The Only Rule Amazon Truly Cares About

On Monday, I found out that some bug hit a German e-book site causing the reactivation of long-dead listings, including one of mine, putting myself and some other authors in breach of KDP Select’s exclusivity rule.

Amazon pounced into action and cancelled my Countdown deal which was scheduled for this week, screwing up a carefully planned promotion. And despite pledging to resolve the matter and restore the promo, Amazon has not done so.

I’m going to go through what happened in detail so you can be sure that I acted correctly at all points – because there is a lot of shadiness going on at the moment – but feel free to skim some of the details if you wish.

Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible had never been in Select, so I decided to throw them in for one term as an experiment at the start of July. It was a short-term play, I was curious to see what KU could do for these books. Once they were down from all other retailers, I enrolled them.

Visible had never been free, so I was particularly keen to see how it would perform as a virgin freebie in KU, so I set up my promo days for August 9 to August 13 and a concurrent Countdown Deal on Digital to run at 99c.

It’s usually a good KU tactic to run a free promotion on the first book of a series and a 99c Countdown Deal on the second. Both promos will feed into each other, and the step up from free to 99c is quite small so you will get a decent amount of sell-through. And as Digital and Visible are more akin to companion books which boost each other than a linear series which must be read in a certain order, there is no loss running that in reverse.

I bought ads on a variety of reader sites, drew up a Facebook campaign with a carousel ad pushing both books as the centerpiece, and planned some action on the BookBub CPM platform. I also wanted to push the deals myself on social media – figuring Visible in particular would get a lot of play as it had never been free – and then try and give things a final shove on this here blog, if I could shake off the virus that had been dogging me all month. In short, there were a few moving parts.

And then I got the dreaded email.

KDP’s Exclusivity Compliance team contacted me on Monday August 7 to say that Let’s Get Digital was breaching the exclusivity requirements of KDP Select. They gave me a link to some German store called Weltbild.

This first edition was unpublished everywhere in September 2014.

Straight away, I could see something was off because this store was selling the first edition of Digital – which hadn’t been available anywhere since 2014. I emailed them straight away asking them to take the book down and to explain why it was on their site etc. (They never replied at any point.)

I also replied to the KDP Exclusivity Compliance team, explaining that it looked like this German store had inadvertently put an old 2014 edition of my book on sale without my permission. I told them I was trying to get the listing down but was facing some difficulty as I didn’t know how it had gotten there in the first place, and asked them to take all that into consideration. I further explained that the situation was urgent as I had a Countdown deal scheduled to commence on Wednesday August 9.

At the same time, I tried to conduct my own investigations, knowing the clock was ticking. Amazon had given me five days to comply or I would be booted from KDP Select, and KU payments would be blocked (further sanctions were also threatened). I also emailed KDP’s Executive Customer Relations seeking a resolution to the matter, explaining my predicament, particularly pointing to the Countdown deal, worried that Digital would come down mid-promo.

And then a friend warned me that I should check if my Countdown deal was already cancelled.

I logged into my KDP Bookshelf, and, sure enough, my dashboard said that the Countdown deal had been cancelled. Clicking on the “Why?” link beside the cancellation status brought up some boilerplate text about KDP Select exclusivity, with a link to the KDP terms and conditions.

At no point did Amazon inform me that the Countdown deal was cancelled – even though I had referred to the impending Countdown deal in all of my communications. If my friend hadn’t warned me to check my dashboard, I would never have known. And when I tried to reschedule the Countdown, that ability had been blocked on my account.

Another round of emails to Amazon finally got a response on Tuesday August 8. A member of the Executive Customer Relations team said that he was trying to find out what had happened with my book and was re-instating my ability to run Countdown deals in the meantime.

I scheduled one for Digital immediately, but the earliest date I could select was August 10 – not the original date of August 9. Far from ideal, but better than nothing. Starting late would still mess up my promo though, so I emailed Amazon and asked if they could manually shift the date back to the original of August 9, as I had ads booked.

In the meantime, the helpful team at Draft2Digital had established that this German store had listed my book without authorization and provided me with a form of words to that effect so I could show Amazon that the breach of exclusivity was through no action/inaction of mine, and that it was working to get the book down ASAP.

(Note: Draft2Digital was not at fault here at all, and was excellent throughout.)

I passed all of this on to Amazon and stressed that I needed the Countdown deal manually changed to August 9, arguing that it was the least they could do given the circumstances. Amazon subsequently phoned me to say they would endeavor to make this change, but that they couldn’t promise anything, given the tight timeframe. I explained how angry I was about all of this, and contrasted how Amazon treats scammers with kid gloves and comes down like a ton of bricks on honest authors for no good reason.

Finally, I received an email from Amazon early Wednesday morning (August 9) to say that the problem had been rectified, and that my Countdown deal could commence as originally planned. The Exclusivity Compliance team also emailed to confirm that the German store had taken down my listing and that I was no longer in breach of the exclusivity rules.

Problem solved… until it wasn’t.

On Friday night, a friend warned me that Digital’s price wasn’t reduced. I checked my dashboard and saw that the Countdown deal was cancelled again, in the middle of my promo period, without warning, without telling me, all while I had ads running promoting the deal. This is the message that now appears in my dashboard.

Where previously there was a note about me apparently breaking the exclusivity rules, there was new text which now said:

If a price (print or digital) for your book is found to be lower than the Kindle price, the promotion will be cancelled prior to completion. Click here to learn more.

I don’t know what this message means, to be honest, or how it pertains to my books. I can only presume it’s an error of some kind because it doesn’t make any sense. I emailed Amazon but didn’t get a response. As it was late on Friday, I probably won’t get one until after the weekend, which will be after my promo ends.

Needless to say, I’m pretty annoyed. This has totally screwed up my promo – one which I had invested considerable time and money in. Amazon has also put me in a position of promoting a deal which didn’t exist to readers – I had Facebook ads running, and was tweeting about the sale, all without knowing the Countdown was cancelled, because I was never told.

This situation is particularly galling because right after complaining to Amazon that they should inform people if they are cancelling Countdown deals, Amazon again cancelled mine without informing me. Worst of all, I’ve wasted the one shot I had at promoting Let’s Get Visible as a virgin freebie. And the bitter irony of all this is that I only enrolled these titles in Select so that I could run this promo.

Okay, enough about me. I’d like to widen the scope a little here.

Authors regularly get caught up in situations like this because of Amazon’s poorly designed enforcement system – which treats authors with contempt. I’m far from the first to be caught in its maw. Self-publishers have been warning Amazon about this kind of thing repeatedly over the last few years, but we have seen no improvements. Books still regularly get removed for typos, sometimes without warning, and for breaching exclusivity, often through no fault of the author (whereas those engaging in much shadier practices seem to get a pass).

This needs to change.

We deserve to be treated with a basic level of respect. Authors shouldn’t be put in a position where they have to chase down unauthorized editions of their books against a ticking clock threatening serious sanctions. We should be informed if Amazon is going to apply sanctions like cancelling Countdown deals. At the moment, Amazon just acts, without affording a right of reply, often without even communicating the sanction.

The whole matter is compounded by the (often terrible) customer service levels at KDP. When I emailed about this issue, I was first received a canned response that had nothing to do with what I was asking. Then I had to wait a further day for the next response. If I didn’t have contacts at KDP Executive Customer Relations, I would have gone through that canned response loop with customer service agents a number of times before someone began to address the actual issue.

All of this with a ticking clock in the background.

Again, this is normal. But it shouldn’t be. We deserve better treatment than this. Amazon needs to institute appropriate escalation procedures for serious cases – something we have been calling for since 2013.

Also, since Kindle Unlimited was launched we have seen a massive uptick in scamming, and Amazon has been very slow to act in response to same. Scammers generally get ignored and Amazon only seems to click into gear if it suffers a PR embarrassment. And even then the reaction will be fairly half-hearted.

But if an author inadvertently breaks the exclusivity rule, or is subject to some bug which accidentally re-lists their books, Amazon drops the hammer right away.

It’s the only rule Amazon truly cares about.

UPDATE August 15: 

Amazon has been in touch several times over the last few days, but only to say that it was still investigating the matter. I’m not sure why exactly it’s taking so long to determine what happened, but there you go.

The last email included a proposed “goodwill gesture” – which was a fairly pathetic offer of an additional KCD or five free days for Let’s Get Digital.

I told Amazon that fell far short of what they need to do to make this right, but before the conversation moves on to that, I wanted some kind of explanation for what happened.

I’m surprised it’s taking this long.

UPDATE 2 August 16:

OK, so finally heard back from Amazon. They are now claiming I never scheduled a second countdown deal and any messages I saw pertaining to same were just an “error” – which is total and utter BS.

UPDATE 3 August 18:

I’m not getting anywhere with Amazon, unfortunately.

Amazon has now conceded that I did set up a second countdown deal, which was cancelled, but is essentially saying that its my own fault as I “can see the status of any KCD, at any time, within your KDP account from the “KDP Select Benefits” tab.” Of course, this is notwithstanding the fact that Amazon never told me that my KCD was cancelled – either the first time or the second time – so I would have had no reason to check my KCD. It’s also notwithstanding the fact that Amazon should never have cancelled my KCD in the first place.

Incredibly frustrating.

More worryingly, Amazon appears to be taking the position that if you are in Select, and your book appears anywhere else, even if it’s an unauthorized edition (e.g. a bug by a retailer, a publisher not yanking down something when they should, or someone pirating your work), then you will be culpable, and Amazon reserves the right to cancel your promos without reference to you, and without right of appeal, and also reserves the right to boot you from Select and withold any KU funds if you can’t get these unauthorized editions removed in time.

This is pretty abominable treatment of authors considering it pertains to actions outside their control. For example, giant media conglomerates with an international army of lawyers and a budget of billions are unable to stamp out piracy, but individual authors are now expected to get them to tow the line? It’s ludicrous.

Given all the stories I’ve heard since going public about my own experience, it seems like it is increasingly normal for authors to find themselves in this position (and through no fault of their own). Obviously, one can draw quite a stark contrast between the above, and the light touch regulation we have seen of serious scammers.

About David Gaughran

David is Irish and lives in Dublin, where it rains every day and conversation is a sport. He writes historical adventures and has helped thousands of authors to self-publish through his workshops, books, and this here blog.
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68 Responses to The Only Rule Amazon Truly Cares About

  1. The more one reads and hears about the way that innocent authors are treated by Amazon, the more one thinks of a totalitarian state, where the rights of a few are sacrificed for the convenience and profit of the state (in this case, Amazon). They have set up AI systems that cannot cope with anomalies in the system, and there are insufficient people, with the ability or authority, to act for the individual injustices and override the bots. One shudders to think of our world in just a few years time as AI takes over more and more of our lives.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. Thanks for posting this, David. I’ve shared on Facebook. Your experience echoes those of other authors. Because of the horror stories I’ve read, I haven’t used KDP Select for a long time.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. tcv799 says:

    This is indeed awful but it’s not just Amazon who treat authors so badly. Even though they screwed up at least you say you were able to make contact with customer service and it sounds as though someone there was trying to respond. I mention this because I am now 6 weeks into a dispute (if that’s the right word) with Facebook who arbitrarily cancelled my Facebook ads account for alleged ‘violations’ on 2 July. What I am supposed to have done wrong I cannot say because Facebook customer service is MUCH MUCH worse than Amazon or kdp – in fact it doesn’t seem to exist at all. They have no customer service phone line and have recently removed a ‘chat support’ helpline which provided no help at all, just bland words. I won’t bore you with all the details but believe me the fact that you got responses from amazon and kdp makes me jealous – trying to contact Facebook is like opening a door in a space capsule and shouting at a distant galaxy. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. (They are a communication company, you know)

    Liked by 5 people

  4. mlbanner says:

    Had hoped Amazon was dealing with some of these issues (especially scammers) now, with its recent KENP V3.0 release. Then I read your story… It’s amazing to me that an organization which has designed the best platform for vaulting first-time authors’ books into visibility and thus enabled thousands of us to make a living in an otherwise impenetrable industry (because of traditional gatekeepers), and yet they continue act this poorly so often? If they didn’t possess so much of the market, these mistakes would be deadly to their bottom line, and even their business survival. In the midst of its continued domination of so many markets, it has grown deaf to a group which has helped to make their eBook marketplace and KU so successful: indie authors.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Arial Burnz says:

      The problem is only 7% of Amazon’s business is books, believe it or not. (See Forbes report here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2014/02/10/amazon-vs-book-publishers-by-the-numbers/)

      Because most of their money comes from everything else in their business platform, I’d wager they don’t particularly care if their bottom line on books falls. They’re up everywhere else (see this press release from Amazon: http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=97664&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2162972)

      The only thing I can think of that could possibly make any dent out of this monopoly that Amazon appears to have in the online bookseller business is for authors and publishers to ban together and exclude publishing their books on Amazon. If readers don’t have books to buy on Amazon, they’ll find them somewhere else. Is this realistic? No. It would have to be an overwhelmingly big group effort. And the Big 5 wouldn’t join in because Indie authors are their biggest competition. If we all moved away from Amazon, they’d be happy to take the sales.

      The next question would be where would we go? B&N serves the Big 5 and they haven’t lifted a finger to help Indie authors succeed. Kobo and iTunes are about as close as any retailer has come to helping Indie authors promote their books, and Kobo is a bit easier to deal with than iTunes since you HAVE to have an Apple computer/device to publish direct. Not only that, readers HAVE to have an Apple device to read our books, so Apple shoots itself in the foot by not offering iBooks on multiple platforms.

      Kobo seems to be the only viable option. But again…unless enough of us take such drastic measures, it won’t matter. Authors go to Amazon because that’s where the readers are buying books. I’m one of them, though I have just this month taken my books out of KDP Select once again and I’m going to try different marketing efforts to make sales under wide distribution.

      Like

  5. Gordon Horne says:

    It seems from many stories about dealing with Amazon that internal communications are very poor. One department doesn’t communicate with another. No department can claim overall authority over an account or item if a situation occurs. This being Amazon, the algorithms don’t seem to talk with one another either. Nor can departments send memos to algorithms. Do the algorithms report to anyone when they take action?
    Fixing poor internal communications is very difficult. One thing they could do to lessen aggravation for non-nefarious suppliers would be to give some department the ability to attach a “No action allowed” tag to individual listings. Even better if the tag reported any attempt to take action. That would provide a record of how good or bad internal communications are.
    Would Amazon care enough to do something like this? Well, they care about exclusivity. If exclusivity becomes a pain, fewer people will opt for it. Already there are more indie voices saying it is not worth the hassle. On the other hand, only suppliers who are sometimes exclusive get caught in this particular snafu. Maybe Amazon is anticipating that those suppliers will respond by going exclusively exclusive rather than exclusively wide.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Pingback: Should We Bite The Hand That Feeds Us? | Larry Archer's World (LarryArcher.com)

  7. Amazon seems to forget that they can’t have KDP without authors!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This is why I will only go wide. KU has given AMZ much power. Authors are getting screwed and spammers are treated like royalty.

    And now I know why when I tried to buy your Let’s Get Visible last month on Kobo, I couldn’t find it. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  9. The best way to avoid this problem is to not put all of your eggs in one basket, as KDP-S requires you to do. I’m sorry you are going through this.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rachel Leigh Smith says:

    I wish I could say I’m surprised. Alas. I am not.

    I was at RWA last month, and went to the KDP office hours to specifically talk to them about scamming and make sure they knew how angry the indie community is about this. I showed the rep, in great detail, the scammer currently ruling one of my free genre lists. The account is still active, and she’s been ruling the list for almost a month now.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Amazon is my sole source of income. These kinds of shenanigans do not respect that. If my employer jerked me around this way, I’d find another job where the business I was single-handedly bringing them was more appreciated. But we don’t have a choice. As the largest purveyor of books on the planet we must deal with this. The thing I find the most galling about these situations is the fact that the scammers continue to proliferate and feast on our profits.

    I want a better relationship with Amazon. It’s a fantastic company in so many ways. I’ve relied on the access to goods that I otherwise wouldn’t have access to. I’ve depended on their review system for comparing products. I appreciate that they’ve revolutionized online shopping. I applaud them giving us the opportunity to remove the gatekeeping from publishing.

    But respect us and the work we do, please. Please, please respect us.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Jennifer, you might want to at least come up with an exit strategy and plan to go wide, if you are Amazon-exclusive. You might be next. David G is not solely dependent on income from Select, so this was a fiasco, not a catastrophe–but for you, it might be. I got away from exclusivity over the last nine months, transitioned to selling my books wide on all sites, and my income only took a small hit for a short time, and has no recovered–but now I worry a lot less about the 800-pound gorilla accidentally sitting on me.

      Liked by 3 people

      • That’s, “…has NOW recovered”…I wish there were an edit function.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jane Steen says:

        I’m also very happy about having gone wide. Even without disasters like David’s, Amazon can be a fickle friend. Sometimes its algos support your books, sometimes they don’t, and you can’t always work out why. Being wide is also offering me opportunities to build human relationships with key players in the wider publishing scene, a process that takes time but is a worthwhile long-term strategy. And my readers can find me on whatever platform they prefer.

        Like

    • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter says:

      I’ve been warning people about Amazon for years. Any company with that much market share is dangerous.

      No, we can’t avoid them right now, but I’d make damned good and sure you have an exit strategy in case Amazon makes dealing with them as a supplier too onerous.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Kieran McKendrick says:

    I suspect the only thing that might get Amazon’s attention is if every author with books in the Kindle store would remove them in a massive boycott – preferably all at the same time. There are other outlets for one’s books that are much better – Smashwords, Kobo, Sony, Nook, iTunes, and several others. Authors need to show Amazon that we can do without them. I think it’s clear that only massive action that impacts their bottom line will even get their attention. Whether authors will be willing to take that action, however, is something else. Most people are too lazy to do anything – even if it would help them out in the long run. But it would be great if we did.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. This is so frustrating. *shakes head in despair*

    Like

  14. Indiana Jim says:

    The more I see your posts and tweets about this, the more increasingly unlikely (impossible, never, when hell freezes over) that I will use KU or select at all. Screw ’em and their exclusivity garbage.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I just lost my free store rank and listing with ads running at it (including AMS which I forgot to turn-off.) No email yet either. 😦 Genre: Young Adult Fantasy B06XCM5YP3

    Like

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  17. Emmie says:

    Amazon used to make authors’ careers, now they destroy us with a crap system called KU. I never thought I’d look at traditional publishing as a viable option again and yet here I am. At least the scammers haven’t gamed print distribution.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Reblogged this on Ruth Nestvold – Indie Adventures and commented:
    Another case of Amazon unresponsiveness. :/

    Like

  19. Linda Lee says:

    Discouraging and disheartening. No wonder a lot of us feel like throwing in the towel at this point. Thanks for sharing your experience, David. The rest of us don’t have to feel alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. acflory says:

    Reblogged this on Meeka's Mind and commented:
    I don’t post a great deal about self-publishing, but David Gaughran’s experience with Amazon sent a real chill down my spine. David is very well known in self-publishing circles and has been a tireless champion of self-published authors for a long time. For this to happen to someone like him highlights the precariousness that we all face. All Indies that is.

    If you have self-published anything at all, this is an article you cannot afford to miss. And if you feel as worried by it as I do, you might want to spread the news to other Indies.

    We have the power to make Amazon listen, but only if we work together.
    cheers
    Meeks

    Liked by 2 people

  21. acflory says:

    Amazon will never stop using its automated algorithms to police its ToS, but we can expect it to change how it reacts to potential breaches.

    Automated cancelations have to stop.
    Warnings have to be given.
    The final decisions have to be made by humans, not algorithms. 😦

    Liked by 3 people

  22. T. M. Bilderback says:

    My recommendation would be for all authors to escape KU, and opt for wide distribution. Most of these shenanigans from Amazon would stop at that point. However. so many authors have become completely trapped with the income from exclusivity that it won’t ever happen. The water will gradually boil until the frogs (authors) are boiled alive. But, those that recommend going wide on Kboards and other places are routinely shouted down, myself included. I’m sorry this happened to you, David.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. rchazzchute says:

    Reblogged this on C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m and commented:
    Another great article from David Gaughran, and it’s worrisome. I’m waiting for someone to pop up in the comments to say we can’t fight City Hall and Amazon will be Amazon. They might not be wrong but it’s shitty to say we shouldn’t even complain, be grateful and take our lumps for the privilege of selling there. (This is a common theme when objections to Amazon’s policies come up. It’s the inverse of Amazon Derangement Syndrome where everything Amazon does is evil.) Not complaining to Amazon to try to change the situation doesn’t sound very businesslike to me, though.

    There are calls to go wide as a protest. The problem is, the other sales platforms tend to suck for many genres. I tried going wide but I’m all in with KDP because I could profit there. Until they come for my head, anyway. To Amazon, listen to authors as well as customers. To Apple, Google, Kobo etc.,… please step up your game and give Amazon stiffer competition.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. As other commenters have noted, this seems to be a consequence of an Amazon system that over-utilises bots and which under-employs humans. I suspect it is not intentionally totalitarian, but the practical effect is so, it seems, particularly when combined with their scale as a player in the field. Absolutely, the field needs more competition; and until then, authors will be products – not customers – for the big players.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. That’s messed up. This is why I wish the Nook ecosystem had worked out – at least we’d have a decent competitor, and not a monopoly.

    Like

  26. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out this interesting post from David Gaughran’s blog on Amazon’s exclusivity rule

    Like

  27. dernhelm6 says:

    Reblogged this on Indie Lifer and commented:
    An important read for all indie authors considering KS.

    Like

  28. afstewart says:

    The only way Amazon will listen is through the bottom line, which means a massive author boycott of KDP Select. And that isn’t likely to happen, and the company knows it. That’s why it gets away with screwing with authors.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Rose Meyer says:

    I’m sorry that this happened David, Thank you for sharing with us.
    The lesson seems to be to only publish new material via KU.

    I hope that as Amazon matures they invest in systems that allow a HUMAN to override automated actions like those that happened to you.

    Like

  30. Anne Gallagher says:

    Amazon only seems to click into gear if it suffers a PR embarrassment.

    Perhaps if we all got on social media and blasted Amazon for what they really are–just a way for Jeff Bezos to become king of the world, perhaps they might do something about the underlying problems. I’ve had my share of nightmares with Amazon and have been thinking mightily about taking all my books down. I’ve been garnering more sales at Kobo and itunes in the last year than with Amazon. I’m getting sick of trying to keep up with their “rules”. As for promotions and deals, I just take my book down on Zon, set them at a lower price on Smashwords for 2 weeks and promote the hell out of it. I know it’s not what you wanted to do, but it has always worked for me.
    Thanks, David for pointing out another reason for me to leave the Zon.

    Like

  31. Really sorry to hear about this debacle, David. I totally agree with your analysis.

    Like

  32. cbaku says:

    Feeling furious on your behalf, David. What a vicious comedy of errors, particularly when Amazon exerts such flabby control over scam books. Sorry you had this happen, and thank you for keeping us educated.

    Like

  33. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter says:

    Tweeted.

    Like

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  35. Nya Rawlyns says:

    Reblogged this on Love's Last Refuge and commented:
    Another cautionary tale about Amazon.

    Like

  36. Interesting to read this now. I’m going through a similar mess with one of my KU listed books. Seems that the previous publisher-now out of business-missed one listing on a French site (FNAC) when they cleaned everything out. Amazon contacted me at just about the same time they wrote you; they must have been on a nit-picking jag. I’ve tried contacting FNAC, but, like you, no response. Since my publisher probably used either Smashwords or Kobo to list the book (FNAC is a partner of both) I’ve written them. Again no results. My next step is to file a DMCA-Digital Millennium Copyright Act-notice with FNAC’s web hosting company. Too soon to tell if that worked. In the mean time, my book’s sales are dead in the water, and my blood pressure is probably through the roof.

    Like

    • morganabest says:

      I have filed dozens of DMCAs with FNAC with zero response.

      Like

      • A lot of foreign companies can ignore a DMCA because it’s US law and unless they are registered in the US or doing business in the US it doesn’t really apply. EU/French copyright law will though, so you might have to check and see if you can find something similar – there must be some process to inform FNAC of unauthorized content. I’ve had to go through this before with Scribd (who wouldn’t take down the content after emailing but did obey a DMCA… but are US based) and Casa del Libro (who I couldn’t reach originally but eventually got to talk to someone via their Facebook page, and they took down the books once I gave them ISBNs and links). Maybe see if you can contact them via their Facebook page. Try including links and ISBNs, and also maybe run the message through Google Translate and put in the French version under the English one. Good luck!

        Like

      • (Also check it’s French FNAC rather than Portuguese FNAC etc.)

        Like

  37. Valuable blog post. I’ve had my share of hassles with them and the most annoying thing is they act arbitrarily and don’t even have the courtesy to send you a canned email about the problem or the action they are taking.

    Like

  38. larrydarter says:

    The things you’ve shared here is why I will only put a new book into KDP Select and then only for one 90-day period to take advantage of the promotions. I then remove it from Select and publish widely. For whatever reason I’ve never done well on Amazon even though I sell many books on other platforms like iBooks and B&N. Frankly, I wouldn’t even publish on Amazon at all except for one thing. Any time someone new learns I’m an author the first thing they always ask is “Are your books on Amazon?” It’s like some rite of passage or proof I’m a legitimate author. I don’t like Jeff Bezos or the Amazon model as it is now. I’m seriously considering not publishing there anymore.

    Like

    • Arial Burnz says:

      I don’t think it’s a right of passage or legitimacy, but convenience. I’ve heard many people say they love shopping on Amazon because you can get anything and everything there. Readers shop there because it’s easy. But I totally hear what you’re saying!

      Like

  39. Twice, I’ve had my pen name books pirated and published on Apple. (These were KDP Select books so I’d only uploaded them to Amazon.) I found out via Amazon’s emails that threaten to kick you out of KDP Select if you don’t remedy the situation in 5 business days. That can be pretty damn tough when you’re not the one who put the books up in the other store.

    This last time, I was lucky Dan Wood from Draft2Digital saw my ranty tweet and sent a note to someone at Apple. Because of him, the book came down quickly. I have no idea how long it would have taken if I was just going through the usual channels, but it was a new release book selling in the Top 200 on Amazon, so it would have lost five figures in borrow income if it had been kicked out of KDP Select over that. :\

    Like

  40. UPDATE:

    Amazon has been in touch several times over the last few days, but only to say that it was still investigating the matter. I’m not sure why exactly it’s taking so long to determine what happened, but there you go.

    The last email included a proposed “goodwill gesture” – which was a fairly pathetic offer of an additional KCD or five free days for Let’s Get Digital.

    As I’m sure you might guess, I told Amazon that fell far short of what they need to do to make this right, but before the conversation moves on to that, I wanted some kind of explanation for what happened.

    I’m surprised it’s taking this long.

    Like

  41. They do it because they can, simple as that. We’re not going to quit selling through them, and they know it. And if a few do, there are dozens more popping up to take their place. They don’t need us, we need them, and that climate is never good for customer service 😦

    Like

  42. Pingback: Episode 176 – IndiePicks, YA Hate, and Hallmark Publishing | Sell More Books Show

  43. UPDATE:

    OK, so finally heard back from Amazon. They are now claiming I never scheduled a second countdown deal and any messages I saw pertaining to same were just an “error” – which is total and utter BS.

    Like

  44. Pingback: Amazon Only Cares About One Rule - Reblogged Article - AuthorBank

  45. Geoff Palmer says:

    I’m curious as to how Weltbild got your book in the first place. They have all six of mine yet I’ve never registered with them! Their listings are up to date too because they include a cover and price change I made a couple of days ago. The changes were only made in two places: Amazon and Draft2Digital

    Like

  46. Reblogged this on Savvy Writers & e-Books online and commented:
    MUST-READ warning for writers who sell through Amazon KDP Select by David Gaughran – prompting 64 comments so far. Here are some excerpts:
    “Amazon only seems to click into gear if it suffers a PR embarrassment.
    Perhaps if we all got on social media and blasted Amazon for what they really are–just a way for Jeff Bezos to become king of the world, perhaps they might do something about the underlying problems. I’ve had my share of nightmares with Amazon and have been thinking mightily about taking all my books down. I’ve been garnering more sales at Kobo and itunes in the last year than with Amazon. I’m getting sick of trying to keep up with their “rules”.”
    “Amazon seems to forget that they can’t have KDP without authors!”
    “Going wide is also offering me opportunities to build human relationships with key players in the wider publishing scene, a process that takes time but is a worthwhile long-term strategy. And my readers can find me on whatever platform they prefer.”
    “We have the power to make Amazon listen, but only if we work together.”
    Read the whole story here:

    Like

  47. Pingback: Random Friday | creative barbwire (or the many lives of a creator)

  48. Update:

    I’m not getting anywhere with Amazon, unfortunately.

    Amazon has now conceded that I did set up a second countdown deal, which was cancelled, but is essentially saying that its my own fault as I “can see the status of any KCD, at any time, within your KDP account from the “KDP Select Benefits” tab.” Of course, this is notwithstanding the fact that Amazon never told me that my KCD was cancelled – either the first time or the second time – so I would have had no reason to check my KCD. It’s also notwithstanding the fact that Amazon should never have cancelled my KCD in the first place.

    Incredibly frustrating.

    More worryingly, Amazon appears to be taking the position that if you are in Select, and your book appears anywhere else, even if it’s an unauthorized edition (e.g. a bug by a retailer, a publisher not yanking down something when they should, or someone pirating your work), then you will be culpable, and Amazon reserves the right to cancel your promos without reference to you, and without right of appeal, and also reserves the right to boot you from Select and withold any KU funds if you can’t get these unauthorized editions removed in time.

    This is pretty abominable treatment of authors considering it pertains to actions outside their control. For example, giant media conglomerates with an international army of lawyers and a budget of billions are unable to stamp out piracy, but individual authors are now expected to get them to tow the line? It’s ludicrous.

    Given all the stories I’ve heard since going public about my own experience, it seems like it is increasingly normal for authors to find themselves in this position (and through no fault of their own). Obviously, one can draw quite a stark contrast between the above, and the light touch regulation we have seen of serious scammers.

    Liked by 1 person

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