Author Topic: You've Been Amazoned.  (Read 3119 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.


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.

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.

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.

Writing epic fantasy as Pauline M Ross; writing Regency romance as Mary Kingswood
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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.
Author of Glory Boy, Last Flight of the Acheron, the Birthright trilogy, the Recon series, The Tales of the Acheron series, the Psi War trilogy and the Duty Honor Planet trilogy.
 

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.
Author of Glory Boy, Last Flight of the Acheron, the Birthright trilogy, the Recon series, The Tales of the Acheron series, the Psi War trilogy and the Duty Honor Planet trilogy.
 

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).

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

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.

Friendly faeries polish my shoes every night.

--oh yeah, and you can't make a living going wide.
Never listen to people with no skin in the game.
 
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Tom Wood

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

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. 
I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 
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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

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.
I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 

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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guest957

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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

Sponsored products related to this item

Editorial Reviews
Product Details
More about the Author

Sponsored products related to this item

Customer Reviews

Related to items you viewed

Inspired by your browsing history



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

PRODUCT

Customers who bought this also bought

Product description
Product details

What other items do customers buy after buying this item?

Customer Reviews

Your recently viewed items

Inspired by your browsing history

Inspired by your purchases


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 »

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 :HB Dang, that explains my shoes.
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TimothyEllis

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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:

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.
 

David VanDyke

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

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.
I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 
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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

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.
I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 

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

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.
 

Anarchist

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...



I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 

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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Shoe

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #50 on: December 01, 2018, 01:02:11 PM »
Can't get much better advice than what's already here, but I will remind folks that while, of course, you're free to spend on ads as you like, you really should view spending on ads as being the thing you do when you KNOW that what you're shining a spotlight on is ready for prime time.

It's hard to know if you're ready for the spotlight until you've put your book under one. How else can you know? For a newbie without a mailing list, ads are the only way to boost visibility aside from any new release push received from Zon. If you don't earn your money back and then some, it's time to retool or conclude self-publishing isn't going to work for you.
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 

guest957

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #51 on: December 01, 2018, 07:53:41 PM »
It's hard to know if you're ready for the spotlight until you've put your book under one. How else can you know? For a newbie without a mailing list, ads are the only way to boost visibility aside from any new release push received from Zon. If you don't earn your money back and then some, it's time to retool or conclude self-publishing isn't going to work for you.

I had written a lengthier reply to this, but really, I'm not in a position to say what anyone should or should not do with their own personal finances. If it takes spending on ads to know if you're ready for that visibility, I think that's fair enough and it's really only something you can decide.
 

VanessaC

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #52 on: December 01, 2018, 09:50:56 PM »
Can't get much better advice than what's already here, but I will remind folks that while, of course, you're free to spend on ads as you like, you really should view spending on ads as being the thing you do when you KNOW that what you're shining a spotlight on is ready for prime time.

It's hard to know if you're ready for the spotlight until you've put your book under one. How else can you know? For a newbie without a mailing list, ads are the only way to boost visibility aside from any new release push received from Zon. If you don't earn your money back and then some, it's time to retool or conclude self-publishing isn't going to work for you.

Not saying I'm expert here, or this is the only way to go, but I got a couple of paid beta readers to go over my book 1 before it went out - without going into the long story, basically I wanted a reader perspective without the very public 1 star reviews on Amazon. I found that incredibly helpful, and reassuring that my book wasn't totally awful.

Very few of us have lots of spare cash to publish when we start out.  For me, one of the key decisions to make at the start is where you spend your money, bearing in mind you may never get it back.  I decided to spend my money on getting the book as good as I could, on the basis I could advertise later as and when I could afford to. 

I am not saying the book is perfect but I'm happy with what I have produced, and the response so far has been really good.

Other people will of course have their own views and go about things differently. And that's the beauty of being an indie author - there's no one-size-fits-all solution.
 

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Shoe

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #53 on: December 01, 2018, 11:39:01 PM »


And that's the beauty of being an indie author - there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

There is only one solution for writers--write books your audience wants to read. Nothing else will matter if the reading public dismisses your work, despite your pro cover, excellent editing, and enticing blurb.

We all know people who've nailed their covers, titles, blurbs, and editing and failed miserably, often after spending a great deal for pro services and in many cases expensive ad campaigns. What went wrong for them? There's a chance they never found the right audience for their books, but it's just as likely they did and received a pass.
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 
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LilyBLily

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #54 on: December 02, 2018, 12:28:45 AM »


And that's the beauty of being an indie author - there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

There is only one solution for writers--write books your audience wants to read. Nothing else will matter if the reading public dismisses your work, despite your pro cover, excellent editing, and enticing blurb.

We all know people who've nailed their covers, titles, blurbs, and editing and failed miserably, often after spending a great deal for pro services and in many cases expensive ad campaigns. What went wrong for them? There's a chance they never found the right audience for their books, but it's just as likely they did and received a pass.

Okay, I disagree with the "one solution" idea. If I "only" sell a thousand copies of a book, has the reading public dismissed it? What if I "only" sell a million copies? Dismissed again? Some books have a huge natural audience--that is, people who want to read that kind of book--and some also have an enormous audience of people who want to read the big deal book everyone is talking about. Does anyone believe that every single purchase of Twilight was made by people who really wanted to read about a teenage girl and a creepy old sparkly vampire? No way.

I have written fiction that I know only will interest a small audience. It can be a challenge to find that natural audience, but small press publishers courageously do it all the time. If the audience for a book is a certain size and no more, and one sells well to that audience, I don't call that being dismissed by the reading public. Believing that every book has natural audience of millions is a mistake, often a beginner's hopeful mistake, but there's literally no viable way of finding out in advance of publication if a book has a huge audience or a small one. One can guess, and traditional publishers guess all the time. They also fail more often than indie authors do. Think about that. They fail all the time. They publish 100 books and only 1 becomes a breakout bestseller (actually, the numbers are far worse than that). Their goal, then, is to safely publish 99 other books that don't lose a lot of money. Self-publishing authors have a similar challenge. We also can do everything right, as you say, and the readers don't come en masse.     

But is a mass audience the be-all-and-end-all of creative success? In the big era of network TV, a successful show could easily be watched by 10-20 million people every week. The 1 million people who watch a cable channel today are a miserable failure by comparison (dismissed by the public?)--and yet careers are made on those networks, millions of dollars change hands, and by most standards of success other than sheer numbers, the cable channels are successes. Also, Sharknado is a thing.

Numbers alone don't tell the whole story. Did the book get a wonderful review in a respected publication? Did a reader write the author a heartfelt letter about how wonderful the book was? Has the author completed a book of the heart and seen it professionally produced? Is the author's mother proud to show off that book to all her friends? All these are successes, and numbers have nothing to do with them.
 
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Shoe

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #55 on: December 02, 2018, 01:22:09 AM »


And that's the beauty of being an indie author - there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

There is only one solution for writers--write books your audience wants to read. Nothing else will matter if the reading public dismisses your work, despite your pro cover, excellent editing, and enticing blurb.

We all know people who've nailed their covers, titles, blurbs, and editing and failed miserably, often after spending a great deal for pro services and in many cases expensive ad campaigns. What went wrong for them? There's a chance they never found the right audience for their books, but it's just as likely they did and received a pass.

Okay, I disagree with the "one solution" idea...

You're not disagreeing. You're quibbling. I didn't say anything about audience size. Maybe you only want to please your family, in which case, write a book they won't dismiss as tripe. Whatever your target audience, the solution is the same--write a book that audience would like to read.
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 

LilyBLily

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #56 on: December 02, 2018, 02:07:01 AM »


And that's the beauty of being an indie author - there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

There is only one solution for writers--write books your audience wants to read. Nothing else will matter if the reading public dismisses your work, despite your pro cover, excellent editing, and enticing blurb.

We all know people who've nailed their covers, titles, blurbs, and editing and failed miserably, often after spending a great deal for pro services and in many cases expensive ad campaigns. What went wrong for them? There's a chance they never found the right audience for their books, but it's just as likely they did and received a pass.

Okay, I disagree with the "one solution" idea...

You're not disagreeing. You're quibbling. I didn't say anything about audience size. Maybe you only want to please your family, in which case, write a book they won't dismiss as tripe. Whatever your target audience, the solution is the same--write a book that audience would like to read.

I quibbled at length!  Grin

I really don't know who my audience is from book to book. I can guess who buys and reads, but I don't know. That's why I write for myself. I figure if I please myself, I'll please people at a similar life stage and with a similar mindset and maybe some other random people.
 
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #57 on: December 02, 2018, 02:25:49 AM »


And that's the beauty of being an indie author - there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

There is only one solution for writers--write books your audience wants to read. Nothing else will matter if the reading public dismisses your work, despite your pro cover, excellent editing, and enticing blurb.

We all know people who've nailed their covers, titles, blurbs, and editing and failed miserably, often after spending a great deal for pro services and in many cases expensive ad campaigns. What went wrong for them? There's a chance they never found the right audience for their books, but it's just as likely they did and received a pass.
Ah, but there's the problem--knowing what your audience wants to read. There are a few genre conventions that serve as useful generalizations. For example, it does appear that romance readers want a happy ending. But beyond those kinds of statements, it's hard to know. Yes, we can look at what's selling now--but that may not be what's going to be selling tomorrow.

Don't get me wrong--I think considering what readers want to read is important. Most self-pubbers don't have the data to do detailed analyses, though, and even agents and publishers often guess wrong about market trends. It took JK Rowling seven or eight shots to find a publisher. (That's not a lot, but considering how successful the books were, you have to wonder a little about the publishers that took a pass.) And even then, Bloomsbury didn't seem to know what it had. Apparently, one of the editors told Rowling she'd still need a day job, because she'd never make a living on that kind of book alone. How's that for market analysis? Then there's the example of the fourteen agents who told Stephenie Meyer that Twilight was unmarketable. They were wrong, too.

I'm inclined to agree with this Writer's Digest article: https://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/excellent-publishing-advice/ready-player-one-3-painful-lessons-writing-successful-stories In a nutshell, the writer argues that writing what you love will make it more likely the readers will love what you write. Ready Player One is the example used in the article. Though many of the elements in the book have been used many times, the specific combination is pretty unique, so it would have been hard to predict its success in advance. Yet it was successful.

It's also the people who write what they love who drive innovation in literature. By its nature, writing to market essentially produces more and more of the same. I'm not saying all such works are going to be bad or even unoriginal, but their originality is bound to be circumscribed by whatever the perceived market trends are. The problem is that some formulas wear themselves out. Certain kinds of YA fantasy that used to be hot aren't as hot anymore. I read somewhere that some publishers are increasingly turning thumbs down on that kind of material. The same publishers would have snapped it up a few years ago. In that kind of scenario, people who aren't trying to write to match what the trend was would be at an advantage when the market shifted.

Obviously, write what you love carried to extremes would be just as far off the mark as writing to market. Probably, a successful writer needs to be mindful of both.


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Shoe

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #58 on: December 02, 2018, 09:10:38 AM »

Ah, but there's the problem--knowing what your audience wants to read. There are a few genre conventions that serve as useful generalizations. For example, it does appear that romance readers want a happy ending. But beyond those kinds of statements, it's hard to know. Yes, we can look at what's selling now--but that may not be what's going to be selling tomorrow...
Obviously, write what you love carried to extremes would be just as far off the mark as writing to market. Probably, a successful writer needs to be mindful of both.

I'm not referring to satisfying genre expectations or market trends. I'm referring to writing talent and storytelling talent only. I realize the former isn't essential. An ingenious plot can overcome weak writing, which is good news for many indie writers, but not for terrible writers who may have good ideas but no talent to pull them off.

I suspect there's been some topic drift here... What I'm aiming to say is, you can't really gauge your talent (for writing or storytelling or both) and prospects for success until you've put your work on the market and tested it.

I do think writers should write what they love, but I'm speaking at the sentence level. Love your words and phrases and sentences. Do that, and the topic doesn't really matter. You can write about anything.
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 
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EB

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #59 on: December 03, 2018, 11:24:39 PM »
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.


Yes, yes, this, so much! ^^ I think sometimes it's easy to get dazzled by the possibility of being the next Big Thing in this business and live a life of luxury. Yes, we've all watched plenty of self-pubbed authors hit the market on fire and make unheard of amounts of money. The fact is that it can be done, and it does get done by more and more self-pubbed authors all the time...but it's still the outlier in this industry, the same as it was ten years (or twenty years) ago. It's not the norm for authors to make a living at simply being an author. On this board (and our former hangout), I think seeing so many successful authors in one place makes it seem like write book=make living, when we're really just a unbalanced concentration of authors that doesn't accurately represent reality of the whole population.

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.

Funny you mentioned that, I've been looking at houses in NC. After living in New Jersey (highest property taxes in the nation), I am soooo ready for a little relief. Been looking at the comparables in NC and I'm floored and feel like a fool for staying in NJ for so long.
Property taxes in NJ= $12500/year (modest home, tiny lot, too many neighbors)
Property taxes in NC= $1500/year (much bigger home, huge secluded lot, not terribly far from civilization)
(Insert me, counting down the days to leave NJ)

 

Maggie Ann

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #60 on: December 03, 2018, 11:29:40 PM »
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.


Yes, yes, this, so much! ^^ I think sometimes it's easy to get dazzled by the possibility of being the next Big Thing in this business and live a life of luxury. Yes, we've all watched plenty of self-pubbed authors hit the market on fire and make unheard of amounts of money. The fact is that it can be done, and it does get done by more and more self-pubbed authors all the time...but it's still the outlier in this industry, the same as it was ten years (or twenty years) ago. It's not the norm for authors to make a living at simply being an author. On this board (and our former hangout), I think seeing so many successful authors in one place makes it seem like write book=make living, when we're really just a unbalanced concentration of authors that doesn't accurately represent reality of the whole population.

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.

Funny you mentioned that, I've been looking at houses in NC. After living in New Jersey (highest property taxes in the nation), I am soooo ready for a little relief. Been looking at the comparables in NC and I'm floored and feel like a fool for staying in NJ for so long.
Property taxes in NJ= $12500/year (modest home, tiny lot, too many neighbors)
Property taxes in NC= $1500/year (much bigger home, huge secluded lot, not terribly far from civilization)
(Insert me, counting down the days to leave NJ)

I have relatives still living in NJ. I don't know how they manage. I love the state, but I'll never live there again.

FL taxes, 4/2/2, 1700 SF = $1,100/yr

           
 
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #61 on: December 04, 2018, 01:09:03 AM »

Ah, but there's the problem--knowing what your audience wants to read. There are a few genre conventions that serve as useful generalizations. For example, it does appear that romance readers want a happy ending. But beyond those kinds of statements, it's hard to know. Yes, we can look at what's selling now--but that may not be what's going to be selling tomorrow...
Obviously, write what you love carried to extremes would be just as far off the mark as writing to market. Probably, a successful writer needs to be mindful of both.

I'm not referring to satisfying genre expectations or market trends. I'm referring to writing talent and storytelling talent only. I realize the former isn't essential. An ingenious plot can overcome weak writing, which is good news for many indie writers, but not for terrible writers who may have good ideas but no talent to pull them off.

I suspect there's been some topic drift here... What I'm aiming to say is, you can't really gauge your talent (for writing or storytelling or both) and prospects for success until you've put your work on the market and tested it.

I do think writers should write what they love, but I'm speaking at the sentence level. Love your words and phrases and sentences. Do that, and the topic doesn't really matter. You can write about anything.
Yes, I confess I misunderstood your original point. It's quite true that one can never know how something will be received until its market-tested. I also agree with everything else you said in your last post.


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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #62 on: December 04, 2018, 03:47:26 AM »
I must admit, for all the negatives I see/hear about Amazon I can't bring myself to leave the KU ecosystem. Wide looks much more daunting to me - to the point where I'm thinking it'd be largely a waste of my money/time if I were to compare my ROI being in KU and what it might potentially be outside of it. I do realize though, everyone's mileage is different.
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #63 on: December 04, 2018, 05:02:48 AM »
I must admit, for all the negatives I see/hear about Amazon I can't bring myself to leave the KU ecosystem. Wide looks much more daunting to me - to the point where I'm thinking it'd be largely a waste of my money/time if I were to compare my ROI being in KU and what it might potentially be outside of it. I do realize though, everyone's mileage is different.
Yes, everyone's mileage is different. That's why it pays to experiment at some point, but there's no rush. Save it for some time in the future when you feel more comfortable. I also think it's easier for a writer who already has a following and/or who's been wide for a long time to promote to a wide audience.

I have experimented twice, (several months each), and both times my wide income for a year was below what I can make in KU in a single month. That said, I have a few titles wide, mostly niche books that don't attract KU readers anyway, but I also have the beginning book in what will be a wide series. That's because I want to start building a presence on other sites. That doesn't necessarily mean I will move everything wide. It's another way of testing the waters. If the wide series gains momentum over time, that will tell me something. If it doesn't, well, there's a message in that as well.


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Rick Partlow

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #64 on: December 04, 2018, 10:37:20 PM »
I must admit, for all the negatives I see/hear about Amazon I can't bring myself to leave the KU ecosystem. Wide looks much more daunting to me - to the point where I'm thinking it'd be largely a waste of my money/time if I were to compare my ROI being in KU and what it might potentially be outside of it. I do realize though, everyone's mileage is different.

I am doing an experiment, putting a single series, four books, wide.  I just put the final book out into the wide wild a week ago or so and I am going to start marketing them.  So far, without anything but an international BookBub on the first book in the series for 99 cents, I have made maybe $150 in about a month.  Which isn't much, and most of that is from Kobo.  I have already decided my other series are staying in KU for now.
Author of Glory Boy, Last Flight of the Acheron, the Birthright trilogy, the Recon series, The Tales of the Acheron series, the Psi War trilogy and the Duty Honor Planet trilogy.
 

dgcasey

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #65 on: December 05, 2018, 03:35:06 AM »
I am doing an experiment, putting a single series, four books, wide.  I just put the final book out into the wide wild a week ago or so and I am going to start marketing them.  So far, without anything but an international BookBub on the first book in the series for 99 cents, I have made maybe $150 in about a month.  Which isn't much, and most of that is from Kobo.  I have already decided my other series are staying in KU for now.

I'd doing something similar. All of my books start in KU, but after one or two cycles, most of them will come out and go wide. I am, however, writing a series that will remain in KU exclusively. At least it will for the time being. If it ever looks like it isn't worthwhile I'll reconsider.
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Shoe

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #66 on: December 05, 2018, 03:53:25 AM »
All of my books start in KU, but after one or two cycles, most of them will come out

That makes sense... I have a year and half old title that's been slipping for a while and doesn't earn much KENP. I may as well put it wide to get a foot in that door.
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 

guest1038

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #67 on: December 05, 2018, 05:38:22 AM »
I am doing an experiment, putting a single series, four books, wide.  I just put the final book out into the wide wild a week ago or so and I am going to start marketing them.  So far, without anything but an international BookBub on the first book in the series for 99 cents, I have made maybe $150 in about a month.  Which isn't much, and most of that is from Kobo.  I have already decided my other series are staying in KU for now.

That's anecdotal, of course, but does confirm my suspicions somewhat.

I don't know, going wide to me seems like swimming against the tide. Sort of like setting up your shop in a low-traffic area of town. If 70% of buying readers buy from Amazon why wouldn't I be exclusive to them, i.e. set up shop where most everyone's walking? I want to be where the predominant amount of the wallets are.

I get that, yes, Amazon can/perhaps will pull the rug out in some way and then you're boned because all your eggs were in that basket, but really if that kind of nuclear-level event happened on Amazon where you'd be forced to go wide, it wouldn't matter if you were wide to begin with or not because even a lot of the wide folks in that dire scenario would be boned too as a lot of them derive the bulk of their income from the big A as well. Sure, you'd be starting from scratch on multiple sales fronts, but such is life - cross that bridge when you come to it.

And if the worst did happen (whatever that is), I'd go wide at that point, once I'm forced to move to the low-traffic part of town. But to purposefully do that right now, to fight and claw to establish some arbitrary beachhead 'just in case', seems a bit nonsensical to me from a business standpoint - ROI on the money/time required to do one vs. the other and all of that. But, again, that's just me. Everyone's gotta do them. Everyone's business is different, I suppose, or at least in terms of a business ethos. I can't justify the money/time investment I'd be required to make to make wide work vs. my ROI by being exclusive. Doesn't mean you couldn't/shouldn't do it, I just know it isn't worth it for me. Hey, maybe I'm the grasshopper in this little fable, who knows?
 

Arches

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #68 on: December 05, 2018, 06:08:22 AM »
I am doing an experiment, putting a single series, four books, wide.  I just put the final book out into the wide wild a week ago or so and I am going to start marketing them.  So far, without anything but an international BookBub on the first book in the series for 99 cents, I have made maybe $150 in about a month.  Which isn't much, and most of that is from Kobo.  I have already decided my other series are staying in KU for now.

That's anecdotal, of course, but does confirm my suspicions somewhat.

I don't know, going wide to me seems like swimming against the tide. Sort of like setting up your shop in a low-traffic area of town. If 70% of buying readers buy from Amazon why wouldn't I be exclusive to them, i.e. set up shop where most everyone's walking? I want to be where the predominant amount of the wallets are.

I get that, yes, Amazon can/perhaps will pull the rug out in some way and then you're boned because all your eggs were in that basket, but really if that kind of nuclear-level event happened on Amazon where you'd be forced to go wide, it wouldn't matter if you were wide to begin with or not because even a lot of the wide folks in that dire scenario would be boned too as a lot of them derive the bulk of their income from the big A as well. Sure, you'd be starting from scratch on multiple sales fronts, but such is life - cross that bridge when you come to it.

And if the worst did happen (whatever that is), I'd go wide at that point, once I'm forced to move to the low-traffic part of town. But to purposefully do that right now, to fight and claw to establish some arbitrary beachhead 'just in case', seems a bit nonsensical to me from a business standpoint - ROI on the money/time required to do one vs. the other and all of that. But, again, that's just me. Everyone's gotta do them. Everyone's business is different, I suppose, or at least in terms of a business ethos. I can't justify the money/time investment I'd be required to make to make wide work vs. my ROI by being exclusive. Doesn't mean you couldn't/shouldn't do it, I just know it isn't worth it for me. Hey, maybe I'm the grasshopper in this little fable, who knows?

You're sure to be schooled soon on the blessings of going wide, but I think it comes down to individual situations. Some books do really well in KU, and I don't regret having all of my books there. Other books, and some entire genres, seem to sell better wide.

I know some writers would prefer selling wide, even if they do well in KU, to avoid the "all your eggs in one basket" problem. Different strokes, but to my mind that problem is offset by the hassle of learning how to sell and market on many different retail outlets.
 

guest1038

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #69 on: December 05, 2018, 07:21:37 AM »
I know some writers would prefer selling wide, even if they do well in KU, to avoid the "all your eggs in one basket" problem. Different strokes, but to my mind that problem is offset by the hassle of learning how to sell and market on many different retail outlets.

Yeah, that's basically where I'm coming from on it.
 

guest153

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #70 on: December 05, 2018, 08:32:05 AM »
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.

Strange. I'm still able to visit the Amazon US store without being redirected to the Japanese store.
 

CoraBuhlert

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #71 on: December 05, 2018, 09:20:53 AM »
I don't know, going wide to me seems like swimming against the tide. Sort of like setting up your shop in a low-traffic area of town. If 70% of buying readers buy from Amazon why wouldn't I be exclusive to them, i.e. set up shop where most everyone's walking? I want to be where the predominant amount of the wallets are.

That may be the case in the US, but that's not the case everywhere. There are countries where Amazon's marketshare is much smaller and there even are quite a few countries, usually muslim majority countries, where Amazon does not operate at all and several more where they slap a whispersynch surcharge onto every e-book purchase. Not to mention that there are people who flat out refuse to buy from Amazon. So if the bulk of your readership is the US and if your genre does well in KU, then exclusivity makes sense. If your readership is more global or what you're writing is not quite what KU readers are looking for or if you have a large number of Amazon haters and/or Nook/Kobo/Apple/Google Play users among your readership than wide may be the better path.

In general, it depends on your books and your audience, whether wide or KU is the better path for you.   

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guest1038

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #72 on: December 05, 2018, 10:29:27 AM »
I don't know, going wide to me seems like swimming against the tide. Sort of like setting up your shop in a low-traffic area of town. If 70% of buying readers buy from Amazon why wouldn't I be exclusive to them, i.e. set up shop where most everyone's walking? I want to be where the predominant amount of the wallets are.

So if the bulk of your readership is the US and if your genre does well in KU, then exclusivity makes sense. If your readership is more global or what you're writing is not quite what KU readers are looking for or if you have a large number of Amazon haters and/or Nook/Kobo/Apple/Google Play users among your readership than wide may be the better path.

This is the other part of it too. If the predominant readership on the predominant website is the U.S. market, from a business perspective, no matter where you are in the world, wouldn't it - from an ROI perspective - make the most sense to target the U.S. Amazon store exclusively, i.e. set up shop in the part of town where the most foot-traffic is?

What I mean is, if... say...70% of all book buyers are on Amazon, and 70% of all those buying books on Amazon are in the U.S., doesn't that mean it makes the most sense to swim exclusively in that pool and target selling books only to that 70% of the 70%? Wouldn't doing that give you the greatest chance for your highest ROI when money/time is taken into consideration given the inherent simplicity, in terms of what it takes to reach that audience versus multiple/several others from a marketing perspective, etc? Maybe I'm estimating too high with those 70% figures? Is that what I'm missing, that the dominant market place isn't as dominant as I'm surmising or that the busy part of town isn't that much busier than other areas to make it a best practice to target that one spot?
 

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #73 on: December 05, 2018, 10:48:28 AM »
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.

Strange. I'm still able to visit the Amazon US store without being redirected to the Japanese store.

This changed a week or 2 ago, when Amazon was forced by pressure to stop doing this in Australia. Now they just refuse to show us also-boughts.

CoraBuhlert

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #74 on: December 05, 2018, 12:05:35 PM »
I don't know, going wide to me seems like swimming against the tide. Sort of like setting up your shop in a low-traffic area of town. If 70% of buying readers buy from Amazon why wouldn't I be exclusive to them, i.e. set up shop where most everyone's walking? I want to be where the predominant amount of the wallets are.

So if the bulk of your readership is the US and if your genre does well in KU, then exclusivity makes sense. If your readership is more global or what you're writing is not quite what KU readers are looking for or if you have a large number of Amazon haters and/or Nook/Kobo/Apple/Google Play users among your readership than wide may be the better path.

This is the other part of it too. If the predominant readership on the predominant website is the U.S. market, from a business perspective, no matter where you are in the world, wouldn't it - from an ROI perspective - make the most sense to target the U.S. Amazon store exclusively, i.e. set up shop in the part of town where the most foot-traffic is?

What I mean is, if... say...70% of all book buyers are on Amazon, and 70% of all those buying books on Amazon are in the U.S., doesn't that mean it makes the most sense to swim exclusively in that pool and target selling books only to that 70% of the 70%? Wouldn't doing that give you the greatest chance for your highest ROI when money/time is taken into consideration given the inherent simplicity, in terms of what it takes to reach that audience versus multiple/several others from a marketing perspective, etc? Maybe I'm estimating too high with those 70% figures? Is that what I'm missing, that the dominant market place isn't as dominant as I'm surmising or that the busy part of town isn't that much busier than other areas to make it a best practice to target that one spot?

Not every book in the world is aimed at the US readership, let alone specifically the Amazon US readership or the KU readership, which are not the same thing. For example, Amazon.com only makes up 22 percent of my total sales. It really depends on the author and the books.


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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #75 on: December 05, 2018, 12:38:02 PM »
Not every book in the world is aimed at the US readership, let alone specifically the Amazon US readership or the KU readership, which are not the same thing. For example, Amazon.com only makes up 22 percent of my total sales. It really depends on the author and the books.

No, what I'm saying is, if 70% of all people buying books are buying from Amazon, and 70% of Amazon's customer base for books are in the U.S., then wouldn't it behoove you to aim your business entirely at that market, i.e. set up your shop in the part of town with the most foot-traffic?

I'm not saying every book in the world is aimed at the U.S. readership, I'm saying if those numbers I'm estimating are close to being the real numbers, then wouldn't it be the smartest thing for every author who's trying to grow their business to aim all of their books exclusively at the U.S. readership once you take ROI of money/time into account versus every other location/approach?

Also, while it is true Amazon U.S. readership and KU are not technically the same thing, if you were hypothetically only concentrated on selling to the Amazon U.S. readership as per above, then wouldn't it make the most sense to have all of your products in KU since 100% of your business is aimed at Amazon anyway?

I hope I've articulated this clearly. Not sure if I have. And also, maybe 70% is a vast overestimate on both counts. I'd like to know.
 

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #76 on: December 05, 2018, 01:38:03 PM »
Not every book in the world is aimed at the US readership, let alone specifically the Amazon US readership or the KU readership, which are not the same thing. For example, Amazon.com only makes up 22 percent of my total sales. It really depends on the author and the books.

No, what I'm saying is, if 70% of all people buying books are buying from Amazon, and 70% of Amazon's customer base for books are in the U.S., then wouldn't it behoove you to aim your business entirely at that market, i.e. set up your shop in the part of town with the most foot-traffic?

I'm not saying every book in the world is aimed at the U.S. readership, I'm saying if those numbers I'm estimating are close to being the real numbers, then wouldn't it be the smartest thing for every author who's trying to grow their business to aim all of their books exclusively at the U.S. readership once you take ROI of money/time into account versus every other location/approach?

Also, while it is true Amazon U.S. readership and KU are not technically the same thing, if you were hypothetically only concentrated on selling to the Amazon U.S. readership as per above, then wouldn't it make the most sense to have all of your products in KU since 100% of your business is aimed at Amazon anyway?

I hope I've articulated this clearly. Not sure if I have. And also, maybe 70% is a vast overestimate on both counts. I'd like to know.

In theory yes. In practice, it doesn't work that way.

A lot of books simply dont sell in the US, where they do in the UK, or another specific store.

The US is very insular at times, with people having very little knowledge or interest of the rest of the world. So a book with a Non-American MC, set in a country which is not the US, often fails to sell in the US, even if performs very well in the UK, Canada, and Australia.

Such an author will still have the book listed in all the stores, but it will still be crickets in the US, no matter how much they market it there.

As for aiming at US readership, that's a bit like insulting the whole world. Those who write to market probably do already, but those who write what they want should never have to conform to one area of the world which has nothing to do with what they write.
 
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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #77 on: December 05, 2018, 04:22:22 PM »
In theory yes. In practice, it doesn't work that way.

A lot of books simply dont sell in the US, where they do in the UK, or another specific store.

The US is very insular at times, with people having very little knowledge or interest of the rest of the world. So a book with a Non-American MC, set in a country which is not the US, often fails to sell in the US, even if performs very well in the UK, Canada, and Australia.

Such an author will still have the book listed in all the stores, but it will still be crickets in the US, no matter how much they market it there.

As for aiming at US readership, that's a bit like insulting the whole world. Those who write to market probably do already, but those who write what they want should never have to conform to one area of the world which has nothing to do with what they write.

I don't think I'm articulating what I'm trying to say very well here.

I'm not saying anyone "should" conform to aiming their books at the Amazon U.S. customer. Every author should do whatever they want.

But, what I am saying is if you're looking at this from a purely business perspective in terms of a return on investment of your money and time, wouldn't it make the most sense to write your stories and market your stories exclusively to sell to the Amazon U.S.-based customer given that when taking into context the entirety of self-published books as a market place, Amazon and in particular Amazon.com is the proverbial busiest part of town and where the highest percentage of the highest percentage of book buyers hang out. In other words, the location where you'd stand to gain the most foot-traffic into your shop, i.e. have the best potential to earn the most money?

I'm not talking about going against doing what you feel, or writing something you don't want to write when speaking from an artistic perspective. Of course, everyone should do whatever they want with their art. Apart from that, however, what I'm saying is if you were to approach this from a purely mercenary perspective it seems to me you would be best served writing stories aimed specifically at Amazon U.S. customers and setting up shop exclusively with them as opposed to being wide, that is, when taking all investment(s) of money/time into account.

I'm not American, by the way, so this isn't coming from some jingoist, 'rah-rah', rest-of-the-world-be-damned place, but instead from the perspective of discerning what are business best practices for self-publishing with the aim of maximizing profit potential.
 

David VanDyke

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #78 on: December 05, 2018, 04:29:48 PM »


This is the other part of it too. If the predominant readership on the predominant website is the U.S. market, from a business perspective, no matter where you are in the world, wouldn't it - from an ROI perspective - make the most sense to target the U.S. Amazon store exclusively, i.e. set up shop in the part of town where the most foot-traffic is?

What I mean is, if... say...70% of all book buyers are on Amazon, and 70% of all those buying books on Amazon are in the U.S., doesn't that mean it makes the most sense to swim exclusively in that pool and target selling books only to that 70% of the 70%? Wouldn't doing that give you the greatest chance for your highest ROI when money/time is taken into consideration given the inherent simplicity, in terms of what it takes to reach that audience versus multiple/several others from a marketing perspective, etc? Maybe I'm estimating too high with those 70% figures? Is that what I'm missing, that the dominant market place isn't as dominant as I'm surmising or that the busy part of town isn't that much busier than other areas to make it a best practice to target that one spot?

Note that 70% of 70% is 49%. You're now actually only available in less than half the market.

And, if 90% of sellers are targeting that 49%, then it leaves 51% for the other 10% to split, which would seem to have the potential for working out pretty well.

Of course, those numbers are all very speculative, and they change drastically by niche and genre. But the point is, it's not always best to go where the largest piece of the pie is, especially if the largest piece is being aggressively fought over by so many people you can't get any visibility.

I'm not saying wide is best in all cases--but it is perfectly viable. I moved to wide from KU in 2016 with the page flip debacle, and now I'm making more money than ever--and Amazon is often my second or third-best seller in retail books. So, not only am I making more money, I have a lot more peace of mind by being diversified and not worrying too much about the next, inevitable Amazonigans.

***

Let me explain this in terms of selling wares as a vendor at a convention--doesn't matter what goods. Savvy vendors find out what the vendor to attendee ratio is.

Let's say the annual World's Biggest Convention has 1,000,000 attendees and 10,000 booths, That's a ratio of 100 attendees to each booth, or 100:1. That 100 number is going to be your average piece of the pie.

Let's say the Worlds 2nd Biggest Convention has 500,000 attendees, but it has only 2000 booths. Now, suddenly, your attendee to booth ratio is 250 to 1 and your average piece of the pie is now 250. On average, you'll make 2.5 times the sales in 2nd Biggest.

And if Your Regional Con has 100,000 attendees and only 200 booths, now your ratio is 500 to 1.

Maybe you go to Worlds Biggest, and maybe you don't, but odds are you'll actually make more money at the smaller conventions, even if the theoretical potential is lower.

See how this works?

« Last Edit: December 05, 2018, 04:40:09 PM by David VanDyke »
Never listen to people with no skin in the game.
 
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guest1038

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #79 on: December 05, 2018, 05:24:52 PM »
Note that 70% of 70% is 49%. You're now actually only available in less than half the market.

And, if 90% of sellers are targeting that 49%, then it leaves 51% for the other 10% to split, which would seem to have the potential for working out pretty well.

Of course, those numbers are all very speculative, and they change drastically by niche and genre. But the point is, it's not always best to go where the largest piece of the pie is, especially if the largest piece is being aggressively fought over by so many people you can't get any visibility.

I'm not saying wide is best in all cases--but it is perfectly viable. I moved to wide from KU in 2016 with the page flip debacle, and now I'm making more money than ever--and Amazon is often my second or third-best seller in retail books. So, not only am I making more money, I have a lot more peace of mind by being diversified and not worrying too much about the next, inevitable Amazonigans.

***

Let me explain this in terms of selling wares as a vendor at a convention--doesn't matter what goods. Savvy vendors find out what the vendor to attendee ratio is.

Let's say the annual World's Biggest Convention has 1,000,000 attendees and 10,000 booths, That's a ratio of 100 attendees to each booth, or 100:1. That 100 number is going to be your average piece of the pie.

Let's say the Worlds 2nd Biggest Convention has 500,000 attendees, but it has only 2000 booths. Now, suddenly, your attendee to booth ratio is 250 to 1 and your average piece of the pie is now 250. On average, you'll make 2.5 times the sales in 2nd Biggest.

And if Your Regional Con has 100,000 attendees and only 200 booths, now your ratio is 500 to 1.

Maybe you go to Worlds Biggest, and maybe you don't, but odds are you'll actually make more money at the smaller conventions, even if the theoretical potential is lower.

See how this works?

I appreciate this response. I was hoping you'd weigh-in.

So, is it your opinion that the 70% estimates I'd made on both counts are too high, too low? I know you'd stated the numbers are up for speculation and so they're probably not explicitly knowable or willingly being shared by places like Amazon, but I thought maybe you might have an insight into what the actual numbers might be ballpark-wise?

In terms of the convention analogy, I think I follow the math, however isn't it best to be at the place with the highest total attendance regardless of how many booths there are set up? I understand the attendee per booth average and that seems to make sense, but since people are milling about, don't you stand to potentially gain the most amount of passersby simply by virtue of the size of the convention's overall attendance, as it's unlikely attendees would apportion out in the manner you describe? Or am I thinking about this in the wrong way?

I guess, what I'm getting at is, perhaps the number of other vendors in that market place don't matter as much as does the concentration of those who will potentially buy what you're selling. Does that make sense? I might be in need of more caffeine.

Then again, it is true that as the number of booths increase, the amount you'd have to invest to have your booth attract more foot-traffic versus others would also need to increase to a commensurate amount. Though, admittedly, some of that would come down to the overall floor plan or layout of the place, architecture of the venue would be a factor as well as other considerations, including the habits of crowds and psycho-social aspects of consumer behavior/human action. I'm not sure what the comparables would be in the digital realm, and the more I think about that, the more my head hurts.
 

PaulineMRoss

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #80 on: December 06, 2018, 01:00:56 AM »
In theory it makes sense to sell your book in as many places as possible, but in practice it's not that simple. I've spent almost a year trying to make a go of being wide with two of my four series, and I've decided to abandon the experiment. I'll be writing up the results and my reasons for going back to KU in another post (if I can ever work out which of the thousands of sub-forums here is the right one), but in short, yes I could make it work, up to a point, but it was a HUGE amount of effort for pretty much the same money I made from KU.

Writing epic fantasy as Pauline M Ross; writing Regency romance as Mary Kingswood
Bookbub score: 4 for 75
 

Anarchist

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #81 on: December 06, 2018, 01:25:50 AM »
I'll be writing up the results and my reasons for going back to KU in another post (if I can ever work out which of the thousands of sub-forums here is the right one), but in short, yes I could make it work, up to a point, but it was a HUGE amount of effort for pretty much the same money I made from KU.

* Emphasis mine.

I laughed. My initial reaction was, "Cool. I'm looking forward to reading it."

Then I thought, "Wonder if I'll ever find it."
I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 
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David VanDyke

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #82 on: December 06, 2018, 03:24:28 AM »

1) So, is it your opinion that the 70% estimates I'd made on both counts are too high, too low? I know you'd stated the numbers are up for speculation and so they're probably not explicitly knowable or willingly being shared by places like Amazon, but I thought maybe you might have an insight into what the actual numbers might be ballpark-wise?

2) In terms of the convention analogy, I think I follow the math, however isn't it best to be at the place with the highest total attendance regardless of how many booths there are set up? I understand the attendee per booth average and that seems to make sense, but since people are milling about, don't you stand to potentially gain the most amount of passersby simply by virtue of the size of the convention's overall attendance, as it's unlikely attendees would apportion out in the manner you describe? Or am I thinking about this in the wrong way?

I guess, what I'm getting at is, perhaps the number of other vendors in that market place don't matter as much as does the concentration of those who will potentially buy what you're selling. Does that make sense? I might be in need of more caffeine.

Then again, it is true that as the number of booths increase, the amount you'd have to invest to have your booth attract more foot-traffic versus others would also need to increase to a commensurate amount. Though, admittedly, some of that would come down to the overall floor plan or layout of the place, architecture of the venue would be a factor as well as other considerations, including the habits of crowds and psycho-social aspects of consumer behavior/human action. I'm not sure what the comparables would be in the digital realm, and the more I think about that, the more my head hurts.

1) It's so variable by genre and niche that using those numbers is actually worse than using no numbers at all. A stopped clock is right twice a day, but tells you nothing about what time it is.

Also, there are so many other factors, such as price and competition, that it defies precise analysis. You really have to experiment. And in fact, whole careers in marketing are made and lost trying to figure this stuff out at the big corporate level.

I'd suggest you need to check your own niches against all the info you can, such as the Author Earnings reports. Smashwords has also released some data on their website blog. Beyond that, you need to ask around in your genre niche and see what others are saying. Some niches seem to work great in KU, others do better retailing on non-Amazon sites.

The problem for most people is that experimenting with wide seems very risky and involved--and it is. So, they stick with KU as long as it's working--which is fine, but I liken it to staying in a high-paying job with an unreliable and erratic boss, where you never know for sure if they aren't going to screw you over, intentionally or not. Quitting that job may result in loss of overall income, or it may not, but it's definitely risky. But so is sticking with that erratic boss. And, sometimes more money means less peace of mind and less career survivability in the long run. And, there's inertia. Better the devil you know than the ones you don't...but frankly, none of the other big vendors has ever treated authors the way Amazon has.

2) I think you're making some incorrect assumptions about the customers and you as a vendor. Using the convention analogy further, there are other factors than merely raw traffic. There's the customer's mental overload that may lead them to simply give up shopping. There's the difficulty of standing out among many other stellar offerings of the same product you have. There's the fact that not everyone will see every booth. There's the fact that customers have limited money to spend, and they may never get to your booth because they spend all their money on the first thing they found that meets their needs.

In fact, there's probably some perfect sweet spot out there (a moving target) between too many and too few offerings, vs. how likely a customer is to buy a particular product.

If you think about presence at a big vs. small convention or big (Amazon) vs. smaller (e.g., Apple) as marketing, not sales (sales only come as the result of your marketing, and your marketing comes from your visibility among vendors), then it's rather like the decision to blow your ad budget on a Super Bowl ad that might hit zillions but might also fall flat among the other offerings, or spread that same budget around in other ad venues.

Or, do you want to be a big fish in a smaller pond, or a small fish in a bigger pond? The former (BF in a SP) is much more sure and stable, but the potential upside is technically more limited than the SF in a BP. I say technically because functionally, most fish will never use the whole ocean or grow big enough to exploit it.

Here's another way of thinking about it. Say you sell potato chips. Do you want to be ONLY in the huge grocery where your chips are lost in a sea of other offerings on the snack aisle? (I say only because we're talking about KU exclusivity here). Or, would you rather be wide with your chips, still present in the big grocery, but also in many smaller stores where the customers are much more likely to see you? And where the ratio of traffic might be much higher?

Bottom line, there are different approaches. The fact that the intuitive approach is to go for the low-hanging fruit (Amazon KU) also means a bunch of people thinking only intuitively are all crowded onto the same hill trying to pick the same orchard, whereas circulating among different hills and different orchards may yield more and better fruit. Where do you put your effort? And, do you want a fallback position if that one main orchard gets blighted, or is over-harvested?

If the #1 problem of indie authors, especially those starting out, is visibility and discoverability, is going to Times Square on New Year's Eve really the best way to be seen? Or will you simply get lost in the crowd?

On the other hand, if you've got a great thing going in that one place, that one orchard, and your Super Bowl ads are knocking it out of the park, sure, why change?

But I suggest everyone who's all-in with KU should be mentally ready to change and go wide if Amazon kills your income with one of its shenanigans. And, if that happens, you'll be competing with a flood of others going wide--so it may behoove you to at least establish one series (if you have more than one) outside of KU, just to have a presence and start building a following.


 
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 03:28:23 AM by David VanDyke »
Never listen to people with no skin in the game.
 
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guest1038

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #83 on: December 06, 2018, 07:49:39 AM »

1) So, is it your opinion that the 70% estimates I'd made on both counts are too high, too low? I know you'd stated the numbers are up for speculation and so they're probably not explicitly knowable or willingly being shared by places like Amazon, but I thought maybe you might have an insight into what the actual numbers might be ballpark-wise?

2) In terms of the convention analogy, I think I follow the math, however isn't it best to be at the place with the highest total attendance regardless of how many booths there are set up? I understand the attendee per booth average and that seems to make sense, but since people are milling about, don't you stand to potentially gain the most amount of passersby simply by virtue of the size of the convention's overall attendance, as it's unlikely attendees would apportion out in the manner you describe? Or am I thinking about this in the wrong way?

I guess, what I'm getting at is, perhaps the number of other vendors in that market place don't matter as much as does the concentration of those who will potentially buy what you're selling. Does that make sense? I might be in need of more caffeine.

Then again, it is true that as the number of booths increase, the amount you'd have to invest to have your booth attract more foot-traffic versus others would also need to increase to a commensurate amount. Though, admittedly, some of that would come down to the overall floor plan or layout of the place, architecture of the venue would be a factor as well as other considerations, including the habits of crowds and psycho-social aspects of consumer behavior/human action. I'm not sure what the comparables would be in the digital realm, and the more I think about that, the more my head hurts.

1) It's so variable by genre and niche that using those numbers is actually worse than using no numbers at all. A stopped clock is right twice a day, but tells you nothing about what time it is.

Also, there are so many other factors, such as price and competition, that it defies precise analysis. You really have to experiment. And in fact, whole careers in marketing are made and lost trying to figure this stuff out at the big corporate level.

I'd suggest you need to check your own niches against all the info you can, such as the Author Earnings reports. Smashwords has also released some data on their website blog. Beyond that, you need to ask around in your genre niche and see what others are saying. Some niches seem to work great in KU, others do better retailing on non-Amazon sites.

The problem for most people is that experimenting with wide seems very risky and involved--and it is. So, they stick with KU as long as it's working--which is fine, but I liken it to staying in a high-paying job with an unreliable and erratic boss, where you never know for sure if they aren't going to screw you over, intentionally or not. Quitting that job may result in loss of overall income, or it may not, but it's definitely risky. But so is sticking with that erratic boss. And, sometimes more money means less peace of mind and less career survivability in the long run. And, there's inertia. Better the devil you know than the ones you don't...but frankly, none of the other big vendors has ever treated authors the way Amazon has.

2) I think you're making some incorrect assumptions about the customers and you as a vendor. Using the convention analogy further, there are other factors than merely raw traffic. There's the customer's mental overload that may lead them to simply give up shopping. There's the difficulty of standing out among many other stellar offerings of the same product you have. There's the fact that not everyone will see every booth. There's the fact that customers have limited money to spend, and they may never get to your booth because they spend all their money on the first thing they found that meets their needs.

In fact, there's probably some perfect sweet spot out there (a moving target) between too many and too few offerings, vs. how likely a customer is to buy a particular product.

If you think about presence at a big vs. small convention or big (Amazon) vs. smaller (e.g., Apple) as marketing, not sales (sales only come as the result of your marketing, and your marketing comes from your visibility among vendors), then it's rather like the decision to blow your ad budget on a Super Bowl ad that might hit zillions but might also fall flat among the other offerings, or spread that same budget around in other ad venues.

Or, do you want to be a big fish in a smaller pond, or a small fish in a bigger pond? The former (BF in a SP) is much more sure and stable, but the potential upside is technically more limited than the SF in a BP. I say technically because functionally, most fish will never use the whole ocean or grow big enough to exploit it.

Here's another way of thinking about it. Say you sell potato chips. Do you want to be ONLY in the huge grocery where your chips are lost in a sea of other offerings on the snack aisle? (I say only because we're talking about KU exclusivity here). Or, would you rather be wide with your chips, still present in the big grocery, but also in many smaller stores where the customers are much more likely to see you? And where the ratio of traffic might be much higher?

Bottom line, there are different approaches. The fact that the intuitive approach is to go for the low-hanging fruit (Amazon KU) also means a bunch of people thinking only intuitively are all crowded onto the same hill trying to pick the same orchard, whereas circulating among different hills and different orchards may yield more and better fruit. Where do you put your effort? And, do you want a fallback position if that one main orchard gets blighted, or is over-harvested?

If the #1 problem of indie authors, especially those starting out, is visibility and discoverability, is going to Times Square on New Year's Eve really the best way to be seen? Or will you simply get lost in the crowd?

On the other hand, if you've got a great thing going in that one place, that one orchard, and your Super Bowl ads are knocking it out of the park, sure, why change?

But I suggest everyone who's all-in with KU should be mentally ready to change and go wide if Amazon kills your income with one of its shenanigans. And, if that happens, you'll be competing with a flood of others going wide--so it may behoove you to at least establish one series (if you have more than one) outside of KU, just to have a presence and start building a following.

Okay, thanks, this helps to clarify my thinking on it. To be honest, I hadn't thought of treating the overall wide vs. narrow(?) from a perspective of genre or subgenre that I happen to be writing in. That does add an element(s) I hadn't accounted for. The small/big, fish/pond analogy also helps to clarify. This experiment never ends, I suppose.
 

guest153

  • Guest
Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #84 on: December 06, 2018, 08:39:09 AM »
Another thing to consider is discoverability. Most of the other stores still rely on the curation method, whereas Amazon still has the recommendation algorithms. My mystery series had grown cold in terms of KU performance lately, but had done well in the past. So I thought I'd try my hand at going wide again and I did the things everyone says to do. I created vendor-specific versions of the book so the links in the back would take readers to the respective store. I posted up links to all the retailers on my website. I bought ads with Bookbub, Facebook, as well as Kobo promos targeting the different stores.

Crickets.

Being in a place with more customers isn't helpful if those customers can't even see you.

I understand all the arguments in favor of going wide, and in theory, I agree with them. But in practice, Amazon puts money in my bank account, the other vendors don't. So I'm going to focus on making money where I can as opposed to trying to draw blood from a stone.
 

LilyBLily

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #85 on: December 06, 2018, 10:13:49 AM »
I put most of my books wide a while ago because people kept saying that being in KU cannibalized sales. I wanted as many full-price sales as possible for my $5.99 women's fiction titles, and as long as I wasn't going to be in KU there was no reason not to be wide. But wide, those books only sell a handful of copies if I do a promo of some kind. Otherwise, they don't sell at all. On Amazon they keep on selling because of AA ads and word of mouth. So I've raised their prices on the other venues to $6.99, which is still in line with much of the subgenre and because, why not offer the other venues a larger potential profit? But visibility still remains an issue.   

Someone recently formulated a counterargument that the KU audience is different from the book-buying audience, and thus one should not be afraid of cannibalization. What do most people think now?
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #86 on: December 06, 2018, 10:33:38 AM »
I put most of my books wide a while ago because people kept saying that being in KU cannibalized sales. I wanted as many full-price sales as possible for my $5.99 women's fiction titles, and as long as I wasn't going to be in KU there was no reason not to be wide. But wide, those books only sell a handful of copies if I do a promo of some kind. Otherwise, they don't sell at all. On Amazon they keep on selling because of AA ads and word of mouth. So I've raised their prices on the other venues to $6.99, which is still in line with much of the subgenre and because, why not offer the other venues a larger potential profit? But visibility still remains an issue.   

Someone recently formulated a counterargument that the KU audience is different from the book-buying audience, and thus one should not be afraid of cannibalization. What do most people think now?
As with so many other questions, there's probably no one answer. In general, I subscribe to the argument that KU represents a different market, at least to some extent, though I know others have seen Amazon sales increase when they got out of KU. For me, my sales actually increased when I entered KU (higher visibility, I guess). The titles that are not in KU didn't increase sales when I pulled them out. Nor have their sales risen since.


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
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guest153

  • Guest
Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #87 on: December 06, 2018, 10:42:12 AM »
I put most of my books wide a while ago because people kept saying that being in KU cannibalized sales. I wanted as many full-price sales as possible for my $5.99 women's fiction titles, and as long as I wasn't going to be in KU there was no reason not to be wide. But wide, those books only sell a handful of copies if I do a promo of some kind. Otherwise, they don't sell at all. On Amazon they keep on selling because of AA ads and word of mouth. So I've raised their prices on the other venues to $6.99, which is still in line with much of the subgenre and because, why not offer the other venues a larger potential profit? But visibility still remains an issue.   

Someone recently formulated a counterargument that the KU audience is different from the book-buying audience, and thus one should not be afraid of cannibalization. What do most people think now?
As with so many other questions, there's probably no one answer. In general, I subscribe to the argument that KU represents a different market, at least to some extent, though I know others have seen Amazon sales increase when they got out of KU. For me, my sales actually increased when I entered KU (higher visibility, I guess). The titles that are not in KU didn't increase sales when I pulled them out. Nor have their sales risen since.

I also saw an increase in sales after going into KU. I make more off KU reads alone in a month than I made in a year on all the other platforms combined.
 

Joe Vasicek

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #88 on: December 06, 2018, 02:58:46 PM »
No, what I'm saying is, if 70% of all people buying books are buying from Amazon, and 70% of Amazon's customer base for books are in the U.S., then wouldn't it behoove you to aim your business entirely at that market, i.e. set up your shop in the part of town with the most foot-traffic?

I'm not saying every book in the world is aimed at the U.S. readership, I'm saying if those numbers I'm estimating are close to being the real numbers, then wouldn't it be the smartest thing for every author who's trying to grow their business to aim all of their books exclusively at the U.S. readership once you take ROI of money/time into account versus every other location/approach?

Also, while it is true Amazon U.S. readership and KU are not technically the same thing, if you were hypothetically only concentrated on selling to the Amazon U.S. readership as per above, then wouldn't it make the most sense to have all of your products in KU since 100% of your business is aimed at Amazon anyway?

I hope I've articulated this clearly. Not sure if I have. And also, maybe 70% is a vast overestimate on both counts. I'd like to know.

If all of the best paying jobs are in finance, and the vast majority of those people studied accounting, then shouldn't everyone major in accounting if they ever want to earn a decent living?

If the majority of marriages end in divorce, and the majority of divorces cause pain and suffering, then does that mean that the key to avoiding pain and suffering is never to get married?

If humans are obligate carnivores, and beef is the most nutritious meat, then isn't the best way to live healthily to eat nothing but beef?

I know of several people who have adopted these philosophies as their own: Jordan Peterson with beef, MGTOW movement with marriage, some of my personal friends with accounting. Indeed, there are elements of truth in all of these trains of logic. That doesn't make any of them the one true path, or even a good path to follow.

There is a finite number of stars in the universe (probably). There is a finite number of single-celled organisms who have ever lived on this planet. There is a finite number of hairs that have ever grown on the heads or bodies of every human being who has ever lived.

There is a finite number of readers outside of Amazon. So what? "Big in Japan" is a thing for a reason.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 03:03:51 PM by Joe Vasicek »
 

Joe Vasicek

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #89 on: December 06, 2018, 03:05:13 PM »
I'll be writing up the results and my reasons for going back to KU in another post (if I can ever work out which of the thousands of sub-forums here is the right one), but in short, yes I could make it work, up to a point, but it was a HUGE amount of effort for pretty much the same money I made from KU.

* Emphasis mine.

I laughed. My initial reaction was, "Cool. I'm looking forward to reading it."

Then I thought, "Wonder if I'll ever find it."

This is why I use "show unread posts since last visit" when I want to browse.
 

angelapepper

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #90 on: December 07, 2018, 06:17:31 AM »
I put most of my books wide a while ago because people kept saying that being in KU cannibalized sales. I wanted as many full-price sales as possible for my $5.99 women's fiction titles, and as long as I wasn't going to be in KU there was no reason not to be wide. But wide, those books only sell a handful of copies if I do a promo of some kind. Otherwise, they don't sell at all. On Amazon they keep on selling because of AA ads and word of mouth. So I've raised their prices on the other venues to $6.99, which is still in line with much of the subgenre and because, why not offer the other venues a larger potential profit? But visibility still remains an issue.   

Someone recently formulated a counterargument that the KU audience is different from the book-buying audience, and thus one should not be afraid of cannibalization. What do most people think now?

KU does cannibalize sales. There is no doubt of this. The question is always does the extra KU reads make up for it.

With my new release (book 8 in a series), I saw a big jump in Amazon sales compared to previous releases within KU. When I added in the wide sales from other vendors, the net worked out about the same as previous releases. I will probably stay wide now. I sell at $4.99, and while the books are pretty long, the payout for a KU read is less.

Now that my pen name is a few years old, I'm thinking more long term. I figure it'll be easier for readers to remember me if they have purchased copies of my books on their ereaders. The problem with KU is you're borrowed, you're in one of 10 slots, then you're gone. Unless you can get people to subscribe to your newsletter, you don't have any way to remind them you exist. And let's be honest: It's hard to get readers onto your newsletter and then have your emails not go to spam / get opened. A newsletter is better than no newsletter, but there's no way I'm reaching even 1% of my readers through it--sorry, newsletter course-selling gurus.
 

Joe Vasicek

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #91 on: December 07, 2018, 06:42:02 AM »
In 2014, I was making it as a full-time authorójust barely, but I was making it. Then KU came out, and over the next couple of years, my income fell between 60% and 80%.

It was a huge wake-up call. The biggest realization was that up to that point, I had no marketing plan aside from letting Amazon do my marketing for me. Big mistake.

Over the last several years, I have struggled to teach myself all of the useful business and life skills that college did not prepare me for. I've experienced a lot of failure, but I've learned a lot from it, which means that I'm failing forward. And unlike many of the big names from the "golden days" (so-called) of indie publishing, I haven't disappeared. I'm still here.

You want to succeed going wide? Make a business plan. Write it down. Don't just keep it in your head. Formally write down your marketing strategy, identifying key indicators and metrics for success, and crunch the numbers every month. Regularly evaluate your progress and adjust your strategy accordingly.

I sold f*ck all on Kobo Writing Life for the first couple of years. Not anymore. I have yet to really kill it there, but my books are selling. Same story with iBooks and Nook, which are very consistent sellers for me now.

The way that some of you whine about your books not selling when you go wide reminds me of nothing so much as a kid setting up a lemonade stand in a quiet cul-de-sac, and quitting at 1pm because he's only made 25Ę.

You want to succeed in this business? Then go out and find success. Don't wait for it to come to you. Find your oil.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2018, 06:46:55 AM by Joe Vasicek »
 
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Maggie Ann

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #92 on: December 07, 2018, 06:55:29 AM »
<snip>

You want to succeed going wide? Make a business plan. Write it down. Don't just keep it in your head. Formally write down your marketing strategy, identifying key indicators and metrics for success, and crunch the numbers every month. Regularly evaluate your progress and adjust your strategy accordingly.

<snip>


You know, Joe, I never understood how to do all of that. Don't know how to "identify my audience" or "find my audience" once I've identified it, either. Maybe I should enroll in some business courses at the local college or find something on youtube.

In the meantime, I may not be killing it wide, but I'm certainly making more than I did when KU went bust for me in March. I'll see how direct with Kobo does next week.

 :icon_think: :dog1:
           
 

Joe Vasicek

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #93 on: December 07, 2018, 07:05:04 AM »
<snip>

You want to succeed going wide? Make a business plan. Write it down. Don't just keep it in your head. Formally write down your marketing strategy, identifying key indicators and metrics for success, and crunch the numbers every month. Regularly evaluate your progress and adjust your strategy accordingly.

<snip>

You know, Joe, I never understood how to do all of that. Don't know how to "identify my audience" or "find my audience" once I've identified it, either. Maybe I should enroll in some business courses at the local college or find something on youtube.

In the meantime, I may not be killing it wide, but I'm certainly making more than I did when KU went bust for me in March. I'll see how direct with Kobo does next week.

 :icon_think: :dog1:

Neither did I. I'm still struggling to figure it out.

The single best resource I've found has been the self-reliance classes offered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They're small, local, and free, and you don't have to be a Latter-day Saint to participate. It's a twelve-week commitment, with a 2-hour meeting and about 5 to 10 hours of homework each week.

Here is the manual for the small business class.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2018, 07:09:09 AM by Joe Vasicek »
 
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Maggie Ann

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #94 on: December 07, 2018, 07:23:15 AM »
<snip>

You want to succeed going wide? Make a business plan. Write it down. Don't just keep it in your head. Formally write down your marketing strategy, identifying key indicators and metrics for success, and crunch the numbers every month. Regularly evaluate your progress and adjust your strategy accordingly.

<snip>

You know, Joe, I never understood how to do all of that. Don't know how to "identify my audience" or "find my audience" once I've identified it, either. Maybe I should enroll in some business courses at the local college or find something on youtube.

In the meantime, I may not be killing it wide, but I'm certainly making more than I did when KU went bust for me in March. I'll see how direct with Kobo does next week.

 :icon_think: :dog1:

Neither did I. I'm still struggling to figure it out.

The single best resource I've found has been the self-reliance classes offered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They're small, local, and free, and you don't have to be a Latter-day Saint to participate. It's a twelve-week commitment, with a 2-hour meeting and about 5 to 10 hours of homework each week.

Here is the manual for the small business class.

I think I'll start with youtube. I found a couple of videos for authors and I'll be watching them over the weekend. It's past time for me to do something like this.
           
 

Shoe

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #95 on: December 07, 2018, 08:04:07 AM »

I'm certainly making more than I did when KU went bust for me in March.

What happened in March?
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 

Maggie Ann

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #96 on: December 07, 2018, 08:13:20 AM »

I'm certainly making more than I did when KU went bust for me in March.

What happened in March?

I have absolutely no idea why, but all of a sudden my pages reads dropped by about 75%, rallied slightly in April, then continued the downward spiral.
           
 

guest1038

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #97 on: December 07, 2018, 08:41:50 AM »
No, what I'm saying is, if 70% of all people buying books are buying from Amazon, and 70% of Amazon's customer base for books are in the U.S., then wouldn't it behoove you to aim your business entirely at that market, i.e. set up your shop in the part of town with the most foot-traffic?

I'm not saying every book in the world is aimed at the U.S. readership, I'm saying if those numbers I'm estimating are close to being the real numbers, then wouldn't it be the smartest thing for every author who's trying to grow their business to aim all of their books exclusively at the U.S. readership once you take ROI of money/time into account versus every other location/approach?

Also, while it is true Amazon U.S. readership and KU are not technically the same thing, if you were hypothetically only concentrated on selling to the Amazon U.S. readership as per above, then wouldn't it make the most sense to have all of your products in KU since 100% of your business is aimed at Amazon anyway?

I hope I've articulated this clearly. Not sure if I have. And also, maybe 70% is a vast overestimate on both counts. I'd like to know.

If all of the best paying jobs are in finance, and the vast majority of those people studied accounting, then shouldn't everyone major in accounting if they ever want to earn a decent living?

If the majority of marriages end in divorce, and the majority of divorces cause pain and suffering, then does that mean that the key to avoiding pain and suffering is never to get married?

If humans are obligate carnivores, and beef is the most nutritious meat, then isn't the best way to live healthily to eat nothing but beef?

I know of several people who have adopted these philosophies as their own: Jordan Peterson with beef, MGTOW movement with marriage, some of my personal friends with accounting. Indeed, there are elements of truth in all of these trains of logic. That doesn't make any of them the one true path, or even a good path to follow.

There is a finite number of stars in the universe (probably). There is a finite number of single-celled organisms who have ever lived on this planet. There is a finite number of hairs that have ever grown on the heads or bodies of every human being who has ever lived.

There is a finite number of readers outside of Amazon. So what? "Big in Japan" is a thing for a reason.

I'm working to set up shop in the place that gives me the greatest potential to draw in the greatest number of customers of what it is I'm selling. Location is important. If Japan is that location, great. If Kobo is that place, also great. Something I'm still trying to determine.

Which is where I take DVD's point in a previous post, i.e. figuring out what the best location is for selling in the particular genre you're writing in as opposed to just generally viewing works of fiction as a monolith and the market place as a monolith too and trying to best determine where to sell my widgets to consumers in the general sense based on bigger-picture numbers, or brute math, and not much else. Instead, I'm realizing targeting is important, zooming in. That's why I appreciate discussions such as this.

I had been looking at it more as, 'most customers in the general sense appear to be "here", therefore I will set up shop there as should all authors' - where instead it's probably better to approach it like 'this is what I personally have to sell, and this is where most of the customers for that kind of specific thing are, so I will set up my shop there'. In the case of the former, I was thinking KU/U.S. is that place, not just generally, but also for me - which it may very well be - but, it's likely beside the point, where as in the case of the latter, "that place" will likely vary quite a bit and it'll take some doing to figure out where that is for me given what I'm selling, as I suppose it is with every individual business owner - a thing that can't be defined in the monolith and must be determined individually.

Sure, it will wind up being true that KU/U.S. is going to be the part of town with the most traffic for 'x' genre(s)/subgenre(s) and various widgets and components. But, it will also wind up being true that somewhere outside of KU or outside of the U.S. is going to be the place with the most foot-traffic and greatest potential for 'x' genre(s)/subgenre(s), widgets, and components. I'm still trying to figure out where I'm best served placing my books and thinking about it in that more targeted way, as opposed to just putting my books 'here' because that's where most of the readers are generally. The evolution of one's idea of best practices, I suppose you could call it.
 

Shoe

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #98 on: December 07, 2018, 08:45:03 AM »


I have absolutely no idea why, but all of a sudden my pages reads dropped by about 75%, rallied slightly in April, then continued the downward spiral.

Hmm... It appears you haven't released a new book in quite some time. If true, a new release should turn things around for you. I recall things slipping generally for many March-April--maybe an algo shift that disfavored older titles. I feel pretty sure that (also) happened around September 17th.

Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 

Maggie Ann

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #99 on: December 07, 2018, 09:04:48 AM »


I have absolutely no idea why, but all of a sudden my pages reads dropped by about 75%, rallied slightly in April, then continued the downward spiral.

Hmm... It appears you haven't released a new book in quite some time. If true, a new release should turn things around for you. I recall things slipping generally for many March-April--maybe an algo shift that disfavored older titles. I feel pretty sure that (also) happened around September 17th.

My last release was just before Christmas last year. So, yes, a new release might help.

I'm working on a new series now, but it's not going well. Still, I shall persist and fix all the problems once I have the basic story down. The book I published last year flowed easily and was a lot of fun to write. The new one will be a lot of fun to edit.  :tap
           
 

Tiffmeister

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #100 on: December 13, 2018, 02:06:13 PM »
So,  I've been redoing my business plan all year. I knew something was up, and it had to do with the recategorization in May, then the Createspace Merge into the changes in AMS. Basically, as soon as I started to see I was getting a little bit ahead, the Zon changes the rules. Just like a casino. I once doubled my money at black jack playing at the Nugget in downtown Las Vegas. I was using progressive betting which isn't illegal, and when played with knowing how to play the game, you can win. Plus, the other people at the table knew how to play well, and in an hour, the table was hot. So, the floor boss came over and changed the minimum bet from $5 to $25. And everyone vacated. Yeah, I doubled my money in an hour, but then the casino changed the rules to meet their needs. I knew they would stop the progressive betting, it's pretty easy to figure when they are watching you on cameras. But I did double my money. So, when the min bet was raised, I walked away with my earned money.

So, yeah, maybe it's time to start walking away from Amazon, and it's kind of what I've been doing this year. I have taken my entire catalog of my 3 pen names and gone wide. I'm also turning off my AMS ads. I tried for a few months to see if they ran better, but I think they changed their algos. The spicy romances are just not doing as well. I'm working with other romance writers to do promos and maybe I can get some children's authors to do the same thing. It seems to do multiple author promotions and get the word out that might still be working better. I don't want to earn royalties and give it all back to Amazon in ads. From my costs, that is what is happening, because you pay for the clicks which do not mean they actually buy your book. I can drum up traffic for my book in other ways.

Indies are smart people. We can turn on a dime. The traditional publishers might have the deep pockets to give to the Zon, but I think I'm just going to move on. I still get a lot of my sales from the Zon, but going wide is helping to build up another money stream. I don't want to rely on just Amazon anymore. But then, I've built myself up now from starting out. I used Facebook events, Wattpad, and Twitter to also drum up some reach. You have to watch with FB though. Ads are so much more there.

I don't know. Maybe they figured out there is money to be made from writers just like with a lot of other author services. Sort of how the people that made money off the California Gold Rush were the people that had service skills the miners needed, hotels, restaurants, saloons, doctors, dentists, etc. If everyone has books to sell in the end, it's going to be hard to stand out unless you have some kind of gimmick.

I do miss the good ole' days of price matching, and watching my children's book download 12,000 copies in 2 days. That was in 2012, before the lists got separated. Miss the ole' gold rush days!
« Last Edit: December 13, 2018, 02:09:27 PM by Tiffmeister »
 
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ragdoll

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #101 on: December 13, 2018, 02:46:17 PM »
Nice post, Tiffmeister.

In terms of sales, I'd love to go back to 2013/2014. Even 2015. Really, any point before page-flip happened.
 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #102 on: December 13, 2018, 02:52:25 PM »
any point before page-flip happened.

Page-flip and AMS.
 
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ragdoll

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #103 on: December 14, 2018, 01:12:25 AM »
any point before page-flip happened.

Page-flip and AMS.

You're right. Since I don't spend on ads, I usually forget what AMS does to me until  I am on one of my book pages and see all the promoted books there.
 

garygibsonsf

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #104 on: December 18, 2018, 12:42:56 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.

That's me exactly. I've always saved as much of my income from writing as I can manage and successfully avoided having a real job since 2007, unless you count freelance editing. I know of one very successful fantasy writer, a friend, who back in the 90s realised he could afford to live in a hotel in Thailand off just the earnings from short stories he was selling to a games company. So he did, for two years. But it was a fraction of the cost of living in a rented flat back home in the UK, with a fraction of the living expenses.

I come from traditional publishing, and the first thing I did with my first cheque was put down a deposit on a house so I never had to deal with landlords again. I now live abroad, but rent the house out through an agency. It more or less pays for itself and the mortgage will be cleared in under ten years.

I keep a huge float of money to one side and try very hard to avoid tapping into it. It's enough to keep me going for a year or two years at a stretch if something happened that prevented me from working at all.


{Fixed quote. t.}
« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 03:27:52 AM by TimothyEllis »
 

garygibsonsf

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #105 on: December 18, 2018, 12:49:26 AM »
Quote
The US is very insular at times, with people having very little knowledge or interest of the rest of the world. So a book with a Non-American MC, set in a country which is not the US, often fails to sell in the US, even if performs very well in the UK, Canada, and Australia.

This is my experience. I've only self-published one book, but had numerous others traditionally published in the UK. Despite doing well in the UK, and despite being strongly influenced by many American SF writers, my books were never sold to American publishers while the rights were being sold in Greece, Russia, Portugal, Germany, France and elsewhere. American publishers wouldn't touch them. And now, with my one self-published title, more than 90% of the sales are in the Uk while the book is deep in the boondocks on Amazon US.
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #106 on: December 18, 2018, 01:18:14 AM »
Quote
The US is very insular at times, with people having very little knowledge or interest of the rest of the world. So a book with a Non-American MC, set in a country which is not the US, often fails to sell in the US, even if performs very well in the UK, Canada, and Australia.

This is my experience. I've only self-published one book, but had numerous others traditionally published in the UK. Despite doing well in the UK, and despite being strongly influenced by many American SF writers, my books were never sold to American publishers while the rights were being sold in Greece, Russia, Portugal, Germany, France and elsewhere. American publishers wouldn't touch them. And now, with my one self-published title, more than 90% of the sales are in the Uk while the book is deep in the boondocks on Amazon US.
I think most people (aside from international bestsellers) sell best in their home country. My sales in the UK, Canada, and Australia together are typically only a very small part of my overall sales; the bulk are in the US. KU reads are a little more distributed, but still predominately US. Short of getting an international Bookbub, I don't see that changing.

To some extent, this is a natural process. Writers from a particular culture are more likely to write books in tune with the readers of that culture. Yes, in some ways the US is insular, but I don't think that's the only factor involved.

All of that said, my first autograph requests (aside from friends) came from Ireland. I do have a very small number of fans outside the US, but I've always thought that was better than nothing.


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She-la-te-da

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #107 on: March 15, 2019, 10:22:54 PM »
Quote
But is a mass audience the be-all-and-end-all of creative success?

Depends on who you listen to. Some say you must write to some mythical "market", while others say there are readers out there who want something different than the latest trend. As it's always been, finding the people who want what you write is the problem. For me, having the money to find them is the problem, but nothing's going to change there, so I end up writing what I want, what makes me happy, and letting the rest go. Much better for my blood pressure.
I write various flavors of speculative fiction. This is my main pen name.

 
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