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.