If you use Amazon (and most people do), then you may have noticed that they have changed the “Also Boughts” section on the product pages. It used to be a pretty reliable way of seeing what other people, who like the same things you do, have found interesting enough to buy. It also worked as free advertising for the producers of those things. Recently, Amazon decided it wanted a bigger chunk of the online advertising business (currently dominated by Google and Facebook), and got rid of the “Also Boughts”, replacing that section with paid adverts. This is worse for you (the recommendations aren't ‘natural'- they are chosen for you by whoever is willing to pay the most for your attention) and much worse for all writers: most authors are reporting earnings drops of between 30 and 40%. I'm not down that badly, but it's still a very noticeable drop in revenue.
This is annoying. I thought it might help matters to get some more reviews, so I just sent this request to my email list.
In my opinion it is unethical to offer incentives for reviews. How can other readers be sure that the review is genuine, if you've been paid for it in some way by the author? So I have a simple favour to ask. If you have read any of my books and not yet left a review, I would be very grateful if you would do so. You can find all of my books on my Amazon Author Page. If you'd be so kind as to click on that link, find the books of mine that you've read, and spend a couple of minutes rating them and writing a review, it would help enormously. Reviews sell books, and the more books I sell, the more people get a good start in historical swordsmanship, and the more money I have for research trips, writing time, and so on. It's a win-win.
But that got me thinking. Why, if Amazon clearly doesn't give a toss about me or my work, should I be sending them all this traffic? So then I looked into possible alternatives. It turns out that the print on demand service, IngramSpark, that I use for almost all my books, has a direct webshop facility. At the moment it is only available to US residents (damn it), but I have thrown one together at great speed, which has all of my books that I have distribution rights to, as well as a bunch of others that I have read and enjoyed or found useful (or both).
I need to add a lot more books to it, of course- is there anything you think I've missed? I've got books on woodwork, and fiction, and HMA resources. Unfortunately a lot of great books are published using other POD and distribution systems (eg I can't add books by Freelance, which would include my own Dagger book, as well as a bunch more really good titles), but the Ingram catalogue runs to the millions of titles.
And I need to add proper product descriptions and such like. This is very much an early-days work in progress, and I'll put more effort into it if you all think it's a good idea. And even more if Ingram get off their US-centric behinds and open it up to the rest of the world's readers.
Let me know in the comments or by email…