Home » Agents, Amazon, Self-Publishing » Update from a Slightly Less Terrified Author

Update from a Slightly Less Terrified Author

29 November 2014

From author Heather Hill:

For those that have been following my progress, I have news. About a month ago I left my agent – a most amicable parting – and decided to go it alone again. I won’t go into my reasons here, but will just say that there were other avenues for me to explore and as she was in the progress of moving to another company, I decided not to go too.

. . . .

Publication of The New Mrs D was agent-assisted under Amazon KDP’s White Glove Program. For those who don’t know what this is, it is a self publication platform only available to agented authors. Your book is promoted on three Amazon pages in rotation with other White Glove Program books for a period of thirty days. In return, Amazon KDP requires a 6-month or a 12-month period of exclusivity. Some authors see a spike in sales during that 30-day period, while others see little, if any, difference.  In order to benefit from this 30 days of promotion, you must sign 15% of your royalties away to your agent. I decided to give it a go.

The New Mrs D hit the UK humour best-sellers list within a day of becoming available for pre-sale. And not long afterwards, it was chosen for a Kindle Daily Deal promotion on the Australian Amazon site. For one day only it appeared on the Kindle Daily Deal home page and subsequently sold 857 copies in that day, rocketing it to no1 bestseller over all.

. . . .

This afforded me a steady income, good enough to fund more advertising, giveaways and keep me writing. So when my agent and I parted ways, I asked what would happen to my eBook rights, currently held by her previous agency, if I took them back. The answer was ‘nothing, it’s fine. They have agreed to transfer the rights to you and you won’t lose any of your reviews or sales rankings.’ ‘Happy days,’ said I. ‘Let’s do it.’
For two whole weeks I continued to plug my book, putting links in everything I wrote and even began planning a few free days on KDP. I contacted over 40 free ebook websites telling them of the dates of my promotion. Then, I tried to see my sales reports, which were originally held by the agency so I could only see them if I asked for them. Assuming they were now moved to me, I had a peek and found: NOTHING. Not one sale. Despite my novel appearing to still sitting comfortably in the Amazon Australia Humour Top 100.

I contacted Amazon, who then pointed out that I now in fact had TWO ebooks on there. The original one, still with my old agency, and a newly published one which was the one I was looking at that had no sales. I wasn’t seeing sales reports because the original sales were still going to the agency. The one I had was only visible to me. I hadn’t noticed the new ASIN number.

I contacted my ex-agent agent, who came back to me the very next day to say it was all sorted out now and very sorry for the confusion. The rights were now mine. I still had my reviews and sales rankings. Brilliant! Except… I didn’t.

The agency unpublished the original eBook (without telling me or my agent) and it crashed out of the charts, leaving me with a newly published copy that couldn’t be seen or found by anyone. I’d gone from making a modest income, which in truth was like oxygen to us, to none – at the click of a button. I telephoned the agency, naturally, to be told, ‘we’re very sorry. It can’t be undone.’

Link to the rest at @Hill4Heather.com and thanks to Margaret for the tip.

Here’s a link to Heather Hill’s book

Agents, Amazon, Self-Publishing

20 Comments to “Update from a Slightly Less Terrified Author”

  1. I’m aware of the preferential treatment Amazon gives to agented authors. It happened to me until I decided to publish some other titles unagented. We did not part company quite so pleasantly but the transfer of titles went smoothly and Amazon reinstalled original reviews. Not sure about rankings.

    On an aside, I do not understand why agented authors receive preferential treatment and promotion. It’s one of a number of facts that make me distrust and dislike Amazon.

    • It doesn’t bother me at all. I assume it’s their way of getting exclusivity for an extended period with a manuscript that’s been vetted by a third party without them having to give an advance or anything other than some promo on their site.

      • Doesn’t apply. They have exclusivity with me, and I was an established author with a series.

        • It does apply: Some authors are very leery of going exclusive for 3 months with KDP Select(I’ve seen their comments to this effect) and this program would be exclusivity 2 to 4x longer than that. This is a lure to those who may question this choice of going Amazon-only for 6 to 12 months. Lots of authors do not like not being on other vendor sites, even for 3 months.

    • Well, this was news to me. It sounds like Amazon has decided to use agents to sift for the most likely commercial successes, and making the authors pay for it.
      Given the number of trad-pubbed authors who no longer have agents but do have a track record and good product, and given the total lack of certification, training programme, or any kind of accountability at all for agents, I’m puzzled. They won’t accept a proven author for the program, but they will accept an unproven author, so long as some person with a business card that says ‘agent’ says they should?

    • so Amazon wants to use agents to sift for the most likely commercial successes. and asking the author to assume the cost. And in so doing, eliminate all the trad-pubbed authors who no longer use an agent but might be otherwise exactly what they’re looking for.
      To be trad-pubbed proves you have some chops. To be an agent there is nothing required beyond a business card, an email address, and the ability to convince someone you know what you’re doing. There are no standards, certification exams, or accountability at all. Seems backwards to me.

    • My guess is that Amazon is trying to pull traditionally published authors who have never self-pubbed into the self-publishing fold. Amazon pitches to the agents, agents look at their submissions, perhaps thinking Manuscript B is going to be a super hard sell because of genre or whatever, so instead of doing the hard work of talking to editors at 15 houses to interest them, the agent has just 1 conversation — with the author. And, viola, there’s now an author that had no interest in self-publishing dipping their toes in.

  2. Cautionary tale. Thanks for sharing that. I hope you get that sorted out and do even better going forward. I’m an aspiring author, and I am learning from good and bad experiences current authors are dealing with.

  3. I went to Heather’s website and I thought her tagline was so funny, I went to check out her books at Amazon. She only has one right now and I would have bought it but it’s more than my personal limit for a new author; why doesn’t Amazon have any way to notify us when the price drops?! I’ll try adding to it ereaderiq… sigh.

    Also, I would love it if I could choose my own price when I buy books. There are some authors out there that I love who underprice themselves and I WANT to pay more and can’t. I don’t know how it would work but what if in kdp we could set a suggested retail price but also a “will accept any price greater than x”…

    • I see it’s selling for $4.40 at the moment. But she also mentioned a free run December 3-5, so that would be a good time to get the book if you want to read it.

      • Thanks, I missed the free run announcement. Although, that makes me want a “pay what you want” even more. I’d pay 2.99 for it, but there’s no way for me to do that. Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Google, are you listening? For digital content, let me pay what I want.

        And P.S. it was surprisingly easy to add the book to ereaderiq, once I figured it out.

        • ereaderiq.com also has “1 click” plugins for Firefox and I think chrome too. I just look at a kindle book at Amazon on Firefox and click a little button and it’s added to my price watch list. The other plugins that I use are “notify when on kindle” and “viewer” and “author”.

        • Really? You’d pass the author up over a measly $1.41 price difference? You can’t even get a small cup of coffee for that, most places.

    • To find out about price drops and other things, like the appearance of a Kindle version for a print book, look at http://www.ereaderiq.com . They have 3 excellent free tools: a watcher for price drops, a watcher for new Kindle editions, and a watcher for books by author.

  4. Hi there, thanks for sharing this, I hope it serves as a good warning to other authors. I most definitely wouldn’t go down this route again. What I should have done is trusted my own ability to market myself.

    • Heather, have you tried contacting Amazon customer service to get the two books linked in their system so that the reviews aren’t lost? You might not be able to regain your former ranking, but you should be able to salvage the reviews.

      I had to do that for a client whose publisher went belly up and reverted the rights to her. Amazon was able to link the books so that potential customers could still read the previous version’s reviews.

  5. ” I still had my reviews and sales rankings. Brilliant! Except… I didn’t.”

    Smells fishy.

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