Letters To The Editor For August 10th

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Record Number of Letters Received About the Amazon.com Best Seller Program!

Dear Angela:

It took guts to write that piece about John Kremer and the “Amazon Best Seller” program. I’m glad someone exposed it. The disclosure issues are dicey with marketers who publish ezines. It is interesting to me that the mainstream media and publishers have been grappling with their journalists’ ethical obligations for the past few years. How many journalists have been fired? Albeit, it was more about being stupid, lazy, lying or having a psychological disorder than disclosure issues. Still, feigning objectivity when you have a financial interest? If one is perceived as a journalist, it’s wrong. It is also greedy. Is the online community so addicted to itself that they have closed off the rest of the world? I’m reminded of the paradox… If a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody around does it make a sound?

Perhaps it is time to start listening again.

Tina Koenig

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Great coverage of that Amazon “Best Seller” program, Angela! Thank you for that. It is far too easy for POD authors to get hooked by such stuff. We want to sell. Often we are not skillful marketers. Your warnings are as good as gold.

Regards,

Kevin

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Dear Angela,

I have tremendous respect for your integrity and the courage you continually exhibit in standing up for your beliefs. If more people walked their talk as you do, the world would be a much finer place.

I am a long-time subscriber of both WritersWeekly.com and John Kremer’s Book Marketing Tip of the Week. I was dismayed by his promotion of what sounded like a seedy scam, but I just ignored it. You did the right thing, and I support your endorsement of selling books the old-fashioned way–on their merit.

Best regards,
Shelley Lieber
Author of women’s fiction & nonfiction
http://www.shelleylieber.com
National Association of Women Writers (NAWW)
South Florida Regional Representative

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Angela,

If I was going to spend $3,000 for book publicity, the Amazon program wouldn’t be high on my list. My book, In The Beginning…There Were No Diapers, reached the top-10 Amazon.com best-seller list in the parenting humor category. The book’s overall Amazon rank was about 2,600. But I did it using tried-and-true online publicity methods and my own elbow grease. The best thing is that using an ongoing program has keep my book high in the Amazon ranks on a consistent basis. You can view my Amazon sales chart at http://www.timbete.com/AmazonSalesChart.html. You can see that the bulk of my online PR program hit between March 2005 and July 2005. Now I’m gearing up for a fall blitz. You can see my publicity hits at http://www.timbete.com/newsclips.html. The bottom line: I did it with my own time and saved $3,000.

Best regards,
Tim Bete
Director, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop
University of Dayton

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Ang,

You crack me up. I just finished reading your rebuttal to what’s his name on Amazon. Keep it up.

Cindy

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To quote Rod Stewart, “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

What a great debate about the Amazon ranking scheme. Well done. Yours is the only newsletter I’ve stayed subscribed to all these years.

Sincerely,
Scott Stratten

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Hi Angela,

I’m pleased that you devoted so much space to ScAmazon II. We’re all just going to have to accept the rules of the brave new world, one of which is that anything as big as Amazon individually and the Internet collectively will give rise to questionable practices. Whenever there’s money moving around, somebody will find a way to dip a ladle into the stream and take a little. I agree with your reader who commends you for taking on this situation with a degree of journalistic integrity rather than lending the promotional power of your newsletter to furthering the sham.

Here’s a final thought for you to ponder. If the people promoting that program are all wildly successful, won’t bestseller status be so debased that it loses its blurb appeal? Not likely, but if it happens don’t be surprised if someone finds a way to “exploit” whatever replaces today’s lists and the spooky algorithms that produce them.

Regards,
Farron

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Hi Angela,

Thank you for taking a stance on this program. One point that I want to make is that this is a temporary solution. If you search Amazon for the books that have used this program in the past, their sales ranks are back into oblivion. Here are the rankings for some of the books promoted on their site and that have achieved one day of “best seller” status:

Rankings as of 8/9/05:

Mining Online Gold With an Offline Shovel by George MacKenzie: 391,256

I Love My Life” by Kristie Tamsevicius: 293,531

Self Improvement by David Riklan: 162,273

Mind Control Marketing by Mark Joyner: 166,946

As a newly-published author myself, I would prefer to learn marketing skills from successful authors who have achieved consistent sales for their titles. The people using this program and calling their books “best sellers” are taking credibility away from the books that earned their way there.

Keep up the great work!

Stephanie Chandler, author of “The Business Startup Checklist and
Planning Guide: Seize Your Entrepreneurial Dreams!” and founder of
http://www.BusinessInfoGuide.com, resources for entrepreneurs.
Also:
http://www.BookLoversCafe.com
http://www.StephanieChandler.com

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Angela,

While it’s valuable when someone points out the essential scumbaggishness of the likes of the Amazon.com Best Seller “marketing” scheme, the sad fact is that the writing business seems to attract more bottom feeders than most.

Trying to ferret out these dirtbags is like playing the arcade game Whack-a-Mole – as soon as you smack one down another one (or two or two dozen) pops up. Writers can do their part by being less gullible and by realizing that when it sounds too good to be true – it is. Period.

Thanks,
Bill L.

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Dear Angela-

Your response to Kremer about the Amazon.com bestseller was wonderful! I’ve been hit by several ezines I subscribe to with come-ons for this very thing and it’s not only left a bad taste in my mouth, but it’s lowered my opinion of all these ezines. Now, I hold the editors suspect. To me, the Amazon.com bestseller thing smells very chain-letterish. Thank you so much for keeping your integrity. Hats off to you!

Priscilla Rhodes
Author of DISCOVER AMERICA DIARIES

Victoria’s Press Release Class

Dear Angela,

I wanted to write and thank you so much for offering the press release class as part of the services at writersweekly.com. Victoria Groves is a highly personable and approachable instructor, and I’ve already begun implementing many of her fine ideas. In addition, she’s stayed in touch with me outside of class and has become an invaluable resource to me as a freelance writer. Much like you and writersweekly.com!

Thanks again,
Patch Rose
PatchWords! Professional Writing Services
http://www.nmbb.net/patchwords.html

Kudos

Hi Angela,

I’ve told you once. Maybe even twice. But it’s not nearly enough thanks for all that you do to educate freelance writers.

It’s been about 5 years since I’ve been freelancing full-time and I depend on your newsletter for its invaluable information just like I did my first day, week, and year!

Thanks again to you, Richard, and your family for supporting you in all that you do to help us freelancers navigate the writing maze.

Sonya Carmichael Jones