As I sit here writing this blog, I find myself feeling torn. Today marks and end even as it marks a beginning. But before we get to that, I want to pass on some information about changes afoot at Amazon and, possibly, other outlets as well.
The other day, I noticed something odd about the category rankings of one of my books. I’d been watching that particular book fairly closely for a week or so because it picked up traction and was selling better than it had been for quite awhile. For several days, it was in the top 10 in several categories, all categories I expected. Then, yesterday, it not only dropped out of the top 10 in those categories but wasn’t even listed in them. Instead, three new categories were listed. Yes, the rankings were still damned good, especially for a book that’s been out as long as this one but they were very different from the previous categories.
My first thought was “what the hell?”.
Now, for those of you not familiar with Amazon’s process when you upload a book for sale, you can choose three categories to list your book with. These categories act like search terms, among other things, and help readers find your book. But, just because you can only choose three when you upload your book, that doesn’t mean you can’t choose more later. You can email KDP and ask them to add the title to additional categories. In fact, you get up to 10 total categories.
Now, here’s the caveat. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, you can’t just choose random categories. They have to fit your book. In fact, Amazon is cracking down on misuse of categories, going so far as to suspend or even close accounts if you misuse this ability. Some authors have found their accounts closed erroneously and have had to go to bat against the Amazon bots to get them reinstated.
So, keeping that in mind, categories are important, especially once you hit the top 100 and then the top 10. Everyone wants to be able to tack that “Best Seller” banner to their title. So when you start seeing weirdness with your categories and rankings, you get concerned.
At least I do.
And Amazon has changed the rules without much fanfare when it comes to what rankings they show. According to another author who queried Amazon about what they were seeing, Amazon has shifted to a policy where only three category rankings will show on a product page. In other words, you can be in the top 10 in four or more categories but Amazon will only show three. As if that’s not bad enough, the categories I see might not be the same one you see because their bots choose which ones to show based on our browsing histories.
As a reader, I don’t see a big problem. As a writer, this is a huge problem.
But that’s not the only thing Amazon appears to be changing. Another author posted in one of the FB groups I belong to that they noticed a change to their Amazon Author Page. This author noticed that some of her books were missing from the top of the page (where the covers are shown). At least the links were listed below.
In the discussion that followed, it seems another author noticed the same thing with their author page and contacted Amazon. In a response from Amazon, that author was told that Amazon has implemented a “Top Picks” feature. This means just as one customer will see a different set of category rankings, they will see a different set of book covers if they visit your author page. In other words, Amazon is directing them to books the company bots think they want to see.
While this makes sense from Amazon’s point of view, it sucks for writers because it limits even further the potential for readers to see a book cover that interests them and causes them to actually click through to the product page.
Yes, I will be letting them know what I think about it later today.
Every writer here should be doing the same thing because this can very effectively limit our potential buyer pool. Even as readers, this is bad because it limits the possibility of discovering new books to read.
Now, on to what I alluded to in the first paragraph. . . .
This is my last post as a member of MGC. I’ve been with the blog for more than a decade. I have enjoyed my time here, the relationships I’ve built not only with my fellow bloggers but with each of you. But the time has come to move on. I will still be writing. I’ll be blogging on a much more regular schedule over at my personal blog, Nocturnal Lives. I will miss being part of this great community and will stop by to comment as often as possible. I may also show up from time to time with a guest blog.
For now, it has been a blast. You guys be good to whoever takes my place (I know you will). Now I will take my coffee mug and move along down the proverbial road to new challenges and new rewards.
Featured image created using Midjourney AI