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After finding a strange medallion and some maps with markings that no one in his village can understand, Braxton Bray decides to take it all to the Hall of Scholars in the kingdom's capital. But greed is everywhere. Braxton and a tough young female caravan guard named Nixy are forced to run for their lives, for someone else wants what Braxton found and is willing to go to great lengths to take it from him.

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Author Topic: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran  (Read 7060 times)  

Offline David VanDyke

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Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« on: August 12, 2017, 11:34:30 AM »
Surprised nobody's made a topic for this, so I'll be the one.

https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2017/08/12/the-only-rule-amazon-truly-cares-about/#more-4494

One more reason to consider diversifying wide, at least partly.


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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2017, 11:41:19 AM »
'the only rule that Amazon really cares about' - and we're what, surprised?


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Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2017, 11:57:47 AM »
Thanks for posting this link. I can imagine how furious and frustrated David must feel.

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Offline Going Incognito

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2017, 12:04:52 PM »
The conspiracy theorist in me is seeing Amazon gleefully rubbing its hands together, mumbling under its breath, 'we're tired of your [crap], Gaughran' and lauuuughing so hard right now. 'Don't like how we handle things, do you? Here, handle this!'


But don't mind me, I often imagine the Great And Powerful Zon as a moustache twirling villain tying people who get in the way of their world domination plans to railroad tracks.

Offline JsFan

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2017, 12:49:52 PM »
DG's tribulations remind me of the other thread where people said things like, 'the only people who matter to Amazon are shareholders.' 'We mean nothing to Amazon.' 'There's no such thing as 'unfair'.' KDP is Amazon's playing field, not authors'.'

Those posts prompted me to do a little research into the responsibilities of businesses to their suppliers. I didn't spend much time on it and only found impractical articles, but when I stopped focusing on the US I found some info at the Australian Competition & Consumer Commision and Queensland Government websites:

Quote
The law sets out examples of terms that may be unfair, including:
  • terms that enable one party (but not another) to avoid or limit their obligations under the contract
  • terms that enable one party (but not another) to terminate the contract
  • terms that penalise one party (but not another) for breaching or terminating the contract
  • terms that enable one party (but not another) to vary the terms of the contract.

The following tips will help you maintain positive relationships with your suppliers:
  • Talk regularly and honestly with your suppliers. Good business-to-business relationships rely on strong, two-way communication. Where possible, you should look to make face-to-face contact with suppliers or their representatives.
  • Bring any problems or concerns immediately to your supplier's attention.
  • Pay your accounts on time. If you cannot make your payments in time, make sure you let your supplier know before the due date.
  • Avoid making unrealistic demands for products or services. Constantly changing or rushing orders will frustrate your suppliers.
  • Monitor and review your supplier's performance and measure it against their competitors. Be prepared to negotiate the terms of trade from time to time.
  • Be sure to carefully examine the reasons for problems before cutting ties with a supplier. Like everyone else, suppliers will have ups and downs in their business. Loyalty may earn you understanding during your own tough times.

The idea that Amazon has no obligations to fulfil to authors is dangerous and inaccurate. It only gives Amazon (or any other retailer) opportunities to manhandle us. The truth is, Amazon would lose lots of money if a good percentage of authors were to suddenly disappear. We're not powerless, nor are we beneficiaries of a benevolent godlike entity.

What do we have to do to get better terms with Amazon? At this rate, it's only after hitting rock bottom and leaving KU en masse that anything will change. Part of that process would be losing money, losing livelihoods and extreme frustration/stress. I would rather not wait.

And, I agree with the OP. I'm reconsidering going into Select/KU. It's exremely risky.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2017, 01:12:31 PM »
This is unacceptable.

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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2017, 01:16:59 PM »
This kind of thing goes on all the time in Amazon's world. The one and only book I had enrolled in KU in January was summarily tossed out without warning mid flight through a promo run. Why? Amazon bots decided part of the content was published by another author. It wasn't. I had asked KDP change my account name, but the process is klutzy and for a period both accounts existed. They offered to reenrol the book, but I said not to bother. It was getting good page reads, but who can be bothered with the angst?

Then, just for fun, someone decided I was in breach of copyright. For that Amazon immediately blocked one of my books (not the one on promo), told me to pay the claimant (that was odd), and then suspended my entire account (a bit of an over reaction to unproven and incorrect claim). The other person had made a mistake and thankfully promptly told Amazon. Everything was reinstated.

The lesson here is this is Amazon's turf and we often get thrown about for no reason whatsoever. Much like going through airport security our guilt is assumed and we're punished upfront.

It was a sharp lesson in just how much I mean to Amazon, which is zilch for anyone who missed the message. I've gotten so used to it that I just roll with the next throat punch. Even though I do nothing that challenges the TOS it's not a question of if I'll get punched only when.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 01:19:42 PM by TwistedTales »

Offline Mercia McMahon

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2017, 01:20:08 PM »
DG's tribulations remind me of the other thread where people said things like, 'the only people who matter to Amazon are shareholders.'

Many Amazon shareholders would dispute that claim. It is one company that cannot be accused of privileging share dividends over other business concerns.


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Offline thesmallprint

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2017, 01:37:48 PM »
Amazon fears nothing. The establishment of a global author's union - assuming the vast majority joined and obeyed the rulings of such a body - would have Amazon behaving much more kindly.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2017, 01:42:06 PM »
The conspiracy theorist in me is seeing Amazon gleefully rubbing its hands together, mumbling under its breath, 'we're tired of your [crap], Gaughran' and lauuuughing so hard right now. 'Don't like how we handle things, do you? Here, handle this!'


But don't mind me, I often imagine the Great And Powerful Zon as a moustache twirling villain tying people who get in the way of their world domination plans to railroad tracks.
I suspect Hanlon's Razor applies.

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Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2017, 02:11:07 PM »
Amazon fears nothing. The establishment of a global author's union - assuming the vast majority joined and obeyed the rulings of such a body - would have Amazon behaving much more kindly.

I sincerely doubt that.  I worked in a billion dollar company some years back and even then Amazon was quite clear that their contract negotiations basically amounted to "Take it or leave it". 

Mind you, the concept of a global author's union sounds equally as onerous, especially the whole "assuming the vast majority ... obeyed the rulings of such a body". 


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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2017, 02:15:58 PM »
Pish.

They did this to me three times while I had stuff in Select. I was never able to run a single Countdown deal until I gave up. No, the books were not discounted and they were "virgin" books, never published anywhere before. Amazon never replied to my emails.

Offline Kessie Carroll

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2017, 02:58:31 PM »
It's still a better deal than we'd get from trad pub. We can pull our books from Amazon and walk. Trad pub, we're in for the life of the contract +70 years. :-p
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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2017, 03:02:15 PM »
Is that an excuse for crappy behaviour? I don't think so.

Offline Al Stevens

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2017, 03:21:09 PM »
Trad pub, we're in for the life of the contract +70 years. :-p
Not sure where you got those numbers. First, with trad pub, you negotiate. I never let a book's copyright be in any name other than my own. I always made sure there was a reversion of rights clause. That would have to be negotiated differently now due to e-books never going out of print. The point is a trad publishing deal is based on a contract. You get to negotiate before signing. If they want your work enough to send a contract, they'll negotiate.

But then, maybe things have changed. My last trad contract was in 2013. Sigh.

Offline David VanDyke

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2017, 04:01:40 PM »
It's still a better deal than we'd get from trad pub. We can pull our books from Amazon and walk. Trad pub, we're in for the life of the contract +70 years. :-p

Having a job is better than no job at all--but that doesn't mean it's okay for the company to exploit the workers beyond the bounds of ethics. The two things are unrelated.

This is an argumentative fallacy (the excluded middle).


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Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2017, 04:08:39 PM »
Amazon fears nothing. The establishment of a global author's union - assuming the vast majority joined and obeyed the rulings of such a body - would have Amazon behaving much more kindly.

A union for authors would be illegal under U.S. law.

Offline lostones

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2017, 04:54:58 PM »
Surprised nobody's made a topic for this, so I'll be the one.

https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2017/08/12/the-only-rule-amazon-truly-cares-about/#more-4494

One more reason to consider diversifying wide, at least partly.

Moral of the story. If you sign up with Amazon you must abide by their rules and that means you are responsible for checking to see that your books are not listed elsewhere. If they are you have to deal with it. No point him crying when he agreed to their rules.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2017, 04:59:00 PM »
Moral of the story. If you sign up with Amazon you must abide by their rules and that means you are responsible for checking to see that your books are not listed elsewhere. If they are you have to deal with it. No point him crying when he agreed to their rules.

Did you even read the article? He DID check. The fault was not his.

With me, when they cancelled THREE CONSECUTIVE countdowns unilaterally, these were books that had NEVER been published elsewhere nor had their prices reduced, EVER.

There was no reply to my emails. I did not get my days back. I paid for promo and it was all wasted.

That is somehow fair?

Offline she-la-ti-da

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2017, 06:24:15 PM »
Poor David. The tin foil hat wonders if this is payback for him being so vocal about various Amazon issues. I'd like to hope not, but it is odd.

I think when I go wide, I'm not going to tick the boxes for some of those "little" stores, since they seem to have issues getting and keeping books down when delisted.
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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2017, 06:55:03 PM »
Poor David. The tin foil hat wonders if this is payback for him being so vocal about various Amazon issues. I'd like to hope not, but it is odd.

I think when I go wide, I'm not going to tick the boxes for some of those "little" stores, since they seem to have issues getting and keeping books down when delisted.

Nup. It's often the Kobo affiliates. Not the little stores.

If you go wide, one thing you don't do: you don't flip-flop in and out. Apart from the fact that it's risky, you just annoy the [crap] out of everyone.

Offline David VanDyke

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #21 on: August 12, 2017, 07:00:31 PM »
Moral of the story. If you sign up with Amazon you must abide by their rules and that means you are responsible for checking to see that your books are not listed elsewhere. If they are you have to deal with it. No point him crying when he agreed to their rules.

Did you actually read the article, and what happened? This was neither his fault, nor could any reasonable person say he was negligent.


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Offline WHDean

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #22 on: August 12, 2017, 07:18:28 PM »
Made me cringe. This is what happens when a firm monitors and enforces its terms of service with bots that can tell the difference between your actions and those of third parties. 

The gibberish I've gotten back from simple queries sent to Amazon never ceases to amaze me.

 

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2017, 07:29:54 PM »
It's still a better deal than we'd get from trad pub. We can pull our books from Amazon and walk. Trad pub, we're in for the life of the contract +70 years. :-p

Who told you that? I've had better deals from trads, and I'm far from famous,
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Offline Seneca42

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #24 on: August 12, 2017, 07:33:17 PM »
There's a reason Amazon sells KY Jelly. If you're in KU, I suggest picking some up. It's usually on sale, just make sure it's not a Chinese reseller or you might experience a burning sensation.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2017, 07:35:52 PM »
 
There's a reason Amazon sells KY Jelly. If you're in KU, I suggest picking some up. It's usually on sale, just make sure it's not a Chinese reseller or you might experience a burning sensation.

3... 2... 1... until this comment is deleted.

 8) 8) 8) 8) 8)

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2017, 08:05:17 PM »
If authors did more to promote Amazon's competitors and steer readers to other options, eventually things would change. Simple things like highlighting your links to other vendors ahead of Amazon should, over time, produce a noticeable change.
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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2017, 08:27:27 PM »
I suspect Hanlon's Razor applies.

Thank God. Can you imagine what damage they could do if they turned their minds to it for real?

There's a reason Amazon sells KY Jelly. If you're in KU, I suggest picking some up. It's usually on sale, just make sure it's not a Chinese reseller or you might experience a burning sensation.

LOL!
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 08:29:48 PM by Going Incognito »

Offline Seneca42

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2017, 09:07:55 PM »
The truth is, Amazon would lose lots of money if a good percentage of authors were to suddenly disappear. We're not powerless, nor are we beneficiaries of a benevolent godlike entity.

What do we have to do to get better terms with Amazon? At this rate, it's only after hitting rock bottom and leaving KU en masse that anything will change. Part of that process would be losing money, losing livelihoods and extreme frustration/stress. I would rather not wait.

The thing that's going to blindside Amazon isn't anything happening this moment. What's going to blindside them are the unknown authors out there today... the ones they don't care about in the least... who blow up in a year or two. And they will blow up on other vendors. And they will publicly state that they have no love for Amazon because Amazon had no love for them.

This is always how the giants fall. It's not the big dogs today, because most of them are white listed. It's the big dogs of tomorrow.

I know saying this will catch me some flack, but whatever. A lot of the big dogs (not all, but a lot) in zon today were playing in the amazon pond 2014 and prior. They built their baes in a totally different ecosystem than exists today (edit: different in terms of launching a book and reaching readers). They are going to stick with zon because it's where they built their base of operations.

But there's a new generation of authors (let's define "generation" as being every three years in the self-pub industry) that zon is taking the boots to hard and heavy. These authors are going to be the big dogs down the road, and they won't forget how they were treated.

Zon is behaving like an unstoppable juggernaut and has no idea the level of damage it is doing to itself. It can't really be seen today, but in five years, it will be obvious. At which point they'll have to try and repair the damage they are doing today (and usually companies fail in that endeavor).

But, I gotta admit, if I was worth $80B i don't know if I'd give a &*%$ either.  :P
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 09:17:54 PM by Seneca42 »

Offline Seneca42

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2017, 09:16:23 PM »
Moral of the story. If you sign up with Amazon you must abide by their rules and that means you are responsible for checking to see that your books are not listed elsewhere. If they are you have to deal with it. No point him crying when he agreed to their rules.

Moral of the story is that KU is a mess.

Where I agree with your sentiment though is that, at this point, anyone going into KU really can't complain about anything that happens while they are in there. It's like walking through a violent neighborhood at 2am... sure, no one has the right to rob you, but you really can't complain if you do get robbed.



 

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2017, 10:08:25 PM »
I remember during the big-time scam season many authors joined together and we pointed out the books that were scams "Boy and donkey", "Clever man", etc. They were the same page copied over and over again for thousands of pages yet they remained up for WEEKS after we reported them. Yet if there is the word "KU" or some other strange typo somewhere in the text we get suspended immediately.

Why?  =  (
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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #31 on: August 13, 2017, 04:32:59 AM »
A union for authors would be illegal under U.S. law.

Good thing because the very idea gives me cold chills. But then I associate it with this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_of_Soviet_Writers

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #32 on: August 13, 2017, 05:23:51 AM »
Perhaps what we need is some 'Robin Hood' who loads pirate copies of scam books up to other sites. Then Amazon would swing it's hammer on them without hesitation.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #33 on: August 13, 2017, 05:33:07 AM »
Perhaps what we need is some 'Robin Hood' who loads pirate copies of scam books up to other sites. Then Amazon would swing it's hammer on them without hesitation.

LOL. But talk about karmic justice!
   

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #34 on: August 13, 2017, 08:21:47 AM »
A union for authors would be illegal under U.S. law.

Simply not true. There are author's unions in America, any number of them, the problem is some of them seem more interested in collecting dues than in protecting writers. The screenwriter's union is an exception, which is probably one reason screenwriters (even the little known) tend to be better paid for their work.
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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #35 on: August 13, 2017, 08:57:27 AM »
I remember during the big-time scam season many authors joined together and we pointed out the books that were scams "Boy and donkey", "Clever man", etc. They were the same page copied over and over again for thousands of pages yet they remained up for WEEKS after we reported them. Yet if there is the word "KU" or some other strange typo somewhere in the text we get suspended immediately.

Why?  =  (

THIS.


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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #36 on: August 13, 2017, 09:28:19 AM »
I remember during the big-time scam season many authors joined together and we pointed out the books that were scams "Boy and donkey", "Clever man", etc. They were the same page copied over and over again for thousands of pages yet they remained up for WEEKS after we reported them. Yet if there is the word "KU" or some other strange typo somewhere in the text we get suspended immediately.

Why?  =  (

Probably because the KU bit is a robot, although I suspect that the plankton of the Amazonian basin have their initial query answered by robot, and these robots are not Data.


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Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #37 on: August 13, 2017, 09:43:57 AM »
Simply not true. There are author's unions in America, any number of them, the problem is some of them seem more interested in collecting dues than in protecting writers. The screenwriter's union is an exception, which is probably one reason screenwriters (even the little known) tend to be better paid for their work.

When I say illegal, I mean that, as independent contractors, efforts to unionize, or act as a union, with the aim of forcing a company like Amazon to concede on certain issues would very well be in violation of anti-trust laws. This is why the "unions" you're talking about don't really do much more than generally advocate. Independent contractors by law have no collective bargaining rights, nor federal protections. The screenwriters guild has agreements with the film corporations, and I don't think the screenwriters themselves are hired as independent contractors, either, so it's a different issue with them.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #38 on: August 13, 2017, 10:32:01 AM »
Poor David. That's definitely frustrating.

The problem is, there are so many employees, you often get different responses and results depending on the person you speak with -- or you get your Countdown yanked when you still had time to fix things, or you get no response at all. That's incredibly frustrating. It's nothing nefarious but it is a sign of a company grown too big too fast. There's a lack of organization.

This is why -- and I'm sure you guys are sick of me saying this, but -- I don't bother with KU and I stay wide. I just can't deal with the anxiety, and I like my multiple honey pots. I think Seneca is right: in a few years, the overwhelming number of successful authors who won't get into bed with Amazon will be what changes things.

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Offline writerlygal

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #39 on: August 13, 2017, 09:07:27 PM »
This just shows why authors shouldn't be in KU & I think David knows that. He's someone who has been raging against Amazon as being a big corporate entity that doesn't care about indie authors. Yet he was enrolling his books in KU at the same time he was raging. Purposefully volunteering to be exclusive to Amazon & taking his books off other sites in order to do it. Folks, if you really think Amazon is so bad for authors, vote with your wallet & put your books on other sites. Put your money where your mouth is so to speak. You shouldn't trust Amazon as a reliable place to run discount deals on books. I think that someone who has been really negative about Amazon would know to expect this so I'm just over here scratching my head. I do have sympathy for his plight but it feels hypocritical to me that someone would be telling the world how awful Amazon is at the same time they're willingly signing up to be exclusive to them.

Offline David VanDyke

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #40 on: August 13, 2017, 10:21:54 PM »
This just shows why authors shouldn't be in KU & I think David knows that. He's someone who has been raging against Amazon as being a big corporate entity that doesn't care about indie authors. Yet he was enrolling his books in KU at the same time he was raging. Purposefully volunteering to be exclusive to Amazon & taking his books off other sites in order to do it. Folks, if you really think Amazon is so bad for authors, vote with your wallet & put your books on other sites. Put your money where your mouth is so to speak. You shouldn't trust Amazon as a reliable place to run discount deals on books. I think that someone who has been really negative about Amazon would know to expect this so I'm just over here scratching my head. I do have sympathy for his plight but it feels hypocritical to me that someone would be telling the world how awful Amazon is at the same time they're willingly signing up to be exclusive to them.

I think that's overstating the case on both ends.

He's never raged at Amazon as a whole that I know of, but he's criticized KDP and especially at Select/KU--always with the intention and hope of getting them to improve and fix things, rather than just attacking them out of spite or hate.

And he's not "being exclusive" except with one book out of his list, for a specific period of time. He was giving them a chance. It didn't work out, and it's more grist for the blog mill. In fact, it seems like a win no matter what. At worst, he gets another effective blog post out of it, with the benefit of personal experience.

Now, if he goes and does it all over again, that would seem like the cliche definition of stupidity, but he's far from stupid. From my point of view, it's another cautionary tale and a service to the community to tell us about it.


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Offline she-la-ti-da

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #41 on: August 14, 2017, 04:36:50 AM »
This just shows why authors shouldn't be in KU & I think David knows that. He's someone who has been raging against Amazon as being a big corporate entity that doesn't care about indie authors. Yet he was enrolling his books in KU at the same time he was raging. Purposefully volunteering to be exclusive to Amazon & taking his books off other sites in order to do it. Folks, if you really think Amazon is so bad for authors, vote with your wallet & put your books on other sites. Put your money where your mouth is so to speak. You shouldn't trust Amazon as a reliable place to run discount deals on books. I think that someone who has been really negative about Amazon would know to expect this so I'm just over here scratching my head. I do have sympathy for his plight but it feels hypocritical to me that someone would be telling the world how awful Amazon is at the same time they're willingly signing up to be exclusive to them.

None of this is true. Whether you just don't know, or you're trying to stir the pot, I don't care. David is and has been a staunch supporter of indies for years, and there are many reasons to put a book into KU. Isn't there a scammer somewhere you need to defend?

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Nup. It's often the Kobo affiliates. Not the little stores.

Oh, it's the little stores, some of which you get to through Kobo, and some through Smashwords, and sometimes bigger stores. There has been trouble for years with these stores either not taking something down, or taking it down and somehow mysteriously ending up selling the work again, without permission. For all that Kobo is touted here and elsewhere, you'd think they would have better control over this. D2D seems to be able to get and keep books down when you ask.
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Offline dgaughran

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #42 on: August 14, 2017, 10:54:41 AM »
Just to give a brief update re the OP:

Executive Customer Relations has been in touch a couple of times over the weekend - just to say they are looking into why my Countdown deal was cancelled again. I don't have any more info than that. Presumably it won't take too long to find out.

And catching up on the comments:

I don't think there is anything nefarious going on. There are plenty of examples of other authors caught up in something like this.

As to whether I personally should be in KU or not, I enrolled these titles before the scamming scandal broke, and I might well have made a very different decision if that had all happened a couple of weeks earlier. Characterizing me as some kind of foaming anti-Amazon type is quite well wide of the mark - my blog and books should serve as ample counter-evidence.

Anyway, whether I personally enroll in KU or not is pretty irrelevant. I'd say I'm pretty similar to most authors in that I hate exclusivity and only enroll in KU on a case-by-case basis and don't consider it a long-term play in general. If being exclusive works for you, great. If being wide works for you, great. Whatever decision any given author makes shouldn't have any bearing on how they are treated by retailers or the logic of any position they are advocating.

It's kind of a weird position too. So if you are advocating for greater transparency or increased payment or not to have books arbitrarily yanked or not to have the charts flooded with scammers you can't use KU? How far do we take that logic? Should I yank my books from Amazon and sell them from a car boot? Does that allow me to enter the conversation?

As for this comment:

Moral of the story. If you sign up with Amazon you must abide by their rules and that means you are responsible for checking to see that your books are not listed elsewhere. If they are you have to deal with it. No point him crying when he agreed to their rules.

If you had read the post, you will see that I had checked to see if the titles were down everywhere before enrolling in Select. I know some people like to roll the dice but I'm always quite careful on that front. Subsequent to enrolling the titles, a retailer had a bug which relisted old titles - some going back years, I'm not the only author affected by that bug.

In fact, if any authors have used Smashwords or D2D or any other distributor to reach Tolino at any point in the last four years I would recommend checking Weltbild for your own titles: https://www.weltbild.de/

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Offline Al Stevens

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #43 on: August 14, 2017, 11:29:20 AM »
When I say illegal, I mean that, as independent contractors, efforts to unionize, or act as a union, with the aim of forcing a company like Amazon to concede on certain issues would very well be in violation of anti-trust laws.
Total nonsense. The American Federation of Musicians has been doing just that since 1896.

Offline Rickie Blair

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #44 on: August 14, 2017, 12:20:02 PM »
In fact, if any authors have used Smashwords or D2D or any other distributor to reach Tolino at any point in the last four years I would recommend checking Weltbild for your own titles: https://www.weltbild.de/

This is very good advice.

I just took a look on Weltbild and all seven of my books are offered for sale on that site. What the ...? I've only been wide for a few months, and I guess I checked the Tolino box on D&D and Smashwords, but how would I know that meant my books would be on Weltbild? I've never even heard of it, and it's clearly a German-language site, so why would they even want my books?  ???
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 12:22:21 PM by Rickie Blair »

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Offline Kyra Halland

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #45 on: August 14, 2017, 02:30:35 PM »
Quote
In fact, if any authors have used Smashwords or D2D or any other distributor to reach Tolino at any point in the last four years I would recommend checking Weltbild for your own titles: https://www.weltbild.de/

Mine are on there, which as far as I'm concerned is Yay, another way for people to discover my books! (Not in KU, no intentions of ever going into KU.)


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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #46 on: August 14, 2017, 05:42:05 PM »
In fact, if any authors have used Smashwords or D2D or any other distributor to reach Tolino at any point in the last four years I would recommend checking Weltbild for your own titles: https://www.weltbild.de/

I just checked them, because I suspected them of offering a couple of my titles for free...they aren't, so that's good!

I don't plan to go into KU, either.

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Offline ParkerAvrile

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #47 on: August 14, 2017, 06:05:37 PM »
This just shows why authors shouldn't be in KU & I think David knows that. He's someone who has been raging against Amazon as being a big corporate entity that doesn't care about indie authors. Yet he was enrolling his books in KU at the same time he was raging. Purposefully volunteering to be exclusive to Amazon & taking his books off other sites in order to do it. Folks, if you really think Amazon is so bad for authors, vote with your wallet & put your books on other sites. Put your money where your mouth is so to speak. You shouldn't trust Amazon as a reliable place to run discount deals on books. I think that someone who has been really negative about Amazon would know to expect this so I'm just over here scratching my head. I do have sympathy for his plight but it feels hypocritical to me that someone would be telling the world how awful Amazon is at the same time they're willingly signing up to be exclusive to them.

Good people have an amazing belief in the goodness of other people, and they don't want to believe that a large powerful entity would hammer them down for no better reason than they pointed out a situation.


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Offline ParkerAvrile

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #48 on: August 14, 2017, 06:08:08 PM »
Total nonsense. The American Federation of Musicians has been doing just that since 1896.

Thank you, Al.

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Offline dgaughran

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #49 on: August 15, 2017, 01:47:52 AM »
Minor update: Amazon still doesn't have any explanation of what happened, but is working with the "technical team" to find out. Which sounds like a brush off to me, but we'll see.

The last message included a proposed "goodwill offer" of a new KCD or five free days.

Not exactly bowled over by that, as you might imagine.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #50 on: August 15, 2017, 01:54:40 AM »
Minor update: Amazon still doesn't have any explanation of what happened, but is working with the "technical team" to find out. Which sounds like a brush off to me, but we'll see.

The last message included a proposed "goodwill offer" of a new KCD or five free days.

Not exactly bowled over by that, as you might imagine.

Hey man, at least they're replying to your emails :P

Offline dgaughran

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #51 on: August 15, 2017, 01:57:07 AM »
Aha, yes. I guess there's that. Not sure how far I am ahead when all the emails say that they have no information for me!

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #52 on: August 15, 2017, 01:59:16 AM »
I'm still trying to get them to tell me why, despite four emails in the last week, they seem unable to link my print and ebook version. Or just do it.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #53 on: August 15, 2017, 02:00:59 AM »
Minor update: Amazon still doesn't have any explanation of what happened, but is working with the "technical team" to find out. Which sounds like a brush off to me, but we'll see.

The last message included a proposed "goodwill offer" of a new KCD or five free days.

Not exactly bowled over by that, as you might imagine.

I've long had the suspicion that the technical team is a convenient figment of KDP's imagination, and merely a handy excuse for when they don't know the answer to a question.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #54 on: August 15, 2017, 02:32:36 AM »
I've long had the suspicion that the technical team is a convenient figment of KDP's imagination, and merely a handy excuse for when they don't know the answer to a question.

Definitely. I reckon it means one of two things:

i) hopefully you will get fed up of asking and go away
ii) hopefully whatever is wrong will right itself of its own accord

technical team = doesn't exist

Offline Going Incognito

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #55 on: August 15, 2017, 03:09:20 AM »
Definitely. I reckon it means one of two things:

i) hopefully you will get fed up of asking and go away
ii) hopefully whatever is wrong will right itself of its own accord

technical team = doesn't exist

But have you tried turning them off and then back on again?

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #56 on: August 15, 2017, 03:26:54 AM »
I've long had the suspicion that the technical team is a convenient figment of KDP's imagination, and merely a handy excuse for when they don't know the answer to a question.

To be fair, I've never not had a response from Amazon, not even on the rare occasions I've written to the infamous Bezos address. They're slower than I hope they'll be and often their reply is stunningly useless, but they always reply.

The issues I have with support are:
- They're quite slow, particularly if they have to talk to the "technical team".
- Their knowledge level is inconsistent, which can delay resolution.
- They make mistakes, which they never apologize for. They should own up. Saying sorry goes a long way.
- Sometimes they appear to lie, but I think it's the inconsistent knowledge level.
- They don't seem to be able to speed up anything. They need a priority service for time critical problems.
- They never explain their issues properly. I think they just follow the bots without looking into the case.
- Some of their processes (like for copyright issues) are insane and leave authors vulnerable to being abused.

I don't blame the individual support reps. They didn't design these processes or set the standards, all they got was some training. KDP need to take a look at the support processes across ALL departments, not just first line support. When you deal with different departments you get very different attitudes. Some of them treat us like criminals.

I doubt KDP can be bothered arguing with every department to create a single style of interface and streamlined processes, but I wish they would. Every departments we deal with becomes the face of KDP to authors. When they're rude, high handed, uninformative, difficult to deal with, and make horrible mistakes they never apologize for, we walk away with a dim view of Amazon as a whole.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #57 on: August 15, 2017, 03:38:49 AM »
To be fair, I've never not had a response from Amazon, not even on the rare occasions I've written to the infamous Bezos address. They're slower than I hope they'll be and often their reply is stunningly useless, but they always reply.

The issues I have with support are:
- They're quite slow, particularly if they have to talk to the "technical team".
- Their knowledge level is inconsistent, which can delay resolution.
- They make mistakes, which they never apologize for. They should own up. Saying sorry goes a long way.
- Sometimes they appear to lie, but I think it's the inconsistent knowledge level.
- They don't seem to be able to speed up anything. They need a priority service for time critical problems.
- They never explain their issues properly. I think they just follow the bots without looking into the case.
- Some of their processes (like for copyright issues) are insane and leave authors vulnerable to being abused.

I don't blame the individual support reps. They didn't design these processes or set the standards, all they got was some training. KDP need to take a look at the support processes across ALL departments, not just first line support. When you deal with different departments you get very different attitudes. Some of them treat us like criminals.

I doubt KDP can be bothered arguing with every department to create a single style of interface and streamlined processes, but I wish they would. Every departments we deal with becomes the face of KDP to authors. When they're rude, high handed, uninformative, difficult to deal with, and make horrible mistakes they never apologize for, we walk away with a dim view of Amazon as a whole.

Every time KDP sends me one of these cheery "Let us know how we're doing" questionnaires, I blast them in the ear about the [crappy] level of support.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #58 on: August 15, 2017, 03:54:58 AM »
Every time KDP sends me one of these cheery "Let us know how we're doing" questionnaires, I blast them in the ear about the [crappy] level of support.

I gave up wasting my time filling in their questionnaires. It's a black hole where feedback goes to die.

Offline Bill Hiatt

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #59 on: August 15, 2017, 07:37:26 AM »
I'm coming to the conclusion that some of the support problems are the result of bot glitches that the first-line responders can't figure out--hence, the technical team.

I have a couple examples that aren't relevant to the subject of this thread but that do illustrate what happens when the bots go bad.

You know how Amazon sometimes discounts paperbacks? I've had two cases in which the discounted price was lower than the production cost (like a paperback whose author cost is $4.59 on sale for $2.02!) I was so tempted to order a huge number of copies while that was going on. You know that has to be a bot glitch.

Since the responders are not programmers, they can't tell what's happening if a bot isn't working as intended.

Of course, Amazon should be able to clean up that kind of mess faster. Really, it's an argument for more live people. Bots can only do so much, and mistakes such as the one I cited could end up costing Amazon a lot of money. Add them all up across the whole operation, and the loss could be considerable.


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Offline Decon

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #60 on: August 15, 2017, 08:56:17 AM »
I'm coming to the conclusion that some of the support problems are the result of bot glitches that the first-line responders can't figure out--hence, the technical team.

I have a couple examples that aren't relevant to the subject of this thread but that do illustrate what happens when the bots go bad.

You know how Amazon sometimes discounts paperbacks? I've had two cases in which the discounted price was lower than the production cost (like a paperback whose author cost is $4.59 on sale for $2.02!) I was so tempted to order a huge number of copies while that was going on. You know that has to be a bot glitch.

Since the responders are not programmers, they can't tell what's happening if a bot isn't working as intended.

Of course, Amazon should be able to clean up that kind of mess faster. Really, it's an argument for more live people. Bots can only do so much, and mistakes such as the one I cited could end up costing Amazon a lot of money. Add them all up across the whole operation, and the loss could be considerable.

In David's case and all the others, it's a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing and technical glitches. One can only hope it's not malice in David's case, but then they'd have a lot of loyalty to lose if it was that. I think that the beast is not training it's staff, or they don't have the staff to identify what the problem is quick enough and to get it right, and a lack of communication between departments.

I've been having a back and forth with them over sponsored ads where I have one book landing on first pages at a lower bid than my second book which is ending up down the pecking order. Can't get a straight answer. From their replies it just seems as though they can't get their heads around what it is I'm showing as a problem and what I'm asking them.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 09:04:55 AM by Decon »


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Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #61 on: August 15, 2017, 09:49:01 AM »
Total nonsense. The American Federation of Musicians has been doing just that since 1896.

Doing just what, exactly? Being vague? My point still stands; independent contractors who act as a union do not have the same rights as other unions, like collective bargaining, for example, and there is a legal basis for them to be ruled as violating anti-trust laws. If you're saying some federation of musicians has obtained concessions from someone else, I don't doubt it, and it doesn't do anything to counter my point. Independent contractors simply do not have the same protections for unionizing, and such behavior really can be viewed in court as forming an illegal trust, depending on the circumstance.

Offline thesmallprint

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #62 on: August 15, 2017, 10:16:43 AM »
Doing just what, exactly? Being vague? My point still stands; independent contractors who act as a union do not have the same rights as other unions, like collective bargaining, for example, and there is a legal basis for them to be ruled as violating anti-trust laws. If you're saying some federation of musicians has obtained concessions from someone else, I don't doubt it, and it doesn't do anything to counter my point. Independent contractors simply do not have the same protections for unionizing, and such behavior really can be viewed in court as forming an illegal trust, depending on the circumstance.

As the poster who raised the idea, I wouldn't get hung up on the structure. Perhaps call it a society. The point of it would be getting the majority of authors to act 'for the greater good' of self-publishing. Taking up individual cases with publishers or suppliers, providing legal advice and representation and, yes, in the extreme, asking all members to remove books from KU or even unpublish all works from Amazon/Apple or whoever.

Offline Al Stevens

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #63 on: August 15, 2017, 10:27:27 AM »
My point still stands; independent contractors who act as a union do not have the same rights as other unions
It's called organizing, and it's how virtually every union starts out.

Offline cadle-sparks

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #64 on: August 15, 2017, 12:20:10 PM »


The lesson here is this is Amazon's turf and we often get thrown about for no reason whatsoever. Much like going through airport security our guilt is assumed and we're punished upfront.

Unlike in tradpub, where all authors are treated like gold?

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #65 on: August 15, 2017, 12:26:15 PM »
Unlike in tradpub, where all authors are treated like gold?

I wouldn't know, I haven't been signed up by a trad. My observation isn't trying to compare one to the other, it only states how Amazon have treated me.

Offline Brian G Turner

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #66 on: August 15, 2017, 12:57:57 PM »
Whenever I see one of Amazon's posts he always seems to be complaining about Amazon. :)

In this instance, it looks like a disconnect between frontline customer support and technical support. Which can be very frustrating when you experience it. But I've seen it too often across the business world to highlight this as a problem specific to Amazon.

Additionally, I've seen other companies solve support issues and put it behind them as teething problems cause by growing too fast. I'm pretty sure that will be the case here.
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Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #67 on: August 15, 2017, 01:09:14 PM »
It's called organizing, and it's how virtually every union starts out.

The point you fail to address is independent contractors are legally considered individual businessmen, which means they are competitors. They have no rights to collective bargaining under labor laws, and any attempt to collectively increase bargaining power would run afoul of antitrust laws. There would literally be no difference in the eyes of the law between authors trying to push Amazon to change pay-outs or the terms of an agreement and the Big 5 publishers colluding to fix prices.

Yeah, there's something called organizing.  :P That's no doubt how the "unions" for authors that already do exist started out. But you won't see them collectively bargaining with Amazon for anything. You won't see them try to organize a strike. That kind of behavior is currently illegal under U.S. law.  ;)

Offline ParkerAvrile

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #68 on: August 15, 2017, 01:35:50 PM »
The point you fail to address is independent contractors are legally considered individual businessmen, which means they are competitors. They have no rights to collective bargaining under labor laws, and any attempt to collectively increase bargaining power would run afoul of antitrust laws. There would literally be no difference in the eyes of the law between authors trying to push Amazon to change pay-outs or the terms of an agreement and the Big 5 publishers colluding to fix prices.

In what American state are you licensed to practice law? Writers are allowed to collectively bargain and even to go on strike. One of the most famous strikes occurred about a decade ago, and there's even a Wiki about it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007%E2%80%9308_Writers_Guild_of_America_strike



 
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Offline Al Stevens

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #69 on: August 15, 2017, 01:43:28 PM »
I surrender. I don't know CBB's credentials either as a legal adviser or union member. I'm a life member of AFofM local 389, and they do indeed conduct collective bargaining with musical employers in their jurisdiction. All the time. And to state that it's illegal for them to do so is...well, I surrender. But I encourage my fellow writers here to go elsewhere for legal advice.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #70 on: August 15, 2017, 01:50:55 PM »
In what American state are you licensed to practice law? Writers are allowed to collectively bargain and even to go on strike. One of the most famous strikes occurred about a decade ago, and there's even a Wiki about it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007%E2%80%9308_Writers_Guild_of_America_strike

For one, you're comparing guilds to unions. But that's not the apples and oranges problem. Writers and other artists in guilds still provide labour. Self-publishers sell products. That makes all the legal difference in the world.

 

Offline GeneDoucette

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #71 on: August 15, 2017, 01:51:59 PM »
Quote
The Right to Organize
As an independent contractor, the terms and conditions of the work you perform are set out in a contract between you and the employer.  Even though you are not considered an employee under federal labor law, you may still join a union.   However, you should keep in mind that a unit of independent contractors is not subject to the same privileges and protections as a regular union bargaining unit.  For example, an employer is not under the same obligation to bargain with a union regarding contract terms for an independent contractor that it is to bargain over issues affecting its regular employees.  Also, an independent contractor who went on strike would not be protected from employer reprisals under the National Labor Relations Act.

In case this helps clear things up.

Source: https://www.cwa-union.org/about/rights-on-job/legal-toolkit/my-employer-says-i-am-independent-contractor-what-does-mean

Offline WHDean

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #72 on: August 15, 2017, 01:56:28 PM »
I surrender. I don't know CBB's credentials either as a legal adviser or union member. I'm a life member of AFofM local 389, and they do indeed conduct collective bargaining with musical employers in their jurisdiction. All the time. And to state that it's illegal for them to do so is...well, I surrender. But I encourage my fellow writers here to go elsewhere for legal advice.

Even if you were right, Al, it wouldn't matter because a writers' union or guild won't work. People at the top already get lucrative deals with Amazon, so they have no incentive to join. At the bottom, well, there's no bottom to wannabe writers willing to jump the union ship. I remembering hearing all those former romance writers praising the day they were able escape from under the yoke of the big publishers through self-pubbing. Why were they so poorly paid? Because a thousand more were waiting in line to take their place if they complained.


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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #73 on: August 15, 2017, 01:58:54 PM »
In case this helps clear things up.

Source: https://www.cwa-union.org/about/rights-on-job/legal-toolkit/my-employer-says-i-am-independent-contractor-what-does-mean


As I suggested above, labour law only applies when you're offering labour. No self-pubber is selling labour to Amazon.


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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #74 on: August 15, 2017, 02:04:43 PM »
In what American state are you licensed to practice law? Writers are allowed to collectively bargain and even to go on strike. One of the most famous strikes occurred about a decade ago, and there's even a Wiki about it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007%E2%80%9308_Writers_Guild_of_America_strike

The writers being represented by the guild were employees, not independent contractors. I don't practice law; I simply read about this issue the last time I personally thought it made sense to organize to have a better means of representation with Amazon. Someone else pointed out what it means to be an independent contractor, and I learned about it. ;)

Offline Athena Grayson

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #75 on: August 15, 2017, 02:09:56 PM »
The only thing that will make Amazon change its KU policies significantly is a mass exodus of *readers* from KU. It would then be filled with bots using the free month who are, ironically, downloading and "reading" other bot-generated "books" until cancellation, along with the occasional naive new author following past-its-sell-by-date advice about growing audiences in KU, or the occasional author paying for bots to generate page-reads.

On the upside, it'll be a good way to see an entire ecosystem of artificial intelligence generating and consuming reading material. It'd be like playing Sims without having to find mods that dress them like characters out of Harry Potter.

At any rate, as long as KU is *generating income* from *subscribers,* they pretty much don't care.

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #76 on: August 15, 2017, 02:21:11 PM »
Writers are not employees, and they are not independent contractors. They are vendors selling a product on Amazon. An agreement amongst them would be a cartel, and it would be illegal in the US. (OPEC is the most famous cartel. Price fixing. Illegal in a US organization.)

Offline Alix Nichols

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #77 on: August 15, 2017, 05:47:38 PM »
Why focus on what we are (vendors) in relation to a single company (Amazon)? Can't a group of independent authors start an international professional association?
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Offline ParkerAvrile

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #78 on: August 15, 2017, 06:12:19 PM »
Why focus on what we are (vendors) in relation to a single company (Amazon)? Can't a group of independent authors start an international professional association?

Of course you can. It puzzles me that some people are so invested in trying to convince other authors they are powerless. There are claims being made on this forum that are demonstrably untrue, and they seem to be made with the intent to demoralize other authors. What's that about?
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Offline Word Fan

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #79 on: August 15, 2017, 06:26:38 PM »
Of course you can. It puzzles me that some people are so invested in trying to convince other authors they are powerless. There are claims being made on this forum that are demonstrably untrue, and they seem to be made with the intent to demoralize other authors. What's that about?

Exactly. Whatever the details are that have to be worked out, focus on "Yes, we can, somehow" rather than "No, we can't, so let's not even look into it."

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #80 on: August 15, 2017, 06:31:46 PM »
Nup. It's often the Kobo affiliates. Not the little stores.

If you go wide, one thing you don't do: you don't flip-flop in and out. Apart from the fact that it's risky, you just annoy the [crap] out of everyone.

Which are the stores that do not delist in time, or at all, or are otherwise unreliable? I would really appreciate someone making a list.
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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #81 on: August 15, 2017, 06:35:15 PM »
Writers are not employees, and they are not independent contractors. They are vendors selling a product on Amazon. An agreement amongst them would be a cartel, and it would be illegal in the US. (OPEC is the most famous cartel. Price fixing. Illegal in a US organization.)

I don't think of myself as a vendor (yech!). And I hardly think that I and 100 other authors earning a combined total of $50k a year in royalties would be a cartel to compare with OPEC, which owns tens of trillions of dollars in cash, gold, investments, and oil deposits.
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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #82 on: August 15, 2017, 06:39:40 PM »
Why focus on what we are (vendors) in relation to a single company (Amazon)? Can't a group of independent authors start an international professional association?
Because things like restricting supply (or agreeing to sell at a certain price) are illegal. That's why I mentioned it. Lots of people don't understand the differences between a union or association of employees and an agreement between independent suppliers in an industry, and don't understand the legal ramifications. I used OPEC as an example because that is a cartel most people have heard of. The individual vendors' earnings aren't the point; the business structure is, and the law around it (antitrust law). Here's a Wikipedia article that explains.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartel

"A cartel is a group of formally independent producers whose goal is to increase their collective profits by means of price fixing, limiting supply, or other restrictive practices. Cartels typically control selling prices, but some are organized to control the prices of purchased inputs. Antitrust laws forbid cartels."

Of course people can form a professional association. That's what things like SFWA (science fiction) or RWA (romance) are. Some organizations have a stronger track record than others with going to bat for authors with publishers, in cases of plagiarism, etc. The genre organizations are probably stronger than a new organization would be, because they have that history and they're more tightly organized around a genre--for example, romance publishers know what RWA is, and they carry some weight (not sure how much). But if somebody wants to start up an indie authors' association, of course they can feel free.

If somebody's feeling powerless and frustrated, joining one of those organizations and getting involved with the indie side of it might be one avenue to explore.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 06:47:21 PM by Usedtoposthere »

Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #83 on: August 15, 2017, 06:40:14 PM »
Of course you can. It puzzles me that some people are so invested in trying to convince other authors they are powerless. There are claims being made on this forum that are demonstrably untrue, and they seem to be made with the intent to demoralize other authors. What's that about?

It's about a lack of reading comprehension on your part, obviously. Demonstrating that there are legal limits to authors' power ≠ convincing people they are powerless. Pretending to not grasp the idea that individual businessmen cannot organize with the same power as labor unions isn't going to help you. A fantasy land wherein author guilds for employees is the same thing as competing, independent publishers isn't going to help, either. Antitrust laws are real. Unions and organizations exist for any self-publisher to join. They have some power. It isn't much. It could be more, maybe, depending on how people engaged. They won't have the same power as labor unions, as far as a court of law is concerned. If you're feeling demoralized, it's your own fault.  :)

Offline ParkerAvrile

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #84 on: August 15, 2017, 07:06:35 PM »
What legal limits? You have made unsubstantiated claims, while others have provided actual proof. You said American authors couldn't organize and strike. I gave a well-known example of such a well-known writer's union (the most powerful one, the screenwriter's guild) organizing a strike. And not in some remote period of history but roughly a decade ago.

Is there any American state in which you are licensed to practice law? You don't have to say which one, but I'm curious to know where you're getting these very unusual ideas. Independent contractors band together to work for the common good of business owners all the time.

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #85 on: August 15, 2017, 07:20:16 PM »
But you see, a screenwriter is *hired* by a studio (as an independent contractor, or perhaps as an employee in the case of a TV series; I don't know exactly how they operate) to do a job of work. Thus they are an independent contractor or an employee, whichever.

Writers who publish on Amazon are not *hired* by Amazon. Their relationship with Amazon is a completely different thing: they are suppliers or vendors, and antitrust law would apply. ETA: Well, really, they're not even suppliers--they're more like people offering goods at a consignment store. If you take your Chanel suit that doesn't fit after last Christmas into a consignment store--that's you as an indie author. They're going to sell it and give you 70% (or whatever consignment stores give you). They aren't hiring you. You're not the sales clerk, you're just somebody with a suit hanging on their rack.

You don't need a law degree for that; it's pretty basic business law, just understanding business structures and the difference between somebody hired by a company and somebody selling something through a company.

Think of it as a bunch of individual people (or small businesses) that make scented candles. They decide that their profits are too low on Etsy. Somehow they convince all the scented candlemakers on Etsy to band together and raise prices. Two problems. First, that's a cartel, and it's illegal--you can't collude to set prices or limit supply (if OPEC were an association of US companies, it would be illegal. It isn't US companies, so the US can't do anything about it.) Second, it's fundamentally flawed. There's going to be ONE candlemaker at least who thinks, "Everybody else has agreed to sell at $12/candle? Ha HA, here's my shot. I sneak in there at $9.99, and bang! Market share!" Or as Jeff Bezos might say, "You (all's) margin is my opportunity." (Meaning while his competitors are seeking the highest profit margin for their shareholders, he's going in there, shaving that margin, and dominating the market.)

Hope that helps. As I said, there ARE writers' organizations, mostly genre-related, well established, and full of indie, hybrid, and trad authors. Might be a place to join up. I don't think you'll "beat" Amazon, but maybe you can share info on how to go wide or how to improve your sales in KU, depending.

And no, I'm not a lawyer. I'm an MBA who helped run a small business (20 employees), owned the Nolo Press Business Law books :), worked as a research assistant in business law during my biz school days, and took a few graduate-level business law classes. Also, I used to be an editorial supervisor for a large legal publishing firm. So I can read case law and so forth and know what they're saying. Not an expert in employment law, business law, or any other kind of law, just know the basic stuff.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 08:58:46 PM by Usedtoposthere »

Offline WHDean

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #86 on: August 15, 2017, 08:17:52 PM »
Of course you can. It puzzles me that some people are so invested in trying to convince other authors they are powerless. There are claims being made on this forum that are demonstrably untrue, and they seem to be made with the intent to demoralize other authors. What's that about?

Best not to get into imputing motivations. You can't prove them and no one can refute them, no matter what they say: "No really, I swear, I love all humans!" So it just can't end well.

Not sure why this isn't a forum rule.

What legal limits? You have made unsubstantiated claims, while others have provided actual proof. You said American authors couldn't organize and strike. I gave a well-known example of such a well-known writer's union (the most powerful one, the screenwriter's guild) organizing a strike. And not in some remote period of history but roughly a decade ago.

The writers were unionized employees or contractors in a guild. Amazon is a retailer through which self-pubbers sell products. If you want to offer a counterexample, point us to the automotive-makers guild, the refrigerator-makers guild, the lamppost-makers guild, the lemonade-makers guild. You can't because they're all suppliers of goods to retailers, just like book-sellers on Amazon.




Offline dgaughran

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #87 on: Yesterday at 03:36:28 AM »
Whenever I see one of Amazon's posts he always seems to be complaining about Amazon. :)

You obviously didn't look that deeply. But, hey, don't let that stop you commenting.

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Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #88 on: Yesterday at 04:14:26 AM »
What legal limits? You have made unsubstantiated claims, while others have provided actual proof. You said American authors couldn't organize and strike. I gave a well-known example of such a well-known writer's union (the most powerful one, the screenwriter's guild) organizing a strike. And not in some remote period of history but roughly a decade ago.

Right, you provided that example, and myself and others showed you that the example isn't relevant. I have a feeling you've either missed some of my posts entirely or just didn't read them right, because I've already addressed your example and your question about being a lawyer. ;)

Offline thesmallprint

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #89 on: Yesterday at 06:16:08 AM »
I bow to those with legal backgrounds but a recurring theme here is 'restricting supply'. Unless I'm misinterpreting, a million authors agreeing to come out of KU or to unpublish on Amazon is not restricting supply. All titles would be available to anyone who shops online and was happy to buy through Apple, Kobo, etc...perhaps even on the "Global Authors' Guild" website.

Offline boba1823

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #90 on: Yesterday at 06:41:03 AM »
We could all get together to form a self-published writers cartel, do some price fixing, restrict supply, etc.

Ebooks are now $7.99 minimum, sound good? Excellent, motion carried.

Okay, so maybe it's not exactly legal. But hey, we don't need to do anything silly like collecting dues or keeping official membership records. So just don't respond to this message - there will be no way to prove that you didn't just spontaneously decide, as is your right, to raise your book prices.


Of course, realistically the biggest problem is not legality. It's simply that you won't get enough self-published authors to cooperate.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #91 on: Yesterday at 10:56:35 AM »
I promised to update if I heard back from Amazon.

Well, Amazon is 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.

There's a lot more I could say right now but I should probably go for a walk...

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #92 on: Yesterday at 01:53:39 PM »
I promised to update if I heard back from Amazon.

Well, Amazon is 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.

There's a lot more I could say right now but I should probably go for a walk...

How frustrating for you.

Offline Seneca42

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #93 on: Yesterday at 10:26:21 PM »
I promised to update if I heard back from Amazon.

Well, Amazon is 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.

There's a lot more I could say right now but I should probably go for a walk...

Sort of like being trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. You know you're sane, but you may be the only one.


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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #94 on: Yesterday at 11:57:45 PM »
Writers are not employees, and they are not independent contractors. They are vendors selling a product on Amazon. An agreement amongst them would be a cartel, and it would be illegal in the US. (OPEC is the most famous cartel. Price fixing. Illegal in a US organization.)

This is false. Writers can and do form unions and other work groups. It would not be a cartel.
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