Amazon is afraid of Ferguson


My thriller novel Killling the Man came out in Fall 2014. The reviews were astounding. Both of them. Rest assured, I wrote mom and dad Thank You notes.

Just kidding. They would never read this kind of crap.

But, as so many other independent authors are discovering, anonymity is the enemy here. It doesn't matter how well you write if no one ever reads it and tells their friends or leaves a positive review.

To help combat that, Amazon provides marketing programs designed to get your book more virtual shelf space. In trade for exclusitivity and some of your money, they will place your product in strategic areas where many more customers can ignore it.

Since I hadn't yet earned enough to buy my own island - although I did pick up a sweet used fighter jet and painted it Vikings purple - I decided to enroll my book in the Kindle Select program. Especially since I'm working on a sequel (The Killing Face) and expect to have it out in another month or so. The timing seemed fortuitous.

But first, I re-visited the cover. The original illustration didn't convey what I wanted, so I had created a new one. It was a little better, but still off the mark as I looked at it later on. So, why not do a third? By this point it's all a numbers game. In addition, I decided to add a teaser chapter at the end for the sequel.

Because I'm "that" guy, I decided to subtitle a book about racial warfare the Black Edition. Come on, that's just a little clever, right?

I created my ad campaign, committed my money and submitted everything for review. Today the response came:

"Thank you for using Amazon Marketing Services to advertise your book. Your ad campaign has been approved.

Unfortunately, your ad campaign has not been approved to run on Kindle E-readers for the following reason(s): Your book cover displays imagery that is extremely scary, disturbing, morbid, or shocking."

Well, yeah. That's kind of the point.

The story contains strong racial themes, death, disturbing imagery, PG-13 sex, and naughty words. The events of Ferguson, MO have eerie parallels. It also has jokes and humor strung throughout like holiday lights, romantic interests and a bromance angle. Those were my counter-balance points to keep it from being too morbid. However, Amazon doesn't care. They probably would have liked my first cover. It had a man hanging in a noose from a tree. And My Little Pony in the background.

Kidding again. It was Papa Smurf. Or Papa Murphy. I get them confused.

So what's the point here? I think I finally hit on the right cover. If a multi-billion dollar company that employs drones to carry toilet paper can notice and be set back by a cover, that must mean it has visual impact. And that's one of the key ways to break out of the anonymity pile.

Thanks Amazon, for being afraid of Ferguson, Baltimore and racial conflict. Thus concludes today's Logic Stretching exercise.


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I wrote this, so that makes me an author.

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© 2014 Kenneth B Humphrey