203 thoughts on “Think You Couldn’t Possibly Lose Your Amazon Publishing Account? Think Again.

  1. Extremely worrying post, and I totally agree with you it does require personalised attention. I will share this post

  2. Reblogged this on R. L. Martinez and commented:
    I’ve heard horror story after horror story about Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. Indies, PLEASE consider carefully before listing your books in this program. The pitfalls can be endless, the benefits few.

    • KU is 80% of my income – that can be between 8000 and 12000 a month so I wouldn’t say the benefits are “few.” However, is it worth it? Nope. Not one bit. This situation has made it *quite* clear that I need to get out of KU prompto, even though I will see a considerable dip in my sales.

      • Did I read this incorrectly, or did you actually say you make between eight thousand and twelve thousand a month? That’s terrific. May I ask what sites you used to promote your books? Thanks for your time.

    • I am having second thoughts, as it looks as if Amazon is attempting to shoot itself in the foot, as this isn’t the first thing I have read about recently…

    • They won’t. Amazon does what it does and doesn’t care about those affected. A few years back they clamped down HARD on all the erotica, saying most of it was too “obscene” to publish, and yet B&N has no problem with those same books. I know a few erotica authors who were hit hard and all their books pulled from the AMZ shelves. A couple of them haven’t written since, not knowing if they will be able to sell their books or not, or if sometime down the road AMZ will pull those books as well. It’s demoralizing and horrific on Amazon’s part…

  3. We should all boycott Amazon as a massive group. Hit them in their pocketbook. Just stop buying books from Amazon, cancel our KU accounts, etc, until they stop knee jerking the legit authors around and meet with us to come up with a real solution.

    Leave Amazon to the scammers. The real readers will find us on another platform that bothers to listen to its legit authors.

      • Yes, you can!

        Claudia Christian has been doing it for years. She uses Ganxy. It has a great buy-screen that lets visitors choose to buy from her site or from Amazon or from other distributors. It also invites visitors to join her list. Among other things, she publishes a daily serial that’s been going on for–get this–eight years! See DenverCereal.com.

        That’s the upside. The downside is that you’re on your own as far as attracting visitors to your site who want to buy the kind of books you sell. To help with that, I’d recommend you “write in public” on WattPad.com.

        Last I checked, there’s about 40 million readers on that site. Lots of authors have made it to the “big time” by starting there. Later on, you take down 90% of your story and publish it for pay, leaving 10% on WattPad as a sample.

        Plus, it’s a lot of fun!


  4. Thanks for sharing. I’m feeling better about deciding to have my books go on wide distribution. I’m still a small fish, but I have more ponds to play in.

    • I feel that way too, L. I’d been considering starting a second pen name — something fun to work on when I was feeling blocked on my main series — and putting those books in KU. But now I think wide is probably better. KU seems too risky.

      • Becca, I’m in much the same position, so this was kind of a timely warning for me. The thing is, even if one of us were to start publishing under a pen name, and only those books were in KU, they would be tied to the same publisher’s account on Amazon, and the whole thing would be in jeopardy if something like this happened. Makes me feel a little queasy, to be honest!

      • Amazon knows if you start a new account with the same IP address. You can create 2 accounts with 2 pen names, but they’ll shut down both if one is violating TOS.

  5. I am going to make an effort to get my books out on wide distribution sooner, rather than waiting for doing it until early next year. This article makes me determined have it done for all my current and future books. I never have seen much benefit from KU so far anyway, so seeking out the fans outside KU is probably a smarter move…

  6. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t seem to use humans much which means that when it clamps down the baby is often thrown out with the bath water. A while back I got rapped for using keywords like ‘free’ my bad, they’d been allowed when I put them in, the rules changed and I was clearly hiding under a rock somewhere and missed it. But I remember shortly after that seeing the words in many other listings which Amazon had clearly not warned. Basically, they’re heavy handed, and they’re certainly not even handed. I’m glad my books are wide and to be honest, sometimes I feel that if I could go without putting my books on Amazon, avoid having to deal with them at all, I would.

  7. Worrying, but understandable with that odd one day spike. I hope everything works out OK for Pauline.

    As she is a writer with a solid following of readers, I’d suggest that she not wait around for Amazon to make their final decision. Although Pauline might love to rejoin the KU program exclusively, maybe it is best she branch out, especially while her books are unavailable thanks to this.

    I’d recommend Kobo (writinglife.kobobooks.com) and Draft2Digital.com (which lets you distribute to iBooks, Page Foundry, 24Symbols and a few others with ease).

    If she would like to jump onto my podcast for fiction writers, I’m game for that :)

  8. There are over a million books in the KU system – Pauline Creeden has been unlucky – I’m sure it will be sorted out soon. I get 90% my income from Amazon- 55% from KOL – and I’m not worried. Amazon are hairdressing the click-farm problem and there are bound to be one or two errors in the process. There’s no need for anyone to panic or to leave KU.

    • Its not “one or two errors” this has happened multiple times and it does not get resolved in favor of the publisher. Pauline may get her account back but she will not get the revenue they have confiscated. I had the same thing happen to me, (I was doing nothing wrong either) and while I got my account back (after 2 weeks of dickering) the 2 months worth of revenue they seized was NOT returned. I know of others who also had accounts closed and revenue seized. There is no need to panic, but there is certainly the need to realize this is common practice for amazon and anyone who relies on them for the majority of their income needs to be aware

  9. Reblogged this on Kanundra's Blog and commented:
    Oh gosh. This is sad news. I got the AudioBook back in feb and it was one of my first few that I reviewed, and it was a good book… there’s no reason they should be thinking this of the writer… this is sad news for us all…. and I just signed up again for KU eeek

  10. Have to say this is horrific and yep, I can see where Amazon is coming from. Hwoever, I have always found them to be open to reason. There are some weird versions of my books out there..obvs fake..and I have alerted them to these whenever I find them. I stay in close touch with the Kindle guys..they have sorted out my tax and updated various bits. It might be worth her appealing to them…tho I’m surprised she didn’t hoist the alarm flag when she saw her figures jump..that would have rung alarm bells with me, and I’d have contacted them straigtaway to say: hey..something’s wrong…If one stays in contact, they are generally co-operative.

  11. I would very much like to know who Pauline used to promote her books–the “legitimate” outlets she hired. That way, those of us that are looking for these types of services can better know what the criteria might be. Just saying she hired ones that most of us used is problematic. If that might be the root of the problem, that would be very helpful information for everyone. The trouble is, even with outfits that may look legitimate, we never know who they are hiring to get their work done these days.

    • Chris, she mentions the promoters she used in the Kboards thread I linked near the top of the post. I won’t add them here, since I don’t want to associate honest promoters with whatever happened, here. But I will say they’re all very standard outfits, widely used among indie authors.

      Part of the challenge, here, is that a lot the promoters we use are “indie” in their own way. A lot of them are just one person offering a service of their own invention. The only way we can vet them is to use them and then share our experiences and results on communal sites like Kboards. It’s an imperfect way of figuring out what’s 1) ethically operated and 2) effective. And even when we identify a black-hat, many authors won’t get the message. I hope Amazon understands that there’s a lot of room here for honest mistakes.

    • I read the long thread of kboards and the OP later mentions that the book with the spike in sales isn’t a book she promoted. It’s post #91 on the kboards thread.

      Her quote:

      “Actually, now that I am looking at it, none of the promos this month were even for that book. The promos were for 3 other books, so that throws out the promo idea… I’m glad I’m talking to you all, since this is helping get my thoughts in order too.”

      So this sound random…which is even scarier.

  12. Earlier this year I got a form email from Amazon stating that my account was being shut down and I was banned because of multiple accounts, which was absolutely false. I have had ONE account since 2007. They offered no proof, replied to my first several emails with form replies stating they were standing by their decision, then ignored my emails without replying. When I called i was told the decision was made and there was nothing I could do. I’m now putting my books on draft2digital, but my income took a huge hit simply because Amazon wrongly decided that I had multiple accounts. Since this happened I’ve heard from nearly a dozen other legitimate authors who had the same thing happen to them.

    • This is interesting because if Amazon saw multiple accounts, wouldn’t that suggest fraud? Wow. They really leave no room for explanation.

      • I mean, that should have been a red flag that someone was trying to hack your book(s). That’s definitely a little scary…

  13. Reblogged this on Writing and other stuff and commented:
    Sigh. I wonder if it was a mistake by shady borrowing ring thing designed to generate revenue, or a deliberate attack to trip Amazon’s system to destroy the author’s career?

  14. I never liked the idea of selling books by the page read, but I was thinking of joining the crowd for KU. This post has convinced me to keep KU on ignore and continue to sell – not rent – my eBooks. Thank you for posting.

  15. I agree KU sounds very risky now. Even if the author doesn’t buy a spam read service someone else obviously could. Not worth what Pauline is going through. No more KU books uploaded for me. I’ll be going wide distribution as well.

  16. Reblogged on kvictoriachase.com. Terrible, but not surprised by Amazon’s reaction. Customer service is for its customers, not so much for business partners. Time to go wide and kill it on the other platforms!

  17. Couple months ago I had a huge surge of downloads for one of my free books for 2 days. Much more than I’ve ever had. I knew it wasn’t legit (I’d never had nearly that many before & it wasn’t helping sales of book 2 at all) I actually emailed Amazon to tell them something fishy was up. They replied basically with a form type email, not really understanding what I was trying to tell them. Fortunately the book isn’t in select but still scary to think they could have closed my account. 90% of my sales come from Amazon, so this would be absolutely horrible. Feel so bad for the author. Thing is, Amazon is so into getting authors into their select program, this won’t be good for business.

  18. Reblogged this on Black Feather Blogger and commented:
    I came across this in Facebook and find it concerning that this can happen to an author. I am not familiar with this particular author but the fact it can happen is worrisome. Yes if you publish your works in Amazon then you are held to their terms and conditions, but no warning, no real communications regarding the issue.

  19. I don’t like the borrow system, and since there is a big problem on line with piracy, I am not going to produce anything I write in electronic download platform. If I do in the future, you won’t be able to download direct from a site, you will have to receive a link. I am tired of all my writing friends getting stung, and Amazon’s grip on the market.

  20. Wow, I’m so naïve. I didn’t know about these ‘click farms.’ I haven’t used KU, and now I know that I won’t. Good luck to Pauline. I agree – her cover for Raven is fabulous.

  21. I’ve reblogged this on my main blog site. I believe, after reading this that KU is not worth the risk and this is probably true for 90% of writers.

  22. Not sure if an attorney sending a letter would make a difference? (Even if the T&Cs say Amazon can do whatever they want.) Hopefully more strategic thinking prevails at KDP as there is always a difference between “can” and “should” when it comes to enforcing contracts. I suppose if nothing else, this is a cautionary tale to all of us to spend time developing our reader networks & lists so that our voices can be heard independently of which channel is used.

  23. Reblogged this on A Bard Girl's Tale and commented:
    I read this post this morning, and it unnerved me a little. I don’t have *any* KU page reads at the moment, but this is something terrifying for the authors who do. What do you guys think?

  24. Reblogged this on Angela Colsin and commented:
    Wow. This is a frightening prospect, and it reminds me of my post concerning publishers in which I stated that sometimes, it seems like the publishers are ignoring us authors in favor of figuring out how to get ahead and make the most dough as soon as possible, and that maybe we don’t really matter all that much. Either way, this article is worth a look for both authors and readers.

  25. Reblogged this on S. G. Basu and commented:
    Great article! I was shocked when I came across this on Kboards.The risk of getting banned with KDP (that too without been given a fair trial) far outweighs the benefits I get out of KU. I’m seriously considering going wide now.

  26. I have been pulling my books from KU for some time now and putting them into Smashwords. I don’t sell a lot like some mentioned, but I reckon I’m getting a better return now by using Smashwords and not KU.

  27. Wow- as a reader – I belong to the KU program – I find meany new authors books thru this program. I am sad that they did this to any author and hope they resolve the problems. As a reader I can say if I drop KU -my reading will be limited to sure thing authors.If you are considering the program -maybe just a book or first in series ( that would peak my interest to buy more)

  28. If it is a mistake on Amazon’s part it wouldn’t be the first time, and I doubt that they will admit to the mistake.

    I have many mixed emotions about Amazon, mostly negative but not all.

  29. I’m not in KU and haven’t been for quite a while. I believe in going wide. This is just another reason to avoid it. I’m wondering if she contacted Amazon. If I had been getting low numbers then got a spike like that, I probably would have emailed Amazon to ask them if it was a mistake. That kind of action might have saved her account. Maybe she did and it didn’t help. Just saying…

  30. This shows the power that Amazon wields over an author’s career. It is sad and disturbing. I don’t know what happened but I can feel her despair. No one should be judged as guilty before having the opportunity to defend themselves.
    Shalom aleichem,

  31. Becca, do advise this author that, should Amazon stand by their decision, she can still sell on Amazon by uploading through Pronoun or StreetLib even if she has had her KDP accounts closed.

    The wording of the Amazon letter makes clear she is barred from KDP, not from Amazon itself.

  32. This came out just as I was thinking about putting my series in a box set exclusively for KU readers, because I’ve seen that this is another audience my series may have not reached yet. My books outside of being a box set are not in KU.
    Now, I’m scared to do this at all! I’m very concerned with what’s going on with Amazon right now!
    So sad for this author! I’m glad this situation is going viral for Pauline!!!

    • If any of your work is not Amazon Exclusive, works containing that one — like boxed sets — cannot be in KU, last I heard. No sample chapters on your website, no short stories available elsewhere, etc. So depending on where else you sell the individual books, trying to go KU on a boxed-set of them could get you in trouble — last I looked at the rules, anyway. Could be wrong, check wording yourself, etc.

      • Thanks for letting me know. Sorry that I’m extremely late getting back to you, but one of my author friends mentioned this to me as well. I pulled the box set out of KU immediately after I was reminded of their rules. I think I was a little brain dead when I did that, ha! So, the box set is safe. 😀

  33. Reblogged this on INA MORATA and commented:
    Indie authors, I would urge you to read this post, particularly if you have books in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. I was considering pulling out of Kindle Unlimited for various other reasons, but this has given me extra food for thought, I have to admit. In a time when Amazon still pretty much hold the monopoly on the distribution of indie author books online, this is a worrying story.

  34. Reblogged this on Jessica Minyard and commented:
    This is some scary stuff, but very important for indie authors to be aware of. While most of my sales come from Amazon, I chose not to enroll in KU, mainly because I didn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket!

  35. Wow this is frightening. I’ve been a fan of Pauline’s since she announced the release and to see this happen is a startling realization. My books are enrolled in KU through my publisher, sending them this link because knowledge is power.

  36. Sharing through Facebook. Pauline is an author I’ve known for at least six years. She runs the same promos the rest of us do, and has a book blog with a loyal following. This is obviously a mistake on Ammy’s part.

  37. I just put a short story up in KU a few days ago, the second in a series of five, to see if there is any noticeable difference in sales/income at the end of 90 days. With this article (along with many others) I am going to have to see serious $$ numbers to convince me to keep anything in KU after the exclusion period is over. Such a shame. Authors aren’t enemies, we’re supposed to be partners!

  38. I can’t see what the benefit would be to a click farm who hit a book they weren’t paid to hit, but that’s up to Amazon to sort. I actually finish with KU on the 29th and good riddance. The returns are horrendous. There’s no benefit to an author to sell anything at that rate. Guess what. I made more when I left. I left as a customer too. I’m not paying for a service that doesn’t compensate the authors. I love the idea of subscriptions, but not enough to cheat authors out of income for it.

    • This is a somewhat old post, but I had a warning email today from Amazon KDP and did some searches for what can be done and this popped up.

      “We are reaching out to you because we detected reading or borrow activity for your books originating from illegitimate accounts attempting to manipulate the Kindle programs. These accounts might be related to a third-party marketing service. You will receive royalties associated with legitimate or paid sales; however, we will not pay for reading activity related to illegitimate accounts.”

      Going back and checking the reports, there were about 25,000 page reads removed from last month and the Author Rank dropped about 150,000 points. I have never used a 3rd party promotion website, ever.

      I’ve barely even promoted our books at all for the last 7-8 months because life has been too busy, but generally we have about 10-15,000 page reads each month so this wasn’t out of the realm of normal results.

      I was wondering the same thing; what benefit would it be for someone to fake read a book without any compensation?

      The only thing I can think is that maybe these bots are targeting smaller niche categories in hopes to deliberately flag competition while legitimately promoting another book in the category for increased rank. That seems a bit far-fetched but otherwise I don’t see what they would benefit from getting reads on our books.

      As of today I went ahead and pulled out of the KU program for all of our books. Unfortunately, because they were set to auto-renew, many of them will run another couple months. I hope they acknowledge my email and believe me when I say we had literally nothing to do with this on our end.

      • SMH, This is really ruining it for all of us, and ultimately for these clickfarmers because I don’t see how authors who are legitimate will be able to continue use of that program. I had pulled out of KU almost two years ago, but more than that, I quit using it for my reading. I got sick of the stuffed books and scam reads. I read like a fiend. It meant I ran out of books I liked quickly. Sigh.

  39. Reblogged this on HD Lynn || Author and commented:
    Amazon needs to get real people to double check their algorithms before they pull stuff like this. Scamazon still exists, and it’s authors like this that are getting punished.

  40. If this is correct then all it takes is a couple hundred dollars to have a competing author taken off the amazon shelf.

  41. I read over all 8 pages on kboards before coming here. I don’t usually comment on things, but this is so scary. How is it fair if Amazon allows sketchy bot-accounts to borrow my book and I get banned for life because it happened? I would have no control over that. I don’t know who’s borrowing my book. I can’t vet any of that, yet that’s what it seems like they’re asking me to do. I make less than $100 a month right now publishing (new prawny fish here), but I was getting ready to launch my first big-girl book series in July, and I was excited to put it in KU. Now, I’m so worried. I might have to change plans.

  42. Thank you very much for posting about this. I hope Amazon makes it right for Pauline. In the meantime, if I had any books on KU, I’d take them down. But I don’t. The notion of the required “exclusivity” rubbed me wrong, made me think of “monopoly”, so I go wide with every book and try to build readership on other platforms.
    Even as a reader, when they offered me the KU program for free I called them up and told them I didn’t want it. That’s just me, but I figure if the terms make it possible for Amazon to do crazy things, then we ought to count on them doing crazy things. And now they are.

    Guess I’ll go work on my mailing list and setting up my website to sell books direct…

  43. I wish I could say this surprised me, but Amazon has been getting more and more paranoid about scamming of late – unsurprising, considering the KU system has ALWAYS worked better for scammers and click-bait artists 9 times out of 10. I’ve shared this to every writing and editing partner I have, and I really hope this is resolved quickly (and makes Amazon revise the system that caused this).

    KU is scary as a whole because it operates off the business model of paying only for what you actually “use” as a reader, after you “borrow” it for less than the cost of producing it. This is roughly equivalent to me marching into the grocery store, using their membership program to buy a bag of Lays Potato chips at less than it cost Lays to make them, and then returning my half eaten bag five days later, stating it wasn’t for me. The grocery store would then pay Lays only for the eaten chips, at a fraction of the actual cost of producing them.

    Now imagine that the only way Lays could get a place in the grocery store where customers would see it (and hopefully buy it) was to participate in this program, which also meant that it could ONLY sell that product at that store.

    Now imagine any semi-intelligent business owner agreeing to this.

    Is it a great model for the consumer? Sure, for the short term. But in the long term, what this business model actually does is reward the scammers, the cheats, and the half-assed, because you damn sure can’t make anything close to what actual book sales would net you via Kindle Unlimited (and especially not if you took the time and money to ensure that your book is of the same caliber a traditionally published one would be.) The system continues to “work” because new authors need the exposure and rankings boosts that it offers, and because $0.85 cents (or whatever pittance you made) in a day is “better” than no book sales at all.

    A typical sci-fi magazine, for example, might offer 6-9 cents per word for a story. Kindle Unlimited would give me $0.005 a PAGE. But if authors don’t do it, they risk being buried under pages of shlock novels and anecdotes about Auntie May’s kidney stones, because those miserable “pages read” boost a book’s sales rank. Even the authors who do incredibly well with the program are taking a hit, financially – it’s just harder to realize it when your pages read are netting you ten grand or more a month (which is still less that actual book sales would have made you).

    A book may not require the same “tangible” overheads that a bag of potato chips does, but it does require time and money to write and produce one, and Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited is simply not a sustainable business model as of this moment.

  44. I’ve tangled with amazon before as well. I’m not yet bold enough to try publishing anything but I’ve sold with amazon for years. And yes. Simply they suck. It’s as if some Greco hydra monster mated with a communal hive mind. So now it’s many minds thinking they are one and acting with one body. Nothing they do makes sense and not a single head can speak for any other.

  45. Definitely gives me something to think about. I have been part of the program through advice from veteran authors, but I think I now have something to pray about. I hope Amazon does the right thing, but I’m not holding my breath.

  46. This post just helped me answer the question I have been asking myself the last few weeks. I have been waffling between putting my first self-pubbed release on Kindle Unlimited or just listing it on Amazon. Now I know what the answer is. I’m not about to open myself up for that kind of heartache.

  47. The Erotic Authors Guild hears this story all too often. Amazon blocks books or entire accounts at will, with no rhyme or reason. All you get is a form letter or a frustrating email conversation with a “customer service” rep with a seemingly room temperature IQ, usually directing you back to the guidelines (which give you no useful information in the first place.)

    On one occasion, an ebook pirate got upset because I was issuing DMCA takedown notices on my authors’ books that were being stolen by him. In retaliation, the pirate wrote a complaint to Amazon, falsely claiming to be the owner of one of my book covers. The book in question got suspended for a week, and my entire account was locked for almost a full day. The “customer service” rep (the quotes are meant to indicate sarcasm) refused to refer me to a supervisor, and even at one point suggested that I give the pirate financial compensation for the book cover that wasn’t his!

    Other authors in the Guild have had problems with books being banned. In many cases, they’ll ban one book while others are unaffected, despite the fact that they all have similar subject matter. They also won’t tell an author why a book was blocked. Authors are then scrambling to rewrite scenes or modify book covers, thus compromising their art to appease Amazon. (Imagine the sculptor having to add clothing to Venus de Milo or the David before it could be accepted.)

    The problem is going to continue as long as we as authors and readers keep enabling Amazon by giving them our business, and by enrolling in these programs which grant them exclusivity. In my case, what if the book with the false cover complaint were a best-seller, raking in hundreds a day and paying my mortgage? I would have been out on the street, simply because Amazon refused to let me speak to an actual intelligent person.

  48. Reblogged this on Becky's Book Notes and commented:
    I am so happy to have found this blog! One of my followers reblogged this on her site, and now, so am I. I’m now following you on Twitter and Facebook and your blog. Thank you! To my followers: Please read this! Scary! Hopefully this will be revised soon!

  49. I, for one, will now opt out of KU entirely and forever… I WAS giving serious consideration to this until a friend forwarded this post to me today, thank goodness.

  50. I’d intended to use Kindle Unlimited for my own work, debating whether or not to follow through when a writing friend of mine forwarded this to me today, thank goodness.
    Screw that idea.
    KU would have to do a 180 now for me to even give them a second consideration. And a whole lot of making up to those that have been burned by this as well. This is insane.

  51. I honestly would think that having your books available on multiple platforms would be easier. There are millions of people who use Itunes and google play. In fact, I began reading google play books and I prefer the ease of use. My husband perfers google play books over kindle. Kindle is a versatile app, but still, I never liked the fact that KU limited you to ONLY THEIR PLATFORM. that turned me off from the getgo.
    Very disturbing to hear this awful news. I hope this finds a resolution sometime in the future. I for one, am definitely not interested in KU.

  52. Same thing happened to me last summer. No warning, no ability to defend myself, no investigation. Just the same form letter and goodbye…shame on Amazon…

  53. Thanks for sharing this. I’m currently making the transition from traditionally published to self-published and have been researching whether or not to go with KU for a new full-length mystery & novella to release ext year. You’ve helped me answer this with “not right now”. I’ll keep watching & waiting to see what transpires down the road. If only Apple and Google stepped up their bookselling efforts to give Amazon some real competition, then Amazon might start finding better methods to separate the innocent authors from scammers.

  54. Is it possible certain parties are doing this to authors maliciously? The internet is full of malice and systems controlled by site-bots that can be mindlessly manipulated. Authors are very vulnerable nowadays.
    The monopoly Amazon has is actually very damaging, and I never liked the sound of the ‘per page’ concept, I felt it would always cause issues in the end. They also need to start spending those gigantic profits on tracking down and punishing scammers rather than the easier target of genuine, hard-working writers. Perhaps a petition, once a more solid understanding of who’s responsible is discovered, would be in order?

    • Whoa, thanks for sharing the darrienia.com post! Simmell’s story takes it to a whole new level. A scam is fraud, and fraud is a crime. Why aren’t the authorities who deal with this type of crime (it seems to be a growing problem, not an isolated incident) becoming more involved with Amazon’s situation? Amazon tackling scammers as they have been is like trying to put out a major blaze in your house with a garden hose. They’re doing as much damage as they are good. Amazon needs the help of experts. K.J. Simmell was quite correct to contact the fraud agencies right away.

  55. Hi, I had a similar experience. I have been my post about it around Facebook Groups as the exact thing happened to me, someone replied with this blog link and I had to respond. The only difference is I was promoting, but then on royalty payment day (which had all been negated by Amazon) someone charged £100s to my bank account. I wrote a post about it here: https://darrienia.com/2016/06/18/authors-beware-a-new-danger-for-ku-authors/ I already had a fraud case open as someone had attempted to steal my identity a few months before. So when I presented the evidence to Amazon and it tallied with the results of their investigation they ruled in my favour.
    Please please have this author check her bank accounts for any fraudulent transactions, whoever did this to me knew I was an author, they had my bank details, name, address, date of birth. they even tried to open bank accounts and take out phone contracts in my name. This hits so close to home it may be related.

  56. I don’t make thousands from my sales on other channels, but I get enough that I never liked the idea of alienating those readers, so I never went with KU. Now I am so relieved I didn’t. I feel horrible for the author, I really hope ot works out for her.

  57. This is my biggest problem with Amazon. They have zero transparency with their banning decisions and I don’t think a one strike and you’re out policy is fair. I really wish larger news organizations would pick these stories up and hammer the crap out of Amazon for their lack of transparency. Has Pauline tried reaching out to any tech bloggers about her story? I know anytime someone reaches out to Ars Technica about Comcast screwing them in some way, Comcast magically resolves the issue within 48 hours of the story showing up there.

  58. Amazon is the biggest seller of books even if books are on other outlets. What are they so afraid of with the exclusivity? The authors making a little more money or them losing money? Amazon won’t ever lose out by rescinding that exclusive crap. And we have no control over what a fourth or fifth party does with our stuff when they see it advertised on BookBub or another site. Holding us responsible is like suing the farmer who grew the corn to make the booze someone drank to drive drunk and get into an accident

  59. Great post, and a wonderful way to help the author, Pauline Creeden!
    So far I see more than 4k share on fb only, but I’m afraid Amazon will change this decision only if Select subscription renewals will start to decrease immediately during these days and many authors will write to kdp support telling why they are taking their books out of KU.

    Personally I’ll do it because it happens something like that to me too, and already two times! With Google Play and Amazon Affiliate .com and I’m wondering to do something else, to help as much as possible this author, even if I didn’t her at all before now; what about a petition?

  60. She should write to Jeff Bezos (jeff at amazon.com). Yes… it will get read and will get a response if it is respectful.

  61. I hate to read a post like this – and it makes me reconsider the wisdom of buying *ANYTHING AT ALL* from Amazon – and for the second time, too. Where there’s smoke . . .?

    Yes, they do have the right according to the agreement their lawyers drew up to bind hands – yada, yada, yada – but removing books without warning and without recourse? That is an abuse of what they seem to believe is power. And this is the second post of this type of nonsense I’ve heard.

    The first negative comment was a warning AGAINST marketing newly developed products with Amazon. According to the post, once the author’s product really took off, Amazon produced a similar product and marketed in competition to him. Reading the comments, it looked like it had happened to others as well.

    This truly sucks. Reminds me of when WordPress banned a blogger (Opinionated Man from the HarsH Reality blog) because they didn’t his follows and followers were legit. I’m not sure what finally convinced them to change their mind, but many of us complained and blogged “for shame” posts, etc. (I guess part of the deal was that he had to take down the post about it – I just checked and it is no longer there.)

    I truly despise corporate capitalism – and I’m sad to see that Amazon has chosen to join those who care more about their own profits than those of their sellers, whose very living is imperiled by scummy administrative policies. The LEAST they can do is hire someone to check things out first. But then again, that would take money out of their overstuffed pockets, wouldn’t it?

    But tell us, Madelyn, what do you REALLY think?
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

  62. The only way to beat Amazon is for everyone (and I really mean, *everyone*) to stop selling via Amazon. That includes traditional pub, indie, small press, self pub – everyone.
    If every single author and publishing company pulled their books due to bad practices by Amazon… their bookstore would be empty in a day.
    Consumers looking for books would suddenly realize something is up. It would be a HUGE deal, worldwide.
    However, that is not likely to happen.

  63. That is exceedingly worrying. There must be cheats out there who are doing scams on book reading. They need weeding out so that genuine writers who use the system correctly are not penalised. It must be horrible to find yourself caught up in something like this if you are innocent.

  64. Reblogged this on Opher's World and commented:
    Worrying – how to sort the genuine from the scammers – how horrible to find yourself caught up in something like this if you are innocent.

  65. I had no idea this was a thing, I’m not very knowledgable about kindle publishing, but I agree, it is terrifying for authors and only makes it harder to make a living.

  66. Reblogged this on Part Of My World and commented:
    Just when I was starting to feel a little more confident about going the self-publishing route this happens. It’s a terrifying idea and the possibility that it could happen to anyone is equally terrifying. I hope for this lady’s sake that Amazon get their butt in gear and get to the bottom of it. If they clear this up I think it could help restore people’s faith in them again. Until then… it’s another blow for Amazon.

  67. This Is Just A Lot Scarey
    Permanent lifelong ban ??????
    I get it
    If you are a total scammer

    But I truely Hope they Investigate
    Cases more thoroughly before
    Such a sentance is given

  68. Her click rate for a YA book called “Raven” went up in May. Hmm. Now, this might be a stretch, but there was a very large YA release of a book called “The Raven King” on April 26. Do you think that maybe some KU users simply searched on “Raven” and found Pauline Creeden’s book, which has a similar feel to the covers of Maggie Stiefvater’s series, and decided to read a bit of it?

    I’m not an author. I’m not a detective. I am a YA fan, and if I found a decent title by happy accident, I’d read it.

    • The specifics of the spike are what makes it seem unnatural, Chris. In order to generate 25,000 page-reads in one day, something like 60-70 people would have to read the book in its entirety in a single day. Pauline said the book was averaging 80 page-reads/day, which is more like one person reading one-quarter of the book per say. Natural spikes, like those caused by promotions, new releases, or publicity windfalls, are shaped more like a plateau followed by a long slope: a bunch of people may borrow the book on the same day, but many don’t read it until a week later, some until a month later, etc.

  69. Reblogged this on JanniStyles1 and commented:
    I left Amazon for similar reasons, too much control with no real basis for it, rather, no sufficient explanation for it. Hope this lady is able to recover her privileges there, stunning story really.

  70. Thanks so much for posting our plight out there for all to see.

    Like Pauline, my Kindle account was deleted without warning and it devastated me at the time. No reasoning or logic to their move, nor any apology about it when they reinstated my account either.

    It really is atrocious customer service to be honest. And it must’ve been an error in their algorithm or system somewhere or else why would they reinstate accounts like ours? I’m pretty sure that if I started ripping books out of the hands of my readers that I’d be put out of work fairly quickly, so I don’t know where they get off doing the same to their customers.

    The pen did turn out to be mightier than the sword on this occasion, however, it’s clear that Kindle/Amazon need to rethink their business delivery model here. They can’t go on annihilating accounts without sound justification or evidence and should start treating authors as business partners and work together to succeed.

    We’re on the same team for crying out loud…

    • Yeah, a number of us found your blog post about your experience, P.J. It gave us hope that Pauline might also get her account back. In Pauline’s case, Amazon never did explain what happened. She was sent a form letter that indicated, basically, that they were giving her another chance. So, if the event was caused by a glitch or error on Amazon’s part, they’re certainly not owning up to it.

  71. Theres even a bigger crisis now with kdp, a small time author has no recourse. A one day surge in one of my books and my account is terminated, royalties denied. Amazon doesn’t want to listen or atleast investigate first. I experienced them more like conmen. Extreme and frustrating

  72. This is absolutely terrifying. I’m not published (yet or ever who knows), but when I think of buying books online, Amazon is my go-to, and all of my currently published author friends obviously rely on the marketplace giant. Very troubling, but I’m glad Ms. Creeden’s situation is at least making progress.

  73. Sooner or later, I’m going to be diving into the Amazon publishing pool. This is a bit frightening, but I’m glad to know a little more about what might happen. For that, I am thankful.

  74. The same thing happened to my account today. Same form email. I’ve emailed them telling them that it’s an error and asking them for clarification. Does anyone know of anyone specifically to email or what to say to get them to look into reinstating your account?

  75. Amazon is a big bully!!!

    They don’t care to be fair or nice, as long as they have buyers there will be sellers.

    I stop buying from them, until they treat their seller with respect not someone they are throwing crumbs at.

    We r making money so u put up with it. But if I were you I diversify.

  76. Dear Authors, Welcome to internet marketing. LOL.

    I have been an IMer for 10 years across many sites and this is the how living off the traffic of a site goes (Owning your own traffic and site is very expensive but the only way to own your business). I have seen companies with $150K monthly profits and 20+ empolyees get shut down by EB and AZ. It happens daily, sadly.

    Authors are used to being an artist and letting the publish market and take most of the money. Now authors are becoming 50/50 (IM/Authors). I think it is a great thing (My wife is a writer with 12 books).

    But I can tell you from an IMer, you guys are lucky. 3 years ago there was NO reinstating a AZ account. They have become reasonable. Also this message sent to Pauline gave her details,
    ” we have detected that borrows for your books are originating from systematically generated accounts. ”

    This is unheard of online!! I have seen 70 to 100 accounts shut down as an a consultant and usually the email is “You violated our TOS. You are out of here, never come back.” LOL

    This click fraud happens everywhere for 1 to 3 years on a new marketing platform. I have seen it on Yahoo Ads, Bing Ads, Google Adsense, Facebook and few others.. it takes them about 1 to 3 years to reduce the Fraud.. till then it is ugly for the innocent. The great news about this story is Paulines account is back up in two weeks or so.

    I am doing research for my wife’s marketing and knowing about this is KEY to being successful. So if something like this does happen to you , you will not panic but already have a plan in place. IF you see a jump in pages read you call and open a ticket right away. (For internet marketers there are companies and forums dedicated to just reinstating AZ accounts.)

    Learning from Pauline’s issue is much better than learning as you go when it happens to you.

    Thank you for the article. (I am a marketer not a writer so forgive my mis spellings. LOL)

  77. I’ve just had over 300k page reads wiped for the Month of May. Amazon then sent me the below email.


    We are reaching out to you because we detected accounts attempting to manipulate Kindle services by simulating reading or borrowing activity on your titles. You do not need to take any action, however, we will block the activities of these malicious accounts and their effects on payments. This means that you will still receive royalties associated with legitimate reading activities, but you will not receive royalties associated with activities related to these accounts.

    Please note that this notice does not represent a change to your account status but is sent to make you aware of how our security countermeasures will affect your previously reporting page count and your royalty payments.

    We understand you might have questions regarding the nature of how we detect these activities, however, please be aware that we cannot provide details that might compromise the integrity of our security systems.

    If you have any other questions, please feel free to email us at content-review@amazon.com.


    Their email doesn’t leave much room for questioning. I don’t really understand why scammers would want to read my book. I haven’t used any external promoting sites. I have only ever used Amazon’s own advertising campaigns and that’s it.

    • A lot of folks have been receiving this exact message from Amazon over the last few months. Their only having used AMS ads seems to be pretty common. :(

      • Yeah. They did that to my account from January to April and finally terminated my account because “They have warned me repeatedly to stop this type of activity…” when I had nothing to do with whatever they were detecting. It’s nuts

        • I’d suggest you keep respectfully asking for your account to be restored, Jared. I’ve seen some reports Amazon has backed off terminating accounts due to illegitimate page-reads. If you keep asking, and if you elevate the matter with the jeff@amazon.com email address, they may relent …

          • Yeah. They did that in 2016 when this thread was started, after I wrote them all kinds of letters, they completely cleared me. They even said they had made the wrong decision not to pay me. But after 3 months of them replying with form emails and wiping out 100% of my page reads this time, I gave up. I still don’t know what they actually saw in their data that triggered this. It’s just all very frustrating.

    • There are people that hate Amazon just like there are people that hate Apple, Microsoft and Facebook.. It’s possible that the ones allegedly doing this are doing it to hurt Amazon because then Amazon would have to pay our more money — less income for Amazon. I don’t think this is about someone playing Robin Hood.

  78. i was looking new sites to sell, since amazon banned me twice and i did nothing wrong! i recomend to the people that this happens, to try really new smallest places like jewffer.com

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