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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I got an email from Amazon Christmas Eve that they had set my anthology, Dead Men (and Women) Walking, to draft status. Apparently during one of their "routine checks" they discovered that the book (which was first published in 2007) has content in it that matches content from a different book not published by me.

Considering that the book was first published in 2007 and that we only purchased first time rights to the stories, I completely EXPECT that many of those stories have been republished in the years since then. Because they are d*mn good stories and the writers are d*mn good writers that are smart enough to resell stories to multiple markets when possible.

So they gave me ten days to reaffirm that I have the rights to publish the book. Which is fine, I suppose. Good thing I wasn't on vacation during the holidays, I guess. As it is, today was the first time since Friday I even checked my email.

This isn't the first time they have done this with one of our anthologies. It's like they don't understand the concept of an anthology or it never occurred to them when setting up their auto-message system that anthologies would in fact possibly include work published elsewhere. I had a helluva fight with them over Bardic Tales and Sage Advice last year that went on for two weeks and included me sending scans of the signed contracts. They deactivated (not just set to draft) Legendary Horrors twice. I'm not some newbie who just uploaded my first book yesterday. I've been a publisher with them doe YEARS now. You would think that at a certain point Amazon would figure out "Hey, this is a legitimate publisher who publishes anthologies. Maybe we should stop flagging the books?"

And it isn't even like someone is reporting the books or anything. It's their arbitrary "quality reviews" that are neither quality nor reviews at all. So every few months I have to fight with them over one of our books because they just randomly flag crap and leave me to figure it out. :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:
 

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I had the exact same email on Christmas Eve for two of my stories, both set to draft. However, all I had to do was simply republish to reconfirm my rights (not even an email reply to Amazon was necessary).

So I republished, and that was that. Just a silly minor hassle.
 

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So, did they take if off sale, or just stop your from making changes?

Taking it off sale is just wrong (in my book).

But if they just want a reply within 10 days, or then they'll take if off, that's a different story.

And yes, it should be 10 business days. 10 calender days is pretty fast, I agree.
 

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Vera Nazarian said:
I had the exact same email on Christmas Eve for two of my stories, both set to draft. However, all I had to do was simply republish to reconfirm my rights (not even an email reply to Amazon was necessary).

So I republished, and that was that. Just a silly minor hassle.
Vera, that's a different email and issue. I've gotten both. The one where I just need to reconfirm my right to publish the book, like you got, happens every single time I publish an ebook version of a book that has a different publisher for the print edition and where the print edition is available on Amazon.

The one Julie got DOES require some sort of substantiated proof. I got that email for one of the short stories in the Extinct antho I edited. I sent a copy of the contract as proof in that case.

They are both bot-driven mails. I've asked Amazon if they could flag the Steel Magnolia account ahead of time for all 37 titles we got digital-rights-reversions on. Nope. So I have to go back in and re-verify my rights every single time. I can't do it pre-emptively. I HAVE to wait for the email to hit my inbox. That adds 24-36 additional hours to the publishing time.

It's an annoyance, yes. But I'm glad they're at least trying to cut down on copyright infringement. Like the pulling of reviews, it's likely overkill and makes things harder for the rules-abiders, but if it helps overall, I guess I can suck it up.

They haven't unpublished a book while it was in review waiting for the verification ... yet.
 

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I got that same email for a Kindle version of an online magazine I published back in the autumn of 2010. I had the rights, and I could have just re-confirmed that...but after conferring with the co-publisher, I decided it was better to just pull it. The darn thing never sold anything anyway, and I didn't want to jeopardize my own titles, which are actually earning me money.

Not a good thing to have to worry about over Christmas, that's for sure...
 

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I am surprised as hell that 4chan's Daring Do books haven't been flagged given that they are objectively terrible I every sense and contain such obvious errors that I'm surprised it's making the Make A Wish foundation as much as it is.
 

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Julie - I understand this situation is annoying but I'm not really sure what else Amazon is expected to do.  Just not check your books because you're a 'known' publisher?  I can just imagine the problems that would lead to.
 

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My advice is have a contract available for every single thing you publish. I have had this situation in multiple permutations. Sometimes I have had to send documents but usually I just have to "affirm I am not a lying, stealing scumbag."

And since a major publisher is currently illegally publishing one of my books (got the bright idea to publish it when I notified them the rights had expired, as if I wouldn't notice a top 100 bestseller being openly pirated...), I am grateful Amazon at least paying lip service in whatever form. It's messy and inconvenient but it protects writers as much as it inconveniences writers. Since I have an offer on the table to buy back my other books, I don't need to bring the hammer down yet, but I have their signed release form ready and warming up.

Imagine if someone HAD stolen all of your books and published them just before Xmas without documentation or a "review check." Seems like a much bigger nightmare than this.
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
It's their arbitrary "quality reviews" that are neither quality nor reviews at all.
Do not attempt to adjust your set. The robots control the horizontal, the robots control the vertical.
 

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scottnicholson said:
My advice is have a contract available for every single thing you publish. I have had this situation in multiple permutations. Sometimes I have had to send documents but usually I just have to "affirm I am not a lying, stealing scumbag."

Imagine if someone HAD stolen all of your books and published them just before Xmas without documentation or a "review check." Seems like a much bigger nightmare than this.
Great points.
 

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Phoenix Sullivan said:
Vera, that's a different email and issue. I've gotten both. The one where I just need to reconfirm my right to publish the book, like you got, happens every single time I publish an ebook version of a book that has a different publisher for the print edition and where the print edition is available on Amazon.

The one Julie got DOES require some sort of substantiated proof. I got that email for one of the short stories in the Extinct antho I edited. I sent a copy of the contract as proof in that case.

They are both bot-driven mails. I've asked Amazon if they could flag the Steel Magnolia account ahead of time for all 37 titles we got digital-rights-reversions on. Nope. So I have to go back in and re-verify my rights every single time. I can't do it pre-emptively. I HAVE to wait for the email to hit my inbox. That adds 24-36 additional hours to the publishing time.

It's an annoyance, yes. But I'm glad they're at least trying to cut down on copyright infringement. Like the pulling of reviews, it's likely overkill and makes things harder for the rules-abiders, but if it helps overall, I guess I can suck it up.

They haven't unpublished a book while it was in review waiting for the verification ... yet.
Actually it sounds to me like it's EXACTLY the kind of email that Julie received. Nowhere in her original post does Julie say they required major proof from her, she is merely complaining (understandably) at the stupidity and hassle of it.

I sympathize; I've had all kinds of other foolish time-wasting incidents with my other books, where they required actual proof, contracts, etc.

I am just being very zen about it right now, thankful for the Christmas Eve "miracle" that all I had to do this time around was republish to confirm the books instead of engaging in the usual back and forth with ten billion Amazon reps before they understood I had all valid rights, and desisted.

In any case, here is the email I received, Julie can say if this is similar to what she also received:

Hello,

During a recent review, we found content inside your book matches content from another book not published by this account. We've set your book to the "Draft" status, while in the "Draft" status your book continues to be available for sale in the Kindle store. At this time, we need you to take an additional step to confirm that you hold the publishing rights for this book:

The Witch Who Made Adjustments (ASIN:B006V3FJ4M)
Three Names of the Hidden God (ASIN:B0073TY5BG)

1. If you hold the electronic publishing rights for this book, please proceed to the "Rights & Pricing" submission page from your Bookshelf and resubmit your book for publishing (no response is required). Instructions on how to do this are listed below.
2. If the book is in the public domain, please confirm this and include the information you used to make this determination. We may request additional information to confirm the public domain status.
3. If you do not hold the electronic publishing rights for this book, please unpublish your book from your Bookshelf. Instructions on how to do this are listed below.

If you publish books for which you do not hold the electronic publishing rights, your account may be terminated. If your account is terminated, all of the books that have been uploaded through KDP will be removed from the Kindle store and you will not be permitted to open new KDP accounts.

Please take action on this book within 10 days. If you don't take action within 10 days, your book will be blocked on your bookshelf and will not be available for sale in the Kindle Store.

Thank you for your interest in publishing with Amazon KDP.

Best regards,

Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com
Now, the two ebooks above are both short stories, and both indeed appear in other third party publisher anthologies, and as standalones that I released myself due to them being subject to non-exclusive ebook rights.

The Witch Who Made Adjustments was originally published in the ebook anthology Past Future Present 2011, and Three Names of the Hidden God was originally published in the DAW print anthology Heroes in Training.

Both of these anthos are currently still in print in Kindle format, and so I guess the Amazon bots scanned them and my standalone stories and found a match.

As long as they understand that both those publishers and I all have rights to publish these works simultaneously, there should be no problem.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Vera--In the most recent case it is still available for sale for now, however it has been 24 hours since I reconfirmed with them and the book is still set to draft. With Bardic Tales and Sage Advice, they pulled it off sale despite the email saying it was only in draft, and it took two weeks to sort out (including sending copies of the contracts). With Legendary Horrors, the second time they flagged it they pulled it off sale for two days.

If this was a one-time thing, I wouldn't bat an eyelash. But because the bulk of what I publish is anthologies and collections, this is becoming a regular occurrence. As Phoenix said, they SHOULD be able to flag certain accounts as publishers and not indie, particularly since they forced all small presses and micro presses to use them exclusively after they shut down Mobipocket and have closed off other distribution options that were previously used by small publishers like me.

Scott--

Imagine if someone HAD stolen all of your books and published them just before Xmas without documentation or a "review check." Seems like a much bigger nightmare than this.
The problem is that my books were all published YEARS AGO and have been available on Amazon for four to five years now. It makes no sense for them to flag my books instead of those that are "new." Unless Amazon thinks I can bent the time-space continuum, it is impossible for me to have "stolen" a story published in 2012 and published it myself in 2007.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
KVWitten said:
***** - I understand this situation is annoying but I'm not really sure what else Amazon is expected to do. Just not check your books because you're a 'known' publisher? I can just imagine the problems that would lead to.
Actually, yes, that is exactly what I expect Amazon to do. I think after being a vendor with them for five years now, and having a pre-existing distribution contract with them from their old Mobipocket program that confirms who I am and my business, that yes maybe there should have been some special considerations made. Particularly since this happens so often. This wasn't a one-shot problem. It's ongoing. I think any publisher who has been with them past a certain point should be given a pass on certain mundane things. There isn't a legitimate reason why Phoenix couldn't get a waiver.

And this is the thing: this program of theirs doesn't stop piracy. Just asking someone to reaffirm their rights isn't going to stop someone. Come on, the pirate already "affirmed" once when they uploaded the book. Asking them to do it again is suppose to do what? It's a classic case of confusing activity with accomplishment. The program exists not because it actually does anything constructive. It exists to cover-their-butts so they can claim they have a program in place. But it really is the equivalent of asking someone to go through a metal detector when they LEAVE the building, not when they come in.

Amazon should do what some other vendors I work with do: manually check the uploads of new accounts, and once the account has proven to be legitimate then you can upload without issues. The worst offenders, after all, are not going to be the people who have been publishing with Amazon for years. They are going to be the new fly-by-night people who are trying to get over on the system. And I don't mean having a boy check the file. I mean having a human being look at it.

And yes, that would require them actually paying someone. But you know, they drop half a million dollars a month on Select's borrowing. They can't hire a few people to manually check new accounts to make sure that they are legitimate up front?
 

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My experience was (arguably) worse that that of the OP. In August I woke up one morning to find that my best seller had been deleted with no notice or explanation. Later that day, I received an email from Amazon demanding that I prove copyright. I forwarded my Library of Congress certificate within one hour, but it still took them three days to restore it, during which time I lost my high ranking and most of my visibility. Before that I was selling thousands. All my hard work over the previous year was effectively ruined. I have still not managed to recover.

I received an email saying they were taking steps to make sure that this didn't happen to anyone else, but there was no explanation or apology.     
 

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Alondo said:
My experience was (arguably) worse that that of the OP. In August I woke up one morning to find that my best seller had been deleted with no notice or explanation. Later that day, I received an email from Amazon demanding that I prove copyright. I forwarded my Library of Congress certificate within one hour, but it still took them three days to restore it, during which time I lost my high ranking and most of my visibility. Before that I was selling thousands. All my hard work over the previous year was effectively ruined. I have still not managed to recover.

I received an email saying they were taking steps to make sure that this didn't happen to anyone else, but there was no explanation or apology.
Yikes! This makes me want to go register my current new book with the Library of Congress. It's my second book without a previous Big Five published version. The hassle of trying to prove it's my own original work would seriously tie up all my time since I have a labor-intensive day job.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Gennita Low said:
Yikes! This makes me want to go register my current new book with the Library of Congress. It's my second book without a previous Big Five published version. The hassle of trying to prove it's my own original work would seriously tie up all my time since I have a labor-intensive day job.
But herein is the problem: that won't really help you because Amazon has a habit of shooting first and asking questions later which is my underlying point. There is no mechanism in place to get your book pre-screened. You have to wait until they flag you and ask for the affirmation or proof and by that time it may already be too late.
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
But herein is the problem: that won't really help you because Amazon has a habit of shooting first and asking questions later which is my underlying point. There is no mechanism in place to get your book pre-screened. You have to wait until they flag you and ask for the affirmation or proof and by that time it may already be too late.
Exactly. I always register my books with Library of Congress. Without wanting to get into a debate about whether that is or is not necessary, the fact remains that with Amazon it didn't help me one iota. My book was removed from sale before I even knew what the problem was. There seems to be no mechanism in place to stop it, so if it happened to me, it could happen to anyone.

I've heard the, "Amazon doesn't owe us a living", argument till I'm blue in the face, but there are a number of authors who rely on their royalty income to pay bills, feed families etc. Chances are I would be writing full time now if it wasn't for my experience, but I've pretty well given up on that idea, despite my earlier success because, and there's no easy way to say this, I just don't trust them.
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
But herein is the problem: that won't really help you because Amazon has a habit of shooting first and asking questions later which is my underlying point. There is no mechanism in place to get your book pre-screened. You have to wait until they flag you and ask for the affirmation or proof and by that time it may already be too late.
I hear you on that. But at least I'll have the proof in hand instead of having to do the running around then, yes? I mean, if they do that to me now, I can't even say what I'll do besides scream in frustration. Saying it's MINE, I WROTE IT doesn't prove anything to them. With a copyright document, at least I know I can send that to them within a day, you know?

But yeah, losing momentum is* a big deal. Happened to me in another way and lost a lot of my writing career, which was chugging nicely at that time.

I'm wishing you "full steam ahead!" for 2013!
 
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