Author Topic: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.  (Read 40187 times)  

Offline David VanDyke

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #150 on: April 09, 2018, 05:35:18 PM »
It's incompetence in the collateral damage and unintended consequences arenas.

It's incompetence in not getting good feedback from some of the smartest people around that are affected, i.e., us.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 07:01:15 PM by David VanDyke »


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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #151 on: April 09, 2018, 06:39:05 PM »
It's incompetence in the collateral damage and unintended consequences arenas.

It's incompetence in not getting good feedback from some of the smarted people around that are affected, i.e., us.

It's incompetence for letting it go on for 2 years, when everyone was telling you the problem existed.

It's incompetence for automating the whole process, and taking human decision making out of it.

It's incompetence for declaring people guilty, with no recourse to prove innocence.

It's incompetence to not have the information necessary to stop yourself making inaccurate claims.

To my mind, the best example of incompetence is Amazon dont have stats of KU reads from a specific AMS ad. If they had those, a lot of the threats being made against people who only use AMS would not have happened.

The fact those stats are not available, suggests total incompetence across multiple departments.

If I was made Amazon IT director, I'd fire the entire Amazon IT staff. Their incompetence is visible in everything they do.

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #152 on: April 09, 2018, 06:42:40 PM »
So you think that competence led to this situation? We've seen a lot of promising moves by Amazon over the past few years, but their carry-through doesn't have a good track record.

I think they knew going in it was going to be a mess and went ahead anyway.


Offline Mollie

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #153 on: April 09, 2018, 07:36:22 PM »
Cavan6, I got the same response from Amazon after I emailed them to ask for their evidence to support their decision to downgrade my 196K page reads to a completely arbitrary and baseless 29K (that is much lower than previous months' figures).

At the same time, I provided my own figures to show that in February I'd spent ten times as much on AMS ads, that my Goodreads reviews in March were twice as high as the previous six months combined and that I'd had high interaction with my 5,500 subscribers when I told them I'd put my book into KU in my late February newsletter.

This is what Amazon said:

Hello,

As we previously stated, we still detect reading or borrow activity for your books originating from accounts attempting to manipulate Kindle services. You are responsible for ensuring the strategies used to promote your books comply with our Terms and Conditions. We cannot offer advice on marketing services or details of our investigations.

Please be aware we will not be providing additional details.

Regards,

Amazon KDP


So, they've provided no evidence for their statement: "we still detect reading or borrow activity for your books originating from accounts attempting to manipulate Kindle services."

Thanks to previous suggestions on this thread, I've just emailed jeff@amazon.com asking how I can continue to run my author business if I dont know whether upping my ad spend will result in higher monthly page reads that Amazons algorithms will deem must be based therefore on fraud?

How hopeful should I be that enough demands for transparency from Amazon will result in them showing solid evidence as the basis for catching wrong-doers so that innocent authors are not caught up in future arbitrary clean-sweeps?

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #154 on: April 09, 2018, 07:40:20 PM »
Quote
How hopeful should I be that enough demands for transparency from Amazon will result in them showing solid evidence as the basis for catching wrong-doers so that innocent authors are not caught up in future arbitrary clean-sweeps?

Zero hope at all.

Amazon is lack-of-transparency-central with capital letters.

But if there is enough backlash (which there will be), they'll just quietly adjust their practices.

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #155 on: April 09, 2018, 08:19:52 PM »
Cavan6, I got the same response from Amazon after I emailed them to ask for their evidence to support their decision to downgrade my 196K page reads to a completely arbitrary and baseless 29K (that is much lower than previous months' figures).

At the same time, I provided my own figures to show that in February I'd spent ten times as much on AMS ads, that my Goodreads reviews in March were twice as high as the previous six months combined and that I'd had high interaction with my 5,500 subscribers when I told them I'd put my book into KU in my late February newsletter.

This is what Amazon said:

Hello,

As we previously stated, we still detect reading or borrow activity for your books originating from accounts attempting to manipulate Kindle services. You are responsible for ensuring the strategies used to promote your books comply with our Terms and Conditions. We cannot offer advice on marketing services or details of our investigations.

Please be aware we will not be providing additional details.

Regards,

Amazon KDP


Sending them the amount of evidence you mention and getting back that canned response ... I think I'd want to tear out every one of my hairs.  :(

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #156 on: April 09, 2018, 08:27:33 PM »
But if there is enough backlash (which there will be), they'll just quietly adjust their practices.

True. They did eventually fix the page flip issue.

As we previously stated, we still detect reading or borrow activity for your books originating from accounts attempting to manipulate Kindle services.

Here's my thing:

They know exactly which accounts are the problem. But they dont delete them, and keep letting them run? Then they keep bashing innocent people who have nothing to do with these bad accounts?

There's a term for this.

Its called being MORALY AND ETHICALLY BANKRUPT!

Amazon:

Find the bad accounts. Delete the bad accounts. Stop harassing innocent people who are nothing to do with the problem!

The whole mess is yours. You let it go for 2 years. Stop being smartarses trying to find and punish everyone who benefits, even when they dont know they are, and JUST FIX THE PROBLEM once and for all!

Amazon, your arse is on backwards.

Get rid of the scammers. That's all you have to do. The rest sorts itself out by itself, once they're gone for good.

Edit: I'm going to go one step further.

Amazon - By allowing scammer accounts to continue running, so you can bash innocent people, and take away their page reads,  MAKES YOU THE SCAMMER.

The problem exists because you let it exist.

The fault is 1000% Amazon's. Fix your mess, before someone eventually kicks you for it, and we all lose.



edited to remove thinly disguised swear
« Last Edit: April 10, 2018, 04:39:09 AM by Ann in Arlington »

Offline Gentleman Zombie

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #157 on: April 09, 2018, 09:00:58 PM »
Here's the deal.. Amazon did do something about scammers. They deleted a large number of fake accounts that were auto-generating page reads. That's why some lost up to 50% of their pages read for March. But what that indicates -and this is what actually scares me - is more than half of the pages read reported to some innocent authors weren't legitimate.

The bottom line is we have no idea who is reading our books or if the page reads we're receiving are even real in the first place. What a shocker to wake up and discover that half your page reads were fake. How can you plan or build a career if you can't trust your reported sales figures?

Offline loraininflorida

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #158 on: April 09, 2018, 09:08:21 PM »
As far as being shocked that Amazon's willing to not pay authors for Page Reads, I think that ship sailed more than a year ago, it was called "Page Flip." It caused me to leave KU. This time's scarier though because Amazon isn't just hitting authors in the pocketbook, it's threatening to close their accounts. Amazon seems to be pretty clearly saying that if a scammer targets your book, or if Amazon even thinks a scammer targeted your book, Amazon will zap YOU, regardless. That's a mighty big risk to take for KU IMO.

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Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #159 on: April 09, 2018, 09:32:14 PM »
Here's the deal.. Amazon did do something about scammers. They deleted a large number of fake accounts that were auto-generating page reads. That's why some lost up to 50% of their pages read for March. But what that indicates -and this is what actually scares me - is more than half of the pages read reported to some innocent authors weren't legitimate.

But ... but ... I don't know if I'm quite ready to accept that whatever (probably wholly automated) algorithm Amazon's developed can reliably distinguish real readers from fake ones. Are we sure about that?

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #160 on: April 09, 2018, 09:53:48 PM »
But ... but ... I don't know if I'm quite ready to accept that whatever (probably wholly automated) algorithm Amazon's developed can reliably distinguish real readers from fake ones. Are we sure about that?

No.

No, we're not ready to accept it.
No, they cant tell the difference.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #161 on: April 09, 2018, 10:24:20 PM »
Here's the deal.. Amazon did do something about scammers. They deleted a large number of fake accounts that were auto-generating page reads. That's why some lost up to 50% of their pages read for March. But what that indicates -and this is what actually scares me - is more than half of the pages read reported to some innocent authors weren't legitimate.

The bottom line is we have no idea who is reading our books or if the page reads we're receiving are even real in the first place. What a shocker to wake up and discover that half your page reads were fake. How can you plan or build a career if you can't trust your reported sales figures?

If thats true, and I dont know if it is, I assume the fake reads of innocent books would only have been a smaller percentage of the total reads done by a scammer, which means the total number of fake page reads could be well over half of all pages read,

The KU model was practically designed to encourage and enable scamming, so I guess its possible more than 50% of the page read activity is fake. I mean, Amazon pretty much roll out a red carpet and wave the scammer in by letting anyone set up and account and giving away so many free months. But then they also let a bot assess a book, which is how so many fake ones get loaded. It means a scammer can make money from both directions as a fake author and/or fake reader.

Someone upthread alluded to how KU could be used for money laundering. Ive discussed that point with an expert in the field (Im not one) and they said the controls appear to be far too loose, which makes me wonder if it isnt been used for that.

KU is a deeply flawed model in so many ways its hard to keep up with just how its being abused. For Amazon to blame authors for their bad design and then refuse to talk to us about it is a beyond low, but then they treat their customers the same way, so what hope has a supplier got?

Offline PaulineMRoss

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #162 on: April 09, 2018, 10:47:32 PM »
True. They did eventually fix the page flip issue.

Wait... they did? I thought they never admitted page flip even was an issue.
   

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #163 on: April 09, 2018, 10:55:47 PM »
Wait... they did? I thought they never admitted page flip even was an issue.

No, they didn't.

But the last couple of days in January showed blips where suddenly there was full reads, instead of single digits.

As soon as I came back into KU in march, I was getting full reads again, with only an occasional single digit.

My guess is, there was an actual bug behind page flip. At some point during all the complaining about it, and the continual insistence there was a problem, someone in IT actually took a look at it, found a bug, and quietly fixed it.

I was trying to test if the issue was fixed, but my tester vanished half way through.

Offline loraininflorida

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #164 on: April 09, 2018, 11:01:33 PM »

My guess is, there was an actual bug behind page flip. At some point during all the complaining about it, and the continual insistence there was a problem, someone in IT actually took a look at it, found a bug, and quietly fixed it.

I was trying to test if the issue was fixed, but my tester vanished half way through.

I find a hard time believing that. I know authors who have very recently gotten those one pagers.

BTW, The Motley Fool just reported that Amazon paid no U.S. income taxes on $5.6 billion in domestic profits last year.

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Offline PaulineMRoss

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #165 on: April 09, 2018, 11:14:58 PM »
I find a hard time believing that. I know authors who have very recently gotten those one pagers.

There have always been one pagers. I got my very first one on the second day of KU2. Not all one pagers are due to page flip.
   

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Offline Mollie

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #166 on: April 10, 2018, 12:16:20 AM »
So if Amazon has deleted the fake accounts behind my supposedly fraudulently-acquired page reads (which they should have to justify retrospectively stripping my page reads), wouldn't that mean my page reads would be right down? The fact is, my page reads are even higher for this month on this apparently offending/scammer-targeted book.

I have a long-awaited BookBub on April 26 for this same book and I'm worried Amazon will decide that any resulting spike in page reads must indicate fraudulent activity and, once again at the end of the month, retrospectively slash my page reads by 75%. Or decide to close my account.

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #167 on: April 10, 2018, 12:19:24 AM »
I have a long-awaited BookBub on April 26 for this same book

Tell them.

Offline Phoenix61

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #168 on: April 10, 2018, 01:57:45 AM »
So, maybe this lowly author, way, way, way down the bottom of the selling totem pole, who has recently instigated a free period for one of his tomes in a very obscure genre, now recording 6 giveaways in the first day of his promo, may be accused of questionable activity because of said spike???? Goodness, I may have all that revenue from six free books taken away from me! Gasp!
Oops, shouldn't speak too soon as I do have a whole 383 page reads last month.
Honestly, between this thread and the other I am truly shocked at what I am reading. Amazon really needs to get its act together. Hope another equally big and powerful player steps up to the plate soon. With about a million defections if that happens, it might make them realise how heavy-handed they are being.
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Offline RBN

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #169 on: April 10, 2018, 04:34:37 AM »
Hope another equally big and powerful player steps up to the plate soon. With about a million defections if that happens, it might make them realise how heavy-handed they are being.

There wouldn't be a mass defection. People currently on the fence might topple over, though some of them would surely cling harder. People just on the Amazon side of the fence would want to wait and see what the competitor does before they even consider leaving the devil they know. Everyone else, from the people who publish just because they can to the people who treat it like a business but don't want the hassle of managing multiple retailers to the people making five figures in bonus money every month simply for not changing, will stay exactly where they are. Not to mention the daily influx of fresh blood.

Amazon is gonna Amazon. They're unmoved by the threat of the mythical mass exodus because they know it will never happen, and they can afford to lose the 1% of authors who bail every time they make an unpopular change. There's already an alternative with the potential to replace KU income that everyone can turn to right now---it's called "wide distribution," and yet the mass remains firmly un-exodused, whatever individual reasons for staying may be.

People talk about leaving like it will teach Amazon a lesson and make it change its ways when they should be making an exit plan for their own benefit to get out of what they describe like an abusive relationship. If you're happy and thriving in exclusivity, great. (KU worked well for me for years, so I understand that position.) If you're living in perpetual anxiety and stress, save yourself sooner rather than later because the spontaneous improvement you're hoping for is the stuff of fantasy.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #170 on: April 10, 2018, 05:10:23 AM »
If you're living in perpetual anxiety and stress, save yourself sooner rather than later because the spontaneous improvement you're hoping for is the stuff of fantasy.

Im not sure everyone who goes wide does so because Amazon makes them anxious. A lot of people either dont earn enough for it to matter or have enough money not to care. Some people have a hybrid model where some of their catalog is in KU and some is wide.

People stay in, out or a bit of both based on their own circumstances. I dont need the money I earn from books so its just as easy to be out and, to be honest, its more fun having the additional platforms to play with than being stuck with just boring old Amazon.

Are Amazon abusive? You can ditch KU anytime, its not a prison sentence. Once youre out of KU, other than listing on a platform that favors its own KU books so yours are invisible, they pretty much ignore you. Now Im out of KU I wouldnt describe Amazon as abusive, but while I was in KU I thought they were unprofessional, unpredictable and irritating.

Im irritated less now.   :D

Offline dianapersaud

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #171 on: April 10, 2018, 05:16:20 AM »
Here's the deal.. Amazon did do something about scammers. They deleted a large number of fake accounts that were auto-generating page reads. That's why some lost up to 50% of their pages read for March. But what that indicates -and this is what actually scares me - is more than half of the pages read reported to some innocent authors weren't legitimate.

The bottom line is we have no idea who is reading our books or if the page reads we're receiving are even real in the first place. What a shocker to wake up and discover that half your page reads were fake. How can you plan or build a career if you can't trust your reported sales figures?


I think I lost 50 pages yesterday. Not a big deal, but if that amount was removed from one of those fake accounts OR from real customers who had their accounts closed, then the scammer problem is much, much bigger than I realized. I'm a prawny prawn, so for one of my books to have been targeted makes me wonder how many hundreds or thousands of innocent authors have had their books selected to hide the work of the scammers.

AFAIK, I didn't lose any pages from March, but if it was a small amount, I wouldn't have noticed.

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Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #172 on: April 10, 2018, 07:30:24 AM »
Coming out of kBoards-retirement because I've been thinking a lot about this, the same purge that happened last fall, and crunching the probability seeing that there were:

A LOT of affected authors using AMS ads
SEVERAL affected authors with new releases
A FEW affected authors using promo sites
A RARE FEW affected authors who were doing no promo at all

And -- most telling -- two circles of authors that were affected more than others -- Reverse Harem (RH) and LitRPG, where readers tend to be shared tightly as they are small, rabid readerships.

DAVID and PHOENIX -- poke a hole in my thinking here. I don't think it's random bot reading causing innocent authors to get caught. I think it goes like this:

-- An author hires a bot reader to inflate their page reads.
-- The bot account opens the book and page reads through it.
-- The bot then spiders the sales page for other books like it, to strengthen the association with other books Amazon has placed either as 1: normal also-bots 2: sponsored products
-- The bot opens the also bot or sponsored books and reads them too.

This creates synergy between the paid bot book and collaterally botted book. This means the other bot accounts will do the pathway as well, creating more page reads via bots by the bad accounts. It ALSO muddies the waters as to which books hired the bots and which were just secondary opens.

The last few months, those of us watching closely have seen page reads absolutely soar beyond what could be organic growth for readership in KU. The threshold for getting bonuses has become impossibly high for authors even if they have solid readerships.

I didn't get hit in March myself, but I have a Reverse Harem coming out and even though I wrote it for the KU audience, if that audience is too rife with bots at the moment, it makes no sense for me to risk my account in KU.

Offline PhoenixS

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #173 on: April 10, 2018, 09:05:51 AM »
TexasGirl, I actually do think this is part of it. However, I would go one step further: A good portion of those "bots" may well be incentivized readers. Once a real reader account has been identified as a recipient of incentives either for leaving reviews or for borrowing or for reading -- or skimming through -- a book, then all their reviews and borrows/reads become suspect. So anything they might borrow, even for their own, real personal pleasure (often within the same subgenre they're getting incentivized for) would be dinged.

One, the other, a combination? I think it's multi-layered now.

Another thing is that review numbers on books with arcs from a certain handful of "services" and private FB groups usually appear in the same 150-200 review lump that appears on certain books on publication, so the same (probably/possibly/allegedly) incentivized readers might well be leaving circle-jerk reviews, and those accounts become the target accounts that Amazon could be using to suss out the bad actor authors, catching up the dolphins' pages along the way.

Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #174 on: April 10, 2018, 09:13:06 AM »
Here's my thing:

They know exactly which accounts are the problem. But they dont delete them, and keep letting them run? Then they keep bashing innocent people who have nothing to do with these bad accounts?

Exactly my thought. WTF? "I'm sorry you're being bullied, Johnny. Perhaps you should change schools so the bully can't hit you anymore."

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