Author Topic: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.  (Read 3052 times)  

Offline Lee Sutherland

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Hello, Kboards.  It's been a while since I've posted around here.  I lurk occasionally, but for the most part my time is spent in the groups for the genre I write in.  Over the past few months, I've dealt with page stripping by Amazon and have found no recourse in responding to their automated emails.  So, I wrote this piece and posted it on my website.   It's short and to the point, but I know I'm not the only one dealing with this.

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I love writing books. I love sharing them with the world and receiving reviews and messages from people who have spent hours enjoying what comes out of my head. Ive been doing it seriously for almost 2 years now and have learned so much in that time.

I thought I would finally be a full time writer this August. That was until amazon decided to start taking money from authors without proof or data. With only so much as we see suspicious activity but that is all we can tell you. They cant tell us what happened or how it happened. They cant tell us how to prevent it. But just like clockwork, 10 days into the next month they adjust our payout. After we have spent a month funneling money into their ads based on the data they reported to us. So not only do they get the $1500 they cut from my earnings, they get the $800+ that I spent on their ads based on false reporting.

Its not right and its not good business. If you cant control people manipulating your system, which Im not entirely sure occurred on my account based on my historical data, then you shouldnt report earnings in real time. And you definitely shouldnt adjust earnings the month after.

I dont know what Im going to do. Amazon is such a big piece of the pie that it would hurt my income to quit being exclusive. But I might just have to suck it up and put my books on other platforms.

I have also posted this on my blog at http://slrowland.com/2018/07/an-open-letter-to-amazon/ if anyone is experiencing the same thing an wants to share. 

Edit:  Take a look at the ratio of sales to page reads before my new release and after.

Month      Title                  Sales   Page Reads

October      Pangea Online Book One: Death and Axes      679   732,938
November   Pangea Online Book One: Death and Axes      193   134,507
December   Pangea Online Book One: Death and Axes      43   54,305
January      Pangea Online Book One: Death and Axes      43   46,456
February   Pangea Online Book One: Death and Axes      30   38,094
March      Pangea Online Book One: Death and Axes      26   26,320
April      Pangea Online Book One: Death and Axes      21   27,827

And then a new release on May 15th.

 (I didn't take a screenshot beforehand, but this is what they were adjusted to.  200,000+ page reads were cut.)

May      Pangea Online Book One: Death and Axes      126   56,593
May      Pangea Online Book Two: Magic and Mayhem   232   68,477

June(Before)   Pangea Online Book One: Death and Axes      65   117,982
June(Before)   Pangea Online Book Two: Magic and Mayhem   77   128,540

June(After)   Pangea Online Book One: Death and Axes      65   51,212
June(After)   Pangea Online Book Two: Magic and Mayhem   77   55,571

« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 06:43:42 AM by Lee Sutherland »

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2018, 07:04:45 PM »
More power to you. Though not affected (yet), this fiasco, wholly unnecessary on Amazon's part, bothers me more than any other current issue facing indies. Sure, they have to deal with malicious bots, but not at the expense of innocent author's livelihoods and peace of mind.

I pray they set up a true and transparent arbitration process and remedy this ASAP.


Offline David VanDyke

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2018, 08:25:19 PM »
Amazon is such a big piece of the pie that it would hurt my income to quit being exclusive. But I might just have to suck it up and put my books on other platforms.

Only apparently it isn't such a big piece of the pie. And why are to so sure it would hurt your income (in the long run)? My income wide is better now than anything except my very best months in KU, and much less variable. It took 6-9 months and a BookBub to break even with my usual KU average, but it's been all good since. YMMV, but it's certainly possible to do even better wide than Select-exclusive.


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Offline Rod Little

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2018, 09:47:54 PM »
Only apparently it isn't such a big piece of the pie. And why are to so sure it would hurt your income (in the long run)? My income wide is better now than anything except my very best months in KU, and much less variable. It took 6-9 months and a BookBub to break even with my usual KU average, but it's been all good since. YMMV, but it's certainly possible to do even better wide than Select-exclusive.

Thanks for your input!  I'm considering going wide to avoid relying too much on Amazon. Good to know some people are doing it well.

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Offline notjohn

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2018, 04:05:20 AM »
Only apparently it isn't such a big piece of the pie. And why are to so sure it would hurt your income (in the long run)? My income wide is better now than anything except my very best months in KU, and much less variable. It took 6-9 months and a BookBub to break even with my usual KU average, but it's been all good since. YMMV, but it's certainly possible to do even better wide than Select-exclusive.

I agree. My sales this month run 75 percent Kindle, 25 percent Draft2Digital, with Google yet to be heard from. Definitely my Kindle sales are way down this summer, but other online bookstores (and paperback sales) are holding up very well.

In the long run, it pays to diversify.

« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 04:08:04 AM by notjohn »
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Offline TimothyEllis

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2018, 05:20:20 AM »
It took 6-9 months and a BookBub to break even with my usual KU average

The magic word when wide: Bookbub.

Without one, you just shoot yourself in the foot going wide.

The trouble is, some authors cant get one, no matter what they do. And going wide when you cant get one is just .......there is no adequate word. My advice to people thinking about it, is get a Bookbub first, because until you do, getting traction wide is almost impossible. Going wide needs a Bookbub in the first 6 months, and getting one is much easier when you've already had one. And I'm talking the full BB, not a non-US one.

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2018, 07:19:36 AM »
The magic word when wide: Bookbub.

Without one, you just shoot yourself in the foot going wide.

The trouble is, some authors cant get one, no matter what they do. And going wide when you cant get one is just .......there is no adequate word. My advice to people thinking about it, is get a Bookbub first, because until you do, getting traction wide is almost impossible. Going wide needs a Bookbub in the first 6 months, and getting one is much easier when you've already had one. And I'm talking the full BB, not a non-US one.
That's good advice, though it's harder to get a BB while one is in KU.

I'm sure not everyone who is successful wide gets a BB, but many of the success stories are people who do--repeatedly. Unfortunately, that particular pathway is not open to everyone. Last I checked, BB was rejecting 80% of all applications. Sigh!


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Offline Randall Wood

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2018, 08:59:54 AM »
Only apparently it isn't such a big piece of the pie. And why are to so sure it would hurt your income (in the long run)? My income wide is better now than anything except my very best months in KU, and much less variable. It took 6-9 months and a BookBub to break even with my usual KU average, but it's been all good since. YMMV, but it's certainly possible to do even better wide than Select-exclusive.

This.

Stop playing their game.

I expect to get some flack for this but...

Despite all the threads to the contrary, I still pull six figures a year by being wide with nothing but a good loss leader (free) and very little advertising. No AMS. No FB ads. No newsletter swaps. I write and I publish and I interact/engage with the fans who write me. That's about it.

Yes, I get Bookbub's, but they are no more than one or two a year.

I may be an outlier but I have to echo David, its entirely possible, and MUCH less stressful, to be better off outside of select/KU. 


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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2018, 09:17:52 AM »
This.

Stop playing their game.

I expect to get some flack for this but...

Despite all the threads to the contrary, I still pull six figures a year by being wide with nothing but a good loss leader (free) and very little advertising. No AMS. No FB ads. No newsletter swaps. I write and I publish and I interact/engage with the fans who write me. That's about it.

Yes, I get Bookbub's, but they are no more than one or two a year.

I may be an outlier but I have to echo David, its entirely possible, and MUCH less stressful, to be better off outside of select/KU.

If you get flak for saying that then people are just weird. Personally, thank you for saying it. This has also struck me as the most obvious answer to any and all of this.

Results are in: the more power you allow Amazon to have over you, the more they will exercise that power, period.

Money flows to the author. When that tenet starts to be broken you have to take a step back and realize something is very wrong. If anyone else told you they were going to pay you $10,000 that month, and on the last day sent you $5,000 with no way to discuss, challenge or otherwise react to that, what would you do? Probably never work with them again and maybe legally challenge them, right? The added salt to the wound of you using AMS based on those same hour by hour results, and not being refunded when it turns out their data is apparently 50% BS, is just the sauce on top of the screamburger.

But you can't do that here due to them being the largest player on the field. So what can you do? You can go wide and stop allowing them to exclusively abuse you. We're indie authors, the ability to adapt and change the paradigm is a huge part of who we are as a community, no? Adapt or die.

Tell your readers why you're pulling out. I think you'll find them most sympathetic and completely unaware that this is going on. Let them help advocate for you because they're the ones with the purchasing power in this equation.

Offline David VanDyke

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2018, 11:35:26 AM »
The magic word when wide: Bookbub.

Without one, you just shoot yourself in the foot going wide.

The trouble is, some authors cant get one, no matter what they do. And going wide when you cant get one is just .......there is no adequate word. My advice to people thinking about it, is get a Bookbub first, because until you do, getting traction wide is almost impossible. Going wide needs a Bookbub in the first 6 months, and getting one is much easier when you've already had one. And I'm talking the full BB, not a non-US one.


No, you're overrating the BB--and frankly, that's a bit insulting, though you probably didn't mean it that way. You're inadvertently implying the tons of hard work I put in on other areas of going wide was pointless, it was the BB that mattered.

Nope. The BB was great, but I would have been fine without it--it just would have taken longer. Also, the BB wasn't some kind of fluke. It was a strategy, one pole in the tent. I planned for it, worked for it, and got it.

But I'd have made it without, it just would have taken longer.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 03:32:44 PM by David VanDyke »


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Offline David VanDyke

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2018, 11:42:25 AM »
That's good advice, though it's harder to get a BB while one is in KU.

I'm sure not everyone who is successful wide gets a BB, but many of the success stories are people who do--repeatedly. Unfortunately, that particular pathway is not open to everyone. Last I checked, BB was rejecting 80% of all applications. Sigh!

More like 98% of all applications, actually. The BB team has stated they get more than 1000 applications a day, and they run 25 per day. I think they say "over 80%" because they don't want to scare people away, and it's technically true. 98% is over 80%.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying "that pathway isn't open to anyone." It is. What is true is, if you really want them to accept, you have to have a strategy that includes as many elements they like as possible--and you can structure your submission accordingly if you work at it. Then you're more likely to get BBs over time. I don't have some kind of magic "in." I've just optimized my submissions and back-optimized my reader magnets with BB in mind.


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Offline David VanDyke

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2018, 11:43:45 AM »
This.

Stop playing their game.

I expect to get some flack for this but...

Despite all the threads to the contrary, I still pull six figures a year by being wide with nothing but a good loss leader (free) and very little advertising. No AMS. No FB ads. No newsletter swaps. I write and I publish and I interact/engage with the fans who write me. That's about it.

Yes, I get Bookbub's, but they are no more than one or two a year.

I may be an outlier but I have to echo David, its entirely possible, and MUCH less stressful, to be better off outside of select/KU. 

This.


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Offline David VanDyke

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2018, 11:44:51 AM »
If you get flak for saying that then people are just weird. Personally, thank you for saying it. This has also struck me as the most obvious answer to any and all of this.

Results are in: the more power you allow Amazon to have over you, the more they will exercise that power, period.

Money flows to the author. When that tenet starts to be broken you have to take a step back and realize something is very wrong. If anyone else told you they were going to pay you $10,000 that month, and on the last day sent you $5,000 with no way to discuss, challenge or otherwise react to that, what would you do? Probably never work with them again and maybe legally challenge them, right? The added salt to the wound of you using AMS based on those same hour by hour results, and not being refunded when it turns out their data is apparently 50% BS, is just the sauce on top of the screamburger.

But you can't do that here due to them being the largest player on the field. So what can you do? You can go wide and stop allowing them to exclusively abuse you. We're indie authors, the ability to adapt and change the paradigm is a huge part of who we are as a community, no? Adapt or die.

Tell your readers why you're pulling out. I think you'll find them most sympathetic and completely unaware that this is going on. Let them help advocate for you because they're the ones with the purchasing power in this equation.

And this. Well said.


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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2018, 12:15:05 PM »
More like 98% of all applications, actually. The BB team has stated they get more than 1000 applications a day, and they run 25 per day. I think they say "over 80%" because they don't want to scare people away, and it's technically true. 98% is over 80%.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying "that pathway isn't open to anyone." [added by BH: I said "everyone," not "anyone] It is. What is true is, if you really want them to accept, you have to have a strategy that includes as many elements they like as possible--and you can structure your submission accordingly if you work at it. Then you're more likely to get BBs over time. I don't have some kind of magic "in." I've just optimized my submissions and back-optimized my reader magnets with BB in mind.
I have no doubt a lot of hard work and strategizing went into getting accepted by Bookbub. I never thought the BB faerie just sprinkled them down from the clouds (though that might make an interesting premise for a short story).

The problem here, as with virtually everything, is that we don't have enough data. You assume because your strategy worked for you that it would work for anyone willing to put in the time. That could be true--though the math makes me skeptical. But we don't know if people who had their acts together still failed to get a BB, and if there are such people, we don't know how many. Most, but not all, of the people who talked about success wide in the past mentioned BB, and some suggested that was the crucial ingredient.  Maybe they're wrong--but again, we don't have the data to know. If we had stats for all the wide authors and could check for common factors, that might tell us with greater certainly what the prerequisites for success are.

That said, I think the future is ultimately in wide. I'm not in this situation, but the people I worry about are the people who are currently in Select and relying on their writing income. It's easy to say success would just have taken longer without a BB, but for someone whose income dropped drastically, longer might be too long.


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Offline Lee Sutherland

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2018, 12:32:30 PM »
I agree that the simple solution to having page reads stripped and false reporting is simply to not play in their system.  But the simple solution is not always the best solution.  My problem is the fact that if you choose to play with Amazon, then you should be treated fairly.  If they can't detect false page reads in real time, then delay a day, a week, whatever it takes to be able to analyze them and report them accurately to the author.  But as it is, we have no idea how they are going about this.  And when you look at the stats and see the adjusted reads, it just doesn't add up.  Like all of a sudden sales outnumber page reads in such a significant way, and on a new release when the majority of my readership is enrolled in KU.  It doesn't add up.

I enjoy being in KDP select.  I'm lucky to write in a genre with voracious readers who can leave me reviews on the same day I release because they read so fast.  There has to be a solution to the problem.  I don't have the answers.  Maybe I will go wide.  Maybe I won't.  I've been dealing with Amazon for several days now in an attempt to have my AMS budget refunded.  I'm trying to bring this to their attention.  I'm trying to have my account reviewed by actual humans and not just bots.

For now, I have a new series launching next month.  I'm going to put a lot of thought into whether or not I should take it wide from the start.

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2018, 01:58:20 PM »

I'm not sure what you mean by saying "that pathway isn't open to anyone." It is. What is true is, if you really want them to accept, you have to have a strategy that includes as many elements they like as possible--and you can structure your submission accordingly if you work at it. Then you're more likely to get BBs over time. I don't have some kind of magic "in." I've just optimized my submissions and back-optimized my reader magnets with BB in mind.

I love this part..."you have to have a strategy".

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2018, 02:19:53 PM »
This.

Stop playing their game.

I expect to get some flack for this but...

Despite all the threads to the contrary, I still pull six figures a year by being wide with nothing but a good loss leader (free) and very little advertising. No AMS. No FB ads. No newsletter swaps. I write and I publish and I interact/engage with the fans who write me. That's about it.

Yes, I get Bookbub's, but they are no more than one or two a year.

I may be an outlier but I have to echo David, its entirely possible, and MUCH less stressful, to be better off outside of select/KU.

The only times I see flak are when people get soap boxy about how everyone must be wide. KU authors hear a lot about how we're idiots leaving our future to Amazon, so we don't always have the patience for it. I choose to stay in Select because I think it's the best options for my business right now. I'm glad many authors do well wide--it's better for everyone if there are different routes to success. But everyone has to remember that there are different routes to success. For some, wide is the best option. For some, KU is the best option.

I hate to say it, but I think the better you do in KU, the more insulated you are from Amazon BS. You rarely see high earning authors losing their pages or getting rank stripped unless they're engaging in blackhat practices.

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2018, 02:36:47 PM »
I've been dealing with Amazon for several days now in an attempt to have my AMS budget refunded.  I'm trying to bring this to their attention.  I'm trying to have my account reviewed by actual humans and not just bots.

Good luck with this, let us know how it goes.  People seem to get quicker responses when they contact the Jeff Bezos email address, have you tried that?

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2018, 02:54:12 PM »
The only times I see flak are when people get soap boxy about how everyone must be wide.

I'm definitely not up on a soap box, personally. Sorry if it came across like that.

My point is for those people being targeted, and assuming they have genuinely done nothing wrong, they have options. Those options may seem daunting, confusing, or tiresome but if you're going to treat your writing as a business you will have to make tough decisions sometimes.

If you're being taken advantage of, and I would most certainly claim that for anyone losing a straight and unverifiable 50% of reads, you need to remove yourself from the situation that you are in. Send in a letter after, or during, the process of your removal explaining to the Amazon Executive team why you are doing so. If you genuinely feel that you're being wrongly targeted look at what legal recourse is available to you*.

But, and it's a big BUT, don't just sit there and allow them to wield all the power in the relationship. You have choices.

* The reason I even mention that is the obvious fact that the 50% read strip rate is starting to look like it's a fantastical number. I don't know how it's possible to not view it as a fabricated number. The mathematical odds of these bad actors somehow reading, within a few points of error, a consistent 50% of a varied group of authors works, is.... well it's so low as to be improbable. Put that information in front of a court of law and I genuinely think Amazon is going to have to answer a bunch of questions they would prefer not to. Questions like: How do you record reads? What criteria do you use to ascertain false reads? How precisely does this all add up to 50% stripping across the board? Frankly the whole thing is on very shaky ground, no?

ETA: I'm British and we're usually too polite to sue, or threaten it. ;) I just think this stinks to high heaven and I hope someone ends up challenging their arbitrary behavior.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 02:58:22 PM by GrahamCrackers »

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2018, 03:28:30 PM »

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2018, 03:39:16 PM »
You assume because your strategy worked for you that it would work for anyone willing to put in the time.

I never, EVER said that. I never even implied it, to my knowledge

What I did was tell how I did, and say it was possible, YMMV. This was in response to a post that definitely declared that going wide "would" hurt income, and then a follow-on post that definitely declared that without a BB, you're just shooting yourself in the foot.

In other words, the OP declared that going wide would result in less income than KU, and that without a BB, going wide would fail. I refuted that argument, explicitly without claiming that everyone who goes wide would definitely do as well as I have.

The OP said "wide bad." I said "maybe not."
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 03:40:47 PM by David VanDyke »


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Offline skylarker1

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #21 on: July 11, 2018, 03:46:36 PM »
* The reason I even mention that is the obvious fact that the 50% read strip rate is starting to look like it's a fantastical number. I don't know how it's possible to not view it as a fabricated number. The mathematical odds of these bad actors somehow reading, within a few points of error, a consistent 50% of a varied group of authors works, is.... well it's so low as to be improbable. Put that information in front of a court of law and I genuinely think Amazon is going to have to answer a bunch of questions they would prefer not to. Questions like: How do you record reads? What criteria do you use to ascertain false reads? How precisely does this all add up to 50% stripping across the board? Frankly the whole thing is on very shaky ground, no?

ETA: I'm British and we're usually too polite to sue, or threaten it. ;) I just think this stinks to high heaven and I hope someone ends up challenging their arbitrary behavior.

This situation sounds like a class action suit would be appropriate. If the same arbitrary numbers are hitting a large group of varied authors...


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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #22 on: July 11, 2018, 04:14:46 PM »
I am curious, though, to know how many mid/high-5 to 6 figure authors got there without BB.
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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #23 on: July 11, 2018, 06:24:12 PM »
I am curious, though, to know how many mid/high-5 to 6 figure authors got there without BB.

I've earned six figures a year for the past four years and only just got accepted by BB this year. I've had two ads with them so far and neither did all that well, sadly. BB isn't the be all and end all that people think they are anymore. Not for me anyway. The ads certainly didn't skyrocket my sales like I thought they would. More like a small bump, then back to normal again after three weeks. Maybe if I wrote contemporary romance, it might have been different (shrugs).

Offline Atlantisatheart

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #24 on: July 11, 2018, 06:46:41 PM »
I am curious, though, to know how many mid/high-5 to 6 figure authors got there without BB.

I've been six figures for six years and I've never had a BB. I guess I got double lucky - to start when I did and manage to keep my readers with me along the way.

I'm curious, has anyone heard of anyone being page stripped this month? I haven't heard anything on other boards.

Offline Trina Lee

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2018, 07:42:26 PM »
I am curious, though, to know how many mid/high-5 to 6 figure authors got there without BB.

I didn't get my first BB until three years after I became a six figure author.

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Offline P.J. Post

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2018, 08:48:16 PM »
That makes 3.  :)

Seriously, I'm not being whatever about it, I really am curious. Most/many of the financially successful writers we hear about seem to have BBs routinely factored into their promotion schedules, but obviously, there are lots of authors doing really well that we never hear about. And for those that don't use BB, or didn't until well after they had achieved financial success, I'm equally curious as to how they got there: publishing schedule, genres, etc. And not in a give me advice kind of way, just in an analytical/academic, that sure is interesting, kind of way.
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Offline David VanDyke

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2018, 10:37:53 PM »
That makes 3.  :)

Seriously, I'm not being whatever about it, I really am curious. Most/many of the financially successful writers we hear about seem to have BBs routinely factored into their promotion schedules, but obviously, there are lots of authors doing really well that we never hear about. And for those that don't use BB, or didn't until well after they had achieved financial success, I'm equally curious as to how they got there: publishing schedule, genres, etc. And not in a give me advice kind of way, just in an analytical/academic, that sure is interesting, kind of way.

Remember, how stats are framed changes the apparent meaning. Stats and anecdotes have to be defined and framed properly.

Example: 100% of people looking for their lost keys find them in the last place they look.

If you immediately thought that couldn't be true, remember: as soon as you find your keys, you stop looking. So that's the last place you looked. 100%.

Why do I say this? Because without a control group of those who tried and failed to go wide with a BB, and a control group of those who tried and failed without a BB, you have nothing. You only have a list of authors who succeeded, some with, and some without a BB. You might infer, broadly, for example, that if the same number of authors reported success with, and without a BB, then it doesn't matter--but that would also be false, because there are so many variables:

How many tried and failed completely
Who happens to be reading and replying to this thread
What genres they are in
How many BBers would have made it without the BB anyway
How many needed the BB or they would have failed
How big is their backlist
How long are their books
etc. etc. etc.

The samples size here is far too small. All we can be sure of is, it is possible to succeed wide, and it is possible to succeed without a BB, and BB probably helps in most cases.

Beyond that, YMMV wildly.

The only thing you can do to be sure is try it yourself, using the best methods and strategies you can find and employ.


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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2018, 01:02:05 AM »
I'm curious, has anyone heard of anyone being page stripped this month? I haven't heard anything on other boards.

There's one mentioned on another thread: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,264067.msg3688130.html#msg3688130
   

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2018, 01:13:09 AM »
I hate to say it, but I think the better you do in KU, the more insulated you are from Amazon BS. You rarely see high earning authors losing their pages or getting rank stripped unless they're engaging in blackhat practices.

This is something that's been intriguing me for a while now. Since I suspect all of Amazon's policing is managed by bots, apart from the odd time the suits swoop in and clean up after a publicity mess, why would they pick on the people least likely to be using or benefiting from illegal page reads? And why the 50% business? And why are so many new releases affected? And why these hot genres, like GameLit and RH?

Personally, I think it's a programming error. Wild speculation: the bots are set to detect a surge in pages read that's very high relative to previous history. Maybe more than 50% higher than some previous estimate. If detected, it will strip the excess automatically, which triggers the nastygram. If this were so, then those with previous high page reads would be protected, whereas anyone who previously didn't sell much, switched to a hot genre and suddenly took off would be vulnerable.

But honestly, I don't think anyone knows for sure what's going on, and I'm not even sure Amazon knows. The bots are running the shop now.
   

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2018, 02:13:27 AM »
I didn't get my first BB until three years after I became a six figure author.

I didn't get one until a year after my stuff took off. Still get rejected by them all the time.

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #31 on: July 12, 2018, 02:59:14 AM »
Quote
I hate to say it, but I think the better you do in KU, the more insulated you are from Amazon BS. You rarely see high earning authors losing their pages or getting rank stripped unless they're engaging in blackhat practices.

TBH, I think the better you do, the less time you have to watch your numbers like a hawk. You'll watch the money come into your bank account and if it looks like an acceptable amount, you're not going to go back and see if all pages are accounted for. You don't have time for that.

Re. Bookbub.

Most successful writers use Bookbub because they get accepted by Bookbub and it's useful, but not necessarily career-changing (says she, having my 15th Bookbub tomorrow).

I guess I should write a post entitled "Patty's guide to 100% guaranteed getting accepted by Bookbub". It involves time and dogged determination, just like selling short stories to a literary magazine. You play ping pong with submissions: if it comes back, send them something else. Rinse and repeat. Put on autopilot, for years, if necessary.

Or you can whinge and throw dummy spits about not getting accepted by Bookbub.

Or you can decide that Bookbub doesn't fit in your strategy.

That's fine, there are other ways. It doesn't suit all genres and is no magic pill. My new release earnings spike is usually much higher and broader than a Bookbub earnings spike.


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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon
« Reply #32 on: July 12, 2018, 09:53:52 AM »
why would they pick on the people least likely to be using or benefiting from illegal page reads? And why the 50% business? And why are so many new releases affected? And why these hot genres, like GameLit and RH?

I recall someone asking a similar question about the 50 percent figure back a month or two ago, asking if the percentage of stripped pages was the same for other authors. As I recall, the responses cited a wide range of stripped pages - some just 10 percent or so, others up to maybe 80 percent, I think. Whatever the exact figures, it seemed to pretty much clear up the (mis)conception that Amazon is just taking 50 percent of page reads from everyone.

I've yet to see any developments that sway me from accepting the most plausible explanation: Amazon is simply stripping page reads that come from bot accounts.

Why the hot genres like GameLit? Probably because those are the genres that scammers are targeting. I know there was at least one popular GameLit author whose books disappeared from Amazon (probable account ban, like what happened over in Romanceland). And it's likely affecting new releases because that's what the scammers target in hope of cloaking their bot activity.

I'm not disposed to defend Amazon without reason; I very much share the sentiment of the OP, that Amazon absolutely should not be offering up-to-date reporting of page reads if it can't guarantee those figures, because people make decisions about ad spends based on that information. But I simply don't think it plausible that Amazon is stripping page reads based on unjustified suspicions. If we start hearing about Amazon restoring these page for many authors reads at a later date, though, I think that would be good evidence.

Offline Lee Sutherland

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #33 on: July 12, 2018, 10:37:56 AM »


In other words, the OP declared that going wide would result in less income than KU, and that without a BB, going wide would fail. I refuted that argument, explicitly without claiming that everyone who goes wide would definitely do as well as I have.

The OP said "wide bad." I said "maybe not."

Umm, I never said that.  I said it would hurt my income to quit being exclusive.  My income. Which it would, because over half my income is from KU.  Could that change in time?  Yes.  My readers are big in KU.  From other authors in my genre who have gone wide, they barely sell on the other platforms.  I know it takes time and a strategy to see success wide, but not one part of me wants to take another year to build an audience wide when I was so close to being full-time now under my current strategy I have invested 2 years in.

I don't want to go wide, but it feels like I am being forced to do so because of the way Amazon is conducting their business.  I like playing in one place and having all my data right there and only having to worry about promoting on one retailer.  I simply want Amazon to be more transparent in what it does and answer a F%@*!&$ email when I send them one.

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #34 on: July 12, 2018, 11:00:26 AM »
Which it would, because over half my income is from KU.  Could that change in time?  Yes.  My readers are big in KU.  From other authors in my genre who have gone wide, they barely sell on the other platforms.

Out of curiosity could this be because LitRPG doesn't have a category on other platforms? And, is this something that could be rectified with some contact with those other platforms? Just wondering.

Offline Lee Sutherland

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #35 on: July 12, 2018, 11:12:14 AM »
Out of curiosity could this be because LitRPG doesn't have a category on other platforms? And, is this something that could be rectified with some contact with those other platforms? Just wondering.

Litrpg doesn't have a category on Amazon either.  We put our books in various categories that fit what is in them, but there is no dedicated category for LitRPG or Gamelit.

Offline Trina Lee

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #36 on: July 12, 2018, 11:23:06 AM »
I didn't get one until a year after my stuff took off. Still get rejected by them all the time.

Yeah, they haven't accepted me in two years.

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #37 on: July 12, 2018, 11:29:10 AM »
Remember, how stats are framed changes the apparent meaning. Stats and anecdotes have to be defined and framed properly.

Example: 100% of people looking for their lost keys find them in the last place they look.

If you immediately thought that couldn't be true, remember: as soon as you find your keys, you stop looking. So that's the last place you looked. 100%.

Why do I say this? Because without a control group of those who tried and failed to go wide with a BB, and a control group of those who tried and failed without a BB, you have nothing. You only have a list of authors who succeeded, some with, and some without a BB. You might infer, broadly, for example, that if the same number of authors reported success with, and without a BB, then it doesn't matter--but that would also be false, because there are so many variables:

How many tried and failed completely
Who happens to be reading and replying to this thread
What genres they are in
How many BBers would have made it without the BB anyway
How many needed the BB or they would have failed
How big is their backlist
How long are their books
etc. etc. etc.

The samples size here is far too small. All we can be sure of is, it is possible to succeed wide, and it is possible to succeed without a BB, and BB probably helps in most cases.

Beyond that, YMMV wildly.

The only thing you can do to be sure is try it yourself, using the best methods and strategies you can find and employ.
Spot on, both for the reasoning and for the advice.

One of our problems as indie writers is what a small amount of data we have to work with (mostly our own, with a little sprinkling of data from people who post publicly). That may be enough to reveal what's possible under the right circumstances, but not necessarily what those circumstances are or how often such a high point is achieved.
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Offline ParkerAvrile

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Re: An Open Letter to Amazon on stripped page reads and false reporting.
« Reply #38 on: July 12, 2018, 05:37:02 PM »
Agree we always have limited information from Amazon but this person has all the data they need to make what appears to me to be an easy decision. They want to be a full-time author. Unless my math is wrong (always possible), even their best month was around maybe $6K, and mostly their income is much lower. And they still have to pay for expenses like AMS ads. If they're an American, this is not a full-time income. It's all right income for a job with benefits but not for a business with expenses and double social security taxes and an ever-escalating spend on private health insurance.

KU is not getting them where they want to be. Even without the random page stripping. So it should be pretty durn easy to walk away.

My vote is to move on. If this genre only sells in KU, I would not only abandon KU but the genre. Write for people who have money to pay for the books they want. If that means a change of genre, so be it.
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