|"Hi, I'm William Devane." Just joking...|
More specifically I mean, promoting your eBook over various "home run" sites that boost your rank from never-never land to the top 100 of the Overall Kindle Bestseller List in sixty seconds flat. I exaggerate, but you get the point. The top 100 was and is the most coveted place to be and the place you could consistently count on to make you a whole bunch of cash say every two or three months. But more recently, KDP has been coming down on those authors who appear to be manipulating sales rank. Doesn't matter if you're legit or pushing books written by someone in the Philippines and then paying for KU clicks in Hong Kong. Either way you're gonna get busted.
The old days
In the old days, say pre-2014, there were all sorts of ways to shoot up the ranks. Of course, the big Kahuna was Book Bub. Used to be, I could count on three of those bad boys per year. Add in a fourth if my publisher Thomas & Mercer nailed me one. But Book Bub seems more intent on handing over promotions not to indies so much as the big four publishing houses now. I'm not sure why this is happening, but perhaps it has something to do with the quality of the books they are pushing, or perhaps the big 4 are paying more for the privilege of BB's super promo power.
But even if you are lucky enough to nail a Book Bub, or something just as powerful, chances are Amazon might strip you of your rank since it reflects a book that shot up the charts way too fast. That is a no-no these days, so I'm told. It remains to be seen if I ever have a ranking stripped, but from what my sources are telling me, the situation has become a source of concern.
Amazon can kill your account
What an author has to remember is that Amazon can kill your account at any time, and they don't need a reason to do it. If they suspect foul play, legitimate or not, they can come down very hard with sanctions such as taking away your KU account (this happened to me once, but they realized it was a mistake), or something else, such as the ability to leave reviews (I currently cannot leave reviews since I'm guessing I was suspected of review swapping, which I have never done).
Recently, I was also told I could no longer run Amazon Giveaways. After many calls and emails attempting to find out why I could not run giveaways, I hit a brick wall. But I suspect the privilege is somehow tied to the review thing. Also, this isn't a KDP issue, but a seller issue. Other sellers have run giveaways on my behalf, but I'm probably not going to run many of them anymore since they are no longer the effective marketing tool they once were.
The solution...and it always seems to come back to this...is to simply keep on writing good books while building your email lists. If you wish to utilize giveaways as a form of publicity, go to Good Reads or Book Funnel or Istafreebie. I do all three. Slow steady growth aided by AMS and FB ads is the ticket these days. There's no getting around it.
Slower writers are screwed
The problem slower writers are going to have is that their sales will trail off. They will eventually get tired of earning less and less, and many will drop out of the fold altogether, and the indie playing field will be leveled. Perhaps this is something Amazon and KDP inevitably want. The future remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, the indie side of things is not only always changing, but it can be volatile. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Publish many different ways. Become a hybrid like me. But as always, proceed at your own risk.