When you boycott Amazon, you boycott me

This is going to sound crude and self-serving, but I got junk punched this week when Amazon decided to allow a pedophile to sell his self-published guide to pedophilia on their website.  I love Amazon for a lot of reasons, but that was a bone-head move that rightly sparked a boycott movement.  And, herein lies the aforementioned junk punching.  The boycott affected me – I think.

My primary source of income comes from Amazon’s website.  I am not an employee of Amazon.  I am an entrepreneur who uses their website to publish and sell my books.  I make more than a fair amount on each sale, and I have yet to find a viable alternative to the system they have created for authors like me.  In short, I rely on Amazon to sell my books and help pay my mortgage.

Yesterday, when the outcry for the boycott was at a fever pitch, my sales dried up. I cannot say for certain the boycott was the reason for the dip in sales, but it did make me stop and panic. Now, you should know, I don’t sell thousands or hundreds of books every day.  If I sell a dozen in a day, that’s an excellent day for me.  I rely 100% on word-of-mouth and my sales have gone up year after year.  In fact, I’ve already sold 30% more books than I sold last year.  If I get a similar holiday bump in sales that I got last year, I’m on pace to triple my sales over last year’s numbers.  Again, we’re not talking tens of thousands of books.  More like thousands, and trust me, I can barely make that plural.  The point is, just a little hit has a huge negative effect on my income.

Amazon is not a giant, faceless corporation – not entirely.  It is a publicly traded company with seemingly as many lawyers as managers on staff, but it is so much more than that.  It is a community of authors, musicians, filmmakers, small businesses, etc. trying to make a living practicing our craft of choice.  We have no say in company policy.  We have no voice in who the company hires.  We have no power at all within their system, save one, the power to make money.

Was I happy to find out that a pedophile was using that same system to spread his vile crap?  Of course not.  I was disgusted.  I agreed with the angry comments I read left by customers on the book’s sales page.  I didn’t understand Amazon’s first amendment stance, especially when they ban pornography which is also protected under the first amendment.  The move just made no sense at all.  But nonetheless, I am torn.  If I support a ban of the platform that is the major source of my income, I’m essentially committing retail suicide.  As I said, I haven’t found a system that even comes close to Amazon for what I do.  Say what you want about them, but they know ecommerce better than anyone else on the planet, and they’ve gamed the system so we artists can actually make a living doing what we love.

It is my understanding that the book is no longer on Amazon’s site, and my sales were back to normal today, but I’m still left with the metallic taste of worry in my mouth.   What if this happens again?  I realize I’ve made this whole unfortunate incident about me, but I never said I didn’t have narcissistic tendencies.  Plus, this is how I eat.

So, what do I expect from you, the Amazon customer?  Nothing. I’m not suggesting you never threaten to boycott Amazon again.  But remember, when the ‘B’ word comes up again, there will be a stocky, bald little writer on the East coast feeling the brunt of the boycott through no fault of his own.  And there are thousands of others like me, I might add… not that their stocky and bald.  They’re just entrepreneurs trying to make a living through Amazon.

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Metric Junkie – An Amazon Sales Ranking Fix for My Author Friends

Feeding Your Ranking Addiction

That’s “fix” as in a desperate fulfillment of a need.  Most of my author friends and colleagues have a borderline obsession with a little something called “Amazon Sales Ranking” (ASR- Street name “Ranking”).  I’m among this group of pathetic addicts that can’t get enough of measuring our self-worth through the sales rankings of our books on the world’s biggest online purveyor of books.  It’s like watching the score of a championship football or basketball game, only this game never ends.

Some authors will deny having a Ranking addiction, but most of them are lying.  They don’t want you to know that the first thing they do in the morning is go to the Amazon website and look up their book’s Ranking -The higher the Ranking the better the emotional high.  If your Ranking is low, a sinking depression begins your day. Some have such a bad Ranking addiction that they will check every hour, even wake up in the middle of the night to get their Ranking fix.  If you have several books on Amazon, you could spend all day Ranking.

For those authors brave enough to admit you have a Ranking problem, I have a little present for you.  I discovered a website called Metric Junkie that will track your Amazon Rankings for you.  It’s pretty cool.  It won’t help you stop Ranking, but it will give you all your ranks at once, you can even track Rankings of other books.

I pulled this from their “Features” page:

  • FREE to use
  • HOURLY AUTOMATIC COLLECTION of Amazon “Sales Rank” for books you track
  • VIBRANT INTERACTIVE GRAPHS present your “Sales Rank in a meaningful way, allowing you to quickly determine the effectiveness of your sales promotions, media campaigns, & social networking buzz
  • USER-FRIENDLY INTERFACE cleanly displays information in an intuiative and easy to follow format
  • CHA-CHINGER™ TECHNOLOGY shows you when a sale has occurred for any book you track
  • MARKET SHARE APPROXIMATOR™ shows you how your product stacks-up against your competitions
  • GROUPS allow you to organize your collection into smaller more manageable categories
  • PRINTABLE CHARTS allow you to take your information with you to review off-line at your favorite coffee house

So, there you have it, safe Ranking via Metric Junkie.  Use it wisely, and remember, you’re still a good person even if your Ranking sucks.

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