Ever since the NYTimes revealed that even otherwise reputable authors like John Locke had bought reviews in the Kindle Store I have been wondering when how long it would be until the next time a similarly sketchy service reared its head.
How would you like to buy your way into the Kindle Store best seller list? There's a website that claims it can help you do just that.
Last week a reader tipped me to a French site called MyKindex. This site, which at this time is focused on manipulating the French ebook market, promises to offer authors the opportunity to buy their way on to the French Kindle Store's best seller list. And if the report in the French language KDP Newsletter is accurate then the service appears to work, too.
In a way, MyKindex is a lower-cost, low profile simlar services that promise to buy your way on to prestigious best seller lists like those of the NYTimes or WSJ, and its a fairly straightforward operation.
Authors pay readers to buy their ebooks in the Kindle Store. There is a registration fee for authors, but the service is completely free for readers. There's not even an obligation for readers to follow up with a review, though it is suggested. Actually, this service is better than free; readers who buy the ebooks get the ebook plus 20% of the price they paid. All of that money comes out of the pocket of the author (plus another 5% of the selling price of the ebook for MyKindex).
MyKindex also appears to be rejecting some ebooks. According to their website (and confirmed by Actualitte). They exclude ebooks which have formatting, grammar, or other complaints.
I have not used this service myself; the English language service hasn't launched yet. But I do know that MyKindex is not unknown in France. In fact, at least one KDP author is reportedly very pleased with the value she received.
Sylvie Chaussée-Hostein was interviewed for the French language KDP Newsletter, and one point she covered was that marketing and promoting her ebook was difficult, but with the help of MyKindex her ebook rose to the third spot in the French Kindle Store best seller list and second overall:
Le plus difficile restait cependant à venir : le marketing. Le savoir-faire (en l'occurrence le « savoir-écrire »), c'est bien, Mais sans le faire-savoir, ce n'est rien ! Or, comme la plupart des auteurs, je ne sais pas me vendre et je déteste cela (même écrire cette rubrique est une petite torture…). Des amis dévoués, l'entraide et l'échange de conseils entre auteurs autoédités, puis un appréciable coup de pouce de MyKindex, m'ont aidé à me faire connaître. Nuit Blanche a atteint la 3e position au classement général des ebooks sur Amazon, et la 2e dans la catégorie « Policier et suspense ». Même si son score fluctue depuis, cette performance reste un immense bonheur. La vingtaine de commentaires, très élogieux, aussi (non, ils n'émanent pas tous d'amis !). Et les seules critiques portent sur le fait que… c'est trop court ! Je trouve cela extrêmement flatteur.
You gotta wonder how Amazon let that story go through without a fact check, don't you?
This story hasn't broken yet in English language blogs, but Actualitte has been covering it in French. Yesterday they posted an interview of Sébastien Cerise, the founder of MyKindex. He defended the service, and argued that it was not breaking any of Amazon's rules nor was it breaking any laws.
That could well be true, but I expect that Amazon will take steps to block MyKindex. It might not violate the letter of any of Amazon's rules but it does render the best seller list suspect. That damages Amazon's credibility, and I don't think they'll like that.
And even if Amazon doesn't block MyKindex, they could jigger their algorithms so it is less effective. Remember, authors used to be able to offer an ebook as a freebie for a short period and see a huge positive effect on their Kindle Store rankings. That is no longer true;so .
Amazon has been queried on this story, and should they respond I will amend this post.