Author Topic: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.  (Read 40188 times)  

Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #175 on: April 10, 2018, 09:31:05 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.

^This^

I think we have a combination of events that muddy the water as to exactly what is going on. Amazon is targeting scammers at the same time it's targeting customers that are engaged in hinky stuff. When all those reviewers had their accounts closed, Amazon had no reason to pay for the pages they read.

And yes, we all know that "authors supporting authors" is rampant. There are groups on facebook and Goodreads specifically to do that. And as another thread tells us the ToS is open to creative interpretation.

When I worked for a bank, we administered personality test to applicants. We really only looked at two questions out of two hundred. We called them the embezzlement questions:

1 - Is it ok to take something belonging to your employer if you plan to bring it back?
2 - Is it ok to take a pen or notepad home with you?

These questions were a couple of pages apart. I think that a lot of people who consider themselves honest don't mind cutting corners when they "can't see any real harm in it".

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #176 on: April 10, 2018, 09:57:58 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.
This was exactly my thought. That these things are tied up in this way. That is the only way it makes sense that people who are only using AMS ads had pages pulledthat suspect accounts had read pages. The other thing I wonder about is newsletter swaps, which are widely used by authors fast-writing romance. I have likened the problem with that to STDs. When your book goes out to that authors newsletter list, obtained perhaps by incentives and contests, you are sleeping with everyone she has slept with. If she has incentive junkies in there (however unwittingly), they could taint your account as well. Also, there are services in genres like reverse harem where longtime questionable promoters are now operating, and authors can unwittingly use them without knowing their past history.

This whole thing convinces me even more just to do my own thing. I am currently spending about $3 a day on AMS ads. I may drop them entirely. To continue to use a few time-tested email ads (BookBub, Robin Reads, etc.) and continue to stay out of romance subgenres dominated by what I feel are questionable tactics. If I did not love romance and do well writing it, at this point I would sure as heck write something else (not cozy mystery or urban fantasy, though, as the gray hats have moved into those neighborhoods now). And if I did not do very well in KU, I would leave.

Offline Lilly_Frost

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #177 on: April 10, 2018, 10:45:01 AM »
Man, the also-boughts and sponsored product ads are very heavily RH and LitRPG for the series in my sig. Something TwistedTales said a few months back made me realize that KU readers were not my tribe, so we went wide. We may have dodged a bullet. It's a shame authors who work so hard have to worry about getting shafted by their distributor b/c of someone else's lack of ethics.


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.

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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 #178 on: April 10, 2018, 11:23:44 AM »
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.

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.

This is horrifying. Honestly, the little hairs on my arms are standing up. What an unholy mess.

Now it makes sense why so many people who've lost page-reads say they've only used AMS ads. If this is what's happening, AMS would be just about the riskiest form of promo you could use?

Noting also that it might only take one or two bad actors to replicate the problem in other subgenres. It's a true one-rotten-apple-spoils-the-barrel scenario because Amazon does such a good job of webbing similar books together -- in an automated way through the also-boughts and in an author-guided way through AMS.

Offline lyndabelle

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #179 on: April 10, 2018, 02:09:06 PM »
This was exactly my thought. That these things are tied up in this way. That is the only way it makes sense that people who are only using AMS ads had pages pulledthat suspect accounts had read pages. The other thing I wonder about is newsletter swaps, which are widely used by authors fast-writing romance. I have likened the problem with that to STDs. When your book goes out to that authors newsletter list, obtained perhaps by incentives and contests, you are sleeping with everyone she has slept with. If she has incentive junkies in there (however unwittingly), they could taint your account as well. Also, there are services in genres like reverse harem where longtime questionable promoters are now operating, and authors can unwittingly use them without knowing their past history.

This whole thing convinces me even more just to do my own thing. I am currently spending about $3 a day on AMS ads. I may drop them entirely. To continue to use a few time-tested email ads (BookBub, Robin Reads, etc.) and continue to stay out of romance subgenres dominated by what I feel are questionable tactics. If I did not love romance and do well writing it, at this point I would sure as heck write something else (not cozy mystery or urban fantasy, though, as the gray hats have moved into those neighborhoods now). And if I did not do very well in KU, I would leave.

You know, this is something I was suspecting too. Or rather, maybe some of the bigger websites like BookBub and ReadFreely, etc. are coming up as multiple users since they go after freebies or discounted books. They're members would come up multiple times and could look like bots even though they are real people just seeking discounts. They probably have the high numbers to make it happen too. I'm sure there are people that just buy books that way, or maybe even look for books in KU that way. It could be a way to target those sites third party by going after the readers and authors that use them. Eventually, people will stop using them when we figure it out and the sites would fade away.

But it seems kind of sad too. Newsletters are a great way to reach readers and give them what they want. But maybe the Zon wants to control that too. I know this is all speculation at this point, but the one sound thing to do at this time for some people may be to leave KU. Maybe it's going beyond it's scope to control authors, but to control what services we use to help us rank higher through legitimate means. I mean, all authors, traditional and self-published have to promote themselves these days. This could hurt everyone.

But it is all speculation at this point. It just comes down to the fact that leaving KU is a great way to not have this problem at all.

Lynda Belle | Website | Amazon Author Page

Offline Mollie

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #180 on: April 10, 2018, 02:50:39 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?

I agree that is a terrible, too, but that's not the issue I have.

What, exactly, is Amazon basing their decision on to slash page reads? Shutting down fake accounts or using an algorithm that deems a spike in page reads must therefore mean they're fake?

If it were proved that fake accounts were behind my spike in page reads, I'd be disappointed but I'd accept I wasn't entitled to them.

However, my page reads are a third higher at day 11 of this month than the final page read figure Amazon concluded was what I should be paid for in March? If their decision to strip me of 75% of my page reads last month was through what was left as my page reads after they'd shut down fake accounts or got rid of scammers, why do my page reads this month continue to be similar to last month (before the downgrading)?

Wouldn't the evidence that it was bots (that they'd shut down) mean my page reads should be right down this month?

When I tell Amazon I'm willing to accept a downgrading if it's through illegal activity, but where's the evidence - and then show them my evidence that March was a legitimately good month for me due to a spike in reviews and high ad spending across the board, they just resend their email saying that my higher than usual page reads is through illegal activity and they won't go into it.

Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #181 on: April 10, 2018, 03:05:12 PM »
Unless the activity moved to new botting accounts that are still targeting books in your genre/category as described in the scenario above...Legitimate or not those additional borrows could have given added visibility to your books which put them in front of legitimate readers who did then leave reviews, etc. No way to know from our side.


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Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #182 on: April 10, 2018, 04:13:24 PM »
Thanks for popping in, Phoenix. I know you have a lot of data.

I've been thinking about this all day. I'm privy to some of the KENPC and removed page read numbers of some people who've been threatened and one suspended.

Even if all 200 "compromised" accounts form the review-removed accounts read the entire books at 300 KENPC each, that's only 60,000 reads. One account (who I know personally as a big time no-cheater) lost over 100,000 and another lost 200,000.

There have to be bots involved too, right?

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 #183 on: April 10, 2018, 04:39:51 PM »
Thanks for popping in, Phoenix. I know you have a lot of data.

I've been thinking about this all day. I'm privy to some of the KENPC and removed page read numbers of some people who've been threatened and one suspended.

Even if all 200 "compromised" accounts form the review-removed accounts read the entire books at 300 KENPC each, that's only 60,000 reads. One account (who I know personally as a big time no-cheater) lost over 100,000 and another lost 200,000.

There have to be bots involved too, right?

I don't think anyone knows how many customer accounts Amazon has closed. I've seen estimates in the tens of thousands. If all the pages read by those accounts, including legitimate pages, are removed, then you could have a lot of pages. I'm seeing accounts of customers who just paid their Prime renewals or ordered something, and Amazon isn't offering to refund their money. I imagine there will be a lot of screaming to the CC companies.

That's the thing about the page removals. In many cases, Amazon hasn't said the author did anything wrong, they just said the page reads were illegitimate and Amazon doesn't intend to pay for them.


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Offline KateDanley

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #184 on: April 10, 2018, 05:46:46 PM »
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

This has been where my head has gone as I've been reading through all this mess.  Almost every author I've seen who has mentioned advertising has mentioned AMS (and many solely AMS.)  There was that thing with Facebook where they were botting clicks (so you'd get charged $5 for clicks when only robots had clicked on your site.)  I wonder if the robots have been at it again...  I wonder if we should be considering the wisdom of AMS ads...

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #185 on: April 10, 2018, 05:53:27 PM »
I wonder if we should be considering the wisdom of AMS ads...

But its damned if you do, damned if you dont.

If you use them, this [crap] happens.

If you dont, Amazon quietly push you down the ranks so you get no visibility at all. If you're also not in KU, double whammy.



please don't go around our filters..  --Betsy

« Last Edit: April 10, 2018, 06:14:42 PM by Betsy the Quilter »

Offline Klendark

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #186 on: April 10, 2018, 06:21:17 PM »
I've been skulling this out since I got the threat e-mail from the Zon. Here's what I've come up with: If I go with the theory that the bots are pulling innocents from the sponsored AMS ads and the also-boughts to use as camouflage, then the only way to not get dragged in is to get out of KDP Select. If I stay in and  stop the ads, the bots can still using the also-boughts as a way to use my books as camouflage, because I can't control my book appearing in an also-bought list. The only way I see to not get my account cancelled (as threatened in the Zon e-mail) is to get out of KDP Select. I can't think of any other way of protecting myself. No matter what I do, I risk my books being used by bots to hide their nefarious activities if I remain in KDP Select.

Now, I don't make much from the page reads, so I have the option to get out and not hurt myself too badly. What I don't want is my KDP account to be cancelled. For me, it's just not worth it to stay in Select and risk account cancellation. A lot of you make more money from a month of page reads than I make in a year of combined sales, so I understand your predicament. My problem, now, is getting my books out of Select. Every attempt to communicate with Amazon using the 'Contact Us' link results in a bot sending me a form letter about not getting my page reads back.  :(

Klendark

Offline loraininflorida

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #187 on: April 10, 2018, 08:03:51 PM »
Every attempt to communicate with Amazon using the 'Contact Us' link results in a bot sending me a form letter about not getting my page reads back.  :(

Takes a few days, but you get a real person at jeff@amazon.com

Lorain O'Neil

Offline Ryan W. Mueller

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #188 on: April 10, 2018, 09:35:54 PM »
It's like using a sledgehammer to extract a tooth. Yeah, you'll get the tooth out, but you're taking out a lot of healthy teeth at the same time.

I'm interested to see if the KU payout goes up significantly. If there are so many page reads going away, then theoretically we should have a higher payout. But I'm not holding my breath on that one.

At this point, I'll stay with KU, but it is worrying to see so many innocent authors caught up in this. Yeah, it's great that Amazon finally did what we asked for, but a little more precision would be nice.

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Online TimothyEllis

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #189 on: April 10, 2018, 09:51:08 PM »
Yeah, it's great that Amazon finally did what we asked for, but a little more precision would be nice.

Its not so much lack of precision, as an excess of VINDICTIVENESS, and revenge.

All they have to do is remove all the scammers, botters, and stuffers. At which point, the whole thing goes away. Get them out, and keep the out.

It's not that difficult. As was just suggested on 20B, just putting a captcha code on beginning to read a KU book, is going to stop the bots cold. All they need is out there. Its been used successfully for donkeys years now. Why dont they use all these tchniques long available?

But no, they want revenge against everyone who benefited from their 2 years of total head in the sand ignoring of the problem.

The reads are irrelevant to the problem. It's been no problem for 2 whole years, so why is it an issue now? It's not.

Taking reads away is just petty vindictiveness and revenge. It's what 2 year old's do when a sibling takes their lollypop.

Jeff Bezos looks more than 2 years old to me. Why does he allow his monster to act that way?

(Sorry, did I just call Bezos Frankenstein? Oops!)

Offline SeanHinn

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #190 on: April 10, 2018, 09:57:44 PM »
This is probably going to be a wildly unpopular opinion, but meh.

Amazon's KDP staff are *people*. Anecdotally, I know that most of them are pretty darned conscientious, because every time I've had to talk to them about an issue, particular at Author Central, they've been polite, friendly, helpful, and efficient.

There are almost certainly *lots* of people who see the data behind the scenes, and if there was something truly nefarious going on, as in, Amazon is knowingly cheating authors out of page reads or sales, that sort of secret doesn't stay secret long. One disgruntled employee, one director-level staffer passed up for promotion to VP, and we'd all know about it. So, using that logic, I set aside the assumption that Amazon is actively doing something nefarious.

So what does that leave as the likely explanation for what we are seeing? It seems that they are listening, frankly. We (authors) have been complaining about book stuffers and scammers and all that jazz very loudly, for some time. Our previous complaint was that they were not doing enough. Now they're banning accounts - and any fraudulent activity associated with those accounts - and it seems the prevailing mood now is to complain that they went too far.

It seems to me that they've done a grand sweep, which is what we've all been clamoring for. Yes, it looks like some accounts have lost page reads, and some unsuspecting authors are gonna end up with a pretty crappy month as a result. But if the end result is that they have a mechanism in place that will detect this stuff - which they must now - won't we all benefit? Doesn't the purge make the whole ecosystem healthier?

When you've got a systemic cancer, it takes a few massive doses of chemo to wipe it out. But then, once you have, it becomes easier to spot new tumors when they pop up. One would have to assume that if they are doing this big sweep, they've also got a phase two in mind - which, logic would dictate, involves watching *really* closely for new tumors to pop up. Some team has clearly been assigned the task of "fixing" KU for the authors, so that there are fewer complaints of fake reviews, scammers, bot reads, and the like. That cannot be a bad thing. In fact, it's what we've all been demanding for some time.

I have deep compassion for those of you who are affected by this right now. Big hugs all around. But Amazon as a company is doing something about it, and there are *people* charged with carrying out that task and doing a good job. I suppose it's possible that an evil cabal is behind it all, and I'm just a rube for seeking a bright side. But it seems far more likely to me that someone has heard our cries and taken them seriously.

Maybe we ought to withhold judgement until we see how the KENP rates look, and how the next couple of months go. Be optimistic, folks. This may very well be a good thing, painful as it is in the short run. And if it's not, and the end is nigh, we'll all have to learn to succeed in a world without KU. No sense being in an unhappy state between now and the time we *really* know something.

Anyhow, that's my perspective, and if it runs counter to yours, that's cool. I'd be grateful if you not flame me for it, however. It's been quite toxic around here lately, and I was disinclined to risk putting a target on my back by writing this, as calm-and-measured opinions tend to go down in flames when tempers are high. Just trying to offer a thin ray of hope to any who are looking for one.

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #191 on: April 10, 2018, 10:19:19 PM »
So, using that logic, I set aside the assumption that Amazon is actively doing something nefarious.

Yes, but Amazon's definition of nefarious, and the generally accepted definition, dont even meet on the same planet.

Quote
So what does that leave as the likely explanation for what we are seeing? It seems that they are listening, frankly.

Listening doesn't take TWO YEARS!

Quote
It seems to me that they've done a grand sweep, which is what we've all been clamoring for. Yes, it looks like some accounts have lost page reads, and some unsuspecting authors are gonna end up with a pretty crappy month as a result. But if the end result is that they have a mechanism in place that will detect this stuff - which they must now - won't we all benefit? Doesn't the purge make the whole ecosystem healthier?

But it hasn't. By the words on their own emails, they admit they know who the scammers/botters/stuffers are, and they can tell when authors are STILL benefiting from them. Which means, they HAVEN'T done anything with the real problem, because if they had, no-one could STILL benefit from it.

Their own words condemn Amazon as NOT fixing the problem, only using it to harass people.

Case in point, a recent comment the worst of the stuffers are still cluttering up the top 100 list. Shouldn't they have been the first to go?

They can claim they've deleted thousands of accounts all they like. Most likely they were all sock puppets, and absolutely zero of the real problems have even been looked at. I'll judge the job done when you cant find a stuffed book, or a botted ranked book anywhere after looking all day.

Quote
When you've got a systemic cancer, it takes a few massive doses of chemo to wipe it out. But then, once you have, it becomes easier to spot new tumors when they pop up. One would have to assume that if they are doing this big sweep, they've also got a phase two in mind - which, logic would dictate, involves watching *really* closely for new tumors to pop up. Some team has clearly been assigned the task of "fixing" KU for the authors, so that there are fewer complaints of fake reviews, scammers, bot reads, and the like. That cannot be a bad thing. In fact, it's what we've all been demanding for some time.

2 Years, with no evidence now anything has happened except deleted sock puppet accounts and stripped reads.

Quote
But Amazon as a company is doing something about it, and there are *people* charged with carrying out that task and doing a good job.

What evidence is there anything at all has changed?

Why would people be told there is still ongoing wrongdoing giving them reads, and Amazon know where its coming from, if something had actually been done?

Quote
Anyhow, that's my perspective, and if it runs counter to yours, that's cool. I'd be grateful if you not flame me for it, however. It's been quite toxic around here lately, and I was disinclined to risk putting a target on my back by writing this, as calm-and-measured opinions tend to go down in flames when tempers are high. Just trying to offer a thin ray of hope to any who are looking for one.

Your thin ray of hope died a quick death several years ago.  ;D

We've seen all of this before. Amazon appears to act, nothing changes. 6 months later, they do it again a different way, and nothing changes. They rinse and repeat, nothing changes.

Amazon, let's see some real change come out of this. Just for once. Just to give us a slim ray of hope.

And if it is true a lot of the top 100 are stuffed or botted or whatever, lets see everyone jump 100 in the ranks when you do finally do something.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #192 on: April 10, 2018, 10:42:14 PM »
@seanhinn The reason emotions run high is because some people are being put through the wringer, others empathize because theyve been run around by Amazon before, and anyone who has been in this business for long enough knows they might be next.

This is at least the fourth time Ive witnessed Amazon drag peoples reputations and in some cases their livelihoods through the mud.

No, Amazon do not fix the underlying problems that cause the issues they claim to be addressing.

No, not everyone who gets swept up and hit over the head by Amazon deserves it.

No, refusing to discuss the quite possibly unfair decision against an individual is not fair, reasonable or respectful of the suppliers and customers who have made Amazon the company it is.

No, nothing every changes and in six or so months we can expect to see another mad sweep and, fairly or otherwise, you might be Amazons next victim, where youll be unfairly punished without explanation and any attempts to talk to them about it will be blocked.

Hang around Amazons playground long enough and youll eventually be beaten up by the schoolyard bully over something that quite possibly isnt your fault, and when you prove them wrong dont expect to be financially compensated for the money they cost you or even get an apology.

Its the Amazon way and it sucks. Let people vent without judging them poorly for it because, believe me, Amazon isnt listening and theyll never apologize for their mistakes or the damage they caused you.

Offline AYClaudy

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #193 on: April 11, 2018, 12:16:39 AM »


We've seen all of this before. Amazon appears to act, nothing changes. 6 months later, they do it again a different way, and nothing changes. They rinse and repeat, nothing changes.

Amazon, let's see some real change come out of this. Just for once. Just to give us a slim ray of hope.

It's a slim hope, but Amazon did do something once. They changed to KU2, where authors were no longer paid for a full read at the 10% mark, but instead paid "per page". That was in response to the store being littered with pamphlets or serials-- some of which were also top 100. So maybe this is a sign of things to come... July has often been the time for rolling out changes. I'm not holding my breath waiting, but I wouldn't completely dismiss the idea of a change coming.

Offline D-C

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #194 on: April 11, 2018, 12:59:46 AM »

There are almost certainly *lots* of people who see the data behind the scenes, and if there was something truly nefarious going on, as in, Amazon is knowingly cheating authors out of page reads or sales, that sort of secret doesn't stay secret long. One disgruntled employee, one director-level staffer passed up for promotion to VP, and we'd all know about it. So, using that logic, I set aside the assumption that Amazon is actively doing something nefarious.


Firstly, I wish I had your hope. Sadly, after four years in this business, I don't trust Amazon/KDP to know anything about the KU monster they've created, for one simple reason: each department is isolated. The content team doesn't talk to the tech team, tech doesn't talk to customer services, customer services don't talk to content, don't talk to ECR, and around and around we go.

We've all seen the botters hijack also-boughts from legitimate books. We know the signs. I can point to one right now that's been botting the system FOR YEARS. Amazon has been informed, multiple times, and the account is still live. The botters are obvious to anyone actually paying attention, but KU is too big, and too unwieldy to monitor.

Retrospectively removing page-reads and blaming the author has been going on for months, maybe over a year now. To date, that I know of, none of the page-reads have ever been returned and none were able to "clear their name." KDPs oversensitive "page-reads fraud bot" needs to stop pointing fingers at the authors and dig deeper into the issue. Until that happens, this won't change. And that won't happen unless readers (customers) start complaining. Authors might as well scream into an echo chamber, but customers... Amazon listens to customers.

I'm very much of the mind that readers should be left out of author drama BUT when it gets to the point that KU has become such a mess, readers are likely the only folks who can fix this. So, if you have a KU subscription, contact customer services and give them feedback. Ask your readers to do the same.

Sadly, as self-pub'd authors, we don't have much of a voice. We're easily ignored. But readers can make a difference.

Beyond that, I don't have any advice to give to those impacted. Right now, rank stripping and page-read removals from innocent authors is the reality of KDP Select/KU. So is the "fantasy payout pot" and "made-up KENPC" which, frankly, is so ludicrous a way to pay authors that anyone outside the industry would laugh that we roll-over and accept KDPs payment terms. It's horrible, but that's Amazon.

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact WE can't do anything (we've tried, time and time again), but readers can.


Offline GeneDoucette

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #195 on: April 11, 2018, 03:35:40 AM »
If vindictiveness and incompetence are equally likely, I tend to think incompetence is the explanation. With Amazon, the complaint is that they don't appear to want to devote enough time and resources to being competent.

Online Patty Jansen

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #196 on: April 11, 2018, 03:57:45 AM »
If vindictiveness and incompetence are equally likely, I tend to think incompetence is the explanation. With Amazon, the complaint is that they don't appear to want to devote enough time and resources to being competent.

In every place where I or members of my family have worked, incompetence is exponentially related to the size of the company. It's not that bigger companies want to be incompetent, it is that departments become so big they don't need to don't talk to each other, departmental heads go on kingdom-building sprees, cost-cutting leads to ridiculous expectations, worker morale is not always high in all places where it needs to be, and computer systems become so complicated and inefficient that one needs a degree in IT just to understand how the system works. I have zero belief that somehow Amazon will be any different.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #197 on: April 11, 2018, 04:37:13 AM »
There is no get out of jail free card just because youre incompetent. I think there is such a thing as unintentional malice, where destructive outcomes are a result of inadequate thought, whether thats due to laziness or stupidity or lack of care.

I believe Amazon at the very least behave in a way that results in unintentional malice, but they dont get out of jail free just because there was no intent. Thats why there is such a thing as corporate responsibility, which I personally believe Amazon are failing at.

Offline dgaughran

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #198 on: April 11, 2018, 04:43:30 AM »
If Amazon has created a fraud detection system which is generating so many false positives, and sanctioning authors who have done nothing wrong, then that is most definitely on Amazon.

I say "if" though. We still don't know whether it is that, or nefarious third parties targeting the innocent to provide cover, or both, or something else...
Stuff for writers thisaway

Offline RTW

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #199 on: April 11, 2018, 04:58:40 AM »
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.

Phoenix--
I'm aware of only two ARC services--HG and a service that the Book Rank fellow started a month ago. Is HG somehow involved in this? If so, can you say so? Or is that not kosher here? Because I'm using them for an upcoming release, which I'd intended to put a, for me, large AMS ad spend on. Now I'm concerned that putting the book in KU, spending on AMS ads, and using an ARC service--methods I'd thought were legit and would help my book's visibility and sales--are all bad ideas.
I realize that a lot of the successful authors on kboards are wide, but as someone who has few sales and a tiny mailing list, I have to start somewhere. But the where is getting harder and harder to discern.
Thanks.


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