Images in Posts and an Amazon Anomaly

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by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

A note today on what I’ve been working on images in our social media posts and a question for trad-pub to self-pub authors regarding Amazon.

First, the relatively new importance of images on our posts.  Any posts.

I’ve heard for a while that images are vital for visibility.  That can mean getting a really solid book cover design to make your book more salable, but it also means that blog posts and other social media posts get more visibility with a good image attached.

Although I was aware of this for years, I had one big thing  standing in my way…my horrid design skills.  Fortunately, that is no longer a problem.  My design ‘skills’ are just as horrid as ever, but I’ve got free design help through Canva and DesignFeed  . Now I can fake it better.

One of Twitter’s updates appeared to focus on images in its feed–automatic grabs of images on some posts (I’m assuming posts that have the appropriate image size for this type of automatic sharing).  I share a lot on Twitter, but I never deliberately attach photos through TwitPic or whatever the app is…images just upload themselves, which saves me a lot of bother.

I’ve noticed over the last few months that it’s true that posts with images are shared more and get more impressions than Twitter posts with text only.  Even articles I’ve shared that related to poetry, which never used to get shares now get lots of retweets and clicks.  The only thing that’s changed is the fact that Twitter is lifting images to accompany the article.

Second, an oddity with Amazon. 

Visibility on this retailer is vital to our sales.  I realized when writing a post that my most-recently published book’s Kindle edition (which is my first self-published follow-up to the rest of Penguin’s 5 book series) was not included in the series list with the rest of the books.  To a reader browsing for Kindle books, it would appear that the series had only 5 books in it.  You can see that on this page.

The print copy of the book was listed with the rest of the Penguin-published books in the series, as you can see here. 

Clearly, I wanted to fix this.  I asked Amazon, through my Author Central account, to give me a phone call.  I was on the phone with a helpful representative for nearly an hour while she tried to figure out why the digital edition wasn’t linking to the series list.  She ultimately believed that KDP might be behind in linking new releases to existing series so she transferred me to that department and they opened a ticket.

Several days later, I was told via email from an Amazon KDP rep:

The thing is that in order to display the correct information of a series page on the Amazon website, you need to publish the book under the same account, otherwise the information wouldn't be displayed on a correct way on the website.

Also we are unable to set a series page for the same reason, so in order to be able to correct this situation you need to publish all the books under the same account and in this way we will be able to set the series page for your books.

Keep in mind that in case that you will need to unpublish the titles we will be able to link the information of the previous books to the new ones, so you won;t loose the information related to the titles as the reviews that they already have available on the website.

I hope that this will clarify your inquiry and also that this will help you to create the correct information to your series.

Obviously, this did not clarify my inquiry.  I wrote back saying that this was a traditionally-published series through Penguin that I had taken to self-pub.  Surely I could have my self-pubbed books linked to the rest of the series, regardless of whose account it was through.

I received this back:

I understand your concern regarding adding the book to Series

I've checked with our Technical team

I am sorry to inform that currently we're unable to add the books in the Series, if the books are published through different account because of account security reasons

You need to publish all the books under the same account and in this way we will be able to set the series page for your books.

You can ask the Penguin-Random House to unpublish the book and publish the book through your KDP account, if you would like to set the Series page

Thanks for your comments about creating a Series page for the books published through different accounts. I've passed on the information to our Business team.

We'll consider your input as we plan further improvements.

Feedback like yours helps us continue to improve our author and publisher experience. 

Thanks for your understanding and co-operation

Thanks again for your interest in Amazon KDP.

Again, I wrote back and explained that I didn’t think Penguin would take kindly to my asking to have their titles unpublished and republished to my own name and my own KDP account.  The whole idea made my head spin…the response I’d get from Penguin…wow! And I asked them why my print self-published book was linked to the rest of the series and the digital version couldn’t be.

I received this back:

Hello Elizabeth,

I apologize for the inconvenience this issue may have caused.

Kindly note, Create Space and Kindle Direct Publishing has different policies, as per our policy it is not allowed to add a book in a series which is published through different account. Our technical team add a book in a series only when all the books are published under the same account.

However, what I can do for you right now is, I'll take your concern as feature request and communicate the same to our business team for consideration as we plan future improvements.

I'm unable to promise a timeframe at this time, however, we are still evolving and feedback like yours motivate us to dive deep and unearth ways and means which helps us in making publishing on KDP a happy experience.

Please be sure to check our forums periodically for updates:

https://kdp.amazon.com/community

Thanks for your understanding and support. We look forward to providing continued support to you.

Admittedly, this is only one way to find my books through Amazon.  My other books in the series are also linked through my name and show up in the ‘also-boughts’ (“customers who bought this, also bought…”).

But on a retail site where visibility is everything, I sure would like to get that Kindle book listed with the rest of the books in the series.

Has anyone else encountered this issue with Amazon?   Or, going back to my other topic today, are you ‘image-conscious’ on your blog?

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14 thoughts on “Images in Posts and an Amazon Anomaly

  1. Well, given how spammers work, I can understand why they’d be reluctant to do this. There are a lot of people who have been tried to cheat the system by adding famous author names to the title or put them in the keywords. If you could just claim your book is in any series, there are certainly people who would do that.

    I think Amazon is going to have to work on some sort of verification process for accounts — sort of like Twitter verified accounts.

    1. Camille–Which I totally get, but then they had my print edition listed with the rest of the series. It’s sort of bizarre…if they were more consistent in their approach, I could understand it better. And with my Myrtle Clover series, both self-pubbed Kindle and print editions are listed with the trad-pubbed first book.

      I think a verification process might be a pain, but worth it in the end.

  2. I finally learned how to pin a Tweet and that one has an image. (Which reminds me, I need to make another one.)
    What really blows my mind about those responses is the obvious fact that English is not that person’s native tongue…

  3. Oh, that whole thing with Amazon really is bizarre, Elizabeth! Sometimes they make me shake my head, I must say. But I do agree completely with your point about images. There’s so much research out there that supports images as a way to recall and make sense of what we learn, so I’m not surprised at the difference in traffic. Something I ought to think about…

    1. Margot–You do a good job with images on your blog…taking nearly all of the photos yourself. If you make them a bit bigger, I think Hootsuite and other scheduling apps will grab the image automatically. :)

  4. Great post, Elizabeth.

    I’m definitely conscious about using images for the Now Novel blog because they help to break up blocks of text and augment the reading experience (much as illustrations do).

    Sorry to read about the Amazon KDP woes – sounds like a nightmare.

    1. Bridget–Now Novel does a great job with images!

      Thanks…I’m sure Amazon will work it out one way or another. I may try following up with a different rep in a couple of weeks, ha! :)

    1. Diane–I think that’s almost what bothers me most…that it’s so odd and not consistent with CreateSpace (but, as they reminded me, they are technically two separate companies. But still…)

  5. Oh how infuriating! I bet they HAVE to adapt though–you can’t be the only person to get your rights back… I wonder if I could get my rights back… I totally hadn’t even thought of that.

    1. Hart–I’m hoping it’s just a temporary thing!

      It’s always worth a try with your rights…although, if it’s for your garden cozies, in my experience, they likely won’t give you the rights back (I couldn’t get them for the Memphis series that I did as a write-for-hire).

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