in September, and a quick look at the charts showed why. Many of those “authors” from Chance Carter’s mastermind circle who inexplicably survived the purges of June/July — grotesque characters like RR Banks — were suddenly charting again. En masse. With multiple books each, simultaneously.

They had figured out a new hole in the fence. I looked at the Contemporary Romance charts for the first time in a while and all the real authors were being pushed down again, while all the ghostwritten trash was swamping the Kindle Store once more. Read More…

The Only Rule Amazon Truly Cares About Bewares

On Monday, I found out that some bug hit a German e-book site causing the reactivation of long-dead listings, including one of mine, putting myself and some other authors in breach of KDP Select"s exclusivity rule. Amazon pounced into action and cancelled my Countdown deal which was scheduled for this week, screwing up a carefully planned promotion. And despite pledging to resolve the matter and restore the promo, Amazon has not done so. I"m going to go through what happened in detail so you can be sure that I acted correctly at all points – because there is a lot of shadiness going on at the moment – but feel free to skim some of the details if you wish. Read More…

The Great Amazon Hysteria… Part 31

Are you scared yet? Because you should be scared. Something really bad is about to happen. It affects all of us. Our livelihoods are at risk. The ability to support our families. It’s just over the horizon. It could happen any minute. It’s coming for all of us! WE ARE DOOOOOOOOOMED. Ahem. I’ve been around for long enough to know that authors can be a skittish bunch. Probably something to do with our over-active imaginations, with an assist from that old writers’ favorite: the whiskey brunch. More seriously, we are going through a period of unprecedented change so it’s perfectly normal for people to be a little fearful. I think the disruption we are all experiencing is greater than that Read More…

Round Up: Audiobook Release, BookBub in Canada & Amazon Launches Ad Service Amazon Marketing Publishing

I have finally returned to work after an extended period back in Ireland over Christmas – which was wonderful – and then a spell with a virus which was considerably less so. I was mostly unplugged from the internet over the last while, but I hope it’s not too late to wish you all the best for 2015. This is a quick catch-up post on some recent bits and bobs. Normal blogging service will resume tomorrow with a very useful guest post from two authors exploring some alternative marketing strategies with excellent results. *** First up is the release of the audiobook edition of Let’s Get Digital. This is the new, updated version of Digital which has been narrated by Simon Read More…

15 Ways To Improve KDP – Progress Report Publishing

The London Book Fair is underway again which makes it a perfect time to review the list of suggestions I presented to KDP last year. As regular readers will know, I crowd-sourced a list of feature requests, bug fixes, and common problems via my blog and the most popular self-publisher hangout, Kboards. The KDP reps at the Fair spent a great deal of time going through your list of suggestions. They asked for clarification at various points and I was able to follow up with them by email afterwards. At the same time, a parallel effort led by Marie Force, Laura Florand, and Diana Peterfreund presented a similar list of suggestions at NINC in October last year. There were probably Read More…

15 Ways Amazon Can Improve Kindle Direct Publishing Amazon Marketing Publishing

At the London Book Fair in April, I had the opportunity to meet representatives from Amazon and present a list of feature requests and complaints (from the comments of this post with an assist from KBoards). I spent quite a bit of time going through the list and felt that everything got a fair hearing. Amazon said that a lot of this stuff is in the pipeline in one form or another (although judgement will have to be reserved until we see how it’s implemented) and the rest of the issues and feature requests would be passed along to the relevant department. This isn’t the full list I presented, but it’s the issues I’d like to focus on today: 1. More Read More…

Popularity, Visibility & KDP Select Marketing

For most writers, anonymity is the biggest hurdle they face. The open nature of digital distribution can be a double-edged sword; there are 1.1 million titles in the Kindle Store after all. While the virtual shelves are endless, and while readers have demonstrated an increased appetite for reading (and hoarding) once they switch to e-books, the spotlight is limited. There can only ever be 100 books in the Top 100. The major sites (like Ereader News Today or Pixel of Ink) will only feature a limited amount of books per day. There is only one Kindle Daily Deal. Visibility is a continual challenge, and, when we look at that problem a little closer, it’s not radically different to the challenges Read More…

Popularity, Visibility & KDP Select Marketing

For most writers, anonymity is the biggest hurdle they face. The open nature of digital distribution can be a double-edged sword; there are 1.1 million titles in the Kindle Store after all. While the virtual shelves are endless, and while readers have demonstrated an increased appetite for reading (and hoarding) once they switch to e-books, the spotlight is limited. There can only ever be 100 books in the Top 100. The major sites (like Ereader News Today or Pixel of Ink) will only feature a limited amount of books per day. There is only one Kindle Daily Deal. Visibility is a continual challenge, and, when we look at that problem a little closer, it’s not radically different to the challenges Read More…

Understanding Amazon's New Algorithms Is As Easy As ABC Publishing

Amazon’s KDP Select introduced a new tranche of self-publishers to the upper reaches of the charts for the first time. For the first couple of months of this year, a new seam had been discovered in this self-publishing “gold-rush.” It didn’t last too long, however. By the end of March, even those newly minted authors were openly considering leaving KDP Select, despite how successful it had been for them. Self-publishers were noticing that even when they had a stellar free run, garnering thousands and thousands of downloads, it was no longer catapulting them up the charts on their return to the paid side. Science fiction and fantasy author Ed Robertson penned an excellent hypothesis and gave me permission to re-post. Read More…

Understanding Amazon’s New Algorithms Is As Easy As ABC Publishing

Amazon’s KDP Select introduced a new tranche of self-publishers to the upper reaches of the charts for the first time. For the first couple of months of this year, a new seam had been discovered in this self-publishing “gold-rush.” It didn’t last too long, however. By the end of March, even those newly minted authors were openly considering leaving KDP Select, despite how successful it had been for them. Self-publishers were noticing that even when they had a stellar free run, garnering thousands and thousands of downloads, it was no longer catapulting them up the charts on their return to the paid side. Science fiction and fantasy author Ed Robertson penned an excellent hypothesis and gave me permission to re-post. Read More…

Profiting Outside Amazon: Guest Post From Sarah Woodbury

The first wave of self-publishers who signed up to KDP Select have either come to the end of their 90-day exclusivity period or that day is fast approaching, and many are wondering whether to re-enroll in the program or to begin uploading to the other retailers. At the beginning of January, when many writers were wrestling with whether to enroll in the program or not, I featured a number of guest posts from those who had seen success with KDP Select. A number of commenters suggested I feature someone who hadn’t done well out of the program, but I wasn’t so sure that would make an interesting read. If you want that kind of information, this thread on Kindle Boards Read More…

February Sales Report: Amazon Up, Everywhere Else Down

It has been a couple of months since I did a sales report, so I thought it might be a good time to share what kind of value I’m getting out of my pimp suit. For anyone looking for numbers with lots of zeroes in them, or tales of battling with household names at the top of the charts, I have a warning for you: this is not that kind of report. About the only big numbers you’ll see are for free stuff, but I’m selling at a nice level, paying my rent and some bills, and have been for some months now. The checks are about to get a little nicer too because I finally sorted my tax status Read More…

Amazon & The Importance of Popularity

A few days ago, I tweeted a link to a survey which purported to show that self-publishers had captured 77% of the spots on the Kindle Top 200 Science Fiction Bestseller List. As it turns out, the list the survey was based on was not the Bestseller List, but the Popularity List (and I’ll get to the differences between the two below). After this discrepancy was pointed out, the author re-did the survey, based on the actual Bestseller List, and found somewhat similar results – if not quite as staggering. Namely, self-publishers had captured 66.1% of the Kindle Top 100 Science Fiction spots. There are all sorts of interesting nuggets in that post including the various prices books were selling Read More…

Amazon & The Importance of Popularity

A few days ago, I tweeted a link to a survey which purported to show that self-publishers had captured 77% of the spots on the Kindle Top 200 Science Fiction Bestseller List. As it turns out, the list the survey was based on was not the Bestseller List, but the Popularity List (and I’ll get to the differences between the two below). After this discrepancy was pointed out, the author re-did the survey, based on the actual Bestseller List, and found somewhat similar results – if not quite as staggering. Namely, self-publishers had captured 66.1% of the Kindle Top 100 Science Fiction spots. There are all sorts of interesting nuggets in that post including the various prices books were selling Read More…

Why Giving Away Thousands Of Free Books Is A Good Thing

While on the surface the following may seem to be a KDP Select success story, it’s actually something a little more important than that: a testament to the power of determination, and proof that even the most niche of books can be a self-publishing success story, a book that every agent in the UK said there was no market for. I first met Tony James Slater at a conference almost exactly two years ago. Given that it was quite a, cough, liquid affair, neither of us remember much about the encounter, other than we were both in a similar position: we had a finished book with which were desperately trying (and failing) to elicit interest. And we were both getting knocked Read More…