Did You Know Amazon Deleted Kindle Book Tags?


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