First, let’s talk Vellum real quick. I switched all my files over to Vellum this summer. Me being me I just sort of stumbled my way through how to use it and had to learn a lot on my own through trial and error that wasn’t covered in any of the FAQs. (I was doing a lot of non-fiction formatting.)
But turns out there’s now a pretty good guide to the basics of Vellum available. (You know where? Can you guess? You got it. In the NaNo StoryBundle. After that’s gone if you stumble across this post and want it, look for The Author’s Guide to Vellum by Chuck Heintzelman.)
The guides includes a few of the workarounds I had figured out, like how to have my Also By listing before my title page, and using Vellum Styles before you import from Word. So if you’re new to Vellum or shaky on using it, check it out. It’s a good resource.
(On a side note: After I did it, I honestly wasn’t entirely sure it was worth it for me to have moved all my files over to Vellum. It took a lot of time, I didn’t see any drastic change in sales, and it added an extra step every time I wanted to make a change to a file. But moving to Vellum did make all of my non-fiction titles eligible for Overdrive, which has brought me money, and it also made it incredibly easy for me to participate in the StoryBundle. So for those reasons alone it ended up being worth it. But on a list of things to do, buy Vellum and make all your files pretty probably isn’t where I’d recommend you start.)
Now. On to AMS.
I am not happy with Amazon at the moment.
The other day, I noticed something a little odd when I went to look up one of my romance titles. The first entry I saw in my search results was a Sponsored Product ad for the book followed by the normal, organic search result for the same book.
I almost clicked on the ad and I know better.
So here’s Amazon, taking anyone who comes looking for my book in particular, and charging me money for it by having them click on my ad instead of returning an organic search result first. How tacky is that?
Here’s another example that’s even worse. I have a book under the name Cassie Leigh that is called Puppy Parenting in an Apartment. It’s not a big seller, but I can run AMS on it and generate a few sales here or there. This is what I see when I go to Amazon and search for it:
The ONLY result is my ad. My actual book with that actual title isn’t shown at all. And, because someone asked, I don’t have the book’s title in my keywords for that ad. So Amazon knows damned well what they’re doing and could actually display my book in their search results, but they’re not.
They’re trying to suck every last penny they can out of their authors instead.
Does this mean abandon AMS?
No. No more than any of the crap they pull means stop selling on Amazon. They’re too damned big and dominate the market too much for it to be feasible for most people to not sell their books on Amazon. (Which is why they can pull things like this…)
Fact is, AMS have become too much of a driver of traffic on Amazon US to ignore without likely taking a hit to your income.
What this tells me is that Amazon is slowly tightening the noose and that authors are going to have to spend even more money to get every single sale on their platform.
I’m grateful to AMS. They let me move from low three figures a month to low four figures a month. But I’m not putting all my eggs in that basket and neither should you. I have some list-based promos I’m running this month as well as a Kobo promo and I’m playing with FB and Google CPC ads, too.
AMS should just be one part of getting attention for your books. It can’t be everything. Amazon is too prone to pulling the rug out from under authors to rely on them that heavily.