What Comes Next For Authors?
Let me start by saying thank you to everyone for trusting me with your stories - I can assure you, none of us are alone. Unfortunate as that is, there is some solace we can take in that.
Throughout the last two weeks countless authors have gone down for reasons both similar to mine, and utterly different. There is still no admittance from Amazon on a bot issue or change in anything regarding rules. There is no admittance of fault, but many apologies.
Now, onto what I've been looking in to. Let me start by saying that I am in no way leading a charge, and I was looking into options so authors as a whole could learn what's going on. There will be no screenshots because this was a call - so apologies for that.
In terms of seeking legal representation: Due to Amazon's ability to terminate essentially on the spot and give no information, there is very little that can be done.
A damages claim can be filed by any author who lost significantly, but keep in mind Amazon knows you're earnings. Someone like me didn't lose a lot on Amazon royalties because they reinstated everything. I lost about $200 in earning on the new release, but it's impossible to calculate the backlist since sales vary so much month over month, plus around $400 in booked promo. It wouldn't be in my favor.
This is not to say it's not the benefit of other authors, but ensure that if you seek legal representation, that all earnings and expenses are on the table before going through with what might cost you instead of earn you (and that's if you get anything because Amazon could win if it goes to court)
In terms of a petition: Petitions are wonderful, but they're just a share of voices. For petitions to work, the entity receiving the petition must care. AKA, authors banding together isn't going to change anything. It would take readers - and millions of them - to maybe, just maybe open any sort of change.
Regarding Class Action Suits: This could not be taken on by any author who received access back into their account and all earnings. This would need to be only by those who've lost their accounts permanently.
The number required for a class action suit is (25 is sufficient), but given our "injuries" are not medical, a larger group would be needed. A lawyer would need to be found, and then the process could begin to see what could occur.
So what can we do now?
This part is easy to say, but of course, not as easy to do.
Authors: Go wide. KU is sexy, I used it for a lot of my earning, but you are beholden to Amazon and this danger then. If you're concerned about making it wide, I understand as I'm terrified.
Start saving. If you say "I can't save any money", then you're likely at a point in your career where Amazon isn't help too much. I say this because I've been there. marketing is essentially and even $50 a book goes a long way.
Begin campaigns - newsletters, blogs, social posts - letting your readers know the end of KU for your books. That will get those who only will read on KU time to read, and prepare them to purchase on other platforms.
Launch slowly, grouping series together as best as you can. Treat it like a new release. Find bloggers, find newsletters, share on social. Getting an entire series up will help with read through.
It will not happen overnight. For most of us, Amazon was not overnight either. It sucks to start over. I've been wide for almost 8 days and I've made 1 sale...1. It's exciting and depressing all at the same time, but it is a start!
Authors with account issues: keep making noise. Focus your efforts on Twitter. No more than 2 hashtags per post to keep their algorithm feed working and tag @amazonpub, @jeffbezos and @Amazonkdp.
I am still working on getting answers and accountability with the nice man who called and emailed me. While I can't reach him via email, I can callback that number and will be doing so weekly. I might not post updates if there's nothing to post, but I am not letting this just vanish into thin air.
Readers and Bloggers: If you are interested in being part of a review team for wide books for me, please fill out this form :) I'm sure other authors will have similar requests.
Readers: While buying outside of KU may not be possible, know that authors understand. We respect this and understand as we're all readers on budgets, too.
If you are in the position to buy new books on a different platform, support your authors and their new releases on other platforms. It will help them build things back up.
If you are super able to help and buy the old books on a new platform, that can help launch algorithms and backend metrics that I won't bore you with.
Lastly, reviews. If you can post reviews to new platforms you would do authors an invaluable service. I know it can be a pain to post in multiple places, but reviews unlock promotions and sales - because most people want to see what they're getting in to :)
Author are you still reading?
If you're still with me, I wanted to let you know there are a lot of fantastic resources for going wide. Admittedly, I do nto have approval to share these, so my apologies to people running these groups if you get an influx of join requests :)
Wide for the Win
Fiction Writing and Book Marketing for a Six Figure Author Career
If anyone is aware of other resources, please share in the comments. I will update as I can!
I will always be here to help in any way I can. What I've learned could be useless in a month, but I will try! We've got this. It's not going to be an easy road for those of us without agents and housing, but we should never give up on our dreams. <3
Let me start this post off with the best news - after 8 full days, my account on Amazon has been fully restored. However, for the last 3 days, I've fought an entirely separate battle where Amazon attempted to not pay me after allowing my books back.
My personal fight has not yet ended, as I will not back down, and I have every intention of getting this process fixed, and thankfully, now I have a contact to continue to fight.
Before I get started, I wanted to say thank you for your voices during all of this. You see, it was social media that got an Executive to call me, not my emails and phone calls. It was everyone banding together - in some instances, for someone you don't even know.
A Christmas Gift?
Christmas night, I was checking my email when I saw it, a different subject line from KDP not attached to any case number.
I will not lie. I screamed. I screamed at the top of my lungs and nearly jumped into the air. I was back. My career had come back after 17 total people on the content review team telling me no. What's more - I was answered by an American and not a bot. (I have since confirmed the content review team is overseas so I am not being rude).
I thanked them so quickly and rushed to the next step. I quick search on Amazon did indeed show all my titles.
Being overjoyed, I immediately went to check and see if they truly paid back my royalties as well. Imagine my surprise, when I saw this.
I politely emailed asking if there was a mistake.
Meanwhile, I had two friends buy books - 1 bought ebooks, 1 bought audio. I waited three hours and checked. It hadn't triggered the account reopening in full. I'd already emailed, and I didn't want to piss the nice people off so I waited.
Next day I got this email.
Four three more days I would explain, send my screenshot and get this exact same email back, sometimes from the nice Luis, sometimes from someone else. Each time, I checked my dashboard.
Stressed, I went to Twitter again and tried tweeting about possible stolen royalties.
I also noticed a glaring issue. The book that got me banned had reviews...reviews from January 2021. Had the backend crossed their wires and the content really appeared misleading? I thought so, but wouldn't know until I could speak to someone.
Today, while on a work call, a strange number called. My jaw dropped when I saw the "voice to text" of the voicemail. Which I was also able to confirm with an email check moments later.
I emailed back (notice they still don't give you a way to get to them?) and got a call within a few short minutes.
Tony was wonderful. He assured me nothing was taken from me, and even agreed that there was no suspicious content, but that he has no access to the content team notes. He told me I was back in full and I confirmed with a quick check into my dashboard - I was also surprised to see I somehow made sales three of the days I was totally missing.
What did I learn from the call?
To everyone who has sent messages, left comments, and shared their stories. Thank you. This has been nothing short of the week from hell. I am not backing down. I have this man's direct phone number because he used a phone registered with CallerID. I will be following up. I will be consulting law professionals on the best next steps for us all.
As you've probably imagined, not only have I not stopped trying just because it's the holidays, I've also had a bit of a strained holiday because my dream and career are in tatters. If you're seeing this first, part 1 is here.
That said, I will not be kept down, and I've got a few updates in the case and what comes next to share with you. While I'm not trying to cram information at people, I do want to share timely updates as timelines and to keep things from snowballing into giant updates.
At last count last night, I had 17 different "we're not telling you more, your count is over, bye" emails from 6 people total. All overseas, no supervisor, and none responding to my request for a phone call.
Last night, it also occurred to me that with them completely locking me out of my account, I've lost access to my 1099 - which, with my earnings, would put me in legal trouble in about 30 days when it's time to file. Keep in mind, it's possible they will automatically send me it versus the standard "1099's are in your account" email that is standard. I'm not certain, since it wasn't stated, so I'm not condemning them for that just yet.
Thanks to someone's suggestion, I was able to back door into the extinct author central going through the old link - which was supposedly no longer useable per an email from KDP awhile ago. The better news? When I hit "contact us" the ability to call comes up! I haven't tried it because it was the middle of the night and I truly want to speak to someone stateside with a firm grasp on what I'm trying to explain and why I care so deeply. That is in no way meant to be rude. I managed an overseas team for 5 years, I love the working around the clock method, but know first hand how tricky communication can be since I'm not cool enough to be bilingual any longer (not important but I was in Spanish for a few years until I stopped using it in college).
So, starting on 12.27, I'm going to see if that button works and if I can't back my way into a phone call. I truly feel with a phone call, the error will be obvious. Regardless of whether I will or won't use KDP again, my larger dream of finding an agent and joining a publishing house is likely impossible without an amazon presence and I still don't know if I can upload new titles through a third party or not.
Today, around 3pm, I received two more rejections for more information, both slightly polieter and from the same person (though this was a brand new person in general).
To which, I'm taking a slightly harsher response because now it's been going on for ages with my request for more information and a phone call not working. Did I get a little emotional? I did, but I remained polite and relevant. Some people won't agree with what I did, but this is my journey and I'm sure I'll make mistakes.
All drama aside, I'm going to keep fighting for my backlist, but begin to move forward with new releases. First, I want to share my very first published novel with everyone as a thank you. This book was wide to be permafree on Amazon, but I doubt anyone knew that, so here's a link to all retailers! *note it is not free on audible, but I have gift codes should someone be interested.
While I normally like to give each book it's own "cover reveal" and blurb announcement, I'm going to do things a little differently. So, I'm happy to present 3 of the 12 releases I have planned for 2022! To see the rest, consider joining my street team. Since Christmas & The Lamp was in KDP, I'm afraid to put it up wide presently.
These may end up on amazon via D2D In the future if It turns out I can place new titles I just can't replace or place via KDP. For now, I'm staying away.
The Race 3.3.22
Cover By: The Illustrate Author
Blurb: When all your hopes begin in the sky.
The world is not what it once was, but Rose cannot seem to convince her mother of that. Steam powered airships, mechanical carriages, and a far less constricting type of fashion are not enough to free Rose from her mother's hand. Headed toward London and a suitor she's never met, all Rose wants to do is captain the airship her father left her upon his death. While not impossible in the new world order, it's certainly not fathomable to her antiquated mother. In order to live her dream, Rose will have to take matters into her own hands.
Two tragedies left Wyatt nearly destitute and an emotional rogue. When he hears of the big race that could win him a title and land, he's ready to push life savings on the line. Unfortunately, he had no ship of his own and no way to enter, until he meets the beautiful Rose.
Their only hope of seeing both their dreams become a reality is each other. From London to Paris and more, the duo must trust in one another if they are to win the race. Trust comes with quite a cost as adventure can easily turn deadly and losing the race isn't all they have to worry about.
Slay Bells Ring 7.15.22
Cover by: Fantasia Cover Designs
Blurb: Vampires and Christmas. Not in her city.
Annika James grew up with the weight of the world on her shoulders. As one of the last surviving Vampire Hunters, she's traveled the world to end the lives of all vampires. Spending time home in New Orleans was rare, but Christmas always meant going home.
Connor Logan protected his people. As the elected vampire king, he was judge, jury, and executioner when vampires stepped out of line. When a sect in New Orleans gets too brazen, he travels there only to be attacked and left for dead.
Annika should have staked the pale-white man on sight. Only, something stopped her. Instead, Annika saved him only to find out who he actually was. When he asked for her help, she hesitated. Working with bloodsuckers had never come up, but if the pair worked together to stop the killings in time for Christmas, she'd wait to kill him until after. Too bad Connor's deep gaze and strong moral guidelines send them down a path neither prepared for.
Trapped in Wonder 9.27.22
Cover by KDS Concepts
Blurb: For two years Alyss has searched for her sister for two years. Despite villagers whispering and jeering that Annie ran off with a man, Alyss doesn't believe it. Unfortunately, all leads led to nowhere, and it seemed Annie might have vanished because she wanted to.
That is, until Alyss got a break. Another woman in the village - Scarlett - seemingly runs away as well. Only, Alyss knows the truth. Scarlett didn't run anywhere, she was taken. Just. Like. Annie. Renewed, Alyss sets off down a dangerous course into Under Forest.
In Under Forest, everything is different. Up in down. West is east. Monsters are friends. Everything is dangerous. With help from a man Alyss knows only as Hatter, she plans to find her sister before she becomes lost as well.
While I'm fairly certain an author who has self published for 3 years and been attacked by amazon isn't appealing, if anyone know any wonderful small presses with a focus on romance and unagented submissions I'd be forever grateful for any tips as I've learned being out on my own has some disadvantages.
Let's keep the momentum going - I want this procedure changed so badly for the next author to suffer at the fate of "the content review team". Please comment if you have any suggestions for next steps or contacts you have!
Stay up to date with any announcements and just general posts here!