I usually don’t blog about the business of self-publishing. But there are some times when things happen in the self-pub industry that start to affect many of us, it could affect you if you are a self-published author. If you’re a reader, it’s good to know what authors go through to bring you their stories. It is a thankless job sometimes, with little monetary reward but meager royalities and the adoration of readers. (Yes, I adore you all. I live for your comments and reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. And yes, I do read them. Thank you for all the praise over the last year.)
So, please forgive me while I go onto a soapbox for awhile and talk about something that has been happening in relation to book promotion. Some of you have been very grateful for the cross-author promotions I’ve been doing for the last several months with other erotica authors. I did it mostly to find a better way to promote books without paying the large fees to promotional sites that send out newsletters and emails with deals and free ebooks. I figured I could join together with other authors, and do the same thing with our own email lists. And our followers and readers have LOVED IT! In fact, I’ve picked up a few deals myself from my fellow authors. So, I know it’s been a win-win for us all.
Jump to what is going on this month, June 2016. There is a new fear on the wind from the Zon (Amazon) lately. They are cracking down on a TOS rule that is part of their affiliates program about using massive mailing lists with affiliate links in their website. I’m going by what other bloggers have said since I haven’t had an affiliate program since Amazon pulled the program in California due to laws passed to collect sales tax from Amazon in this state. With websites anchored here, Amazon would have had to pay sales tax, and they cut loose all the websites with addresses in this state. They’ve done this in other states too. So, I haven’t had any affiliate links tied to my website for several years. So, again, any references to TOS is taken from other websites.
Here is a listing of some of the websites that have been listing their stories of how their accounts have been nuked, or canceled, due to many reasons:
- Some are for large amounts of clicks suddenly( The theory is that it’s a click farm picking prawnie authors to help hide the fact they are a click farm.) http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2016/06/dangers-for-prawny-authors/
- closure and reinstatement story, https://pjbayliss.com/2016/06/06/steal-my-books-please/
- sharing your link with all the metadata tags/tracking tags(So, just take your pasted link to your ASIN), https://pjbayliss.com/2016/06/06/steal-my-books-please/
- Identity Fraud connection to closed account: https://darrienia.com/2016/06/18/authors-beware-a-new-danger-for-ku-authors/
- Pixel of Ink Shut Down Thread: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,237670.0.html
- More on ebook promoting websites shutting: http://the-digital-reader.com/2016/06/15/amazon-brings-the-hammer-down-on-discount-ebook-sites/
Here’s the thread on Kboards.com’s Writer’s Cafe that drew my attention to this topic:
The speculation of what exactly is going on is this long thread above. It’s one of several things mentioned going on. But I have to say, while this happens, the Zon on a purging spree, it’s good to steer clear of the situation. Several things I’ve been doing with my cross-author promo ring clear:
1) It’s unclear whether it is promo sites, Facebook KU groups or click farms distracting their trails causing the accounts to be taken down. But as usual, steering clear of the Zon’s efforts to purge is always wise.
2) The recent closing of Pixel of Ink because of violation of affliate program clicks with their mailing list/website shows kind of the way the Zon is going right now. So, I’m really happy that I’ve been leading this new trend of promotion for authors where we utilize our own blog and email lists to share sale deals with readers and followers. After all, giving real people great deals is what we want in the end. Real sales from real readers that will want to come back for more deals.
3) Future cross-author promos: going to avoid additional mention of titles with paid promotional websites.
4) Some authors have larger lists than others. It is a bigger benefit if you’re a small prawn joining with a big prawn. But it is good to have content and deals whether you have a large or small mailing list. It gives content and deals to your followers. I’ve gotten such positive feedback in comments about how my followers really like the other deals from other authors. I mean, you can only post so much about yourself and how to write. Readers do appreciate other topics, and reading deals is right up their alley. So, with my 220 mailing list, 32 followers on my blog, and 1500 on Facebook, it is my humble numbers that I share with you all. Adding all the authors in the promo together, we get a pretty big pool of readers/followers that we promote to. We are joining together in this sharing with each other. Authors helping authors.
So, I’m happy that this way of promoting, cross-promo with other authors using our blogs and mailing lists, might be the way of the future of promoting if the big promo sites get taken down. The ways of them getting money from affliate clicks might be their demise now that the Zon is cracking down in that part of the TOS. They are most likely going to go subscription, and how many people will join and shell out another fee for something they’ve gotten for free all this time.
Maybe all these account closures is a temporary cliche going on because of the current Amazon purge. Legitimate authors getting swept up in the new Amazon war on scammers happens. It’s just horrible that the legit authors get destroyed in this process. If you’ve all joined me in this experiment of cross-author promo, thank you. We’ve been doing other promos than the promo sites lately, so that may help. It also might put us in the middle of internet promotional and publishing history. The days of large promotional sites might be waning, with authors choosing to do cross-promotion instead of hefting out hundreds of dollars to a promo site.
Who knew the big promo sites were violating TOS to get money? With the threat of their account being shut down, authors are going to choose to ban together to promote more together than rely on high-priced promotion sites with huge mailing lists. (I’ve always thought creating your own list makes more sense anyway. The saying is you just need 1,000 superfans to be a best selling author.)
I’ll update when I find out more, but for now, it may take some time to figure out what is really happening. Some are figuring to ignore KU all together, but some of us that do make legitimate money, writing real stories, aren’t running quite yet. Mostly avoiding what might be triggers, Facebook ads, the Affiliates Program(which I can’t do since I live in California. Some states have been banned by Amazon for this program due to sales tax laws passed in the state), possible Fiverr or other author promo sites, and just sticking to author cross-promos. All we can do is wait and see.
Until further notice,
UPDATE: The person that lost their account on Amazon has had it reinstated. She is also leaving Kindle Unlimited/Select. She received a form letter from Amazon letting her know that she needed to avoid third party promotional sites that gave guarantees.
I concluded that even with a form letter, it still seems to point to this, a third party promotional site. Otherwords, they would have sent her another form letter. And it also seems to go along with what Amazon is purging right now, third party sites using the affiliate codes in their emails which is against their TOS. Sometimes you have to read between the lines, even with a form letter. 😉