Kindle Unlimited – A Cheater Magnet

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…

Rank Stripping in Amazon’s Hall of Spinning Knives

Rank stripping strikes again, and this time it’s someone I know: Phoenix Sullivan. And Amazon’s handling of the situation has been terrible. Phoenix is well-known in the indie community; I’ve known her myself for ten years and consider her a close friend. Aside from being exceptionally generous with her time and knowledge, tirelessly sharing her insights on marketing and algorithms, Phoenix is also well known as a vocal campaigner against scammers and cheaters – particularly on the current big issues of book stuffing and clickfarming. And now she is being targeted. When Rank Stripping Strikes Phoenix made a box set free for a few days at the very start of October, advertising on Freebooksy, KND/BookGorilla, and Digital Book Today – Read More…

The Only Rule Amazon Truly Cares About

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…

15 Ways To Improve KDP – Progress Report

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

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…

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…

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…

A New Strategy for a New Year

To enroll or not to enroll, that is the question on a lot of writers’ minds. I have had several posts on KDP Select, because it’s a complex issue, without one “right” answer that will fit all self-publishers. If you are just catching up, I came out against the program before Christmas, but featured two authors recently that are doing well out of it: Marilyn Peake and Patrice Fitzgerald. To wrap up this mini-series, I have a guest post from bestselling author Sarah Woodbury, who hasn’t enrolled in KDP Select. Instead she’s exploiting the increased opportunities on other retailers. Here’s Sarah: *** When Amazon first announced its KDP Select program, my heart sank. I knew that going exclusively with Amazon would Read More…

The Joys of KDP Select: Patrice Fitzgerald's Story

Last week, I had a guest post from Marilyn Peake, who explained how KDP Select is helping her achieve new levels of success after ten years in publishing. I wanted to have a couple of opposing voices here to balance out my opposition to the program because (a) my antipathy towards KDP Select is based – at least partly – on the exclusivity requirement, which matters less to other writers, and (b) I could be wrong anyway. Today, I have a guest post from Patrice Fitzgerald who has used KDP Select to hugely increase her sales – at prices far higher than the average self-publisher too. Here’s Patrice:

How Much Do You Want To Get Paid Tomorrow?

Things had been going pretty smoothly for self-publishers. We were more or less done with the arguments about whether this was a viable path and whether you could attract an agent/publisher (if you wanted to) by self-publishing first. We had generally agreed that e-books were here to stay and that print books and bookstores (sadly) were on the way out. Then Amazon came along with a curveball, splitting the community: KDP Select. KDP Select is an opt-in program where self-publishers can be part of Amazon’s e-book lending library.  There has been a lot of discussion about KDP Select and the Lending Library – some hysterical, some measured – but I think it needs to be considered in the framework of Read More…