WIP: Sudden Second Thoughts

I was supposed to be relaunching Facebook ads. Then I saw something that scared the hell out of me.

Friday

Another late start, another Miracle Morning. Good stuff. Then I actually spent most of the day reexamining my tools and process decisions from three months ago, because I noticed a few things:

  1. I don’t actually use the tools the way I thought I would, and I probably won’t ever, and
  2. when I have a good schedule, as I do with my Miracle Morning routine, my new tools are not optimal, and
  3. my old tools, are, in fact, much better, because
  4. solutions I was hoping for never materialized, and
  5. all the tools I know of are simply not good enough.

Ultimately, it may mean I switch my work format from my custom format back to Org Mode. It’s too soon to do it after only a day, but fast production requires good planning and tracking tools, and right now I don’t have any.

Late in the evening, again, I turned my attention to back to executing my current plan. And that’s when I found the terrifying thing: A pair of posts at The Passive Voice describe lots of authors losing their Amazon KDP e-book publishing accounts through no fault of their own.

In a nutshell, scammers are publishing books in KDP and signing them up for KDP Select, which lets the books be available through Kindle Unlimited and get paid per page when someone reads them. Then the scammers are paying a “click farm” to pretend to read their books (using dummy accounts signed up for the 30-day free Kindle Unlimited trial period). Of course, it looks fishy for the scammers to flood only their own books with the fake page reads, so the new tactic to avoid discovery is to also flood random books in KDP Select with fake page reads. Recently, Amazon deployed automatic algorithms to detect sudden surges in page reads, and any author with a book experiencing a sudden burst of massive page reads is being declared a scammer, at which point Amazon instantly cancels all the author’s pending royalties, removes the author’s books from its store, and terminates the author’s account, and bars the author from ever selling on Amazon again, forever—by form letter.

So, scammer activity is causing Amazon’s terminator bots to destroy random authors in KDP Select.

Wow.

Sure, authors can appeal the decision, but I haven’t heard of anyone being successful in that. And, given that Amazon accounts for about 70% of all e-book sales (and more for me), that’s a big problem.

The killer is that an author with one or more books in KDP Select has no way to defend against the problem. The scammers may well select books from Kindle Unlimited at random, and if they pick one of yours, that’s it.

And most of my books are in KDP Select.

And no, you can’t sue Amazon for violating your First Amendment rights, because those rights only apply to actions of the government, not private companies. (That’s one of the reasons for the constant push to privatize everything, so corporations get to decide what your rights are, not a government by the people, for the people. And I forget: Who owns corporations again? Is it poor people?)

The one thing authors can do to avoid the problem, for now, is to remove their books from KDP Select. And the only way to do that is to simply not renew the KDP Select agreement when it expires. And all my books recently renewed.

So, I have a lot to think about. KDP Select is a cornerstone of my long-term marketing plan (“weekly promotions and frequent new releases”), but I can’t do that if it risks everything. In the meantime, I need to make sure I’m protected against accidentally setting off Amazon’s terminator bots. Somehow.

What a terrible development.