Thursday, May 19, 2016

Still Feeling the Squeeze

In a recent blog post, I went on quite a rant about Amazon’s policy of paying independent authors based the number of pages read in their books as opposed to a percentage of the retail price. One of the things that I took exception to was that as a reader, I’m not allowed to return a book I haven’t finished reading and get a partial credit for it.

Well, not only was I wrong, but I was wrong in a big way and I’m even more frustrated.

Readers can return e-books to Amazon, but this isn’t just limited to readers who read the book partway and realize it’s not for them so they ask for a refund. This is for any book, fully read or not and it gets even better. The reader has up to seven days to return the book for a full refund.

You read that right! Seven days to return a book for a full refund. I don’t know about you, but there have been many days where I have enjoyed a book so much that I have finished it in far less than seven days. If a book is really good, I have been known to finish it the day I purchased it.

In theory, this seven day return policy isn’t for voracious readers like me that enjoy the books they’ve purchased. It’s probably intended for people who buy a book but don’t have time to read it right away only to sit down a few days later and discover they don’t like the book or it isn’t what they expected.

The problem is that Amazon has no way to truly distinguish between legitimate return requests and those requests that are the result of some lowlife cheapskate looking to cheat the system and take money from the pockets of hard working authors.

I spend a lot of time and effort on my books and I have my price points set at $3.99 or less for all of my e-books. For someone to read my book, enjoy my book, not review it and then have the audacity to return it within seven days just so they can get their money back makes me more than sick.

It flat out pisses me off. The trouble is, there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. Until or unless Amazon is willing to amend their return policy to be more equitable for authors and readers, this will be yet another way that I’m feeling the squeeze. Talk about sucking the joy out of what I love to do!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Leave my Reviews Alone!

Every time I release a new book, I go on a tireless campaign to commission reviews. And when I say tireless campaign, I mean that I beg every follower on each of my social media outlets to take pity on me and post a review of my book on Amazon.

I hate to say it, but my begging usually doesn't work. The people that would be affected by it are those that have already left a review. Those are my die hard fans who love all of my books and make me happy to be a writer. I love those fans, and I love their reviews. Like any writer, I'd also love to see more reviews.

Every time a review comes up on Amazon, I hold my breath waiting to see what the reviewer thought. Most of the time, the response is good. I'm sure I've never told you this, but I always print out the first five star review that my new novel gets and I frame that alongside a picture of the book cover. Then I hang it in my office to serve as a constant reminder that someone likes what I do.

As I said, I love not only my reviews but my fans. Anytime a fan wants to friend me on Facebook, I accept. I love to hear from them and connect with them. Building relationships with readers is part of what makes me a better writer. I get to hear first hand how they felt about my characters, plot, etc.

Well, it seems that in befriending my readers, I'm running the risk of Amazon deciding any reviews posted by my "friends" are in violation of their review policy and could therefore be taken down. Yep, it's true. Your friends and family are not allowed to post reviews of your books. If they do, and Amazon discovers the relationship, the review is removed and the reviewer is notified.

I'm just going to say it. Give me a break here, Amazon. I'm not Nicholas Sparks or James Patterson. I don't have so many best selling books and readers that I couldn't possibly keep track of them all. I'm an indie author who relies on having a good relationship with my readers in order  to help me sell more books. So what if they friend me on Facebook? That doesn't mean it's going to change their opinion of my work.

As far as my family not being allowed to review my books? I guess I can kind of see that. I'm always skeptical when a family member raves about my book because I'm not sure whether it's genuine praise or obligatory. I will say this though. Since I'm an indie author, my family members are usually the first to buy my books and show their support. I say if they bought the book, let them post the review.

No, I don't know the logic behind Amazon's policy, and I don't really care. I have a number of books on Amazon's site, and they each have less than ten reviews. Some don't even have one review. So, Amazon, if you're reading this, please leave my reviews alone! I need them more than you can possibly understand.