Amazon and Authors: A Symbiotic or Parasitic Relationship?

Written by A Guest Author

By Antaeus

When it comes to books, Amazon is king. It is the place where authors go to publish their books, and where readers go to browse and buy. Without Amazon, authors would be hard-pressed to publish their work. Without authors, Amazon would not be what it is today.

I’ve been self-publishing on Amazon for almost seven years, and there have been a lot of changes to Amazon’s publishing rules over that time. Some of them are author-friendly, others are not.

Amazon Associate Program

Becoming an affiliate is a straightforward process at that starts by going here.

Pick a product to sell (your book), and Amazon provides HTML code for your website. By adding this code to your website, you can create various “Banner Links” to your books from your web page.

When someone clicks on your link, they are taken to your book. If that person purchases a non-digital copy of your book, you receive a larger percentage of the sale. Even without the extra money, it’s a great way to get people to go from your website to your book quickly.

Author Central

Once you publish on Amazon KDP, you will have access to your Author Central page. There, you can access your Author Page, Books, Sales Info, and Customer Reviews. Remember, you must claim your book in the Books/Add More Books section at Author Central each time you publish!

Amazon Author Insights (Beta)

Touted as “Guidance & Inspiration from Authors, Publishing Experts, and Amazon”, it contains help on Writing, Publishing, and Marketing.

Amazon Book Reviews

Amazon book reviews are not author friendly. Four-star and five-star book reviews are one of the items that help raise your book’s rankings and motivate a customer to buy it. As a bonus, if your book receives 10 reviews, it is eligible to be included in Amazon’s “also bought” section.

Reviews are also critical because many book review sites will not consider a book for review unless it already has a set number of reader reviews.

A big downside to obtaining a book review is Amazon’s book review “Rules and Guidelines.”

  1. Before anyone can write a review of your book, “[The reader] must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com . . . in the past 12 months. Promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $50 minimum.”
  2. Amazon will not post a book review written by a member of your family or one of your friends. I don’t know how they know. However, I can speak from experience that they do, and it creeps me out.

Other author friends, as well as me, have had book reviews removed at random. Each time I called Amazon Customer Service about this, I was quoted confusing and inconsistent rules by several individuals.

I have a loyal fan who purchases every one of my books and writes a review. One day Amazon removed all her reviews. When I called Customer Service, they said that the fan was “red flagged” because she had written too many reviews of my books. Since it was not the “norm,” Amazon insisted that she was paid to write the reviews. She wasn’t.

Another fan obtained a free copy of one of my books and wrote a review. Following Amazon’s guidelines, the fan stated that he had received the book for free and was not obliged to post a review to obtain the book. Amazon removed his review after two weeks. According to Customer Service, it was removed because they believed the free book was a “bribe.”

To add insult to injury, once Amazon removes a review for a “violation,” that reviewer is banned from posting any reviews at all.

  1. If you belong to a writers’ club, and you purchase each other’s books, Amazon will pull both your reviews.

I know this because all of the reviews our writers’ group wrote after we purchased each other’s books disappeared after a few weeks.

I could write more about book review horror stories, but the Internet is full of them.

You Cannot Remove Your Book from Amazon

I believe that your words are “lite” copyrighted the minute they hit the blank page or computer screen. If your book is published, you usually have a contractual right to determine what the publisher does with that book. Not so with Amazon.

Once you publish your book with Amazon, you can never pull it off their “bookshelf.” It will always show up on your Author Page and on Amazon’s book list. The best you can hope for is a “not available” notation.

Worse, if a reseller lists your “out of print” book, it will still be available for sale through Amazon, and you won’t receive compensation when it’s sold.

For example, In June of 2014, I published a book on Amazon titled ‘Rune: Laconia Lost’, it was 180,000 words. A month later I wanted to do a complete rewrite of the book and split it into a series. An independent press was interested in the idea.

When Amazon wouldn’t remove the book because “It’s not Amazon’s policy to remove a book once it is published,” the publisher lost interest. A reseller named ThriftBooks is reselling ‘Rune’ for $271.83. Amazon won’t remove the ad, and I don’t receive a penny of any sale.

Authors should be aware of Amazon’s pitfalls as well as its benefits.


Bio: Antaeus lives in Central Florida (USA). He is the author of ‘The Prepared Citizen’, a three-book series on how to react to, and avoid, dangerous situations and active shooter attacks. In addition to nonfiction, Antaeus has also published sci-fi, action/adventure, and fantasy novels. You can visit his website here.

 

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