A while ago, I wrote about a new project I’ve launched, an uncensored erotica search tool for Amazon. Briefly, a couple years back Amazon started removing listings for some self-published erotica from the search results on their Web site, especially for non-traditional erotica that deals with subjects like BDSM. I discovered they do not, however, censor search results made using their API, so I built a tool that uses the Amazon API to do searches.
The site I built also keeps a database of Amazon erotica, all neatly arranged by category, so that visitors can either search Amazon directly or browse erotica by category.
That’s when I discovered a problem.
A lot of books listed in the database, probably about 15% of them, go to 404 pages on Amazon when you try to follow the link.
“Huh,” I thought, “that’s weird.” The books are still there, but the links don’t work.
I looked further and discovered the ASIN—the Amazon Standard Identification Number that Amazon assigns to all Kindle books—had changed in the links that were broken. An Amazon link goes to a specific ASIN, so if a book’s ASIN changes, the old link breaks and the book lives at a new link on Amazon.
Needless to say, this is bad. If you are an author and your book’s ASIN changes, every link that anyone has ever posted to your book on Amazon breaks.
This happened to Thorntree Press books when we moved to a new distributor. Our new distributor removed all the old listings for our books from Amazon and re-listed them, causing them to live at new ASINs and breaking the old links.
I looked closer at one of the broken links and discovered something interesting. The book was still on Amazon, but with a new listing date. The new listing date was after the date the book had been added to Red Lit Search:
If you have self-published a book on Amazon and you wish to make changes to the book, you can upload a new file in your KDP Dashboard and you will not change your ASIN.
It is very important to make changes to your self-published book this way.
It seems that a lot of self-published authors will make changes to their books by deleting the old listing and re-creating a new listing with the changed file. Do not do this. You will break every existing link to your book, which will hurt your sales.
Instead, you can use the KDP Dashboard to edit your book and upload a new content file without breaking existing links. To do this:
1. Log on to your KDP Select Dashboard.
2. Find your book. There is a button labeled “…” to the right of your book’s listing. Click it and choose Edit Details from the popup menu. It looks like this:
3. In the book’s Details page, scroll down to the Upload Your Book File section. Click the Browse button and upload the new contents for your book.
Your ASIN is how the world locates your book. On Amazon’s site, your book’s listing is attached to the ASIN. If your ASIN changes, this will break any links to your book; and if your book is self-published erotica, there is a chance that it will not turn up in searches on Amazon’s Web site, now or in the future. That means that links to your book are the only way people will find it.
If you self-publish on Amazon, it is very important to do everything in your power to keep your book’s ASIN from changing. I can not stress this enough! Do not make changes to your book by de-listing and re-listing it. This will make your book harder to find.