My Literary Ghetto Cousin


Back in late May I submitted An Unproductive Woman (AUW) into Amazon’s KDP Select program.  Since then I haven’t seen a massive jump in sales but in all honesty, I didn’t expect to.  One of the reasons I decided to go with KDP Select has to do with my lack of time to promote AUW.  Making my book available at multiple outlets, in my opinion, did nothing to help (or hurt) sales.  I figured that simplification and consolidation would make my life easier.  I also wanted to see if the increased exposure on Amazon would help.

Meh.  Not so much.  That said, despite only a nominal increase in sales, I figure I’ve still come out ahead if I don’t have to think about what I’m doing and where with AUW.  This gives me head space to think about and write my next novel.

About two weeks ago I took advantage of KDP Select’s free promotion.  Those signed up with KDP Select are allotted 5 days in every 90 day cycle to promote their books for free.  To me, the potential benefit was clear.  More people would have an opportunity to read and hopefully review my book which should turn into increased sales.  Right?

I was stunned to see after less than 24 hours that there were nearly 700 downloads of AUW.  After five consecutive days, total downloads were a little more than 1200. Certainly not stunning, but it is nice knowing that over 1200 people have my book in their Kindles.  If even 10% eventually read AUW… Wow, wouldn’t that be grand?  I mean, isn’t that what we writers want more than anything?  To be read?  Within a few days my humble little first novel garnered two 4 star reviews.  I was tickled to have those reviews and I am hoping for more.

I noticed something that disturbed me though.  At first I thought it hilarious, but now I find it more than a little annoying.  What, you ask?

GarbageCreative Commons License Bart Everson via Compfight

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not snobby and I don’t think I’m the next Jane Eyre or anything but— Okay, I’ll tell you.
In the Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought section, the selection of related books are, shall we say, sort of trashy.  All of them.  To give you an idea of what I mean, one book is titled Ghetto Pocahontas.

No lie.

How did this happen?

I started to worry that perhaps I assigned AUW to the wrong genre.  I know that there are a lot of people out there, actually more than I ever thought, who enjoy the risqué and romantic.  I’m not one of those people.  I’m really not one of those people.  (Hold on a sec while I try not to erk.)  I’m also not a literature snob…ok, maybe I am, a little, but the caliber of book associated with mine is, at least to me, appallingly cheap and cheesy.

Cheesy Gouda Earrings Stéphanie Kilgast via Compfight

Big Girls Need Love?

A Child of a Crackhead?

Sucka For Love??????

I am certainly not passing judgment on the people read this stuff, because I want them to read my stuff too, but the fact is, I don’t want my book lumped into the same category or on the same page as those other ones.  I’m worried that people who happen to peruse my title will see those related titles and peruse right away from my page thinking that my book is written in the same vain.  I would.

I love how Amazon seems to know exactly what I am thinking and what I want.  When I type the web address into my search bar and the Amazon home page pops up their little cookie algorithm psychics are able to match me up with products and titles based not just my previous purchases, but also on things I’ve merely looked at before.

AUW is currently listed in the contemporary fiction section and literary fiction.  I’m thinking of removing it from the contemporary section as the books that I believe are most like mine are listed in literary fiction.

So what happened?  How did the reader of Ghetto Pocahontas stumble upon my book?  And is there any possible way to make Amazon stop telling people about it?

  • Storiesbywilliams

    Wow… okay, that’s a little surprising, and kind of irksome! Did the people over at KDP read your book and decide “Hey, you know what goes well with a story about love, betrayal, gender roles and redemption? Crack heads and ghetto hos!”? I’m thinking there’s no rhyme or reason to their selection process of indie authors, either that or their system is seriously bug-brained, picking things at random or based on key words in the description.

    Still, good job on the downloads! And I know huh, good reviews are like a drug. You go in expecting little and when you find some stars coming back, you just want more, more, MORE!

  • walshj

    I wouldn’t read too much into it. My Kindle account is also the account for my tweenage daughter, my 9-year-old son and my 45-year-old husband. Anybody who saw my “customers also bought” list would wonder why the person who purchased the entire Babysitting Club series also bought The Elegant Universe (particle physics). 

    Look at Lindsay Buroker. Her EE series was labeled “steampunk” even though it arguably isn’t (and she herself hadn’t thought of it as steampunk.) But it was steampunk readers that really discovered the books and then told all their friends to read it.

    My advice is to keep it where it gets the most exposure (sorry for the pun). So what if some of your fans read trash? The reviews make it clear that AUW is not “50 Shades of Ghetto.”  Think of this as your way of elevating the discourse.

    • Khaalidahma

      You’re right, actually, and I know this.  It just looks yucky.  Either way, I just want to be read.