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Self Published Authors Get Ready, You’re Being Dumped

dumpedIf you’re a self published author, get ready for some disappointing news. Your usefulness is coming to an end. Yes, you have all worked very hard for very little return in building an empire to be exploited by multinational enterprises, but sadly, your job is almost done and it’s time now for you to be given the ‘boot’.

It all started a year or so back with the Amazon’s KDP Select program that offered ‘manna from heaven‘ in exchange for granting Amazon exclusivity to your books. And yes, it was very nice for a few months, until the rules were changed. Without notice of course. You see, the problem was that self published titles were just way too popular, so their ‘weighting’ on bestseller lists had to be reduced. From 100% down to 10% of their value.

Yet even after this dramatic change, these pesky self published titles managed to claw their way to the top of bestselling lists. Not something that would have pleased the Big Six I’m sure. So more work needed to be done.

The next move came with the massive deletions of reviews on self published titles. No, not the paid reviews by registered Amazon reviewers working on Fiverr, but those nasty reviews written by pesky self published authors who actually read a book and honestly posted a review. Clearly Amazon believed that this was just not right that authors should be allowed to review books, even though major publishers have wrought  the book review system for decades and habitually use well known authors to write book reviews. But what’s a little hypocrisy when an end needs a means.

If these measures weren’t enough to ‘kill off’ these pesky Indies, then came this new move.

‘Add to all this the unexplained changes in Amazon’s algorithms that keep the books in the KDP program from competing with publishing house titles as best-sellers.’ Source: http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2012/11/15/velvet-rope-a-dope/

My understanding of this last change was to preclude self published titles from appearing alongside major published titles in the ‘Customers Also Bought’ widget on Amazon book pages. Judging by my own ebook sales, it has worked spectacularly well, as my unit sales have dropped off a cliff from October to November.

So what happens after the destruction of self publishing?

To fill the new void that is going to be created by ‘killing off’ the Indies and genuine self published authors, the Big Six are now offering their own self publishing services. Simon & Schuster are the latest to offer this …..

This is not self publishing. It is old fashioned vanity publishing that charges anywhere between $1,500 and $25,000 to publish a book, with little chance of success. In fact it is a very old fox in new sheep’s clothing – Author Solutions and Author House. My advice has always been, do not walk away from them, run away! Vanity publishing has such a bad reputation, but as it has now been renamed and re-marketed as self publishing, everything is ok. Right? Wrong!

If you’re a self published author, the message is clear, and get ready for more bad news in the near future. All your free ebook giveaways were for nothing. You were all just way too popular for the good of the publishing industry, who are now struggling to afford their champagne lunches every day. But boy, did you help sell millions of Kindles. Well done. But you’ve served your purpose, now pack your bags and get the hell out of publishing!

Of course, I could be completely wrong about all this.

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  1. Rick Carufel

    I don’t see any cause for the huge drop in sales save one. The sales did not drop off, they are not being reported by Amazon and they are stealing our royalties.

    1. Kevin O. McLaughlin

      Actually, there are a lot of possible reasons:
      – October was the month before a presidential election, and ALL book sales ALWAYS drop off a lot in October every four years.
      – If your books are underpriced, and therefore not standing up as well in the popularity index. Amazon isn’t dumping indies; they ARE making it harder to sell tens of thousands of 99 cent books. They are actively encouraging indies to raise prices a few dollars by favoring books with a somewhat higher price tag.
      – Maybe you didn’t market as much? Or the marketing was not as effective?
      – Maybe you’ve crossed the 90-day mark since your last release? Once your book has been out 91 days, it drops off the recent releases list, and you *really* want to have another work out by around that time, even a short story, to keep your name in the recent releases. (This is “do as I say, not as I do” – I am behind on releases as well, and it shows in my recent sales!!!).
      – Maybe you just lost the benefit of your Select freebie run? It only lasts for 90 days, and then – poof! – once those days “roll off” the average sales on the popularity index, your visibility drops like a rock if you haven’t made similarly good sales since then.

      Bottom line: it is VERY EASY to check to see if Amazon is keeping royalty money. Set a book or short story to 99 cents. Buy a copy; check to see if the sale posts. Buy another one; ditto. Buy a couple more; check those. You can spend five or ten bucks and get a VERY good idea of how well sales are posting. Or you can just trust the guys who regularly spend a hundred or so dollars this way, checking sales to ensure that things are still smooth.

      They are.

      Some writers are seeing sales down; I know a stack of writers who saw record high sales on their indie books in November, a huge burst around the release of the big Kindle HD. So sales are NOT down for all indies. I’m not even sure they’re down for most indies. Don’t let your anecdotal evidence make you jump to assuming foul play. ;) The evidence does not support that theory.

      1. Troy Johnson

        Kevin all of your comments are quite reasonable. However are you suggesting that Beth’s article is has no validity?

        1. Kevin O. McLaughlin

          Validity of data is based on the rigorousness of the process used to acquire the data.

          The data in the article above is flawed. It is based on the personal experience of someone who clearly LACKS much experience in the field. It fails to attempt a systematic analysis of how others are doing. It fails to seek other possible reasons for the changes noted, and jumps to a serious of conclusions completely unsupported by available data.

          The result is that the article presents a serious of opinions and guesses, none of which are supported by real data, and draws conclusions which are in error.

          I recognize that the author of the piece is scared, and worried, and freaking out a bit from changes that she is having trouble understanding and keeping up with. It’s understandable – this is a fast changing field, and you MUST stay informed. But I knew about the algorithm changes she writes about back in MAY, when they happened. I wrote about them on my blog back in May, when they happened. The review thing is much ado about nothing, UNLESS you are part of a little circle of writers all reviewing each others’ work; if you’re getting good reviews from your readers, then you have nothing to fear.

          Amazon is not drawing back from indies. Amazon doesn’t care whose books it sells; it just wants to sell books. Big publishers are still LOSING margin to indie writers, more and more as time goes on, and more indies are making a full time living writing today than were this time last year.

          I hate this sort of fear-mongering. I don’t believe writers should rely on Amazon for sales (get your work on other sites too!). And I never believed Amazon was some benign entity out to help writers. Amazon is out to help Amazon. You should be out to help you. When your interests and Amazon’s intersect, you do business. And as Amazon changes things, you adapt and move on.

          Or you fail.

          1. Troy Johnson

            …Or you rant on your Blog.

            I appreciate the depth of your response. I’ll also check out your Blog in a moment.

            You wrote, “…and more indies are making a full time living writing today than were this time last year.”

            It seems to me, given the continuously increasing number of authors publishing independently (at least we know the number of books published increase year over year), the relentless pressure to compete on price (free or 99 cent eBooks), the struggling economy, and other factors, that it would be much harder for an independent writer to support themselves from publishing books.

            Actually you wrote “writing”, so I guess you are including all manner of ways a writer can generate income. Even then I would assume writers would find it more difficult today to earn a living writing.

            Do you have an article or any additional information I can reference to support the statement? Thanks.

  2. Derek Haines

    I would hate to believe that is true Rick. But with Amazon’s infamous ‘Cone of Silence’ attitude, it is impossible to know. If it were the case though, even by the now famous ‘technical glitch’ that would change the debate completely.

  3. Jerrold Mundis

    “Simon & Schuster are the latest to offer this …..
    This is not self publishing. It is old fashioned vanity publishing that charges anywhere between $1,500 and $25,000 to publish a book, with little chance of success.”

    Actually, that is precisely what most self-publishing is – good old-fashioned vanity publishing. It’s just that now it can be done by anyone for little to no cost. Most self-published books are no better, and often much worse (since they are rarely even copyedited or proofread, to say nothing nothing of the quality of the writing) than those vanity press books of old. Simon & Schuster, in an utterly cynical and exploitative move, is simply trying to extract some revenue from the surging mass of self-publisers.

    Are all self-published books junk? No, not at all. And genuine writers, talented, increasingly professional, are emerging from those ranks, some of whom couldn’t before have been able to break into traditional publishing, and others who could have but are electing not to. And their ranks will probably increase, and self-publishing will probably evolve (and more probably is doing so already) into more or less two tiers, one, the much smaller, a source of professional quality work and even literary and artistic merit, the other and vastly larger a swamp of little or no more merit or interest than were the were vanity-published books of old.

    Other than the disintermediation of traditional publishers – which is no small thing! – all that is happened here, so far as self-publishing is concerned, is that the costs and physical storage barriers to vanity publishing have been removed and a floodwater of poor to bad books and other written works released.

    Developments going forward will not be the death of self-publishing. What they will do, though, is begin to exert some pressure toward quality in the mass of self-published books.

    (As an aside, I am happily self-publishing myself – now about halfway through the process of getting those books that are appropriate from among my out-of-print backlist titles up as eBooks. After I’ve completed that process, I’ll set to new work again, and plan on self-publishing that, too.)

  4. MIke K.

    And how much money are the big six paying you for your “okay guys, pack it in and give up” article Frank?

    These problems seem limited to amazon. If they do indeed decide to outright boot inie authors well then won’t B&N just eat that up? Won’t Smashwords just eat that up?

    Allromance books and the dozens of other sites will love it as well.

    Know why? Indie books are very affordable I can buy a half dozen of them for what some idiot ponied up for a copy of 50 shades of garbage.

    Also people in this economy have had it up to here with the “big guy” it gets out amazon caved to the FAILING big six and cut the little guy, there will be hell to pay and the underhanded strategies your pointing to could set up a class action suit the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite some time.

    No, Frank, you’re full of crap. This theory is as phony as all of the paid reviews the publishers stick on their books.

    I am an amazon indie author who has seen their sales increase month over month for 9 straight months. The issue is the select program which I have never enrolled in. The idiots giving it away for free are destroying their own sales. Why the hell would I buy a book from you if you’ll just give me stuff?

    Regardless the major publishers are the ones in fear of the self published authors, not amazon.

    Now run along now, I think Penguin needs their butt kissed. Pucker up, moron.

  5. Wiggins

    Actually, Mike K., KDP Select free giveaways boosted my sales into the stratosphere and made me a bestseller. 50K+ books sold later, I don’t think I’m an idiot.

    I do agree, however, that the originating post is a bunch of nonsense.

  6. Victoria Adams

    Conspiracy theory 101.

  7. Debra Holland

    You are wrong. Perhaps not completely, but still wrong.

    Part of the knowledge of self-published sales patterns comes from longevity. Last year, my great books sales started a downward slide from after Labor Day until Christmas. Many people would still envy me my (pre Christmas) December sales figures, but for me, they were way down. With rare exceptions, almost everyone in the self-publishing community said the same thing was happening for their sales. AND people who’d self-published the year before (2010) were quick to reassure us that it had happened to them in that season previously and to wait for the Christmas wave. They were right. Christmas Day my sales popped up and were great through May and ok over the summer.

    Therefore, I expected to have my sales slide during this season, and that’s what has happened. Again, in comparison to many, my sales are still good, just steadily declining. However, I’m shrugging my shoulders and focusing on getting the next book out. I know the Christmas sales will pop things up again. Having a new novella will pop sales up again.

    If you’re going to be a self-published author, you need to understand that your book or books will cycle up and down. Sometimes you’ll know why, and sometimes you won’t. Most of the time, you have no or little control over it, although you can waste a ton of time and money trying to change that. Sometime that might even work. Most of the time it won’t, at least not enough to make a difference for more than a few days.

    Instead of running around, wasting time and energy calling, “The sky is falling,” write your next book. You have the most control over your own career by continuously publishing good books. Don’t worry about what Amazon is (hypothetically) going to do because you have little or no control about that and why make up fearful fantasies about the future. Write your books. Make wise decisions about your self-published income so you are in a better financial position for your future regardless of what happens.

    1. Derek Haines

      I agree with you wholeheartedly Debra. While I’m always prepared to be proved wrong, I’m very happy to be corrected by your positive attitude, which I must say one needs to have if you are a self published author. In my defence though, I do think that an over reliance on KDP by many authors has been unhealthy for self publishing as a whole, and hopefully my post raised issues that need to be considered. Changes will always occur, but for those signed to exclusivity it is impossible to retain the flexibility and independence that self publishers need and should value.

  8. Emily Hill

    I wonder if, as a community, we are not talking past each other to some extent.

    There are at least two main issues at play here (a) whether or not one’s sales soared, or dropped [in spite of a ] vibrant marketing campaign and verifiable analytics (TweetReach, etc) and; (b) has Amazon done all it can within its resources to maintain a mainframe/platform that allows all publishers (indies and trads) a seamless, ‘glitch-free’ on-line storefront.

    From my own experience of ‘test-buying’ my eBooks with the help of friends – I cannot point to ‘skimming’ by Amazon, but I acknowledge that this possibility is a real concern of hundreds (thousands?) of authors.

    My piss-off with kdp Amazon is over the Bezos-acknowledged ‘technical glitches’ (The Seattle Times) that screw up sales/reporting and waste one’s time/resources, including: (1) the UK sales reporting screens vanishing; (2) the disappearance of the buy-now buttons in November (3) the late arriving September sales statements; (4) the failure to ‘kick-in’ on author’s designated kdp ‘Free Days’ [in late October]; and (5) don’t get me started on the reach-back and removal of hundreds (thousands?) of book reviews.

    Take issue (4) – Say you are celebrating a Book Release — You’ve set up a ‘Free Day’ within your kdp Select options, you’ve broadcast the ‘Free Day’ throughout your social media platforms, sent out eNews releases, informed your Goodreads’ friends, Notice is on your author’s website, yadda, yadda – but ‘lo and behold kdp Amazon technical glitches cause a failure in making your eBook free. Now you’re scrambling around while fans, friends et al are cussing you out because you said “Free!” and the eBook is NOT free. How many times can one get the same customer to return to a broken buy-now button? In the case of broken ‘Free Day!’ buttons the authors took the heat, not Amazon.

    I can say with confidence that my stumbling Amazon sales success of late is because I am intentionally not loading quarters into a broken pop machine…Bezos can keep his ‘technical glitches’.

  9. Shane M

    I wonder if Amazon could discuss with authors what the concerns are behind certain actions. I wonder if AMZN is worried about revenues to support the platform and wants to support higher priced books. If so – should independents raise prices to get back on the “also read” lists (if in fact they’ve changed practice on this)?

    I can understand this from a business standpoint – if readers fill up their e-readers with free or $0.99 books that doesn’t generate much revenue for Amazon. Guidance to indy authors on “what we’re” doing wrong – and what we should do to make it better – would be appreciated.

  10. N.K.David

    Is it possible for publishers to steal Author’s royalty?

    1. Kevin O. McLaughlin

      Not only possible, but has occurred on multiple occasions. There’s a class action suit against Harlequin alleging foul play with royalties right now, in fact. Also multiple incidences of writers winning suits against agencies for embezzling royalties (writers should in general ensure their contracts split royalties so checks are sent directly to the writer and agent for their respective shares, not to the agent first who then sends the writer’s share to the writer).

    2. Rick Carufel

      Since it would seem the Government’s policy for dealing with corrupt corporations is to fine them 10% of what they stole and nobody goes to jail. Where’s the deterrent for corporate theft when the government let’s them keep 90% of what they steal? Given that stealing raises profits and only cost 10% what do you think corporate policy would be?

  11. Will Lutwick

    One suspicious thing I’ve noticed about my self-published memoir, “Dodging Machetes,” is that Amazon has been taking some of my legit five-star reader reviews off my book page. Of course they did not notify me and of course I complained—to the email address given to me by Amazon Author Central. Twice. And they apparently are not even going to reply to me. Another unfair tactic is that they limit my Review section to 1750 characters, yet I see plenty of other books, even some self-published ones, with 8000-character Review sections. Meanwhile I’m self-published via CreateSpace, Amazon’s own self-publishing service.

    I used to think they’d give me a fair shake. No longer.

    1. Derek Haines

      There have been a lot of changes to KDP Will, and removing 5 star reviews has been happening for some time now. It doesn’t seem fair at all, but unfortunately we are caught up in a publishing war between Amazon and others and we are just the small fry. So expect more surprises along the way. Especially from Amazon, who can act very quickly and aggressively.

  12. John Holt

    It’s alright writing an article like this – but to what purpose. You seem to think Indie authors have a choice. They don’t. The big boy publishers aren’t interested, unless you were a celebrity A-lister. And as for the so called vanity publishers, I’ve been there, seen that, got the Tee shirt. I won’t go near them even again. I paid to have my novels published. They never sold. I would love to be a best seller, earning millions in royalties, Spielberg knocking on my door, demanding I sell him the film rights. I’m a realist and I know it will never happen. Regrettably the big boys have nothing to fear from me, or many other Indie authors. I, and presumably many others, are happy enough to do our writing, self publish, and sell a few, and hopefully our readers like what we do. So, unless you want to give me another option, I’ll carry on as I am.
    John Holt

    1. Derek Haines

      Actually, I think there are real opportunities in self publishing now John. In my mind the problem has been the misguided reliance on Amazon Kindle by self published authors and although written tongue in cheek, my post was really about giving Kindle the boot. Amazon have treated self published authors like sh*t. Pardon the expression. But they used Indies to build their Kindle platform on freebies and are now dumping Indies as they get back into bed with the Big 6 (now 5).

      There are many other retailers and with readers voting by buying Indie books in their millions, there is an acceptance that can be exploited now. Readers like Indies, Amazon seemingly don’t anymore. So, it’s time to support Smashwords, Kobo and other independent retailers and distributors and send our potential readers to them and stop giving Amazon an easy ride.

      Personally, I am now listing Amazon last on my website in my list or retailers. About where they belong.

      1. Kevin O. McLaughlin

        Heh. Go ask the big five (soon to be four, then I would bet big three will be next) if they think Amazon is “getting in bed with them”. More like kicking them out of bed. ;) Amazon imprints are deliberately forcing advances to remain high. Too high, really. Unsustainable high, for the big publishers. Of course, Amazon can afford to lose tens of millions a year keeping the bids for high profile books up at a level big publishers can no longer afford.

        That’s the next phase of the plan, you see: bankrupting large publishers. Of course, Amazon couldn’t do it without the publishers playing along… Today, small is better. Faster. More nimble. Easier to build brands around. Bigger is NOT better when it comes to publishing, because the old economies of scale are out the window. By trying to beat Amazon through mergers, those publishers are simply sealing their own fates.

  13. Judith Gash

    I did a five day freebie promo early on and had 1500 downloads. I didn’t get one review out of those. I complained on author central and two people shamed me for wanting reviews. One was an Amazon person. I got out of Select, but recently returned. Was it wrong of me to question this?

    1. Derek Haines

      Quite honestly Judith, I avoid Kindle forums like the plague. I belong to a couple of great Facebook writers groups that are extremely helpful and supportive, but Kindle forums seem to me to be over populated with those bent on spite. With regard to free downloads and reviews though, those days are over. There is no real benefit anymore in giving away your book on KDP.

    2. Rick Carufel

      Judith
      The Amazon forums are populated by trolls who lie in wait for people like you to pounce on. More than likely you will get a review or two now that are one-star personal attacks. Amazon absolutely refuses to either clean up those forums or close them completely. Those forums are the source of most one star reviews and complaints that get five star reviews removed.

  14. Rich Meyer

    I think the last thing we, as indie writers, need right now is more wanton speculation and fear-mongering among ourselves. The powers that be do that enough themselves without our own contributions.

    Sure, KDPS isn’t what it used to be. Hell, I’m more than likely dropping most of my titles out of it in January, leaving just the loss leaders to see how things work out. But since I joined KDPS, my sales have quite literally doubled. Since I write in a very niche category, and I am perfectly happy with that level of sales, I call that a success.

    There’s too much speculating, too much fear-mongering, too many squabbles and not nearly enough writing. If we as independent writers would concentrate more on the craft and less on the conspiracies, we’d all be a lot better off.

    1. Derek Haines

      I agree with you Rich. I also did very well out of KDPS also, but the wonder days are over. This I think is a good thing too, as the over reliance on Kindle as the only self publishing platform was flawed by the exclusivity clause. It is time for self publishers to spread their wings and find other platforms and be Indies and not just Kindle fodder.

    2. Josie

      I agree with Rich. Fear-mongering only serves to freeze victims with fear. Do not be afraid, but rather take control of your own success. If you think you need Amazon to sell your book you haven’t thought hard enough. Let the people spread the word for you. Let Kony2012, Justin Beiber, and (…you fill in the blank with your favourite internet success story here) be your inspiration. They didn’t spread their work through Amazon but their work is well known.

    3. Rick Carufel

      It’s not fear mongering when people go to their book on Amazon and find that all the review for their book, which drives sales, are gone.

      I have had people email mail me with stories of 25 reviews, all there were, removed from a single book. I have also had a gentleman who had, since the start of Amazon, publish hundreds of reviews made over more than 10 years all deleted with no explaination.

      In both cases Amazon absolutely refused to give an answer as to why. They just sent their canned response and when pressed for a valid answer threatened to ban the questioner from Amazon if they pressed the issue.

      I see no fear mongering here. I see a serious abuse of the peoplewho make them money, by Amazon.

      It’s not conspiracy theory, it’s Amazon treating the people who got them started like shit.

      When people work their ass off trying to make a living as a writer and the sales venue deliberately sabotages them by removing the reviews that help sell books it’s a serious issue that will eventually end in a massive lawsuit. As soon as they get too cocky and pull this shit on someone who is either a best seller or wealthy enough to sue them TSWHTF.

  15. Rick Carufel

    Proprietary Protectionism, wow! You nailed it Rich. That’s exactly what has been motivating Amazon. And it accounts for their evasiveness and secretiveness too.

  16. Jerrold Mundis

    I can understand you’re being disappointed, but what you complain about eludes me. It’s the downloaders – very few of whom will actually read your book, their primary interest being in free book rather than actually in books – who didn’t review your book, not Amazon.

    And you’re the one who offered them a free a book. They didn’t come to you asking for one. They made no contract, no agreement with you to review. Yes, it would be nice if some of them had, but none was under any obligation to do so.

    Additionally, there might even be a hidden blessing in this. Freebie downloaders often download indiscriminately, picking up books in genres or fields outside of what they like or are accustomed to, and, when they do review, end up leaving a disproportionately large number of low-star and negative opinions.

    Best solution? Inure yourself to reviews or lack of them, except as part of marketing strategy, write more books, and better books, market and promote in every effective way you can find.

    Writing is an art, or a craft; self-publishing is a business.

  17. Judith Gash

    Thanks to all for feedback!

  18. David Chester

    Does this apply only to fictional books? I have in mind a technical book that hopefully will soon be published, possibly as a self-published one. What are the chances that the vital and essential subject I am writing about will not get sufficient coverage?

    1. Derek Haines

      Hi David. As far as I know, Amazon’s new policies apply to all books, no matter the genre. In particular, if you received reviews for your new book from authors publishing in the same topic/genre, the reviews could well be deleted under Amazon’s new rules.

  19. Sheila Parks

    Does Amazon tell the author when they delete reviews? Or how do we find it, like if someone writes a review that we don’t know. And seems like if even someone we did know wrote a review and it got deleted, they would have had to keep checking

    Thx for helpful article and discussion

    1. Derek Haines

      No Sheila, Amazon never tell anyone anything. Not even when they remove reviews from your book. Even if you ask politely as to why, you always get the same cold ‘copy and paste’ reply. And if you push it, they threaten you with removal. Amazon’s heavy handed tactics have made me change course with my book distribution. While it pays for me to have my books available on Amazon for Kindle owners, it is now far from my preferred retailer. I don’t like to be threatened with removal, simply for asking questions that directly affect sales of my books.

      In my dealings with Smashwords, Kobo, Sony and Ganxy however, I have found excellent support as well as open and polite communication channels that make it a pleasure to deal with them.

  20. Sheila Parks

    Does Amazon let author know when they delete a review? Or how else do we know?

    Thx for helpful article and discussion

    1. Rick Carufel

      Hi Sheila
      Not only will Amazon not notify if a review is removed but when asked for the reason they refuse to give a specific answer. If pressed they will threaten to rescind your privilege to either post reviews or sell books.
      Amazon views any content added to their website as their property and therefore have no obligation to explain what they do with their property to anyone.

  21. paul

    Almost conspiratorial,
    They will view it as their ballpark and their ball, so their rules.

  22. clancy tucker

    Derek,

    Can I post your above comments on my daily blog and send links to major players I have been battling with for years? Who? The head sherangs of organisations purportedly representing ALL writers in the lucky country – Australia … and the Prime Minister’s Department et al. My blog now goes to 25 countries, and I’m sure my readers would be keen to read this conversation.

    Clancy Tucker

    http://www.clancytucker.blog.com

    http://www.clancytucker.com.au

    1. Rick Carufel

      Hi Clancy,
      You are welcome to repost any of my comments and welcome to go to my blog and use anything useful you find there.
      http://indie-publishing.blogspot.com/

    2. Derek Haines

      Hi Clancy. The content of my blog is open for discussion and backlinking, but if you wish to quote directly from individual comments on this post, other than my own, I would think it would be polite to contact the commenter. I notice Rick has given his approval, and I think many others would agree as well.

      1. Rick Carufel

        Hi Derek,
        Didn’t mean to step on your toes. I have some info on my blog that you’ve read and know it may be of use to Clancy.
        Happy Holidays, my friend. :0)

        1. Derek Haines

          No problems at all Rick. I think the more information that is known and shared about Amazon’s practices, the better.

          1. Rick Carufel

            Thanks, that’s too is my view on the issue.

  23. Sam

    I recently published a book on amazon for the kindle and enrolled in the KDP programme, are you saying this is bad? I was confused by the process to be honest and didn’t find the guidance very helpful. Not sure what to do about it when the 90 days are up.

    1. Rich Meyer

      You enrolled in the KDP Select program, Sam, which is different from KDP,(which is just basic publishing on Amazon). KDP Select just allows you to have free promotional days and puts your book in the lending library for Prime, which can be more profitable than actually selling copies of the book.

      Don’t let yourself be scared by the doom-sayers. It can be a good thing for you and your work. Sure the exclusivity can be a bummer at times, but there’s a much better chance of being seen by a paying customer on Amazon than on any other website out there. I’ve literally doubled my sales over last year by having some of my books in KDP Select. I’ve had one actual sale on Smashwords, and only a slight dribble from their “premium” channels.

      1. Rick Carufel

        There are no doom-sayers Sam, just people who have real problems caused by the shabby way Amazon treats authors who are not published by the Big 6 publishing houses.

        What does “Literally doubled my sales” mean? Going from selling one book a month to selling two is literally doubling sales. So it’s a meaningless remark. Now if you go from selling 1000 books to 2000 books that’s something but I’m sure that’s not what happened is it?

  24. Derek Haines

    I can say Sam, that both Rich and Rick are correct. It depends on a number of factors and how you use KDPS. My experience was the same as Rich in the first 10 months of selling my ebooks exclusively with Amazon. But then in May and early October of this year, Amazon made changes to their program that I felt were unfair. From December through to September of this year my sales went from 10 or 20 book sales per month, up to 200 to 300. So it was effective. But after May, sales steadied due to changes in KDPS free ebook values. Then in early October, my sales fell off a cliff. This was at about the time Amazon changed thier review policies and I also believe they changed their algorithms which has effected indie sales. It was at this point I decided to leave KDPS and go back to other retailers.

  25. Emily Hill

    Watch Alert!

    Those of you who have watched Derek’s thread on this blog topic are aware that I built a “Kindlegate.webstarts” page last month, with a $2.99 membership for those who wanted access to ‘Amazon Alternatives’. Between 12 November and 12 December 3300 visitors have viewed the site.

    One Alan Kipust, VP – Kindle Amazon Operations – was my most recent subscriber to the Members Only Page. Yes, Alan paid the price of admission, and received the log in code. He then requested a refund after looking around my “Alternatives to Amazon” site. If he would have been more wily, and let the $2.99 ‘ride’ I would not have had raised suspicions to Google “Alan Kipust”.

    Don’t think your angst is being tracked by Kindle Amazon??

    Think again.

    Emily

    1. Derek Haines

      Thank you for that information Emily. So it’s clear that Amazon are snooping on their detractors. I hope you didn’t refund his $2.99! But his request for a refund says a lot about Amazon’s ethics in my view. He got the information he was after, and then has the balls to ask for a refund?

      I can’t be sure how far or deep Amazon and KDP snoop, but I can say this. In the last month, my sales on KDP are fewer than the reviews I have received. From about the time I started posting less than complimentary remarks about Amazon KDP. How can one receive more reviews than sales? I’ll let you figure that one out! :)

  26. Shirley Wine

    Make no mistake this conversation is being followed by not only Amazon. After my earlier comment about Kobo their head honcho Mark Levere contacted me and thanked me about my kind words about Kobo.

    So this conversation is being followed and not just by Amazon.

    1. Derek Haines

      That’s great to hear Shirley. I am really hoping that Kobo become a force in ebook delivery as quite honestly, Amazon could really do with viable competitors, otherwise I fear for the future of ebooks. While Smashwords do a fine job as a distributor, the ebook market does desperately need new and fresh ideas from other online retailers.

      1. Shirley Wine

        I was actually blown away to receive that email from Mark Levere. We had a good conversation and they are working on ways to track the free downloads authors use as promos etc. He was very open to any suggestions so if you do have bright ideas he’d be prepared to listen.

    2. Rick Carufel

      I recently published 3 of my books on Kobo. Instead of them publishing in 24-48 hours as they say the books stayed in publishing limbo for 11 days and only got published when I contacted them to complain about it.

      1. Ruthanne Reid

        That happened to me, too.

        1. Rick Carufel

          I also notice none of the books appear in any of their list such as new releases, good reads under $4.99 or short reads all categories of which at least two of the books qualify. I have not read completely through the Kobo site but wonder how books get on those lists. Is this another case of paid endorsements? only those who pay get on the lists where their books should show up?

  27. Mike Fook

    My sales dropped during October. They have since picked up. I haven’t noticed that I lost any reviews from Amazon, but maybe I did. Not a lot, if any, so I haven’t given it much attention or thought.

    Amazon is slowly revealing itself to be the wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is, quite possibly, the ANTICHRIST himself! I loathe the company, and yet there is no other, and no combination of companies, that is selling as many books for me as they are. I’ll stick with “The Beast” a little longer and hope other viable alternatives open up. I’d love to drop them!

    For now, I’ll just write myself sick and hope that I have so much content to sell by the time I’m 60, that it doesn’t matter who is selling my books, at what price, and at what commission. I’ll be the winner regardless.

    Best to everyone,

    MF

    1. Derek Haines

      I think we all know Amazon have become a 2,000 lb gorilla Mike, but they are the biggest retailer of books and ebooks. So it’s a no brainer to have one’s book available there. However, recent actions by Amazon will hopefully push self published authors to not only look elsewhere to sell their books, but also to start encouraging readers to look elsewhere as well.

      For ebook readers outside the US there is a very good reason to look at buying ebooks from other retailers, who do not charge an extra dollar just to deliver an ebook. Amazon’s international delivery charge is nothing more than a rip off, which no other retailer I know of needs to charge.

      Nothing will change while self published authors think that Amazon is the only retailer. I know many say that other retailers do not deliver sales, but this is probably because all their book marketing is directed and linked back to Amazon. To encourage readers to look at other retailers, self publishers need to play their part and change the way they market their books.

      1. Mike Fook

        Actually, Amazon charges $2 more than I put my books for sale for – for the overseas market. I’m in Thailand, so every book I see is $2 more than the author listed. A shite deal for sure.

        I forgot to mention – there is still good reason to drop the price of the first book in a series to “free” – to get more readers, whether or not they leave a review on Amazon. I have my website all through my books, so hopefully readers see that and come over and have a look. Some will buy my new books there, when they realize they can get them cheaper and well before anyone at Amazon can. Amazon gets my new books last.

        Just found your site here, glad I did. Followed you on twitter for a while, but I’m rarely there.

        Cheers,

        MF

        1. Derek Haines

          $2.00 for wireless delivery is a bit rich Mike. I feel lucky only being hit for $1.00 by Kindle here in Switzerland. Not that I pay their rip off anymore, as I can usually find books I want on other retailers.

          1. Mike Fook

            Well, I learned something. I thought it was $2 added on worldwide. Either way, it’s ridiculous as it cost them less than 1c to send a book.

  28. Emily Hill

    Check your prices, people!

    I just noticed that my ePub Coaching guide which has always sold for $2.99 (61 pages) has been price-adjusted by Amazon to $4.99 this morning – which is totally out of the correct range. Where IS the extra royalty going, me wonders??

    Life is too short to go into all the implications for THIS “technical glitch” [Bezos to The Seattle Times last month].

    1. Kevin O. McLaughlin

      Are you sure, Emily? It’s $2.99 right now.

  29. Stephen C. Ormsby

    So is being attached to a small indie publisher give you a better chance than going it alone?

    1. Kevin O. McLaughlin

      Probably not. In most cases, small presses do nothing for you (today) that you can’t do yourself. The exceptions are the few small presses which either a) get your books into B&N chain stores, b) do significant marketing, or both.

      The former is rare. The latter is almost as rare. You can tell if a small press is doing serious marketing of their books (in a successful manner) by checking Kindle ranks on their releases over the last six months. If the rankings are all over the place, they’re doing diddly. If most of the books are ranked 100k or better, and some books are in the top 20k, then they’re probably doing some decent marketing and might be worth signing with.

      But in general? Most small presses are in precisely the same boat as any indie writer, and can’t get books anywhere that you as a writer can’t also get – nor do they get any special advantages that you as an indie writer won’t get.

    2. Rick Carufel

      I am a small Indie publisher and the advantages of using my services is that you get professional quality book formatting and layout, cover design that with spine and backcover for POD paperbacks and Ebook publication. You also get the advantage of using someone who has been through the process of publishing POD and ebooks many times and know the process. So you get not only services to make you book a professional quality product but you don’t have to go through the aggravation of learning how to do it. Smashwords.com is particularly hard to please with submissions and many would-be self-publishers have been stopped there. Writers pay to have their manuscripts edited and proofed, they pay for a front cover, and should spend a few hundred more for a professional formatting and layout for their books. I, unlike many small publishers do no contracts and get no royalties. I work for a flat rate and when we’re done the author gets all the profits from sales. Do not try to take advantage of writers I try to help them.

  30. clancy tucker

    Thank you to Derek and Rick. Appreciate your offer … and this conversation.

    CT

  31. Barry Hoffman

    Sadly this article shows the lengths major publishers and Amazon.com will go to strengthen their monopoly on publishing. It is no secret that for more than 20 years mass market publishers have been squeezing the middle out of publishing. Their overriding desire is the bottom line. They’ll publish crap (poorly written material like Fifty Shades of Grey) if it will make money and damn those authors who don’t write books that will sell by the millions (or at least the thousands and earn a hefty profit). The new climate is anything but new. It’s the way things have been for far too long. It may be that small and specialty presses will once again (as in the eighties) have to step in to save exceptional authors who don’t sell enough for the big boys.

  32. Andrea Marie Norwood

    I for one certainly agree that you are wrong, and you never give up on “good thing” you are building into an empire, because you will have cheated yourself out of what could someday have been create.

    1. Rick Carufel

      Who are you addressing and what are you talking about?

  33. Troy Johnson

    “No, not the paid reviews by registered Amazon reviewers working on Fiverr,…” So cynical, so funny, so sadly true.

    You sales are down — my commissions for sales like yours are down too. The freedom offer by the net is being sucked away by large corporate entities — the barrier to entry are back up sports fans!

    1. Kevin O. McLaughlin

      Troy, what data are you seeing that support those suppositions?

      Right now, the average price of indie books on bestseller lists is climbing, so indies are making more money on sales.
      The market percentage held by indies has remained almost entirely unchanged all year – at least 35% overall for ebooks in the USA, and roughly 45-50% of fiction ebooks.

      YOUR sales might be going down. Mine did, actually, too (because I failed to keep up a 90-day release schedule, largely). But I know scores of writers who have seen sales climb every month all year, even during the rough election months. That’s all anecdotal evidence. Some writers see sales climb, other see sales fall. Overall, indie market share *hasn’t budged*, and indie average prices *have climbed*, so overall, indie writers are grossing a total that is *significantly* higher than it was this time last year.

      There are no barriers to entry.

      There are barriers to success – finding readers, getting fans, building a customer base, writing and releasing enough product to keep people interested, those are all barriers to reaching a high level of success – but there are no barriers to entry.

      And *everybody* has those same barriers to success, regardless how they are published.

      1. Derek Haines

        I agree with you Kevin. Except for one missing factor. Amazon algorithms are the mysterious factor that Indies can’t beat. No matter how hard an author builds a base, changes in Amazon’s algorithms can mean a feast for a while, and then a famine. I’ve seen this happen over and over again. This is why I believe it is imperative for self published authors to get away from their Amazon addiction and publish on multiple platforms and have their books available on as many retailers as possible.

        1. Kevin O. McLaughlin

          But the good news, Derek are these two bits:

          1) Indies have, so far, been discovering those algorithm changes – and precisely how they impact sales – before the big publishers do. Right now, there are big publishers scanning indie forums to keep an eye out for the data indie writers are compiling, because it’s some of the best ebook industry analysis available today. WE get that info first. ;)

          2) Indies are in a better position to make changes based on those algorithm changes. Amazon changes something, we ADAPT. We shift prices, or change marketing strategies. We can turn on a dime! We are nimble, agile, fast. We are the sleek dolphins gliding alongside the oil tankers of the big publishers. ;) They can’t change their tens of thousands of books overnight to take advantage of changes. We can! So every time Amazon changes things up, it is more likely to benefit indies than major publishers. ;)

    2. Rick Carufel

      Troy, there are clearly two types of writers who publish on Amazon. On the one hand you have authors who writer from a literary angle, and those who write from a demographic angle. With phrases like ” 90-day release schedule” it would seem that Kevin falls into the latter category. These authors write to the demographics. In other words they see who is buying the most books in what category and then tailor their book to the market. The other type of author writes in the genre of their choice and are not influenced by demographics. One writes where their creativity leads them, the other whores after sales and will write anything that is selling at the moment regardless of subject matter. So take what those who write to the market say with a grain of salt. These authors grind out whatever is popular at the moment and will show higher sales because they are specifically targeting the groups and subjects that sell the most books.

      1. Kevin O. McLaughlin

        I think that’s a gross oversimplification, Rick. There are many, many types of writers out there. ;) And there is room for all sorts of storytellers.

        When I said “90 day release schedule”, I was referring back to an earlier comment I made. You don’t need to release a new novel every 90 days. Even a short story or novella will keep your name visible in those “new” categories where many readers browse for books. They buy the novella, like it, look for your other stuff, buy some of that, too…

        It’s a fact of life that most writers don’t make a living from their first ten or so books. It takes *time* to build an audience. It takes book after book. That’s the way the profession has pretty much always worked; it was that way under old traditional publishing for everyone except the lottery-winning breakout bestseller, and it remains that way in indie publishing.

        Whether you write one book a year or five, it’s going to take a good stack of books before you make your living at the game. Oh – and if you stop writing, your name will fade, sales will slump, and your income will fall.

        PS: As for me? I don’t write that fast. I have a full time job, and kids, and life takes its toll. Most full time writers I know produce many hundreds of thousands of words of fiction per year, though. “Writing fast” is really just about spending more time at the profession. If I write five hours per week, and you write fifty hours per week, you’re probably going to produce new books in about 1/10th the time I will. It’s just simple math.

        Most writers who want a full time living from writing books will need to put in full time hours to achieve their goal, and then continue working full time hours to maintain it.

        Most writers who want their books to sell will need to produce books which in every way match the quality level of the big NYC houses. That is the bar you must reach or exceed, unless you’re very lucky.

        Most writers who want to build a career quickly, instead of over 5-10 years, will have to produce multiple novels per year. The more GOOD books (or short stories, or novellas) you write per year, the faster your career will tend to progress.

        Most writers who want to make a living from their books will not be able to do so in the 99 cent price level. The average bestselling indie book is now around $3.50, and that number continues to climb.

        The day when you could write a book, toss it up without editing or proofing with a bad cover at 99 cents and make good money are over. Mainstream readers have moved into ebooks, and they want quality books. They’re also willing to pay quality prices for them, so many indies are doing QUITE well at $3.99-6.99 for full length novels. Amazon has also gotten tired of the 99 cent books, since they don’t make much money from them; they have changed their algorithms to favor pricing which brings them more money. Incidentally, those prices also bring the WRITER more money, so most experienced writers took one look at this data (last May!) and raised their prices on long form works (lots of folks still sell shorts for 99 cents, which is fine, but some writers are even selling shorts for $2.99 now – and are selling copies).

        If you want to succeed, you will (probably, barring a stroke of fortune) have to produce highly professional books, with excellent content; you will need to price them as professional works; you will need to continue producing more of the same to keep readers interested; and you will have to KEEP doing so for as long as you want to retain income on the older works, because otherwise all those writers still writing will rise above your work, and yours will vanish.

        In general, writers who work the hardest and produce the best stuff will sell best and earn the most. I don’t really have an issue with that. ;)

  34. Derek Haines

    Well put Troy. Yes, the barriers are slowly being put back up and the lock keepers are back in town. As for Fiverr and paid Amazon reviews? Well, let nothing like hypocracy get in the way of free enterprise huh? As my reviews by fellow authors may be banned and deleted, I guess I should consider spending five bucks to make my reviews safe.

  35. Michelle Booth

    Brilliant article. Not many things literally make me ‘laugh out loud’ but this did! I didn’t know the big publishers were starting to offer self-publishing services – looks like they are finally waking up to what’s going on. My decision to self-publish, despite a publisher’s interest, was purely financial, going on the experience of authors who had moved from traditional to self-publishing. I’m glad I did and I like having control. I also like fighting the big guys!

    1. Rick Carufel

      You say your choice to self-publish was purely financial. Well if a real publisher was interested they would be offering a check. Sounds to me like a vanity press was trying to get you to pay them. That’s not a real publisher, that’s a parasite who preys on the vanity of would-be writers to bleed them of cash and get them nowhere in a writing career, except poorer.

      1. Kevin O. McLaughlin

        Or the check offered was so piddling that she decided she’d almost certainly make more money going indie.

        That’s why most professional writers make the switch, Rick. ;)

  36. Elizabeth

    I would have thought sheer profits would keep Amazon fighting for the self-publisher – we do all the work, we market our books as hectically as we can, and they rake in a chunk on every sale, that’s like a licence to print money. I can well imagine the conventional publishers getting twitchy but surely it is in their interests to haul on board the gravy train instead – get their readers panning the waters to find reasonable books, then offering marketing help to the chosen ones.

    Maybe we should be doing that ourselves – like United Artists in early Hollywood, combining forces and hammering out our own futures.

    1. Derek Haines

      I think there’s a deeper story developing Elizabeth, and it all has to do with KDP Select and Amazon Prime. Now, my assumptions are made purely on anecdotal evidence and what I hear from other self published authors, but here’s my spin on it.

      Amazon’s algorithms are favouring those authors who are enrolled in KDP Select and have granted exclusivity to Amazon, which is quite logical as Amazon derive income from both sales, and borrows to Prime members. But by granting exclusivity, authors have signed away their independence. So, are they Indie authors anymore?

      The other clear sign that Amazon are favouring Select authors is in the royalty rates that are offered. As I have withdrawn from KDPS now, my royalty rate has dropped from 70% to 35% in a number of Kindle Stores.

      As have my sales I might add. Since removing all of my ebooks from KDPS in October last year, but I still have them on KDP of course, my sales have dropped 50%. I haven’t changed my promotion or marketing in any way, so I’m assuming it’s the effect of not being cross promoted by Amazon’s algorithms as much as when I was in KDPS.

      But you know what? I prefer to be a self published Indie author. And especially the Indie bit.

      1. Kevin McLaughlin

        I do not think there is evidence that Amazon is favorign Select books with their algorithms. If anything, the evidence suggests that Amazon USED to favor Select books much more highly, but has been steadily degrading that favoritism over the course of 2012, and now there is little benefit to be found in using the Select program.

        I sympathize with your reduced sales; many writers have seen sales go down. Others have seen sales go up. Many factors are involved in sales changes. ALL book sales go down around a major election, for example. Ebook sales tend to drop in December because they make bad gifts, and most people are holding off on personal purchases because of the December holidays. Your release tempo also matters a lot: how often you release new, good titles matters enormously, and if you’re not on a quarterly release schedule, consider moving to one. Keeping something in the “released in the last 90 days” list helps sales.

        I don’t think it’s something we can blame on Amazon, though. I think it’s something we need to take ownership of and solve for ourselves.

        1. Derek Haines

          I have to disagree Kevin.

          Amazon must favour KDPS titles now, because as you said, most of the original benefits of enrolling in KDPS have been gradually whittled away to near zero. For example, a free book give away, which counted as a sale when KDPS first started, is now dow to 5% of sale value. As for Prime borrows, why would anyone borrow a book priced under $4.99? Which most KDPS authors are under. And while I agree that sales fluctuate, mine fluctuated south in a hurry the day after I took all of my books out of KDPS. And this was after 2 years of steady sales. I just don’t go with coincidence on this one.

          The other point is that real authors don’t work on a 90 day release schedules. That is not writing, that is just ridiculous. It’s a recipe for releasing rubbish, which is what is damaging not only the Kindle, but also the ebook platform in general.

          1. Kevin O. McLaughlin

            You say they “must” favor Select books. But where is the evidence that they ARE doing so? Frankly, so long as some folks are willing to continue enrolling their books, I don’t think they “must” do anything. I wonder if they plan to continue the program through 2013, to be honest. Right now, it looks like they are, but I’m seeing all benefits of being a part of it decline, across the board.

            I agree that the KLL borrows favor higher priced books. Also, the visibility algorithms all now favor higher priced books. The benefit of charging 99 cents is now in the toilet. It’s gotten so that I am pushing my short story length on new works into novelette range so I can charge $2.99 for them instead of 99 cents.

            Amazon isn’t interested in a bunch of 99 cent bestsellers, so they’re actively making it more difficult to reach bestseller status at 99 cents. If you are pricing under $2.99, your work is *significantly* less likely to make sales.

            As for the schedule, I beg to differ. ;) Most full time professional novelists produce 2-6 novels a year, every year, for as long as they want a career to last. That has ALWAYS been the case. And I’m not just talking about long form work, either; you might produce two novels and two short stories or novelettes. That’s still a quarterly release schedule.

            If you write 1000 words per hour, and spend as much time revising as you do writing (experienced pros will spend less time than that on revision, but most of us are not experienced pros), then writing and revising just two hours a day, five days a week, is 250,000 new words published per year. That’s 2-3 new books, or two books and a couple of novellas. For working VERY part time hours (ten hours a week!).

            Full time novelists produce at four to six times that rate (working 40-60 hours per week).

            1. Derek Haines

              There is never anything that resembles evidence when it comes to Amazon Kevin. We all know that. But I think you are arguing my point. that KDPS is worthless unless you are a new author seeking a little bit of exposure. And I mean a little, because that’s all it gives now.

              With regard to how many books an author can produce a year, I’d agree with two. Perhaps. A novel of 100,000 words takes an awfully long time to research, write, and even longer to edit, fine tune, proof, beta read and prepare for publication. I think you are talking shorts and novellas, which are a different story.

              But I think you nailed the point though when you mentioned ‘inexperienced’. Just banging out crap at 1,000 words per hour to feed the Kindle machine is not writing.

              I can sometimes spend an hour just researching for a single paragraph. Word count is not writing.

            2. Rick Carufel

              I am assuming you mean beyond the obvious evidence that KDP select pays 70% royalties as opposed to 35% for regular KDP books. So in fact authors who do not give Amazon exclusive rights are penalized half of their royalties.

              1. Derek Haines

                Isn’t that bad enough Rick, and a sign that if you’re not in KDPS, you’re heavily penalised? No matter the algorithm games, having your royalty rate cut by half tells to me that Amazon wants you exclusive, or you suffer the consequences. I’d rather go elsewhere. I don’t react well to thuggery.

                1. Rick Carufel

                  It is indeed bad enough, Derek, but there are also other ways Amazon penalizes author as with the algorithms.

                  1. Derek Haines

                    Having read your latest blog post Rick, I wondered if you could have included Amazon in your list of what’s wrong with the US. Quite honestly, Amazon is a thug. I probably should add Apple, Google and Microsoft to them too. But maybe that is how the US works now. By whatever means?

              2. Kevin McLaughlin

                Interesting, Rick. My non-Select books still get 70% royalties. I admit to being disturbed that only Select books get 70% in India, but I haven’t seen any changes to the regular royalty rates in other nations, have you?

                1. Derek Haines

                  I’d go check your own KDP book price details page Kevin. The new Kindle Stores Amazon have added recently only pay 35% for non KDPS enrolment. The only exception being Canada.

      2. John David

        Interesting point.

        Want some more anecdotal evidence?

        I have TEN titles on Amazon now, NONE of which are in KDP Select. I removed them back in September, 2012.

        As a side project and learning experience, I helped my daughter produce and upload a short story to KDP, one that is very similar to the THREE children’s stories I have out.

        Her title has remained enrolled in KDP Select.

        This month to date I have exactly ZERO sales on the KDP platform, although I do have sales on BN, Lulu, ACX, and Createspace.

        The short story?

        With her ONE title, my daughter has a higher “author rank” on Amazon . . .

        than I do . . . with TEN.

        So yes, I DO believe that with Amazon and KDP Select, you either play ball . . . or you are OFF the team.

        -John

        1. Kevin O. McLaughlin

          More anecdotal evidence: I disenrolled from Select in June. Saw zero hit to sales. Sales still progress at roughly the same slow pace they had been. No marketing, no Select, still make sales.

          It’s all anecdotal. Which is…worthless.

          Want non-anecdotal evidence?
          Of the top 20 bestselling ebooks on Amazon, 30% (6) are self published. Of those, one is in Select.
          Of the top 100 bestselling ebooks on Amazon, 28% (28) are self published (down a bit today, due in part to the big boost in sales of old Reacher titles and a huge sale on trad pub nonfiction Amazon did yesterday, with over 2000 ebooks over 80% off). Of those, 10 are in Select.

          Select is obviously still helping at least some writers in sales of their work. But I do not think the actual evidence supports the idea that those without Select are automatically in trouble, sales-wise. Look elsewhere for the problems.

          1. Derek Haines

            Unfortunately Kevin, Amazon are so famously secretive that anecdotal evidence is all anyone has to work with. Amazon don’t even give information to governments unless threatened with a gun at the head, and even then they don’t tell all. So the only way to gain any insight into what’s happening is to follow the Kindle Boards (which I detest), pay attention to what other KDP and KDPS authors are saying and look at what happens to your own books. Amazon sure as hell aren’t going to tell anyone.

            As everything to do with Amazon and Kindle, sales and promotion is driven by mysterious algorithms, I would have to say that no one other than Amazon knows if titles are penalised after being withdrawn from KDPS. My own experience says a definite yes, as has been the experience of many others. But can I prove it? No, of course not. I just look at my steady sales of hundreds of copies for month upon month until the day I withdrew 15 books from KDPS, when somehow sales dropped to exactly zero overnight, and I drew my own conclusion. Call it simple logic, coincidental, anecdotal or worthless, but it is what happened.

  37. James Dallas Williams

    Hey, you know what’s even bigger than Amazon and the Kindle?… Apple and the iPad. I go through Smashwords to seel to Apple, and I get 60% list price (compared to 35% from Amazon- I refuse to give them excluvisity). All the iPads, iPods, and iPhones in the world vastly outnumber Kindles.

    Consider that above and answer this question for yourself…. Who needs Amazon? I don’t. Do you? Really?

    1. Rick Carufel

      James, I have had 4 books published on smashwords for 8 months and sold 2 books. The same books on Amazon have sold over 200 in the same time period. I made $6.20 on smashwords and several hundred on Amazon. Apple has proprietary software for publishing directly to iBooks that require you own a Mac but they have no problem trying to sell their products on my PC. Although Amazon is out of control and treats Indie writer/publishers like shit, it is still the best place to sell book.

    2. Kevin O. McLaughlin

      According to the data on one poll, 75% of the users who read ebooks on Apple devices buy their ebooks from Amazon.

      The Apple market share on ebooks is single digit. It’s behind Kobo and B&N, and a WAY smaller market than Amazon. Mostly because their store is badly deficient compared to all their major competitors…

  38. Y.K. Greene

    I’ve had my head stuck in the revision machine lately, coming up for air to see – this, is very disheartening. Unfortunately, I’m already too far in to stop, research and reassess (I’ve got my deadline to meet, come hells or high water I shall meet it) but after that I’ll have to look more deeply into this.

    Who know, maybe this will be the first time I’m actually Happy that my sales numbers have always been small.

  39. william

    Amazon is definitely up to something to destroy independent authors. Deleting allegedly (underline allegedly) fraudulent positive reviews, allowing clealrly fraudulent negative reviews to remain, removing tags, and changing the algorithims to favor Big Six-published e-books are all contributing to kill indie sales. And it’s working. Do a search and see how many authors are saying exactly the same thing: starting in October 2012 sales have plummeted after months and months of consistently strong sales.

    I hope Amazon will do the honest thng and change their policies, restore deleted reviews, etc. There’s room for everyone in this ball game.

    1. Rick Carufel

      William I would have to disagree with you as far as Amazon trying to destroy Indies. I see it as they wish to control the ebook market extending as far as the review process and choosing which indie succeeds. They are definitely trying to find a model that works for them. the problem is that people are not going to let them have that much control. Indie publishing has been such a boom because it throws out the controlling publisher who wants complete control of our intellectual property. We won’t be playing “Meet the new boos, same as the old boss” as the Who so aptly put it.

  40. Raj

    Hello,
    I hope that what you are saying is not true. That would be terrible if Amazon was that ruthless. But, I will keep my eyes open.

  41. Jack Eason

    Despite everything, I’ve yet to experience anything negative in the form of reviews being withdrawn, for instance. :)

    1. Rick Carufel

      Jack, all one of the Amazon trolls have to do is report one of you reviews as paid or made by a friend and it will be gone. Amazon will pull reviews in a flash without validating any allegations. Yet on the other hand will refuse to remove reviews that are personal attacks made by trolls who admit they didn’t buy or read the book. I have been attack repeatedly because of my essay, “Stephen King Don’t Know Shit” in response to his essay “Guns”. If you want to see some of the worst reviews ever go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B6QBCXQ and read them. I have zero tolerance for trolls so I call them out.

      I have to say that the essay is selling very well regardless of a 2.0 rating because of the personal attack reviews. But clearly things are completely out of hand at Amazon. Sadly Jack I would have to say it’s not a matter of if Amazon pulls one or all of your 5-star reviews but when.

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