The Perils of Pauline vs Indie Authorship

Written By: Jackie Weger - Oct• 23•14
Jackie Weger

Jackie Weger

Do you remember silent films? And poor Pauline tied to the railroad tracks, a huge black locomotive chugging toward her, the train whistle blasting and the music thundering? I forget the hero who always rescued Pauline… I liken digital publishing to the Perils of  Pauline–except  we don’t have a lovely hero…we have to rescue ourselves when our careers or books are on the edge of a cliff on in front of that dang train bearing disaster upon us. I just this week rescued No Perfect Secret  and a blot on my career within minutes of a train wreck.

A year or so ago I wrote  about how confusing the whole indie publishing universe. I will tell you straight, a year and more ago, I was Eating Stupid for Breakfast. I did not know what I was doing and boy! Folks were so gleeful in telling me so. If I tried to upload a book or some info to promo sites and ran into snags… I was told: “It’s you. Change your browser.” I drove tech folks nuts trying to find out what was going awry with my computer.  I am much more savvy today and I have WP and Tech smart colleagues I can call on to check the sites I have problems with–guess what? Dozens of promo sites and blogs are just thrown together by administrators who think they know what they are doing. They don’t. I don’t either, but I now know people who do. That is just as good. My computer and browser works just fine, thank you.

Instead of trying to rush through the indie universe like a comet, I stopped on a dime and started reading books such as Let’s Get visible and How I  Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle. IMO, if an indie author does not read these two books, you will forever be tied to those dang railroad tracks. These two books, updated often, tell exactly how the indie universe works and puts paid to rumors. If there is any single thing you will learn, it is this: There are NO EXPERTS in our industry. If you want to know how Amazon works: Ask Amazon! Right this minute there is a GoodReads Librarian telling authors they may NOT Amazon gift books to readers in exchange for a review. She threatens to remove their books from Goodreads if  they do. I have an email from Amazon saying it is perfectly acceptable to gift books to readers in exchange  for a review.

The best advice I can share is: Think for yourself.  

I have learned about Alexa, a company owned by  Amazon. Alexa rates sites for traffic and activity. You can put the FREE tool right on your Browser bar. Before you spend five cents on promoting your book on a site that charges $$$, check its Alexa rank. Lower numbers are better. If the site doesn’t have a USA Rank and only 3 sites linking in–it will not move your books FREE or priced.  Put Alexa on your Browser Bar and check your own blog’s rank.

FREE October 23 - 27 FREE,

FREE October 23 – 27 FREE,

As I compose this, my blog’s Alexa Rank is 142,168 with 91 sites linking in. When I host blog tours or have activity I’m tweeting and Facebooking, this blog gets a much better rating. I have a small writer’s group I founded, eNovel Authors at Work. Right this minute it’s Alexa Rank is 57,268 with 91 sites linking in and we don’t sell anything! All the site does is share information about indie authorship as we learn it. When the site hosts tours or has an interesting article that draws visitors, the Alexa Rank is often 23,000–much better traffic than some promotion sites.

I just this week had a Perils of Pauline disaster stalking my most recent release, No Perfect Secret. This happened: The book was no more published exclusively in Amazon KDP Select when I got an email from Amazon, the book was knocked out of KDP because it was also on Barnes & Noble/Nook. I checked. Yes, it was. The book had once been published by an online publisher, but the rights had reverted to me. Yep. Something hinky going on. I learned about DMCA Notices. It is a ‘take down notice’ to folks who illegally publish your book. I sent a DMCA notice to  the publisher who no longer had the right to publish No Perfect Secret, another to the Legal department of Barnes & Noble and I copied Amazon. I also attached a copy of my reversion rights. In a few hours, No Perfect Secret was  removed from B&N and Amazon gave the go ahead to again enroll No Perfect Secret into KDP Select. Nobody accepted responsibility for my title on B&N. Was that the end of it? Nope.

I scheduled a FREE five day promotion for No Perfect Secret. Set it up inside KDP and bought the promo from all of my choicest sites. Two days before the  promo is to go live, Amazon removed the title from KDP once again. Yes, I suffered angst! The book was again on B&N. I checked the link. It was NOT for a digital copy of  No Perfect Secret, but the CreateSpace edition that Amazon distributes. Huh? Five emails later and nicely worded ones, too–Amazon agreed No Perfect Secret  was again eligible for KDP. But what  Amazon does NOT tell you is when Amazon pulls the book from KDP–it also deletes any promotions you might have scheduled. Lesson: Teach yourself to double-check every dang thing that has to do with publishing a book. I checked to make certain the promo was live. It was not. Holy Smokes! It only took a keystroke to set it up again. However, had I not, readers would be flocking to Amazon to download the book FREE and find it priced and I would have annoyed a dozen or more promotion sites. Not to mention the loss of my promo $$$ and credibility. Whoa! A public relations disaster in the making. If the promotion doesn’t go as planned, somebody hand me a shovel because I’m gonna bury myself right then and there.

Here is a tip: When you have to email Amazon inside your KDP Account and you want urgent action or an answer to a question, insist the email be forwarded to a supervisor or a member of the Leadership Team for KDP Select. I want to know how it is that Amazon’s own employees don’t know the difference between an ebook and a paperback. Because if Amazon’s spy bots that travel the universe of sales venues searching for indie authors who abuse KDP and do not know the difference–then titles can be yanked out of KDP on a daily basis and how do we plan promotions with a train wreck coming down the tracks?

I never like to wrap a blog without sharing this: The best path to reviews is this gentle golden gem of a plea right after  THE END  in your book.

Thank you for taking time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review.  Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated. 

Does it work? The proof is in the pudding. Go see for yourself:  The House on Persimmon Road and Finding Home.

P.S. My savvy author pals tell me I should always end a blog with an interesting tidbit you can use. So! Toss banana peels and bananas gone too soft to use near the roots of  your rose bushes. Bananas help intensify the fragrance of roses. It works. Best to you and yours from Jackie Weger.  Oh, Yes! The the promotion on No Perfect Secret  is on!  Go on over to Amazon and download your FREE copy.

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  1. Donna Fasano says:

    I love the Perils of Pauline comparison! Jackie, your blog posts are always filled with great information.

    One blogging tip I try to use: End your blog with a question. It encourages interaction and a sharing of information. A great question for this blog would be “Have you rescued one of your books from a “Perils of Pauline” moment? If so, tell me about it. Other authors might benefit from your experience.”

    Donna Fasano
    Author of An Almost Perfect Christmas
    Join Donna’s Street Team, The Prima Donnas

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Excellent suggestion, Donna. I don’t think I could handle another tale of woe right this minute. I want to focus on the good things happening–like the fast track to the moon your omnibus, Ten Christmas Brides, is on. Any minute now, I expect to see Amazon tag it a Bestseller. You and Mimi Barbour did a super job putting such a wonderful array of romances together. I had a great time at the Facebook Extravaganza yesterday. Congratulations!

  2. Wow!! What a story. Hard to believe, yet it doesn’t surprise me. Thanks for sharing your experience. One more thing independent authors can learn from. I don’t know the law but whoever published your book on B&N without rights should be investigated. I wonder how many others are victims and aren’t even aware of it. Geez! I’m glad you got it worked out, but it is troubling Amazon can’t distinguish paper from digital. Anyway, I’d forgotten about poor Pauline. Had to laugh thinking about it. Wonder if there are any YouTube clips? Sorry you had to go through all that. What a mess!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hi, Julie. Thanks for your thoughts. The happenstance is not unique to me or No Perfect Secret. Indie authors have such a close relationship with our books and Amazon, we sometimes forget that Amazon is a huge corporate entity. I found Amazon’s resolution process fast and effective. A turn around and resolution within 12 hours is darn good. It is what we don’t know or is not explained that can do damage. Had Amazon’s reply said: You may republish and reschedule your promotion, I would have understood exactly what I must do. There really is no process to investigate on-line publishers. But, that DMCA Notice is magic. The first response from the online publisher was a little on the snarky side, as in: we don’t have any control over B&N…once I sent the DMCA Takedown Notice and copied every entity, there was a sea-change in response to polite and professional. Works for me.

  3. Julie Frayn says:

    Wow, what an ordeal! You’re stronger than I, Jackie, to handle it all and come out smelling like a banana-fuelled rose… 🙂

    • Jackie Weger says:

      You know what, Julie: It is a step one, step two process. And really, a wonderful learning curve. The same thing happened to Martin Crosbie who publishes exclusively with Amazon as do I, so Amazon was not picking on me. The system works. It is just a matter of being alert and taking the appropriate action in a timely manner–another part of being an indie and responsible for every small and large facet of our book’s life and our career.

  4. Pete Barber says:

    It sounds like time to take an early sip of Jungle Juice, Jackie.

  5. Laurie Boris says:

    Yikes! Nothing like learning with your feet to the fire, Jackie. Or one step ahead of the speeding locomotive!

  6. Great advice, Jackie, as usual. I’m off to the Alexa site for that free browser tool.

  7. Mimi Barbour says:

    It took me a while but I finally got to read this blog and I’m so glad I did. What a font of imformation you are, Jackie! I’m so glad we met…

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