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Monday, November 6, 2017

Indie authors - What is Amazon up to?

This blog is about the importance of staying on the pulse of the latest trends.

I am not sure how often I have been at this junction.

One remarkable example is the story of my book "Naked Truths About Getting Book Reviews," (2015). This book explains how to contact Amazon top reviewers and other influencers via email, what to say and even more importantly what not to say.

As far as I know, it's still the only book about this topic penned by a top reviewer. 

An old case, now a cold case

Smarturl shows me that in the last two years over 26,000 authors looked at my book.

Sadly, the majority decided to skip investing a few dollars in their career; instead, many read free blogs from people who never received thousands of review requests. 

Even worse, some authors purchased expensive courses whose creators also never dealt with thousands of review requests, hence also have no insider information.

Some authors spent $99 and up for this non-expert advice. That's tragic.

When, in 2017, Amazon disconnected the top reviewers' email addresses, the authors who had purchased my book received a huge dividend on their investment  they had "earned" top reviewers' reviews and they had also made valuable connections. 

And, the others?

You snooze, you lose.

That applies to me, too. Though I invested months of research and though my book is still the best book about communicating with influencers, it does not open the doors to top reviewers any longer because Amazon closed them.

A new pivotal moment

Now, a new path is laid out. I "see" the trend, not because I am some kind of mind-reader but because I do what nobody else does  DILIGENT RESEARCH on top of insider knowledge! 

(Most Internet book marketers re-package old content.)

In March 2017, I figured it out. If Amazon made non-verified reviews not visible by default, they had to have a plan. Making non verified reviews not visible by default hurts Amazon too. 

Hence, they had to have an alternative plan, a different platform where they wanted to accumulate all book reviews and author information exchanges =>  GOOOOODREADS! (Amazon owns Goodreads since 2013.) 

Why Goodreads?

Goodreads is not an ecommerce store hence the FTC does not care about reviews on Goodreads in the same way as they regulate what's going on at the Amazon stores.  

Since I hardly ever snooze, I immediately began researching in what ways Amazon had improved Goodreads. If this was their plan all along they had to have done something.

Indeed, I found remarkable improvements; Amazon had quietly revamped Goodreads.

Six months later, I published my book. It includes 50 "how-to"-illustrations.


And  Amazon?

Just as I had suspected, Amazon began shutting down marketing opportunities on their ecommerce site. They

1) make it harder to get book reviews
2) disconnected the top reviewers' email addresses
3) closed the Amazon Discussion Boards

Now, they divert authors to Goodreads. 

Strangely, there are still authors who like to "wait and see." 

When has that ever worked?
(Amazon made five significant changes to their community guidelines since May 2015.) 

It seems that Amazon also knows how much time readers spend reading

Since 2016, many authors pursue review exchanges in Facebook groups. 

That too has become quite risky.
These reviews may not last. 
Indeed, Amazon seems to have established a system to measure how much time readers spend with ebooks. 

Scenario 1: If an author provides ebooks to reviewers any reviews resulting from these activities will be non-verified. 
Scenario 2: If the reviewer reads a free Kindle book or pulls the ebook via KU, Amazon sees how many pages were read in what time frame.

Hence, if an author trades reviews with a reader who merely skims the book and composes a review from the information found in the blurb and in other reviews, that review may be not be visible forever. 

Maybe that's the reason why I hear authors complaining that their book reviews get deleted?

IF that's the reason indie authors can't even object.

Did Amazon "hear" indie authors' complaints? 

For the last two years, hundreds of thousands of authors applauded the efforts of bloggers who penned scathing blogs that described how "KDP cheaters" manipulated the "number of pages read" data to get a bigger share of Amazon's KDP Select Global Fund.

Apparently, Amazon heard these bloggers and now collects data who really reads ebooks. 

Indie authors have to "stay on the pulse" of the latest trends

Summing it up: Authors who want to be successful need to follow the latest trend. Nothing stays the same for long. 

Reading any blog  about the topic "how to sell more books" published in 2016 or earlier is useless. I listed the changes Amazon made in only one year. 


Marketing books online requires staying on the pulse of the latest trends and platforms, reaching new audiences and improving relationships with existing contacts.

~~~ *** ~~~

Gisela Hausmann is an industry veteran and the author of seven award-winning author books. 

Her work as an Amazon ecommerce review expert has been featured on Bloomberg (tech podcast) and on NBC News (biz blog);  her work as an email evangelist was featured in SUCCESS magazine and in Entrepreneur

Gisela tweets @Naked_Determina


© 2017 by Gisela Hausmann

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