by L.J. Sellers, author of provocative mysteries & thrillers
Writers are by nature creative people, and while pursuing marketing and success, they can be quite inventive. But some practices are more like gaming the system, and it's hard to tell where the line is between clever and deceitful.
What's the advantage in unpublishing an ebook and republishing it? If you price it at $.99 and list it on a bunch of promotional sites and newsletters—or do an Amazon giveaway—the book will jump in sales and get picked up by the algorithm. And because the publishing date is new, the book will likely get ranked in the "hot new releases" list...despite the fact that it was available for years and has a hundred reviews. The reviews stay attached to the print version (which stays published), then the author just emails Amazon and asks them to link the print version with the "new" ebook.
Thus, several of the top "hot new releases" on Amazon's police procedural list are not new at all. This seems like gaming the system, and now that I've mentioned it, I'm sure more authors will try it. But I suspect Amazon will catch on and find a way to stop it.
And maybe they should. The practice seems deceptive. We all have the ability to upload new versions of our stories at any time without unpublishing them, so there's no good reason to click that unpublish button. (Or none that I can think of.) But in the digital world, unpublishing is just a matter of pausing, or taking the file off the market for a while, so in theory, you could keep your book "new" all the time.
What do you think of this practice? And if I'm wrong about what's going on, tell me.