Adventures in Amazon algorithms part deux

As the author of a gay Amish romance series, here’s the problem with the term “Amish romance.” To most of the world–and most vitally to Amazon–an Amish romance is automatically Christian/inspirational. I have nothing against Christian romances, but that’s not what I write. For starters, I think most Amish romances have approximately 100% less sweaty mansex than my books do.

While some of my characters might be religious, I am not. There’s no Biblical moralizing in A Forbidden Rumspringa or A Clean Break. The characters struggle with issues of faith, but these are not inspirational Christian books where we’re all going to learn a Very Important Lesson from Jesus.

A few months ago I struggled to get book #1 into the correct Amazon categories. The key issue here is Amazon’s mysterious algorithms, and making sure my work finds the right readers. Even though I purposefully hadn’t chosen the “Amish” category, my book ended up there. Eventually I honestly just gave up because Amazon could not seem to figure it out.

Here we go again

For the past month, I’ve been trying to get Amazon to put both my books in the correct categories that I chose for them when I uploaded the files. They belong in Gay Romance, not Christian Books and Bibles. And it’s not that Amazon is arguing that fact, but it took WEEKS for their “technical team” to fix the problem. Naturally they fixed it on book #2 only, so I had to reply to remind them I needed the categories corrected on both books.

This part of the journey shines a spotlight on the biggest weakness in Amazon’s customer service, which is always courteous and usually timely: the inability to reply directly to the CSR who’s helping you. I received a polite response from another rep telling me their technical team would look into having the categories fixed on book #1. I replied (fruitlessly, I know) that this famed technical team had JUST FIGURED OUT THIS PROBLEM AND PLEASE GO ASK THE OTHER CSR I’M BEGGING YOU OMG.

But no, instead of the left hand talking to the right, it took two more weeks for book #1 to also be removed from the Amish category. I’m not sure exactly why it’s so difficult and technical to override the system and get a book into the correct categories, but apparently it is. Amazon also provided this info:

Please be aware that the incorrect category path reflected for your book, due to the series title, “Gay Amish Romance”. In future, if you are publishing a new book in the same series, please make sure that remove the word “Amish” from the series title, to avoid the “Amish” category.

So even though I choose Gay Romance and Gay Fiction as my categories (you chose two primary categories for each book), having the word “Amish” in the series name overrides that and automatically throws the book into the Amish category, which segments it into Christian Books and Bibles, and Inspirational Romance.

Now, it’s a little late to be changing my series name. In this day and age of SEO, I chose the series name because it tells readers in a glance what these books are about. It may not sing, but it gets the job done. There’s a reason a Harlequin book that in the past would have been called something like Tuscan Seduction is now The Italian’s Inexperienced Mistress

Well, I guess the technical team will be getting another workout trying to corral the system in a couple months when I release book #3. I imagine it going something like this:

Have you had any struggles with Amazon categories? I’m all ears.

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  1. I think, like Dave, you are probably screwed. This makes me want to re-watch that movie – gosh – it’s been years. Can’t imagine how frustrating this must be. Hope I never have to find out. It’s bad enough to not be put into the right categories, but in your particular case, it’s just short of disasterous. Pretty sure there’s little to no-crossover between MM Amish Romance and Christian Amish Romance. None that will leave a glowing public review anyway. I adored A Forbidden Rumspringa and can’t wait for the sequel. Oh, and loved the .gifs. Ha!

    1. It really is frustrating to not be able to reach the right audience! I shall just have to bug their customer service each time I have a new book in the series, which isn’t really a great solution, but it’s all I’ve got.

      Thanks for your support, Jaycee! 🙂

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