Author Topic: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.  (Read 4553 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.

Online 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.


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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  :'(

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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.

Online 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.


Online 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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Online 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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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?

Lorain O'Neil

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 »

Online 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!!

Online 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.

Online 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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Online 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.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #25 on: October 11, 2017, 11:29:18 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.

The thing I cant get my head around is this line in their email:

We are reaching out to you because we detected purchases or borrows of your book(s) originating from accounts attempting to manipulate sales rank.

My immediate reaction is, whats that got to do with the author? And why arent Amazon dealing with the accounts they believe are purchasing/borrowing to manipulate rank? If they close those accounts then the problem ends permanently. Also, why arent they protecting the author from these bad accounts? Why would they automatically assume the author did something wrong? Surely part of the TOS from Amazons side is to protect my accounts with them from abuse, otherwise I wouldnt give them my financial details or trade with them.

Its the underlying assumptions in these emails that bother me. They have automatically assumed your guilt and that justifies washing their hands of their responsibility to protect your account. The counter argument to the email is, what are you (Amazon) doing to protect my account because there an onus on Amazon to do that.

As for why they deranked a free book that is wide and just had a Bub, I can only assume the book was downloaded by questionable accounts to irritate Amazon. Clearly Amazon already know which accounts are questionable because they said so in the email, so its hardly hidden activity being used to shield other botting activity. There is no reason why an author with a Bub running would bother to pay a botter. Bub alone generates enough of a rank kick.

I suggest you write a short explanation to what youve been doing and therefore how illogical it would be to bot. Send that to Jeff Bezos and ask him what his company is doing to protect your account from being attacked by questionable accounts. Ask him why his company isnt doing something about questionable accountsthey clearly already know about.

Going through KDP support on this kind of thing is a waste of time because they dont understand they have obligations to protect the authors account, so youll just go around in circles until they throw a paddy and say the matter is closed.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 11:31:13 PM by TwistedTales »

Offline Doglover

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2017, 02:19:40 AM »
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.   
the email you posted doesn't say which book it's talking about, so how do you know it is the permafree one?


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Offline loraininflorida

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2017, 03:16:49 AM »
the email you posted doesn't say which book it's talking about, so how do you know it is the permafree one?

I would suspect that where the email says "(Book)" the original email actually had the name of the book (which the poster has removed).

Lorain O'Neil

Offline alawston

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2017, 03:50:49 AM »
Ugh. I recently discovered that Story Of My Escape has been rank-stripped for quite a while. I'm not sure what prompted this, but I did have some strangely elevated KU activity a few months back (as I was recently back in KU after an extended period wide, I just thought I'd hit an updraft from the algorithms, at the time). Amazon also seem to think I have something wrong with my table of contents for that book. And they've been shirty with me about a couple of, ahem, cheeky pen name books that, reading between the lines, have been generating malicious complaints from certain fringes of the political spectrum. I've suspended all marketing on the title, and all AMS spend across all my books (bit of a passive-aggressive protest, that move, but hey), but the good news is, it's still selling, and still being borrowed a fair bit in Canada.

I feel, basically, that it's simply not good to raise your head over the parapet where Amazon's concerned. They've just summarily removed most of the September KU reads for a pen name "romance" title that I have quite literally never promoted anywhere, without notification or justification. That's about 13,000 page reads. For the moment, I'm just refusing to engage, taking their word for it that something was wrong with those reads, and seeing how this all plays out.

Typically of course, I'd just hit the renewal for Select on all my books when this was all brought to my attention. But all this nonsense signals the beginning of the end of my 2017 KU flirtation. The system's in meltdown.


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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2017, 04:19:24 AM »
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.

Well, this is a quiet bit of mindblowing information!  :o

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #30 on: October 12, 2017, 04:27:27 AM »
Well, this is a quiet bit of mindblowing information!  :o


Yea, would have been nice if they had included that little bit in the ToA before I lost all my promo reviews!
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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #31 on: October 12, 2017, 04:42:07 AM »

Yea, would have been nice if they had included that little bit in the ToA before I lost all my promo reviews!

I heard just recently that this thing about the long links is not true. Im not techy at all, but I just wanted to report that theres some disagreement about it. You said that you gifted a copy to your daughter, has she tried to leave a review? That seems like a more likely answer to me. (Although I do always use the short, clean link. If nothing else, it looks much nicer and more professional :) )

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #32 on: October 12, 2017, 04:49:15 AM »
Amazon has gained enough market-share and clout to get away with playing rough.  I don't think they have ever liked or really encouraged free books, otherwise they would have formally opened the program to them.  Free days were offered initially as a way to encourage authors to go exclusive with them (long before KU itself came about) -- but I bet they would change that practice if they could. Today, most authors are in Select because of KU -- not the free days or countdown deals (which don't seem to work anymore).  In this situation, Amazon really has nothing to lose if an author (particularly a prawn like me) is wrongly accused or punished -- their main concern is weeding out scammers, which are going to cause much more harm in the long run. Is this good for authors? Probably not.  Good for their business model? I would say yes, even if it comes at some risk.

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #33 on: October 12, 2017, 04:58:17 AM »
I heard just recently that this thing about the long links is not true. Im not techy at all, but I just wanted to report that theres some disagreement about it. You said that you gifted a copy to your daughter, has she tried to leave a review? That seems like a more likely answer to me. (Although I do always use the short, clean link. If nothing else, it looks much nicer and more professional :) )


No, she didn't didn't post anything, she hasn't even finished the book yet and I already talked to her about not reviewing it before I even published. My family is reading the .mobi copies I made them prior to publishing and none of them have tried to do a review (I dble checked that with reminders not to) my best friend was going to do one, not sure if she did yet, but since she hasn't had time to finish it, I doubt it and the people who said they left reviews but that they didn't show up weren't related to me at all except that we play the same games once in awhile and have been friends a long time. But we don't do anything through amazon or social media and there is no business relationship or exchange there. Did I ask them to review the book if they liked it? Yes. I don't see an issue there either, especially since they were private conversations. There is nothing there for Amazon to grab on to because I stayed well within the ToA.
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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #34 on: October 12, 2017, 05:04:04 AM »

No, she didn't didn't post anything, she hasn't even finished the book yet and I already talked to her about not reviewing it before I even published. My family is reading the .mobi copies I made them prior to publishing and none of them have tried to do a review (I dble checked that with reminders not to) my best friend was going to do one, not sure if she did yet, but since she hasn't had time to finish it, I doubt it and the people who said they left reviews but that they didn't show up weren't related to me at all except that we play the same games once in awhile and have been friends a long time. But we don't do anything through amazon or social media and there is no business relationship or exchange there. Did I ask them to review the book if they liked it? Yes. I don't see an issue there either, especially since they were private conversations. There is nothing there for Amazon to grab on to because I stayed well within the ToA.

The other thing Ive heard (but dont know if its true) is IP address. Have any of your friends ever logged into Amazon while at your house (or vice versa)?

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #35 on: October 12, 2017, 05:05:33 AM »
On the original topic, this is scary stuff and rather puts me off the free Bookbub application I was about to submit :(

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #36 on: October 12, 2017, 05:12:49 AM »
The other thing Ive heard (but dont know if its true) is IP address. Have any of your friends ever logged into Amazon while at your house (or vice versa)?


No, we don't even live in the same states (or countries) at the moment, we are military spread out all over the place. Same with my family, other than my daughter and brother, who live with me, none of them live here .. and this brother doesn't pay attention to ANYTHING, much less my writing.
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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #37 on: October 12, 2017, 08:14:52 AM »
The thing I cant get my head around is this line in their email:

We are reaching out to you because we detected purchases or borrows of your book(s) originating from accounts attempting to manipulate sales rank.

My immediate reaction is, whats that got to do with the author? And why arent Amazon dealing with the accounts they believe are purchasing/borrowing to manipulate rank? If they close those accounts then the problem ends permanently. Also, why arent they protecting the author from these bad accounts? Why would they automatically assume the author did something wrong? Surely part of the TOS from Amazons side is to protect my accounts with them from abuse, otherwise I wouldnt give them my financial details or trade with them.

Its the underlying assumptions in these emails that bother me. They have automatically assumed your guilt and that justifies washing their hands of their responsibility to protect your account. The counter argument to the email is, what are you (Amazon) doing to protect my account because there an onus on Amazon to do that.

As for why they deranked a free book that is wide and just had a Bub, I can only assume the book was downloaded by questionable accounts to irritate Amazon. Clearly Amazon already know which accounts are questionable because they said so in the email, so its hardly hidden activity being used to shield other botting activity. There is no reason why an author with a Bub running would bother to pay a botter. Bub alone generates enough of a rank kick.

I suggest you write a short explanation to what youve been doing and therefore how illogical it would be to bot. Send that to Jeff Bezos and ask him what his company is doing to protect your account from being attacked by questionable accounts. Ask him why his company isnt doing something about questionable accountsthey clearly already know about.

Going through KDP support on this kind of thing is a waste of time because they dont understand they have obligations to protect the authors account, so youll just go around in circles until they throw a paddy and say the matter is closed.

I'm going to take your advice and write to Jeff Bezos as I just received a canned response that's basically word-for-word the original email I received, except this one is signed by some guy's first name. There is no indication whatsoever that they read anything I wrote or that they looked at the evidence I included in my email, which I find insulting and dismissive, to say the least. I mean, they stated in the original email that I should email them with questions. I guess they forgot to add that they weren't really going to bother answering them  >:(

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #38 on: October 12, 2017, 08:28:46 AM »
Ugh. I recently discovered that Story Of My Escape has been rank-stripped for quite a while. I'm not sure what prompted this, but I did have some strangely elevated KU activity a few months back (as I was recently back in KU after an extended period wide, I just thought I'd hit an updraft from the algorithms, at the time). Amazon also seem to think I have something wrong with my table of contents for that book. And they've been shirty with me about a couple of, ahem, cheeky pen name books that, reading between the lines, have been generating malicious complaints from certain fringes of the political spectrum. I've suspended all marketing on the title, and all AMS spend across all my books (bit of a passive-aggressive protest, that move, but hey), but the good news is, it's still selling, and still being borrowed a fair bit in Canada.

I feel, basically, that it's simply not good to raise your head over the parapet where Amazon's concerned. They've just summarily removed most of the September KU reads for a pen name "romance" title that I have quite literally never promoted anywhere, without notification or justification. That's about 13,000 page reads. For the moment, I'm just refusing to engage, taking their word for it that something was wrong with those reads, and seeing how this all plays out.

Typically of course, I'd just hit the renewal for Select on all my books when this was all brought to my attention. But all this nonsense signals the beginning of the end of my 2017 KU flirtation. The system's in meltdown.

It's terrifying that they are so quick to punish legit authors for a few suspicious downloads or page reads (that Amazon considers suspicious anyway) yet the real scammers are free to do as they please. I hope you will get back your ranking and page reads. As for me, I'm staying as far away from KU as possible. It's just not worth it especially since I have built a substantial fan base outside of Amazon.

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #39 on: October 12, 2017, 08:30:50 AM »
I'm going to take your advice and write to Jeff Bezos as I just received a canned response that's basically word-for-word the original email I received, except this one is signed by some guy's first name. There is no indication whatsoever that they read anything I wrote or that they looked at the evidence I included in my email, which I find insulting and dismissive, to say the least. I mean, they stated in the original email that I should email them with questions. I guess they forgot to add that they weren't really going to bother answering them  >:(

I think you should write to Bezos. The bottom line is you cant hold an author responsible for who buys or downloads their book because theyre not in control of that, but Amazon are.

Amazon have got this *ss backwards.

Amazon can see who buys and downloads our books. We cant.
Amazon can identify questionable accounts. We cant.
Amazon can communicate with the questionable accounts. We cant.
Amazon can block and ban questionable accounts. We cant.
Amazon can disallow sales and borrows from questionable accounts. We cant.

So, whats the point of slapping around authors when they cant see or fix the problem. Amazon are the only ones who have the data and power to do anything about the fraud, but instead they dump the problem on the authors.

The whole scamming problem is something Amazon can fix, not us.

Option 1 is to ditch KU.
Option 2 is to design and implement a professional fraud management system that detects bad players upfront, not after the fact.

Instead, Amazon choose to blame authors and make it their problem when it just plain isnt. Its a total cop out.

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #40 on: October 12, 2017, 08:56:57 AM »
It's terrifying that they are so quick to punish legit authors for a few suspicious downloads or page reads (that Amazon considers suspicious anyway) yet the real scammers are free to do as they please. I hope you will get back your ranking and page reads. As for me, I'm staying as far away from KU as possible. It's just not worth it especially since I have built a substantial fan base outside of Amazon.

Thanks - really it's the lack of communication that bothers me. For all I know the rank stripping is linked to the "quality notice" they sent me about the contents page, something I've now checked and republished at least three times, only for them to send a very vague email saying it's still wrong (they don't tell me what's actually wrong with it).

The page reads, meh, I think I have to accept they're gone. What with exchange rates and fluctuating KU pay levels, I'm brutal about not counting any cash from royalties until it's actually in my account in any case, so I'm pretty philosophical about that.

I think I always preferred being wide, to be honest, but my D2D sales had dried up completely for several months and I thought it was time to give KU another whirl. Pfft. Catch me doing that again! I'll still do an opening stint in KU for Countdowns and free promos when launching books, but otherwise I think it's back to wide all the way!


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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #41 on: October 12, 2017, 09:09:45 AM »
Amazon needs to better on this. A lot better. The reason they contact the author is because the authors are the ones who gain from rank manipulation; they're the ones who are typically responsible for the shenanigans. They hire companies to "boost" their numbers through fake borrows/downloads/sales. Amazon is going after a few of the big fish companies that offer manipulated ranks as part of their services. The way they target and deal with authors is either far too lenient for those who are repeat offenders or bring the hammer down on people who may have done nothing wrong at all.

It's a mess.

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #42 on: October 12, 2017, 12:11:05 PM »
Thanks - really it's the lack of communication that bothers me. For all I know the rank stripping is linked to the "quality notice" they sent me about the contents page, something I've now checked and republished at least three times, only for them to send a very vague email saying it's still wrong (they don't tell me what's actually wrong with it).


I thought the first line of punishment for quality issues was an email, and then theyd put a banner on the book page stating the book had quality issues, but I havent seen one of those in more than a year.

Im surprised youre so relaxed about them taking back page reads, which sort of suggest they think they were inappropriately gained. Its not a huge dollar value, but to do that without an explanation seems unreasonable. Yeah, I know, thats Amazons MO.  ::)

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #43 on: October 12, 2017, 02:48:12 PM »
I just wanted to let you guys know that I have emailed Bezos about this. I have no idea if anything will come of it, but it's worth a try, I guess.
I will keep you posted if I ever hear back.

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #44 on: October 12, 2017, 03:07:04 PM »
I just wanted to let you guys know that I have emailed Bezos about this. I have no idea if anything will come of it, but it's worth a try, I guess.
I will keep you posted if I ever hear back.

You will hear back, but not from Jeff. Usually the issue is sent to the right senior manager, effectively bypassing lower level KDP support. Jeffs email address is basically an escalation mechanism.

Look forward to hearing how you get on.

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #45 on: October 12, 2017, 03:11:24 PM »
I know of three other authors in this situation very recently. I don't know what the hell Amazon is doing.

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #46 on: October 12, 2017, 03:19:52 PM »
I don't know what the hell Amazon is doing.

Big Corporation Stupid (where no one takes responsibility).
 

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #47 on: October 12, 2017, 03:36:51 PM »
I know of three other authors in this situation very recently. I don't know what the hell Amazon is doing.

They are doing whatever the algo tells them to do. The notion Rakesh in Bangladesh making $1 a day gives two chits about whether the algo is right or wrong is laughable.

Algo says derank, they derank. Algo says ban, they ban. Algo says send out a book in an email to thousands of kindle readers, even though it's clearly botted, they send out the email and promote the botted book.

I strongly suspect the dirtiest cheaters are using clean bots that aren't even getting picked up. Which makes all of this so ridiculously absurd.

I know people are getting hurt by this, but I can't help but laugh. It's like Skynet going nuts and shooting missiles into itself.
 

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #48 on: October 12, 2017, 03:40:55 PM »
Which makes all of this so ridiculously absurd.

I know people are getting hurt by this, but I can't help but laugh. It's like Skynet going nuts and shooting missiles into itself.

I swear, I love this poster.

Is it any wonder Amazon has such a small profit margin? For all of their innovation and good points, they just seem to be mangling the entire experience.

Case in point: nothing - no site - anywhere beats Amazon's search functions, categories and search options. Finding things is easy. But then you have scammers blatantly gaming the system, day in and day out ruining the experience.

I detest Amazon, but they're my money-maker. So... I stay silent.  ::)
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 05:52:22 PM by Laran Mithras »
 

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #49 on: October 12, 2017, 04:54:54 PM »
I know of three other authors in this situation very recently. I don't know what the hell Amazon is doing.

I don't think they know what the hell they're doing. It's all so disheartening.

Offline loraininflorida

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #50 on: October 12, 2017, 05:56:55 PM »
Just remember, anyone not happy with something that happened to them regarding KU, the official way to complain is by mailing a complaint to Amazon's official agent:

"To begin an arbitration proceeding, you must send a letter requesting arbitration and describing your claim to our registered agent Corporation Service Company, 300 Deschutes Way SW, Suite 304, Tumwater, WA 98051, USA. The arbitration will be conducted by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) under its rules, including the AAAs Supplementary Procedures for Consumer-Related Disputes. The AAAs rules are available at www.adr.org or by calling 1-800-778-7879 (in the United States). Payment of all filing, administration and arbitrator fees will be governed by the AAAs rules. We will reimburse those fees for claims totaling less than $10,000 unless the arbitrator determines the claims are frivolous."

(This is from the KU contract, Section 10.1, Disputes.)

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #51 on: October 12, 2017, 06:14:19 PM »
Right now, Zon is all kinds of messed up.

I have most of my catalog in KU (though I'm falling off the fence I've been straddling about getting out). Recently, I decided to burn the free days on a book because I hadn't promo'd it in a very long while. Given all the shenanigans, I decided not to advertise it at all. Not even my NL. Just burn the days.

It got the normal uptick in downloads I'd expect. Nothing at all outrageous. Three days in, got de-ranked. The rank came back, but the initial algo demanding a check clearly clocked in. Whatever they do for the second stage of that must have been fine because the rank came back with only a moderate loss down to about 1000 in rank.

A week later...just a few days ago...I had a 0.99 Bookbub on a wide book. Sold gobs all over the place. No de-rank. No glitches.

Right now the only safe thing to do is to have paid books that are not in KU. Period.

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #52 on: October 13, 2017, 02:56:02 AM »
I thought the first line of punishment for quality issues was an email, and then theyd put a banner on the book page stating the book had quality issues, but I havent seen one of those in more than a year.

Im surprised youre so relaxed about them taking back page reads, which sort of suggest they think they were inappropriately gained. Its not a huge dollar value, but to do that without an explanation seems unreasonable. Yeah, I know, thats Amazons MO.  ::)

I'm kind of surprised not to see a quality banner on there either, but then as far as I can see there's nothing wrong with it anyway, so I think it's all just one big glitch in the matrix to be honest...

As for the page reads, well, one picks one's battles. Back in August I put out a fairly outrageous erotica short with a horrendous DIY cover for a laugh, as the result of some late night drunk chatter with some writer friends. It picked up about $7 worth of sales at $0.99, which reflected the time and effort put in just fine, and then I set it free for a weekend, to see if I could pick up some also-boughts and string things out a bit, pretty much on a whim. That was literally all I did. It was a joke project, so I wasn't going to spend any money promoting it, and I couldn't mention it on social media without outing myself as the "author".

So when the "book" suddenly started getting at least 12 borrows and complete readthroughs a day in the UK, every day for a month, I was always torn as to whether I'd somehow cracked the system, or whether something odd was going on. I know from past experiments that erotica is one of the few places where you can just strike gold suddenly and at random, and it had a review, and great comments on Goodreads, and the best erotica title that has ever been devised even if I do say so myself (it's killing me being unable to share it and take full credit for my sick punning genius, trust me), so it didn't seem beyond the realms of possibility. At the same time, I counted up all those page reads (it had a KENPC of just 40) and realised I'd shifted well over 300 borrows in a month, which just didn't seem plausible for the UK market. So when Zon nixed almost all of those reads, I can't say I was utterly shocked, and I'm taking it on the chin.


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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #53 on: October 13, 2017, 03:48:39 AM »
@alawston

Now Im horribly curious about that book.  :o

But youre a lot more forgiving than Id be. How is it your fault if 300 people are kinky, or theres a bot out there with a fetish? Its Amazons fault for not managing fraud detection on their site.

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #54 on: October 13, 2017, 04:38:08 AM »
@alawston

Now Im horribly curious about that book.  :o

But youre a lot more forgiving than Id be. How is it your fault if 300 people are kinky, or theres a bot out there with a fetish? Its Amazons fault for not managing fraud detection on their site.

It was quite a departure from translating French pulp fiction, that's for sure...

I probably should be angrier, but from straight sales and the reads that have been left, the "book" has recouped the effort of producing it, such as it was. I was a bit suspicious of the numbers of reads I was getting anyway, so... I'm just glad the book's not been rank-stripped, or otherwise penalised. I think if it had happened on any of my "proper" titles, I'd be livid. But the whole thing was written for a laugh, and published for a dare, with a cover that belongs on a bad covers tumblr feed (Maybe it's even on one, maybe that's where the traffic came from). I just can't get too upset about anything that happens to it, except to underline my current wish to steer well clear of KU.


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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #55 on: October 13, 2017, 04:54:08 AM »
It was quite a departure from translating French pulp fiction, that's for sure...

I probably should be angrier, but from straight sales and the reads that have been left, the "book" has recouped the effort of producing it, such as it was. I was a bit suspicious of the numbers of reads I was getting anyway, so... I'm just glad the book's not been rank-stripped, or otherwise penalised. I think if it had happened on any of my "proper" titles, I'd be livid. But the whole thing was written for a laugh, and published for a dare, with a cover that belongs on a bad covers tumblr feed (Maybe it's even on one, maybe that's where the traffic came from). I just can't get too upset about anything that happens to it, except to underline my current wish to steer well clear of KU.

That is weird. If they thought you were being naughty then why werent you rank stripped. Hmm, is it a glitch, or did you get hate mail? If its a glitch then maybe the page reads will magically reappear. Also, you and your friends have some interesting convos!   ;D

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #56 on: October 13, 2017, 05:02:27 AM »
Conspiracy Theory - please take with a pinch of salt.

We all know our Amazonian overloads are honest to a fault and would never do anything to hurt us just to make money on their end...

But...what if, they devised an evil plot to slur all reputable vendors of ads such as BB, Freebooksy, Facebook, etc, by somehow linking them to the evil botters who are determined to take over the free charts? The only place left to advertise would be Amazon AMS ads themselves. If you're only using their ads then they can't accuse themselves of botting.

And... what if, in the process of scaring authors off using free days and other ad sites and reaping in all that lovely advertising monies it also has the added effect of scaring the crud out of authors to set their free books to paid, getting rid of that pesky price match issue? And freeing up our Amazonian overloads to set their own imprints to free and reaping in all that lovely money for themselves.

I mean, it's not like Amazon to crush their rivals or do anything underhanded to crush competitors, but still...




Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #57 on: October 13, 2017, 05:35:36 AM »
Conspiracy Theory - please take with a pinch of salt.

We all know our Amazonian overloads are honest to a fault and would never do anything to hurt us just to make money on their end...

But...what if, they devised an evil plot to slur all reputable vendors of ads such as BB, Freebooksy, Facebook, etc, by somehow linking them to the evil botters who are determined to take over the free charts? The only place left to advertise would be Amazon AMS ads themselves. If you're only using their ads then they can't accuse themselves of botting.

And... what if, in the process of scaring authors off using free days and other ad sites and reaping in all that lovely advertising monies it also has the added effect of scaring the crud out of authors to set their free books to paid, getting rid of that pesky price match issue? And freeing up our Amazonian overloads to set their own imprints to free and reaping in all that lovely money for themselves.

I mean, it's not like Amazon to crush their rivals or do anything underhanded to crush competitors, but still...

If they did anything like that then I think they just stepped over the line into breaking the law through misrepresentation of data. Would they get caught? FB did. Loose lips and all that.

Nah, theyre not that organized, but I imagine they have great big wall calendar pinned across the KDP strategy room with post-it notes. Every month and quarter they have one more action that takes back their margin. Eighteen months ago it had a note to add a download fee to books sold above 99c. A year ago it had a note to add the page flip functionality. A few months ago it had a note to increase the ACX prices. This month it had a note to close CreateSpaces e-site. I could track back and work out what action was assigned to every month or quarter. Bit-by-bit, theyre clawing back their margins and authors are being left both bewildered and with the real costs of doing business.

The real thing to wonder is whats written on those post-it notes for the next twelve months, because believe me when I say they are not finished with us yet.

They dont need to do anything illegal, they just have to keep taking actions within the model that push the costs back onto authors. No conspiracy with this theory, it is exactly what is happening.

Offline alawston

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #58 on: October 13, 2017, 05:43:17 AM »
That is weird. If they thought you were being naughty then why werent you rank stripped. Hmm, is it a glitch, or did you get hate mail? If its a glitch then maybe the page reads will magically reappear. Also, you and your friends have some interesting convos!   ;D

No hate mail so far, but I'm not holding my breath for any magical reappearance, given that they effectively confirm payment totals on the 15th with the KENP announcement...

It was a slightly crazy group, and quite a few of us were riding high in the charts at the time in various genres, so we were suffering from an excess of confidence, I think :)


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Offline dgaughran

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #59 on: October 13, 2017, 05:45:34 AM »
I've heard about maybe eight authors affected by this now. All bar one have similar stories - went free, advertised in a few places, got rank-stripped, got The Letter from Amazon and have been getting boilerplate ever since with scant details. I know one of them personally and I'm 100% sure there was no shadiness at their end.

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Offline Lydniz

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #60 on: October 13, 2017, 06:41:01 AM »
I have a Bookbub coming up. I should be excited, but instead I'm nervous.

Offline dgaughran

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #61 on: October 13, 2017, 06:50:13 AM »
I can understand people being nervous but I don't think BookBub is the issue. I don't think it's an ad site issue at all.

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #62 on: October 13, 2017, 07:00:57 AM »
I've heard about maybe eight authors affected by this now. All bar one have similar stories - went free, advertised in a few places, got rank-stripped, got The Letter from Amazon and have been getting boilerplate ever since with scant details. I know one of them personally and I'm 100% sure there was no shadiness at their end.

The frustrating part of all this is that there's absolutely no way to protect yourself from this, other than going wide and non-free. It just seems to strike randomly.
   

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Offline Donna White Glaser

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #63 on: October 13, 2017, 07:05:02 AM »
The frustrating part of all this is that there's absolutely no way to protect yourself from this, other than going wide and non-free. It just seems to strike randomly.

THIS!
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Offline SummerNights

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #64 on: October 13, 2017, 08:54:07 AM »
I've heard about maybe eight authors affected by this now. All bar one have similar stories - went free, advertised in a few places, got rank-stripped, got The Letter from Amazon and have been getting boilerplate ever since with scant details. I know one of them personally and I'm 100% sure there was no shadiness at their end.

Do you think they would be willing to write to Jeff Bezos? Maybe if a lot of us did, someone will look into it.

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #65 on: October 13, 2017, 09:00:52 AM »
Do you think they would be willing to write to Jeff Bezos? Maybe if a lot of us did, someone will look into it.

Maybe it's time for indie publishers to unionize and have some legal clout to deal with these issues.


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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #66 on: October 13, 2017, 09:55:05 AM »
Maybe it's time for indie publishers to unionize and have some legal clout to deal with these issues.

With a wack load of the population being botters and fake reviewers? The very last thing I'd want to do is be in a union with criminals; they would only use the union protection to bot even more.  No way I'd pay dues just so crooks could have representation across the table from zon.

No matter how you look at this issue there is absolutely nothing approaching any kind of feasible solution. KU is the source cause of ALL the problems, and so either it dies at some point or things continue as they are. Tying rank bump to page reads rather than borrows would be the only thing they could do to slow the botting (but then bots would just turn to page reads; if they aren't already doing that as well - we THINK bot reads were stopped, but we have no proof that's true other than no one has been caught in a long time).

And while I put 70% of the blame on zon, I put the other 30% on the authors who play to this flawed model. To be clear, I can both agree that it's their right to do what makes them the most money while also holding that they are sowing the seeds of their own destruction long term.

The cigarette company is to blame for selling carcinogen products, but the smokers share some blame for consuming said product (despite the neurochemical addiction they get trapped in). Others have equated KU to a drug addiction, and I think it's very apt. People know they shouldn't be in it, but they are addicted to those revenues.

So this isn't getting fixed anytime soon and it likely will get much worse through 2018.

Online Dpock

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #67 on: October 13, 2017, 11:30:26 AM »
The very last thing I'd want to do is be in a union with criminals; they would only use the union protection to bot even more.

I think I get your gist, but a guild or union formed via a proper vetting process for members would ideally address issues with Amazon that allow a "criminal" element to exist. As far as I know, KDP authors have no collective voice with Amazon. A guild or union (of some kind) with appropriate, persuasive powers COULD be useful. I'm actually surprised it doesn't already exist in some form. Maybe it does and I've missed it.



Online Laran Mithras

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #68 on: October 13, 2017, 11:40:29 AM »
I think I get your gist, but a guild or union formed via a proper vetting process for members...

That runs the danger of using the easiest method: all "indies" must get publisher representation.
 

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #69 on: October 13, 2017, 11:44:59 AM »
I think I get your gist, but a guild or union formed via a proper vetting process for members would ideally address issues with Amazon that allow a "criminal" element to exist. As far as I know, KDP authors have no collective voice with Amazon. A guild or union (of some kind) with appropriate, persuasive powers COULD be useful. I'm actually surprised it doesn't already exist in some form. Maybe it does and I've missed it.

The problem is that any guild would take its marching orders from the contributing members. This would almost entirely consist of the highest selling SP authors who could afford to fund the organization. A lot of those authors (obviously not saying all or even the majority) are gaming the system. We saw this with Simpson losing rank. And believe me, there are plenty of others.

Don't get me wrong, an above board and beyond reproach organization looking after SP authors would be great. But this industry is full of scoundrels who will abuse, warp and twist almost anything to their advantage.

And ultimately, what can a guild or anybody really do? Zon will pay it no mind, SP authors refuse to ever shed even one drop of blood for the industry as a whole, so it will just be a megaphone for a small group that everyone ignores.

The only action that will clean things up is people leaving KU. And since they aren't prepared to do that, this is how the industry will remain until either zon randomly decides to clean it up, or consumers themselves start turning their backs on KU.

It's 100% FUBAR.  :P

Online Laran Mithras

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #70 on: October 13, 2017, 11:50:47 AM »

The only action that will clean things up is people leaving KU. And since they aren't prepared to do that, this is how the industry will remain until either zon randomly decides to clean it up, or consumers themselves start turning their backs on KU.

That is probably the only workable option. If KU is hitting scammers and catching indies in the savagery - with trads getting their pay no matter what - then anything KU does to scammers hurts indies. Thus, being indie in KU is a losing proposition.

Amazon will have to come down on the scammers by going after the income flow - and we all know how those previous methods worked against us. Indies are caught in the net because we rely on the same payflows scammers do.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 12:07:37 PM by Laran Mithras »
 

Online Dpock

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #71 on: October 13, 2017, 11:56:41 AM »


It's 100% FUBAR.  :P

All good points... Anyway, maybe this board is already serving the function of a guild or advocacy group (well, of course, it is). I know I've been convinced to leave my next book out of KU as an experiment and may remove the others as their terms expire.


Online Seneca42

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #72 on: October 13, 2017, 12:13:07 PM »
That is probably the only workable option. If KU is hitting scammers and catching indies in the savagery - with trads getting their pay no matter what - then anything KU does to scammers hurts indies. Thus, being indie in KU is a losing proposition.

Mmazon will have to come down on the scammers by going after the income flow - and we all know how those previous methods worked against us. Indies are caught in the net because we rely on the same payflows scammers do.

I'd suggest that TP has a lot to fear from all this. If zon can manage to make all this work - which is to say control the flow of content in the industry (and suppress whatever books they want on the store) - then it's really not a big step for Amazon Imprints to start luring TP authors to zon (a few fat million dollar contracts would easily accomplish that). But they likely won't pull that trigger until they at least have 100 or so physical book stores.

I mean, it doesn't take a genius to see that zon is slowly and methodically looking to destroy the big 5. Which is probably why losing a few million to scammers doesn't bother them if their overarching strategy of taking over a billion dollar industry is still chugging along smoothly.

The great irony in all this is that at some point the TP's will have to fight back and in doing so may actually end up saving self-publishing by removing zon's stranglehold... but as I've said before, that will have to unfold in conjunction with a Walmart or someone making a serious run at zon.

It's impossible for me to imagine that in 5 years zon will be the only distribution channel for books. No way, no how. Someone, or a collection of someones, will mount a challenge at some point.

 


Online Tilly

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #73 on: October 13, 2017, 12:29:51 PM »
I think I get your gist, but a guild or union formed via a proper vetting process for members...

There are already a number of organisations authors can join if they want a voice, plus of course the numerous other benefits of networking with similar genre authors, courses, conferences etc. There's RWA, SFWA, NINC etc. Find one that best suits you and get involved if you want to make a change.

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #74 on: October 13, 2017, 12:32:06 PM »
I can understand people being nervous but I don't think BookBub is the issue. I don't think it's an ad site issue at all.

But if deranking regularly happens to people following ads on Bookbub and/or other sites, these sites might become concerned enough to raise the issue with Amazon themselves. It would be a blow to these sites if authors become afraid to advertise books for fear of punishment by Amazon's errant algorithms.




Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #75 on: October 13, 2017, 12:38:42 PM »
There are already a number of organisations authors can join if they want a voice, plus of course the numerous other benefits of networking with similar genre authors, courses, conferences etc. There's RWA, SFWA, NINC etc. Find one that best suits you and get involved if you want to make a change.

Yes indeed. SFWA does have an Amazon rep, and this is the kind of issue they might be willing to raise with that person, if members are significantly concerned about it. So if you've been deranked and you're an SFWA member, do report it. Or, if you write sci-fi or fantasy but aren't an SFWA member, drop me a PM.




Offline Reformed Pantser

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #76 on: October 13, 2017, 03:26:18 PM »
In the meantime, roughly half of the books on Amazon's Hot New Releases in Romance list (http://smile.amazon.com/gp/new-releases/books/23/) have several "bonus" books in the backmatter, violating Amazon's policy and KDP TOS. I won't name names, but it's the same people that have been stuffing before the August 1st KDP "memo". Nothing has changed in their world, no books have been rank-stripped, no nastygrams received... In fact, some of them were featured in yesterday's email blast "Hot New Releases in Literature & Fiction."

Mr Bezos, your Compliance people are doing a great job punishing innocent authors and giving known scammers a wide berth. Such a solid, consistent effort! Respect.

Online Pandorra

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #77 on: October 13, 2017, 03:32:51 PM »
I tried as well, got the standard answer repeating the same as the first, though I asked very specific questions.. not a single one answered~! >:(
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Online Laran Mithras

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #78 on: October 13, 2017, 04:54:47 PM »
I tried as well, got the standard answer repeating the same as the first, though I asked very specific questions.. not a single one answered~! >:(

Contacting Amazon is just some nose-picker selecting the appropriate response and pasting it into the email.
 

Offline JulianneQJohnson

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #79 on: October 13, 2017, 07:00:21 PM »

No, we don't even live in the same states (or countries) at the moment, we are military spread out all over the place. Same with my family, other than my daughter and brother, who live with me, none of them live here .. and this brother doesn't pay attention to ANYTHING, much less my writing.

I don't know if this is an issue for you or not, but there are other ways Amazon assumes an association between reviewers and authors.  For example, if two Indie authors review each others books, or it someone you have friended on Facebook reviews one of your books.  It goes far beyond your personal friends and family.  You can have a fan who is a stranger, but friends you on facebook, and gets their reviews taken down.

Other things against TOS are giving gifts or having contests for those who review, giving a free copy with a demand of a review or asking for 5 star reviews, or joining an author group that trades reviews.

It's harder for Indies than trade publishers.  As I like to say, if Dean Koontz wanted to leave a review for Stephen King, they wouldn't take it down.  But if you and I read each others books and left honest reviews, they would.  I also doubt they'd take down Dean's review because he's Facebook friends with Stephen. :D

It's complicated and a little ridiculous, but it's also Amazon trying it's best to weed out fake reviews.
              

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #80 on: October 13, 2017, 08:45:43 PM »
In the meantime, roughly half of the books on Amazon's Hot New Releases in Romance list (http://smile.amazon.com/gp/new-releases/books/23/) have several "bonus" books in the backmatter, violating Amazon's policy and KDP TOS. I won't name names, but it's the same people that have been stuffing before the August 1st KDP "memo". Nothing has changed in their world, no books have been rank-stripped, no nastygrams received... In fact, some of them were featured in yesterday's email blast "Hot New Releases in Literature & Fiction."

Mr Bezos, your Compliance people are doing a great job punishing innocent authors and giving known scammers a wide berth. Such a solid, consistent effort! Respect.

Since authors now only get credit for pages readers actually view, rather than skipped-over pages, authors will only make money off bonus books if readers actually want to read them. Seems like Amazon has taken bonus books away as an effective means of inflating page-reads.




Offline SummerNights

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #81 on: October 14, 2017, 11:43:34 AM »
Just received yet another non-specific, non-real-response email. I'm not sure what the Content Review team has to do with this. At this point, I don't know what the next step should be. Should I wait for more bullsh*tting responses or should I keep pestering them?

A few things I know for sure now: More than a few writers have reported the same issue through emails to Jeff Bezos, many of us have noticed the same weird also boughts (as in books with no reviews and no recent advertising activity that we can find) and we all had recent BBs.

My name is ***  with Kindle Direct Publishing Executive Customer Relations. Jeff Bezos received your message regarding the sales rank of your book and I'm responding on his behalf. I'm reaching out to our Content Review team and will let you know as soon as I have more information.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #82 on: October 14, 2017, 11:51:42 AM »
Just received yet another non-specific, non-real-response email. I'm not sure what the Content Review team has to do with this. At this point, I don't know what the next step should be. Should I wait for more bullsh*tting responses or should I keep pestering them?

A few things I know for sure now: More than a few writers have reported the same issue through emails to Jeff Bezos, many of us have noticed the same weird also boughts (as in books with no reviews and no recent advertising activity that we can find) and we all had recent BBs.

My name is ***  with Kindle Direct Publishing Executive Customer Relations. Jeff Bezos received your message regarding the sales rank of your book and I'm responding on his behalf. I'm reaching out to our Content Review team and will let you know as soon as I have more information.

To be honest, you need to give them a week before chasing.

Assuming amazon follow usual process for escalation your issue will now be recorded with Bezoss office. The person/department that has been told to deal with it will have to report back once the issue resolved. They cant just ignore the request or brush it off without an explanation that will be acceptable to Bezoss office.

None of this means the issue will be resolved to your satisfaction, but it does mean its being looked at by someone higher up the food chain. Give them some time to work out whats going on.

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #83 on: October 14, 2017, 11:57:23 AM »
Yeah, what Twisted said. Plus the cardinal rule- don't email em  over the weekend.

Offline SummerNights

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #84 on: October 14, 2017, 12:08:28 PM »
Okay, thank you both for being the voices of reason  ;D

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #85 on: October 14, 2017, 12:19:53 PM »
Okay, thank you both for being the voices of reason  ;D

I know its frustrating, but hang tight. At least now you know its landed somewhere it will be properly reviewed.

Offline loraininflorida

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Re: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.
« Reply #86 on: October 14, 2017, 07:43:59 PM »
Well, this is a quiet bit of mindblowing information!  :o

When a reviewer posts a review using the URL from the author's account (which is what the author gets if he/she searches for their book on Amazon and then copy/pastes its URL), the reviewer is telling Amazon that their review originated from the author's account. This is what Amazon is referring to in its email "that one or more Amazon accounts related to your account posted customer reviews on your books." That Amazon searches social media for connections is almost certainly urban myth, though a very long-lived one.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 07:46:47 PM by loraininflorida »

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