New Developments at Amazon

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way first. Every indie author out there owes Amazon a thank you. The company took a risk on us when no other major platform would. It wasn’t altruism that motivated them. It was profit. The corporate gurus knew there were readers out there who would pay good money to read books that did not fit in with what the traditional gatekeepers were letting out into the wild. Those same gurus knew there were any number of writers who wanted an option to traditional publishing and who would pay a very small percentage of their earnings (much smaller than the take trad publishers demanded) to have a sales platform available to them. For all that, Amazon hasn’t always made the right move. Because of that, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts–as readers and as writers–to two of the latest announcements to come from the KDP side of the company.

The first is the announcement that Amazon is shutting down its giveaway program. This is the program where authors and others could run contests and give away e-books, etc. I’ll admit, I’ve seen the program mentioned a couple of times when I’ve been on Amazon. That’s a problem, at least for me the author. I should have seen it much more often. There should have been a section on our dashboards–a readily recognizable section–where we could set up such a contest at the time we uploaded information about the book. We should have been receiving reminders before holidays, major Amazon events, etc., about the program, reminders that explained how to use the program and listing its benefits.

Instead, crickets.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to either not know about the program or to forget about. That is a shame because, with the proper management and promotion, it could have been an excellent tool not only for Amazon but for the authors and readers.

The second development from Amazon is the end of Kindle Matchbook. If you aren’t familiar with the program, it was a way for authors to offer discounted (or free) e-book versions of their work if someone bought the print edition. Like the contest program, Kindle Matchbook never seemed to take off. I can count on both hands the number of times someone took advantage of it with my books. I have never bought a print book where the option was presented. As Digital Reader noted, this was an idea that looked a lot better on paper than it turned out to be.

There are a number of reasons for this. The first falls on the authors. There are a number of authors and small presses that are digital only. For them, Kindle Matchbook was not ever going to be a tool they would use. Then there are those like me. We get the digital format out and have good intentions of putting out the print format. But we then get busy with the next book and forget to go back and pull the plug on the print book.

(Guess what I’ll be doing over the weekend.)

What this means is if you have a book enrolled in the program, you are about to lose that perk. Of course, to the best of my knowledge, Amazon was the only major platform offering such a program. Shrug.

It is going to be interesting to see if they come out with new alternatives for us over the next few months. It is also going to be interesting to see how indies and small presses make up for the loss of these programs–if they feel such replacements are even needed.

What are your thoughts? Is this a trend we need to be concerned about? Did you use either program as an author and what was your experience? As a reader, how will this impact your?

Now, for a piece of promo. Betrayal from Ashes is now live on Amazon. There will be a print version available in approximately two weeks.

War is never clean. Honor doesn’t always win out. Betrayal becomes the shadow currency that can tip the balance of power.

Colonel Ashlyn Shaw learned those lessons the hard way. Five years ago, she lost her command and her freedom because of the machinations of those willing to betray Fuercon, the homeworld they’d sworn to protect. Supposed allies conspired with enemies. Now Fuercon and its allied systems face a war on multiple fronts.

A war where the enemy doesn’t want a diplomatic solution. One where the enemy claims victory based on the number of civilian deaths.

This is not a war of attrition. It is a war of survival.

It is also a war Ashlyn and her allies have every intention of winning. But to do so, they must first unravel the layers of a conspiracy that goes much deeper than any of them suspect.

Honor and duty. Death before dishonor.

Ooh-rah!

This book is a bit different from the others in the series. Myrtle the Evil Muse was alive and running rampant with it. I had the book completely written and up for pre-order when I realized Myrtle was going to have her “fun”. That meant a major left turn in the plot I needed to go back to and work on. Then I realized I either needed to split the book in half (actually in thirds) or it was going to be a goat-gagger. I chose the former. Because of that, and because the book is approximately half the length of other entries in the series, I lowered the price to $2.99. But it also means I have the next book in the series pretty much ready to go. It will be available by the end of January. In reality, it will be out sooner than that.

 

Featured image via Pixabay.

21 comments

  1. Admittedly, I’m not (yet) an indie author, but from everything I’ve heard about these programs, there really isn’t much need to replace at least the matchbook program. Amazon tried it, they gave it a decent amount of time for it to get a chance to work, but no one was interested in the product they were selling, so they discontinued it. Not a big deal.

    The contest thing is a little more ambiguous, at least from what you’ve said here. It would be one thing if authors weren’t interested in setting up contests and/or customers weren’t interested in participating but another if no one realized that they COULD have these contests. However, even this doesn’t seem that much a loss for the authors. Authors can still “gift” an ebook to reviewers and the like, correct? So it would simply be a matter of running the contest from your own website, then giving the winner a review copy.

    (Please forgive me if any of the above is shockingly ignorant and has basic mistakes; as I said, I’m not an author yet and am just guessing based on what others have said).

  2. I was completely unaware of the giveaway program. I would have used it if I’d known about it. As for the match book option, I had that set up with my books, but I think over all the years, only two people ever took advantage of it. I will miss the opportunity to utilize the giveaway program, but the match book never really seemed to excite most people. I’m hoping that with them retiring these programs, they will come up with better tools to replace them – and promote their use better.

    1. Yes, I had a good few of my own books on the Match-Book – I don’t think many readers took advantage of it. I myself only bought one book in print and Kindle, so … yeah. One of those ideas which just looked good but never really panned out.

    2. Likewise. I enrolled my books in Matchbook as a matter of course, but over three years of (admittedly bad) sales I likes think about two people took advantage of it.
      I looked into doing a giveaway, but tbh I found their instructions a little confusing and wasn’t at all sure I had the funds to run one (see: bad sales).

  3. One “problem” for me as a reader with Matchbook was that I’ve stopped purchasing dead-trees if I can get them in e-format.

    I think I only “took advantage” of it once and it was by accident. There was one book that I purchased in dead-tree via Amazon so when I purchased the Kindle version I got a reduced price for it.

  4. I actually did look for the matchbook option, but I noticed a lot of authors didn’t use them. I bought from two or three authors way, but those were the only authors I noticed offering it. They were indies, one of which of was Kris Rusch. I’m curious what she’ll say about it. I really wanted the matchbook for nonfiction, though, but I never saw it on any history book I was looking for.

    The print copy gave me something tangible to point to when I do word-of-mouth recommendations. And several indies did a professional job on their print layouts and covers, which meant I could dispel myths that “indie = crap.” Plus, a dead tree book is simpler to loan than a Kindle copy, and I still had access to the story in Kindle form. It’s too bad a lot more authors couldn’t take advantage of this. I thought it was because so many are tradpubbed, and we all know how Big Publishing likes to gouge their customers.

    But, I did see the giveaway option on every book’s page. It seemed a brilliant idea, to let Amazon handle the back end of contests, as they’re safe, reputable, secure, and they can handle the shipping. But I’ve seen so many authors do giveaways on their own sites that I’m guessing that for most of them, “they’ve got this,” and didn’t require Amazon’s help. Shrug.

  5. All I know about the Giveaway program is that Amazon continually tried to sell it to me with dumb phrasing, that made it look like I was supposed to give away someone else’s book (since at present I have nothing there to give away, it surely wasn’t for me??) Randomly appeared on about half the book-items I looked at. Soon got filed under “shit to ignore”.

    Had never even heard of the Matchbook program!!

  6. As far as I know, every Kindle product has a “Set Up an Amazon Give-Away” button on the page. Hasn’t been that much of a secret for authors who look at their products the way that their readers do. Or am I missing something?

    As for the Matchbook, I’ve been taking advantage of it on O’Reilly for decades, and Steven Pressfield’s Black Irish Press has been using it for, I believe, as long as it’s been around, which isn’t that long.

    Of course, O’Reilly is serving the Geek culture, which while it overlaps the SF/Fantasy market significantly, isn’t identical. Also, my purchases from O’Reilly have largely been to support paying work in which I’d actually use both the paper and the ebook (largely the pdf format) copies. And Pressfield isn’t that typical of the indie author, both in name recognition and also in the way that he’s spread into the “what editors know” field. The fact that they’ve chosen to remain/become independent of Amazon is interesting, and they’ll know something about what the conversion rate is for a Matchbook-like program.

    And a thought…O’Reilly (at least at one time) would verify that I’d purchased a hard-copy by asking me to respond, “What is the sixth word in the third paragraph on page 316”. If I got it right, they’d let me download an electronic copy. There was probably some fraud, but then, the cost was minimal and they created a fair bit of warm feelings for that minimal cost.

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

    1. Ah, yes, in my working geek days I also got every O’Reilly book in both print and PDF. Mainly because the print ones kept disappearing from my cubicle…

      I have bought one – count it, one – Amazon matchbook. One of Cedar’s, in fact: Vulcan’s Kittens. Was about to be traveling for a couple days, didn’t have Prime at the time, and wanted something to read while waiting on other people (I was pretty much just the driver for that one).

  7. All my print versions are in the Matchbook program, but no one has ever utilized it. I think once readers have the hardcopy, they couldn’t care less about the ebook and vice versa. :shrug: As for the giveaway thing, I’ve noticed it and then forgotten about it so many times I couldn’t begin to guess the number. What hurt me was when Goodreads stopped their free giveaway program. Now if I want to give away a book through them, I have to pay them for the honor. I have a really tough time paying to give things away.

  8. i will point out that the picture used at the beginning of this story can’t be used as a cover.

        1. Issue One, might not signal genre narrowly enough. Issue Two, one of the space ships might be a little too much like the one in Phantom Menace.

            1. Which is why you always look at the license.

              Yes, the image could be used as a wraparound, if you were careful with text placement. However, the license says it is not to be used for anything but “editorial” use. That means it can’t be used for a cover. It doesn’t matter why. All that matters is the license.

  9. I have nine books (out of seventy something titles published) out in print versions. Probably sold less than fifty, total. So matchbook wasn’t ever a big deal to me. I was vaguely aware of the contest giveaway thing, but never looked into it.

  10. I’ve entered giveaway contests on Goodreads, and gotten a few ebooks out of them. One of those netted the author a few more sales, since I liked it enough to pick up the other books in the series. Not sure if the Goodreads program is the same as Amazon’s.

    Never got a hit on Matchbook. I didn’t buy a lot of books from Amazon, preferring bookstores pre-kindle, and the ones I did but weren’t in the program.

  11. I wasn’t aware of the give away program either. I’ve had a ‘few’ takers on matchbook, but not a lot. Probably 80+% of my sales have been ebooks.

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