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View Full Version : Pricing tactic: Title new book with same title as successful author



field19
09-28-2016, 04:44 PM
I had published my book on Amazon in July within days after I learned that a mega successful author was releasing her new book in November with the identical title. They are completely different story lines.

So I thought that I would run a promotion where I would drop the price of my book to 99 cents the day of her book's release and extend it through the Thanksguving Day weekend.

Do you think this will do any good for my book sales? Will I be hearing from her attorneys if I go though with this?

Ravioli
09-28-2016, 04:52 PM
I'm no lawyer, but I think that as long as you can prove you chose your title before she came out with hers, you should be fine. Although your discount timing does make it look suspicious.

EvieDriver
09-28-2016, 05:05 PM
I wouldn't discount it, TBH. There are only so many titles we humans can come up with. Stick to your guns, and I'm sure everything will be fine. :)

field19
09-28-2016, 05:10 PM
It didn't occur to me that

field19
09-28-2016, 05:30 PM
I meant to say that I saw two other books with the identical title. Do you think I should raise the price instead during that period?

Bacchus
09-28-2016, 05:38 PM
days after I learned that a mega successful author was releasing her new book in November with the identical title


I meant to say that I saw two other books with the identical title

What's the title of your book??? The Saurus? Diction Ary??

Maryn
09-28-2016, 05:53 PM
So you're trying to trick buyers who want that super-popular author's new book out that day into buying your book with the same title and a much lower price? I don't see this as a tactic that will do you any good. People are likely to be angry with you for the bait-and-switch, rightfully so. You can expect complaints to Amazon and highly negative reviews, whether the book merits them or not.

Maryn, who'd be upset if she'd bought yours by inattentive mistake

be frank
09-28-2016, 05:59 PM
LOL. I just spent way too long trying to figure out WTF a "suthir" is.

field19
09-28-2016, 06:06 PM
Your point is loud and clear. I do want to create trouble, but I also want to sell books. My cover is totally different and, I think, more interesting. How should I go about protecting myself from raising the ire of Amazon or her fans?

Myrealana
09-28-2016, 06:07 PM
I don't see how any good will come of this tactic.

Either you'll trick some people into buying your book thinking they've gotten a bargain, and they will be disappointed, or you'll make less money on sales you would have gotten anyway.

In the first case, you'll actually be turning readers off, and heaven forbid one of those readers takes their disappointment to social media.

In the second case, you're giving away money.

I don't think the remote potential of attracting an actual new reader is high enough to balance out the potential negatives.

Tazlima
09-28-2016, 06:17 PM
I had published my book on Amazon in July within days after I learned that a mega successful author was releasing her new book in November with the identical title. They are completely different story lines.

So I thought that I would run a promotion where I would drop the price of my book to 99 cents the day of her book's release and extend it through the Thanksguving Day weekend.

Do you think this will do any good for my book sales? Will I be hearing from her attorneys if I go though with this?


Two thoughts (IANAL).

1) While having the same name isn't a problem, the lowered price with that particular timing could be perceived as...I dunno what exactly, but it sounds like the sort of thing there would be laws about, intentionally trying to encourage people to mistake your product for someone else's. It smacks of cheap knockoffs. As a reader, if I were taken in by what I thought was a bargain, only to get an entirely different product, and thought for one second that the author had purposely contributed to that mistake, I'd be inclined to avoid that author in the future, even if the book I purchased turned out to be amazing in its own right.

2) People are liable to make the error anyway through simple carelessness. Why not let them pay full price for their mistake? (I wouldn't change the price at all during the release, higher or lower). That way you get more money and avoid accusations of intentionally misrepresenting your product.

lizmonster
09-28-2016, 06:20 PM
Your point is loud and clear. I do want to create trouble, but I also want to sell books. My cover is totally different and, I think, more interesting. How should I go about protecting myself from raising the ire of Amazon or her fans?

Has the other author contacted you, or are you worrying before the fact?

Richard White
09-28-2016, 06:21 PM
However, there is an opportunity here IF you are ready for it.

If people do a search on Amazon, there's a good chance your book will appear along with "famous author's" book, so ...

a) make sure your cover is attractive. If people see an interesting cover just below the famous author's book, they may decide to click on your link and see what your book is about, so ...

b) make sure your description of the book is as clear and precise as you can make it. Make it sound enticing, and they may click on the "look inside", so ...

c) You do have the "look inside" set up right? If so, ...

d) if your premise sounds enticing, then hopefully the writing on the first chapter is up to snuff and you'll catch their attention, and if so ...

e) you may garner new sales because this author has a title that sounds like yours.

However, that means you need to review your own Amazon page to ensure it's as good as you can make it to get people to want to click on your book and then hopefully, "buy this now". What you do not want to do is attempt to mislead people into thinking your book is by the famous author. One, people can return books to Amazon (and do); two, they'll remember your name (and not in a good way); and three, they'll leave incredibly snarky reviews if they think they've been tricked.

So, this could be a GREAT opportunity for you IF you're ready for prime time.

field19
09-28-2016, 06:34 PM
I'm ready. No one has contacted me. I'm just a flea to her. David vs. Goliath. I want to convince readers not only that It is a completely different story, but also a better story. That's all.

be frank
09-28-2016, 06:41 PM
Out of curiosity, have you checked how many other books also have the same title as yours?

As in, if someone searches for Big Author's new release, will the results be Big Author's New Book + field19's book, or will it be Big Author's New Book + field19's book + 35 other matches?

How unusual is your title?

field19
09-28-2016, 06:48 PM
I'm not sure if I should divulge the name of the novel in this forum. Would it make any difference to anyone here?

be frank
09-28-2016, 06:56 PM
I'm more curious is a general way. There's a difference (to me) between a really generic title and a unique one.

BTW, I don't know if this is of any interest to you (or anyone else here) but there was a whole kerfuffle last year about people confusing "The Girl on the Train" with "Girl on a Train (http://www.wsj.com/articles/loved-the-novel-about-a-girl-on-a-train-you-may-have-read-the-wrong-book-1447724224)".

ETA: Here's another link (http://www.mhpbooks.com/readers-who-thought-they-were-buying-the-girl-on-the-train-make-girl-on-a-train-a-surprise-hit/) that's not behind a paywall.

field19
09-28-2016, 07:00 PM
There are several pages of matches. Hers will always be at the top. As of now, I've never been higher than fourth. Two others have identical titles and a few others have similar titles. Regarding Anazons algorithm, do reviews have any relevance in enhancing rank, or do only verified purchases count?

cornflake
09-28-2016, 07:01 PM
I had published my book on Amazon in July within days after I learned that a mega successful author was releasing her new book in November with the identical title. They are completely different story lines.

So I thought that I would run a promotion where I would drop the price of my book to 99 cents the day of her book's release and extend it through the Thanksguving Day weekend.

Do you think this will do any good for my book sales? Will I be hearing from her attorneys if I go though with this?

Again, hear from her attys about what? You'd hear from a bunch of pissed-off customers who return your book, I'd wager, if they buy yours inadvertently. I don't see what good would come of that.


I'm not sure if I should divulge the name of the novel in this forum. Would it make any difference to anyone here?

You're not sure if you should divulge the name of the book you already published?

field19
09-28-2016, 07:27 PM
Be frank:

Trust me. It's generic.

Old Hack
09-28-2016, 09:01 PM
Your point is loud and clear. I do want to create trouble, but I also want to sell books. My cover is totally different and, I think, more interesting. How should I go about protecting myself from raising the ire of Amazon or her fans?

Why do you want to create trouble? What good can come of it? You might end up with a few more sales this way but you'll also end up alienating all those readers you fool into buying your book, which is not a good thing. You'll lose more than you'll gain if you try to game the readership in any way.


Again, hear from her attys about what? You'd hear from a bunch of pissed-off customers who return your book, I'd wager, if they buy yours inadvertently. I don't see what good would come of that.

My feelings too.

Twick
09-28-2016, 09:13 PM
I think the best approach would be to act as if you're totally unaware that other author has, ahem, stolen your title.

People are responsible for what they buy. Most titles will have similar or identical titles popping up on a search. Your title was out first. As long as you're not deliberately trolling for mistakes, you should be able to hold your head high.

veinglory
09-28-2016, 09:19 PM
If people buy your book by mistake during the promotion at best you'll get a lot of returns, at worst a lot of one-star reviews. IMHO, best to promote when it is best for you, not for gimmicky reasons.

Sheryl Nantus
09-28-2016, 10:10 PM
Listen.

I'm going to be honest.

Don't be a jerk.

The last thing, the LAST THING you need is for people to associate your name with a jerk. A guy doing a bait-and-switch with people mistaking your book for someone else's and you trying to take advantage of the situation.

People will remember your name. They'll look at the book and, unless it's VERY GOOD, they'll toss it back to Amazon and you'll lose money on returns.

AND THEY WILL REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE.

Look, titles are titles are titles. There are plenty of books out with the same titles, some with the same theme and others with vastly different plots. And yes, some accidents happen when people buy a book with what they think is the right title and it turns out to be the right title but wrong book.

So it goes.

But intentionally setting out to try and defraud readers, to TRICK them into buying your book isn't just bad business, it's bad for your career. Because people will remember.

Just... follow Wil Wheaton's First Rule.

Marian Perera
09-29-2016, 02:14 AM
The last thing, the LAST THING you need is for people to associate your name with a jerk. A guy doing a bait-and-switch with people mistaking your book for someone else's and you trying to take advantage of the situation.

That reminds me of Robert Stanek (http://conjugalfelicity.com/robert-stanek/) retitling the books in his fantasy series "A Clash of Heroes", "A Storm of Shields", "A Dance of Swords" and "A Legacy of Dragons".

zmethos
09-29-2016, 03:00 AM
Titles can't be copyrighted, so I don't think you're facing any legal problem. But as so many have mentioned, you might be facing angry readers who mistakenly grabbed the wrong book. Though if the other author is so successful, it seems like his/her fans aren't likely to pick up yours by mistake. They'll double check that it's their favorite author's book. If it's a different genre, and/or looks very different, making such a mistake is even less likely. Still, the tactic can color you unappealing/untrustworthy to potential readers who think you're trying to pull a fast one. Or maybe they'll just assume it was coincidence. Dunno. :Shrug:

Ravioli
09-29-2016, 12:56 PM
Your point is loud and clear. I do want to create trouble, but I also want to sell books. My cover is totally different and, I think, more interesting. How should I go about protecting myself from raising the ire of Amazon or her fans?
You can't want both to create trouble, and protect yourself from trouble. If you want to go scandal, you'll have to do so expecting and dealing with the fall-out. Scandal is a great promotional tool, but it's also rather stressful and unpleasant. You can't have scandal or controversy any other way-.

mccardey
09-29-2016, 01:14 PM
I do want to create trouble, but I also want to sell books.

Why do you want to create trouble? What good can come of it?


You can't want both to create trouble, and protect yourself from trouble.

I'm going to go out on a well-intentioned limb and say I think the OP has committed a typo here. I suspect what was meant was I don't want to cause trouble, but I do want to sell books.

Anything else is too daft ;)

Old Hack
09-29-2016, 10:03 PM
[...] Scandal is a great promotional tool, [...]

No, it isn't. It really isn't.

I've been involved in some horrible messes and while they did bring a huge amount of attention to the people concerned, and got their books and/or movies talked about a lot, they didn't sell many more copies as a result and in at least two of the situations, the people at the centre of the scandals lost work, lost jobs, lost contracts.

Scandal is not something to aim for.

field19
09-29-2016, 10:21 PM
Would "scandal" include adding the author's name to my search terms solely to get more eyeballs on the book?

AW Admin
09-29-2016, 10:27 PM
Would "scandal" include adding the author's name to my search terms solely to get more eyeballs on the book?

No, that's black hat SEO and is a tactic employed by low-life scum.

If you wrote a good book, one that you're proud of, why would you want to engage in market tactics that are employed by reprehensible people?

Are you trying to help readers find and buy your book or trying to lure suckers?

field19
09-29-2016, 10:34 PM
I'd call it clever marketing.

CassandraW
09-29-2016, 10:42 PM
I'd call it clever marketing.

I don't think you'll find much agreement among those buying books. I think it's dishonest, obnoxious, and strongly implies that you don't think your own book is worthwhile on its own merits.

would you also call it clever marketing if a movie's advertisement used an Oscar-winning star who in fact had nothing to do with the movie?

cornflake
09-29-2016, 10:42 PM
I'd call it clever marketing.

It's neither of those things though.

field19
09-29-2016, 10:52 PM
Sorry, but I'm with Richard White on this.

Our book covers are resoundingly different. Hers is an off white bsckground, while mine looks like a movie poster. Our names are clearly displayed and whatever search a customer runs, her book will always be in the first position. I'm just trying to level the playing field a bit.

I have no intention of luring suckers. If prospective customers hate the book cover or my plot synopsis, I'll understand.

cornflake
09-29-2016, 10:56 PM
Level the playing field? What?

If your intention is not to lure suckers, what is the point of putting HER name in your search terms, exactly?

Old Hack
09-29-2016, 10:59 PM
Would "scandal" include adding the author's name to my search terms solely to get more eyeballs on the book?

That wouldn't be scandal, at best it would be trying to trick your potential readers and at worst it would be fraudulent. Do it if you must but it is more likely to alienate potential readers and get you kicked off Amazon than to sell you lots of copies.


I'd call it clever marketing.

I'd call it a sleazy con-trick. But what do I know? I'm only someone with a few decades of experience in publishing, a few years working in sales and marketing as a director, and I've only won a handful of prizes for the work I did there. So perhaps I don't have a clue.

heza
09-29-2016, 11:02 PM
Sorry, but I'm with Richard White on this.

I'm sorry. I don't think that's what Richard said, at all. Maybe you should reread his post.

lizmonster
09-29-2016, 11:10 PM
I'm just trying to level the playing field a bit.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you're looking for better exposure, and are frustrated that you haven't yet found an effective way to get it.

I can understand the impulse, but what you're talking about isn't leveling the playing field - it's being deliberately misleading to try to profit off of someone else's marketing (which has been paid for). And there's a very good chance it'll backfire on you.

There are a lot of people on AW who have self-pubbed, and been quite successful. You're probably better off asking a more open-ended question about what you might do to help your book become more visible, or perusing the forums to find threads on self-marketing (of which there are many).

AW Admin
09-29-2016, 11:14 PM
Your point is loud and clear. I do want to create trouble, but I also want to sell books. My cover is totally different and, I think, more interesting. How should I go about protecting myself from raising the ire of Amazon or her fans?

Multiple books have identical titles. It's only an issue if you try to game the system, for instance by using inaccurate metadata. That will get you in hot water.

Sheryl Nantus
09-29-2016, 11:27 PM
Sorry, but I'm with Richard White on this.

Our book covers are resoundingly different. Hers is an off white bsckground, while mine looks like a movie poster. Our names are clearly displayed and whatever search a customer runs, her book will always be in the first position. I'm just trying to level the playing field a bit.

I have no intention of luring suckers. If prospective customers hate the book cover or my plot synopsis, I'll understand.

That's NOT what Richard said.

He did NOT say to attach the more famous author's name to yours by using it as a keyword. I'll let him come here and berate you personally when he comes up for air from his own writing, but that's NOT what he said.

We've given you plenty of feedback. Ignore it at your peril.

magster
09-29-2016, 11:33 PM
On a sort of same but different subject, I was browsing Stephen King's books only to realize he was not THE Stephen King. The style was so different, and not what I liked, that I went back to Amazon to read the reviews. Many reviewers blasted the writer to the point of believing that was not his real name. I think Amazon (or someone) edited the author info to the effect of clarifying which one was or was not King, well, something like that.

Mclesh
09-29-2016, 11:35 PM
I do remember an instance a few years ago where an author acquaintance's book had the same title as a more well-known author's. (This was unintentional on my acquaintance's part.) Their books were different genres, but readers who bought my acquaintance's book by mistake left nasty reviews accusing her of trying to cash in on another author's more popular series. (She wasn't.)

Readers will let their displeasure be known, even if it's their error.

Richard White
09-29-2016, 11:36 PM
*le sigh*

What I said/implied/hinted at/nudged toward was "Make sure your own Amazon link/web site/etc. are as ready for prime time as possible."

IF people simply query on the book title, it's possible (if not probable) your book's link will be visible. If your cover is attractive, it MAY get people to click on it. IF your synopsis is well written, they may decide to use the Look-Inside function and IF they like what they see, you may garner some more sales that way.

However, I absolutely did NOT encourage/hint at/nudge toward any chicanery when it comes to luring people who're looking for one author to come to your site. Make your stuff attractive should they spot it.

It's a great opportunity - think of it as your neighbor having an open house and you just happen to have your house on the market too. If your lawn is neat, your home freshly cleaned and you've got cookies in the window, well, that's just good marketing. BUT, you don't steal your neighbor's open house sign and stick it in your yard. That's tacky.

Sheryl Nantus
09-29-2016, 11:48 PM
Right. Here it is. At least, I believe this is the right book. If not, speak up please.

The Chemist (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01J0KFN5M/)

Thought it'd be easier for everyone if we deal with the actual book instead of a wandering ghost.

mccardey
09-29-2016, 11:49 PM
I'm going to go out on a well-intentioned limb and say I think the OP has committed a typo here. I suspect what was meant was I don't want to cause trouble, but I do want to sell books.

Anything else is too daft ;)

Live and learn *sigh*

field19
09-30-2016, 12:00 AM
This should end this discussion:

I took the trouble to review the KDP Anazon contract and guess what? Using another author's name in metadata is strictly verboten.

Tazlima
09-30-2016, 12:02 AM
Sorry, but I'm with Richard White on this.

Our book covers are resoundingly different. Hers is an off white bsckground, while mine looks like a movie poster. Our names are clearly displayed and whatever search a customer runs, her book will always be in the first position. I'm just trying to level the playing field a bit.




"Level the playing field" as you're using it here, makes it sound like you feel entitled to a portion of her readership. You're not.

You're not on a playing field. You're on a hill. She's earned her readership by climbing that hill, which you do by writing good stories that people want to read, then writing MORE good stories. You're lower on that hill, and have no right to ANY portion of what she's earned. If you want a big readership, there's the path. Climb it yourself.

What I wrote earlier about possibly benefiting from someone making an honest mistake? That's like having a long-lost relative die and leave you some money. It's the silver lining to a not-great circumstance.

What you're proposing, and seeking approval for? That's like killing that same relative just to get the money.

The result may be the same either way: dead relative, cash in pocket. However, by acting to MAKE it happen, you're crossing a line.

Sheryl Nantus
09-30-2016, 12:03 AM
This should end this discussion:

I took the trouble to review the KDP Anazon contract and guess what? Using another author's name in metadata is strictly verboten.

No kidding.

*rolls eyes*

Ravioli
09-30-2016, 12:10 AM
Sorry, but I'm with Richard White on this.

Our book covers are resoundingly different. Hers is an off white bsckground, while mine looks like a movie poster. Our names are clearly displayed and whatever search a customer runs, her book will always be in the first position. I'm just trying to level the playing field a bit.

I have no intention of luring suckers. If prospective customers hate the book cover or my plot synopsis, I'll understand.

It's not leveling the playing field if you try and piggy-back on someone else, that's purely parasitic behaviour. Also, you are not competitors. The other author is not your opponent and does not deserve offensive or defensive blows from you. Your book needs to hold itself on its own, against its own. It also speaks volumes to your confidence as a writer that you think you need to semi-impersonate another book.
I did say - and I still believe - scandal/controversy can be a good boost even if not a guaranteed one, but that is assuming you throw ethics out the window, something I don't suggest. I also trust Old Hack to know better and if he says it's shit for success, it probably is and I'm just thinking about those very few sleazebags who did get lucky.

If you'd simply published your book and discounted it for promotional reasons and later found out another author's book by the same name helped your sales, I'd say lucky you, how awesome, but you're scheming. There's an ethical difference.

Different book covers mean nothing. One book can be published in a million different designs. So unless your title is really generic and can't possibly be claimed by any one author - don't.

I was in a similar situation about my novel (which isn't out yet). My character's name translates to Precious because I thought it was ironic, then later, thinking about titles, I remembered the Precious that was dramatized with Gabourey Sidibe and thought, "Shit, if I title my book Precious, then maybe I get more exposure due to people looking for the other Precious" - and while it's kind of legit what with precious shit being what my story is all about, I had this little voice in my head whispering to me that no matter how much sense that title would make, the thought of using it to piggy-back on the other Precious makes me a douche. I don't want AW to discuss me as the newest desperate douche when my book's out.