Why it has become so damn f*cking hard to get reviews on Amazon lately

For authors, getting reviews has never been easy. As a rule of thumb, it takes about 100 to 500 sales to get one review. Or about 1000 if the book is free.

Many book promotion sites require a certain number of reviews, and then many don’t care about the reviews you have on Google Play or Kobo. They want the reviews on Amazon. Scratch that. They want the reviews on Amazon US.

This is why some authors will schlepp the books to review sites like Netgalley or LibraryThing, or will even pay for the procuring of reviews.

And getting reviews on Amazon has become even harder than before.

Why?

1. Because of the window that pops up on the Kindle or Kindle app when you finish a book. It tells you to rate it. Many people think they’ve done the right thing and reviewed that book, except those ratings don’t show up on the book’s sales page!

2. Amazon has been dicking with reviews. It has removed large swathes of them because “relationships between the author and reviewer”. Like, they were friends on Facebook. Not kidding. A lot of reviewers become disillusioned and just don’t post reviews on Amazon anymore.

But we authors still need those reviews badly.

Why it has become so damn f*cking hard to get reviews on Amazon lately was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

Goodbye little blue line

… It was nice knowing you, but I’m ready to leave you.

Earlier this year, I put some of my books in Amazon’s KDP Select program, where they have to be exclusive to Amazon for a period of three months and people in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program can “borrow” them for free. The writer is then paid per page read. The amount isn’t much, about half a cent and trending down. An average book is 500 KDP pages. A read is about $2.50, which is roughly equal to what you get per copy sold.

Screenshot 2015-12-09 17.17.38

Your sales page gets an extra graph that shows pages read. The figure above is mine for the beginning of this month. The spike is from when I did a promotion. While I had great days, as a result of promotions, I found that my do-nothing scenario netted me between 500 and 2000 pages per day. That’s 1-4 copies sold.

The question is then:

Can I sell that much of these books per day on non-Amazon platforms? On days that I get 10k page reads, probably not, but in my do-nothing scenario–which will apply most of the time because I can’t keep running promotions–most definitely.

So, out they come.

Goodbye little blue line was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

The tyranny of Amazon – has finally been solved!

Beware: there be colourful language.

ETA: updated response from Amazon at the end of this post

ETA 2: After about half an hour of account wrangling with a very helpful lady called Tumi in a call centre in South Africa (seriously WTF?), I now have my account back again. I will undertake steps to cull the inactive accounts: Amazon-related moral of the tale: when signing in, always use the “sign in with your Amazon account” option. I still think this is a bug in their site that needs fixing.

General moral of the tale: locking or freezing of accounts can happen at any sales platform at any time for any reason. Say if all my books were in an exclusive program of a retailer and that retailer decided unilaterally that fishy stuff happened on my account and froze the account, or deleted the books, where would I be?

I went into this business with an open mind. I believe my books should be available on as many platforms as possible regardless of any hangups I might have about which retailer I prefer to buy from myself. That choice is up to the customer.

Or is it?

Amazon charges book buyers in non-standard countries up to $4 extra just to punish them for living in those countries. As far as I know, the internet over there is just the same as it is in other countries. They also pay me HALF the royalties if people buy in those countries. They send me cheques that cost me time and money to cash. And they take out US tax, which I can get back by jumping through a million hoops. *sigh*

What is more, with each regional sub-store they open, they will withhold a threshold of at least $100 per store before they pay out. There are eight regional stores at the moment. They will potentially hold onto $800 of my royalties. What are they? A fucking bank? Do I get interest? (Answer: noooooo!)

OK, I can understand that they’re popular and people want to buy there. So I, and other non-US writers, suffer in silence, while Amazon stonewalls our calls for EFT transfers. OK, OK, I get that you want to be a baby over Paypal being owned by the competition, but if Kobo can take my Australian tax file number and pay me into my Australian bank account, then why can’t they?

But all this is nothing in comparison with what happened this week.

I received an email from Amazon KDP support that my password needed re-setting, because my account might have been subject to a phishing attack. Okaayyyy. I’m pretty sure that there was no phishing, except perhaps that particular email, although it had no suspicious links. Still, I didn’t touch anything in the email, and instead opted to go to the website via my browser to check there. It told me that details needed to be updated, so I clicked that link. It wanted my address and other details I thought Amazon already had. Okkaaayyyy??? I didn’t like it, and filled out nothing that someone couldn’t find out by googling me.

Fine.

Now I clicked on my books, and they were all gone. My sales, all gone.

Crap. I’d somehow created a second account. But because this new account was now linked with my Amazon buyer account, I could not go back to the original (which had exactly the same details).

An email to KDP later, they’d deleted the second account warning me that “it’s against KDP terms and services to have two accounts”. Seriously but WTF? Whose fault was this fucking mess anyway?

But when I tried to log in, I got a message that my account had been blocked.

GRRRRR.

More emails to Amazon, and I also used the phone me option, which worked fine and I spoke to a very nice man called Rasheed, who was courteous, spoke English very well (so please don’t draw any conclusions about his name. He sounded Australian), but he could only help me with my buyer accounts. Of which there were several under my email address. WTF??? OK. I never buy from Amazon, and there may have been times that I’d logged on and registered only to go away and completely forget that I’d already done that next time I returned. Rasheed agreed that my buyer account had probably become linked to the wrong KDP account. He said the KDP account was active, but blocked. The books are still on the site. He said he’d contact KDP to send me a password-reset link. He did. I got the email. The link gives an error message when I try to reset my password. Might they need to un-block the account first? /sarcasm.

So, every day for the past few days, I’ve sent an email back to them that I don’t need my password re-set, that it doesn’t work anyway, but that I need the account un-blocked. Every day, they’ve sent me a new password-reset link. Which doesn’t-fucking-work.

Now they’re telling me I need to make a call to the US to sort this out. Seriously? Whose mess is this? Do I have to make expensive phone calls to sort it out?

Questions for Amazon:

Why did I get that email telling me that my password needed re-setting? It was not a phishing scam, but an email originating from Amazon.

Why is is possible for me to set up more than one account with the same email address? Why didn’t the site notify me “We already have an account with this email address, do you REALLY want to set up a second one Y/N?”

Why does your sales support staff have no clue of what your KDP support staff does?

Why is there a need for me to contact ANYONE by phone? I’m in Australia FFS. It’s not MY crappy site that’s fucked this up.

Why does your site not have a “delete account” button? I understand that you don’t want people to willy-nilly delete accounts, but certainly, such a link could go through to a support centre where someone could evaluate the status of the to-be-deleted account and, if nothing is owing on the account ACTUALLY DELETE IT?

While this goes on, I ask people who want to buy my fiction to PLEASE DO SO ON KOBO. You’ll notice that the right-hand panel of this blog has changed. I’ve deleted all the Amazon links from this panel. Instead, the images link through to my author website. Yes, you will see the Amazon options still linked there. This is because I respect the fact that some people like to buy on Amazon and like the streaming and synching and whatever. But if it’s all the same to you, please don’t.

Please, please, please?

15 January

Response from Amazon KDP:

Hello Patty,

I’m very sorry for the frustration this issue has caused you.

I have researched and can confirm that all 21 of your titles still appear in your KDP Bookshelf and the your KDP account is Active. This email address: [deleted] has four Amazon.com buyer accounts and two of those accounts have KDP accounts associated with them, the active and the Blocked account.

We don’t allow multiple accounts to be created with the same e-mail address, and you may maintain only one account at a time. This is why your duplicate shell KDP account with no titles published in it, is blocked. The account with your published titles has a different password to the blocked account, that’s the account you need to access and if you have forgotten the password, the one you need a password reset for.

I hope this helps. Thanks for using Amazon KDP.

My comment: Another day, another useless response. Because all accounts have been set up under the same email address and as far as I know have the same password, my computer cannot tell the difference. It redirects to the wrong account. Emptying the cache does not make a difference.

Book review deal

People are reading my work. People are posting reviews to my work. But, most people post their reviews only in one place. Usually that place is goodreads, or LibraryThing. But I want more reviews on Amazon. So, any of you who have already read any of my stuff (short or long, or non-fiction) and haven’t posted reviews on Amazon, here is an easy way to get any (or all) of my fiction that you don’t have and that you’d like and isn’t currently free.

It’s simple:

1. Post a review on Amazon. A copy of your goodreads review is fine. If you want me to really, really love you, copy the review to B & N as well.

2. Contact me here or elsewhere.

3. I’ll send you epub or mobi files.

A lot of my short work doesn’t have any reviews on Amazon at all. A lot of those stories are free on Smashwords. Or, if they’re not, let me know and I’ll send you a copy. Longer work, too, if you want.

Heck, it’s a review-fest!