Did You Know Amazon Deleted Kindle Book Tags?

7 Jun

Well, did you?

Maybe this was all over the internet while I was away and I’m coming very late to this party if not rocking up on the wrong day, but I only discovered this yesterday when during a bit of idle blog surfing I ended up at this post by Steven Lewis on Taleist. A quick check of my listings confirmed that tags have, in fact, been removed from my Kindle book listings – but not from my paperbacks.

Who publishes a lot of e-books? Um, that would be self-publishers. And who publishes a lot of paperbacks? Those traditional publishing dudes. So is this an attack on self-publishers? Discrimination by the online book-selling overlords against the little guys? Another reason for those self-publishing evangelists to go on and on (and on and on) about those evil capitalists who are – shock, horror! – only interested in making money?

Conspiracy theories abound, but you can save them. You can stick ‘em, actually. I don’t want to hear it, much like I don’t want to hear about The Big Six, gatekeepers and legacy publishing. I agree with the conclusions Steven draws in his post, which is basically:

  1. This either happened because Amazon experienced a technical glitch OR because tags were no longer serving a useful function and so got sent to Amazon heaven
  2. If it’s the latter, tags were no longer serving a useful function because of us, i.e. self-publishers.

Well, not me personally, because I try not to do anything to sell my book that I couldn’t or wouldn’t theoretically do with a traditionally published book. This isn’t supposed to sound all, “Oooh, get me!” – it’s just a fact. And it wasn’t a conscious choice to begin with but as time went on, I realized that:

  • If I want to use my self-publishing success to pursue a traditional deal (which I do, although recently I’ve changed my game plan and hope to have BOTH self-publishing and traditional success running parallel in the future; hey, a girl can dream) then I need to be able to use the same promotional methods to help sell both kinds of books
  • All those tag-swapping, back-slapping, review-me-and-I’ll-review-you sites, groups and forums take up a considerable amount of time to participate in, and I’d rather use the little time I do have on things that have a broader reach, such as blog posts, tweets, etc. Things that are out in the internet’s open savannah and not hidden away in some dark cave, if you will (Animal Planet is on, okay?). And readers are not in there. The general reading public is not in there. All that’s in there are other self-published e-book authors, and I think my time is better spent not trying to sell my books to people who are simultaneously trying to sell their books to me.

When my Kindle listings first went live, I went on there and tagged them myself as an Amazon customer with relevant search terms and “cheap kindle book” (because, hello, at $2.99 it was). But I never asked anyone else to tag my book, and I certainly never swapped or traded tags. Any additional ones came from customers who had actually read the book, which is what tags are about. When self-publishers started tagging books they hadn’t read and then other self-publishers started tagging those peoples’ books that they hadn’t read, tags ceased to serve their purpose. They were no longer there to help the Amazon customer (who, let’s not forget, is our potential reader) find what they wanted to buy and read. Once abused by self-published authors, tags became meaningless.

So get out your little sad violin if you want, but I won’t be listening to you play it. I’m always talking on here (and in Self-Printed) about acting professional, and I don’t just mean keep your phone number and boyfriends troubles off your blog. I mean act like a professional author. Do things professional authors do, and don’t do the things they don’t. Stay out of the “indie author” clubs and sell your book to the reading world at large.

Or maybe Amazon have had a technical glitch, in which case ignore everything I just said.

Taleist looks like a really good site, and I’ve subscribed to its blog. I recommend you do too. Seemingly up until very recently they were called Kindle Self-Publishing, but Amazon (nicely, apparently) asked them to change it. Whatever its title, it looks like a wealth of useful information. I‘d encourage you to hop over for a look

7 Responses to “Did You Know Amazon Deleted Kindle Book Tags?”

  1. Tahir June 7, 2011 at 13:24 #

    Thanks for the post- it was a time bomb waiting to happen (if it hasn’t already it will). As you say, it’s like anything else, e.g. if you figure out a way to beat the stock market, that very act changes the market by definition, and it will no longer work. Also, maybe people aren’t aware, about a month ago Amazon banned authors from promoting themselves in their forums because it was becoming too spammy and created an authors forum so that authors can stick to only spamming each other and leave everybody else alone! I agree, all of this trying to beat the system, even though the system is stacked against us, doesn’t help because it just confirms the normal person’s view of self-publishers and in the end backfires on everyone.

  2. Lindsay Edmunds June 7, 2011 at 13:53 #

    I saw a tagging thread on Kindle Boards that had hundreds of pages. Can’t say I thought about the ethics of it; my objection was along the lines of life is too short.

  3. James D. Maxon June 7, 2011 at 17:22 #

    Hoping it’s a glitch myself . . .

  4. Steven Lewis June 8, 2011 at 00:26 #

    Hi Catherine,

    The first thing I thought when I came to your blog was “bloody hell this is a good looking site”; naturally I fell a little bit more in love when you not only mentioned my post but agreed with it; then I got to your recommendation. Thanks so much!

    • catherineryanhoward June 8, 2011 at 00:43 #

      You’re most welcome! And yes, everyone loves the pink blog – even though it’s just a free WordPress theme with a header pic in the same color. I can’t take all the credit! :-)

      As I said in the post I think self-publishers need to take a step away from selling their books (or trying to) to OTHER self-publishers. What’s the point? So while as an Amazon customer I’m not impressed with the removal of tags, as a self-publisher who has watched others take advantage of the situation to the point where it stops serving its original purpose, I’m the tiniest bit happy…

      • loulocke June 8, 2011 at 22:41 #

        Dear Catherine,

        While I would agree that spending too much time swapping tags or likes or blog posts can be time consuming and not necessarily productive, from my experience with a few groups, traditionally published authors who have just recently started having their back lists put up on Kindle by their publishers have been just as involved involved in the behavior. In fact, since many of them have such little control over price, categories etc, this seems like the one thing they feel they can do.

        In addition, it was my understanding it was not the individuals, or even members of groups, but some of those people who try to make money on unsuspecting authors by promising mass mailings, search optimization, etc who were doing the massive tagging, hence the take down until they could be rooted out.

  5. Lis Sowerbutts June 13, 2011 at 03:24 #

    The tags are back – it was a glitch I should think – people were whinging about other stuff going slow on kdp at the same time. Never under-estimate the ability of software to do glitches!

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