As of yesterday, my books are no longer in Kindle Unlimited. They were removed at my request, and I wanted to take a moment to explain what led to this decision.
As a new indie author, joining KDP select/ Kindle Unlimited is very appealing. It gives us the opportunity to get our books into the hands of readers we might otherwise not reach. We understand that readers aren’t always willing to take a chance on an author they’ve never heard of. However, because Amazon requires exclusivity on all KU books, it’s also a risk for us. We are placing all of our eggs in one basket in the hopes that it will pay off. For many it does. And for awhile, I was very happy with my KU experience.
Last Wednesday, I got an email from KDP Publishing/Amazon stating that they detected some reading and borrowing activity for my books originating from accounts attempting to manipulate Kindle services which I would not be paid for. The email went on to accuse me of hiring third-party marketing services and threatening me with account termination if it continued. Termination of my account would mean that my books would no longer be available in e-book format as I had agreed to only sell through Amazon in order to be a part of Kindle Unlimited. So, naturally I panicked.
Not only am I innocent of any wrong doing, but my KU reading activity has been insanely low for some time now. What activity? That was my first thought after reading the email. I’d spent the past couple of months worrying over my low rankings, knowing that if your books aren’t getting reads, sells, or reviews, they basically get put at the bottom of the haystack. Which only makes it that much harder to get your books seen. I tried to rise to the challenge, stepping up my promotion/marketing game by setting up Amazon ads.
Here’s where things get really interesting and concerning. After I received my lovely warning from Amazon, I reached out to the author community for help and discovered that I was not alone. Countless authors (only indie from what I found) have been wrongly accused. Countless authors have had their accounts suspended, Amazon not only taking their royalties but stripping them of their hard earned rankings as well. What do these authors have in common (other than being indie)? Amazon Ads. Insane right? We paid extra money to keep Amazon from burying our books, and this is the result.
I reached out to KDP/Amazon several times explaining that I was innocent of any wrong doing–explaining that I had no way of stopping something I had never put into motion and that I only wanted to know how to protect myself. Amazon’s responses were generic and unwavering. “We have decided to uphold our decision.” “We cannot offer details of our investigations or advice on marketing services.” “You are responsible for ensuring the strategies used to promote your books comply with out Terms and Conditions.”
So, I decided to take responsibility for my account by doing the only thing I knew would protect me from being accused of “illegitimate activity”–removing my account from Kindle Unlimited. On Friday, I sent an email to several different departments, including CEO Jeff Bezos, explaining the situation again and asked to be taken out of Kindle Unlimited. It was completely ignored. On Sunday, I sent another request through the contact us section of the KDP site. Thankfully, by Monday afternoon my request was completed.
Soon, all of my books will be wide–available on ibooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Overdrive. As they become available, you’ll be able to get them from the links below. I apologize to any of my readers that find this news upsetting. I assure you, I am upset by it as well.
Author friends, if you’re reading this, I urge you to reconsider using the KDP select program. I realize that this may be where the majority of your royalties are coming from, as was the case for me in the beginning. However, I truly feel that no one is safe from this. Even if you aren’t worried about being impacted, taking a stand in support of your fellow authors will aid in our efforts to get Amazon to fix this issue. While I do believe that people are scamming the system, I also believe those individuals aren’t the ones being targeted by this because they are bigger money makers for Amazon. It isn’t right, and this isn’t something that the book community should ignore.
Readers, if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited and are upset about all of the authors pulling out of the program, reach out to Amazon to tell them. If you decide to unsubscribe because of this situation, make sure they know that. The only way to get Amazon to hear us is to make some noise.