Two edits were made for clarity.
1. I had 700 reviews and ratings, not reviews only. I apologize for not realize you could rate without reviewing on Amazon until it was brought to my attention.
2. updated verbiage on the review notice to avoid semantical conversations or confusion based on policy.
3. A link to part 2 that includes more of the process and my fight.
The last 30ish hours have been very hard for me. Somehow, I offended Amazon's KDP system and my entire career has been taken down. This blog is my attempt to share only the facts, while leaving out any opinions and emotions. At present, 43 books have been unpublished, over $300 in advertising dollars on a new release from 12.20.21 are wasted, and over 700 reviews & ratings are now gone. All of this occurred just 24 hours after my latest release, which was the first release I've had since last Christmas, due to fighting a mystery illness and COVID parenting a toddler - writing took a backseat.
Please consider sharing this blog on your social media. I want to effect change within Amazon more than I want my career back. If enough of us make noise, it's possible this can all be changed.
This post might be lengthy, but I promise, It's not extraneous information.
To set the stage about me for what it might be worth, I am a 2x USA Today Bestselling Author. I began publishing through the fantastic confidence of CHBB Publishing in summer of 2015 before branching out to self publish in summer of 2017. Since 2015, over 54 novels were written and published. Many were shorts in anthologies. Some of those shorts were republished when the anthologies ended and rights returned, but not all. While my review count was a modest total of just over 700, they were still reviews.
I write across the bulk of romance subgenres, with a focus on paranormal romance, steampunk romance and Christmas romance. My works are not all under 18 friendly, but some were.
On Monday, December 19, 2021 I uploaded a listing for preorder through Kindle Direct Publishing (to be referred to as KDP in future references). The listing included a cover, my name, the book name, and a blurb. There were no files attached and the release date was set for December 15, 2022. it was book 5 in my Modern Christmas Fairy Tale series.
Blurb: Love at first sight isn't real, but Xander couldn’t deny his attraction to the stunning woman he met at the Christmas market. Even if she was nobility from Europe and more than a little out of his league. Being a homeless, ex-military man wouldn’t win him any favors. Xander wanted to be more than he was, to change his stars.
Lily ran from a list of suitors a mile long only to trip and fall into a man’s arms. She let him think she was merely a tourist, and explored his city as he saw it. She didn’t expect to find herself attracted to him, or to ever see him again.
When Xander saves the life of an antique shop owner, the man happens to see a rusty lamp Xander held onto from his days overseas. The owner offers Xander a handsome seller's fee, and Xander takes it, knowing with that amount of money, he would change his world. All that was left to do was find Lily and help her choose him over the other men fighting for her attention.
One magic lamp. One displaced army vet and one royal princess are thrown together for a Christmas adventure.
Shortly after, I received a message that I had violated copyright with my content and that my preorder was locked.
After 5 hours of searching their platform I found nothing with the same title or similar cover. I did however, of course, find my own series and similar covers. An email exchange occurred during this time and it was reinstated. I did inquire as to what caused the issue, but was never responded to.
Christmas and the Lamp went live shortly after.
Wednesday morning, I submitted a preorder for my next book, The Race, and it too, was quickly published live.
I checked my email midmorning and found the following email.
I went to check KDP even after verifying the email address was legitimate. The random ruling was.
As I am human, my next course of action included breaking down. I have been a published author - indie house, small presses, and self - for just over 6 years. I have been included in or solo'd in 54 novels + the two preorders.
Per the email, my books were gone. My reviews were gone. My royalties would not be paid - yes, you read that correctly, Amazon was going to keep money I made on all my BACKLIST titles because the preorder raised a flag. I also cannot create another KDP account to begin again (which is fair if I'd done what I was accused of doing or anything else).
I took to social media for help, because my account was blocked so I couldn't "contact us" beyond a form fill and I wasn't content with that. To see the Facebook post, click here.
The next 5-7 hours (5 continuously and then another 2 here and there after) were spend trying to get ahold of someone to make a decision.
The steps I took (condensed but assume each step occured anywhere from 5-12 times):
What I learned/encountered:
I went to bed heartbroken, and clingy to a small shred of hope.
The first thing I did this morning was check my email. Nothing. I held hope that it meant they were taking it very seriously.
Then the emails began. They continued to uphold that there was something misleading and dangerous to sellers about a listing with nothing more than a title or blurb that sincerely do match. At the time of writing this, I'm up to 11 "rejections".
Not one person has responded to my request to learn what is so misleading that they can terminate my career. Not one person has even offered to call. I want this process changed, and I'll get into that in a minute, but for now, please enjoy a series of screenshots from people telling me that the work I posted at the beginning of the blog is misleading and dangerous.
My goal is to continue to message until I get a response. I do wish to get a lawyer involved for specifics, but since they can terminate anyone for any reason at any time, it's unlikely to help.
There needs to be a change. Amazon cannot keep treating clients and customers this way - we are both because we also buy our paperbacks as well as countless other products from them.
How this process should go:
A change this huge is not likely to happen no matter how loud the voices get, but I ask you, let's join together and make our voices heard so the next set of authors are treated fairly.
Please consider sharing this blog on your social media to help raise awareness of how dangerous it is. My account was terminated, but all royalties, not just on the offending book, were taken from me.
What comes next for Lexi Ostrow?
It will take some time, but while I continue to fight Amazon, I hope to republish my work on wide networks, as I've dreamed of being an author since I was 7.
I do have another, selfish, request. If you have the time, and would like to help, I'm going to need reviews to get my work shared and trusted once again. If you love to read and wouldn't mind honest reviews when the time comes, please fill out this form to receive communications on how to receive titles and necessary verbiage for posted reviews.
Please fill out this form to be contacted when I'm fortunate enough to take my career back, even if it's never on Amazon which would be upsetting for sure.
If you are an author who has been through - whether you were reinstated or not - I'd love to hear from you. Comment on this blog post or shoot me an email. Let's work together to stop Amazon from pulling this on other authors.
Thank you for your time in reading this.
For more updates please consider reading part 2 as my fight with Amazon has only just begun.
Stay up to date with any announcements and just general posts here!