Episode 131 – Scammers, BookBub Ads, and Amazon Behaving Badly

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Question of the Week: Will Amazon’s error in reporting KU pages read impact your decision to put your books in KU? Why or why not? Also, who gets your vote for Sell More Books Show President? Jim? Bryan? Or a third-party candidate (a listener)?

With the news being a negative nelly, Jim brought the positive in the latest episode of the Sell More Books Show. After tackling tips on selling dozens of books at a time, optimizing BookBub Ad campaigns, and taking part in Amazon’s indie author celebration, the two triple-threats thanked their patrons Michael Alan Peck (and his book The Journeyman http://bit.ly/commjour ), Susan Illene (and her book Stalked by Flames http://bit.ly/stalkill ) and Brecht Ryckaert (and his book WordPress Security 101: http://bit.ly/wpsec101 ). News stories included Amazon’s Disney subscription, Facebook’s Marketplace, a new scammer, a trad pub author turned indie, Facebook video stat reporting errors, and Kindle Unlimited reporting errors. This week’s Question of the Week: Will Amazon’s error in reporting KU pages read impact your decision to put your books in KU? Why or why not? Also, who gets your vote for Sell More Books Show President? Jim? Bryan? Or a third-party candidate (a listener)?

What You’ll Learn:
  • How one sentence helped Honoree Corder sell 11,000 copies
  • How authors can optimize BookBub ad campaigns
  • How Amazon is increasing indie author exposure in October
  • What new Amazon subscription is a perfect fit for young Disney fans
  • What new feature Facebook hopes will increase user engagement
  • How one scammer made three million dollars with fake Kindle accounts
  • How one author overcame her bad experience with traditional publishing
  • What errors in Facebook video stats mean for advertisers
  • Why authors should check their KDP Select page read counts

Question of the Week: Will Amazon’s error in reporting KU pages read impact your decision to put your books in KU? Why or why not? Also, who gets your vote for Sell More Books Show President? Jim? Bryan? Or a third-party candidate (a listener)?

get show updates

  • Spider McGee

    I don’t want to bring Jim’s hopes crashing down, but I can’t be Vice President. As a pseudonymous entity, I don’t have a birth certificate. I hate to inject scandal into the most important election of my lifetime. It’s just like Jim to try and make lemons out of lemonade. Now that’s positivity!

    • Mind. Blown. I’ll bet ‘Spider’ never pays taxes, either!

      • Spider McGee

        That’s because I lost 950 million dollars last year.

    • Bryan

      Good point, Spider. Even Rocket the Cat has a birth certificate.

      • Spider McGee

        Really? I thought Spencer’s Gifts went out of business…

    • David A King

      How does one make lemons out of lemonade?

      • Spider McGee

        Ask Jim. He seems to know the way, if I heard correctly.

      • Spider McGee

        Reverse osmosis? It was something Jim said in the show, if I recall correctly.

  • Scott King

    I vote Rocket for president of Sell More Books Show.

    Question of the week: I’m releasing two books in November and still plan on entering them in KDP Select… even over the recent drama. I’m sure algorithmic boost from being in KDPS will outweigh the lose of page reads from a borked system. Worse case scenario I bring them to Kobo and Draft2Digital in a few months.

    • Bryan

      1 for Rocket! I agree with your logic on this. Thanks for the comment.

      • Spider McGee

        I’m directing all my delegates to cast their ballots for Rocket T. Cat. It’s the least I can do.

        • Bryan


    • I’ve dug up some dirt on Rocket. Is he really a cat? I’ve “heard” he’s pretending to be a cat, but he’s really a dog. Besides, can Rocket play more sound effects? I don’t think so. The choice is clear. #jimforsmbs

  • David Mark Brown

    Bryan, I just wanted to respond to your call for a group of authors to develop the subscription model further. We’re on it! Myself and 30 other authors (still expanding) make up the Fiction Vortex Network. While our current WordPress site doesn’t facilitate our eventual price structure, our coming MVP will be based on a hybrid subscription/in-app purchase model for weekly, serial fiction from collaborative SERIAL BOX storyworlds. THanks for all the good shows!

    • Bryan

      That’s great to here, Mark! Keep up the good work and let us know how it progresses.

  • QOTW – No, it won’t keep me out of KU. Errors or not, the question is still whether the income and exposure of KU outweighs the income and exposure you get from going wide.

    The people jumping ship are doing it out of principle (“tired of this kinda bs”) or because of a misunderstanding of how these things effect them (“I’m losing money!”). Not that the problem shouldn’t be take care of, but is the latter group losing more money than they’ll make from KU?

    • Bryan

      That’s the big question, right Roland? Will principles or misunderstandings lose them money? Guess we’ll see.

  • Kayla Thomas

    Odd Amazon calculations won’t keep me out of KU. I went wide for a while, but found that pages read always trump what I accomplished outside of the KU safety net. I’d rather make something rather than nothing and know I’m being read by at least a few people. Meanwhile, I’m focusing on writing the next book.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Kayla. Glad to hear you’re focusing on the next book. That’s the right way to be :).

  • I think it’s silly to let a single snafu by a retailer decide your career.
    The worst thing you can do is jump around in KU–out of KU–back in KU–out of KU. That’s terrible and doesn’t get you traction anywhere.
    I’ve never been in KU for the reason that I want my friends to be able to buy my books. I’m in Australia and 50% of my 7500+ mailing list is not in the US. I’m not going to piss them off. Some of them can’t even buy at Amazon full stop, for example if they’re in SE Asia, or they get slugged with ridiculous delivery charges, if they’re in Scandinavia or South Africa.
    As aside, I went to buy Bryan’s synopsis book, saw it was Amazon only, and now I won’t until it becomes available on iBooks or Kobo. I let my Amazon account lapse three years ago and haven’t missed it. Seriously with the hideous postage they charge for physical items outside the US and UK, who needs them?
    I think the question needs to be: does your work appeal to mainly US readers or do you want to sell internationally? Because if you do, KU will hinder you. Amazon is all about the US and pretty much the US only. So many perks and programs are for US authors only. For readers outside a very small handful of countries, KU is not available.
    I’m at about 50k per year income and less than half is from Amazon. Less than half my Amazon income is from the US. There was a time about 80% of my income was from Kobo. It varies. One retailer picks up and another declines, and then it swaps around again.
    It’s about long-term diversification. Jumping on and off the bandwagon when something happens damages your brand all around.

    • Bryan

      Thanks for the comment and the insight, Patty. Really appreciate you sharing numbers and your experience.

  • First, Bryan for President.

    Second, as an author who has released a book in KU just this week, I can tell you that my pages read were definitely off. This is the first book in a series so I’m not spending any money to promote it. I just had friends and family buy. I know for a fact that three people have read the book in full (relatives) and their Kindles were synced on Saturday. Their page reads are NOT showing in my dashboard.

    Also, other authors have tested and discovered that pages read in “flip mode” do not count as pages read. Some devices that recently updated stick a little in flip mode. Many here who say they will make the choice to stay in need to watch their pages read CAREFULLY in the first three days and pull out if there’s an error.

    While, some may think it pointless to advocate for transparency and correction as somehow being “negative” or even being upset that they are not being paid what was promised, I do not. Making business-related decisions based on poor accounting is not being negative. I have made .95 cents in total from KU for the week. A family friend wanted to purchase my book on iStore, but I went exclusive with Amazon. I easily could have made the .95 cents back.

    If your book is one of the lucky that isn’t subject to the glitch, then stay. But I would advise other authors to be WARY of KU PAGE READS. I’ve been exclusive with Amazon for nearly two years. If this error is not corrected, I will definitely pull my books. Not out of bitterness, but because it doesn’t make any financial sense.

  • P.S. Word to the wise, to those authors currently in KU whose books are not affected. Consider AVOIDING updates to those books. Authors are reporting that they’ve experienced this page read glitch on books they’ve re-uploaded. If your earnings are decent, you may want to avoid the risk. This isn’t me being “negative” this is just something that I think could help others. If your books are getting decent page reads right now, wait until this is fixed before updating if you can.

  • Perry Constantine

    The KU issues won’t stop me from putting future books in Select. I haven’t noticed any differences in my pages read (if anything, I think September I had more pages than I did in July or August). But even if there was a drop, it’s still more than what I was making on the other platforms (which was a few dollars a year).

    As for President, I’m Votin’ for Cohen. He’s a fellow Chicagoan.

    • Bryan

      Chicagoans stick together! Thanks, Perry :).

    • Bryan is just another typical Chicago politician. It’s time for change. You know you want to switch your vote. #jimforsmbs

      • Perry Constantine

        Sorry, Jim. You’re awesome, but like Bryan said, Chicagoans stick together!

  • Sacha black

    This made me laugh so much!!!! How are we meant to vote….?? Perhaps a review of the constitution that allows a joint tenure?… oh god don’t make me choose….cough… *Bryan*…cough. What can I say? I like a scandal! Scandals = stories!!!!

    • Bryan

      Scandals for President! Thanks, Sacha.

    • Let me sweeten the pot. If you vote for me I’ll play more sound effects. #jimforsmbs

      • Sacha black

        Darn. My two Achilles heels – sound effects and coffee… I’m wavering here, I’m wavering… *chews nail*

  • KU isn’t for me, with or without reporting errors. I like having my work available at other retailers, even if it means losing some Amazon exposure and revenue.

    I’ll cast a vote for Bryan as President of the SMBS, because I’m afraid his campaign promise is actually a threat in disguise! If he doesn’t win, maybe he’ll stop working as hard as he does, and then we’ll all lose!


    Also, Bryan, you’re going to need good people for your cabinet. I humbly nominate myself for your Secretary of Paranormal, Preternatural, and Supernatural Relations. I’ll lock down the twitter handle: @SOPPSRSMBS.

    • Bryan

      Hooray a vote for me! Thanks, M! My campaign has no promises. Only threats. Ooh, a cabinet. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • He has no real campaign promises. I mean, the guy doesn’t even really want it. You know the clear choice. #jimforsmbs

  • Which of you is the lesser of two evils?

    • Bryan

      Jim is definitely the lesser of two evils. But do you really want LESS with your SMBS president?

      • You tell it like it is. He has the experience. The classic conundrum.

        • This is a no brainer. I’m digging up dirt on Bryan as we speak. Campaign ads coming soon. #jimforsmbs

  • I am gradually making more of my books wide – and little incidents like this just remind me how dangerous it is to limit your income opportunities.

    And I thought Jim was already the president 😉 !

    BTW, on a completely different note – I can only imagine the craziness Jim has to deal with right now. I graduated from the school district that is having all the issues right now (valley forge!). Hopefully it all works out okay.

    • Bryan

      It’s been an oligarchy up until now :).

    • I can handle the work load. Vote #jimforsmbs I appreciate the support.

    • Linda Fausnet

      No, Jim is president of Google Books.

  • I chose to go wide out of the gate and and incidents like this only strengthen that decision.

    I thought Spider McGee was the power behind the throne.

  • David A King

    Re Amazon KU misreporting — surely they need a different more reliable way of page counting? I already don’t do KU because I prefer to be wide, but if I was launching a new book and considering KU, this has definitely put me off.
    For president, I vote for Jim due to his greater maturity, but he should have Bryan as his vice president.

    • I agree, experience is what is needed for this election. Thank you for your support. #jimforsmbs

  • Seth Howard Wilks

    From how I understand KU, the value comes more from getting favour in Amazon’s algorithms, so I think I’ll still be trying it out for my first book.

    All hail Jim!!!!

    • Bryan

      Good luck, Seth! I think it’s a good strategy.

  • Crissy Moss

    I think I’d like to go wide again eventually, but most of my reads are through KU right now, so going back to being wide when I have absolutely no sales outside Amazon isn’t useful. Even if KU is having a few issues here and there I wouldn’t be loosing out on much…yet. If I were a larger author with more page reads and sales I would probably have more of a problem with it.

    • Bryan

      I agree with that logic, Crissy.

  • Eddie Jakes

    I’m more of a third party guy … but the Kukral/Cohen ticket for publishing liberty seems viable to me. On the KU issue. I don’t see how I have any other choice this early in the game for me to go another way. I have my first book up for free on all platforms and I barely see movement on Nook/Kobo/iBooks.

    • Bryan

      Hehe, I like that ticket!

  • Margarita Morris

    I won’t be taking my books out of KU for the present. Whatever glitches they may or may not have, I still do better being in KDP Select than when my books were wide. I won’t consider going back to the other stores until I have a series. As a Brit I’m not qualified to vote in American president elections but I can tell you that here in the UK we’re following the current one with a sense of incredulity 🙂

    • Bryan

      Many of us are doing the same over here :).

  • Tom Hickok

    KU… My first book is still several months away from being published. I will wait and see.

    I’m voting for Bryan. I think we need a political outsider.

    But, I’m looking forward to Jim making rants great again.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Tom! Haha, good slogan for Jim :).

  • Linda Fausnet

    I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks to Bryan for voicing some of the frustration that many of us feel during the self-publishing process. Naturally, most podcasts feature successful writers who can provide us solid advice on how to become successful like they are, but hearing success stories day in and day out can lead to overwhelm and make us feel like there is something wrong with us because our books aren’t selling as well as we think they should. The truth is that running any business takes lots of patience and hard work, and working for years before you actually turn a profit is common and it’s perfectly fine. Sure, it can be inspiring to hear how others found success, but sometimes it helps to hear someone say – you know what? I tried something and it didnt work like I thought it would. It sucks. I’m unhappy about it, but now I’m gonna move on and try something else. Thanks for sharing your experience, Bryan, and making us all feel a little less alone in this rocky venture!

    And, unlike the current U.S. presidential election, we have two candidates for President of the Sell More Books Show are intelligent, classy and qualified for the job. I vote for a co-presidency. Shawty-Hustler 2016!!

    • Bryan

      Shawty-Hustler 2016! Thanks so much, Linda. It’s way better to be real, for sure :).

  • Laura Martone

    This might be a tardy vote, but I think President Cohen has a nice ring to it. Sorry, Jim.

    • Bryan

      Hooray!! Thanks, Laura :).

  • To KU or not KU? We should not have to complain in mass to have the page count corrected. I will give KU until Christmas before I decide. So far I am not impressed by KU.

    Sorry Jim, I vote for Bryon because a President needs charisma and charming wit to appease the masses by tickling our funny bone LoL

    PS. Bryon, your fantasy anthology of short stories sounds like fun writing, please email me the details I would like to hear more about what you are looking for. Thank You.

    • Bryan

      Hey JB. The one I’m working on is already set, but I’ll let you know if I open up any others in the future :).

      AND, thanks for your vote :).

  • Great show…and I know this might not get read, but I appreciate you guys. It’s my fun education while I’m illustrating, so thanks for keeping me company guys =)

    And yes, i like rants (grin).

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Jaime! So glad you’re enjoying the show and that it can hang out with you while you illustrate :). I’ll let Jim know he gets one more votes for rants ;). Have a good day!

  • ilisa

    One of the best parts of these podcasts is Jim and Bryan’s attitude adjustment advice. Although I’m not into the positivite-attitude stuff, I am finding the advice to stay focused and not be distracted by nonsense really helpful.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Ilisa! Glad to have you as a listener.