Friday, November 04, 2016

Amazon's Powered by Indie: The Power to Pretend You Care

Anyone who had a book published through Amazon through CreateSpace or KDP probably received an email or two last month about Amazon's Powered by Indie campaign. I was one of the authors that received the first email in which Amazon was congratulating me for having one or more of my books included in the promotion. Can you understand how exciting this was?

Well, at least for a few minutes.

I immediately headed over to the special page featuring all these great independent authors. And what I saw was not surprising--a small range of top-selling indie authors. I went directly to the author filter list because I wanted to see which of my books had been chosen to be featured. The email hadn't been specific. I searched for my name, my titles and everything I could think of. I wasn't listed anywhere.

This should have discouraged me, but it didn't. I reread the email, thinking I was stupid or something. It made a plea to promote this great thing Amazon is doing by talking about your own indie publishing experience on blogs and social media, because your story may be featured.

Huh. So that's what's up. I get it. I immediately wrote a blog post (which was genuine in sentiment) and posted it all over social media. I thought I was catching on. Maybe my book wouldn't show up on the featured page unless I promoted the Powered by Indie page.

Wrong again. I also had the idea in my head that this would be a rotating feature, changing the books daily or weekly throughout October. There were only a couple of thousand books (if that) promoted by an even smaller number of authors, because most had multiple books featured. I will admit that I checked every day all month long for my book to show up, but not because I actually thought it would. I just wanted to make sure that I was in fact being duped into giving the online sales giant free advertising. Which, if you think about it, was useless because most authors end up only promoting their work to other authors, who probably don't buy as much of it as you think (though we do support each other in different ways).

I checked the wide expanse of the web for author chatter about this since I didn't know if the original email was a mistake or a ploy. Some authors admitted to not getting the email at all, while others were in my position, searching for their own featured book that wasn't really featured. About ten days after the initial email, everyone on KDP received an email about doing your part to promote it, but it didn't contain the promise that your book had been featured.

To be honest, I have enough problems getting my books in front of the right people. I don't need Amazon distracting me from that. And keeping me from improving my book sales does the company no favors (though a boost in books sales from me probably wouldn't be noticed at all). 

And just to add to your knowledge about indie sales in general and the all-time sales slump that's happening right now, I ran across this post that provided all I needed to know about why Amazon is nothing more than a necessary evil, not in any way a helpful entity for those selling less than a few thousand copies per month.

So much for Amazon creating an indie renaissance. They have the power to do it, but it's not as quick and easy as working with the publishing powerhouses. That leaves the indie author to keep doing it on their own. The renaissance will come. Just maybe not tomorrow.


K R Smith said...

I remember your original blog post on this. I read what I could find on Amazon and was wondering if they were really promoting indie authors in general. I saw a number of writers who were under the same impression as you as to their intent. I let it drop because I don't yet have a book published under my name. Your post here, though, confirms my suspicions. I've been thinking that when I (finally someday maybe) publish a book, I'll go through Lulu. It can still be sold via Amazon, but it can also go out through other channels. I don't know if that's the answer, but maybe I'll be able to sell a few copies more than just using Amazon.

Terri Deno said...

I think what I've learned so far is that Amazon is just a piece in a puzzle, though Amazon wants to think they are the complete picture. While KDP Select offers some extra room for offering discounts and freebies, it ties you to exclusivity that doesn't help. From what I've read with authors who have used for a long time, exclusivity on Amazon used to help drive sales. Now it does nothing. Starting with a book on every platform available (especially those where you can set up a pre-order) seems to work best.

Now that I know that, I'm probably not going back to KDP Select for any future project, but I'll still list on Amazon.