Amazon’s Hall of Spinning Knives

More dangers from Amazon

David Gaughran

Phoenix Sullivan is well-known in the indie community – I’ve known her myself since 2009 or 2010 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.

Phoenix made a box set free for a few days back in September, advertising on Freebooksy, KND/BookGorilla, and Digital Book World – all legitimate sites – and there was no other promotion involved with this title. No BookBub CPM ads, no Facebook campaign, no tweets, no newsletter swaps, no mailing lists.

On the third day of her free run, Phoenix’s box set was rank-stripped by Amazon, a punishment normally reserved for those who have used clickfarms or bots…

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You Can Win Without Cheating FFS

As always, worth a read if you follow digital publishing.

David Gaughran

Most self-publishers will agree: it’s getting tougher out there.

If you are in KU, then you’re pretty much dependent on one income stream and if Amazon sales dip or you run afoul of the Hall of Spinning Knives for whatever reason then you are totally boned. And it’s getting so competitive in KU that it seems to take more titles and quicker releases, along with multi-pronged marketing campaigns – which can be complex and/or expensive – to get any real traction or stickiness.

If you’re not in KU, hitting the charts on Amazon is increasingly difficult and holding on to position is near-impossible – especially when your book is being leapfrogged every hour by thousands of borrow-boosted KU salmon running all that mad marketing. And you can’t even advertise to the same level because they are getting reads on top of those sales to make ROI easier.

Getting visible at…

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Michael Hyatt Has Something To Sell You

Beware the vanity press scammers.

David Gaughran

Michael Hyatt has successfully reinvented himself as an author and speaker – one of those quasi-experts on marketing who slowly morph into a life-coach type guru. It’s a well-trodden path and these guys all tend to present themselves in similar ways.

Here’s Michael Hyatt reclining among soft furnishings. Here’s Michael Hyatt enjoying a tender moment with his dog. Here’s Michael Hyatt projecting success with a shiteating grin for the ages. It’s almost easy to forget what he did. Almost.

In 2009 when Michael Hyatt was CEO of Christian publisher Thomas Nelson, he was instrumental in the creation of WestBow Press – one of the first white-label vanity presses operated by Author Solutions on behalf of an established publisher.

The Naming

The shadiness began right from the start, with the choice of name. WestBow was already an established fiction imprint at Thomas Nelson, with titles still in print and stocked in…

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Scammers Break The Kindle Store

Don’t fall for scams.

David Gaughran

On Friday, a book jumped to the #1 spot on Amazon, out of nowhere; it quickly became obvious that the author had used a clickfarm to gatecrash the charts.

The Kindle Store is officially broken.

This is not the first time this has happened and Amazon’s continued inaction is increasingly baffling. Last Sunday, a clickfarmed title also hit #1 in the Kindle Store. And Amazon took no action.

Over the last six weeks, one particularly brazen author has put four separate titles in the Top 10, and Amazon did nothing whatsoever. There are many such examples.

I wrote at the start of June about how scammers were taking over Amazon’s free charts. That post led to a phone conversation with KDP’s Executive Customer Relations.

Repeated assurances were given that the entire leadership team at Amazon was taking the scammer problem very seriously indeed. But it was also stressed that the…

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Wonder Woman

If you’re one of the handful of people who haven’t seen WW, go see it. I doubt you’ll regret it.

mishaburnett

Let’s forget about the “superhero” universe for a minute. Let’s not worry about continuity and connectivity and just look at this film as a film, as if it exists all by itself.  Okay?

Now, that’s easy for me, since I haven’t really been following the “DC Universe” films.  I saw (in fact I own) the second Nolen Batman film, The Dark Knight. But that’s about it.  I really wasn’t interested in When Batman Met Superman or whatever it was called.

I wasn’t all that familiar with the source material, either–I know the basics of the character concept and I vaguely remember the old TV show.  Okay, I remember Lynda Carter in the amazon outfit. But I can’t recall ever reading the comic book.

So when I went in to see Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman I was able to look at it from a fresh perspective.  And what I saw…

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Comments on the Nebula Reading List top five short stories

Unfortunately, I think Lela is right. The Hugos and Nebulas have become politicized to the point that message fiction is the only way to win, and the “progressives” still have the numbers. Those in the middle seem so afraid of the far left, or of being accused to being alt-right, that they think they have to vote for soft message fiction.

Adding to this trend is the “right flight” toward the Dragons and other, pardon the pun, alternatives to the Hugos and Nebulas, often leaving the field to the left and their kumbaya circle. I suspect awards will become increasingly balkanized, with little true, respected, fairminded middle ground for non-message fiction.

Lela E. Buis

It takes 10 nominations to make a story a Nebula finalist, so these five stories I’ve just reviewed look to be the ones with the best likelihood to make it.

Since I’m reading down the list, there are a few trends sticking out. As far as I know, only SFWA members can make recommendations. Because the listing has been recommended by professionals in the genre, I’d expect to get good quality on the list. These stories I’ve just reviewed have recommendations in the double digits, but I’m just not finding a lot of what I’d call substance in the content. I’m thinking all those people are clicking the “recommend” button because they want to affirm the message. If I’m looking for quality stories to nominate, does that mean I can put any confidence in the number of recommendations the stories have gotten at all? Hm. Maybe not. Does this mean…

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Could an independent Copyright Office and the Trump Presidency mean trouble ahead for copyright?

A really good summation of what’s going on with copyright.

Remember October, when Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden pulled Maria Pallante from her post as head of the LOC’s Copyright Office, and Pallante resigned a couple of days later? Artist Rights Watch made a big to-do about Google using its influence to “fire” Pallante, but the actual reason probably had more to do with the way Pallante had been loudly advocating for the Copyright Office to be made independent from the Library of Congress. Most bosses aren’t best pleased when a lower-level manager tries to go over their head to get their office shuffled out from under them.

The House Judiciary Committee has released the first policy proposal (PDF) to come from a recent in-depth review of US copyright policy, and that proposal is in line with what Pallante had wanted: make the Copyright Office independent from the Library of Congress, with the Register of Copyrights subject to nomination and…

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The KU Conundrum…

Another perspective on the page-reads problem. It seems to affect certain books dramatically differently from others–especially ultra-long books such as box sets. There is probably some new piece to the algorithm that’s affecting things.

For now, I’m hanging onto KU despite the decline I’ve seen, a decline of 30% or so for me, because all things considered I think my books do better in KDP Select/KU than out. But I do have two series “wide” on all vendors, and I’m always ready to make adjustments.

Ruby Madden

I’m re-assessing how I run my publishing business for 2017 and wanted to share some of my frustrations as an Author.

frustratedauthor

Recently, many authors have noticed that over the last few months, the pages-read numbers for our eBooks that are borrowed at Amazon and read, have decreased dramatically. Some say it is just a slump resulting from an Election Year. Others say that something is amuck with Amazon’s pages-read reporting system that lets us know how many pages were read for stories that we have enrolled in the KINDLE UNIMITED (KU) program.ku12-9

Most of my newer titles are enrolled in KU. I like the program, both as a reader and author. I’ve always enjoyed reading for pleasure and I also read for my job as a writer and novelist. I gain inspiration from my fellow authors and love to track my reading via GOODREADS. I like knowing that…

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A Chronicle of the Amazon Page Flip Controversy: Or, how to piss off a ton of your vendors all at once

More good info on the page read scandal.

Ruth Nestvold - Indie Adventures

For the past several weeks (and in some case months), authors publishing through KDP Select have been noticing a massive decrease in the pages read (KENP = Kindle Edition Normalized Pages). I blogged about his before here and here, mostly about how it has hit me personally. In this post I would like to attempt a summary of what’s been going on and what the authors affected think might be causing it.

Most of what I know comes from a discussion thread on Kboards, a forum for indie authors. The thread was started on Oct. 2, and authors quickly began chiming in with information on decreasing numbers of pages read on Amazon. A few authors said they had seen no decrease, but the vast majority have observed decreases of between 30% – 90%.

Naturally, once we noticed that we weren’t the only ones taking a huge hit to…

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Bye, Bye, KDP Select; Or, How I Got Screwed by Amazon (and You May Have Been Too)

One author’s decision…

Ruth Nestvold - Indie Adventures

I blogged a couple of days ago about how some kind of software glitch seems to be swallowing authors’ pages read, and posted the email I sent to Amazon about it.

Well, two days later, still no answer. Two days with a total of 24 pages read, when my daily average is closer to 1000. For all of October, I have have had less than half the pages read that I usually have in a single day. My pages read have flatlined, my rankings have tanked, and my sales have come to a halt. It looks like I’m going to have to start all over again — all over again.

I have since learned that the problem of the missing pages is probably connected to Amazon Kindle’s new feature, Page Flip, a navigational tool meant to be used to search books for specific passages. Unfortunately for authors, Amazon does not…

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