Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – April 2018

by | Apr 4, 2018

By Amy Collins

We are going with a slightly different focus for DO THIS NOT THAT this month. We are focusing on ONE BIG DON’T.

DON’T make business or publishing decisions about Amazon

based on old information.

Man, things are changing fast at Amazon. So, to be helpful, I have compiled a list of things that USED to be true about Amazon that you might want to be aware of and then I’ve given you a suggestion or two about what to do with the new information. Hold on guys. This list is annoying and long.

DON’T get mad about the Amazon Buy button without fully understanding the reason

Amazon gives the person with most stock and lowest price and highest ratings the Buy Button.

Yes, we all know that for almost a year now, Amazon has been giving the “Add to Cart” and the “Buy Now” buttons to the vendor who can achieve Amazon’s goals the best.

What are Amazon’s goals?

  • Giving the customer the product the fastest
  • Giving the customer the best experience
  • Making Amazon the most money

If you are an Amazon Advantage publisher who does not ship your PO’s to Amazon right away and they have to wait for your books, they are going mark that down. BUT, if you are an Amazon Seller Central publisher who ships the book RIGHT AWAY directly to the customer and has a REALLY high satisfaction rating? Then Amazon knows that:

  1. The customer will get the book quickly and be happy and come back to Amazon.
  2. Amazon will not have to deal with the book or incur the costs of getting involved.
  3. Seller Central Vendors PAY AMAZON a fee for every book sold to Amazon customers and Amazon does not have to do a THING.

Yes, Amazon Advantage Vendors ALSO pay a fee each year and sell the book to Amazon at a DEEP 55% discount, but Amazon then has to deal with the ordering, receiving, shipping and costs involved.

DO learn how to be the best choice for the Amazon Buy button

The old days are gone. Today, I heartily recommend that we all supply Amazon in multiple ways. Make your book available via POD if you wish with CreateSpace. Also, get a Seller Central Account and put a few of your books up as a third party seller. When orders come in, ship those things THAT DAY. Sign up for Amazon Advantage if you choose not to go POD but then reach out to Amazon via email and tell them about your marketing so that they order enough to supply incoming orders.

Purchase your own books from YOUR OWN buttons and get the books flowing through the pipeline as soon as they are available.

DO NOT plan a big launch promotion the first week that your books are “available”

It used to be that Amazon was focused on books and worked with publishers to get their books into stock for the launch dates. Amazon no longer has the time or interest in doing that I am afraid. Now, books that would launch on a particular date are only guaranteed to be in stock if you use Amazon’s two POD systems–CreateSpace, and KDP Print and Ebook.

With this being the case, books offered on Presale through IngramSpark or Advantage are no longer ordered in high enough quantities to handle a proper launch. This is not the fault of Ingram or the publisher; Amazon only orders in response to shipments once the book is available. It take 2-3 weeks to get the books properly into the ordering flow that will get stock available properly.

Because of this, I recommend:

DO Schedule your launch 3 weeks after book becomes available

Here is a wonderful explanation from Robin Cutler of IngramSpark. She was kind enough to go over the new dynamics with Amazon with me after I called her. I was so confused why Amazon was no longer in stock with IngramSpark books at the level and in the timeline that they were just a few months ago. SO MANY of my author’s books were showing out of stock and I could not figure out why. This is her front-line experience:

We recently reviewed Amazon availability messaging across all Spark titles and found that 92% had good availability messaging. The ones that didn’t were either newly setup titles, were in/out of revision with a handful seeming to have no logic to why they weren’t showing in stock.
Availability messaging tends to change over time as the book develops a sales history. One of the best things a new author can do as soon as their title goes live in IngramSpark is to order their own book through Amazon to help spur on good availability messaging.
The other thing is to make sure their title is finished before it is uploaded to IngramSpark to keep the title from rapidly moving in and out of revision cycles. This definitely can negatively impact availability messaging on Amazon.
We continue to work closely with Amazon to improve availability messaging on the site.

Robin works with Amazon closely and no one knows more about IngramSpark than her. But I do have other DO’s AND DON’T’s for you….

DON’T just accept that your book will get ordered by Amazon properly and be in stock.
DO assume responsibility to GET it stocked properly.

DON’T depend upon what “used to be” to still be the truth.
DO stay abreast of Amazon changes every week. (Yes, week…. Sorry.)
DON’T believe that Amazon is a bookseller.
DO take a look at the top Amazon Sales Categories and see that other publisher’s books are not even in the top five income generators for them.
DON’T forget that Amazon is also your competition. (They are a publisher.)
DO remember that Amazon will make any decision that makes them more profit and improve their bottom line.
DON’T get mad.
DO get educated.
DO work with Amazon.
DO ride the wave of changes.
DO keep your eye on other opportunities.

And, one final DO…

DO stay aware of the current dynamics.

Photo: BigStockPhoto

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Matt

    thank you thank you! i’ve been thinking about publishing a book on amazon for a number of years. this is a great intro guide so i don’t make silly mistakes!

    • Amy Collins

      Thank you so much for this lovely note!

  2. Angela

    “The other thing is to make sure their title is finished before it is uploaded to IngramSpark to keep the title from rapidly moving in and out of revision cycles. This definitely can negatively impact availability messaging on Amazon.”

    This is not true. Ingram recently revealed to some publishers that Amazon is having a “pricing cadence issue.” In a nutshell, Amazon was sending orders to Ingram/Lightning Source with the wrong book prices. Ingram’s system would then automatically reject the order and Amazon would then change the book’s status to “unavailable.” They were even cancelling customer orders for those books. About a week ago, Amazon said they’d have the problem fixed in “3 weeks.”

    This has been occurring for at least a year and a half now.

    • Stellar Communications Houston

      Ah, thank you. We experienced the issue of unavailability even without any file revisions. In the absence of an explanation, this may have been the case for us.

  3. Amy Collins

    She just means revisions to the book file. It is best to make SURE it is perfect before uploading.

  4. Stellar Communications Houston

    Great article. The Amazon “buyer box” policy change was a puzzling surprise for one of our authors and took quite some time to sort out. Do you know whether the revisions that can cause complications through Ingram also include revisions to pricing? Or is Robin referring solely to revisions to files? Thank you for the clarity!

  5. Amy Collins

    Gail, I just read your incredibly well written and well reasoned explanation about why you put out print the way you do. I’m going to follow you online. I’m your newest big fan!



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