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Stone and Silt
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Big Al's Books & Pals 2014 Readers' Choice Awards: Young Adult Nominee

A ruthless murder and a stolen shipment of gold.

At school, sixteen-year-old Nikaia Wales endures the taunts of bullies who call her a “half-breed.” At home, she worries about how her family will react if she reveals her growing feelings for the quiet boy next door.

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Nikaia desperately searches for clues to save her father. In her quest to find the killer, she learns about the power of family, friendship, and young love....

Author Topic: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo  (Read 31761 times)  

Offline williammeikle

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Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« on: October 20, 2017, 04:52:49 AM »
I'm in an author collective for a fantasy series. Rowan Casey / The Veil Knights series had a Bookbub promotion in the US, cost us 500 bucks in ad spend, and resulted in driving the first three books up to #97 in the store, and made back its ad spend with 1500 sales that day.

Then, on Day 2, Amazon arbitrarily decided to strip the book of its rank, its bestsellers status and remove it from the charts and sub charts essentially marooning the title and losing us any chance of it having a profitable long tail from the promotion push.

We suspect it's been flagged as a suspicious sales spike, but Amazon are giving us the 'we know nothing' treatment.

I've heard stories of this happening to people in KU with suspicious reads, but this is the frst tie I've heard it happen to just a 99c series promo not in KU.

We're in for a day of wrangling with Amazon. Wish us luck.

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Offline she-la-ti-da

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2017, 05:04:33 AM »
That is unusual that it's not a KU book, but it seems Amazon is going all out with the stupid bots, which flag books on legit promos. Keep pushing, send proof it was a Bookbub and not one of those "guarantee" services, and it should get straightened out. Of course, loosing the oomph of the promo push will be gone, but you'll still have the books, and more importantly, the account.
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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2017, 05:06:18 AM »
If this is now happening to 99c books as well, then... OUCH. No one is safe anymore. Several authors with free books not in KU were affected in the recent past, but I've never heard about cases with paid books.

I can't offer any advice except to email the Bezos, explain the situation and reveal all promoters used (if you used any besides Bookbub). Best of luck! These are troubling times for all of us.

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Offline LMareeApps

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2017, 05:08:34 AM »
There's a long post in an Indie Author group on Facebook at the moment.  I believe David Gaughran is putting together a blog post about what he's been able to determine from the data a number of affected authors have sent him.

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2017, 05:08:45 AM »
What is going on with Amazon lately? It's like they've decided they can only bathe in writers' tears.

Offline williammeikle

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2017, 05:11:12 AM »
There's a long post in an Indie Author group on Facebook at the moment.  I believe David Gaughran is putting together a blog post about what he's been able to determine from the data a number of affected authors have sent him.

Yep, we're in touch with David.

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Offline LMareeApps

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2017, 05:14:15 AM »
Yep, we're in touch with David.

I actually just went back to the thread to see if there'd been updates since I last looked, and saw he'd been flagged in a post about your box set.  I probably should have looked at the post there first  :-[

Offline jcalloway

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2017, 05:22:44 AM »
With every new story about Bookbub runs leading to stripped ranks, I am starting to wonder if Amazon is pushing pieces across the board in order to put Bookbub in check. Why? Maybe to nudge people to AMS/some new promo venture KDP will be announcing soon.

Then again, why attribute malice when stupidity will do just fine? Sigh.

So sorry this happened to you, William.

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2017, 05:26:01 AM »
Have you contacted Bookbub? It seems that punishing authors who are using Bookbub and other legitimate NL is ultimately going to make authors shy away from using their services. That's going to hurt BookBub's bottom line.

I stumbled across several fake books yesterday-all with decent rank. I wonder why their bots can't catch those obvious books yet they punish real authors with real books.

What a joke.

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Offline Going Incognito

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2017, 05:32:20 AM »
With every new story about Bookbub runs leading to stripped ranks, I am starting to wonder if Amazon is pushing pieces across the board in order to put Bookbub in check. Why? Maybe to nudge people to AMS/some new promo venture KDP will be announcing soon.

Then again, why attribute malice when stupidity will do just fine? Sigh.

So sorry this happened to you, William.


If Amazon thinks I'd ever choose their spotty ads over a Bookbub they're even more delusional than I thought.

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2017, 05:53:31 AM »
There's a long post in an Indie Author group on Facebook at the moment.  I believe David Gaughran is putting together a blog post about what he's been able to determine from the data a number of affected authors have sent him.

Which group is that?

Offline Sarah Shaw

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2017, 05:58:01 AM »
With every new story about Bookbub runs leading to stripped ranks, I am starting to wonder if Amazon is pushing pieces across the board in order to put Bookbub in check. Why? Maybe to nudge people to AMS/some new promo venture KDP will be announcing soon.

Then again, why attribute malice when stupidity will do just fine? Sigh.

So sorry this happened to you, William.

That occurred to me, too. Amazon's strategy in general seems to be to gain a monopoly. This falls right in line with that goal. I would second contacting Bookbub. They're the ones with the standing to bring legal action.

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2017, 06:00:17 AM »
With every new story about Bookbub runs leading to stripped ranks, I am starting to wonder if Amazon is pushing pieces across the board in order to put Bookbub in check. Why? Maybe to nudge people to AMS/some new promo venture KDP will be announcing soon.

Then again, why attribute malice when stupidity will do just fine? Sigh.

So sorry this happened to you, William.

Stupidity or malice, who knows? But if they are doing this with 99 cent BB promos, I'm not sure I want one. And forget free.

:--(

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2017, 06:05:14 AM »
I had a .99 BookBub last week and another 4 months ago. Both were for wide 0.99 books.

The one from June had no irregularities at all. No major other ad sites because I had less notice for that one that it was accepted by Bub.

The one last week...well...again, only a few other newsletters and none on that day. On day three of promo had rank stripped for a few hours and it disappeared from all the categories (since it had no ranking there). It had been at #1, #3, and #3 in the main categories.

The rank came back (lost about 150 in rank) after a few hours. Now that I've heard a few others having the same thing, I think it's a second-tier check that's going on. The boost in rank and sales causes the algo to trip and it gets flagged for a second level check. If that check shows it's fine, then the rank returns. If something on that second level check gets tripped, then it goes full rank strip and major problems.

It seems to be happening to wide books as much as KU books now, which is weird, because you can't get hinky KU borrows by bots for a wide book. I'm not sure what their motive for this one is, to be honest.

Offline Susanne.

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2017, 06:14:45 AM »
Gulp.  :o I'm doing a free Bookbub next Tuesday. (my book is wide)  I was so excited when I got the e-mail, but now I'm not so sure...  :'(
« Last Edit: October 20, 2017, 06:16:24 AM by Susanne. »

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2017, 06:31:23 AM »
Something to consider, I emailed Amazon about this last week after hearing about several authors in the same boat. Their response was basically, it's up to authors to make sure they use "legitimate" promotional services and that they "recommend using their own advertising". That last part got an ironic chuckle out of me.

I'm in the Rowan Casey group, we're all legitimate, professional authors. We used a BookBub and a couple of us sent the deal to our NLs. That was all. No weird promo sites, not even the usual promo sites like Barbarian etc. Just BookBub.

We are indeed talking with David and a number of other authors who are going through the same thing at the moment. However, those impacted by this aren't all BookBubs, so we can't even say for sure it's that (it probably isn't just BookBub, but it sure is a coincidence).

Anyone who is running a promo, be it free or 99c, wide or in KU, is at risk. This is not a solely KU isolated incident. It's something we all need to be aware of, and yet it appears as though there is nothing we can do about it when/if it happens.

Offline katherinef

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2017, 06:42:57 AM »
I'm really glad I'm wide. Even without Amazon, Bookbubs are great. I already stopped using AMS, and now I'll pause all Facebook, Bookbub, and other ads leading to Amazon until they stop being ridiculous.
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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2017, 06:51:52 AM »
First, I'm so sorry this is happening to you.

Have you emailed jeff@amazon.com? That will generally get you in touch with someone from their executive team.

Also, have they said it is something that happened because of suspicious sales? Because if they haven't said that specifically, it could be a glitch in their system and nothing nefarious. It sucks, but I had my rank blink on and off again for a day a while back on a KU book. Zon wasn't being nefarious, they were just having trouble with their systems.

If this happened after business hours that could also hold up the rank coming back because the techies are asleep. I'm sorry.  :(



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Offline williammeikle

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2017, 06:57:51 AM »
First, I'm so sorry this is happening to you.

Have you emailed jeff@amazon.com? That will generally get you in touch with someone from their executive team.

Also, have they said it is something that happened because of suspicious sales? Because if they haven't said that specifically, it could be a glitch in their system and nothing nefarious. It sucks, but I had my rank blink on and off again for a day a while back on a KU book. Zon wasn't being nefarious, they were just having trouble with their systems.

If this happened after business hours that could also hold up the rank coming back because the techies are asleep. I'm sorry.  :(



Everybody that can be emailed has been emailed, including the executive teams at both Amazon and Bookbub :-)

It happened in the afternoon Pacific Time yesterday, so well inside business hours. Now well over 15 hours later, we're still without a ranking. This is not a blip.

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Online C. Gockel

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2017, 07:52:52 AM »
Everybody that can be emailed has been emailed, including the executive teams at both Amazon and Bookbub :-)

It happened in the afternoon Pacific Time yesterday, so well inside business hours. Now well over 15 hours later, we're still without a ranking. This is not a blip.

I'm so glad that you've emailed them. I hope that you're wrong about it being a blip. If it is a blip there is hope of a permanentish fix. (Nothing in tech is really permanent.)


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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2017, 07:57:31 AM »
Given a paid book can't be botted, this leaves three possibilities:

1) A glitch - skynet accidentally interpreted the book as free, rather than paid, and deranked it because of volume. I find this very unlikely. 
2) something else was wrong with the book/authors - fake reviews, past botting, etc. (the bub merely triggered attention and inspection of the book and the derank is based on other actions in the past) (op, not saying you did anything, just laying out the possibilities).
3) Zon is going after bub

If it's #3, that's good news in that it says zon is nowhere near as strong as we think they are. It would explain, in part, the KU rank bump, which creates the illusion KU books are outselling other books, when in reality they are not (not even close). It also means bub feels either threatened enough or strong enough to push back again zon's monopoly (as they have been doing by favoring wide).

I can tell you kobo has a new "bookbub promo" that they are offering in their promo tab. It's just a ppc ad in the bub email blast, but authors don't pay the ppc, kobo does I guess (authors pay their standard 10% of a sale).  I suspect Kobo is working more closely with bub now.

Something is going on; the sands are shifting under our feet. Should be fun time ahead.


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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2017, 08:22:47 AM »

Given a paid book can't be botted ...


First, I just want to say that I don't think OP did anything wrong. I think this is more likely a glitch or one of the nefarious services out there decided to run their box in an effort to look legit.

However, the idea that a nefarious promoter will not violate TOS on a paid book is absurd, and in fact has been done A LOT with box sets in order to list.

There were three popular methods:

1) Give X promoter $300 and they'd buy 250 copies of your 99-cent ebook through their scam accounts and pocket the rest. You'd get a boost in rank and visibility.

2) "Buyers circles." People on this board actually used them for Nook and organized them out in the open. They'd get 50 people and each person would promise to buy one copy of each of the others books--so for 48.91 they'd get 50 sales if everyone followed through. People did it more on the down low with Amazon books, but it violates Nook, iBooks, and Kobo TOS as well.

3) Incentivized sales through a promoter who would use methods where they'd say, "Buy this and send me the receipt and you'll be entered to win (insert Amazon gift cards / Trad pubbed paperbacks / etc.)"



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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2017, 08:26:53 AM »
A book I'd been promoting aggressively via AMS lost rank for about thirty minutes yesterday. It'd been bouncing up and down rank-wise for several days due to the ad. In my case, it was probably just a random check by an automated Amazon bot, and may only indicate they're aggressively going after scammers, not clamping down on BB or pursuing some new nefarious agenda.


Offline Seneca42

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2017, 08:30:29 AM »

However, the idea that a nefarious promoter will not violate TOS on a paid book is absurd, and in fact has been done A LOT with box sets in order to list.


How is it breaking TOS? The book is paid, someone paid to get it, done.

I don't see how buying a product, or even paying people to buy your product, violates the TOS.

Offline Jnassise

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Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2017, 08:31:29 AM »

2) something else was wrong with the book/authors - fake reviews, past botting, etc. (the bub merely triggered attention and inspection of the book and the derank is based on other actions in the past) (op, not saying you did anything, just laying out the possibilities).


Yeah, no.  As one of the authors involved in this series - the guy running the whole gig, in fact, - I can tell you that the authors involved did nothing wrong.  We're all professionals and we've all been doing this a long time.  We ran a Bookbub featured deal, with NO other promotion aside from posting in our personal newsletters, and Amazon decided to punish us for it.

Sales are not high enough to suggest a bot got involved in any way. The trigger seems to be the fact that, through our successful promotion, we jumped way up in the store rankings in a single day, peaking at #97 in the US Amazon store.  That's it.  It isn't a mistake nor some short term wackiness on Amazon's system.  It is quite deliberate.

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