Amazon: Field leveller or overlord?

Amazon kindle select has been a useful tool for me in my first few months in the indie-publishing world. But has now run it’s course in being helpful and turned the corner to become a hindrance.

For those who don’t know what select is, essentially it’s a 90 day programme that authors sign their books up for. We make our ebooks exclusive to Amazon and their lending service for Premium Amazon members. This means we cannot sell our ebook through any other outlet, including on our own websites.

In return we get 5 days of 90 in which we can offer the book as a free promo. This is really useful for getting the book linked to other books in the genre, getting on sales charts, and therefore more visibility, and getting readers who will hopefully review the book or try another title from the same author.

The usefulness of this free promo has recently been hobbled somewhat but as I don’t do algorithms and stuff you can find out how so elsewhere.

I’ve found the select programme useful up until now but things have happened that are making me remove my books from the programme.

I want to distribute my novel Bobby’s Boy elsewhere. Smashwords, apple, Barnes & noble etc. amazon will not let me do this while in select. I could live with that in the short-term, say 12 months or so, but Amazon have shifted the goalposts twice over in recent weeks.

Firstly they’ve prohibited soliciting readers for any author. Yep, we’re not allowed any promo anywhere on Amazon for our books or we get told to remove it or they’ll remove us. The books that make Amazon themselves money? Not helpful.

Secondly I get email after email from the masters telling me to make sure the content in my book belongs to me or they’ll pull it from sale. Essentially, because I promo excerpts from my books on my own blogsite and others (remember I can’t promo on Amazon) their net scanners/snoopers email me accusing me of putting stuff from the net in my book. “no it’s the other way round you clods”. Still I have to notify them of every site I post excerpts on to prove the book’s authenticity.

Whilst I greatly appreciate the forum and outlet that amazon gives authors I hate being monitored in this way.

Thirdly, reviews from professional reviewing websites are now being prohibited on Amazon. Friends and family in unlimited numbers can post as many reviews as they like, but genuinely impartial reviewers are being blocked as they are “professionals”.

Lastly: I recently secured a deal to distribute my novel in every library in North Lanarkshire (and the possibility of uk-wide distribution). A deal like this is huge for an indie-author but contravenes the Kindle Select agreement even though the books will be distributed for free by the libraries.

I want as many people as possible to read my books and a free outlet by the libraries is ideal.

So bye kindle select.

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6 thoughts on “Amazon: Field leveller or overlord?

  1. Interesting post.

    Just out of curiosity, How would they know if you put copies in libraries in Lanarkshire?

    Is the select program not just 90 days? Or do you keep renewing it for 90 days at a time?

  2. On the point of excerpts, Amazon don’t like this. They prohibit ‘distribution’ of the content or any part thereof, not just selling. So excerpts come within that, which is why they use content scraper bots to monitor the web. They do have a huge problem with computer written books compiling public information. If they deem your work has become public domain they withold the right to drop your royalty (as public domain isn’t eligible for the 70% rate).

    On the point of paid reviews, the prohibition is simply because the ‘Customers Reviews’ section is just that, for customers. It isn’t for editorial reviews or ad copy. That can be added via Amazon Author Central.

    “Lastly: I recently secured a deal to distribute my novel in every library in North Lanarkshire (and the possibility of uk-wide distribution). A deal like this is huge for an indie-author but contravenes the Kindle Select agreement even though the books will be distributed for free by the libraries.”

    It’s only digital exclusivity you have signed away. Print copies can be as widely distributed as you want.

    • Yeah thanks sean. Libraries distribute ebooks too.

      Let me point out hat most professinal reviewers are frequent readers and buy and review books in their “Own” time also. These reviews which are not paid for are blocked now also. This is unfair. I agree that amazon customer reviews should be just that, but they are cutting off their nose to spite their face in this case.

      To my mind, indie-authors are having far too many obstacles placed in front of them by amazon and not nearly enough support. Giving us a platform and outlet to sell is great, but hobbling our efforts elswhere is not helpful.
      Thanks for your comment dude

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