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Messages - TwistedTales

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The percentage Amazon has lost to other platforms is miniscule.  The only thing their existence does is show that if Amazon freezes out indies, someone else will take up the slack, and maybe that makes Amazon still interested in keeping us around, or maybe not.  You do your own research on that subject, to quote a well respected internet lecturer.

I have done my research and we have not drawn same conclusions. Believe whatever helps you sleep at night.

A few social media campaigns don't represent "the general consensus" either.  But that's beside the point and doesn't even ADDRESS the point that it's not Amazon's responsibility to make everyone happy, it's their responsibility to make money for their shareholders.  They're doing that.  If they don't make money, they'll make changes.  What will NOT make them change things is a few thousand or however many there are complaining indie authors on the internet.  We don't matter to them, and we shouldn't.  Complaining about Amazon's practices towards indie authors is incredibly pointless.  Go wide if you want, if you think you can make more money that way.  Do what's best for you, but don't think for one second that Amazon is going to change to suit you.

I'm not crowing about anything.  I'm telling you the truth:  I'm not going to pull out of KU because it pays me more money than I make from sales, by about a 2 or even 3 to 1 ratio.  If there comes a time when it's not worth it, then I'll pull out.  I'm not going to pull out in some misguided effort to "show Jeff Bezos who's boss."  He freaking knows who's boss, and here's a hint:  it's not us. 
And if Amazon gets control of the commerce platform, that's not going to be because I didn't yank my 15 books off KU and slice my paycheck by two-thirds in some sort of poorly thought out protest.

Itís more than a few social media campaigns, but do your own research on that subject.

And group actions count. Right now other platforms, TPs and some ďmisguidedĒ authors are whatís stopping Amazon from running more roughshod over indies than they already are. Imagine a world where they control everything.

But donít you worry about it because other people are doing that for you.

But the people who invest in the company don't give a damn about that, NOR SHOULD THEY.  This is how business is done, and we as indie authors have to be adaptable enough to make it work.  That's OUR job, not Amazon's responsibility.

Actually, Amazon have been and are still the subject of various social media campaigns about their bad business practices. True to say thatís just the opinion of those people, but hundreds of thousands of them share the same view. I wonít mention what those campaigns are here because itís not the right venue, but it illustrates that a lot people donít like many aspects of Amazonís business practices. A few authors that you know may or may not be representative of the wider view, so unless youíve polled hundreds of thousands of authors then you donít know what the general consensus is.

Amazonís customers and suppliers do have some say in what they do or at least they should. Shareholders also have some say in what companies do, which is why many investors refuse to put money into tobacco companies. It remains to be seen whether the US and the world will let Bezos take control of the rules of our commerce platform. If that happens then what you get paid, how youíre treated, and whether you even get to sell at all will be at Amazonís discretion, which is what will happen if the other distributors are forced out.

You might be crowing now, but if Amazon get full control of the commerce platform, you probably wonít feel quite as pleased with yourself then.

I got the email and deleted it. They never listen anyway, so I refuse to waste my time anymore.

Also, Jeff Bezos said in an interview that he doesnít believe in surveys because he expects Amazon to ďexciteĒ the customer by giving them what they want before they know they want it. A bit idiotic, but it means surveys have little credibility inside Amazon.

Sigh! Just when I was getting poised to go wide.

It's pretty sad when Amazon, with all of the problems it gives us, is in some ways more attentive than some of the "competition."

I find the other platforms much easier to work with. To date, Iíve had a few technical glitches that were sorted out, but not one of them has harassed me to prove I own copyright or gotten bent out of shape over anything. For the most part, once youíre out of KU, Amazon get out of your face as they should, but they still canít resist turning our book pages into a billboard of crap, deleting reviews for who knows what reason, and randomly harassing us when we update books. None of this happens on any other platform.

As for sales, I havenít had any issue at all. Nook and iBooks alone bring  in 40 - 50% of my sales, and the other platforms are just a bit of gravy, but I havenít done much promo work for them yet. I havenít seen any drop in sales on Amazon, so itís effectively doubled my earnings. BookBub do help a lot, but I donít apply for many of those. Iíve had 3 in the past year (one int only, one US only, one global). There are so many marketing tools around now that AMS is only one in the mix and itís too expensive these days. Better to use the other tools effectively. Itís a lot cheaper and used smartly  they can get the same results. Also, AMS is pointless once youíre wide because it only advertizes on Amazon and itís far too expensive with that limitation ó it really only makes sense for KU and even then itís overpriced, itís targeting sucks and the reporting is so warped itís meaningless.

These days Amazon are not the first plaform I promote. I run dedicated campaigns for specific sites and, depending on what Iím promoting, I donít always push Amazon now. But Iím in no hurry so Iím prepared to work for the results through a combination of branding, packaging, pricing points, series bundling, publishing and promotion. It takes time, but Iím so widely spread across platforms and countries that Iím not dependent on any single one. Thatís the most stable way to set up your book business because it accommodates fluctuations and removes the risk of single supplier (platform/subscription) dependency.

And I wouldnít say it takes time to make money when you go wide. It depends on what you go wide with in the first place. If youíve written books that appeal more to the KU reader, then your catalog might be a tough to sell because those readers perceive the books to be ďfreeĒ. Itís a whole different product proposition if you have to get someone to part with real money. Before going wide you need to make an honest assessment as to how likely it is that someone will pay cash for your books. If you think they will sell then go for it because the market on the other platforms is actually pretty solid. And, as an added bonus, they stay out of your face and let you focus on writing and promoting rather than running around after them.

How long has your book been on Amazon? I think with nearly every release of mine, Amazon takes 3-4 business days to populate the also-boughts beyond like half a dozen entries.

It wasnít a new release problem. I saw it on several of my books and others. Iím hoping itís a hiccup or browser setting glitch, otherwise itís a very bad development.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Delete
« on: Yesterday at 06:56:32 AM »
I'm not seeing it on yours. But I was just on my paperback and all it was showing was four related product ads. No also boughts at all. I hit refresh and it changed back to a normal page.

Thatís not my book or genre, but kudos to the author it belongs to. Nice cover and rank, plus I think it just had a BookBub.

Interesting you got the same ďglitchĒ. I hope this isnít one of Amazonís slow roll outs where things switch to and fro until the new thing replaces the old.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Delete
« on: Yesterday at 06:21:25 AM »
Phew! Yes, that would be not good.

No, it would not. I have zero faith in Amazon these days, which means I do assume the worst of them. It is a shame, because four years ago I thought highly of them, but they they eroded that trust until now I am actively building my rep on other platforms just to dilute the impact they can have.

One day Amazon might understand the opportunity they lost with a lot of suppliers and customers, but for now they are riding high on the hog and roughshod over people they need to remain successful.

Writers' Cafe / Delete
« on: Yesterday at 06:05:54 AM »
Iíve rebooted and cleared the browser and the also boughts are back. Thatís a weird glitch and I hope it was one and not a preview.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Only 4 also boughts showing and it sucks
« on: Yesterday at 05:59:44 AM »
On .com, Iím seeing a max of 4 also boughts listing one after the other and not in the usual row. I donít know why I can see that and no one else can. The other countries are showing the usual rows and pages of also boughts. This is only on the .com site for me.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Only 4 also boughts showing and it sucks
« on: Yesterday at 05:55:46 AM »
I get 17 pages of alsobots on that book

Im getting 2 also boughts. That doesnít make sense.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Only 4 also boughts showing and it sucks
« on: Yesterday at 05:48:04 AM »
Itís not a glitch. Iíve seen it on a lot of pages, plus itís formatted differently, which means itís not an error.

Hopefully itís a beta and theyíll think better of doing this because it means thereís virtually no advantage to their platform. Sure, people will say they have a big marketplace, but I only need a small percentage from a lot of different platforms and it adds up just as well.

Itís probably in beta right now so only some of us have this, but instead of the usual strip of up to 20 pages of also boughts, we now have up to four books showing.

The also boughts were one of the few remaining ways our books could be found without having to pay Amazon, so this is just another way to force us to use AMS, or at least try to.

We get it, Amazon, and believe me many of us are working hard to promote the other platforms over yours. AMS is too expensive for what it returns. The right thing to do is make the tool more effective, not to keep cornering and bullying suppliers. Those of us who are wide will continue to heavily promote the other platforms because itís cheaper than using AMS. Iím getting 40 - 50% of my sales from the other platforms now.

Writers' Cafe / Re: 500+ Words to Describe Faces
« on: March 12, 2018, 07:42:26 AM »
Hope youíre on the mend, GrandmaBirdie, and thanks for the tips!

I donít have a problem with subscription services providing they pay in a transparent and fair way. For example, Scribd pay 70% of the price of the book and D2D take another 5% (I think thatís the number).

Weíve been going wide slowly and so far have listed on Nook, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo and Scribd. We still havenít gone all-in with Kobo (we only sell in specific countries, which means we cannot use their promotional tools), and weíre continuing to assess the remaining platforms. So far, we sell on every site except Scribd. Not sure what to make of Scribd and whether itís worth any specific marketing.

If itís cynical then Amazon are doing it.

This is one of the best summaries Iíve read about Amazonís objectives, strategy and tactics. Iím not sure if Iím allowed to post the link, but if not then Iím sure a mod will remove it.

You can see the tactics in play on the book side of Amazon, so we know the position weíre being bullied into. Will Amazon win? Given people seem ready to roll over for them then Iíd say they will for a while, but I doubt itíll last. Another dog will show up, they always do. In the meantime, Iíll stay wide and hope the elephant trips sooner rather than later.

I donít blame anyone for being frustrated and Iíd be angry as all heck. Thank you to those who confirmed I have not misunderstood the situation.

Amazonís intent is to drive down prices and put competitors out of business by not needing to make much profit, but if you analyze where this leads they are making some fairly wild assumptions.

Driving down pricing will push suppliers out of business until eventually the lowest cost ones are all that are left. Initially, Amazon force all suppliers to cut margin and costs until they reduce the quality of the product, but eventually they cannot live on the small margin left and they leave the field. New suppliers, quite often living in poorer countries, step into the breach producing even cheaper and poorer quality products. If Amazon squeeze their margins by making them use their advertizing, then eventually they cannot live on the little margin left either. If Amazon keep it up, then they will end up with no suppliers at all. There is a limit to this game.

Look at the other end of the equation, which are the shareholders. At the moment they are making money, not from Amazonís margins, but the perception of its value. I think the current share price is around $1,000, despite Amazon making very small margins compared to its turnover (realistically Amazon donít have the turnover they claim because they are only a middle man - the bulk of the product sales are a pass-through expense where Amazon skim off a percentage - that is not the same as say Coca-Cola where they own and control the product and production). How high can Amazonís share price really go? What happens when it taps out? How will the shareholders continue to earn if Amazon donít know how to be genuinely profitable? There is a limit to the share price.

Short-term thinking always shoots you in the foot because you end up paying the piper in the end. This audio situation is a warning about where Amazon intend to take the subscription services. If they donít care about losing all the romance writers in audio, why will they care about KU?

I suspect Amazon figure the content mills will feed them the content. Those engines will pay ghostwriters to pump out same-old, same-old, and they will be happy to take significantly lower margins for it. Those cheap, mass production engines will keep the voracious readers in the subscriptions happy, whether that is  print, audio or ebooks.

Whatever indie writing was all about in the first place I think it is changing face. Amazon created a new reader base with the subscriptions, one that seems to be satisfied with repeatable and replicable niche content. Like a herd, they run from one trendy niche to the next. I suppose that can be commodified, which is why Amazon think they can get away with what theyíre doing with audible romance.

Just because Amazon created a new market of voracious subscription readers does not mean the original readers (the ones the TPs have always sold to) suddenly wanted these niches. I believe the reader who was around before Amazon is still with us. As Amazonís manufactured subscription markets become less palatable by the day, I expect more of us will go wide to find the readers who will pay a fair price for our books. It is only a question of where each of us draws the line, and not if Amazon will take us to the wall if we let them.

Iím not in audible or romance so none of this affects me, but Iím really confused as to Amazonís strategy. Theyíve managed to lock up I think itís 10,000 romance books into this program, but given how itís playing out, surely the more experienced authors will never sign up another book. So, did they do this just to lock up 10,000 indie romance books? How do they intend to attract new content? Are they assuming youíll all get over it and think a little something is better than nothing? And even if authors do think that, when it comes to audio the cost of production is high, not to mention the narrators wonít like this either. How is anyone supposed to earn back their investment, much less make profit?

I donít understand what Amazon expect to happen next.

I couldnít get the link from the reports page to work either, so I cheated by googling KDP forum and picked any old thread. It let me in to look at it without logging in. New format. Apparently theyíve taken away the ability to delete posts, which will spoil some peopleís fun. Old posts from years ago are on page one of the sub forums.

Usual high quality job by Amazon - not.

I only ever scan that forum so itís not an issue, but google KDP forum if you want a sneak preview.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Gravity
« on: March 08, 2018, 05:57:21 AM »
Been shopping, Anarchist?  ;D

Writers' Cafe / Re: The (mis)adventures of going wide
« on: March 03, 2018, 02:18:15 PM »
For anyone reading this to learn some of the quirks of being wide, we learned the hard way not to update a book once weíd lowered the price on iBooks. For some reason the pricing went back to the usual 5.99. Luckily BookBub alerted us as we managed to get it discounted again in time for the promo.

After that unpleasant lesson we now lower prices on all sites 4 days in advance of the promo run to give us time to iron out any problems. Weíve had more delays getting prices raised due to Amazon being slow and the other platforms trying to price match. It can go around in circles for a day or two.

We did have a problem with google doing random discounting (& I mean it was beyond the norm). We delisted and when we tried to relist after Pronoun folded the system forced us through a review process with them. Whatever that process is behind the scenes, the random discounting stopped (other than the standard that we all set our prices to deal with). Google tend to take awhile to get back to you, but they do eventually solve your problem.

Weíve had a few issues with nook, but they havenít been about pricing. Weíve had trouble loading one book, which they fixed in the end, but then it wouldnít show against our author name. Thatís been fixed as well, but I have to admit you do feel like your request has gone into a black hole. Google can make you feel a bit the same way. Youíre never sure if anyone is dealing with the request or will get back to you...ever...but they do.

Itís a lot more fussing if you go direct to the other platforms because there are more companies to deal with. You get there in the end, but it can feel like an endless stream of problems because any time you make a global change at least one of the platforms is a pain (& itís just as likely to be Amazon as any other).

Writers' Cafe / Re: A theory for why the Zon is killing CreateSpace
« on: March 01, 2018, 03:39:04 PM »
There was a now debunked theory in the 80s/90s that companies should set up competition within their business. That meant several areas would develop the same service/function and the ďbestĒ version won. Iíve read interviews with Bezos and apparently he still subscribes to this management tactic, whereas every other company I know gave it up as an expensive bad practice that creates too much negative friction. Bezos has been in the very unusual position of not being held accountable for making profit, so heís had the luxury of wasting money. Heís supposed to be making profit now, but Amazonís profit is well behind their dot com peers, Google and FB.

CreateSpace was purchased in 2005 when it was CustomFlix and distributing DVDs. After 13 years Iím guessing any buy out deal has been and gone, so CreateSpace has been fully owned and controlled by Amazon for quite a while. Based Bezosís management tactic of pitting areas against one another, itís possible Amazon deliberately set up two identical services and CreateSpace has lost the internal fight.

Whatever the reason, Iím not signing up to KDP Print. Iíve had enough Amazonís game play. The less dependency I have on them the better, so thatís no to audible, no to KU, and no KDP Print.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Barnes and Noble
« on: March 01, 2018, 10:12:27 AM »
We lowered and raised the price on B&N in the past month, and it took place within a matter of hours in both cases, so I would write to them ASAP. Weíve had a few different issues and their support can take a while to solve problems.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« on: February 22, 2018, 09:11:38 AM »
You can't even use inspiringness as a measure. Some of the stuff in major museums is downright boring (to me), but it's still art. It's not really a definable category, so everyone's free to draw their line where they want. But we should take an inclusive view of those lines, IMO -- that is, accept a capacious, amorphous category rather than trying to impose restrictions.

It  becomes a problem when some people brand others as hobbyists because money isnít their first priority when they write. Usually the other side retaliate by accusing the authors making money their first priority as selling out and writing any old trash that sells.

Itís not so much an argument about art as it is personalizing someoneís opinion as being directed at you.

Badge me however you see fit, I couldnít care less. Itís not as if my self image is affected by what someone I donít know and donít care about thinks of what Iím doing. The whole subject turns into a distraction from the issues we should all be thinking about, which has nothing to do with whether what weíre writing is art and everything to do with making good decisions for ourselves.

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