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Industry News

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

By: Hidden Gems | 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 >

Amazon Slams the Doors to Kindle Worlds

By: Jen Talty | Posted on June 1, 2018

First Amazon shut down the Kindle Scout program.  Now, about a month later, they’re doing the same to Kindle Worlds. The issue affects both readers and writers alike, and Hidden Gems has been lucky to have worked with two prominent KW authors in the past. Jen Talty and Casey Hagen are speaking up to share their view and perspective on what exactly went down and what it means to the future of everyone affected. As the behemoth of the book world, what Amazon creates, it can decimate… Hundreds of authors with novels and novellas published within Kindle Worlds were notified by Amazon that Kindle Worlds would be no more. Finished. Kaput. This has a huge impact on both the seed authors, the author whose world was licensed with Amazon, and the authors who gave up time, energy, and their copyrights so they could play in the seed author’s sandbox. We… Read More >

Reviewers Locked Out by Amazon’s Latest Glitch

By: Hidden Gems | Posted on May 29, 2018

Last week, many Amazon customers were greeted with an ominous sounding message when they tried to leave reviews. It was just the latest in a long line of glitches affecting book reviews, but because the issue was so widespread and absolute, it caused rumor and speculation to fly into overdrive. Fortunately, your Amazon book reviews are still safe. What it really demonstrated, though, is how easily information can be distorted – especially when the company at fault refuses to acknowledge the issue publicly or to their own employees.  Now that it’s all behind us, let’s look at what happened. The Timeline Beginning on May 22nd, we were alerted by some of our HG readers that they were being greeted by the following message when they tried to leave reviews on Amazon. Sorry, we are unable to accept your review of this product. This product currently has limitations on submitting reviews. This… Read More >

Kindle Scout In Memoriam

By: Jim Nelson | Posted on May 25, 2018

The news that Amazon was shutting down their Kindle Scout program was sudden and came as a shock to both readers and authors alike.  Jim Nelson was one of the authors that actually had his book selected by Kindle Scout and published by Kindle Press before the whole thing shut down.  Here’s his perspective on the program, what it meant to authors, and his hopes for the future. At the end of this month Amazon’s e-publishing venture Kindle Scout will be put to rest after a run of three-plus years.  Amazon announced the winding down in an email sent to all of Kindle Scout’s registered users (“Scouts” in their parlance) on April 2nd.  The email was cool and understated considering the subject matter: “[W]e wanted to let you know of some upcoming changes being made to the Kindle Scout program” followed by businesslike details of the program’s orderly shutdown.  Amazon’s… Read More >

Rumor Busting for Self Publishing Authors – A New Series

By: Hidden Gems | Posted on May 5, 2018

As a service that sends out thousands of free books daily across multiple genres, it’s probably no surprise to learn that Hidden Gems hears more than our fair share of self publishing industry rumors from both authors and readers alike. Most are sparked by some sort of catalyst, like a vague or misleading news story, or an industry heavyweight changing their policies. Those type come in waves, rolling in repeatedly from different sources all devouring the same misguided conclusions.  Other rumors are more persistent, coming in less evenly but still consistently over time, never quite fading away completely. However, there’s a benefit to hearing all of this speculation from so many varied sources. It provides us with a unique opportunity to watch these overall issues as they develop, giving us fresh perspectives and differing viewpoints into each.  When we combine that with our experience in the self publishing industry, some… Read More >

Becoming an ARC Reader: Because who doesn’t love free books?

By: Hidden Gems | Posted on July 11, 2017

Getting free ARC books and becoming a book reviewer has never been so easy, and now you can do it for all genres and without the hassles of the past! If you scour the web in search of book reviews and becoming an ARC reader, you’ll find plenty of articles describing how you can contact publishers or authors directly, sign up for their various mailing lists, and hopefully get free books from them whenever they actually release one (usually not more than once a month or two). That was certainly the best way to go about it in the past. But things are different now, and we’d like to think we helped pave the way to change. Hidden Gems has been sending out ARC books for authors for about two years now (our first one went out in October 2015) and since then we’ve grown from 2 or 3 a… Read More >

Does Page Flip Hurt Authors and Readers?

By: Hidden Gems | 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: Hidden Gems | 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 >