Amazon Suckage As An Author

I’ve mentioned struggles in the past with being an indie author. I’ve even talked a little bit about my experiences with advertising specifically on Amazon. I’m now discovering another lovely and not often mentioned little beauty (oh, so NOT) that is the beast of Amazon. Ranking and search results.

Or, to be more accurate, the lack of the ability to even appear in a search result if you drop too low in the rankings.

I had seen in the last month or so that my book wouldn’t show in the results unless you added my author name to the book title. That was a little frustrating, especially when some of the results that popped when just searching the title alone had absolutely nothing at all to do with the search terms. Now, you cannot find my book at all by searching title and author. Not even WAY down a list anywhere.

It is still very much a live, active listing. I’d even gotten a few KU reads in the last month thanks to a twitter post by a blogging group (seriously, THANK YOU for the mention!!) My overall rankings are now exceptionally low, which is something that happens if you aren’t getting constant sales and reviews, and that apparently means that people can’t even find my book when they are specifically looking for it. And we aren’t even discussing the fact that it won’t show up as a suggested read anywhere unless I pay for advertising or I get over 25 reviews on Amazon (at least that is the magic number I’ve seen tossed around).

I really don’t get it. Amazon makes money off my book when I do. A lot more than I do for the paperback, but they won’t even show it in a search result when you look specifically for that title AND my author name?! That is some straight up bullshit right there.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that Amazon also owns Goodreads and between the two, I have at least that 25 threshold of unique reviews, but they don’t actually work together like that. Or the fact that the only way to place an ad on Amazon for a book (at least the ebook) you have to be exclusive through the KU program, meaning it cannot be on any other platform and that the ads I’ve done so far have only ever helped my rankings, but did squat for any kind of actual profit because they are expensive.

I get it. I only have the one book out there and authors succeed mostly through return readers. The more books you have, the better chance at success you have, the better chance you are going to get seen. The problem is that it is already massively difficult to get eyes on your book with all the competition out there and Amazon’s apparent policy of refusing to even pop a search result when someone is actually looking for it is mind boggling. I honestly don’t have a clue how that even makes good business sense.

I’d even get it if they had some sort of a stated expiration policy for delisting a product after a specified time frame for inactivity, but I’ve not found anything anywhere that states this. I just tripped across the fact that I’m not showing up at all by accident. AND I’ve gotten KU reads, so it has had activity.

So, fair warning to anyone looking to publish through Amazon. There are some definite perks to it, but there are also a lot of hidden downsides to it too. It is hard to say if it is worth it or not as every single sale I’ve made has been through them with the exception of one library purchase early on before it moved it to Amazon exclusively. Those downside are exponentially greater when you are a massive introvert like me that cannot stand to push my stuff in front of people’s faces constantly.

If you feel like giving the middle finger to Amazon on my behalf and want to buy my book, An Unexpected Turn, or read it for free through KU, please feel more than free to do so. Or you can go with the two year old version of the middle finger, sticking your tongue out at them, by sharing that direct link to my book with others.

Now I’m going to grumble some about greedy bastards and then bury my nose in a book to try and decompress.

 

Amazon Deprioritizes Books

In an effort to ensure it prioritizes much needed products, Amazon has shuffled items not in those priority categories down the list when it comes to shipping. Among those getting dropped to a lower importance level are books.

I have seen a lot of talk about how the current situation is impacting families with regards to work. Many authors are already struggling, but this move will make it even harder for some, especially indie authors if the print versions of their books are not being shipped or shipments are delayed as they do not get credited for a print book sale until it ships.

Please keep this in mind when you are looking for reading material and consider supporting authors by purchasing their ebooks, audio books, or even reading via Kindle Unlimited as they still get paid for those without the shipping delay.

Other options for helping to support authors during this time is to order their books (when available) through independent book stores. Many of those stores are also being heavily impacted by local mandates and struggling as well. Going this route helps both the author and the bookstore.

This is just a tiny point in such a huge upheaval, but every bit may help. Feel free to pass this along to whatever book lovers you may know.

Book Genre Placement

This is something that falls heavily into one of my pet peeves in books. Genre categories and incorrect genre placement. Getting to see some of the difficulties with this issue from the publishing side hasn’t changed my stance on this that much. In some areas, available genre choices, it makes it even worse.

Continue reading “Book Genre Placement”

An Unexpected Turn: Availability

In roughly 24 hours after hitting publish, my book is now available on almost every platform I published on. I only have one or two much smaller ones to go, but all of the major platforms has it listed. Don’t forget to rate it and/or leave a review if you decide to check it out!

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback*
Barns & Noble/Nook
Kobo
Apple Books
Scribd
Playster

*The paperback is available for print, but it hasn’t linked up to the Kindle version and also has a glitch in the layout of the description, so I’m waiting to hear back from Amazon about resolving the issue. None of that impacts the fact that it is available and the book itself has no issues. I have several ordered and on their way.

 

Crazy Self-Publishing Process

When I first looked into the possibility of self-publishing, most all of the steps looked pretty easy. At its base, you write a book then find a platform and hit publish. While you can do it that way, chances are it won’t really go that well for you because a few critical steps have most likely been missed along the way. That is unless you are also an artist, cover designer, interior book designer*, editor and/or have friends and family willing to do those things for you.

Continue reading “Crazy Self-Publishing Process”

Still Frozen

I’m well past the 24 hour mark and my Amazon account is still frozen. I was told 24 to 48 hours so I have to stay patient, but I am so not. After a long discussion with Hubby, we decided to just not take the risk and canceled anything that was tied to that account. It was a pain in the ass, but we got it done. I’ve also taken the added precaution to remove that email from any other accounts on the off chance it wasn’t just Amazon. I will never understand some people’s need to be assholes.

PSA: Amazon’s Appalling Lack of Security

If you are an Amazon user, please take head. Amazon has an appalling lack of security that I’m pretty sure many users are completely unaware of. I know I was and I tend to be on the cautious side when I do anything online, let alone shop.

While I’m still in the middle of trying to get my issue straightened out and I don’t have all the facts yet, I can do some pretty obvious inference into what happened. No matter the facts of how or why, my account didn’t just get hacked, it got full on hijacked.

Yesterday, I got a notification that my password had been successfully changed, a change I at no time requested. I go to Amazon to log in to see what is going on and it says there is no account under that email address. It’s as if that account simply no longer exists when just hours earlier I had no problems getting in and getting a book.

I call customer service and it takes a while, but they finally determine that the email address for my account has been changed. Again, something I did not do. The issue has to be escalated to another level, but I don’t get a resolution. I have to wait for someone to call me back. In the meantime, I have credit cards tied to this account. I’ve been assured that the account is currently locked, but that does not relieve me in any way, shape, or form. Someone pretty much stole my Amazon account out from under me and I have no clue how. I am still waiting on a call back, but I have no access to anything. No Unlimited. No ability to track several packages I was expecting. No way to go in and remove those cards from the account or any of my other personal information like my address.

I am almost certain that I know what happened, but I can’t confirm any of it. About a month ago, I ordered a shirt that was listed as a Prime item. I got it, like pretty much every single other thing I’ve ever gotten. I have been an Amazon Kindle Unlimited and Prime customer for YEARS and have not one single time ever had a issue with anything, so when that shirt came and I loved it and decided to get another one in a different color, I didn’t think twice about the change from Prime to not with the color change. That was my first mistake.

Not only was the different colored item not Prime, but it was not scheduled to arrive for over a month. I honestly thought that the item I was buying was from the vendor listed in the main listing that stocked with Amazon, but that that color/size was out of stock and needed to ship directly from the vendor. That isn’t what happened. I got switched to an entirely different vendor, but there was nothing in this process that made that obvious. I didn’t realize there was any issue until weeks later when I went to track the item only to find out that there wasn’t any tracking information provided. When the shirt never showed up, I contacted Amazon and was told that I wasn’t eligible for a refund as this was purchased by an outside vendor and I needed to deal with them directly.

When I went to leave a nasty review, I saw that this particular vendor had a single star rating, not the 4+ that was on the original listing. EVERY single review was about never receiving the merchandise. I’m pretty damn certain that if Amazon allowed it, that one star wouldn’t even exist, the reviews were so bad.

As far as I’m concerned, this is a classic bait and switch on Amazon’s part. Should I have paid closer attention to the actual vendor when I went to check out? Yes. Absolutely. But I had NO idea that this was something that Amazon did, switching vendors under a single listing like that, so I didn’t know that it was something I needed to watch for. Again, I’ve been a customer for years and not once have I run into an issue like this.

One of the massive problems with this situation is that the item in question actually has it noted in the top level of their description that the item is only authorized to be sold by a single vendor, that any other vendors selling it are doing so without authorization, yet Amazon allowed this vendor to list and sell this item. Essentially, allowing, at best, unethical practices if not out and out fraud. When I confronted them about this vendor, which I absolutely did, I was told that they watch vendors closely and take action when there are issues, but there had been these negative reviews going back well over a year and they were, quite obviously, still allowed to be a vendor.

Now, just over 10 days later after I submit my complaint against that vendor, I have someone manage to get into my account. Sure, it very well may just be a coincidence, but that would be one hell of one.

After dealing with this last night, Hubby did some checking and apparently Amazon doesn’t have any real security when it comes to your account. If someone has the most basic information like the email address used and the home address, all information provided to vendors when you buy something, they can get into your account with a single phone call. There is no verification process AT ALL. When I called, I was able to find out that the email address had changed and get the account locked down simply by providing them with an order number of something I’d purchased. Again, something a vendor would most likely have access to.

His research showed that there ARE ways to set up a dual authentication on your account for logging in, but that isn’t a standard thing. It is something you have to go into your account to set up yourself. That also doesn’t negate the ease of which someone can get to your account through customer service via phone.

It is truly terrifying to see how insanely easy it was for this to happen, and that I’m not the only one to have it happen to. It is so stupidly easy for a vendor that got ticked about a review to utterly destroy your account. I have no clue what has been done in the time mine was out of my control. We did check Hubby’s account and the credit card numbers are masked, so that can’t be stolen, but… YEARS of history and information are in that account. Do you know how many books I have through that?

I feel violated and ragingly pissed off. I’m already pushing two hours past the time I was told I would hear from someone and I’ve yet to get a call.