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Author Topic: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.  (Read 7681 times)  

Offline SummerNights

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Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« on: October 11, 2017, 03:22:40 PM »
I received this email from KDP today:

Hello,

We are reaching out to you because we detected purchases or borrows of your book(s) originating from accounts attempting to manipulate sales rank.  As a result, the sales rank on the following book(s) will not be visible until we determine this activity has ceased.

(Book)

Please be aware that you are responsible for ensuring the strategies used to promote your book(s) comply with our Terms and Conditions. We encourage you to thoroughly review any marketing services employed for promotional purposes.

Please be aware, any additional activity attempting to manipulate the Kindle services may result in account level action.

If you have any questions, please email us at ***.

Thanks for publishing with Amazon KDP.


The thing is, a. the book is perma-free, so technically it can't be purchased or borrowed and b. the only promotional services I used last month were KND and Bookbub and that's about it. The results were pretty much on par with what others have reported about the specific category and also on par with the average downloads shown on BB's website. Nothing seemed to be out of order and downloads petered out to a couple hundred a day once the ad was taken off the website (they're down to about 100 today actually).
 
Also, despite what the email says, ranking is still visible on the site. Has anyone else received a similar warning and if so, what did you do about it? I sent them screenshots of the ads and explained to them that those results were pretty normal for a Bookbub ad but I am very nervous.   

Online Seneca42

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2017, 03:49:05 PM »
It's been said before, being free or in KU makes any author susceptible to this kind of thing. The bots borrow or download your book to make it harder for zon to catch the real botters (ie. their paying clients). Their hope is that zon will leave the true cheaters alone (ie. their clients) rather than hurt innocent authors (ie. not their clients); zon currently seems to be taking the opposite approach of nailing guilty and innocent alike if bot accounts have been used on the book. Getting a bookbub only makes you more visible to the botters and a nice target to mix their bot accounts in with.

There was another thread on this and that author still doesn't have their rank back. Like you, they swear they didn't do anything related to botting. I believe they sent them all their promo details and doesn't seem to have made a difference. 

Hopefully, your rank remains visible and this goes away. If it doesn't, there's not much that can be done if others who have had this happen are any indication.

Offline Laran Mithras

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2017, 03:52:39 PM »
What Seneca said - and one of the primary reasons I left KU. When a scammer can target you so that you camouflage them... Definitely not something in which I want to be involved.
 

Offline SummerNights

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2017, 03:58:37 PM »
*sigh* This sounds like a nightmare  :'(
I don't have any books in KU and I only promote first in series every now and then, usually with a Bookbub -- I don't even stack ads like others do because BB is so powerful for freebies. If now by using BB promos one can lose their rank and jeopardize their account, I'm not sure what's left.


Offline Pandorra

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2017, 04:02:06 PM »
Pfft, I got the same thing yesterday!!!


Hello,

We have determined that one or more Amazon accounts related to your account posted customer reviews on your books.

To maintain customer trust and provide the best possible shopping experience, Amazon prohibits reviews on your books written by you or your relatives, close friends, business associates, or employees. Please ensure that these parties do not write reviews on your books. Violations of our policies may also violate applicable laws.

If this problem continues, we may not allow you to publish on Amazon.com.

To learn more about this policy, please see our Community Guidelines page for authors (https://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/customer-review-guidelines-faqs-from-authors) and see our Anti-Manipulation Policy for Customer Reviews (https://www.amazon.com/no-manipulation).

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Offline SummerNights

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2017, 04:18:00 PM »
I'm thinking that if I'm being targeted by bots, the solution could be to return the book to paid although that would be a shame as the book and series are doing sooo well at Apple right now  :'(

Offline Pandorra

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2017, 04:31:00 PM »
I don't even know HOW to respond to something like that, accounts related to my account.. I only have one amazon account, and that's what my pen name is linked to.. nobody else uses or is linked to my account, so other than buying a copy of my own book and sending it as a gift to my daughter, there has been no activity. I don't use FB and the only person who sends me stuff over amazon is my mother but she didn't do a review... heck she didn't even buy the book.. what to do? there is nowhere to go and nothing to do!
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Offline SummerNights

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2017, 04:45:19 PM »
I don't even know HOW to respond to something like that, accounts related to my account.. I only have one amazon account, and that's what my pen name is linked to.. nobody else uses or is linked to my account, so other than buying a copy of my own book and sending it as a gift to my daughter, there has been no activity. I don't use FB and the only person who sends me stuff over amazon is my mother but she didn't do a review... heck she didn't even buy the book.. what to do? there is nowhere to go and nothing to do!

We're at their mercy. Try to explain all this to them in a polite manner. I really can't think of anything else.

Offline Laran Mithras

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2017, 04:50:52 PM »
And they never, ever elaborate on what is causing the alert. Just: "Stop now or lose your whole account."

You: What am I doing?

Zon: You have been warned. See our guidelines here: LINK
 

Online Seneca42

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2017, 04:58:56 PM »
*sigh* This sounds like a nightmare  :'(
I don't have any books in KU and I only promote first in series every now and then, usually with a Bookbub -- I don't even stack ads like others do because BB is so powerful for freebies. If now by using BB promos one can lose their rank and jeopardize their account, I'm not sure what's left.

Tin foil hat here, but I wouldn't be surprised if zon was being harsher on free bubs. I honestly believe bub and zon are in a bit of a tug-of-war right now. Bub is favoring wide books and zon wants everyone in KU and using AMS ads. Permafree really is the antidote / direct competition to KU, especially when authors are new to going wide.

On the positive side, no one is losing their accounts over this stuff. Only their rank and only the one book. Which does destroy the some of the permafree value, because I do think the free list actually does generate readers. Unlike the paid list, where I honestly don't think high rank converts into sales that much.

Anyway, don't panic until you actually see your rank delisted.


Offline Pandorra

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2017, 05:05:03 PM »
Tin foil hat here, but I wouldn't be surprised if zon was being harsher on free bubs. I honestly believe bub and zon are in a bit of a tug-of-war right now. Bub is favoring wide books and zon wants everyone in KU and using AMS ads. Permafree really is the antidote / direct competition to KU, especially when authors are new to going wide.

On the positive side, no one is losing their accounts over this stuff. Only their rank and only the one book. Which does destroy the some of the permafree value, because I do think the free list actually does generate readers. Unlike the paid list, where I honestly don't think high rank converts into sales that much.

Anyway, don't panic until you actually see your rank delisted.


Except I am IN KU! lol.. with a 3.99 normal list price.
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Offline Monique

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2017, 05:09:30 PM »

Except I am IN KU! lol.. with a 3.99 normal list price.

Your issue is completely different than the OP's.

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Offline Tilly

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2017, 05:37:12 PM »

Except I am IN KU! lol.. with a 3.99 normal list price.

Your issue is nothing to do with bots or rank scamming, but someone associated to you (friend, family etc) trying to leave reviews on your book.

Offline loraininflorida

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2017, 05:57:41 PM »
I don't even know HOW to respond to something like that, accounts related to my account.. I only have one amazon account, and that's what my pen name is linked to.. nobody else uses or is linked to my account, so other than buying a copy of my own book and sending it as a gift to my daughter, there has been no activity. I don't use FB and the only person who sends me stuff over amazon is my mother but she didn't do a review... heck she didn't even buy the book.. what to do? there is nowhere to go and nothing to do!

Did you copy/paste your book's URL and send it/put it somewhere that a reviewer would use it to post a review?

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Offline SummerNights

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2017, 06:02:49 PM »
Tin foil hat here, but I wouldn't be surprised if zon was being harsher on free bubs. I honestly believe bub and zon are in a bit of a tug-of-war right now. Bub is favoring wide books and zon wants everyone in KU and using AMS ads. Permafree really is the antidote / direct competition to KU, especially when authors are new to going wide.

On the positive side, no one is losing their accounts over this stuff. Only their rank and only the one book. Which does destroy the some of the permafree value, because I do think the free list actually does generate readers. Unlike the paid list, where I honestly don't think high rank converts into sales that much.

Anyway, don't panic until you actually see your rank delisted.

And... I just noticed that the ranking is gone in the Canadian store...  >:(

What's more, a writer friend who also had a BB last month just told me she received the same email and her ranking's gone, so there's definitely something strange going on.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 06:04:50 PM by SummerNights »

Online Seneca42

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2017, 06:39:31 PM »
And... I just noticed that the ranking is gone in the Canadian store...  >:(

What's more, a writer friend who also had a BB last month just told me she received the same email and her ranking's gone, so there's definitely something strange going on.

Don't think of it as a bb thing though. It's a free and KU thing; bb may just get targetted easier by the botters. Since there's so much activity on a bb book, they probably hope it's much easier to validate thousands of bot accounts without being noticed.

What's perplexing is whether zon has upped its detection game. If it has, we'll see more false positives coming in. But it's discouraging that they seem to be catching a lot of false positives, meanwhile blatant KU botters are all over the cats and not getting caught.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 07:00:06 PM by Seneca42 »

Offline Pandorra

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2017, 07:25:02 PM »
Did you copy/paste your book's URL and send it/put it somewhere that a reviewer would use it to post a review?


Umm yes, that's how I have been working with twitter, not for reviews but to advertise the book, I link it along with picture of the cover... I also use the direct link on my webpage, or did.. I took it down while I was reworking it yesterday and haven't put it back yet. Does that really have an effect on amazon or the reviews???
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Offline SummerNights

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2017, 08:35:43 PM »
Don't think of it as a bb thing though. It's a free and KU thing; bb may just get targetted easier by the botters. Since there's so much activity on a bb book, they probably hope it's much easier to validate thousands of bot accounts without being noticed.

What's perplexing is whether zon has upped its detection game. If it has, we'll see more false positives coming in. But it's discouraging that they seem to be catching a lot of false positives, meanwhile blatant KU botters are all over the cats and not getting caught.

No, I know it's not a bb thing, rather an easy way for botters to target books. What saddens me is that this promotion did so well and still is with great sell-through on all channels (specially iBooks), lots of new reviews and a ton of newsletter subscribers, and now I will probably have to switch the loss leader back to paid to get rid of the bots!!

Offline Pandorra

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2017, 08:46:04 PM »
No, I know it's not a bb thing, rather an easy way for botters to target books. What saddens me is that this promotion did so well and still is with great sell-through on all channels (specially iBooks), lots of new reviews and a ton of newsletter subscribers, and now I will probably have to switch the loss leader back to paid to get rid of the bots!!


You don't have to change it outside of Amazon though right? Is it possible for you to leave it up for free everywhere else and out of reach at .99 on amazon so it doesn't get caught up in the botting? You could then link the free versions on your sites/promos for the fans who don't want to pay for it.
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Online Seneca42

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2017, 09:03:32 PM »
No, I know it's not a bb thing, rather an easy way for botters to target books. What saddens me is that this promotion did so well and still is with great sell-through on all channels (specially iBooks), lots of new reviews and a ton of newsletter subscribers, and now I will probably have to switch the loss leader back to paid to get rid of the bots!!

Yep, it's a shame. What sucks is that perma is getting caught up in this KU bs. Like on the other vendors you don't see botters, because there's no subscription program to bot. So paid, or free, doesn't matter. 

What zon should allow authors to do is go free on the other vendors but paid on zon, since zon has a massive botting issue that makes free dangerous. But zon won't allow that for obvious reasons (they don't want competitors having cheaper product). So to be free on ibooks you have to put yourself at botting risk on zon. 

The whole thing truly is absurd the nth degree and it's all caused by KU. No KU, none of these problems exist.

Anyway, kudos to you and others for sharing. Conventional wisdom has been that free isn't particularly dangerous. But the more people report in, the better everyone can assess the risks properly. 

Also, you may want to contact Bookbub and let them know this happened to you. Bub can't fix it, but people should let them know. If this becomes more widespread it's going to impact bub's business and they'll have to do something... they can't be having authors getting deranked because their bub did well (and attracted botters). 


Online Seneca42

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #20 on: October 11, 2017, 09:04:43 PM »

You don't have to change it outside of Amazon though right? Is it possible for you to leave it up for free everywhere else and out of reach at .99 on amazon so it doesn't get caught up in the botting? You could then link the free versions on your sites/promos for the fans who don't want to pay for it.

nope. At some point the zon algos will notice it's cheaper elsewhere and demand you raise the price on the other stores, or drop your price on the zon store. Plus, promo outlets require books be priced the same across all the stores.

Offline Pandorra

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #21 on: October 11, 2017, 09:08:54 PM »
nope. At some point the zon algos will notice it's cheaper elsewhere and demand you raise the price on the other stores, or drop your price on the zon store. Plus, promo outlets require books be priced the same across all the stores.


So its drop it from amazon, get kicked from amazon (maybe) or raise the price? Great system! :o ???
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Offline loraininflorida

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #22 on: October 11, 2017, 09:17:32 PM »

Umm yes, that's how I have been working with twitter, not for reviews but to advertise the book, I link it along with picture of the cover... I also use the direct link on my webpage, or did.. I took it down while I was reworking it yesterday and haven't put it back yet. Does that really have an effect on amazon or the reviews???

Yes, that's how the Amazon bot "connects" the author with the reviewer and concludes the reviewer is a friend or family of the author. 

The URL for your book on your Amazon page has tracker info in it specifically identifying YOU to Amazon. Consequently, you never want to copy/paste hand it out. Always hand out an URL for your book that you made yourself (i.e. it won't have the tracker info in it identifying you as its source). To make your URL just type http://amazon.com/dp/   and then the ASIN number for the book.

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Offline Pandorra

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #23 on: October 11, 2017, 09:49:19 PM »
Yes, that's how the Amazon bot "connects" the author with the reviewer and concludes the reviewer is a friend or family of the author. 

The URL for your book on your Amazon page has tracker info in it specifically identifying YOU to Amazon. Consequently, you never want to copy/paste hand it out. Always hand out an URL for your book that you made yourself (i.e. it won't have the tracker info in it identifying you as its source). To make your URL just type http://amazon.com/dp/   and then the ASIN number for the book.


 :'( All those links I handed out..... oh gods, NOW can I be ill???

Thank you, it is definitely something I won't repeat!
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Online Seneca42

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #24 on: October 11, 2017, 10:11:48 PM »
So its drop it from amazon, get kicked from amazon (maybe) or raise the price? Great system! :o ???

Well, most people don't get targetted by bots (or at least it seems to be a rare occurrence). Which doesn't offer any comfort if you happen to be the unlucky one who does get targetted. Which is why I found it interesting that this occurred in conjunction with a bookbub; that would be a new development and suggest the botters are upping their "chaos" game; it also suggests zon is doing something that's causing them to do so (most likely trying to root them out - this is eerily similar to what happened in late 2016).   

The way I've seen this situation since 2016 is the only 100% safe way to sell is paid. That's just how it is. Albeit, it's only in the past couple months that I've begun to see permafree as dangerous (many others aren't convinced it is yet, and maybe they are right). There were signs something was funky with permafree early 2017... people en mass reporting random days where everyone was getting 500 downloads (it was obvious, to me, that bot accounts were in play).

At the end of the day I've had to go paid to avoid all this crap. I'd like the option of running permafree again if I wanted, but for me, it's not an option while this stuff is going on. If others take that risk, knowing something weird is going on out there, you sort of have to live with the consequences when you get unlucky and zon nails you (even though you did nothing wrong).

It's not fair, but the zon world isn't about fair. They do what they do and it's your job to not get caught in their crosshairs. Which is utterly ridiculous given being honest should be enough to avoid that, but I'm not so sure it is. Selling paid is the only way I know of to never have to worry about this crap.

I mean, nailing authors for bots they had nothing to do with is sort of like if they went after paid and said "A stolen credit card was used to buy your book. It's your responsibility to ensure illegal purchases are not made on your book. Please prevent this in the future or you will be banned." hahaha. When that stuff starts happening then I'll leave zon completely.

But right now paid is 100% safe. KU and perma, I don't think are.