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Promotional email changes

Some of you will have noticed Fussy Librarian’s heads-up about a month ago that they were losing their Amazon Affiliate income: the axe has now lowered, and it’s taking out several of the email promo lists.

The best commentary and summary is as follows:
(one correction: Fussy Librarian was the first to announce the impending change, not the first to close. It is still open for business.)

The original piece is here, but the Passive Voice comments/commentary above is as valuable as the original article.

and Hugh Howey adds a former bookseller’s perspective here:

I don’t know much about Goodreads; after experiencing some toxic anti-author culture there (prior to Amazon acquisition), I’ve steered well clear. However, if this is going to be something Amazon is putting muscle behind, it’s probably well past time I grab Mary Catelli or Cedar Sanderson and have them talk about using GoodReads as an author, and as an avid reader, and learn the site. Consider this your heads-up so you can start your own research ahead of the market curve.

Who else here is on goodreads already? What forums or lists do you participate in?

Currently, Goodreads deals are not open to author promotion, but they will take emails from publishing houses. Unlike trad-pub authors, this means as the co-president of the one-author publishing house, I may send a nice, polite email to them prior to running a price promotion on my author.

And now for two great notes: if you like to read in print instead of ebook, Peter Grant’s Brings the Lightning is now out in hardcover! As of this writing, it’s not yet tied to the ebook, so here’s the link:

Also, speaking of Mary Catelli, if you like short stories that are as much fairy tale as fantasy, with heroes who have to strive and sacrifice to win, ladies who win by persistence, cleverness, and hard work, and curses that come back to haunt their casters, I highly recommend her.

Start with her collection Curses and Wonders, and settle in with your favourite beverage that still tastes good when you lose track of time and it loses original temperature. Fever and Snow is my favourite, but there are lots of good ones in there!

  1. Laura M #

    This is moderately alarming. I am not a user of or familiar with Fussy Librarian and the other sites, but I had been planning to use promotional email ads to promote the first book in my Waking Late series when book 2 comes out in August (I hope). I had planned to have the promotion run concurrent with the publication of book 2, but now I’m thinking I should do it sooner before these other sites get hit. I don’t know that they will be, but I also know I don’t know the details of how they work. For instance, I was planning to try for a BookBub ad (because why not) and Genre Pulse and others. I assume, they, too, have affiliate links but don’t know.

    June 19, 2016
    • fynbospress #

      Right now, I’d urge waiting and seeing how it shakes out instead of jumping the gun on the promotion. The main reason being this: if you don’t yet have book 2 out, then once readers finish your discounted book, there’s nothing else for them to buy – and they’re unlikely, on average, to ever come back to look for the next one.

      The exception to this rule being if you have book 2 up on preorder, because it gives them something to buy when they finish book 1 and want more.

      Amazon has a history of rolling out a new algorithm, and then refining to catch the things it wants to catch, while leaving out the hapless bystanders. So this is a development to monitor, as it may change drastically over the next month.

      June 19, 2016
      • Laura M #

        Makes sense. Given the shake out and my wild inability to gauge how long the beta readers will take, this is probably a good plan. I did kind of want to panic and have an excuse to advertise since sales are very slow right now.

        June 19, 2016
        • It’s the June slump.

          June 19, 2016
        • Laura M #

          On the other hand, there is CJ Carella’s experience with his first in a series. A few days of advertising did wonders for him.

          As for pre-orders, after reading Amanda’s tale of woe, it just sounds terrifying.

          June 20, 2016
  2. Laura M #

    As for Goodreads, I have my books on it, but am not particularly clever about using it. Nothing bad has happened by being on it. Sleeping Duty got some traction there in getting reviews. The other two books not as much.

    June 19, 2016
  3. Apparently if you use promotional sites (other than GoodReads?) be wary of sudden spikes in KU sales. There’s a new scam involving bots “reading” thousands of pages on targeted books and using others to hide that they are bots. Unsuspecting mid-listers are getting hit with the Amazon ban hammer because the bots make it look as if the mid-lister is part of the scam.

    June 19, 2016
  4. I really don’t have a lot of sympathy for the book promotion sites. When your business model is based on exploiting a policy of a single company, you need to be prepared for that policy to change. For a long time sites–both legitimate and not-quite-legitimate–have made money from Amazon’s Affiliate program. That doesn’t mean that Amazon has any obligation to continue it in its present form, or to continue it at all.

    I dropped The Fussy Librarian after they decided to promote the “Sad Puppies are White Supremacists” myth, so I don’t know what they are up to, but I am still getting e-mails from E-Book Soda and Ereader News Today.

    The Amazon Affiliate program has allowed authors to benefit from promotions that are, in essence, being funded by a distributor, but that’s not something that anyone can reasonably expect. There has been a lot of abuse of the system, and Amazon is well within their rights to stop that abuse.

    I am listed as an author on Goodreads, but I hardly ever log into the site, and I never post there. I garnered a double handful of “one stars, didn’t read” ratings after I posted my thoughts on the “Learning To Love” controversy (on my own blog, not on Goodreads itself).

    June 19, 2016
  5. I’ve claimed my Author listing at Goodreads, and run the RSS feed of my blog there, but I’ve never had an interaction with fans there, nor have I interacted with other writers. I’ve posted just a couple of dozen reviews even though I’ve listed over 400 books on my To Be Read and Read lists. I find that part more useful than anything else, actually.

    June 19, 2016
  6. C4c

    June 19, 2016
  7. I have never used any of these ‘blast’ promotions sites, but I’ve still had eight books in the top 100, seven of them have made it into the top ten (a couple more than once). So I have no idea at all if this will affect me. I’ve thought about using bookbub, and maybe I should give it a try, but to date I haven’t.

    I’ve been on goodreads for a while now, yes I’m familiar with the ‘goodreads bullies’ and how goodreads never did anything about them before Amazon. So I was careful to avoid attracting their attentions. I found that the goodreads giveaways were worthless and did more harm to you than good most of the time. Now that they allow ebooks, maybe that has changed.

    I am annoyed that they only allow publishers and not authors to run certain types of promotions, because again, the promotions that they allow the authors to run are pretty much a waste of money (IMHO). As for this new program of goodreads deals? If this means that when I put a book on sale that all of the people who have one of my books marked as a ‘want to read’ get an email, well, that could be a good thing, because as an author I can see that list of people. So it would be another tool on planning promotions.

    As for what forums I’m on, on goodreads? None.

    Oh, I may be signed up for one or two still, but the forums tend to be badly managed, they’ve got sub-groups shotgunned all over the place, and I just don’t have the TIME to look at any of them! I doubt that they’ll ever improve their forum software to something easier to deal with (like say all the other forums in the world today), and as an author if people think you’re ‘self-promoting’ many will attack you. So another reason to avoid the forums.

    I’ve been asked to start a forum for my readers (and being lazy I still haven’t done it yet). If goodreads was a bit less time consuming to deal with, I’d start it there, but then I’d be giving control of my forum to them, and that’s probably not a very business savy idea.

    But I can very much understand Amazon’s position in this, and I can’t blame them. In fact, I think I support them, as I have gotten onto the best seller’s lists the old fashioned way: By writing good books.
    Not by spending a bunch of money on a promotion by a company that is more interested in the color of your cash, than in the ability of your writing.

    June 19, 2016
  8. sabrinachase #

    Goodreads is … interesting. Lots of old books show up in my recommendations, which is a pity when I would like to get more current books (and I do import my Amazon purchases). I have done two giveaways, to moderate success. (Don’t do international, the postage and hassle will KILL you.) Out of curiosity, I tried the Goodreads newsletter. Practically no filtering available beyond the very largest genre categories, and even then I’m not getting much, or much of use. Maybe it will improve, but right now I am underwhelmed.

    I’ve used Bookbub once, and it was *very* successful. Fussy Librarian a few times, didn’t seem to help much. My understanding is Bookbub does not rely on affiliate income (and also, since it costs so much, scammers are less likely to hijack it).

    Amazon has a chicken and egg problem with the scammers. Wherever there is lots of money floating about groups of people will spend a lot of time and mental energy trying to figure out how to get it. Amazon can’t announce corrective measures ahead of time, or the scammers will adapt that much faster. The scammers always figure out a new way, and this time innocent authors got hurt when Amazon shut everyone with a fake uptick down. Not sure how they can arrange it to only hit the bad guys.

    I only have one short story in KU at the moment. I never kept my main books there because I did not see many comparable books in the listings. Seems like staying out of KU is the wisest decision at the moment.

    June 19, 2016
    • I looked at what I’d gain vs. what I’d lose and decided that KU was worth the pain, for now. Still is at the moment, but I look forward to when other options come up.

      June 19, 2016

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