(This is a working post and I shall take time to gather inputs, organize them and perhaps frame a petition to Jeff Bezos. If you are an indie author and/or have something that you want to bring to the notice of Amazon, please feel free to leave a comment below.)
It has been close to six months since my debut novel went live on Amazon. Needless to say, the self-publishing and selling experience has enriched me a lot. You made me feel empowered as an independent author and thank you for being there for me.
In the meantime, from my own experience and also based on my interactions with the indie author community, I realized that there are a lot of things that Amazon could do to make things easier for authors in helping them sell better. An author’s time is better spent in writing. While I believe that authors also need to spend time and efforts on marketing and selling, Amazon can do the following to make the eco-system long lasting.
- Give us the intelligence and insights – I would love to know how many landed up on the page of my book from which sources and how many such clicks converted (bought). Also, let me know how many added the book to their wish list. Mostly, people do that as they are waiting for the prices to reduce and that insight helps in my pricing decisions. Another desirable insight that can be shared with the authors is about Kindle Unlimited. While I get the logic behind the number of pages, it would be great to know how many downloads translated into full reads and how many did not.
- Just because the reviewer is my ‘friend’ does not mean that his/her review is paid – Figure out a more intelligent way to weed out dishonest and paid reviews. Spying on social networks isn’t an intelligent way to do so. The only audience for an indie author is his or her social media connections and their word of mouth means a lot. Especially with Kindle and ebooks, it is simpler to figure out whether the said customer has read the book before reviewing it.
- Payments – Let me appreciate the monthly payment policy of Amazon as against the quarterly or bi-annual payment system followed by many publishers. But you are also a global firm, so behave like one – I am an Indian author whose book is live on all international portals of Amazon. But apparently, the company can process payments to my Indian Bank account only from those sales through the Indian and US Portals. Effectively, the sales that took place through the UK, French, Italian and Australian portals haven’t translated into payments and they won’t until the minimum amount accumulated in each country portal is 100$/100 GBP. Isn’t that unfair? If processing so many smaller amounts is an issue, is there no middle ground? Say, why can’t the company convert the smaller payments into Coupons that authors can use to buy books from Amazon itself?
- Returns Policy (especially the one on ebooks) – This is a problem that I did not personally encounter but many seem to be doing so. Amazon charges the author for ebook delivery to the customer. That eats into the royalty. When a customer returns an ebook, the author loses full money, as well as the delivery costs. Amazon seriously needs a different policy on ebook returns. Amazon has the technological capability to gauge till where the reader has read the book before returning it. (If they can count page reads on Kindle Unlimited, they can do it here too!). Also, 10% of the book is open for the customer to read and make a call before buying. It is rare that someone likes the sample three/four chapters put out and buys the book and then dislikes it. To give a fair chance to both sides, please rethink your returns policy. If a reader has read the full book and still dislikes it, the author can at least get the royalty equivalent to a single full-read on Kindle Unlimited.
- You have acquired Goodreads. Now integrate it – Goodreads is a great place to market the books. It offers a great deal of visibility too. In my experience, the ratings there are more honest and spontaneous reviews and ratings. Can Amazon look at integrating the ratings and reviews from Goodreads on the respective pages of the books? All it needs to do is segregate the verified purchases from others. This helps as we don’t have to ‘hound’ the known readers constantly to paste their reviews on both places.
Addressing the wishes I am sure would be to the advantage of authors, readers and Amazon itself. A vibrant ecosystem needs regular upgrades. The tech-gods at Amazon would agree with me.
Cheers and Regards
An Indie Author