Author Topic: And! Amazon rank-stripped me  (Read 15144 times)  

Online TheLass

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #75 on: November 22, 2017, 06:13:00 AM »
The other defence is that they just don't notice. Actually they notice two things very well

A) That promotion sites are growing very fast

B) That if money flows away from promotion sites it flows towards their own marketing avenues

Does it?  I'm not sure AMS is a match for any good list.

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #76 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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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #77 on: November 22, 2017, 06:18:18 AM »
There's a difference between strategy and tactics. A tactic might be putting a book free for five days and watching it bounce up the Pop List and then the paid chart. And that can get nerfed by changes to the pop list. A more grimy tactic might be stuffing a book and deceptively getting people to click to the end. And that can get nerfed by Amazon having a more accurate way to count pages.

A strategy might be using free to drive sales of other titles. Another strategy might be understanding how the store works (and, yes, the algos) and tweaking your marketing accordingly.

I'm comfortable using both. I'm not over reliant on tactics and have strategy to fall back on if one tactical play becomes less useful.

An example: KU is all about visibility because visibility turns into good Pop List placement which feeds into KU recommendations and then ultimately turns into reads. However, because of the way the Pop List works, there is usually a four-day lag before that visibility turns into reads. If I didn't know the algos, I wouldn't know that. Which means I wouldn't have the tactic of holding prices lower for longer after a promo, until the page read wave kicks in.

This is a tactic. It works very, very well, and makes a book sticky if you do it right.

The strategy is different, it's knowing the algos and recognizing the power curve in KU and knowing that aggression is rewarded with reads.

Both are useful.

How about the strategy of writing books that intelligent people want to read, instead of marketing to sell crap to people who think crap is wonderful?

Offline Elizabeth Ann West

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #78 on: November 22, 2017, 06:19:12 AM »
I don't think you are being silly TobiasRoote. I agree with you that there are many perspectives in this industry and we as indies most often look at it from only our own perspective.

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

This is a major change and now we all have to adjust for it. My adjustments will be working harder in 2018 to make Amazon a lower percentage of my monthly income.


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Online Seneca42

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #79 on: November 22, 2017, 06:22:28 AM »
We've (the Indy author sector) become more concerned with manipulation of the market, rather than plain marketing.

And you wonder why the thing breaks !!!

Because the hard truth is 99% of self-publishers can't make a living without the myriad of tactics being employed... from simply working themselves to death, to investing absurd amounts of money into marketing and production, to using grey and black hat tactics. It used to be writing a book in itself was an accomplishment... now if you aren't writing a book a day you're half-assing it.

No one wants to admit that none of this is sustainable due to saturation and commodification. The unreliability of the zon platform and irrational algo behavior is simply another data point that this industry is buckling under its own weight.

The come-to-Jesus moment isn't going to happen though until KU hits 35c (or until page reads drop another 30%) and marketing / visibility costs climb even higher. That's when people will finally acknowledge that this has become a gong show.

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #80 on: November 22, 2017, 06:33:19 AM »
How about the strategy of writing books that intelligent people want to read, instead of marketing to sell crap to people who think crap is wonderful?

Writing books that people want to read is the prerequisite for a sustainable book business. So it goes without saying.




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Offline nigel p bird

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #81 on: November 22, 2017, 06:34:47 AM »
You have to hate it when it happens. It's that slow response and helplessness at the time that bugs me - you're left stranded and if it's fixed a few days or weeks later when the damage to the investment in terms or money, time, energy and emotion has already happened. I also struggle when explanations for such disappearance aren't given when asked for.


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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #82 on: November 22, 2017, 06:45:04 AM »
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?

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.

Offline Mylius Fox

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #83 on: November 22, 2017, 06:46:55 AM »
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.

There's no evidence this happens as a counterbalance to authors promoting their books. 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.

Amazon has every reason to love and embrace promotions, IMO, and no real reason to frown upon them. :)

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #84 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'


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Offline williammeikle

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #85 on: November 22, 2017, 06:51:45 AM »
Maybe the programmers have factored in BB  :P

But you should still keep going for a BB. 1) Everyone who gets ranked stripped gets their rank back (or most do anyway). 2) It only seems to happen on zon US.  3) You'll still make a ton of money and get a ton of readers, so it's still a no-brainer.

And if you go 99c instead of free, you have nothing to worry about at all.

Not true. Our VEIL KNIGHTS series promo got rank stripped on a 99c BB promo just a few weeks back.

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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #86 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


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Offline Mylius Fox

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #87 on: November 22, 2017, 07:03:31 AM »
Yes, I think I pretty much said the same thing

I didn't have that impression, unless you're saying that having one's book listed on the Top 100, in and of itself, should be considered gaming the system. I'd understood you were talking about using promotions to boost one's rankings, that doing so was gaming, or manipulating or taking advantage of, how things "normally" work.

Offline Allyson J.

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #88 on: November 22, 2017, 07:08:24 AM »
Welp, I had a bookbub today for a 3 year old permafree wide book. I was at maybe #475 in the free store at the start of the day, before the email went out. I'm already rank stripped. Fingers crossed that my ranking is restored. 

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Online Anarchist

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #89 on: November 22, 2017, 07:09:09 AM »
I didn't have that impression, unless you're saying that having one's book listed on the Top 100, in and of itself, should be considered gaming the system. I'd understood you were talking about using promotions to boost one's rankings, that doing so was gaming, or manipulating or taking advantage of, how things "normally" work.

FWIW, I didn't get that impression either.
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Offline ImaWriter

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #90 on: November 22, 2017, 07:09:43 AM »
<sigh> Agree. I thought there was a block button but I can't find it.

Thank you for the reminder. I forgot this was an option. Instructions on how to block a specific user are here.

Online Seneca42

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #91 on: November 22, 2017, 07:11:45 AM »
Not true. Our VEIL KNIGHTS series promo got rank stripped on a 99c BB promo just a few weeks back.

forgot that. But your situation is very rare, or at least seems to be... it's the only example of a 99c derank I've heard of. But we've had probably a dozen free bub deranks.

But to state the obvious, more than one thing can be happening. The free bubs I think are clearly getting dinged by an algo setting regarding rank spike. Your situation may have been triggered by something else.

What's ultimately confusing in this whole situation is why some books get hit and others do not. If it were "just" a rank spike, then ALL bubs should get hit. And yet, only some do, while most don't.

So to state a second obvious point, everything is pure speculation based on the examples that pop up allowing us to infer things. But ultimately, none of us really know what is happening. 

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #92 on: November 22, 2017, 07:19:21 AM »
I have to admit that I don't know how to make a book sticky and I've never had a Bookbub. 

Just a quick comment as to why KU books might not be getting hit.  (And maybe this is obvious to everyone else.)  Is it because the computers can compare a spike in the charts to the author using one of the KU free days?  Maybe that is one way to show it's not a bot/scammer and move on to the next one?

Not saying KU is better than wide or vice versa.  I'm a prawn. LOL  Just thought I'd ask.

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Offline Bill Hiatt

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #93 on: November 22, 2017, 07:24:33 AM »
Amazon has every reason to love and embrace promotions, IMO, and no real reason to frown upon them. :)
Amazon doesn't love us, as Patty says, but it doesn't hate us, either. I think a good argument could be made that it doesn't care about us one way or the other. It does, however, care about sales, so yes, there really is no obvious reason to try to kill promos that would in the long run bring in more sales.

To borrow one of Patty's metaphors, Amazon is like a large ship that takes forever to change course. I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that much of what we complain about is either efforts to stop scammers that develop too many false positives or outright malfunctions, neither of which get caught quickly enough. I think I've used this example before, but every so often, the automated mechanism that discounts paperbacks goes haywire. I've seen several instances of my paperbacks being sold below cost. Amazon has absolutely no rational reason to do this, and it cleared up a while ago, presumably when a live person actually noticed. That one glitch is obvious--but how many other things are glitching that we don't know about?

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. We have no way of knowing when or how much that happens, which makes it doubly difficult to analyze what Amazon is really doing. It's no wonder so many conspiracy theories flourish. That will inevitably happen in the absence of sufficient data.

I used to like stacking promos, but I'm now shifting to a model that spreads them out, instead. It's true that I may lose some sales from not hitting a really high place on the lists, but at this point, that seems safer. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't the algos now seem friendlier to slower, steadier growth than to sudden spikes? Of course, that wouldn't help with a Bookbub (which I never get, anyway  :P) but perhaps cushioning the Boobkbub with some smaller promos beforehand to make the rank-boost less sudden.

I'm also taking the advice of someone on another forum and diversifying. I make a fair amount (from a prawn's point of view) in KU and made much less in my too earlier attempts at going wide, but I'm planning to take at least one series wide. At this point, that seems prudent.


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Online TromboneAl

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #94 on: November 22, 2017, 07:26:30 AM »
... there seriously is no cheaper way on the planet to put your book in front of 30-40k readers than to pay three hundred measly bucks for a Bookbub, and I'll take it, rank-stripping or no.

I agree
, but here's a fine-print, YMMV statement, and this goes for the cost-benefit ratio of mailing lists as well:

Results may vary for authors with a backlist of forty books selling 1,000 books per month versus authors with only a few books selling less than ten copies per month.

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Offline Allyson J.

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #95 on: November 22, 2017, 07:32:04 AM »
don't the algos now seem friendlier to slower, steadier growth than to sudden spikes? Of course, that wouldn't help with a Bookbub (which I never get, anyway  :P) but perhaps cushioning the Boobkbub with some smaller promos beforehand to make the rank-boost less sudden.

I don't stack anymore. I run about three days of smaller promos before the BB. Here's the thing, the rank boost from BB vs. any other site is huge. There's no way to get around that (and, really, why would we want to?). The jump is in the thousands of downloads pretty much as soon as the BB email goes out.

I've been running AMS ads pretty aggressively for the past week or so, then adding a few promo sites per day leading up to the Bookbub. I was rank stripped within...fifteen minutes...from the time I received my BB emails.

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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #96 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


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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #97 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?


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Offline Laran Mithras

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #98 on: November 22, 2017, 07:50:21 AM »
How the heck does that work?

They turn a click farm on your book so as to divert attention away from scam-authors. Sort of like chaff to a missile.
 

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #99 on: November 22, 2017, 07:52:12 AM »
I have to admit that I don't know how to make a book sticky and I've never had a Bookbub. 

Just a quick comment as to why KU books might not be getting hit.  (And maybe this is obvious to everyone else.)  Is it because the computers can compare a spike in the charts to the author using one of the KU free days?  Maybe that is one way to show it's not a bot/scammer and move on to the next one?

Not saying KU is better than wide or vice versa.  I'm a prawn. LOL  Just thought I'd ask.

Naw. Zon knows where the traffic is coming from. It's actually easier to correlate a bookbub email with a spike than it is a KU free day with a spike... because the KU system is so easily botted it's very hard to tell what's a bot account and what isn't. In theory zon should be behaving the opposite... temporarily deranking KU book spikes and being ultra cautious on non-KU books; but they are doing the opposite.

My suspicion is that they go easy on KU for the obvious reason that they don't want KU getting a rep for being dangerous to your rank. Heck, extra rank bump is one of the primary incentives for joining KU.

Ultimately I think it's as simple as: if you are in KU you are innocent until proven guilty. If you are wide, then you're guilty until proven innocent.   

But the obvious caveat applies that this phenomenon is not uniform; not all bub books experience deranking.