Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – February 2018

by | Feb 28, 2018

Table of Contents

By Amy Collins

Man, Amazon is changing things up again and we have to make adjustments to how we work with IngramSpark and CreateSpace.

What They Did

Amazon is no longer listing books supplied from IngramSpark as “in stock.” In the past, Amazon would list IngramSpark sourced books as “in stock” because they knew that they could order the book and get them in a day. In the last few months, Amazon has changed this practice. They will only order enough POD IngramSpark sourced books to fill existing orders. Occasionally, they will order a few more when demand shows that they will sell them. Books that previously were listed as “in stock” are no longer and it is dramatically affecting sales.

Books that are also listed with CreateSpace (owned by Amazon) are not affected and shown as “in stock”. (Draw your own conclusions.)

Why We Use IngramSpark for Amazon

CreateSpace does not offer the option for pre-sales so those of us who want to sell and market our books leading up to a release date have to use IngramSpark. IngramSpark makes the book available to bookstores, Libraries, and Amazon ahead of time. For some folks this is a vital point in their marketing plans. Other people want to have hardcover books and CreateSpace does not offer that option. If they want a hardcover version of their books POD on Amazon, then they have to use IngramSpark.

What You Can Do Instead

After the release date, I council folks to then upload their files to CreateSpace. Once the files are accepted, contact CreateSpace and Amazon and ask them to source your Amazon listing through CreateSpace. If you upload the files and DO NOT contact Amazon and CreateSpace to ask them to start sourcing from CreateSpace, then it will be a month or more before the switch-over happens.

For the hardcover books, I would contact Amazon through your Author Central account and ask them to stock up a few copies. The link to author central is: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/home

Speaking of Amazon, the searchability and findability of new books on Amazon has fallen UNBELIEVABLY. Amazon is trying to get folks to use the AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) which charges for keyword clicks and searches.

What They Did

For the last year, Amazon’s marketing keyword search bidding was relatively straightforward:

  1. Find 1000 authors, book titles, keywords and phrases, and put them up in an ad campaign.
  2. Set a small budget.
  3. Tweak a few times until your have a good list and watch the money ROLL IN.

But now, the same budgets and keyword work is not resulting in the same profits. It may be that too many authors are competing for the same keywords. It may be that Amazon is purposely submerging the search results to encourage authors to spend MORE money per search. It may be that Amazon is no longer giving the independently published books the same chances against the big guys and their OWN published books that they were. (Again, draw your own conclusions.)

What We Can Do Now

Amazon suggests a starting budget of $30 a day and a per click bid of $0.50. DO IT. Start with their suggested budget.

Then, it is time to experiment!

  1. Put 1000 search terms up and run an ad for a few days.
  2. Then go in and increase your budget by 50% for the campaign.
  3. And then bump up the bid for each keyword that is getting you a lot of impressions. (Increase 50% as well.)

What we are finding here is that an increase in expenditure is resulting in a higher profit margin.

If you have a new book and are not happy with the sales and exposure your book is getting, I would recommend that TRYING Amazon AMS programs might make a big impact on your book’s exposure.
 
Photo: BigStockPhoto

journal
marketing

29 Comments

  1. Judith Briles

    Thanks Robin … not only our experience … I’ll bring others in. Checking my calendar.

    Reply
  2. Robin Cutler, Director of IngramSpark

    Jumping in here to let you know that IngramSpark is definitely working on this issue. I wouldn’t necessarily believe what an Amazon customer service rep has said. I know for a fact that IngramSpark titles aren’t identified as such in any data feeds. I do know that the metadata including the discount the author sets on a title probably impacts the Amazon availability messaging more than anything else.

    Data feed issues are more complex than can be summed up in a blog article. Most IngramSpark customers do, in fact, have “Amazon in stock” messaging on their titles. For those who don’t, we are definitely looking into the cause. Amazon availability is generally driven by historical lead time in delivering a product to a customer. If Amazon has never purchased a title then the messaging could reflect “temporarily out of stock”. That message generally improves as Amazon begins to sell the book.

    Ingram and Amazon are not adversarial; both work hard to support the author and publishing communities. I know because I’ve worked for both companies.

    As always, thanks to all my colleagues and customers here, many of whom I know personally. Getting this kind of feedback is important to understand your concerns and frustrations so we can improve what we do to help you be successful as authors and publishers.

    Amy, I will personally circle up with you as we dig in further on this issue.

    Reply
    • Any Collins

      This is fantastic news. Offers have been continually frustrated by Amazon’s relentless drive to shovel everyone into create space. Ingram spark offer so many other needed options.

      I hope it’s clear that nobody is pointing the finger at Ingram spark here, or even create space… It just seems that Amazon has made some changes in how they code Non-create space books.

      Reply
      • Judith

        Thanks Amy and Robin. It’s why some of us have reached out to IngramSpark for help.

        Reply
  3. Judith Briles

    And I might as well throw this into the fire–IngramSpark was our primary recommended source for posting POD books first for a variety of reasons–i.e., book stores and library purchasing. Books needed to be returnable at at the ongoing whole discount rate. Ingram was respected by all book stores. It was the obvious solution.

    Now that many of the third party online sellers have figured that one out; books were ordered at the deep discounted rate via IS and then posted on Amazon for resale–cutting out the publisher/author from direct sales to the public. We tracked it– the “bad” orders were coming from IS. The bottom line, the author gets less, much less.

    My author clients were advised to reduce the amount of their discount to wholesalers immediately, meaning IS. Instantly, we saw orders increasing from Amazon that were directed to the author publisher. I have, along with others who coach/advise/work with authors, have written to IS for help with the issue — no responses.

    Is Amazon’s goal to put IS in the dog pile? Hmmm

    Reply
    • Robin Cutler

      Hi Judith–I’ll reach out to you so we can dig into the specific ISBN and track back what really occurred. Just to be clear, no individual but the account owner can order copies of their book on IngramSpark. If a retailer is doing something as you suggests through the Ingram system, it’s good for us to know about it.

      Reply
      • Joel Friedlander

        Thanks for your responsiveness to these issues, Robin, it can really make a difference.

        Reply
        • Amy Collins

          And thank YOU Joel for giving us a place to figure all of this out!

          Reply
      • Judith Briles

        it is online retailers …. start with BargainBooks.com (I had multiple reports about them … in fact, they were even offering my own books–when I changed the discount on IS, instantly stopped) …let me see other names …

        Reply
  4. Stephanie Chandler

    As a publisher, we’ve experienced the out of stock issue directly and it’s infuriating. Amazon is abusing its power by forcing authors to publish with CreateSpace and something should be done about this. I’m wondering when someone will lead the charge and take some legal action against these monopolistic practices. Or maybe we all need to come together and do something about it ourselves? I’m serious–this is just wrong on so many levels.

    Reply
    • Judith Briles

      Stephanie … I’ve seen nothing from the indie and self worlds that even whispers a push back. For the Authors Guild … I think many of its members are more tied with NY houses so think they are immune … think again … the machine is marching!

      Reply
      • Stephanie Chandler

        Judith, Agreed–it’s absolutely time for push back on Amazon.

        Reply
        • Judith Briles

          See my latest reply on “the other problem” Stephanie … time for a phone chat!

          Reply
  5. M

    I’ve been noticing a number of publishers complaining in the past few months about their IngramSpark / LightninSource books don’t have buy buttons. Is your statement “Amazon is no longer listing books supplied from IngramSpark as “in stock.”” an across-the-board actuality or just anecdotal amazon-trying-to-push-the-boundaries at this point? Ingram is a pretty big company to try to push around like that.

    Reply
    • Amy Collins

      Amazon customer service rep stated that IngramSpark books were only listed as “in stock” when Amazon ordered and stocked the books in their warehouse. This is a change. Up until recently, Ingram Spark books were listed as “in stock” because they were available from Ingram. Occasionally, Amazon would list the books as “needing a few extra days to process” but that was only at high traffic times like Christmas.

      Reply
      • M

        Thanks!

        Reply
      • Joel Friedlander

        Amy, I have tracked this situation extensively in the past, and can say that for the books I was following—available from Lightning Source but not CreateSpace—the listings would often show “ships in 1 to 3 weeks” depending on Amazon’s ordering/stocking algorithms, irrespective of high or low traffic times.

        Reply
        • Amy Collins

          I remember two Christmas seasons ago when Lightning Source/Ingram Spark titles were suddenly “ships in 1 to 3 weeks” and Amazon said it was because of holiday times. Okay. But what about when it happened in April? And now it just says “out of stock, we will ship when we get more in stock”

          Reply
  6. Amy Collins

    Anyone else have trouble with some of the math problems when verifying comments? lol. I just had to count on my fingers like a kid….

    Reply
  7. Judith Briles

    I feel huge author overwhelm coming with this Amy. My solution is 1-YES, get the book on Amazon. 2- Build your personal email list and fans/tribe. 3- create a presence and reinforce author expertise via blogs and pushing out via social media. 4-speak, speak, speak and sell books that way.

    Reply
    • Amy Collins

      AMEN to that! I have become completely convinced that building your own list and finding your readers is the key. You are so right.

      Reply
  8. Shane

    Is it worth going the AMS route with a stand alone first novel?

    Reply
    • Amy Collins

      If you spend $30 and make $60 then yes…. it is worth it. What I was trying to say is that we should ALL try to work with AMS and see if we can start getting more sales. Not even trying is going to keep our books hidden below the horizon.

      Reply
      • Harald

        Yep. I’ve been running a “trickle-effect” AMS ad about 300 days now ($0.02 aCPC avg bid, same ad) and am in the black. Plus also getting KU Reads, which equal about 50% of revenue. And that’s for a series-opener novella. Full-length omnibus saga coming soon, and I’ll be hitting AMS hard on that. And maybe increasing my bids. :)

        Reply
        • Amy Collins

          Let us know!!!!!!

          Reply
  9. Chris Graham

    The problem is, Createspace is going to be replaced by Amazon KDP Paperback Publishing soon.

    Reply
    • Amy Collins

      and my personal guess is that lightning source will be replaced by Ingram Spark too!

      Reply
      • Judith Briles

        OMG—IngramSpark is so on the short side of customer service. Frustration is building on all sides from the author community.

        Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Friday’s Findings – Sly Twin Tiger - […] Book Promotion: Do This, Not That […]
  2. Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 03-08-2018 | The Author Chronicles - […] Amazon is once again changing the playing field—and non-Amazon authors seem to be at a disadvantage. […]
  3. Writing Links 3/5/18 – Where Genres Collide - […] https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2018/02/book-promotion-do-this-not-that-february-2018/ “Amazon is no longer listing books supplied from IngramSpark as “in stock.” In the past, Amazon would list…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.