Friday, November 13, 2009

When Amazon makes a mistake on your book listing

I'm writing these blog posts well after the fact, and since my first experience with Amazon, I've had many others. And not all good. Amazon is such a machine, and they don't need me, the small publisher, and it's been pretty clear I'm more of a pesky mosquito than any sort of asset. But the behemoth is necessary to move books, and so I've persisted.

If Amazon messes up your book listing from the get go, as they did with our balloon book, calling it hard bound rather than paperback, realize that this mistake is going to get perpetuated all over the internet. And while Amazon will respond to your correction, the others will not.

First, make sure you know how to set up a Google Alert. This will save you so much time in clicking around. Google will email you every day letting you know any new instances of your search term that has occurred. This alert is better than searching, because the web site that is carrying your search term may actually be very buried in a regular Google search. Let the new listings come to you; don't go searching for the new listings.

The Google Alert showed me that on the day Amazon got the information from Ingram via Lightning Source, it incorrectly listed the book. Thankfully, on the same day, the online store for Barnes and Noble also listed it, correctly. So I knew the problem was Amazon's, not all the way back at the source. Unfortunately, quite a few alternate booksellers automatically monitor Amazon's new listings and crib the information from their database. So at least six more instances of the incorrect listing showed up simultaneously, matching or beating Amazon's price.

I instantly got on Amazon and clicked on the link "Update product info." It asked me to log in.

I already had an Amazon account as a regular human, but decided right then to create one as my publishing company. I already had a credit card for the company, thankfully, as I knew that Amazon will not allow a credit card be used for more than one account, apparently to prevent spam or flaming customer reviews. (Also why they never get rid of an old credit card in your acount.)

Once I had an account, I could send in a form to correct the listing. I waited all day for it to be corrected, but it wasn't. Nor the next day. I asked several friends to also send in the correction. Still not listed. It was clear the book, with such a low sales ranking, was not a priority.

I decided to take matters in my own hands and write a customer review that alerted anyone who clicked through that the book was softcover. I had visions of multiple returns dancing in my head if anyone bought it and was unhappy to find it was not the hardcover they had expected.

I clicked on "customer reviews" but was denied access. Apparently you have to make at least one purchase on Amazon with a new account before you can really do anything

So I did what anyone would do--bought my own book.

This actually was a two-fold benefit. Not only was I now able to post a review (as an "Amazon verified purchase" no less) but the purchase also boosted my sales rank, and got the change moved through. Of course, by then, I had already posted the review, but worded it carefully so that readers would know that this had been an initial mistake.

As I write this five months later, all the major online stores carry the book:, Powells, Indiebound, etc. and all have it listed correctly. Only minor secondary sites have it listed incorrectly, but those options don't really show up anywhere when you search for the book now that it is well established on the Internet, so I can live with it.



Links from this post:

Set up Google Alerts

How to correct content on Amazon

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