Author Topic: You've Been Amazoned.  (Read 4336 times)

garygibsonsf

You've Been Amazoned.
« on: November 30, 2018, 01:02:52 AM »
I don't see anyone else talking about this so to hell with it, might as well be the first.

Most of my writing career has been in traditional publishing and I decided to dive in with a short story collection back in March on the reasoning that, simply, all I had available to publish outside of my trad published stuff were those stories. So it might as well be them.

Despite the warnings of doom for any short story collection, the book, Scienceville and Other Lost Worlds, did really pretty well, all things considering, and continues to bring in money regularly every month. Not much by comparison to the amounts made by some people knocking out books every other month, but pretty gratifying for all that.

At the same time I ran AMS ads in both the US and the UK, where you have to jump a few extra hoops. AMS in the UK has definitely brought in some sales, although it's taken a lot of time and effort to figure out what works best. I'd say though that I'm lucky in that I have a large number of organic sales, ie people who've read and liked my trad published stuff. I'm looking at self-publishing more in the future.

Here's the thing: my sales are mostly in the UK, and very low in the US. It's the same with AMS: extraordinarily low clicks in the US, a hundred times more in the UK. And as people have noted, it's getting worse and worse.

Right now, however, we're looking at the advertising equivalent of the apocalypse so far as Amazon Ads in the US are concerned: also-boughts appear to have vanished, removing not only a hugely valuable tool for the self-publisher but also for the consumer who could in that way find books similar to the stuff they already read and liked. Which includes me: I don't want to buy a book advertised at me in that fashion - I want to buy the books people who share my tastes bought.

What we have now is a situation broadly similar to when major bookstores, before most of them went the way of the dinosaurs, demanded payment to put titles on their front tables. Advertising is king, but in both cases, both the consumer and the creator are effectively being held to ransom.

To my mind this is a sh*tty, sh*tty situation, but I'm surprised by how few people are calling it that. Instead I'm hearing a lot of talk about 'adapting to the new situation' and so forth in forums and in podcasts.

It's not a new situation: it's the outright murder of good and passionate writing.

Look, I have a great deal of time for self-publishers. Even before I became a trad published author back in 2005, long before, I was really into DIY small-press publishing in the early 90s, even before the internet. But I'm amazed more people aren't angry about the fact they--or rather, all of us--are now being held to ransom by Amazon.

How can any new author possibly hope to gain traction if the only books the prospective buyer is going to see are by those able to pay the spiralling costs for advertising? What kind of books is this going to result in? Books written by good writers, or books written by people with deep pockets?

I strongly suspect the latter. if anything, all this is a salient and powerful reminder that Amazon is Not Our Friend. Amazon, for all its amazing convenience, is nonetheless a vast, be-tentacled leech draining money like a Wellsian Martian draining blood from a hapless victim by any means necessary.

And there's absolutely bugger-all any of us can really do about it. So I don't know just what lies ahead in this new future we've been handed - this bleak dystopia built of multi-part novels written by authors of considerably more financial means than any writer I've ever met in my life. So far this insidious plague of monetary cultural reductionism hasn't spread to the British shores, so we still have out also-boughts.

Yet I fear it's coming, and soon. And when it does, a thousand - ten thousand - books that slipped through the cracks of traditional publishing, and which might have found new hearts and minds, are going to be buried under a ton of kack, left invisible while the remaining spoils are left to the leeches running Amazon and the vultures running the publishers.

Of course there's going wide, and I've taken my own book wide, but there are damned few ways to really grab hold of an audience out there. Amazon gave us what we needed to thrive--for a short while, at least. And now, like a street dealer who offers the first hit free, or the devil coming to collect your soul, Amazon is polishing its teeth and sharpening its nails while thinking of how tasty we'll be tumbling screaming into its maw.
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2018, 01:16:07 AM »
I'm seeing an interesting thing going on now. With also boughts gone, my US % of revenue has dropped from a consistent 80+%, down to 72%, with UK taking up most of the slack, although the other markets are up proportionately.

If UK still has also-boughts, and US doesn't, this explains the drop in sales (especially) in the US.

One has to wonder if this is just me, or across the board purchases in the US are down that much because ads dont sell as well as also-boughts do.

Genres: Space Opera/Fantasy/Cyberpunk, with elements of LitRPG and GameLit. Also Spiritual and Games.

  

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garygibsonsf

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2018, 01:21:36 AM »
I will add that my sales of my single self-published collection have actually picked up in the UK. Although that might just be because Xmas is on the way. They've pretty much ground to a halt in the US.

I recently went wide, but I've sold about ten copies in the past two months, basically because I can't find any way to profitably advertise a short little collection. Maybe I'll figure something out.

I also - perhaps more pertinently - just took a look at my trad published titles on Amazon US: it's all paid ads, but I can tell you for a fact there's very little, if anything, in there people who read me are going to buy. Cross your fingers Amazon are losing money on this so they go back to also-b's.
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2018, 01:26:15 AM »
but I can tell you for a fact there's very little, if anything, in there people who read me are going to buy. Cross your fingers Amazon are losing money on this so they go back to also-b's.

I have to wonder if they are even monitoring this.

But the money is on they dont actually care. Ad revenue is propping up any loss of sales at their end. And they never did care about authors losing sales.
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ragdoll

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2018, 01:51:58 AM »
Also boughts haven't disappeared from the U.S. store, at least not for those viewing from the U.S.
 
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garygibsonsf

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2018, 01:53:30 AM »
REALLY. That's interesting. So it only appears that way from outside. Think I'll fire up my VPN and see if I get different results.
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2018, 01:55:16 AM »
When we say, "Also Boughts are gone," don't we really mean, "Also Boughts are gone on the US store for non-US customers"? I seem to recall seeing that statement earlier. I still see Also Boughts near the top of the page, both when I'm logged in and when I'm not, and I see them consistently. I just checked, Timothy, and I see them on your book pages. Of course, the Kindle Feature Spotlight pushes them down a bit, which I'm not happy about, but that's very different from them being gone completely.

As far as Amazon making the money in lost book sales back from ads, maybe, but maybe not. Most self-published authors don't have huge ad budgets, and costs for visibility are going up, which will effectively price a lot of us out of the market. Authors with more business savvy will also not keep spending money on ads that don't work well.  Who's left? The lucky few who are independently wealthy, and those who use questionable practices to fund huge ad buys. In the latter case, the material being advertised may not be that good. Between that and ad fatigue (encouraged by Amazon's increasing use of ads on product pages), I'd predict that number of clicks on ads will decline. (Ad blindness is really a thing, and it becomes more intense the more ads a consumer sees. Then there are ad blockers. Even back in the old days of television, people used to use VCR recording as a way of fast-forwarding through commercials. Now ad blockers perform a similar function on the internet.)

I'm not saying everything's coming up roses. Times are tough, but I think there may be distant light at the end of the very long tunnel. Resting a store ecosystem more on selling ads than on selling products may not be a sustainable model. I think the day will come when Amazon realizes that.

That's my optimistic statement for the week. 


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TimothyEllis

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2018, 01:57:49 AM »
Also boughts haven't disappeared from the U.S. store, at least not for those viewing from the U.S.

Odd. How do we account for an 8% drop in US based revenue? Or is that saying 8% of my sales were coming from outside the US through the US store, and are not now?

Doesn't make sense though, because it's UK which has improved the most, not everywhere else. And I doubt UK people shop in the US store.
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garygibsonsf

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2018, 01:59:09 AM »
While it's no guarantee of accuracy, I just went to Amazon.com through Tunnelbear VPN, which is usually pretty good for this kind of thing.

I clicked on a random paperback and got also-b's. Then I clicked on the pages for a couple of my books...and no also-b's. I'm not sure what that means.

EDIT: I take that first book back. It was other books in the same series, as opposed to also-b's. So still no sign of them, although. again, that's through a VPN.

The real question, then, is what people are seeing who are browsing Amazon.com while actually in the US. Anyone else?
 

PaulineMRoss

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2018, 02:00:56 AM »
I had a look at my numbers, and for the whole of last year and into January, I got an average of 89% of my revenue from the US, most months more than 90%. Then from February this year onwards, it slipped dramatically to an average of 73%. I don't know whether that correlates to any change in also-boughts, but clearly something happened.

I don't think it was anything I did. I had a Bookbub in February, but the effects of that wouldn't last all year, and I didn't work out how to get AMS ads running in the UK until June, so it wasn't that. I haven't noticed any diminution in revenues, and to be honest, sales/borrows in the UK tend to be steadier than in the US, so I don't personally see a problem but it is odd, there's no doubt about it.

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Rick Partlow

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2018, 02:05:23 AM »
I still see also-boughts.  I wonder if it's a browser-specific thing.
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Edward M. Grant

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2018, 02:33:18 AM »
Amazon jumped the shark when they began KU, and they've been going downhill ever since.

There were times in the past when I'd have an Amazon parcel arriving every week. But their website is now so crappy that I barely get one every three months.

I can't easily find things that I'd want to buy, and when I try to find something specific I have to waste time figuring out which search results are actually real, and which are just pushed by sellers with big advertising budgets. And then figure out which are sold by Amazon, and which are coming from dubious third-party sellers in China.

I really don't think they care about their customers any more than their suppliers, because most of their revenue comes from selling 'cloud' server time and the store is just a loss-leader.

So, yeah, after about twenty years as a customer, I now try to buy anywhere but Amazon when I can. Even ebooks, I mostly buy from iTunes, because I rarely buy books I haven't heard of any more because the website no longer shows me books I'd want to buy, only books that have big advertising budgets.
 
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Becca Mills

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2018, 02:34:07 AM »
My sense of the situation is that product sales pages can now take a number of different forms (with also-boughts, with also-vieweds, with both, or with neither; with one line of sponsored products or with two; and with these elements appearing in different places), and that what someone sees on a product page depends on their personal shopping history.

I make purchases through also-boughts all the time as a shopper, and I've never stopped seeing them on every product I view, usually in a prominent place. I frequently see also-vieweds as well.
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Rick Partlow

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2018, 02:35:41 AM »
Amazon jumped the shark when they began KU, and they've been going downhill ever since.


Their profit share and my experience say different.
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TimothyEllis

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2018, 02:39:34 AM »
I make purchases through also-boughts all the time as a shopper, and I've never stopped seeing them on every product I view, usually in a prominent place. I frequently see also-vieweds as well.

I've never bought from an ad, and dont intend to. Yet all I see now are ads.

I used also-boughts when I was looking, almost exclusively. Amazon should know that. But now I cant see them.

While I've been using up a US gift voucher converting paperbacks to kindle versions, I've stopped buying anything else, except from followers emails, and the occasional freeby or 99c off a promo email. (Very occasional).
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Edward M. Grant

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2018, 02:48:18 AM »
Their profit share and my experience say different.

I'm talking about Amazon the store, not Amazon the server company.

As I said, they don't make money on the store, they make it selling time on their servers. Or didn't, the last time I looked at their finances.

Edit: so, yeah, by not buying stuff from them, I've actually probably increased their profits.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2018, 02:51:23 AM by Edward M. Grant »
 

Maggie Ann

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2018, 03:39:49 AM »
I just checked several authors whose books I've purchased plus a few of my own. Alsobots are showing on all the pages I checked. I'm using Firefox if that makes a difference.

           
 

Edward M. Grant

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2018, 03:44:46 AM »
I just checked several authors whose books I've purchased plus a few of my own. Alsobots are showing on all the pages I checked. I'm using Firefox if that makes a difference.

I just looked at one of yours in Firefox. No also-boughts, just a load of 'sponsored' books of which few look particularly related to it.
 

David VanDyke

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2018, 03:47:10 AM »
The sky is falling.

Businesses shouldn't prioritize profits over art.

Nobody should have to adjust their tactics from time to time.

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Tom Wood

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2018, 03:51:27 AM »
I just clicked on a book in all the signatures above, and the also-boughts show on every one.

I'm in the US, using Chrome on a PC.

ETA: And I had to go in and edit them all out of my browsing history because the recommendations that Amazon started making were a little bit schitzo.  :shocked:
« Last Edit: November 30, 2018, 06:21:16 AM by Tom Wood »
 

notthatamanda

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2018, 03:58:41 AM »
I'm in the US on Explorer. 

I googled Tim's book "Hero to the End".
Below the book is the series with all the books.
Next is the also boughts, 16 pages.  The first four pages are all Tim's books.
Below that sponsored products related to this item.  102 pages.

I picked a book off of Tim's Also Boughts
Bound by Honor, Glenn Stewart
This book has only Also boughts, no sponsered, related books or features.
Tim's book "Tomorrow's Spacemage" shows up on page 7 of 17.
There's probably at least 10 different authors on the first six pages.

I'm not trying to make a point with this, I just thought people would like the information and
I'm killing time eating a snack.

 

ragdoll

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2018, 04:00:31 AM »


Odd. How do we account for an 8% drop in US based revenue? Or is that saying 8% of my sales were coming from outside the US through the US store, and are not now?

If you look at your US sales before the drop and check how many 35% sales you have on 2.99 - 9.99 titles, that's your percent of non-US buyers using the US store.
 

Not Lu

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #22 on: November 30, 2018, 04:10:02 AM »
Sometimes I see also boughts right under the series line. Other times it's a row of sponsored products. Amazon is either A/B testing or they've decided to make a compromise between also boughts and the amount of ad space they want to sell.
 

Becca Mills

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #23 on: November 30, 2018, 04:14:19 AM »
I make purchases through also-boughts all the time as a shopper, and I've never stopped seeing them on every product I view, usually in a prominent place. I frequently see also-vieweds as well.

I've never bought from an ad, and dont intend to. Yet all I see now are ads.

I used also-boughts when I was looking, almost exclusively. Amazon should know that. But now I cant see them.

While I've been using up a US gift voucher converting paperbacks to kindle versions, I've stopped buying anything else, except from followers emails, and the occasional freeby or 99c off a promo email. (Very occasional).

Perhaps you're not a heavy enough Amazon shopper for your use of also-boughts to register as significant enough to retain? Dunno. I even see also-boughts on amazon.com.au, where I've never bought anything. I think I'm in the system as an "always show also-boughts" shopper, period. I figure if I'm seeing also-boughts on everything whereas others are seeing also-boughts on nothing, it has to be shopper-dependent, not product-dependent.
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Anarchist

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #24 on: November 30, 2018, 04:15:35 AM »
I've never bought from an ad, and dont intend to. Yet all I see now are ads.

Many people do buy from ads. I'm running thousands of campaigns, and I think most people would be floored by my numbers.

Will AMS ads work forever? Probably not. But as they say, "make hay while the sun shines." So I'm scaling like a madman and getting people onto my mailing lists. 
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Edward M. Grant

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #25 on: November 30, 2018, 04:22:03 AM »
Many people do buy from ads. I'm running thousands of campaigns, and I think most people would be floored by my numbers.

Probably, but I only buy from ads when I click on them by accident, which is exactly what the site is now set up to make us do.

And when I do click on one by accident and realize before I buy something, it just makes me think 'what other site could I be buying this from which doesn't treat its customers like this?'
 

Anarchist

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #26 on: November 30, 2018, 04:33:50 AM »
Many people do buy from ads. I'm running thousands of campaigns, and I think most people would be floored by my numbers.

Probably, but I only buy from ads when I click on them by accident, which is exactly what the site is now set up to make us do.

And when I do click on one by accident and realize before I buy something, it just makes me think 'what other site could I be buying this from which doesn't treat its customers like this?'

I buy frequently from ads - books and other products.

Oddly, I never click the ads because I feel bad about costing the advertisers money, even when the ads are doing their job.
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dgcasey

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #27 on: November 30, 2018, 04:56:50 AM »
Many people do buy from ads. I'm running thousands of campaigns, and I think most people would be floored by my numbers.

I'm floored by the "I'm running thousands of campaigns" statement.
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Joe Vasicek

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #28 on: November 30, 2018, 05:36:46 AM »
I don't get angry. I go wide.

And when I do get angry, I console myself in the fact that I'm not one of the millions of Christians and Uighers getting sterilized in a Chinese concentration camp right now, or one of the tens of millions of Han Chinese who can't buy a plane ticket or choose where my kids go to school because of my social credit score. All things considered, I really can't complain.
 
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EB

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #29 on: November 30, 2018, 06:04:29 AM »

To my mind this is a sh*tty, sh*tty situation, but I'm surprised by how few people are calling it that. Instead I'm hearing a lot of talk about 'adapting to the new situation' and so forth in forums and in podcasts.

It's not a new situation: it's the outright murder of good and passionate writing.

No, it's not a new situation. It's the reality of publishing. Success in this business requires much more than being good at writing or being passionate about your writing. When I see these sort of discussions, it tends to digress towards the idea that everything selling out there is utter crap selling because of deep pockets, and everything buried is just an unknown literary treasure being kept down by the massive amount of crap in the store. While I don't often agree with many of the podcast gurus or self-proclaimed marketing pros, I will agree with the notion that learning how to adapt is essential to selling books in this business. I can say with certainty that if I hadn't accepted that I need to constantly adapt and change early on in my career, I'd still be working for someone else. Learning early on how to assess what works, change what doesn't, and constantly revise my short term and long term goals is the #1 factor keeping me here sitting in my underwear everyday while I make stuff up for a living.

Quote
How can any new author possibly hope to gain traction if the only books the prospective buyer is going to see are by those able to pay the spiralling costs for advertising? What kind of books is this going to result in? Books written by good writers, or books written by people with deep pockets?

The methods of getting exposure are evolving, but that fact that exposure sells books has not. It's always been a game of getting your book in front of readers. The basic idea of creating something that resonates with readers still stands, however. Having a ton of money to spend on advertising is not the sole way to gain a following as a new author; connecting with a niche readership and growing from there is still a very attainable way for new authors to start out. Word of mouth is still important, be it IRL or via social media. It's a slow process, and it requires a story that somehow grabs readers and makes them want more. We can argue all day long about how bad some of the best sellers suck, but that fact is that something about that story keeps drawing readers in. Authors have lots of opinions about stuff like Twilight & FSOG, but the bottom line is that something made those readers keep coming back for more. And how 'bout the whole Handbook for Mortals fiasco? That chick styled herself the next Big Thing and poured a ton of money into promo...yet the book is what it is and readers are NOT clamoring for more, no matter how much money and smoke she throws at it.

Yes, there are good books out there by undiscovered authors; there are also good books out there that found success because of lots of promotional cash. It's next to impossible to explode onto the scene as a newbie without a boatload of cash and marketing prowess, but it's still very possible to slowly build a following and build a career on that.

Quote
Yet I fear it's coming, and soon. And when it does, a thousand - ten thousand - books that slipped through the cracks of traditional publishing, and which might have found new hearts and minds, are going to be buried under a ton of kack, left invisible while the remaining spoils are left to the leeches running Amazon and the vultures running the publishers.

No, the sky is not falling, I promise.  grint It is very possible to get traction as a new author. It's not about what is selling more than your book, or how many literary gems are buried under the crap or how unfair it all seems when we are new and starting out and don't have oodles of cash to compete. Amazon has created way more opportunities for self-published authors to succeed in this business, and pretty much paved the way for authors to have an actual option. Do I like Amazon, or agree with everything they do or how they run their store? No way. Do I think there is a lot of crap out there in the Amazon store? Sure, 'course there is. Do I think the best sellers are there only because of massive advertising dollars? Nope, not at all.

There is plenty of room for new authors, but the basics are still them same. It starts with a story that resonates with readers and goes from there, whether you build your audience slowly or come at it full steam with a sh*t ton of advertising money.
 
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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #30 on: November 30, 2018, 06:05:50 AM »
I think the also-boughts are now nationally targeted. I'm in Canada, and when I visit a book's product page on .ca there's a row of also-boughts beneath the product display, and while there's a singular banner ad beneath the product, there are no rows of sponsored products at all. However, when I visit .com there are two rows of sponsored products and no also-boughts.

To better illustrate the difference, here's my view as a Canadian on a book's product page on the .com store:

PRODUCT

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And, here's my view as a Canadian visiting a book's product page on the .ca store:

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EDIT --- I should mention, "nationally" might not be Amazon's outright or specific aim with the also-boughts, it might be more related to which Amazon store you do most/all of your purchasing from. That is to say, I've only ever purchased books from the .ca store, so that might be why I only get also-boughts there and why I don't get also-boughts on the .com store, given I've never made a purchase from there. Just thought it might be worth pointing that out. Keep in mind this is all conjecture...just spitballin' here.
 
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ragdoll

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #31 on: November 30, 2018, 07:34:21 AM »
Perhaps David Gaughran's post helps account for the decline in US income in November.

Amazon decided to shuttle people visiting the U.S. store from IP address located in other countries that had their own store (e.g. Australia) to their home country store. But if they were visiting eg one of Tim's titles on Amazon US, the redirect to Amazon AU wasn't working. They would have to take the extra step of searching for the book in the AU store because they would get a page error message on the redirect.

That would also explain why sales value for the non-US Amazon stores has risen for some people.

Additionally, I don't think the problem is resolved yet.
 
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CoraBuhlert

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #32 on: November 30, 2018, 10:28:02 AM »
For me, the also-boughts started vanishing in mid-September and Amazon.com sales respectively went down as well, while everywhere else held steady. Then the books vanishing glitch hit in mid November. Shortly after the books vanishing glitch was resolved, the also-boughts in the Amazon.com store came back as well, only to vanish again during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday madness. I see almost no also-boughts for other books, including trad pub bestsellers as well at Amazon.com. The only also-bought I saw at Amazon.com today was a weird one, too, a computer as the lone also-bought for a fairly obscure work of literary criticism. I keep seeing computers and computer equipment at Amazon all the time anyway, even though I never buy anything other than books there.

Meanwhile, my books still have also-boughts/also-vieweds at Amazon UK and Amazon DE, which is the store I actually shop from. Though also-boughts at Amazon DE are near useless to me as a reader, because I mainly read in English and many English language books don't even have also-boughts at Amazon DE. Meanwhile, I used to find books via the also-boughts at Amazon.com all the time, even though I eventually bought them at Amazon DE.

Personally, what I suspect is happening is that Amazon.com is glitchy and that the also-boughts as a fairly low priority system are the first to vanish whenever Amazon.com is under strain, i.e. due to the high Black Friday/Cyber Monday traffic. The paid ads remain, if only because people are paying for them and will be annoyed when their ads don't run. The glitches aren't affecting the other stores quite so badly, hence they still have also-boughts.

Most of the time, I don't see the sponsored ads at all, because I use an ad blocker. And even when I switch off the ad blocker, I don't click on those ads, let alone buy, because they're badly targeted, especially if your tastes are a little off the norm. For example, I switched off my ad blocker to check the sponsored products on some books, mostly trad-published but also indie-published, that are similar in tone and style to mine, since I was considering targetting those authors/books via ads. And I saw ads for books that aren't even remotely similar, basically the same ads for the same books I'm seeing on every other SFF book out there.

I'm wide and Amazon.com has never been my primary market anyway, so I just shrug and continue doing my own thing. Though I also find that I buy a lot fewer books from Amazon as a reader, largely because the site is a mess.


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EllieL

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #33 on: November 30, 2018, 03:10:04 PM »

Friendly faeries polish my shoes every night.


 :HB Dang, that explains my shoes.
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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #34 on: November 30, 2018, 03:29:21 PM »

Friendly faeries polish my shoes every night.


 :HB Dang, that explains my shoes.

Just dont upset those fairies.  :ices_angel_g:  :smilie_zauber:
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DrewMcGunn

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #35 on: November 30, 2018, 04:31:05 PM »
Also boughts haven't disappeared from the U.S. store, at least not for those viewing from the U.S.

Odd. How do we account for an 8% drop in US based revenue? Or is that saying 8% of my sales were coming from outside the US through the US store, and are not now?

Doesn't make sense though, because it's UK which has improved the most, not everywhere else. And I doubt UK people shop in the US store.

Tim, it's possible that your income is up in the UK because Irish buyers have been forced from the US store and must now buy through the UK store. If I recall correctly, this was one of the things that David Gaughan was complaining about in one of his recent posts.

While I know that Amazon is futzing around with also boughts (I've seen them truncated down to just four and also gone altogether) but ATM they're back in their normal spot for those within the US shopping in the US store.

But I agree with Gary Gibson that the recent changes to AMS has really hurt my ad budget. I'm spending more money now for lower returns and higher PPC than I have since I started advertising. I'm still in the black but I don't envy those who are finding the cost of exposing readers to their series higher than their royalties.


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dgcasey

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #36 on: November 30, 2018, 05:41:45 PM »
I'm still in the black but I don't envy those who are finding the cost of exposing readers to their series higher than their royalties.

Hey! Stop looking at me!

Yeah, I'm coming to the conclusion that it would probably a good thing to suspend all AMS ads and even my BookBub ads for the time being. I should just give it all a rest and focus on getting another 4-8 titles out. Then start looking at ads again.
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The Doctor

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #37 on: November 30, 2018, 10:26:54 PM »
I've suspended my AMS US ads (well, they suspended me as I can't afford to pay the invoice for this month). My UK ones are still running for now.

I'll probably end all ads for the time being. I'm smaller than a prawn but when I first started the ads I was making a (small) profit. Now, I'm spending more than I'm earning. Unfortunately, the last time I had no ads running, I made zero sales on Amazon for the duration.

I make less than a handful of sales via D2D, with no promotion.

If anyone has any idea how to market to Apple, B&N, Kobo, etc, readers, I'm all ears!

 

cecilia_writer

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #38 on: November 30, 2018, 11:30:55 PM »
I have always been a tiny prawn (and probably always will be) but oddly enough my USA sales have gone up this past month from an extremely low point, and I am almost afraid they will overtake my UK sales on Amazon.
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EB

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #39 on: December 01, 2018, 01:58:16 AM »
I will add that with AMS ads, personally I am not spending much on them at all. I only use them in very specific situations, such as a boost for a new release at the end of the 30-day HNR, or books I am running a Bookbub on (for the tail end of the BB). When I do use AMS ads, I manage them to run at certain times of day (not 24 hrs, which takes some finagling as far as pausing/restarting, since sometimes the ad spends out pretty fast) and I always make the bid very high so I know the ad will run on the first row of the sponsored products. I don't bother with anything that won't hit the first visible row of the sponsored products. I'd rather spend the bulk of my money on getting it right there in front of the reader, with as few clicks as possible for them to buy. High visibility for a short time with high click rates works better for my sales consistency compared to running ads for extended periods with moderate clicks/lower visibility buried 3 or 4 rows deep in that scroll bar. I'm seeing a much better return this way lately and feel like I'm not just blowing money.
Bookbub is showing the best results overall as far as Ads, at least in my genres right now. It used to be FB ads were a biggie for me, but like everything in this biz, it changes. And as for all ads in general, I look at them as short term solutions; once the ads stop, have you gained a new readership or do the sales come to a halt? It's tough to say, especially when you are running ads in several places at once. The only way to judge is by seeing what happens with your back list and new releases--are those figures consistently increasing, or are you back where you started before you ran all those ads? To me, the goal of running Ads is to gain new readers who will seek out my work on their own and buy it at full price when I have a new book they're dying to read. Of course, I love the folks who give my stuff a shot when it's free or on sale because they saw it on an AMS ad or BB Ad, but I have to keep my ultimate goal in mind: sustainability & consistency. I want to attract new loyal fans and make a living at this gig. I don't want to be trapped in a cycle of spending zillions on ads to get enough sales on a $0.99 book to break even.

The biggest thing I've learned to worry about is consistency. It's not difficult to throw money at ads/marketing and see a huge spike for a short time. The key (at least for me, because this is my sole income) is finding ways to keep it at a steady level. Having one or two fabulous months does more damage than it does good; I don't want to think I have achieved a new baseline when it's really just a freak event I can't replicate. So I try not to bank on anything until it is a method I can use over and over to achieve results. I have a baseline income I need to maintain, so then I work on adding to that baseline with things I can reproduce. There are things that are basic to keeping income consistent, such as releasing new books regularly, and then there are things that can give a temporary bump than can increase the overall baseline income, such as BB deals. Then there are things that give a temporary bump that leads to short-term gains, such as AMS ads/BB Ads/FB Ads. Finding the combination that works for your situation is the battle.
 

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #40 on: December 01, 2018, 03:50:14 AM »

The biggest thing I've learned to worry about is consistency. It's not difficult to throw money at ads/marketing and see a huge spike for a short time. The key (at least for me, because this is my sole income) is finding ways to keep it at a steady level. Having one or two fabulous months does more damage than it does good; I don't want to think I have achieved a new baseline when it's really just a freak event I can't replicate. So I try not to bank on anything until it is a method I can use over and over to achieve results. I have a baseline income I need to maintain, so then I work on adding to that baseline with things I can reproduce. There are things that are basic to keeping income consistent, such as releasing new books regularly, and then there are things that can give a temporary bump than can increase the overall baseline income, such as BB deals. Then there are things that give a temporary bump that leads to short-term gains, such as AMS ads/BB Ads/FB Ads. Finding the combination that works for your situation is the battle.

Amen, sister.

This is so important. I run into many authors who forget that the curve can go down as well as up. They end up like sick gamblers (and I know a few of those) always chasing the big win and living beyond their means. That's not hyperbole--the rush from a BookBub or other "win" is just the same, but as soon as it fades, it becomes the new normal in the author's mind. It can be really hard to fight that urge to get it back by desperate measures. I think this is one reason why the CC/MSE/RHs of the world ended up in scam territory.

And it doesn't matter one bit what income level you're at, since this is a neuropsychological phenomenon. The 1K author, the 100K author and the 1M author all have their own baseline expectations and desires, built out of the success of the past.

It happens in other realms all the time. Think of the aging/declining sports figure or politician or movie star, chasing just one more big win and destroying themselves in the process, or living above their means because they can't stand to downsize their lifestyle. Look at CC and other banned authors trying to sneak back into the KU tent and doing themselves even more damage instead of simply taking their lumps, picking themselves up and moving forward legitimately.

To me, the big key is living well within your means. WELL within. If you can't survive a 50% drop next month, you're living beyond your authorly means. I'd even say a 75% drop. I can. Not because I'm more virtuous or smarter than anyone else, but because I've made a deliberate choice to do it. To delay gratification. To keep debt low. To view my average income as still above my means, and to view my means as far less than my average income.

If you do that, you'll likely survive and prosper through the ups and downs, survive to write and publish and be positioned to catch that upturn that gives you an unexpected bonus, rather than be out of position where one downturn will wipe you out.

« Last Edit: December 01, 2018, 03:52:22 AM by David VanDyke »
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ragdoll

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #41 on: December 01, 2018, 04:13:33 AM »
[quote in which EB says a bunch of wise and helpful stuff]

Thank you. I don't do ads and have a failure in imagination as to what would get me to do ads, but that sounds like very solid advice to those with the intestinal fortitude to do ad buys. It's as much about the process as it is about the $, so be prepared to work hard at the ads instead of just throwing money.

And also full of wisdom is don't mistake as your new income baseline a spike that can't be duplicated.
 
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guest957

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #42 on: December 01, 2018, 05:13:48 AM »
A lot of great advice in this thread. No sense in lousing it up with my diatribe. Thus the edit.
 

Anarchist

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #43 on: December 01, 2018, 06:11:16 AM »
To me, the big key is living well within your means. WELL within. If you can't survive a 50% drop next month, you're living beyond your authorly means. I'd even say a 75% drop. I can. Not because I'm more virtuous or smarter than anyone else, but because I've made a deliberate choice to do it. To delay gratification. To keep debt low. To view my average income as still above my means, and to view my means as far less than my average income.

If you do that, you'll likely survive and prosper through the ups and downs, survive to write and publish and be positioned to catch that upturn that gives you an unexpected bonus, rather than be out of position where one downturn will wipe you out.

So true.

I'm one of the most frugal people I know. Nearly everything I net goes into my investment portfolio and back into my businesses. (I indulge in food and vacations.)

The peace of mind is liberating.
"If taxation without consent is not robbery, then any band of robbers have only to declare themselves a government, and all their robberies are legalized." - Lysander Spooner

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Joe Vasicek

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #44 on: December 01, 2018, 07:22:48 AM »
Out of curiosity, Anarchist, where do you live?

I'm in Utah, and while living costs have been rising with all the tech companies that have set up around here, it's still quite reasonable compared to the rest of the country.

I've heard that Louisiana and North Carolina are both good, low cost places to live. NC will actually pay you to move there, if you're a skilled worker. Back during the oil boom, North Dakota was also a place you could write your own ticket. It may still be.
 
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Anarchist

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #45 on: December 01, 2018, 09:26:25 AM »
Out of curiosity, Anarchist, where do you live?

I'm in California.
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Joe Vasicek

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #46 on: December 01, 2018, 09:46:58 AM »
I'm in California.

Youch.

I lived there once. It would be the best place in the country if the politicians were half sane.
 
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David VanDyke

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #47 on: December 01, 2018, 11:00:43 AM »
Out of curiosity, Anarchist, where do you live?

I'm in California.

My condolences.
Never listen to people with no skin in the game.

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Anarchist

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #48 on: December 01, 2018, 11:42:11 AM »
I'm in California.

Youch.

I lived there once. It would be the best place in the country if the politicians were half sane.

When I was a child, my grandfather would often say, "Every politician should be taken out into the street and shot in the head."

I didn't understand his ire back then. Today, I do.

I just try to live my life. I've never voted, and I never will. But every voting cycle, I'm reminded of this bit by the great George Carlin...



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dgcasey

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #49 on: December 01, 2018, 11:57:58 AM »
I just try to live my life. I've never voted, and I never will. But every voting cycle, I'm reminded of this bit by the great George Carlin...

Hehe, I loved the guy, but he sure did get cantankerous there towards the end. Just a grouchy old fart. Can't argue with his logic though.

  :clap:
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