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Messages - TobiasRoote

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Merchants Continue to Find Ways to Cheat
« on: November 24, 2017, 11:28:36 PM »

My spidey senses have been tingling on amazon for almost a year now. Something not good is going on there, just that it's impossible to know what or to argue the point much given the hype train is still running full steam ahead.

Certainly possible isn't it. Someone mentioned that it might not be Zon exactly, but an individual or a minor aspect of Zon's services with another agenda, or a strong view on how things should be working within the company. That theory is gathering pace daily (maybe this AI everyone thinks is running things). There is a sense within the industry of things changing behind the scenes. The aggregators are paying more attention, getting more business-like and upping their game as if they can sense there's weakness to be exploited. Sales platforms seem to be tightening up. Google cautiously expanding their author intake is a welcome sign. Kobo, who knows.

Maybe it's just the company is running out of steam.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 24, 2017, 08:55:28 AM »
I think I proposed that they rank strip to stop the rank from spiking. And I don't think they DO like it. Hence my comments. Anyway, it's Friday night here, and I'm a social animal so have to go out and enjoy myself. Have a Great Thanksgiving weekend for those of you who enjoy that feast. :D

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 24, 2017, 08:24:26 AM »
I think this theory is ludicrous. Amazon doesn't want people to promote their books? LOL

Your entitled to your opinion (I hate repeating myself).  Where did I say Amazon didn't want you to promote your books? I put forward some ideas about why people were being spiked along with a few theories about what's occurring. :D What you think is none of my concern.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 24, 2017, 07:51:09 AM »

Also... I thought you were against inorganic spikes? How does applying for a BookBub jive with that? It's the most inorganic spike of all.

Who said I wasn't interested in advertising. Difference is I'm in it to sell books, not gain rank. I don't usually bother with rank at all and was only monitoring it [because of this thread and a few others] to see if I was 'spiked'. As it was I'm very pleased with book sales of Mutant Hunter and I didn't see any 'spike' issues at all. So, maybe there's something else going on here?

The Book Bazaar / FREE Audio Book of the Mutant Hunter on Audible
« on: November 24, 2017, 02:09:05 AM »
As promised the AUDIO version of Mutant Hunter is out in time for Christmas.

In addition, I have FREE Audible codes to give away so, if you're interested in ten hours and thirty five minutes of action-packed Sci-Fi with a British accent, then send me an email, with your name, location (State and country) and whether you want a US code or a UK one. The audio book is also available on Amazon and iTunes as well as a variety of other platforms including OVERDRIVE. You can email me at

All I want in return is for you to enjoy the book and put up a review if you feel it's justified.


Here is the link to the eBook.

Grady searches out mutant humans to protect them from eradication by the corporations. While investigating a new colony on an outlying planet he discovers they might not be mutant at all. Grady believes he knows what they are, but announcing the discovery will force him to disclose his own hidden past. Can he still get the truth out there without getting himself killed by the Corporation's assassins.

Any questions slip them in below and i'll answer them if I can.   Thanks

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 24, 2017, 12:58:34 AM »
and I wasn't rank-stripped on my International BookBub despite getting to No.1 in UK and CA. So, go figure.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 23, 2017, 11:40:15 AM »

i think you are trying so hard to excuse Amazon's actions here that you overlooked the fact that Amazon could have lessened the impact of sales spikes by quietly changing their ranking algorithms.

Oh! I don't think I'm trying to excuse Amazon here. I think I'm trying to explain why the spiking is being blunted. If amazon chooses to manage its own marketing to gain impact in it's own way and external forces are interfering with that you will get the same result. In the end the authors 'en masse' are all trying to 'spike' or 'game' the Amazon system. Amazon will fight back in whatever way it deems applicable to ensure that it remains in control of its own platform. If you cannot see the massive impact that all of these very powerful promotions are having, then you're not going to see it from Amazon's perspective at all.

In the end, like everyone here, I would like my books to be bestsellers. I'm not on Amazon's side, but I do pick my battles. I don't think they like these spikes and they are, at the moment, experimenting with stopping them. They may keep doing it, they may, as you say alter the algorithms. I just think the more people apply themselves to this form of mass exposure marketing, the more Amazon is going to attempt to control its effect on their business model.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 23, 2017, 11:27:25 AM »
Universal basic income, shorter working weeks and more job shares help to solve that.

We need to start focusing on social time rather than working constantly all our lives. We should be embracing it, not smashing the machines. :D

Absolutely! More time to read :D

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 23, 2017, 11:06:35 AM »
I think the issue is not so much advertise vs. not advertise as it is how to advertise. I'm not sure Tobias is saying just cross your fingers. I'm sure he'll correct me if I'm wrong, but I think what he was saying was that big bursts of advertising aimed at producing huge spikes may not be the way to go.

Correct! Think of it like this.
Author A does a BB on Monday, gets a spike and rides the tail.
Author B does a BB on Tuesday, gets a spike and rides the tail.
Author C does a BB on Wednesday, gets a spike and rides the tail.
Author D does a BB on Thursday, gets a spike and rides the tail.

Fill in the blanks, then multiply it by as many promotions as you tend to use in the course of a campaign.

Now, look at it from Amazon's point of view. They want to give their readers/buyers customers a good experience, so they try to create a system that rewards the products that are steadily selling good numbers of items on a week in week out basis, then they come across these spikes, thousands of them which upset Amazon's attempts at presenting a cogent and reputable system for putting good material in front of the reader. Just because it spikes on a free, or 99 cent offer doesn't mean its good material or worthy of high rank. Yet Amazon WANTS the reader to have that good experience so trips the spike over to keep the rankings meaningful. You have one objective, but it's not Amazon's. They are doing whatever they have to in the interest of the reader/customer.

AMS might be more acceptable to Amazon because they can control the reader/customer experience. External forces creating unknown results doesn't suit their world because it distorts everything. Which has been my argument from the outset nearly two years ago. Flogging something to death isn;t marketing and promotion - it's ramping or spiking and Amazon don't appear to like it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 23, 2017, 10:41:37 AM »
Nonsense. Businesses advertise and that includes publishing businesses. It is part of any business progression. Saying you should publish you novels and then cross your fingers that thousands of people 'naturally' discover it is absurd.

You're entitled to your opinion. I won't hold it against you in any way, shape or form :D The fact that Amazon appears to agree with me because they terminate spikes abruptly (fairly, unfairly, right or wrong) would negate your view.

I have seen 'ramping' of products and services in many areas in my business career. There is a big difference between that and organic/dynamic growth. One is a 'bubble' the other is stable and has legs.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 23, 2017, 10:12:03 AM »
This seems to match my experience as a publisher but not as an Amazon customer. The main store's customer service is excellent. I can always get a real person on chat immediately, and they always make right whatever has gone wrong, even if it's not their fault. On several occasions, they've replaced packages that were delivered but stolen off my porch. Pricey items, too. Once they took back a laptop that failed two days after the 30-day return period ended. They even waived the restocking fee. Basically, they bend over backwards to help me. Now, admittedly, I'm someone who spends thousands of dollars a year in the store, but we have authors who put a lot more money in Amazon's coffers as vendors than I do with my customer dollars.

Dunno. It doesn't really make sense to me outside the no-competition-leads-to-a-bad-product explanation. There's just no one out there pushing KDP to up its game, so why should Amazon bother funding improvements?

It's simple really when you think about it Alexa's point is that Jef Bezos is aiming to to do away with humans. He hasn't achieved that yet. He knows for sure, that if he doesn't front his main [retail] customer base with human faces (while building his super AI) he will lose business. Where WE are losing as authors is that we have standard problems that CAN be automated, or at the very least turned into 'EXPERT SYSTEMS' that a human can control from the back end. Which is why I believe this rank stripping is an automated procedure with a human overlord checking things are working according to algorithm expectations. They only step in when the algo misses, then it's tweaked and they await the next incidence. You won't know a thing when they finally get it right and move onto the next issue.

I'm in the middle of a BB right now, but it hasn't tripped anything in the algorithm yet, because it's a slower moving book. I'm still ecstatic with the sales, but it's not hyper-reacting and causing that algorithm to flag it. (and I wouldn't care if it did).

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon wouldn't lie to me, would they?
« on: November 23, 2017, 08:31:50 AM »
Yep, I've seen that the update appears there, but what they need to do is send the email notifying customers to do the same...

What happens if the user has notifications turned off? Many people find lots of email from Amazon to be invasive so turn them off in settings.

Writers' Cafe / Re: For heaven's sake, people, you're authors.
« on: November 23, 2017, 08:23:46 AM »
Service-oriented definitely rang true, but "orient ourselves" sounds completely foreign to me. Maybe this is why Microsoft Word always automatically detects my language as English (U.K.)... :D

Nah! I'm UK and orient works for me in lots of situations. Although, I regularly come across words that I personally never use in sentences being used by others. It's great to see the way different people think in writing.  Although the one thing I hate is repetition, so tend to use odd words judiciously for effect.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 23, 2017, 06:50:49 AM »
I'm officially coining the phrase "rank yank."

1. the removal of one's sales rank
"Patty recently suffered a rank yank."

1. remove one's sales rank
"If you promote a book, Amazon might rank yank it."

I think some smelly American's might fit the bill too :P

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon wouldn't lie to me, would they?
« on: November 23, 2017, 05:35:03 AM »
I updated my book after discovering a coding error that rendered parts of one chapter unreadable, and I was in contact with their customer service to push the update to all the customers who'd already purchased it. After their review, I got an email back saying they determined it was a major update and that they had sent an email out to everyone with a notification for them to go download the update in their settings.

The only thing is I'd purchased the book after I found out about the problem, and I haven't received this email notification from them.  ::)

This was about twenty-four hours ago, although that probably shouldn't matter since they'd said it had already been sent... checked my spam folder, yada yada. I'm going to see if anyone I know who got the book received the email before I respond back to them, but I've got a feeling they didn't actually send it out.

Has anyone caught them in the act of lying before?  ???

Maybe they decided to ring both of them as it was quicker. :P

Writers' Cafe / Re: Relocating from Pronoun and going wider with StreetLib
« on: November 22, 2017, 11:27:00 PM »
There is absolutely NO REASON to use Streetlib any more. Their only [real] contribution was Googleplay and Google will generally accept your application within weeks while going direct means you gain the extra percentage and direct control over your book sales. Whilst Google's control panel isn't brilliant it's way better than Streetlib. I've also had cause to contact support of both companies and Google doesn't patronise me the way Streetlib did. I think Pronoun had more to offer and they went to the wall. Go figure!

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 22, 2017, 09:57:51 AM »

I think you're working to hard to excuse Amazon here.

I don't think anyone's trying to excuse Amazon. On the contrary we're saying Amazon is directly interfering in the efforts of people to gain momentum. It's just that the interference is one the one hand desirable, and on the other, not.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 22, 2017, 09:55:25 AM »
I think it's more dynamic than that, because of those ten authors, only so many are going to share the same genre, for example. So it might not even be a matter of competing for the same customers;

Your pushing the discussion out of context. It [this discussion] refers back to this point.

If 10 of us on equal footing -- same genre, platform size, quality, etc -- all vie for the #1 spot by booking ads, that's nine authors who can't be #1.... Amazon has to account for that in its algorithms.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 22, 2017, 09:18:56 AM »
Personally, I think the customers account for that by deciding which of those ten they buy most from. Ten authors might try, but only one of them is going to sell the most at any given time. Amazon's algorithms have their own way of weighing current sales against past sales, sure, but I doubt they try to model some kind of response to similar authors competing against each other at the same time, as if they need to arbitrate some form of fairness. It's a bestsellers list because it's driven by who is selling the best. ;)

I think if those customers have ten choices in one week and only sufficient money for one book, then nine authors are going to lose out. If those ten authors spread their promotions over ten weeks, then each one might gain a sale. The trouble is thousands of authors are trying to do the same. So, the odds get longer and longer.

When I first started doing the lottery, it was in its infancy. I won quite often. When it reached the point of never winning the lottery was reaching saturation point.

It's a numbers 'game'

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 22, 2017, 07:55:38 AM »
They turn a click farm on your book so as to divert attention away from scam-authors. Sort of like chaff to a missile.

One assumes then, that if I was targeted I'd get lots of unexpected sales.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 22, 2017, 07:44:23 AM »
It's also important to keep in mind that totally innocent authors can have a successful book targeted by scammers to camouflage their own activities.

How the heck does that work?

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 22, 2017, 07:41:03 AM »
It might seem crazy but I never record my rank before, during or after my promos. I just look at the downloads and the sales of other books on the tail of the promo. Maybe I'm weird, but to me the ranking and the reviews are none of my business, or at least not under my control and are what they are. I sleep well at night too :P

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 22, 2017, 06:52:30 AM »
It's possible Amazon has simply installed a mechanism that verifies all newcomers to the Top 100 Paid and Free in order to deny high-profile visibility to scammers, in response to recent complaints in which scammers had hit the Top 100s.

Yes, I think I pretty much said the same thing

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 22, 2017, 06:51:10 AM »
What's absurd about this situation is that KU books don't get hit anywhere near (if at all) the way non-KU books do. There are so many KU books outright botting the system and they go on forever without zon taking action.

But someone gets a bookbub, which is beyond easy for zon to check to identify the source of the spike, and zon says "STOP! TIME OUT!"

I agree with you that this is all a function of how the algo is programmed, but I also think the algo is constructed such that it uses a sledgehammer for non-KU books and a feather for KU books. One gets smashed over the head while the other gets the bottom of their feet tickled.

Yes, it's evident that the Cinderella (KU) is treated much more leniently than the rest. However, the next quote explains the system perfectly.

Amazon doesn't want sales spikes. They've punished the sudden upward velocity of books for years. Now, more so.

and yet authors still try to 'spike' the system instead of accepting a more natural progressive growth of sales on the back of actual popularity of the book and organic take-up. Which I believe would not warrant any reaction at all by Amazon's 'spike bots'

Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 22, 2017, 06:17:55 AM »
I take extreme exception to this characterization. Figuring out how the store works and tweaking your marketing isn't "gaming the system" which implies some kind of cheating or unscrupulousness.

Take it however you want. Your taking exception isn't my problem. However, the algorithms cannot tell the difference between an author and a spammer/scammer, or whatever. To the machine every input is the same. My son is a 'gamer' I'm not insulting him because when he uses the games platform to garner an advantage over the opposing teams he's 'gaming' the system. It's a 'game' and you're all playing it, but the system knows you are doing it so tries to put checks and balances in place. It will continue to do so and might make some mistakes, but it believes it is being fair (as far as a machine can sense fairness).

This is a little silly. Amazon sells half a billion distinct products. The Kindle Store is less than 7m items.

I agree it's silly, but it's what people on KBoards are constantly saying. The system is broken or Amazon is [deliberately] 'breaking my run for the top'
The problem is when someone shouts foul because everyone else is doing the same and the system says STOP! while it checks things out (probably by a human being several hours, days down the line).

Are all the product groups in Amazon having this conversation? or just the authors?

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