Author Topic: And! Amazon rank-stripped me  (Read 19771 times)  

Offline Seneca42

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #75 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.

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    Offline Mylius Fox

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #76 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 Tobias Roote

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #77 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 William Meikle

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #78 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 Tobias Roote

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #79 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 #80 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 #81 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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    Offline Anarchist

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #82 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 #83 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.

    Offline Seneca42

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

    Offline Used To Be BH

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #85 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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    Offline TromboneAl

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #86 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 #87 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 Tobias Roote

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #88 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 Tobias Roote

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #89 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 #90 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.

    Offline Seneca42

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #91 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.

    Offline C. Gockel

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #92 on: November 22, 2017, 07:52:30 am »
    Patty's rank is back in the U.S..

    Alison, I hope your rank is back soon ... a few months back I lost my rank for a few hours. I'm wondering if this really isn't a big computer glitch.


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    Offline Tobias Roote

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #93 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.
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    Offline Allyson J.

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #94 on: November 22, 2017, 07:58:36 am »
    Patty's rank is back in the U.S..

    Alison, I hope your rank is back soon ... a few months back I lost my rank for a few hours. I'm wondering if this really isn't a big computer glitch.

    That is good news!!

    And thank you. I'm optimistic.

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    Offline 69959

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #95 on: November 22, 2017, 08:10:24 am »
    Check your own site. I suspect more than 50% of your traffic is mobile. Now look at the mobile site of Amazon. You will see that it provide not even a WAY for readers to get onto the top 100 FREE list. Try it with your phone. Even if you go to the bottom and click "amazon.com full site" go to a book that's ranked top 100 free and try to clik on the link to top 100 free, it takes you to the top 100 paid. Do a drop down and you can only get top 100 paid, top 100 new release. I sat at the bar at NINC and realized this with T S Paul who was like "the Amazon people are right there, you can ask them about this . . ." because we both wondered if it was a glitch. It's 1.5 months later still doing that (and no I didn't bother the Amazon people with this), it's NOT A GLITCH.

    Definitely not a glitch. It's been happening since at least April. That's when I noticed it. I had a BB for a free book, and I was away from the house all day. It drove me crazy that I couldn't keep an eye on my book's rank - only from my laptop.

    Offline Elizabeth Barone

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #96 on: November 22, 2017, 08:36:36 am »
    There are a few observations here.

    1) Authors are gaming/attempting to 'game' the Amazon system to gain rank, visibility.
    2) Technical trading (following a regimen to 'game' the system automatically) will result in anticipation from the algorithm machine and subsequent readjustment to return things to balance.

    I've watched (from the sidelines mostly) as author after author has come up with new ways to gain traction and get ahead of the crowd of other authors trying to do exactly the same. Maybe four years ago there were a hundred or so, now there are thousands. All up to the same tricks because everyone loves to publicise how successful their 'system' is. We've (the Indy author sector) become more concerned with manipulation of the market, rather than plain marketing. Free books, special offers, serial promotions, newsletter round-robin, cross-promo's (to name a few) and the market (being the reader) is saturated with it. Amazon and other sales platforms are reeling from the mass promotion of books by thousands of authors EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

    And you wonder why the thing breaks !!!

    Tobias is right; whether legitimately or not, a great percentage of authors are trying to get that spike. We're playing the game.

    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. In reality, there are thousands of us playing the lotto, whether we want the boost in income or we want the pride of having a bestseller. Amazon has to account for that in its algorithms. It also has to account for the large amount of scammers.

    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.

    This has been my focus, too -- especially because I don't have hundreds of dollars to invest in chasing the spike. I've also started my Bachelor's in marketing, because I don't want to keep alternating methods that work "for now." I want to market my books using the science, leveraging various tools with that knowledge.
    . . .

    Offline truc

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #97 on: November 22, 2017, 08:57:08 am »
    This is a very wee datapoint, but I put up a new book for preorder and it has no rank or categories. It's been like that for a few days, despite preorder numbers appearing in my KDP account dashboard.

    I should add that I have less than 10 preorders right now. I've run no promotions (have not even told my mailing list about it).

    My vote is w/C. Gockel--there may be a systemwide glitch.

    Offline Mylius Fox

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #98 on: November 22, 2017, 08:59:22 am »
    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.

    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. ;)

    Offline Taking my troll a$$ outta here

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    Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
    « Reply #99 on: November 22, 2017, 08:59:52 am »
    This has been my focus, too -- especially because I don't have hundreds of dollars to invest in chasing the spike. I've also started my Bachelor's in marketing, because I don't want to keep alternating methods that work "for now." I want to market my books using the science, leveraging various tools with that knowledge.

    Agree. I've changed my marketing strategies as well. I'm staying away from short-term strategies; it doesn't help me to sell a crap ton of books on a $0.99 sale and then completely drop off the radar b/c the next 20 $0.99 bestsellers hit the charts. I'm trying to focus on what keeps my books selling consistently. I'd rather commit my advertising funds to things that keep my books at steady rankings; that is how my bills get paid every month. I've increased my prices, no longer have a permafree, re-vamped all my blurbs, and am working to keep a steady flow of new releases available along with daily FB Ads, BB Ads, and AMS ads. So far, the consistency is working better than my attempts to jump-start sales with massive promo-driven spikes.

    I do love the heck outta BB & will run them as often as I can, but I'm seeing that it is no longer a sure-fire way to stand out in the crowd for the long term. There has to be more behind an advertising plan than just pouring tons of cash into a short-term period for a huge rank spike; books in the top 100 rotate through the ranks faster than a new version of anything by Microsoft needs to be patched.

    Well, consistency is my goal anymore. I can't make a living by pimping my books out at $0.99 and pouring thousands into a week long promo stack in an uber-saturated market. It's about getting (and keeping) a handful of sales every day on multiple books in my catalog at a reasonable price point. 
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