Is Amazon taking Author Advertising too far?

By: Ginger | Posted on May 24, 2019

Amazon has been experimenting with their ‘sponsored’ adverts for books – placing them in ever-more prevalent positions throughout a customer’s shopping experience. The question is – have they taken it too far, and have these Amazon advertising spots begun to negatively impact both the success of authors and the reader experience?  Ginger gives his opinion on the issue. What do you think? Recently, I was on Amazon organizing my catalog of books – and like I’ve done a thousand times, I typed my pen name into the search bar expecting to see all the books that come up related to it, independent of my Author Profile page. What did I get instead? Two ‘Sponsored’ books, neither of which were mine. My books were there – but ‘beneath the fold’. This means I actually had to scroll down before I’d even get to see any books relevant to the terms I’d… Read More >

The Undeserved Stigma of Self-Publishing

By: Ginger | Posted on October 12, 2018

Services like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing have provided a new generation of authors an amazing opportunity to be successful outside of the confines of ‘traditional publishing’ – yet there’s still a stigma about self-publishing. As more and more authors choose to spurn traditional publishers, many feel that this stigma is increasingly undeserved. As my writing career has become more successful, I’ve been more and more open to telling people about it. I’m now a writer full-time, and it’s pretty exciting to be able to support my family from book sales. And yet, when I talk to strangers about this, I still often get a strange reaction from them. “Oh, I’d like to write a book someday. But, y’know – like a real book.” I always like to ask: “What do you mean a real book?” “Oh, you know – from a publisher.” It’s funny, but almost a decade after Amazon… Read More >

The Complex Relationship Between Authors and Free Books

By: Craig | Posted on August 17, 2018

There’s a lot of mistaken belief when it comes to free books, from both authors and readers alike.  After all, whether they’re doing it for the love of the art, or just as a job, most authors still want to earn money from their work, so how can free books ever be a good thing?  The truth is, the relationship between authors and free books go back a long time – and like any relationship… it’s complicated. Every so often I see a reader don their white hat to make the argument that they don’t use an ARC program because they think that authors should get paid for their work. An admirable sentiment, for sure.  Still, I can’t help but wonder if those same readers have ever used a library, or borrowed a novel from a friend?  After all, readers have been using those as traditionally acceptable sources of free… Read More >

Why Do People Give Romance Such a Hard Time?

By: Ginger | Posted on August 1, 2018

For decades, the romance genre has been the butt of innumerable jokes – but it continues to be the biggest genre in publishing, and generates over $1 billion in sales every year. Is it time we looked at this much-maligned genre with a more discerning eye? If you’re remotely interested in reading romance books, you might have heard about #Cockygate – the latest big scandal to hit publishing earlier this year. The details have been covered enough that we don’t need to rehash it all again, but a lot of the resulting discussion in the media focused on the broader subject of the romance genre in general, and even romance readers themselves. It’s that focus that is worthy of further discussion. Because what was written and said about the genre and romance readers in particular wasn’t very flattering. By and large, most authors who write romance novels, and most readers who devour them,… Read More >

How Amazon Democratized Book Reviews

By: Ginger | Posted on July 25, 2018

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program revolutionized the publishing industry – allowing anybody with a laptop to follow their dreams of becoming a writer. In the same vein, Amazon also revolutionized book reviews; taking the power of showcasing (or bashing) a book out of the hands of an editorial elite and letting anybody have their say. It’s one of the best things to ever happen to publishing – and here’s why. Before I became a whatever-the-hell-I-am-now, I tried my hand at many different careers. My first job was scrubbing foxhounds at the local county hunt, and since then I’ve also tried garden shed installation, radio sales, copy-writing and bar tending – all with various degrees of success (my Sapphire Martini is world-class, by the way.) When I first moved to America, I got a very curious job reviewing erotic books for a now-defunct online newspaper The Sex Herald, and this was… Read More >

The Good and Bad of Amazon’s $50 Review Rule

By: Craig | Posted on July 10, 2018

Way back in 2017, Amazon introduced a requirement that anyone leaving a review on the site had to have spent at least $50 at the store with an actual credit or debit card. Over time, that policy has evolved to become even more restrictive. While we understand and even applaud the intent behind the policy, questions remain about whether or not it has really made a difference in improving the situation it was designed to fix.   And even more importantly, is it worth the cost to the real customers affected by it. The Current $50 Review Rule While the original rule was that customers have spent $50 in total on their account before being able to leave an Amazon review, it has since become more restrictive.  According to the community guidelines page, a customer can only write a review if they’ve spent $50 over the last 12 months (that… Read More >

For the Record, eBooks ARE ‘real books’

By: Craig | Posted on June 19, 2018

It’s time to put to rest the misnomer that eBooks aren’t ‘real books.’ It’s an outdated and offensive view and whenever someone uses it as an argument, it tells us far more about that person then it does about whatever book they’re referring to. As you may be aware, every day Hidden Gems Books sends out hundreds of free digital copies of books, on behalf of the authors themselves, to our subscribers. The hope is that most of them will read the book and then leave an honest review, which in turn helps the author get the word out about their book. It’s the whole premise of our ARC program, and we have so many authors and books to send out that we’re always looking for new readers to join our ranks. The program isn’t for everyone, of course, and that’s completely understandable. However, there is one objection to joining… Read More >

What Makes a Good Book Review?

By: Craig | Posted on September 15, 2017

At Hidden Gems, book reviews are what we’re all about – and although we aren’t writing them ourselves, we’ve seen enough from our readers, and heard from enough authors, to have a pretty good idea about what makes a good book review. If you’re one of our ARC reviewers, or even if you’re reviewing on your own or for someone else, here are a few ideas on what authors are looking for, how to be fair, etiquette, and just overall tips for writing a helpful review. No One-Line Book Reviews As much as an author loves to hear that you “Loved this book!”, that’s not really a review.  While your opinion is important to helping support the author, it’s a lot more helpful when it is more detailed in regards to the particular book being reviewed. A one-line review might also look fake to other readers, or even Amazon. Especially… Read More >

Does Page Flip Hurt Authors and Readers?

By: Craig | Posted on October 20, 2016

Some of your favorite authors might be forced to pull out of Kindle Unlimited because they aren’t being paid for the pages you’re reading… and here’s why. Amazon considers their much ballyhooed new Page Flip feature a navigational tool, intended simply to casually browse or flip through a book. However, mounting evidence is starting to show that many readers use Page Flip to actually read parts or even entire books. They do this for a variety of reasons, including: Preference – they prefer the reading experience in Page Flip mode Ignorance – some books open into Page Flip and customers may not realize it Software issues – some are reporting bugs that force them to use Page Flip to read But whatever the reason, when Page Flip is used to read a borrowed Kindle Unlimited book, authors are not getting paid. And according to Amazon, that’s by design, because Page… Read More >

Are Amazon’s Indie Authors Earning What They Deserve?

By: Craig | Posted on September 30, 2016

Ever lowering payouts, a lack of transparency, and a history of making mistakes are leading many authors to wonder just how much longer they can continue to write for the book giant. Is it time for Amazon to allow external auditors to look into its records? Let’s look at how things got to where they are now, what some of the problems are, and then what, if anything, should be done about it. Kindle Unlimited and Exclusivity The idea of an all you can read subscription service wasn’t invented by Amazon (Oyster and Scribd did it first), but one could argue it perfected the model – at least from a retailer’s perspective. Launched in 2014, Amazon’s $10 a month Kindle Unlimited (KU) subscription service introduced the idea of exclusivity to its authors. Independent authors that wanted to participate had to pay the heavy price of pulling their novels from all… Read More >