Hachette authors have been in “Amazon Jail” because of a nasty feud between our publisher and the monster that is the Amazon marketplace. When will we be paroled? No one is sure. My concern is what happens when this feud ends.
The conflict began in May when Hachette refused to agree to what they considered to be onerous terms for renewing their contract to sell books through Amazon. As a result, Amazon has disallowed preorders, pulled books from their recommendation algorithms, and delayed shipping (or have stopped carrying inventory altogether) on Hachette titles.
So what does this mean for authors?
Well, I can’t speak for Douglas Preston, James Patterson, JK Rowling or Stephen Colbert, but I can tell you what it means for me.
THE BOTTOM LINE, the first book in a new contemporary romance series, released in May, just before Amazon started taking their punitive actions. According to the weekly sales reports sent by my editor, 90% of my ebook sales were through Amazon. It hit Top 100 in its categories and those rankings helped with visibility to generate more sales. I had steady sales of over 1000 copies for several weeks–and the next two books in the series were showing up ranked in their categories.
By the time the second book in the series, SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED, came out in July, everything had changed. Readers who loved the Kindle edition of THE BOTTOM LINE couldn’t preorder to have this next in the series delivered on the day of release. In fact, SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED–and the third series book, SEALING THE DEAL–didn’t even show up on the site any longer until the day of release. And even then, readers could only find it by doing a search for author and the specific title. In addition, people who bought (and are still buying) the first book aren’t even being made aware that the book is a part of a series, since Amazon won’t “recommend” any of my Hachette books. As a result, sales of the second book are substantially lower.
A bright spot in this is realizing how much I matter to my publisher. They have gone above and beyond to try to help with this oppressive situation. Hachette, and specifically the Forever Yours imprint, have been working really hard to help me gain visibility with other retailers. As a result, marketshare on SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED for B&N is up from 2% to 12% and Apple from 1% to 17%. B&N, Kobo, Apple, and Google participated in a pre-order price drop, and I know they’re working on other promotions with specific sites for SEALING THE DEAL, which just released this week. My blog tour had several more “stops” than the first two books, and they provided me with several graphics to use on my website and social media. I was also included in publisher newsletters to really push word-of-mouth on release day.
But I still can’t help feeling that Amazon snatched the dream of becoming a bestselling author right out of my hands.
Even after this feud has ended, will Hachette authors be able to regain those Kindle readers? I’d love to see Amazon do everything Hachette has been doing—with newsletters and special discounts—to help restore what we’ve lost. But I fear Amazon will just go back to business and usual. I don’t matter to them; my books are completely interchangeable with anyone else who writes contemporary romance.
In the meantime, as the holiday season is upon us, I encourage readers to consider shopping anywhere other than Amazon for gifts. For print versions, B&N will ship free for orders over $25 or if you have a membership ($25 annually), they’ll ship all orders free. Ebay, Etsy, and Overstock are also great alternatives. And of course, ebooks are always available at Apple, Kobo and Google.
5 stars ~ “The Ladies Who Lunch have become a must read series for me. Sealing the Deal was a fabulous additional to the series.” Beth, The Tome Tender
5 stars ~ “Sandy James creates characters that we can see friends, family, and even ourselves in; true to life people with real world problems.” Judith, Musings & Ramblings