Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Twenty-Three: Stephen Kozeniewski!
This week we have another guest sitting in the Captain’s Chair! I’d like you all to welcome Stephen Kozeniewski. WELCOME HIM!
Don’t know Stephen? LEARN!
Stephen Kozeniewski lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. He was born to the soothing strains of “Boogie With Stu” even though The Who are far superior to Zep, for reasons that he doesn’t even really want to get into right now.
During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. The depiction of addiction in his fiction is strongly informed by the three years he spent working at a substance abuse clinic, an experience which also ensures that he employs strict moderation when enjoying the occasional highball of Old Crow.
He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German.
HE HAS A DEGREE IN GERMAN! WHY AM I YELLING SO MUCH IN THIS POST?
How about we just move along. Enjoy!
Before I ever met or exchanged two words with Jake Bible he became one of the most important people in my professional life. Jake was (actually still is) one of my “Also Boughts.” If this is an odd term for you, don’t panic: it just means that you’re not a) going crazy or b) an author.
This is an easier concept to explain visually than with words, so let me just show you this graphic:
This is a screen capture from the Amazon page for my sophomore novel THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO. Basically, it’s as simple as it sounds. People who bought TGA from Amazon also bought the books listed here from Amazon at some point in their lives. You can scroll through twenty screens of Also Boughts (a hundred books) but this one is the one that pops up automatically every time you click on my book’s Amazon page. It represents the five books that customers most commonly also buy along with mine.
As you can see, one of them is my debut novel, BRAINEATER JONES, which makes sense. My friends, family, and whatever constitutes my burgeoning fanbase have bought both of my books. (Thanks, everybody, by the way.) Another book is by an author I’m not familiar with, Stephen Knight, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that since we’re both Stephen Ks and we write horror, there’s been some overlap there.
All three of my other Also Boughts are from Jake’s Z-BURBIA series. Why is that? Well, for one thing we share a publisher, the great Severed Press out of Hobart, Australia, so there’s probably some common interest there. My novel came out around the same time as Z-BURBIA 2, so we probably shared some buyers due to time as well. But I’m guessing the main reason why Jake takes up the lion’s share of my Also Boughts is that we write similarly appealing novels.
So what does all this mean? Why does it matter to me as an author or you as a reader? Well, believe it or not, if you’ve ever been on Amazon before you’ve seen this ribbon, or, at least, a similar one. You also as likely as not have clicked on it before. You may not even remember doing so. And that’s the beauty of it.
Amazon is a business. For authors, in some ways (both disturbing and exciting) it’s THE business. Which makes their business model wholly fascinating and worthy of at least a cursory analysis. You can bet your sweet bippy that if people didn’t click on Also Boughts and buy some at least now and then Amazon wouldn’t waste the money on web designers and bandwidth to have that ribbon on every page they maintain. So why do they do this? Because (repeat it with me now) they’re a business. The Also Boughts lead to more sales.
Imagine yourself back in the near-mythical olden days of yore known as “The Nineties” when brick-and-mortar stores littered the landscape. I could walk into a bookstore and expect to see shelves of staff picks. Jimmy and Johnny and Joanie who all worked at Books ‘R Us would all set up their personal favorites for us to peruse. And if I knew that I shared taste with Jimmy, I could always pick up one of the books from his shelf and be happy.
And if I DIDN’T trust ANY of those folks, I could still walk up to whoever was working the counter that day and have a conversation like this:
“I’m looking for a book but I don’t know what I want.”
“Well, what do you like to read?”
“More like gory or more like funny?”
“Here, try this, it’s the newest one by Kozeniewski. He does gore well.”
So fast forward again to 2014. (Thank God that trip down memory lane was truncated. I don’t think I could handle another minute without my iPhone.) Amazon has displaced brick-and-mortar stores but the one thing it CAN’T offer you is a clerk who more or less can tell you what to buy, and increase the store’s overall sales. Hence the Also Boughts.
Right when you consider whether to purchase a book or not you are presented with a whole slew of similar books to buy. (Or videos or ping pong tables, or whatever.) And even AFTER you purchase it Amazon will continue to tell you things you may be interested in based on your purchasing history.
Did you ever notice that maybe you bought a My Little Pony once for your niece ten years ago and to this day Amazon recommends pony stuff to you? That’s because the things in your purchase history are considered even more relevant than just the things you’ve perused.
So, long story short, Jake and I drive traffic to one another’s books. (I’m sure it’s much more one-sided and more likely that I simply benefit from Jake’s popularity.) Every time you look at my book you see his and at least consider clicking on them. This is one of the reasons why it’s beneficial for authors to write more books, so they have more Also Boughts, and potentially more criss-crossing traffic, but that could be the subject of a whole other blogpost.
So in closing I want to say thanks to Jake for hosting me on his blog and for taking up not just one, not just two, but three of my all-important Also Bought slots. I hope I helped to pull back the curtain a little bit on how Amazon works in this one particular mechanic and why it’s so important to authors and other content producers. Thanks for reading and remember: ZOMBIES FOREVER!
There you have it, folks! (Check is in the mail, Stephen).
Go get some of his books and then you’ll be able to see that others want my books too! GET THEM ALL! YES, I’M STILL YELLING!
Posted on June 11, 2014, in Views From The Captain's Chair! and tagged bible, drabble, fiction, genre, horror, indie publishing, Jake Bible, publishing, science fiction, self-publishing, undead, writing, zombie, zombies. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.