Facebook is coming down hard on Amazon links. I know because Jeff Bezos came to me in a dream…
Maybe I have my Alexa too close to my head when I sleep. And lately it’s been making some whispering noises. The fact is, the other night, Jeff Bezos came to me in a dream.
“Ian,” he said, “you’re an indie author, right? “Yes,” I replied, “I have many projects, about sixteen, one of which is a funny speculative scifi where the protagonist has Tourette’s and-“ “Ok, fine, and how do you promote your work?” he said, cutting me short. “Amazon ads and Facebook,” I said. That’s what everyone else does too, I thought, so I didn’t worry much. Jeff nodded. “I bet you use Facebook more than Amazon, don’t you?” He had that look on his face which said ‘I’m Jeff Bezos, and I know what you do. Alexa’s been telling me’. I couldn’t lie. “Yes, you’re right.” “Well you shouldn’t rely on Facebook so much.” “Are you trying to sell me Amazon ads in my dreams? Is this some new kind of annoying ad system, like the ones that show up in videos exactly when the action’s getting interesting?” I said. “No,” he said, “you just shouldn’t put my Amazon links on your Facebook page. That seemed unreasonable. “Why not? That’s where all the people are. Amazon is hardly social you know, apart from the few comedians who write those priceless mock reviews. And Goodreads is slow and unengaging. You wanna know why?” “Why?” he asked. “Because all the Goodreads users are busy checking out Facebook!”
He paced around in what I realized looked like an office. One of the walls had a shelf with my books, while the other walls had picture frames. Each picture frame held one of my Facebook posts.
“This is your Facebook office,” he said. “Not bad, right?” I replied, quite satisfied with the overall looks of the place. “No, but something is happening. Look at the shelf.” I looked. The shelf was getting thinner. “My books. They’re gonna fall!” I said. “Yes. Facebook is restricting Amazon links.” I heard some crashing noises behind me. Some of the frames had fallen off the nails. They were the posts with my book links in them. “But why?” I asked.
“Simple,” Jeff replied, “Facebook does not own Amazon, and does not profit from Amazon sales. You can work your ass off to bring together people who like your genre. You can create a group of thousands of followers interested in reading sci-fi and fantasy books. Facebook makes that very easy.”
“That’s what I’m doing, in fact.” “I know. Alexa’s been telling me.” “Oh.” “But dropping your own book link in those groups? Believe me: Facebook is less than thrilled when you do that. They have already started limiting the range of those posts. If you insist you will be flagged for spam and your account may be blocked. It’s your books, but it’s Facebook’s members, and shameless self-promotion will be stopped.”
I was beginning to get worried. That shelf was getting thinner by the second. “What can I do?” I asked. “Get your own office, with your own shelf, and invite your readers over.” “You mean my author website?” “Yes.” “Oh, that. I’ve got that.” I was feeling much relieved. “And what’s in it that will get people to leave Facebook and visit your site?” Jeff asked. He had that ‘I already know’ look on his face again. “Well, my books, my bio, a picture of my cat… hmm. I see what you mean.” “Then you know what to do.” And he flew away like Superman, although I think I saw some cables and heard the buzzing of a drone.
So I realized I’d only done half the work. My reader groups and Facebook ads were giving me the illusion of reach, but my books would never sell because there is an ever tightening choke on them. So I needed a much more attractive website, one where instead of placing a dry, soulless link to buy my book, I could create a page where I explain how it came to be with an extended blurb, but not just that. I can also provide my readers with some free short stories, to give them a taste of my style. WordPress was my go-to choice, thanks to the good advice from other (brighter and quicker) fellow indie authors. I avoided the commercial wordpress and went for the self-hosted version, because otherwise it’s the same old story again. My work in someone else’s office. Any self-hosted solution is fine, if you do your research and ask around. In my case Host Author is an author-oriented hosting solution which provided me with the solution I needed, together with amazing tech support and specific tools for indie authors.
The result is right here. Welcome to my website. Please browse around and see what kind of content I’ve been putting online to give my readers (and fellow authors) relevant and useful information, rather than pictures of cats. It is by all means a work in progress, and any comments from you is as useful as I hope my site is to you, as an example of a working author ‘office’.
Now I want to sleep again. I heard Neil Gaiman’s Alexa is also near his bed…