Author Topic: Help! KDP alert for sales rank.  (Read 4552 times)  

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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Offline MelanieCellier

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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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Offline michaelsnuckols

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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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Offline MelanieCellier

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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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Offline MelanieCellier

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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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Offline SummerNights

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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  >:(

Offline SummerNights

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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.

Offline TwistedTales

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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.

Offline alawston

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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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Offline TwistedTales

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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.  ::)

Offline SummerNights

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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.

Offline TwistedTales

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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.

Offline dgaughran

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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 »
 

Offline SummerNights

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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.