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Self-publishing News: What Amazon Did Next

Dan Holloway head and shoulders photo

FOMO (not to be confused with its spoonerised cousin!). Fear of Missing out. It’s one of the great anxieties of the modern age. The feeling that if we are not constantly doing we will miss out on that one great thing. Worse still, we might be forgotten. We indies certainly know all about that – the need we feel to be on every social media platform, to attend every event, turn up to the tiniest thing we are invited to. Because What-If-We-Don’t-And-It-Was-The-One?! Well, it seems we’re not alone in the literary landscape! Amazon has been been missing us. It’s been quite a while now since they featured high in our news, and I think it’s finally cracked them because this week is all about them!

What Amazon is Not Doing

You can still say thank you with a review if you receive an ARC!

You can still say thank you with a review if you receive an ARC!

You will have seen this story. Amazon is banning incentivised reviews! Depending where you heard the story you may have seen it met with howls of panic, or with a very calm and measured response, or something in between. This post at The Digital Reader does a very good job of saying what’s what. The long and the short is there’s plenty to raise an eyebrow about Amazon’s new policy, but it does not affect books. If you give out ARCs in return for an honest review, then provided the recipient makes this clear, they can still write you a review.

And what they Are Doing!

Mark Dawson is just one of the familiar indie faces featuring prominently in Amazon's Powered by Indie

Mark Dawson is just one of the familiar indie faces featuring prominently in Amazon’s Powered by Indie

The latest addition to the Amazon Prime offering, however, most definitely does include books! Prime Reading, now available in the US, is offering unlimited free reading from a selection of over 1000 novels, as well as other kinds of published material including comics and magazines. Meanwhile Powered by Indie is a month-long celebration of indie titles and the authors behind them across all kinds of genres (though don’t get me started on their selection of literary fiction). With the lovely byline “Celebrating Great Writing”, the initiative has a super-whizzy landing page.

There are other etailers and platforms!

smashwords-logo-300x225It’s not just Amazon who are doing things. Maybe somewhat lower key, but very much on the author-facing side of things, Smashwords are introducing updates to their coupon manager tool. Authors will benefit from features such as the ability to limit offers to the first x number of customers to redeem their coupons. Kobo Writing Life are also tweaking things to make life easier for indies. From February 2017, their sales reports will give you greater depth of information.

How many indie books are there?

It seems that Bowker, who administer ISBNs in the USA, have discovered that in 2015 “here are 625,327 individual titles out of the 727,125 ISBNs” applied for in relation to self-published books. That’s a very big pond we are looking to be fish in!

And finally

Have you ever wondered why you just can’t put some books down? Well, now Alain de Botton, the philosopher who has made a career out of applying books to everyday life, has made this rather fabulous video explaining why.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

OCTOBER 2016

Indie Author Day, Oct.8 [libraries across the USA]
New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association Fall Conference, Oct. 15-17 [Baltimore]
Vancouver Writers Fest, Oct. 18-23 [Vancouver]
Frankfurt Book Fair, Oct. 19–23 [Frankfurt, Germany]
Frankfurt Indie Author Fringe Oct. 22 [online]
Surrey International Writers Conference, Oct. 20-23 [Surrey, BC, Canada]

NOVEMBER 2016

Building Inclusivity in Publishing, Nov 15 [London]

DECEMBER 2016

Futurebook, Dec 2 [London]

JANUARY 2017

Digital Book World, Jan 17-19 [New York]

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11 Responses to Self-publishing News: What Amazon Did Next

  1. MRUTHMYERS October 7, 2016 at 11:46 pm #

    Powered By Indies has quite a number of non-Indies among its authors. Interesting… but not surprising.

    • Dan Holloway October 9, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

      yes, I saw Vonnegut at the top of the list

  2. clare Weiner October 7, 2016 at 5:58 pm #

    All I can say is Groan-worthy! Can’t keep up with what Amazon want and do and what they get up to. Can one get by while ignoring them?

    Seriously, ‘Indie authors’ seem to have become almost owned by them … so how Indie are we? It’s like some biological thing: we need them, they don’t really need us, but a horrible symbiosis has emerged … they have engulfed us …

    • Dan Holloway October 7, 2016 at 6:20 pm #

      Well, I certainly had the best years of my indie life without having a single title on Amazon, but I know that is not the recommended way of approaching things amongst the cognoscenti – what Amazon does is certainly newsworthy for indies, but personally I’m with you!

  3. Barry Knister October 7, 2016 at 5:33 pm #

    I thought the new policy required reviewers to have purchased $50 or more at Amazon (not just for books) to have their reviews published. Is this incorrect?

    • Dan Holloway October 7, 2016 at 6:32 pm #

      I don’t want to claim that my understanding on that point is definitive, but Amazon’s announcement here (https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/abpto3jt7fhb5oc) states “The above changes will apply to product categories other than books.” The paragraph “above” does not refer to the $50 threshold but to the practice of giving advance copies, BUT, that paragraph links to “the community guidelines” which DO include the $50 threshold, so as it stands, Amazon’s own presentation is fairly ambiguous. If I come across a definitive answer I will make sure I include it next week, but in the meanwhile it’s probably best to see how this washes out in practice.

    • Dan Holloway October 9, 2016 at 8:08 pm #

      Sorry, the website appears to have eaten my previous comment – it’s ambiguous, but my reading is that the Amazon post linked to in the piece refers to the whole set of new guidelines as not applying to books, including the $50 minimum spend

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