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Authors' Forum => Writers' Cafe => Topic started by: Redgum on October 23, 2020, 04:58:06 pm

Title: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Redgum on October 23, 2020, 04:58:06 pm
Hey All

Finally snapped with stables abusing the category system but cannot find a way to report it. They upload fiction into totally irrelevant non-fiction categories to get a higher ranking and often a #1 which they then plaster all over their sales spiel. It also has the incredibly annoying effect of stopping writers in those categories from getting their proper rank and often costs them their genuine #1 position. The latest is a stable who shall remain anonymous uploading crime fiction into non-fiction adult education, non-fiction animal care and non-fiction music. These charts are full of genuine books on these subjects (textbooks etc) pushed down the ranks by this pathetic and dishonest little scam. It also stops customers being able to find the books they are looking for. It is also highly deceitful and misleading as it implies to potential readers the #1 was earned in a crime category when it was achieved simply by putting it into a low-selling non-fiction category such as goldfish tank care or how to clean out your budgie cage. This is unacceptable practice.

How can this be reported, or do Amazon just not give a damn about writers and readers?
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Nicole Simon on October 23, 2020, 05:08:34 pm
besides this being all that you described, it is also highly annoying. i am mostly a non fiction reader and cannot stand these kinds of books - there is always the clueless author who does not know better but often it is just intentional.


There is a report problem at the far end of the page and it would be a 'quality problem' which has a selection for other.
If you feel strongly, I would consider using that.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Redgum on October 23, 2020, 05:11:15 pm
besides this being all that you described, it is also highly annoying. i am mostly a non fiction reader and cannot stand these kinds of books - there is always the clueless author who does not know better but often it is just intentional.


There is a report problem at the far end of the page and it would be a 'quality problem' which has a selection for other.
If you feel strongly, I would consider using that.

Hi Nicole

Thanks for your reply and I am glad I am not the only one annoyed by this. I will use the function you just described! :)
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: WegR on October 24, 2020, 12:08:52 am
Some of my fiction books have landed in non-fiction categories - blame the zonbots. And of course amazon don't seem interested in the problem when I contact them, or if they do move my books out of the non-fic categories, they're back in there on the next bot sweep.  ::)

I'm guessing it's to do with keywords and/or titles.

Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: katherinef on October 24, 2020, 03:08:53 am
A few of my books ended up in non-fiction because of Amazon. Took me ages to get them out. One of them is still there because it somehow always returns when I republish the book. Amazon doesn't care much.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: nail file on October 24, 2020, 04:16:36 am
I'm guessing it's to do with keywords and/or titles.

This. Sure, some authors do abuse the cat system. Not all. Over the years, I've had books show up in inappropriate categories and it was nothing I had done deliberately. For reasons unknown to me, that's where they end up.

So it's not always a scam.

It's disingenuous to assume, and accuse, otherwise.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Gareth K Pengelly on October 24, 2020, 05:42:12 am
My first in series, a humorous urban fantasy, for some reason is #1 in Cell Phone Adapters.

Don't know why, didn't put it there, have messaged KDP to get that category removed, still hasn't happened.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Bite the Dusty on October 24, 2020, 12:37:14 pm
My first in series, a humorous urban fantasy, for some reason is #1 in Cell Phone Adapters.

Don't know why, didn't put it there, have messaged KDP to get that category removed, still hasn't happened.

Is there really a book category for that lol?
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Gareth K Pengelly on October 24, 2020, 12:40:39 pm
Is there really a book category for that lol?

Nope! It's in that category, but because it's a permafree, and there's no Free chart for normal products, it just doesn't appear.

It's very, very weird.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: NikOK on October 24, 2020, 04:09:15 pm
My first in series, a humorous urban fantasy, for some reason is #1 in Cell Phone Adapters.

Don't know why, didn't put it there, have messaged KDP to get that category removed, still hasn't happened.

Ha!  That's pretty good.  I wonder if it was something in the blurb.  Like, saying that the book is "action charged" or "12 volts of excitement" or "an adventure that will bring you to 100% fast"  I mean, there has to be some insane reason why that happened, right?
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: unkownwriter on October 25, 2020, 03:15:11 am
There's no point to it, as it's often something Amazon itself does. Whether it's through keywords, something in the blurb, or whatever reason, things end up in crazy places. Sure, people abuse the system, wanting that #1 banner somewhere, but Amazon basically doesn't care. Until it becomes a publicity issue, they probably won't ever do much about it. Just look at the history of abuses in Select/KU, and you'll understand.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: markpauloleksiw on October 25, 2020, 02:10:43 pm
There is a big problem with the deliberate manipulation.

A couple of years ago there were numerous articles about how "shrewd" authors in the romance category were deliberately positioning their novels into other subgenres to get a bestseller rank. The romance category being crazy competitive is a good reason to try to branch out ...except these books had nothing to do with the subgenres they got into.

I have seen it happen in various teen and young adult sub categories...where some of the books in the rankings don't belong.

Amazon does not have the will to police this...and why would they? Unfortunately, it hurts most of us trying to do things the right way.

Mark

Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: nightwork on October 25, 2020, 02:18:04 pm

How can this be reported, or do Amazon just not give a damn about writers and readers?

publishers aren't doing this, amazon is doing this

having contacted them multiple times about my books being in the wrong categories i suggest you worry about your own books instead of about trying to make life harder for others

i gave up fighting this battle long ago, you can ask for a category, but amazon algos decide where you're going to land & even if you beg them to change their mind, you usually only stay out of that wrong category for a week or two before their algo puts you back where they "think" you belong

Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: nightwork on October 25, 2020, 02:20:35 pm


Amazon does not have the will to police this...and why would they? Unfortunately, it hurts most of us trying to do things the right way.

Mark

how on earth does someone landing in the wrong category hurt YOU?

the publisher who got mis-catted is the victim here, they're the one who ends up getting a lot of clicks that don't lead to sales leading to their book being absolutely destroyed in the algos

if you think being in the wrong category helps you, try it, put a book in the wrong category, see what it gets you

you will not be happy, i promise
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: psnew on October 25, 2020, 02:48:23 pm
Some of my very steamy work was put in religious categories. I'm guessing because of the subtitles. That's not something I want to happen. I changed the subtitles and covers because I dreaded getting one stars from religious conservatives. Amazon seems stricter about changing your title after publishing now, so an author might not even be able to do that to correct this situation.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Simon Haynes on October 26, 2020, 08:02:20 am
Let me introduce you to the Humorous Science Fiction top 100, which is a complete joke

https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Humorous-Science-Fiction/zgbs/digital-text/16232453011/
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: markpauloleksiw on October 26, 2020, 08:42:09 am
Let me introduce you to the Humorous Science Fiction top 100, which is a complete joke

https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Humorous-Science-Fiction/zgbs/digital-text/16232453011/

Great example....and of course it hurts any legit author who should be in that category. Also, this is not likely an Amazon error but good chance the author deliberately made sure it was in a category where it could rank.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: psnew on October 26, 2020, 11:08:44 am
Great example....and of course it hurts any legit author who should be in that category. Also, this is not likely an Amazon error but good chance the author deliberately made sure it was in a category where it could rank.

Maybe, but if you know anything about science fiction romance you'd know those man-chest books are currently competing with some very popular sci-fi romances that have romantic comedy elements. So it would be reasonable for those authors to use a string of keywords like "humorous romance science fiction" to be visible to those readers. I can see how Amazon itself would then decide to throw their books into this category.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Simon Haynes on October 26, 2020, 11:21:50 am
This is what happens if you put computers in charge of the job, instead of humans.

Back in the day, when each publisher had a human being who manually set the categories, this would never have happened.

Right now the onus is on the (indie) author, and I've been caught out myself when I put a keyword in my product page and ended up in the movie tie-ins category. I took the kw out and my book was then removed from that category.

Unfortunately the rewards for stuffing a book into 10 scattershot categories (deliberate or not) make it worthwhile to do so.

It does make you realise just how dumb computers are though.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: markpauloleksiw on October 26, 2020, 12:03:16 pm
Maybe, but if you know anything about science fiction romance you'd know those man-chest books are currently competing with some very popular sci-fi romances that have romantic comedy elements. So it would be reasonable for those authors to use a string of keywords like "humorous romance science fiction" to be visible to those readers. I can see how Amazon itself would then decide to throw their books into this category.

Putting a keyword "romance" would not put it in sci-fi humorous.  Sounds very deliberate to chose keywords to get it into this category, leaving the word "romance" out.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: psnew on October 26, 2020, 12:23:38 pm
Putting a keyword "romance" would not put it in sci-fi humorous.  Sounds very deliberate to chose keywords to get it into this category, leaving the word "romance" out.

"Humorous romance science fiction" doesn't exist as a category. If there's no category that matches your keywords you can't end up in one a bot would assume is a similar category? I thought that was a pretty common thing, but I could have misunderstood the role keywords play in miscategorization.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Rhett Gervais on October 26, 2020, 12:50:15 pm
Great example....and of course it hurts any legit author who should be in that category. Also, this is not likely an Amazon error but good chance the author deliberately made sure it was in a category where it could rank.


I don't mean to laugh at your pain, but damn thats funny...it may even make a good story..An author who tries to write a funny novels but ends up as star romance writer.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Redgum on October 30, 2020, 06:06:39 am
There's no point to it, as it's often something Amazon itself does. Whether it's through keywords, something in the blurb, or whatever reason, things end up in crazy places. Sure, people abuse the system, wanting that #1 banner somewhere, but Amazon basically doesn't care. Until it becomes a publicity issue, they probably won't ever do much about it. Just look at the history of abuses in Select/KU, and you'll understand.

Yeah, this is about it. I reported the abuse to Amazon and didn't even get a brush off - nothing.  My recommendation to authors is to put their books in any go-dd-am category just for a laugh - in fact make a meme out of it to highlight to the high/main street customer what a joke Amazon is and just how much contempt they show their book-buying customer. Anything goes because it is just a joke - noir in coming of age, action-adventure in girl's crochet, vampire porn in how to improve your indoor bowls delivery. Just go for it until we shame them into doing the right thing, if that is possible in 2020.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Simon Haynes on October 30, 2020, 06:11:38 am
I always remember when Amazon had that system with 'People who like Scifi Adventure rated this book 4.2/5' or 'People who like Space Opera rated this book 4.5/5'

Mine had the classic 'People who like coffee rated this book 4.4/5'

(My character drinks a lot of coffee...)



Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: BuckarooBanzai on October 30, 2020, 06:42:08 am
Annoying, very annoying. Still, whoever is making 'Scary-Coloured Man Chest Alien Objectification Sci-Fi' covers is making a packet. I might have to put a manly torso on my book of esoteric poetry and Slovenian haikus.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Drakon on October 30, 2020, 07:29:45 am
When it comes to Romance, there's a tremendous advantage in miscategorizing books - by virtue of simple sales numbers, a book that is selling well will automatically appear in the Top 100 list in the miscatted lists as well - hence MORE publicity = more sales.

For example it's amazing how many books listed as `Romantic Comedy' don't have a single joke in them! How do I know this - because I've read the books! But because of sales numbers that book is gonna make Top 100 in categories where it has no business being. The Reader doesn't know it's not funny and so buys it. 

This practice is very unfortunate bec it prevents good books from making the list and being read. From being SEEN - with 7 million books on Amazon, publicity is everything. 
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on October 30, 2020, 07:40:59 am
Readers do NOT shop the top 100 list in any category to find books, don't believe me? Test out how many ways you can even GET to those lists on the site vs. the myriad of ways books are recommended everywhere based on the reader's personal tastes and popularity of a book.

Amazon, a long time ago, realized that the best way to sell books was through more nuanced information than best-seller ranking.

Can you miscategorize a book and have your overall sales ranking get you to a top spot on a less competitive listing? Yes. But in the long run that hurts you. The data Amazon has about a book is critical to selling it, a well positioned book (category matching cover matching title and subtitle and keywords in the blurb and even I suspect the inside) will have a few sales on it BEFORE YOU EVEN GET THE LINK TO SHARE WITH PEOPLE. This shows Amazon put your book in front of readers they thought might like it and some people bought it. So, if you go and pick some rando category to hit #1 in that doesn't match your book, congratulations, you just gave Amazon's book-selling robots a conflict. And we see these authors complain how they are an "Amazon bestseller" but their book just stopped selling and they can't fix it.

As for the notion that authors authentically writing in that genre are harmed? Not so. Write more. Enlist other authors to write more books in that genre. Take it over with your releases and marketing and working as a team and you can make your category more competitive.

My best earning book never even had a #1 orange banner. Chasing rank is a fool's errand, it's 100% dependent on factors outside of your control including : how other books are selling in that time period, what else released, and how sales were processed by a glitchy as hell system run by Amazon.

And reporting other authors isn't a good idea, either. If someone asks you to help them get a ranking fixed, that's one thing. But you have no idea what's happening with a particular book, and also, unless you READ IT, you don't really know if it fits or not. I once had a jealous author report one of my books for bring in Scottish Romance when it's a Jane Austen derivative. Amazon told me my book was reported miscategorized, I wrote back half of the First Act takes place at Mr. Darcy's Scottish estate. I kept my book category. The author bragged in a mutual fan group about reporting me, a reader got a screenshot, I sent it to Amazon, and that author lost her bogus "series" that was just a way for her to try to juice all of her stand alone books that had nothing to do with each other. Seriously, it never really pays to throw a stone at someone else even if you're 100% convinced you know better than Amazon on how to run their own store.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: jb1111 on October 31, 2020, 02:07:12 am
ftp://
Let me introduce you to the Humorous Science Fiction top 100, which is a complete joke

https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Humorous-Science-Fiction/zgbs/digital-text/16232453011/

Looking at the covers and titles, I don't see evidence of humor, unless I'm missing something. A trove of books by 2 or 3 authors, looking like alien versions of bad boy romances.
Title: Re: How to report publishers abusing category system
Post by: nightwork on October 31, 2020, 04:49:22 pm
Readers do NOT shop the top 100 list in any category to find books, don't believe me? Test out how many ways you can even GET to those lists on the site vs. the myriad of ways books are recommended everywhere based on the reader's personal tastes and popularity of a book.

Amazon, a long time ago, realized that the best way to sell books was through more nuanced information than best-seller ranking.

Can you miscategorize a book and have your overall sales ranking get you to a top spot on a less competitive listing? Yes. But in the long run that hurts you. The data Amazon has about a book is critical to selling it, a well positioned book (category matching cover matching title and subtitle and keywords in the blurb and even I suspect the inside) will have a few sales on it BEFORE YOU EVEN GET THE LINK TO SHARE WITH PEOPLE. This shows Amazon put your book in front of readers they thought might like it and some people bought it. So, if you go and pick some rando category to hit #1 in that doesn't match your book, congratulations, you just gave Amazon's book-selling robots a conflict. And we see these authors complain how they are an "Amazon bestseller" but their book just stopped selling and they can't fix it.

As for the notion that authors authentically writing in that genre are harmed? Not so. Write more. Enlist other authors to write more books in that genre. Take it over with your releases and marketing and working as a team and you can make your category more competitive.

My best earning book never even had a #1 orange banner. Chasing rank is a fool's errand, it's 100% dependent on factors outside of your control including : how other books are selling in that time period, what else released, and how sales were processed by a glitchy as hell system run by Amazon.

And reporting other authors isn't a good idea, either. If someone asks you to help them get a ranking fixed, that's one thing. But you have no idea what's happening with a particular book, and also, unless you READ IT, you don't really know if it fits or not. I once had a jealous author report one of my books for bring in Scottish Romance when it's a Jane Austen derivative. Amazon told me my book was reported miscategorized, I wrote back half of the First Act takes place at Mr. Darcy's Scottish estate. I kept my book category. The author bragged in a mutual fan group about reporting me, a reader got a screenshot, I sent it to Amazon, and that author lost her bogus "series" that was just a way for her to try to juice all of her stand alone books that had nothing to do with each other. Seriously, it never really pays to throw a stone at someone else even if you're 100% convinced you know better than Amazon on how to run their own store.

thank you, i was starting to feel like a voice in the wilderness

the theory that being miscategorized is something publishers do on purpose because it helps us is both entirely mistaken and poisonous