What do you think?
Folks, I am in no way a spokesperson for Amazon. I doubt Amazon even knows I exist outside of books I upload. Amazon previews cover art and text for publication, says yea or nae and Amazon is done with me.
In the past ten days since Amazon posted new review policies authors are in an uproar. Across the spectrum reader and blogger reviews are being pulled or not allowed. Here’s the skinny: Amazon has a TOS for authors, publishers and reviewers. Yes it does. But few read those things. Amazon explains what no compensation means. Amazon explains what a friend is or is not.
These comments are rife in forums: Amazon is out to ruin me. Amazon doesn’t like me. Amazon is stupid.
Really? A billion dollar company that is a global entity has you or me in its sights and wants us to fail? I don’t think so. The fail is authors and bloggers do not follow Amazon’s guidelines either innocently or by snubbing their noses at the rules. A blogger/reviewer in the UK complains that she is not allowed to post reviews on amazon.com. She can post on amazon.uk. That works for me.
Here is where the real problem lies: A contracted author is given a PR package that says : Go forth and build a platform. Yep, because after the first splash on publication, the ebooks founder and sink to China in sales. Authors start beggin’ for Friend me or Like me on Facebook in hopes of building a fan base and sales. Authors then engage in Facebook parties, Rafflecopters and giveaways. Compensation. If a fan has won a gift card or swag. That is compensation. If that winner is connected to the author in any way…the review does not meet Amazon guidelines.
The people selling those PR Platforms to indie authors don’t give a fig about Amazon’s guidelines. They don’t know them. It is doubtful any editor knows them. They want in your wallet. Paid reviews may be posted in Editorial.
Get this: I have looked at the books of every single contracted and indie author who is posting with righteous indignation how stupid Amazon to disallow one of their reviews. Their books ain’t selling. Nope. The contracted author has no control. If the publisher doesn’t hype the book, it is dead in the water. The indie author sneering at Amazon isn’t promoting his/her books. Most are desperate for reviews and sales. In my experience reviews don’t sell books. I have units with 300 to 600 reviews. Unless promoted somehow, someway, they limp along out of the $$ in stats. I know for a fact there are more than 12 million books on Amazon: Here’s a stat: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,877,728. That stat means there are 12,877,727 books selling more than that book.
It is utter arrogance to think Amazon is singling out an author. You or I may be the most important person in our tiny universe, but we ain’t when it comes to Amazon. As far as I can tell, Amazon bots treat us all alike. If you drive on an Interstate highway, the traffic rules/laws are the same for every driver. Doesn’t matter if you drive a Porsche or a twenty-year old, beat up Ford pickup. If you have a fender bender, do you blame the law? With Amazon the rules are the same for every publisher and author. Those Amazon bots and algorithms are Amazon’s highway patrol. The quality control enforcers of the law and guidelines.
Amazon is not the only indie book shelf that has guidelines. An indie author who publishes wide had a suggestion to post reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. iTunes pulled those books. It told the author no mention of a competitor is allowed in back of book matter. She had to revise and republish her list. The author did not spew righteous indignation. She said: “Ugh,” fixed the problem and went on about her book life.
Amazon gives contracted and indie authors opportunities to promote books. Every published author can scroll to the bottom of a book page to see if a book is eligible to engage in a Giveaway. Easy as pie to set one of those up. I love ’em. Those authors in Amazon Select may engage in sponsored ad or product ad campaigns. The sponsored ads are shown on Kindles. The product ads show on Amazon on the left side bar. I keep several of the sponsored ads going with no termination dates. They cost pennies a day.
This just showed up today on the link to my author bio on Amazon. Amazon added the note about Best Selling Books. I sure didn’t. But at one time or another, those titles snagged one of those Amazon Best Seller tags, or snagged the #1 slot in Hot New Releases. I suggest bots are doing the work. Beta testing. Amazon sure isn’t sprinkling me with fairy dust.
Those are not the books I would have chosen. Two have the least amount of reviews. Who knew? But this does not smack of Amazon out to ruin any author. The long and short of it: We are responsible for our books and behavior once we tick publish. Mimicking what the next author does may not be the right thing to do. Remember what your mommy said when you were a teenager and you were yelling: “Everybody does it!” Mommy’s house. Mommy’s rules. Abide by curfew or whatever the rule or find yourself in a world of hurt. Pouting and indignation did not change the rule. Same with Amazon.
As for reviews, organic reviews are best. Here’s how to get them. Put this perfect simple and elegant gem right after THE END in your books. Next, promote the things to the best of your budget.
Thank you for taking time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated.
Comments welcome. Add to the discussion. Be nice. If you can’t be nice, be articulate. I’m Jackie Weger, Founder of eNovel Authors at Work. We’re a group of indie authors supporting one another and trying to keep in the game and inside the rules. @October 2016.
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