Where Have All the Indies Gone?

I woke to the sound of thunder and torrential rain this morning. I’ve actually wished for rain for the past week, but not today. The timing was wrong.

Much the same thing happened with Amazon this summer. It made changes and the timing was wrong for independently published authors. During the Sunshine and Big Deal sales, when readers rushed to purchase traditionally published books at greatly reduced prices, the sale of many non-traditionally published books lost some momentum. This happens in summer anyway, when people are busy with summer activities rather than curling up with a good book. We expected sales to bounce back in August. But something strange happened. Instead of picking up, book rankings sank, some dramatically.

I have noticed something peculiar: For the past six weeks or so, I see authors asking “Is KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) frozen? My sales and ranking have not moved for hours (or days.)” Some authors contacted Amazon and were told either, “Yes, there is a glitch and we’re working on it,” or “Yes, there is a glitch but it’s not affecting your book.” Not affecting your book? How can a “glitch” target some books but not others? And if there was/is indeed a glitch (because it continues to happen) which freezes notification of sales when you are making sales, you would expect sales to jump when the glitch is remedied, wouldn’t you. But they don’t.

This happened several times with my books. Sales reporting and ranking seemed to freeze, and when it picked up it did so in tiny increments. In a matter of days, Along Came a Demon’s ranking slipped from in the 3,000s to the 11,000s. That’s a huge drop in a very short time. And it got worse. Along Came a Demon, which never went below the 3,000 ranking range since it first started making decent sales in January 2010, now wavers up and down between 9,000 and 15,000.

I recently found this blog post.  http://tinyurl.com/3uczv5o. Perhaps you’ll take a moment to read it before you continue with my post.

Like Ruth Ann Nordin, I want to make a disclaimer. The blog post and quoted Kindleboard post are theory which I neither support nor disparage. If anything, I don’t think Amazon deliberately connived to make some books invisible. I think it found a way to more effectively do what it’s always done, push the big money-makers into the forefront, and other books are a casualty.  (I don’t agree with the “conspiracy” idea that Amazon banned Indie authors from its forums the same time it changed its algorithms. I think it more likely Amazon saw that readers were annoyed by authors jumping into every thread they could find to promote their books, when the threads were not there for that purpose.)

Has this affected me personally? Sure has! Lower overall ranking = less exposure = less sales = lower ranking . . . ad infinitum.  Books sink lower in Amazon’s genre lists, so there is less chance of readers finding them. From what I hear, many  authors are experiencing an unexpected, drastic plummet. And it’s getting worse. Once you’re down, the longer you’re down, the harder it is to rise up again.

Did Amazon “tweak” its algorithm to favor some books over others? Who knows. I sure don’t. We have to remember Amazon is a business, not the arch-villian. Businesses have to make a profit, the bigger the better. It can get far more from working with Big Publishing than the measly $5,000 profit it made from my books in April and May. Peanuts.

So I won’t be giving up my day job any day soon. **sighing** But I, along with other authors, will continue to write, publish and publicize (which I admit I’m lousy at) and hope readers who enjoy our books spread the word. Can you do that? If you enjoy a book will you spread the word? Can you write a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, even a couple of sentences? It helps. We write and publish for you. We’re still out there, waiting for you to notice us, hoping to entertain you.

If you can find us.


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