So the rumour is that Amazon has changed their algorithm, as of a few weeks ago. 

My sales numbers suddenly dropped, a few weeks ago. I assumed it was September busyness among many of my target market readers (beach days and summertime reading set aside for the autumnal routine of school and errands). But might it be something else? Might it be that Amazon has changed something, and the repercussions of the butterfly effect include the drying up of sales for us indies?

In a sense, it’s a relief. The drop isn’t from anything I did or didn’t do. It might just be something that’s out of my hands.

Except that means that it’s… out of my hands. Or to put it another way, it means that Amazon–or whoever–can change things at any time, and make my books difficult to find. And I’m totally powerless.

I went into self-publishing because I wanted to be able to have a say in my books and where they’d be listed, what they’d look like, and how they’d be merchandized.

David Gaughran’s “Building a Sustainable Writing Career” post, out this morning and pertaining to figuring out ways to sell your books without being dependent on Amazon and their algorithms, seems particularly well-timed, under the circumstances. Good suggestions, all.

Still, I thought–dang. I mean really, Amazon? Why not just enjoy reaping the benefits of the long tail, with all of us indies selling a little each, and your receiving a cut of all of them, cumulatively? I really don’t have the time right now, to look into setting up direct sales of my books, from my website. All that stuff will have to wait.

Ultimately, it’s annoying–and unsettling–if it’s true. And even if it isn’t, the larger point is well taken. Multiple revenue streams=good.

Because even if it isn’t true this time, and the drop really is the result of September’s demands, that doesn’t mean that something like this won’t happen in the future. It’s a huge risk for any individual writer, where retailers like Amazon hold all the cards. Fortunately, it’s also a risk that can be mitigated without too much strain. The problem, of course, is finding the time… Wish me luck!