I always meant to write to Amazon – not to their “customer-service” email – but as a registered letter, addressed to their CEO, responsible for customer / supplier relations or Jeff Bezos. Being too busy, I never got around it. Just now I found by chance a former blog post by David Gaughran who had done exactly this: At a London Book Fair, he took the opportunity to meet representatives from Amazon and present a list of feature requests and complaints. This list sheds a light on a lot of the issues that authors have with Kindle Direct Publishing and reasons how and why KDP and Select should be improved.
David Gaughran: “I was merely the conduit, a lot of these suggestions came from the comments on my blog and KindleBoards. I also had lists for CreateSpace and Kobo. In the case of the latter, the stuff was a lot more basic (i.e. fix search, give us freeload numbers, improve discovery etc.) but everyone was very open to feedback. The good thing about bringing these issues up face-to-face is that it can help get stuff prioritized when they realize it’s a real issue rather than people grumbling about a minor inconvenience.”
Excerpt from David’s List:
1. More Data!
I appreciate that lots of stuff is proprietary and that there might be privacy concerns surrounding what can be shared, but KDP could at least share conversion rates.
Smashwords and Apple both have a coupon system and it’s a handy way to give a free copies to readers, reviewers and competition winners.
3. Full Territorial Pricing
At the moment we can set different prices in each country, but only within certain restrictions.
5. Customer Service
There are many things I love about KDP, but the customer service isn’t one of them. Reps often seem to scan the email until they get to the first issue, enter a canned response, and ignore the rest of the email.
KDP has expanded electronic payments to lots more countries, which is a welcome development, but there are still many authors in places like Australia who can only be paid by check. They are quite ubiquitous still in America, but not so in the rest of the world. When I was living in Sweden, where checks are also being phased out, the bank wanted to charge something like $125 to cash a foreign check (the check was for around $300!).
Read the rest of his suggestions how Amazon can improve.
Snippets from the Reader’s Comments/Suggestions to Amazon:
- Customer service would be a priority. And data! I second all of these suggestions. These are things KDP has desperately needed for a long time.
- The canned responses from an Indian call center will only be worse if you expected a phone call. They will simply tell you the same thing they would in an email.
- As for sales reporting, their Excel spreadsheet is from the last century.
- There is no accurate reporting, and any questions about sales data are ignored. Finally, Amazon (and KDP) treat the content as their property, not yours, and they decide what gets sold, when and for how much.
- It would be great if Amazon and other retailers would auto-post reviews across their different sites, at all of their countries’ sites.
- Electronic payments don’t work for all bank accounts at all banks, even in the UK – I have had repeated problems with mine and when they are investigating I can’t use my account. Ouch. So I am back to checks which, as pointed out, is a nightmare.
- As a result of Goodreads and Amazon sheltering and protecting review trolls and absurd rules, the value of any reviews on either site is zero. Goodreads even goes so far as to threaten authors who speak out against reviews that are personal attacks with the destruction of their career. This has to be stopped.
- I’d love for audiobooks to be available to the customer straight from the main book page on Amazon instead of being redirected to Audible. Let’s make it all one-click shopping! (it works for mp3 files).
- I’d be happy if they could extend the electronic payments to New Zealand. Seriously, who still uses cheques today, apart from Amazon? I also agree on expanding the category fields on the interface itself. It makes so much more sense and I think Amazon knows it.
- The KDP dashboard needs a real makeover all around, it’s incredibly difficult to find what I need and the books that can’t be deleted really clutter things up too.
- Coupon codes and more categories would be awesome.
- If an author is making minor changes that do not involve uploading a new version of their book — such as changing the blurb, adding tags, or changing the price — it shouldn’t take twelve plus hours for a) the changes to go into effect and b) the book to again be available for sale.
- There are several categories that you can select but that do not exist in other countries’ Kindle store.
- Amazon is a huge organization and to a large extent a law unto themselves. But they still need to take care of independent authors, because they are where most of their products comes from.
Kindle Direct Publishing has a lot of room for improvement that would help us as well as them. Again: customer service would be a priority. And data. And acting as a joined up company worldwide rather than different author sites in different countries… After all: we are the ones who provide them the content they are selling – for free – until we get eventually paid for our work.
P.S. At least some new category options are available now.
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