Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

When (Amazon's) Robots Fail

As many may know, I consider the Interwebs one gigantic copy-and-paste machine. Whether content is accurate doesn't matter—what matters is to get that content out the door. That's why when you google some topic, the first-page posts are often the same or very similar. They're often copied from each other or from one main post. So much for original content and pride in writing.

But not Amazon. They are always coming up with fresh new ways to categorize books. I know, because I constantly battle with them when explaining that one of our books, Gertrude and Toby's Friday Adventure (actually every book in the series) should be categorized under "Action and Adventure" and "Fairy Tale Adaptations." Meanwhile, from format to format, Amazon puts it in less=relevant categories such as "Farm Animals":

Now, a less generous person would assume that Amazon is just messing with people and arbitrarily putting their books into random categories to annoy them. And the real conspiracy theorists believe that Amazon is doing this to prevent their success. Granted, these are the same people who think they can self-edit their error-riddled and poorly written books, lay them out on Microsoft Word, then wonder why they can't get any sales or reviews.

So what is the problem? Why the inconsistencies?


Yep. Robots.

The robots read the content and ad copy for a title, then categorize the book based on those words. Screw reading the category the publisher has used—what the hell does a publisher know about the content of its own books?

Don't believe me? Here's your sign. We did a BookSends promotion for our title JED last weekend:

JED is appropriately categorized in "Spiritual and Religious" as well as "Historical," as it has a bit of both, though mostly the latter.

Then something happened. JED soared, and soon was #6 on Amazon's bestseller list for historical fiction within "Spiritual and Religious" books. Which is, of course, totally cool. And here's the screenshot showing JED rising to the top:

But things got curiouser and curiouser. Look at #1. Go the F**k to Sleep is #1 in Religious & Inspirational Historical Fiction. It's a funny book, and definitely well written, but placing it in this category is not correct.

So how did this happen? Robots. The robots read the copy and decided that Go the F**k to Sleep is a book of religious & inspirational historical fiction.

From the book: "Jesus Christ" plus lots of descriptions of birds and animals in the skies and fields (the Bible has a few similar descriptions)

From the copy: "a hymn to the horrors of bedtime," "a gleeful howl of blasphemy," "cult bedtime nursery rhyme," and one of the authors' prior works, The Year of Living Biblically.

The robots took this info and put Go the F**k to Sleep firmly in the Religious & Inspirational Historical Fiction category, where it sits at #1. Needless to say, I dropped them a line so they would know that this is not correct. Not that I expect them to do anything about it.

And what of this? Perhaps the publisher intended this to happen? It's entirely possible, with such misdeeds being common in romance categories, wherein a romance book will be slotted into some arcane category in order to hit #1. Though Amazon has been trying to crack down on the practice, there's really no stopping the robots.

Regardless of the intent, what matters is that books be categorized correctly, but that's unlikely to occur so long as people game the system, publisher-designated categories are ignored, and robots rule the day.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Win a Free Kindle Book—JED, a historical fiction novel set in mid-1800s America

There's a 1 in 10 chance of winning. You just have to follow me on Twitter (and you can always delete right after if you want).

Get it at Amazon now, while supplies last!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Enter to Win a Free Kindle Edition of the Historical Fiction Novel JED, by Jim Wetton

No purchase necessary, but you'll have to follow me on Twitter (which of course you can delete if you like).

The link for the giveaway is here (Amazon).