Let me make this clear at the outset – this is not an ‘Amazon bashing’ post. It’s about Amazon Secrets.

Indie authors have a lot to thank Amazon for as do book lovers in general. The publishing scene is a far better place since they revolutionized the publishing industry with POD and the Kindle store.

Yet, we all know the Mighty Zon is not perfect. They are in it to make money and I have no issue with that. What I do have an issue with is lack of transparency on the part of Amazon.

It is the Amazon Prime Reading Program that has inspired this post. Many of you will never have heard of it. I don’t blame you as it is one of Amazon’s secrets.

I’ll work backwards in time. This is an email I sent to KDP a few days ago:

Subject: Amazon Prime Reading Program

Hello
I have now been in touch with you about this program several times since November 2017. It was then I was invited to take part in the program but a link supplied to me would not work. Apparently there was some technical issue at your end.
Owing to this invitation, I kept all my titles enrolled in Kindle Select.
It was the only reason I did so as I had decided to offer my books on other digital platforms in addition to the Kindle store.
I have finally run out of patience waiting for a new invitation to participate in the Prime Reading Program as I need to think about my long term marketing strategy and cannot keep waiting for KDP to resurrect this invitation.
So, I am asking to cancel all of my titles in Kindle Select with one exception.
I wish for my title Who The F*ck Am I? (ASIN B075N3158G) to remain in Kindle Select.
Please confirm by return email that my request has been agreed to and I do hope you understand the sheer frustration in waiting over 4 months for this to be sorted out.
It was a situation that was created by yourselves and so far not resolved.
Best Regards
Stephen Bentley

This was the reply:

Hello Stephen,

Thanks for reaching out to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

As per your request, I’ve removed all your Kindle books from KDP Select program except “Who The F*ck Am I?”.

I hope the action I’ve taken helps get this issue fixed. It’s always important to help our publishers and make them succeed

Thanks for publishing your books with Amazon KDP. Have a nice day.

There you have the gist of my complaint to KDP. I was invited to take part in the Amazon Prime Reading Program and through no fault of mine, it all fell through because of a faulty link given to me by Amazon.

Please note in the KDP response, there is no mention or acknowledgement of the program. Why? You may legitimately wonder. It’s a secret! Don’t believe me? Read on. This is the email message that started it all:

Hello,

We’d like to invite you to include the title listed below in the UK Prime Reading programme on amazon.co.uk for a 90 day period. Prime Reading is intended to promote authors and their books to Amazon’s most engaged customers. As part of this promotion, Amazon Prime members are able to borrow an unlimited number of books, from a frequently rotated list of titles at no additional fee beyond their Prime subscription. We have a limited number of spots available in the UK programme and are delighted to offer you the opportunity to increase visibility for your title. If enrolled, you will be notified via email when your title is included. In lieu of royalties for this programme, we are offering a one-time payment of the amount listed below, to be paid following the completion of the promotion.

Title: Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story (ASIN: B073ZK8JHW) || Payment Amount: £200

In order to participate, the title must be enrolled in both the programme and KDP Select for the duration of the promotional period. While you will not receive royalties for Prime Reading, your book will remain available for sale and will still qualify for unit sales royalties and pages read compensation for Kindle Unlimited. If a customer is in Kindle Unlimited and a Prime member, the pages read will count towards Kindle Unlimited. While included in Prime Reading, your book will not be available in Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

To agree to participate in Prime Reading, please go here: https://books.au1qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9t7sEfQCtkQaWZT, enter this unique code: ZAGK7V4XPGYMX and select “I agree”. Please review this link and indicate your response by Monday, October 30th.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out via: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/contact-us. We appreciate your discretion in not sharing details of this programme. Thank you for your time. We look forward to introducing your work to even more readers.

Sincerely,
The Kindle Direct Publishing Team

Initially, I thought this may be a scam email but on querying it I was assured it was genuine.

What’s my take on all this? It shows that Amazon and KDP are prepared to “rig” the market. There is no transparency as to the criteria used to select a title and the worst aspect is the secrecy.

We appreciate your discretion in not sharing details of this programme.

 

It all makes me ponder what else Amazon gets up to and we simply don’t have a clue. It’s left a bad taste in my mouth and engendered a deep lack of trust in how they do business.

We look forward to introducing your work to even more readers.

How else and what else are Amazon up to we simply know nothing about? I’m talking about things that negatively impact upon indie authors’ Amazon royalties.

For example, it’s clear Amazon has started to compete with “ordinary indie authors.” How? They are becoming more and more of a force with their own imprints. In fact, they are taking the place of the old school traditional publishers.

There is a clear argument that Amazon’s own imprints must have a marketing advantage over us ordinary mortals. In other words they say to the chosen few – “We look forward to introducing your work to even more readers.”

Truly, I have no issue with that as long as there is transparency. Trust is vital in any relationship, personal and business. I have started to distrust Amazon.

This ‘Prime Reading’ episode followed on from a number of my hard-earned reviews being suddenly deleted by Amazon. They were restored, but only after I complained and showed them the original review.

It strikes me Amazon is too reliant on computer models, algorithms and the like instead of being totally transparent with its stakeholders.

Those stakeholders include authors just like me and you. Without us, Amazon would have no Kindle store, KDP, or CreateSpace.

Mr. Bezos! This is no way to treat authors.

Amazon has ridden roughshod for too long now especially with the debacle of the Kindle Select program.

I referred to my marketing strategy in the email to KDP. That is now set in stone. I no longer put all my eggs in one basket but sell my eBooks on more than one digital platform.

I have used both Draft2Digital, Smashwords, and Publish Drive as alternative platforms but decided to publish on both Amazon (not Kindle Select) and Draft2Digital There’s a great piece by Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur that helped me choose one platform over the other. It’s here if you wish to read it.

PS I will be keeping a close eye on my Amazon reviews after publishing this post 🙂

And now you are here and you want to buy my Undercover book at any place but Amazon, here is the link at Draft2Digital.

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