UPDATE Jan 17, 5pm MDT – Because of you guys, my books have reappeared on Amazon. At this time, I’m awaiting an official email from Amazon. You guys made the difference.
Last week (Thurs – Jan 12, 2017), I received an email from Amazon around 11pm. They were “reaching out to me” to inform me that they had detected something called “system generated accounts” and thus, were immediately deleting my account. I’ve recently learned that there were a number of us hit, and all of us had the same thing happen.
Welcome to the world of eBook siege weapons. Launchable by any anti-fan or jealous competitor, an indie author or small press can be utterly destroyed on Amazon without defense or recourse.
Updated Jan 17 @ 12pm Mountain I have posted a YouTube video here.
Every book, every book review, everything I’ve built up over years, is gone. No proof was provided, no opportunity to defend myself given. Like an ancient, vengeful god who had been tricked, Amazon acted as judge and executioner, with no need for jury or trial.
In December, I’d decided to enter their KDP Select program. This was my reward.
When I got the email, I sprang out of bed and emailed them immediately (They were “kind enough” to provide an email address “in case I had any questions.”). It thought it had been bad enough that I had been hammered with emails by them over the Xmas holidays to prove I had the copyright of each of my books, but I did. Now, things had gone nuclear.
I included in that email to them, an email thread between me and one of their KDP support people from a few weeks earlier. I’d noticed a weird spiky behaviour in KU reads, 25k, 0, 10k. It looked suspicious to me, so being the boy-scout that I am, I raised it. I even posted about it on FB, as it was really weird.
The KDP Support person’s response was clearly they thought me cute and naive, and they assured me there was no problem. I said I was scared that the Fiverr promo I’d used (which was new to me, but had over 650 reviews and was a top seller) could have been a scam or something, and they told me no. I even DOUBLE checked with them to please check everything, and I was told everything was fine. I’ve since learned that scammers have been pointing their bots at other authors, often targeting the #1 in smaller categories, so to throw suspicion away from their fake books. There’s no way for me to know though, because Amazon gave me no information.
The reply I got back from them was terse, “We will need some time to investigate this matter.”
Ah, I see. You can destroy my life in an instant, but to actually consider fixing things, you’ll need some time to mull it over. There’s been no contact since then.
Last night when I was on FB, I read in a group that a woman just saw the same pattern happen. An inexplicable, 25k page read bump. She was wondering whether she should report it or not. I was going to share what happened to me, but I didn’t want to freak her out or presume that I was right. I then read elsewhere someone else getting hit with an unexpected 5k bump that was ‘instant’. I wondered what was happening. Then a friend pointed out another author she knew had been nuked by Amazon last week too. I read his FB post, and it was exactly the same as what happened to me. However, he’d been following this story a bit longer than me, and had heard of this type of thing happening. Now, he was a victim of it.
I realized that anyone can do this to anyone, and there’s no defense. Amazon assumes and acts, and doesn’t even leave us a means for proving our innocence. A friend asked if I had a lawyer, and I laughed. Have you ever seen someone go up against a titan? You’re bankrupt before you get anywhere near anything resembling justice. They will counter-sue you just to drain your money, they don’t have to worry about the case being legitimate or not. I’ve seen it happen to someone I know very well. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the right if you don’t have the pocket-book for a long fight.
I understand Amazon needing to stop scammers from taking any share of the money from their KU money pool, absolutely, but WTF?! If you can detect these “systematic generated accounts” or whatever, then filter them the F out! Don’t make authors like me collateral damage in your simplistic approach. Give us little guys some kind of defense! Or how about a means to prove our innocence? Is it simply that there are so many authors out there that you don’t have to care? How about looking at all of those legal documents and copyright notices you asked me to provide just before nuking me? Does that really look like stuff that a scammer would provide or effort they would go through? But it doesn’t matter…
I have my fingers crossed that Amazon will do the right thing, but even still, they’ve damaged authors like me. People who finished the first of my Yellow Hoods book will have found there aren’t any more books, and will have moved on. All that promotion, all that hard work over Xmas, down the drain.
At the end of this week, I’m hoping that my account will be back and I can start to rebuild the momentum I had. But if not, then it’ll be a different road I’ll be going down in 2017 than I expected.
If you’re even thinking about being in Amazon KDP Select to participate in Kindle Unlimited, you’ve been warned. Do well, and someone might just point a bot cannon at you, and nuke you completely.
Want to help?
Send this tweet: Hey @JeffBezos & @Amazon – Reinstate @AdamDreece & his ebooks! #HelpRealAuthors
Jan 17, 5pm MDT – Because of you guys, my books have reappeared. At this time, I’m awaiting an official email from Amazon. You guys made the difference.
Share this video: https://youtu.be/hP3Rfk4z6MY
Note: For clarity, I wanted to mention that my paperbacks are still available, as are the anthologies published by others that I participate in. However, all of the eBooks that I published myself are ‘off Amazon’ at the moment.