Do Amazon favour certain authors?

Hi everyone, 

I recently enquired with Amazon about a massive disparity in downloads between my books. My first novel rapidly achieved 14000 downloads with 2 months of making it a free one. This has risen to nearly 50,000 now. However my two latest published books, also freebies have barely reached a fraction of this in several months, probably 10’s rather than hundreds. I asked Amazon if they recommend books to readers by authors they have previously read as I believed that many of the reviewers who had read my first book probably didn’t know about the latest two. Amazon suggested the ‘Follow’ feature on my Amazon Author page. This is so ‘followers’ can get notification about the author’s latest publication. Well, I’m not ‘following’ any authors, yet I get shed loads of recommendations from Amazon all the time. The answer, therefore, doesn’t make sense.

I put this to them, the reply was that I need to contact my ‘publisher’ for assistance as ‘the change I requested needs to be submitted using the same platform where the book was uploaded.’ Well, I’M the publisher, and again, the answer doesn’t make sense as I didn’t request any ‘change.’

It's only a thought, but I suspect Amazon may favour mainstream authors (who probably don’t like the indie competition) or they favour their own KDP published books when making recommendations to readers. I’ve read a few KDP authors, many with dozens of glowing reviews, and quite frankly many of them are pretty damn awful, lacking originality, repetitive sentences, gushingly verbose and littered with ridiculously amateurish speech tags (he admonished gravely) that are more like a junior high school student effort. Okay, there are also lots of non KDP self-published authors who are just as bad. (and some pretty good) But where do all the five star reviews come from for so many of the KDP authors? 

Okay, rant over. Any comments?  

 

Comments

  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    From things I've read many people download anything free, as if the quantity of epubs in an ereader is somehow a measure of sophistication.

    Erotica also generates a lot of downloads, as many people who [whether they care to admit it or not] like to have literature to 'meditate' to.

    As well, some people resent the Indie authors who do a better job crafting a new story than the Trad counterparts who are under contract to produce more of the same.

    Reviews are also subjective, some being paid with others being garnered from overly-enthusiastic fans of a genre and / or author. I honestly don't have the time to look into everyone who gives a review for a book I want to read so your guess is as good as mine.

    Lots of glowing Five-Star Reviews with few to none in the way of One-Star tends to indicate either this is one of the best writers out there or the writer has a lot of 'friends' clicking on the five. It may also be a matter of personal preference.

    Hope this commentary helped, if not send me some haggis.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Hi everyone, 

    I recently enquired with Amazon about a massive disparity in downloads between my books. My first novel rapidly achieved 14000 downloads with 2 months of making it a free one. This has risen to nearly 50,000 now.

    Gosh, that's impressive, but have you not tried any other way to work out why?

    However my two latest published books, also freebies have barely reached a fraction of this in several months, probably 10’s rather than hundreds.

    Well, no offence because I do not know your work, but maybe people downloaded the first because it was free, then decided they did not enjoy it enough to bother downloading the others? Without being able to ask them you will never know. A puzzle I had with one of my books was a glowing review on Amazon, but it was for part 3 of a series - but they had not bought or reviewed parts 1 and 2! What's that all about?

     I asked Amazon if they recommend books to readers by authors they have previously read as I believed that many of the reviewers who had read my first book probably didn’t know about the latest two. Amazon suggested the ‘Follow’ feature on my Amazon Author page. This is so ‘followers’ can get notification about the author’s latest publication.

    That's all well and good, as long as one does have followers!

     Well, I’m not ‘following’ any authors, yet I get shed loads of recommendations from Amazon all the time.

    How do you get them? Via mail? Are you a member of Prime?

     The answer, therefore, doesn’t make sense.

    Perhaps not. But Amazon do offer paid for promotional services. Even to self-publishers.

    I put this to them, the reply was that I need to contact my ‘publisher’ for assistance as ‘the change I requested needs to be submitted using the same platform where the book was uploaded.’ Well, I’M the publisher, and again, the answer doesn’t make sense as I didn’t request any ‘change.’

    Can it not be done via Author Central then?  A handy place even for self-publishers.

    It's only a thought, but I suspect Amazon may favour mainstream authors (who probably don’t like the indie competition)

    They favour publishers who cross their palms with gold ... Even Lulu do that with their Services.

     or they favour their own KDP published books when making recommendations to readers.

    I use KDP as well as Lulu, and they do not favour us, unless we pay for marketing services, just the same as the big cash-rich publishing houses do.

     I’ve read a few KDP authors, many with dozens of glowing reviews, and quite frankly many of them are pretty damn awful, lacking originality, repetitive sentences, gushingly verbose and littered with ridiculously amateurish speech tags (he admonished gravely) that are more like a junior high school student effort.

    Oh dear. But that is only your opinion, right or wrong. But those glowing reviews could be from friends, or even (gasp!) they have added them themselves under other account names. At one time you could buy reviews, Amazon tried to put a stop to that by buying out https://www.goodreads.com/  I think.

     Okay, there are also lots of non KDP self-published authors who are just as bad. (and some pretty good) But where do all the five star reviews come from for so many of the KDP authors? 

    No idea. Not from me.

    Okay, rant over. Any comments?  

    (Please see above :-) )

    How Do. Pull up a chair. Would you like a cup of tea? Don't sit in that chair!!
  • Sorry if it sounds like I've been a bit scathing of self-published authors but it's true that it has invited a lot of poor writers as well as giving a platform for some very good but previously ignored ones and this I appreciate.
    All 3 of my ebooks are free. Those that HAVE read the 2 latest like them more than the first. I do get email recommendations from Amazon even about authors I would never consider reading (usually well known ones) that don't reflect my reading habits, so Amazon's criterea for recommendations is still puzzling me, hence the question.
    Yes, I do use author central and update my blurb occasionally, but this seems to be a limited platform as most readers don't actively follow authors but simply look out for a new publication (or email from Amazon?)
    Generating considerable downloads, even free ones, is a tool one can use when approaching mainstream publishers and agents. This is why I do them for free for the time being.
    However, I still suspect Amazon ignore you if you're a nobody (even a 50,000 download nobody.)
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Amazon is an automatic shopping site. What are you expecting it to do for you? And for free? If the people who downloaded your first free one have not then downloaded your others, nothing can force them. There's nothing stopping them keep looking at your Amazon content. They must know it's there.
    How Do. Pull up a chair. Would you like a cup of tea? Don't sit in that chair!!
  • Amazon are in the business of selling books. If you publish directly on Kindle you can't make your books permanently free (I think you can get 5 days per 90 day cycle in KDP Select when you can make your books free of charge). Books distributed to Amazon through other platforms can get around this.

    I'm guessing that Amazon will push books that sell, and sell well. They are not likely to have much interest in free books.

    I'm curious to know why you think having loads of downloads might be a route into mainstream publishing. Traditional publishers will first and foremost look at quality of writing, whether the author has a unique voice and, most importantly, whether the book is right for their list. Loads of downloads of free books doesn't say anything apart from the fact that people love freebies. If you were able to say you had 100 000 sales then a commercial publisher might suddenly prick up their ears.


  • I also get shed loads of recommendations for free ebooks. Amazon doesn't make any profit on these but they lead to readers purchasing further books from the same author, thus building a platform. Building a platform also builds a following and ultimately popularity. At least a mainstream publisher may take notice and have a closer look at a book instead of dismissing it arbitrarily if the author has a good following and plenty of decent (and genuine) reviews. 

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Amazon send me no recommendations. Have you ticked the - yes please, send me spam - box?
    How Do. Pull up a chair. Would you like a cup of tea? Don't sit in that chair!!
  • I did tick the send me spam box, but so far I haven't received a single can of processed meat. I suspect Amazon only send free canned meat to their favourite authors?
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