Author Topic: Category Pollution: Next Battleground  (Read 7491 times)  

Online Lynn Is A Pseudonym

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #50 on: June 11, 2018, 12:17:13 PM »
Die hard readers will find another place to buy books. Casual readers may shrug their shoulders and watch movies instead, or go to the library. I love reading, but I haven't purchased a book in four years. Why? Because I'm not willing to spend my coin and navigate through messed up categories or potentially be disappointed by the book. If I don't like a library book, I return it and move on. If I don't like a book I purchased, I keep it, because it's not the author's fault (barring bad formatting etc) that I didn't like the book.

Some customers could be like me. I don't want to take that chance as a business person. I kind of want to keep as many readers purchasing books as possible, so yeah I care about Amazon's reader experience.

Yeah, not going to argue with your experience, but the thing about casual readers is that they're casual. They come and go. One leaves, another arrives.

You haven't bought a book in four years? I'd say there's a lot more to that than just some messed up categories on Amazon.

If Amazon is catching a casual reader's attention, it's because of recommendations or something else. Not the top 100 lists.

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #51 on: June 11, 2018, 12:38:07 PM »
Yeah, not going to argue with your experience, but the thing about casual readers is that they're casual. They come and go. One leaves, another arrives.

You haven't bought a book in four years? I'd say there's a lot more to that than just some messed up categories on Amazon.

If Amazon is catching a casual reader's attention, it's because of recommendations or something else. Not the top 100 lists.

I guess. When I pick a book to read, the first stop I go to is the most purchased in categories I like. The top 100s. I'm not a die-hard genre person, so I rely on other readers to tell me what's good and what's not.

If I go to LGBT fiction on Amazon and I see M/M/F erotica... Well I've already wasted the hour I had, now I'm frustrated, and I have better things to do than go to another retailer looking for a book.

Obviously we have very different methods of picking books, but as a casual reader. I'd read more if I could find the books I wanted to read.

Offline Anarchist

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #52 on: June 11, 2018, 12:45:01 PM »
I've long felt that authors shouldn't report other authors. Even in the worst of circumstances, because it's a slippery slope. But most of all, it assumes that somehow one person is the arbiter of what is and isn't.

Hear, hear.

Thanks for saying this.

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Online Jena H

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #53 on: June 11, 2018, 01:09:24 PM »

I've long felt that authors shouldn't report other authors. Even in the worst of circumstances, because it's a slippery slope. But most of all, it assumes that somehow one person is the arbiter of what is and isn't. And if trad publishers stick Sparks books in Romance (even Sparks says they aren't Romance), are they dirty miscatters who should have a war waged against them? Because that's what the OP said. This is a Battleground. This is war. They are the allies and everyone who isn't in a category that they think they should be in are part of the axis.


Yes... and no.  Reporting incorrectly-categorized books isn't acting as an arbiter.  It's playing by rules set up by a third party, in this case Amazon.  Categories exist for a reason.  And if someone tries to tell me that the author of Sexy Billionaire Vampire's Hookup With a Harem (made up title, btw) believes that book is a "classic," then that author's nose is about to grow to epic proportions.

As for the "war"....   it's hard to fight a war effectively when your own "allies" are playing by different rules.  IF it was even done intentionally.  (ETA that last sentence.)
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 01:18:05 PM by Jena H »
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Online Rose Andrews

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #54 on: June 11, 2018, 01:12:05 PM »
Absolutely not. Women's Fiction is the woman's journey. They normally involve themes of sisterhood, loss, divorce, family. But erotica and romance authors--the dodgy ones who DGAF about being in the right categories or even know what the categories are, at least--will shoehorn their stuff in anywhere.
Oh, yes. Just like the big trad publishers who place WF books under historical romance when the love interests die halfway into the book--or the couple doesn't end up together. Like, I totally agree with you 100%, but Indies aren't the only ones who pollute the categories.

*shakes fist* Romance does not mean that you start out with one love interest, who then dies, and you bring a second one on scene and make that the HEA. NO!

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #55 on: June 11, 2018, 01:15:28 PM »


I've long felt that authors shouldn't report other authors. Even in the worst of circumstances, because it's a slippery slope.


Reporting a miscategorized book isn't an attack on an author. It tells Amazon to have a look at their category management. If they agree "Ravaged By My Stepbrother" doesn't belong in classic fiction, they'll put it where it does belong. There isn't a single negative outcome in this scenario, but there are several benefits. The customer looking for "1984" in classic fiction will not have to wade through a sea of hairy, tattooed chests. The customer looking for the sorts of books that come packaged with hairy tattooed chests will find them more easily (chances are, they're not browsing the classics), and the overall customer experience will be improved.


Online Lynn Is A Pseudonym

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #56 on: June 11, 2018, 01:16:20 PM »
Oh, yes. Just like the big trad publishers who place WF books under historical romance when the love interests die halfway into the book--or the couple doesn't end up together. Like, I totally agree with you 100%, but Indies aren't the only ones who pollute the categories.

*shakes fist* Romance does not mean that you start out with one love interest, who then dies, and you bring a second one on scene and make that the HEA. NO!

Or this one series I read when I was younger, where the main character love interest in the first book DIES at the beginning of the second and the heroine finds love AGAIN. My goodness. How was I supposed to trust any happy ending she got after that?! They were romance novels in ever other way so it was like a kick in the teeth to read that. And I still remember....


Offline PiiaBre

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #57 on: June 11, 2018, 01:16:33 PM »
First of all, this
A few weeks back I was looking at the "Mashup" category and...well--let's just say the only mashups were between genitalia, maybe.
was effin funny and needs to be recognised.

Secondly, I was wondering what is the purpose of putting one's erotica books in, say, the classics category? To sell mantits to people browsing the classics? But wouldn't they be there looking for...wait for it...classics? They can probably tell between "The Colour Purple" and "Smug McBulge -- Bikini Doctor".
There must be some ingenious strategy here that I'm not seeing.
 

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #58 on: June 11, 2018, 01:17:57 PM »
Oh, yes. Just like the big trad publishers who place WF books under historical romance when the love interests die halfway into the book--or the couple doesn't end up together. Like, I totally agree with you 100%, but Indies aren't the only ones who pollute the categories.

*shakes fist* Romance does not mean that you start out with one love interest, who then dies, and you bring a second one on scene and make that the HEA. NO!

I don't disagree. I'm looking at you, publisher of Me Before You. That is NOT NOT NOT NOT a Romance novel.

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #59 on: June 11, 2018, 01:19:47 PM »
Or this one series I read when I was younger, where the main character love interest in the first book DIES at the beginning of the second and the heroine finds love AGAIN. My goodness. How was I supposed to trust any happy ending she got after that?! They were romance novels in ever other way so it was like a kick in the teeth to read that. And I still remember....
Oh, gosh. I'm sorry, lol. This angers me to no end! I'm still upset about a couple books I won't name here. They promised romance in the blurb. That's not what I got in the end.

 :'(

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Online Rose Andrews

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #60 on: June 11, 2018, 01:20:27 PM »
I don't disagree. I'm looking at you, publisher of Me Before You. That is NOT NOT NOT NOT a Romance novel.
I watched the movie. SO glad I didn't read the book. I will not be picking up her novels ever after that!

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Offline Lilly_Frost

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #61 on: June 11, 2018, 01:23:00 PM »
Oh, yes. Just like the big trad publishers who place WF books under historical romance when the love interests die halfway into the book--or the couple doesn't end up together. Like, I totally agree with you 100%, but Indies aren't the only ones who pollute the categories.

*shakes fist* Romance does not mean that you start out with one love interest, who then dies, and you bring a second one on scene and make that the HEA. NO!

Oh man, I remember back in the late 90's or so I read several time-travel romances in a row where the hero died in the past and when the heroine came back to her own time, she just met some random guy who looked exactly like the hero. Sometimes it was implied he was a descendant. It made Hulk me very, very angry. Heroes should not be hot-swappable.
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Online Lynn Is A Pseudonym

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #62 on: June 11, 2018, 01:27:05 PM »
Oh man, I remember back in the late 90's or so I read several time-travel romances in a row where the hero died in the past and when the heroine came back to her own time, she just met some random guy who looked exactly like the hero. Sometimes it was implied he was a descendant. It made Hulk me very, very angry. Heroes should not be hot-swappable.

Which brings up the Jude Devereaux book that stopped me reading her stuff. It was so good but man, I can't even think about that book without wanting to cry a little inside.

Offline Sarah Shaw

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #63 on: June 11, 2018, 02:18:24 PM »
Reporting a miscategorized book isn't an attack on an author. It tells Amazon to have a look at their category management. If they agree "Ravaged By My Stepbrother" doesn't belong in classic fiction, they'll put it where it does belong. There isn't a single negative outcome in this scenario, but there are several benefits. The customer looking for "1984" in classic fiction will not have to wade through a sea of hairy, tattooed chests. The customer looking for the sorts of books that come packaged with hairy tattooed chests will find them more easily (chances are, they're not browsing the classics), and the overall customer experience will be improved.

Exactly. I reported it - as a reader- because category pollution as well as all the paid ad space cluttering up my screen are making it ever harder for me to get to the books I want. I can see I'm going eventually to have to leave Amazon, but I'd just as soon not. If giving them some customer feedback will help convince them to clean up their act I'm quite willing to spend a few minutes providing it.

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #64 on: June 11, 2018, 02:20:09 PM »
Four of the miscategorized books from yesterday's Top 40 are now nowhere to be seen in Fiction Classics. Maybe reporting works.


Offline kw3000

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #65 on: June 11, 2018, 02:30:37 PM »
Reporting a miscategorized book isn't an attack on an author. It tells Amazon to have a look at their category management. If they agree "Ravaged By My Stepbrother" doesn't belong in classic fiction, they'll put it where it does belong. There isn't a single negative outcome in this scenario, but there are several benefits. The customer looking for "1984" in classic fiction will not have to wade through a sea of hairy, tattooed chests. The customer looking for the sorts of books that come packaged with hairy tattooed chests will find them more easily (chances are, they're not browsing the classics), and the overall customer experience will be improved.

This sums it up quite nicely, IMO. Well said.

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Offline idontknowyet

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #66 on: June 11, 2018, 03:44:43 PM »
I don't disagree. I'm looking at you, publisher of Me Before You. That is NOT NOT NOT NOT a Romance novel.

I didn't read the book but I watched that movie and screamed at the screen. I was soo mad that is not a romance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Offline Lilly_Frost

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #67 on: June 11, 2018, 04:22:38 PM »
Which brings up the Jude Devereaux book that stopped me reading her stuff. It was so good but man, I can't even think about that book without wanting to cry a little inside.

Ha! A Knight in Shining Armor?  When Misery came out, I thought of the ending to A Knight in Shining Armor, and I kind of identified with Kathy Bates' character maybe a little too much...
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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #68 on: June 11, 2018, 04:28:40 PM »
I write both Romance and Women's Fiction. So, please tell me, who gets to be the judge, jury, and executioner and claim that I am "not good enough" for women's fiction because, *gasp* one of my covers has a couple about ready to kiss.

Despite the book being about a women struggling through a separation and divorce and surrogacy and, OH MY GOD a new relationship with sexy bits! Because, you know, she's a woman in her mid 30s and decides to throw all caution to the wind.

Is Fear of Flying not Women's Fic because it has very explicit sex scenes?

Not only that, Amazon miscats books all the time. I have a book that is clean and for the life of me I can't get it out of Inspirational. Amazon keeps on removing it (at my bequest) but whenever its little spider crawls through the keywords, I go back to Inspirational. I have another books that is thrown in space marines because it has a strong military theme. Again, I beg them to take me out, they do, and because I use military as a keyword, because you know, it's about militaristic society, I get tossed back in.

So what gives you (the general you) the right to ascribe motivations and reasons for what category books are in? Are there egregious categorizations? Yes. And I am the first one who says not to miscat. But don't tell  me that I am not writing women's fiction, books about a woman's journey and her growth, just because it's also a Romance.

There are some posts in this thread that makes me think I am back in the late 70s with Anita Bryant, orange juice boycotts, and pies in faces.

Yes, some of the category pollution is blatant and deliberate and some of it is not.

I have audiobooks suffering the same problem. They've been put in nonsensical categories. What makes it worse it that it's a long series too and each title is in random categories. When you look across the books you'd think I'd been stuffing each book into a random category just to get them viewed.

But I don't have any control over it. I've written to ACX. They also have made it harder because they want category names for each store in each country. So Mystery in Canada might be called Mystery and Thrillers in some other country. They want separate emails with the precise category names for all the countries! ARGH!

So yeah, Amazon/Audible/etc screw up... but at the same time you can't deny there is a real category pollution problem that plenty of people are actively engaging in.

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #69 on: June 11, 2018, 04:37:34 PM »
Generally speaking, readers won't complain. They'll just leave.

The author is complaining because it's hurting the user experience of THEIR (everyone's) customers. So think of it as a customer going to Walmart and frowning when she sees rotten eggs on the shelf. The stockboy sees it, right? The customer, rather than complain to a physical person, buys their eggs somewhere else. The stockboy, however, goes to his manager and says "Hey we've got rotten eggs on the shelf and we're losing customers."

As a reader, I'm not going to complain about erotica in the classics, I'm just not going to buy on Amazon. On top of that, I'm going to assume that most of the Amazon sellers are miscategorizing and mislabeling their books and it makes me feel like they're all shady. I'm not going to look at also-boughts, AMS ads, or open Amazon emails. I will only buy a book on 'zon if I'm sent there from an author's website or I know and trust the author.

As a writer, the fact that most customers are similar to me is bad for business.

Absolutely agree. I'm a voracious reader but the Amazon experience has been driving me away. I used to browse, sample and buy regularly. Now I set aside a few hours every month or so to go deep diving, trawling through stuffed lists, trying to find gold. Skipping over pages of miscategorized books. By the time I'm on page thirty I'm tired. Good authors who don't miscategorize are pushed down the list by the ones who do.

After that I'm down to only buying from authors I know or by following a recommendation I see somewhere else (Boing Boing has had some good recommendations from time to time).

I've seen authors complaining about what if their book really does cross genres... the answer is simple: pick the two that *most* fit your story. If it's fantasy but has post-apoc and romance than pick two. Pick the two that fit the best.

I kinda wish Amazon had a hide button next to book titles that would then inform algorithms. Like I don't want to see any more of a certain author spread across X genres. Click the hide button next to the book title to hide it. Then it would display better categories.

Amazon would then be able to use this hide information to present better results.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 05:34:43 PM by ........ »

Offline RPatton

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #70 on: June 11, 2018, 04:43:13 PM »
Yes, some of the category pollution is blatant and deliberate and some of it is not.

I have audiobooks suffering the same problem. They've been put in nonsensical categories. What makes it worse it that it's a long series too and each title is in random categories. When you look across the books you'd think I'd been stuffing each book into a random category just to get them viewed.

But I don't have any control over it. I've written to ACX. They also have made it harder because they want category names for each store in each country. So Mystery in Canada might be called Mystery and Thrillers in some other country. They want separate emails with the precise category names for all the countries! ARGH!

So yeah, Amazon/Audible/etc screw up... but at the same time you can't deny there is a real category pollution problem that plenty of people are actively engaging in.

And I'm not disagreeing with that. My question is more, where does it end? When is enough going to be enough? Because soon it will be complaining about a font used on a cover or an image (yes, I am using hyperbole). This is the slippery slope. Once you let the genie out, it's very hard to get him back in the bottle, especially when you can justify your actions because you're "doing it for the readers".

Again, I am asking who gets to be the judge, jury, and executioner, and what are their qualifications? Are they a librarian who understands how the categories were set up? Or are they some person who thinks they know? If a group of individuals with their Masters in Library Sciences said they would go through and make superficial recommendations, I would trust them. Mostly because it wouldn't be subjective, but objective, based on their experience and knowledge and not how they want it to be.

Offline jb1111

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #71 on: June 11, 2018, 05:05:35 PM »
Absolutely not. Women's Fiction is the woman's journey. They normally involve themes of sisterhood, loss, divorce, family. But erotica and romance authors--the dodgy ones who DGAF about being in the right categories or even know what the categories are, at least--will shoehorn their stuff in anywhere.

Fifty Shades, Bared To You -- and other similar, mass-selling books -- have no real woman's journey or sisterhood present. They were written by women, primarily for women, and bought mostly by women. The books are little more than romances with a lot of sex.

But in your view they aren't really Women's Fiction.

I think at least the 125+ million people -- most of them women -- who bought the above-named books would disagree with you.

As for these romance writers shoehorning their offings into all sorts of categories merely to boost visibility and earn a few extra bucks -- you have no argument from me there.

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #72 on: June 11, 2018, 05:36:22 PM »


Again, I am asking who gets to be the judge, jury, and executioner, and what are their qualifications?

Amazon, because they own the joint.


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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #73 on: June 11, 2018, 05:43:16 PM »
And I'm not disagreeing with that. My question is more, where does it end? When is enough going to be enough? Because soon it will be complaining about a font used on a cover or an image (yes, I am using hyperbole). This is the slippery slope. Once you let the genie out, it's very hard to get him back in the bottle, especially when you can justify your actions because you're "doing it for the readers".

Again, I am asking who gets to be the judge, jury, and executioner, and what are their qualifications? Are they a librarian who understands how the categories were set up? Or are they some person who thinks they know? If a group of individuals with their Masters in Library Sciences said they would go through and make superficial recommendations, I would trust them. Mostly because it wouldn't be subjective, but objective, based on their experience and knowledge and not how they want it to be.

Well, like the old quote says "I know it when I see it".

If you really want to get into it, books can be categorized in thousands of ways. Any idea that is in it can be pulled out. Books with twins. Books with women who murder. Books with funny kids. Books with angst but you feel good at the end.

But we don't fine-grain books like that just yet (although Goodreads readers have cool lists that do that).

So where we stop on this slippery slope is easy: two categories, pick the two that best represent your work.

Because frankly I find it hard to believe that a novel needs to be put into six separate categories of fantasy, women's, ghost, time-travel, relationships, mystery. It may contain all those elements but elements don't make genre. Most likely such a book would be fantasy and mystery. Or fantasy and time-travel depending on which element is most significant.

It's really an easy thing: the author is responsible for correct categorization. If their books keep getting reported as being in the wrong categories they get a warning and then banned if they keep doing it.

I know it when I see it. I know and you know erotica when you see it. It doesn't matter if someone put women's fiction as the category. I saw a bad boy romance in sci-fi recently... that's just stupid and wrong. That's not a bad boy romance with a huge amount of sci-fi. It's bad boy romance, end of story.

Offline Speaker-To-Animals

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #74 on: June 11, 2018, 05:53:27 PM »
Quote
But in your view they aren't really Women's Fiction.

They aren't. They're erotica. At best erotic romance.

Women's fiction isn't any and all fiction for women, it's a genre called "women's fiction."

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