Amazon: love me, love me not.


Writer’s diary: 29.05.2015

I tried something a couple of weeks ago to boost flagging download figures for my free book, Rope Enough. It didn’t work and it added further weight to my already strong feeling that the only way for an author like me to increase download figures is if Amazon loves me. And there’s not really a lot I can do about that. (Other than continue to send them flowers, chocolates and pictures of me in the shower…maybe that’s where I’m going wrong.) So unless you’re with Amazon’s own publishing company, Thomas & Mercer – where you are guaranteed an unfair advantage in the publicity stakes (allegedly) or you’re already a household name as opposed to something to be whispered in the garden shed – it’s all down to luck regarding whether you get on the kinds of lists that can lead to an increase in numbers of downloads. Or maybe it’s not. I’m open to argument/enlightenment on that.

After not bothering too much with Twitter other than to tweet announcements of my weekly blog-posts and retweet the odd thing, I thought I’d try tweeting loads of Twitter outlets that exist to promote free-giveaways with news of my…er… free-giveaway. Several of them were decent enough to retweet to their, literally, tens of thousands of followers my message and the .com or link to the book, and I didn’t see any difference in download figures. I know that the reliability and validity of this ‘experiment’ is questionable. I was after a snap-shot indication. I think I got one, but I’m open to argument/enlightenment on that.

Probably you’ve got to do that sort of thing over and over again, week after week. But who really reads all those tweets and retweets for authors’ books? I don’t. Do you? And even if I do, I don’t go and download them. It’s verging on policy to ignore them out of spite for the brazen self-promotion. Does anyone other than Katie Price enjoy having things rammed down their throat?

OK, sure you have to let readers know. I’m talking about overkill. Perhaps, I’m missing the point. Perhaps, my download figures are the embodiment of my lack of engagement with that sort of thing. (Hey! maybe that’s why no one downloaded my book after my twitter ‘storm’ – too many people think like I do.) Does that make me a self-fulfilling prophecy, or simply a moaning old git? I’m open to argument/enlightenment on that. (But not from my children or ex-spouses. It gets boring after a while, guys.)

I don’t know. I’m just guessing. I think the list you really want to be on is Amazon’s recommendation list. The one where Amazon recommends your book/s to prospective readers who’ve enjoyed others in the genre you write in. It strikes me as a Catch-22 situation: you can’t get really decent download figures if you’re not on that list and you can’t get on that list if you’re not getting really great download figures. Or unless Amazon wants a fling with you. I’m open to argument/enlightenment on that.

Amazon had the self-publisher’s equivalent of a brief encounter with me, I think. (Of course, I don’t know, but it felt like that – a bit superficial, a bit meaningless. Like I’d been chatted up at the bar, been used, abused and cast aside like a soiled conquest.) Why am I even talking like that? I had a great time, too. But Amazon seems to have lost interest in me these days. Amazon won’t make eye contact with me anymore at work. Amazon avoids me in the dinner hall. Amazon turns around and walks the other way when it sees me in the corridors.

Since being reborn as a self-publisher, I’ve been weaned on the idea that social networking is the way to promote yourself and to turn yourself into an C-list author in terms of download figures. There must be something in it. But I haven’t got the time or energy to divert to it and, as I said up there, I honestly believe that the whim of Amazon, like the grace and favour of a powerful monarch, is what counts. The age old story of who you know. I’m open to argument/enlightenment on that.

After all that navel-gazing, I’d like to sign off this week with a funny story, to share one thing on my own writing front. It gave me, and probably my friend, a good laugh. I sent Acer #3 to my ‘gentleman friend’ for a perusal before I get too busy with it. Just looking for some feedback from a trusted, objective source. One thing he highlighted for attention was this sentence: Then he went back to his seat at the window and watched the dessert go by as the sun went down. That was two days ago and I’m still chuckling.

26 thoughts on “Amazon: love me, love me not.

  1. Oliver, Is it a case of ‘you’re trying too bleeding hard’, when you really don’t need to?
    Dare I mention the filthy word PUBLISHER?

    • Hi Neal
      Thanks for your comment.
      Maybe you’re right about the trying too hard, but it’s my understanding that you’ve got to keep the nose to the self-promotion grindstone. That’s what everyone preaches anyway. We’re like baby birds in the nest, all vying for attention and the reward.
      As for a traditional publisher, I tried, half-heartedly admittedly, and it was such a process and so time consuming and so ultimately disappointing. Honestly, I’d rather write and self-publish and if ever anyone knocks on my virtual door for a chat, I’ll be all ears. Because nothing would make me happier in life than a real copy of one of my books that I didn’t have to pay for.

      • I do believe that you don’t realize how good your writing is ( your books are?) too much Pinot I’m afraid). Its good stuff Oliver, very good stuff!!

      • Thanks, Neal, that’s very kind of you. If readers enjoy my writing then I’m made happy. On wine – you should see what they charge for a bottle of Pinot or something ‘foreign’ out here. And the local stuff is still pricey and does things to my fillings. Mind you it works wonders on getting the cutlery looking its best.
        Best wishes.

  2. Don’t be disheartened, me and your other followers love your books. Amazon are only interested in profits not good writers. Best wishes Stella Byfield

    • Hi Stella,
      Never let the buggers grind you down or something like that. I’m never down about self-publishing, honestly. I’m having the time of my life with it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again: writers are nothing without readers. I have a lot of wonderfully supportive readers and I’m grateful to each and every one of you. and you are absolutely right, Amazon are a business first and last and that is worth remembering.
      Best wishes.

    • Fantastic! Thank you for that and your continuing support. Really great and you’ll be pleased to know downloads had a good spike since. 🙂
      Best wishes.

    • Just made a comment here and also promoted the Acer books…Oliver your book was in the top 100 a few weeks ago…I saw it with my own yes! Oh and stop beating yourself up…I like all your books and style of writing…your problem is you aren’t pumping them out quickly enough (tongue in cheek)

      • Somnus
        Thank you very much for your continuing support and interest. Seriously appreciated, as I’m sure you know by now. My wife doesn’t like me beating myself up. She says that’s her job. I hope I can get Acer#3 out before I shut up shop for the summer break. 🙂

  3. Greetings from Tonga! I have to say you are wrong! I am a regular surfer of Amazon – the international version. Over the past two weeks I have been so surprised at the number of times your books have popped up in the recommended section that I thought of letting you know. I now do so! Even the Acer series which I have never read has been recommended to me three times in the last 3 weeks! R&M – all of which I have read – appear regularly too. so maybe you are just having a severe attack of the woe is mes! Evidence internationally is pointing the other way! No pressure but……..when is R&M 5 due? Have one for me Oliver! You can be assured I will have one for you………it is Friday night tonight after all!

    • Hi Colin & Tonga
      That’s a great message, thanks. I’m happy to stand corrected. I had no idea. It’s good to know. Sorry if I gave the impression I was feeling sorry for myself (again). It does seem a common thread of my blog-posts – according to my daughter – but really I’m just recording a feeling/experience for posterity and my writer’s diary.
      I had an idea for the start of R&M#5 this week and wrote it. But I’m writing something else and getting Acer #3 ready so I don’t have time to throw my thoughts at it yet.
      I’m already on it. Your one was chilled and refreshing. Enjoy your well-earned cold one.
      Best wishes.

  4. Oliver, I have this theory that Amazon is in the process of world domination. I believe the CEO now lives on a South Sea island, protected by gun totting beauties clad in leather and a fluffy cat. My friend John used to work for a company that made lasers for medical equipement…I havent seen him for weeks..has he been kidnapped?
    There was a story on some obscure website about hundreds of self publishing authors being found working as slaves in a Plutonium mine owned by Amazon Corps.
    Think I’m paranoid? Well they’ve already named a bloody big river after them!
    Off to lie down for a while….

    • 🙂 haha Why does this sound familiar? ‘Do you expect me to talk?’
      ‘No, Mr Bond. I expect you to die.’ Or maybe that was a different one.
      But you’ve given me an idea for a story… 🙂 Thanks for the laugh.
      Best wishes.

  5. Best you get Acer 3 out soon. I recommended your books to my wife and now she has read them all. She’s instructed me to send this message, so of course I am obeying. She won’t be kept waiting, she wants it and she wants it now. I’ve taken the precaution of emigrating down to Andalucia for the summer just in case there is a delay in the book’s release. Bears with sore heads, are cuddly in comparison to her who is kept waiting.

    • Hi Russell
      haha I will get on with things immediately. Good to know that there is a demand for it. Thanks. Have a very good summer in Andalucia. I’m not really jealous. Much. :-/
      Best to you and your wife.

  6. I have finished all of your Romney & Marsh books (I paid for 3), just finished “Bad Sons,” and just purchased the first Acer novel. Be patient – I know this is hard to do. I am leaving feedback & stars on Amazon, & recommending you as an author. It seems with Amazon you have to prove that you are read and loved before they will start helping you.

    On another note, I found several errors in the 3rd Romney & Marsh book. Do yo want to know what they are, or have you already been informed of what they are?

    I am a teacher in Oklahoma, USA, and am one of my friends “editors” who is doing what you are doing but on Barnes & Noble. Let me know if you want another “editor.”

    Please keep writing, I love your writing, I can relax with it, puzzle over it, and I love the humor that you insert seamlessly. You are a talented writier, so pat yourself on the back and keep writing. As I tell my students, “I believe in you.”

    • Hi Tamara,
      Thanks very much for getting in touch to let me know you’re enjoying the books. It’s always good to hear from a reader who enjoys the R&M Files and any of my others. I wonder, are you ‘Brkpnt’ on Amazon? If so thanks for the glowing comments. (I’m just guessing because Brkpnt has left positive comments on the R&M Files recently.)
      Yes, please, if you spot any errors I am always grateful to receive them either here or at I appreciate that.
      I had no editing help with my first three R&M Files, that’s why there are still errors lurking around the text. I do have good support in that department now. But thanks for your kind offer.
      I really appreciate your kind words and your time and trouble to let me know you thoughts.
      Best wishes.

  7. Hi Oliver,

    Long time since last touch-down. But I’ve been feeling the same way. Thought it was just me on a downer, but I did wonder at one point if it might be timing that played a part in ratings. Hey, but what do I know, I’ve only been at it for 6 months; I still have lots to learn. But I’m hanging in there. You, Oliver, have a solid readership, something I am still nurturing, but the more one writes the more pressure we are under to produce something better than the book before. I try to forget what’s gone, to only look ahead, that’s my coping strategy. It works, sometimes.

    Keep your chin up.

    • Hi Pat,
      It is indeed. The time flies. And, if I’m honest, I can’t really think where it goes. Maybe I’m getting old. Something else to complain about 🙂
      This writing business is definitely a long-game. I think it’s good to remind ourselves of why we do it, sometimes. Because we love writing stories. And then we want people to read them and hopefully enjoy them. That’s what’s at the root of it for me.
      You are right: I am very fortunate to have some wonderfully supportive readers. That is something to take great pleasure in as a writer. And you are also so right that this brings pressures to bear on every next book one writes and publishes. All we can do is our best and hope that our best is good enough. I’d never put out a book that I thought was a stinker or inferior, but there’s nothing I can do about how others feel about my output.
      Best wishes, as always. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s