Thursday, October 18, 2012

Amazon's Latest Dirty Trick

- posted by Saul

Yesterday I received an email from in my inbox. The subject line read: "GAMELAND Episodes 1-8. We have recommendations for you..."

Thinking I'd won the Amazon Email Blast Lottery (after all, how many millions of potential customers would this possibly reach?), I happily clicked the message open and, lo and behold, there was my book cover in all it's colorful glory (actually two of my book covers), along with two others they thought I "might like." I was thrilled. I was ecstatic. I was cautiously optimistic.

I spent the next four hours obsessively clicking the refresh button on my KDP dashboard waiting for the sales numbers to start ramping upward at hyperspeed.

They didn't.

Two hours in... Oh, there's a sale! It's starting!


Now, Amazon has been having issues with its reporting of late. Software glitches. Late monthly reports. Unrecorded sales. Rankings not matching the numbers in the dashboard. They must've gotten termites in their servers.

So I waited, still with bated breath. The bump I expected never materialized. In fact, my sales seemed to slump. Still, I held out hope, thought by late in the morning it had suffered significantly. I'm an optimistic person. I like to think the best will happen.

Until I started hearing about other authors receiving similar emails featuring their own books. WTF? Okay, maybe it's just a coincidence. Three other examples of this turned to a half dozen, then an even dozen. Now I know of at least sixteen others who've had their own books marketed to them.

What the hell is Amazon doing?

I'll be honest. Whenever I receive one of these emails from Amazon, it almost always goes directly into the trash. I'm not the only one who does this. In fact, I'd say probably 99% of people do this. But, hey, if you blast a million folks, 1% who actually do open the email and read it comes out to 10,000 people. And if 1% of those actually buy the book, that's a hundred sales. I'd love an extra hundred sales.

But someone at Amazon must've realized, "If we put the recipient's own book in the subject line, they'll for sure guaranteed open it. Ayup. Fer sure." It worked on me. It worked on at least a good dozen and half others as well. And maybe one or two of us bought one or two of the other books we were "recommended." I didn't, but then again, I don't do vampires. Never have. So much for the "recommendation."

It's a betrayal.

Plain and simple. If you want to market my books (hey, it helps Amazon too, not just me), then by all means do so. Just don't make me think you're marketing my book to a whole bunch of other people when you're really just showing it to me to make me open the email. It's dirty. It's sneaky. It sucks. We don't want to waste our time being pushed our own books. We've already read them (in most cases, several dozen times!).

And worst of all for you, Amazon, now I've made a conscious decision to throw all your email blasts directly into the trash. So now your open rate has dropped to 1% minus one. Or sixteen. Or however many others have figured this out, too.

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