Sunday, October 6, 2013

Life On the Amazon

When you publish something on Amazon, they ask you what category you want it to be in. If it’s a mystery, you put it in fiction/mystery/whatever sub-category works best. If it’s your personal memoir about your time spent in prison, it goes in non-fiction/memoirs/crime. If it’s yet another zombie story – like we need more of those – it goes in fiction/horror/zombies.

When I did Hailey’s Bali Diary, I didn’t know which category to put it in. None of them really seemed to fit, so I put it in travel/Bali. It’s not really a travel book and it’s surrounded by Lonely Planet and Frommer’s, but I still haven’t seen any category that suits it better.

I put Nudist Cruise in travel/cruises. That made the most sense to me since it’s about what happens on a cruise. It seemed to be the right move because it sold very well in that category. It hovered around #5 for several months. Sometimes it would go higher or lower, but it stayed in the top 10 for a long time. I think that’s pretty good, especially since almost everything else in the top 10 in that category is from actual publishers that sell millions of books.

Then Amazon moved it to literature & fiction/erotica and sales plummeted. I have no idea why they moved it. There’s really nothing erotic about the book. It’s mostly about not being a nudist on a ship full of nudists. Any nudist will tell you there’s nothing erotic about nudism. Maybe Amazon considers nudism erotic, but I don’t think so. There are lots of nudist books that aren’t in the erotica category.

The funniest part is that when you’re choosing categories, erotica isn’t one of them. You can’t put anything there even if you want to. Somewhere along the line, Amazon decides what is and isn’t erotica and puts it in for you. In this case, they messed up. The worst part is, there’s nothing I can do to fix it. Everything at Amazon is automated and it’s very difficult to actually speak to a person. They respond to e-mails with computer-generated form letters that don’t do anyone any good.

It all seems pretty stupid to me. Not only am I losing money because of their mistake, but they are as well. They make money on every single thing they sell. While it was in the travel section, it was selling and they were making money. Now that they moved it, it’s dead and they’re getting nothing. They were never going to make millions of dollars from anything I write, but I don’t see why they’d want to throw away even a little bit of money – especially in this economy.

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