A book by any other name: why does the US change so many titles?

13 September 2018

From The Guardian:

There was widespread reaction when the Philosopher’s Stone in the title of the first Harry Potter book became the Sorcerer’s Stone after its US publisher, Scholastic, decided that children might confuse wizards for Plato.

But hordes of books have had their titles changed in America. Disproportionately, they are mysteries. Twenty-five Agatha Christie titles have been “localised” but unfortunately, their new names do not add to their allure. Instead, they merely baffle Brits who, when buying Murder in Three Acts or Poirot Loses a Client on vacation, discover they are Three Act Tragedy or Dumb Witness in disguise.

Naturally, book titles change from country to country. Altering the first Potter adventure to Harry Potter a l’Ecole des Sorciers in French is far less baffling than what was done to its American counterpart. Some localisation is to be expected: if you’re translating the text, why not change the title to match? But, with the UK and US sharing a language, why change titles?

Sometimes publishers themselves don’t know. For example, Hitler’s Scapegoat by Stephen Koch will be released by Counterpoint Press in the US next year as Hitler’s Pawn. I asked their publicity manager why, but she wasn’t sure and said the editor didn’t know either. Ask the Brits, she suggested.

Then there’s The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, a Stuart Turton novel renamed The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the States because, apparently, Americans die more frequently. When asked about the change, US publisher Sourcebooks initially joked: “Our editorial team decided to supersize it.” We’re lucky Christie’s Three Acts wasn’t upgraded to 3¼ or – horror of horrors – Tragedy 3.0. After all, this is the country that slapped the title Little Women II on Louisa May Alcott’s Good Wives.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Amazon is bringing together all its ad products under one brand: Amazon Advertising.

10 September 2018

From Edgy Labs:

Following Google’s move earlier this year which saw the search engine giant dropping many of its advertising brands, Amazon has retired three of its ad services and products as well. In an announcement made last week, Amazon SVP Paul Kotas proudly introduced the all-new Amazon Advertising department.

In an effort to make the life of advertisers a whole lot easier, Kotas announced that they would be retiring three of the company’s most popular marketing platforms: Amazon Media Group (AMG), Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), and Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP).

We’ve unified our product offerings under the name ‘Amazon Advertising.’ This is another step towards our goal of providing advertising solutions that are simple and intuitive for the hundreds of thousands of advertisers who use our products to help grow their business.

. . . .

Amazon Advertising is not a new marketing service. Instead, it is a new brand that will unify the three legacy Amazon brand names- AMGAMS, and AAP – as the company starts phasing them out in the next couple of months.

Under Amazon Advertising, the company hopes to eliminate the confusion caused by the number of ad products and platforms they have built these past years as the digital marketing space flourished. Apparently, these multiple marketing services and products have left some marketers and business owners baffled on what product to use.

. . . .

With the new Amazon Advertising platform, marketers and website owners who wish to grow their businesses can take advantage of the benefits offered by AMG, AMS, and AAP under one ad product. These services include the display and video services, sellers ads, and programmable solutions.

. . . .

If you’re still confused about what ad and marketing products the Amazon Advertising will offer, here’s a simplified portfolio of their services.

  • Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands that will enable advertisers and marketers to promote their products or brand by making it easier for customers to search and purchase products in Amazon.
  • Display ads will help advertisers reach relevant audiences on Amazon, third-party sites, and apps with the aid of customizable brand or e-commerce creatives and actionable insights. This will enable advertisers to optimize their ads further to achieve various objectives. The Product Display Ads will also be available to advertisers that sell products on Amazon, helping them drive traffic to their product detail pages.
  • Video ads will allow advertisers to narrate their brand story and get better customer engagements in brand-safe environments through trusted channels like Amazon and IMDb, on exclusive Amazon devices such as Fire TV or Fire tablet, and across third-party sites and apps.
  • Stores enable vendors and sellers to develop their own website that will have its own branded URL on Amazon. With a Store, vendors and sellers will be able to showcase a brand story and product portfolio in a curated customer destination.
  • Measurement solutions which include campaign reporting, retail insights, and third-party reporting, will help businesses understand advertising’s impact on shopper behavior—whether they run on Amazon or third-party sites and apps—so they can optimize marketing strategies to achieve results.
  • Amazon DSP is a demand-side platform that allows advertisers to programmatically reach their audiences both on Amazon sites and apps as well as through direct publisher relationships and third-party exchanges. Advertisers can manage, optimize, and report on their programmatic display and video campaigns through the Amazon DSP console.

Despite becoming America’s second $1 trillion company, Amazon’s marketing and advertising division still lag behind its two direct competitors: Google and Facebook Ads.

Link to the rest at Edgy Labs

How to Set up Google Alerts (and Use It to Grow Your Business)

16 August 2018

From Ahrefs Blog:

Do you want to monitor the web for mentions of your name? Or perhaps your business? Or maybe even your competitor? Google Alerts can do this.

It’s simple to use. You enter a word or phrase, and you’ll be alerted by email whenever Google finds new mentions on the web.

. . . .

But Google Alerts is useful for more than just boosting your ego. Tracking mentions related to your business or brand can unveil opportunities for link building, brand building, collaborations, and more.

It’s a free tool that’s well-suited to beginners. But, despite being owned by Google, it doesn’t catch all web mentions.

How do we know? Because we have a web monitoring tool called Ahrefs Alerts. When we ran a small experiment to compare the number of results found by each tool, we found that, on average, Ahrefs Alerts returned 2,376% more results.

. . . .

How to set up Google Alerts

  1. Go to
  2. Enter a search term to track. Google Alerts will display a results preview as you type.
  3. Select “Show options” (below the search box). Choose how often you’d like to receive alerts: once a day; as it happens; once a week.
  4. Choose a source for your alerts: web; blogs; news; etc. If you’re unsure, leave this as the default “automatic.”
  5. Choose a language and region.
  6. Choose how many results you want to see: “all results,” or “only the best results.”
  7. Choose a delivery email address (this is where Google will send your alerts).
  8. Select “Create alert.”

. . . .

No matter how hard you work to keep your customers happy, you can’t please everyone.

Because of this, negative reviews can be a problem for all businesses.

Monitoring brand mentions should uncover negative reviews. But if your business gets mentioned a lot, these can be easy to miss. It is, therefore, worth setting up a Google Alert just for reviews.

For that, you can use: [brand name] + intitle:review

This will alert you to any new reviews of your business. Some of which may be negative.

. . . .

Spying on your competitors can unveil marketing tactics that you can use in your business.

. . . .

Plus, if a site is mentioning and linking to a competitor, they might also be willing to link to you.

. . . .

If a page mentions multiple competitors but neglects to include you, it presents an opportunity to introduce you and your business to the site owner.

. . . .

Most businesses publish new blog content on a regular basis, including your competitors.

Keeping an eye on what the competition is putting out there can help you to discover new topic ideas for your blog. It also keeps you in the know, should they publish competing content.

. . . .

Using Google Alerts, then, is a much better option.

Link to the rest at Ahrefs Blog

For visitors to TPV who are not familiar with Google Alerts, they operate just like a Google Search, but are running all the time.

If you use Google to search for your pen name to learn who and where you’re being mentioned, using the same search terms in a Google Alert will keep the search running continuously and email you when your pen name initially appears in a new post, website, etc.

PG has been doing something like this for many years using Google Alerts and, before that, LexisNexis (for whom he worked for three unhappy years, but from whom he obtained free access credentials that lasted for over ten years after he quit). He just counted and learned he is currently running 41 Google Alerts on a variety of topics.

As the OP indicates, these tools can provide a lot of good and actionable information about who is talking about you online and what they are saying. For example, readers of your books might appreciate a short thank you email from you if they mention you or one of your books on a blog.

PG does recommend some good sense and caution so you don’t give the impression you are operating an all-seeing eye that hovers over the internet. “My automated online surveillance system just discovered you posted a bad review and I demand an immediate retraction,” is not the effect you’re looking for.

Adding a Video to Your Book’s Amazon Sales Page

12 August 2018

From Indies Unlimited:

While perusing Facebook, I noticed a post in the Indies Unlimited Fans Group that piqued my interest — the new “add your video” option for your book’s Amazon sales page. I state upfront that technology and I do not always have an easy relationship, but this looked so promising that I thought I would give it a try. Please note that not everyone is seeing this option on their books’ pages yet.

. . . .

Step 1.  Click on “Upload your video” (see above). You will then get this screen:

. . . .

Step 2.  Decide how you want your video categorized. I clicked “Other.”

This brings up your video files.

Step 3.  Choose the file you want displayed. In my case it is Charlie’s New Beginnings.

. . . .

The video file will upload.

Step 4.  Give it a title and description (optional) and press submit if you are satisfied with the video. As stated on this screen, you can view and manage your videos by going to “Your Account” and then selecting “Your uploaded product videos.”

. . . .

This is the second time I’ve uploaded Charlie’s New Beginning as the first one is attached to the physical book and I wanted a video for the Kindle version as well. Since this is the case when I scrolled down, I saw the Charlie’s New Beginning video short that I had uploaded for the physical book.

Just to see what happens, I clicked on Upload video while it is still processing. The screen reverted to the select a category for your video as if you were getting ready to upload another one.

The wait is 24 to 48 hours, although I suspect it may be less.

After more than enough time I checked to see if the video was on the sales page. It was not.

Step 6.  Go back to, pressed upload video, and rechecked the sales page. Success!

Indies Unlimited also has a resource page for Video Trailers.

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited

5 Old School Social Media Tactics That Are No Longer Effective (And What To Do Instead)

30 July 2018

From Buffer Social:

5. Asking people to share your content

You’ve worked hard to create an awesome piece of content—and naturally, you want as many people to see it as possible. So, along with sharing the link on social media, you ask your contacts to post it on their own networks.

The problem? This request puts your connections in a really awkward spot. Saying no feels pretty uncomfortable (after all, you’re asking for a share, not a kidney), but they might want to for any number of reasons: the content doesn’t work with their brand, audience, or social strategy; they don’t agree with everything it says; or they simply resent being asked.

In the end, this strategy might help you get more views on, say, a blog post or Slideshare—but your professional relationships will take a hit. (Want to brush up on social media etiquette? Check out the 29 most common rules and which ones you should actually follow.)

What to do instead:

You want people to link to your content because, well, they want to. With that in mind, focus on making it as shareable as possible.

recent analysis of 65,000 articles found that a piece’s virality comes down to two main factors: arousal and dominance. In plain English, arousal means “riled up.” Both anger and excitement are high-arousal emotions. Dominance, on the other hand, is the feeling of being in control. When you’re inspired or joyful, you’re experiencing high dominance; when you’re scared, you’re experiencing low dominance.

Articles that perform the best on social use a high-arousal, high-dominance combo. What would that look like? Well, a photo of Vin Diesel with his daughter racked up 8.1 million interactions (making it the fifth most popular Facebook post of 2015), thanks to the strong, positive emotions it generated. But strong, negative emotions can be powerful too—take the Dove “Choose Beautiful” campaign, which put a spotlight on low self-esteem.

Link to the rest at Buffer Social

How Sellers Trick Amazon to Boost Sales

30 July 2018

From The Wall Street Journal:

Every day, dozens of young men crowd into tiny rooms with 30 computers each in northern Bangladesh. Their mission: Trick Inc.

Type in search terms, each time clicking on the links of products they were paid to boost, according to people familiar with the practice. Amazon’s algorithms begin recognizing that these products are popular, ranking them higher in the search results. The higher the ranking, the better chance of sales.

The scams are used to try to outsmart Amazon’s automated system that ranks some half-billion products in search results, according to interviews with consultants and businesses engaged in these practices, as well as sellers who say they have been approached by such businesses. It’s one of an ever-rotating wheel of tricks used to game Amazon’s algorithms. Some sellers pay off workers inside Amazon to gain competitive information. Others hurt rivals’ listings by barraging them with overly negative or positive reviews.

The tactics aren’t thwarting Amazon’s sales, which rose 39% in the second quarter, but they threaten to undermine the integrity of one of the world’s largest web marketplaces, which collects nearly half of every U.S. retail dollar spent online.

An Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement that those trying to abuse its systems “make up a tiny fraction of activity on our site.”

“We use sophisticated tools, including machine learning, to combat [bad actors], and we are making it increasingly difficult for bad actors to hide,” she said, adding that Amazon pursues civil and criminal penalties.

. . . .

Fake Amazon reviews have been a problem for years, and Amazon has developed better countermeasures to fight them. But sellers are becoming more creative, spawning an entire underground economy offering to deceive Amazon’s algorithms.

The trickery can be seen on Amazon. A search last week for a blackhead-remover mask turned up more than a thousand options. One of the top-ranked results, labeled “Amazon’s Choice,” had hundreds of reviews averaging 4.3 stars.

But only the first four reviews were related to the mask—the hundreds of others mostly evaluated a battery charger. The merchant, labeled by Amazon as “just launched,” likely co-opted an old listing with positive reviews and changed the product’s image and description to fool Amazon’s algorithms, according to sellers and consultants familiar with this general practice. An attempt to reach the seller was unsuccessful.

Amazon’s algorithm typically weighs a variety of factors to give a product an “Amazon’s Choice” label, including positive reviews and price. After an inquiry from the Journal, Amazon removed the unrelated reviews and the product was no longer labeled Amazon’s Choice.

“Reports of abuse have spiked enormously,” says Chris McCabe, who formerly worked at Amazon as an investigator and now helps sellers fight these problems as a consultant. Companies providing these types of “services are bolder, now, too” he says.

ompetition has grown fierce as the number of items on Amazon’s marketplace is estimated to have doubled over the past five years to more than 550 million, according to data-tracker Marketplace Pulse. Amazon also is pushing to expand internationally by soliciting manufacturers from China and elsewhere to sell direct to consumers.

. . . .

To leave a review, a customer needs to have spent at least $50 over 12 months using a valid credit or debit card, according to Amazon’s policy. A “verified” review means that the customer purchased the product on Amazon and didn’t receive it at a deep discount.

Amazon allows some methods for boosting a product in its search rankings, including advertising on the site and selling at a steep discount. Sellers can also pay to have a product reviewed by a small, random selection of Amazon-authorized reviewers, though this doesn’t guarantee that the reviews will be positive. But sellers say those measures can be expensive, and they don’t always work.

Instead, some sellers–particularly those in China, according to the people familiar with the practices–are turning to other sources for help. For a range of about $30 to $180 a month, some websites viewed by the Journal promise a certain number of positive reviews by offering reviewers cash and discounts as incentives, flouting Amazon’s rules. Others promise to help sellers with rivals’ information.

Some China-based Amazon employees have been paid off by sellers to pull confidential seller-account stats, search-optimization tricks and other internal information, according to people with knowledge of the practice.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

PG has noted a big increase in keyword stuffing in the product names on Amazon recently. A couple of examples:

Leapparel Men’s Funny Swim Trunks Quick Dry Summer Surf Beach Board Shorts with Mesh Lining/Side Pockets

iPhone 7 Plus Case Bling Glitter Sparkle Hard PC Back Soft TPU Screen Protector case for iPhone 7 Plus

How Google and Facebook Are Monopolizing Ideas

5 July 2018

From The Wall Street Journal:

In early May Google banned bail-bond companies from advertising on its platforms. Such companies profit from “communities of color and low income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable,” it explained in a blog post. They use “opaque financing offers that can keep people in debt for months or years.”

That Google can ban ads from an industry that offends its values is not, by itself, noteworthy. Media companies have long decided what content or ads to carry for the same reason. The difference is that even after decades of consolidation, no media company enjoys a U.S. market share as dominant as Google’s in Internet search (close to 90%) or Facebook Inc.’s in social networking. Like earlier bans on payday-loan ads, Google’s bail-bond ad ban, which Facebook copied the next day, effectively kicked an entire industry out of a major advertising channel.

The debate over whether Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., and Facebook are too big usually revolves around economics: Do they suppress competition for goods and services? The bail-bond ad ban raises a different, and potentially more troubling, possibility: that they also undermine competition for values and ideas. While Google and Facebook claim to be neutral platforms connecting users, advertisers and content providers, decisions about which ads to ban and which content to delete or reclassify are inherently value-laden, even when those values are embedded in an algorithm.

Data monopolies “can actually be more dangerous than traditional monopolies,” Maurice Stucke, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville specializing in antitrust, wrote earlier this year in Harvard Business Review. “They can affect not only our wallets but our privacy, autonomy, democracy, and well-being.”

Bail bonds aren’t a sympathetic industry. For a steep fee, agents agree to pay the court’s required bail if the client doesn’t show up for a court date. They are, however, legal and, in most states, regulated. And the industry says it serves low-income and minority clients because they are caught up in the criminal-justice system without the means to post bail on their own.

Jeff Clayton, executive director of the American Bail Coalition, whose members insure bail agents, says Google gave the industry no opportunity to comment on or appeal the ban. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment. Facebook did consult with both the industry and criminal-justice-reform groups after announcing its ban, a spokesman said.

Bail-bond agents used to advertise in the yellow pages, but as the public abandoned phone books for Google, so did the industry. “There are just no other options,” Mr. Clayton said. The ban doesn’t extend to regular search results, but it makes it harder for individual companies to stand out.

Conservatives tend to see tech companies’ progressive leanings at work in what gets banned or reclassified—for example, Facebook’s labeling of videos by two prominent supporters of President Donald Trump as “unsafe.” Bail bonds and payday loans have long been targets of progressive activist groups.

But as the companies come under growing pressure to police their platforms and weed out “fake news,” a growing range of content gets banned, labeled or deleted for often opaque or arbitrary reasons. ProPublica and Reveal, both nonprofit news publications, have had content dealing with hate groups and immigrant children, respectively, deleted or rejected by Instagram or Facebook. Video artists complain of viewership and ads being restricted because their content violated YouTube’s community standards.

Unhappy users, advertisers and content providers wouldn’t have as much to complain about if Google (which bought YouTube in 2006) and Facebook (which acquired Instagram in 2012) had strong competitors to which they could switch.

Absent such competition, expect pressure for the government to regulate it. But that’s a slippery slope. Politically appointed overseers may simply replace the companies’ judgments with their own. For that reason the Federal Communications Commission long ago gave up policing the nation’s airwaves for fairness.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal 

S&S Launches New Book Club Initiative

26 June 2018

From Publishers Weekly:

Simon & Schuster has announced the launch of “Book Club Favorites,” a new direct-to-consumer initiative intended to promote titles from imprints across the company deemed of particular interest to book clubs. The first pick will be Alice Hoffman’s The Rules of Magic, which goes on sale June 26.

The publisher will select a new book—primarily paperback fiction—each month and invite readers to join a digitally-organized book club. The club will consist of a free monthly newsletter, a website, a Facebook group, and monthly sweepstakes held in conjunction with Bright Cellars (a monthly wine club partnering with the publisher on the program).

Customers can buy the book club selection from retailers listed on the book club site. Throughout each month, discussion questions and exclusive content will be housed on the website and Facebook Group.

“We are thrilled to be showcasing Simon & Schuster titles in this new way, which expands on our existing book club efforts and provides readers with a new way to engage with our books and authors,” Wendy Sheanin, v-p and director of marketing at Simon & Schuster, said in a statement. “We are equally excited to see the Book Club Favorites program bring readers together for thought-provoking and lively conversations about some of our favorite books.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG wonders how indie authors can possibly keep up with the marketing geniuses in Big Publishing.

A Facebook group! A website! Where do they come up with all these brilliant ideas?

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