I know many of us have offered free Kindle downloads and varying prices in an effort to increase sales. After reading this interesting and informative interview with Indie author Edward W. Robertson about Amazon's changing algorithms, it might be time to re-think the strategy. 


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I did notice a downturn in the freebies since March 19, and wondered if it was just me. I'll take some comfort knowing it was more Amazon's fault.

I disagree about pricing. Everyone has a different sweet spot.

I agree everyone has a sweet spot, Ben. What is interesting to me is that the higher the price of the book, the more weight Amazon is giving it in the popularity rankings. I'm not suggesting that just because a book costs more, it's necessarily a better book. But I do think Amazon readers are becoming a little wary of buying extremely low priced books.

On those terms, I prefer the popularity list.  It seems to me a book should have more going for it than being free or ridiculously cheap to get it a place on any list.

Actually, subject matter enters into this, as I've discovered to my chagrin.  You'd better be writing something everybody reads.  And given certain aspects of e-book reading, erotica (pornography) would register at the top.  Apparently it's not just dirty old men subscribing to this but rather women.  And this sort of book is a natural for many romance authors who had been leaning that way already and have entered the new market with gusto.  I gather female readers find the subject matter attractive because their privacy is even more protected than by the plain brown wrapper in the past.  Nobody knows what you read on your Kindle.


As for the changing algorhythms:  when you throw open your electronic store to everyone, you find yourself having to make adjustments.  I expect Amazon will continue to refine their system.  I also expect that those who've been uploading crap in order to make a mint will find this will not work forever and will get tired of writing.

"I also expect that those who've been uploading crap in order to make a mint will find this will not work forever and will get tired of writing."

I agree, I.J. Certainly we all want to make money, but if that's the ONLY reason someone is writing, then I think they're in it for the wrong reason.


"I also expect that those who've been uploading crap in order to make a mint will find this will not work forever and will get tired of writing."

When I read that, I thought of Google's recent algorithm change designed to focus on "quality content." It certainly took the wind out of the sales of content farms like about.com, ehow.com, etc.

Will Amazon's change do the same?

Given the size of the KDP program, how will they do that?  There's some indication that Amazon has been weighting the higher-priced books (many trad.-pubs) more heavily and reducing the ranking importance of freebies.  A good move, I think, but it limits the chances of getting a runaway success.

Google, in some way, was able to consider the source, so that an article from a newspaper or magazine would weigh as "more credible" than an article from a content farm, like about.com. If Google did it, I'm sure size of the program is irrelevant.

For Amazon, the challenge will be how to grade 'credibility.'  Unfortunately, the only thing they really have are reviews, which are easily manipulated, or sales $$$. The problem of course is that there are great books that don't sell, and lousy ones that do.

What I can't figure is why Amazon would give less weight to books in their own program. Hmmm...me thinks they are up to something.

I suppose Amazon sees it as a wash for the author in KDP. No need to give them extra weight if they're already getting the free promotion.

It's going to have to sweeten the KDP pot soon, though, if it wants to go down this new route. Or maybe that's all part of the plan.

Shortly after the Amazon KDP Select program started I started a thread over on KB that Amazon was watering down their crowdsourcing capablities by giving such a boost of visibility to ebooks based solely on participation in the freebies program. Hardly anyone agreed with me. Appears Amazon did though.

I didn't see it as changing all that much. It used to be you could get an e-book down to the free price via Smashwords or telling Amazon to price match. Now the only freebies are KDP Select ones. So in a way, the free selection got somewhat better because it consisted only of authors willing to sign the exclusivity agreement (i.e. they're more serious about writing).

I see these new formulas being similar to what Google does: Reinvent yourself every six months or so to keep things fresh.


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