When KDP goes wrong…

This week, I had great plans. My plans were:

reduce Abendau’s Heir to 0.00 for five days

To have Sunset over Abendau and Abendau’s Legacy reduced to 99p for seven days

To have Inish Carraig reduced to 99p for seven days

Now, during those promotional times I had three paid-for-promotion slots booked: on the Monday with Robin Reads for Inish, on the Tuesday with Book Barbarian for Inish, and on the Thursday with Book Barbarian for Abendau’s Heir and Sunset Over Abendau.

I have booked Kindle countdown deals before. I always give myself a day from the commencement to running a deal to check prices and, when I went onto the Amazon US site, the books were all sitting just above a dollar – which is normal when a book is 99c and you’re viewing it from the UK, and signifcantly cheaper than my normal 4-5$ price. All good.

And then the first promotion didn’t appear. I contacted Robin Reads who confirmed the price hadn’t been reduced so they didn’t run it. There went £20 of paid promotion. I checked with my US friends and they were seeing a range of prices from $1.39 up to $4.99 depending on which device they used to access Inish Carraig. So it seems the countdown deal was happening in some form, but not in all the places.

At this point, I sent a mail to Amazon outlining I have another promotion today, that I needed Inish’s price adjusted and please help. I also contacted Book Barbarian and told them that Houston, I might have a problem. I also tweeted Amazon’s help desk (who can’t actually view my account to help, who can’t expediate an urgent need, who can’t actually do anything other than send me to the link I first contacted them through).

In the meantime I went for damage limitation and booked a new countdown deal to start on the Wednesday (all very time consuming this, as you can imagine). But when I woke up on Tuesday, it had vanished and I had to book a new one. And the response from Amazon was, largely, your deal is booked, it’s happening on Wednesday, sorry for the inconvenience. Not sorry you wasted money on a promotion. Not, oh, it was a systems thing and you’re right; it isn’t correct on the system. Nothing but a dust off.

So, I am a  consumer who values organisations based on their customer service. Who did well here?

Robin reads did nothing wrong. The terms of the contract is it’s up to me to assure the price is right. That I had done so and it was still wrong was not their fault. As an update, they reached out to me the next day, found out what had happened and issued a full refund with no questions asked. I’ll use them again.

BookBarbarian were a class act (I always find them very customer friendly). They agreed to rescheldule the Tuesday deal at some point. That’s great service – and they’ll get my business again.

Amazon are harder. No author is really in the position to say – “well, then, I’m off.” They account for most sales. But they do have me as an exclusive user at the moment. I sell on their platform only – partially for the kindle countdown promo that went spectacularly wrong, and partly for the readthroughs. But readthroughs have really fallen off for me recently (I should really have had a couple of extra books out by now if I want to follow the indie success model, but I am time poor and, also, I like to give my books brewing time), so that’s less of an incentive.

All of which adds up to me going wide with my books, after this period. I like that – I’ve done it before – because, what today has proved, is that being reliant on one organisation for your products’ marketing and availability is not a good thing. Had I been wide, the promo would have ran yesterday, but just left Amazon off.

So, yeah, I’m convinced. Exclusive has been bad for me here, and the follow up care hasn’t done anything to remedy the situation. Wide it is. 🙂

4 Comments

  1. I’ve had months where my Draft2Digital check was bigger than Amazon’s. Go figure.

    • Jo Zebedee

      March 6, 2018 at 7:28 pm

      That’s good to know. I think I need to be more patient with it!

  2. Interesting. As a reader, I haven’t engaged with any vendor of ebooks that imposes DRM restrictions, as I passionately believe that an ebook should in all ways be treated as a paper book; otherwise it’s just software. As a writer, I’ve so far stuck to this principle, though it will no doubt be sorely tested in the future. Again as a point of principle, I have no desire to engage with the US tax authorities, even if the process of obtaining the exemption thing is quick and simple. I despair of the apparent lack of viable European alternatives to the US-owned and operated vendors.

    • Jo Zebedee

      March 7, 2018 at 9:28 am

      It’s easy not to publish with DRM on Amazon, though, and they certainly don’t impose it. I don’t know any of the indie authors who employ DRM – whether the big publishers do, I’m not sure. I agree about the lack of non-US counterparts but it didn’t bother me going for the tax exemption. If I carried out consultancy work and had to do the same, I wouldn’t blink. We live in an international commercial world, I just see the tax thing as an element of a bigger picture. Plus I don’t see why I should pay two different governments tax on my income when one doesn’t get to give me any benefits for my tax. 🙂

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