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williemeikle
10-21-2017, 02:49 AM
I mentioned on a thread here yesterday that our Rowan Casey / Veil Knights series boxset Bookbub was doing well for us.

I spoke too soon. Amazon have decided in their wisdom that we're scammers, and have pulled the book from their rankings and categories, negating all the benefit of the Bookbub. We're currently trying to get to the bottom of why Amazon have done it, but it could have big implications on the future of Bookbub for everybody.

Details here of our problem, which is shared by others:
https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/amazons-hall-of-spinning-knives/

Al X.
10-21-2017, 04:42 AM
There are a couple threads on this in the self-publishing forum.

Your story adds to my belief that the whole controversy is a scam devised by Amazon so they can have an excuse to stiff authors on their royalties. I believe there is a class action suit being formed against Amazon's KDP division. I do not know the current status. But they have pissed off a lot of authors. Royally. I know a couple personally that have similar stories to yours.

WriterBN
10-21-2017, 09:37 PM
They seem to insist on using bots to catch bots, which can't end well. I've heard of this happening to other authors, but I never even considered a Bookbub feature would trigger it.

williemeikle
10-21-2017, 09:41 PM
We're now on day 3 of having no ranking, and Amazon have done nothing except accuse us of wrongdoing, but won't show us their evidence.

Escalation process is underway but even if they restore our ranking now, the damage is done and the promotion that we spent good money on all but useless. We don't even know yet whether they'll pay us for the books sold during the promotion, and if they don't, there'll be a very huge stink made.

AW Admin
10-21-2017, 10:08 PM
I would look very closely at the evidence pointing towards malicious manipulation.

I think these authors were targeted.

Arpeggio
10-22-2017, 12:19 AM
Wonder what BookBub make of this?

williemeikle
10-22-2017, 12:59 AM
Wonder what BookBub make of this?

So do I, but they haven't responded to any of our emails.

Arpeggio
10-22-2017, 01:11 AM
So do I, but they haven't responded to any of our emails.

I'm not surprised to be honest. Not as though your fault or anything but at this stage I think they would be getting as many facts as they can for discussion. Reply or not, I think they will appreciate you telling them of the incident though. I'd have just said "thanks for telling us, we are looking into it".

williemeikle
10-23-2017, 03:34 AM
And just like that, 3 days after stripping the rank, it's back. No explanations, no apology, and most of the benefit of the bookbub 'tail' demolished.


https://www.amazon.com/Veil-Knights-Box-Set-Books-ebook/dp/B06XG3B8VT/

catesquire
10-23-2017, 04:00 AM
Sorry to hear about that! Keep us posted if Amazon or Bookbub says anything. This is... disturbing.

williemeikle
10-24-2017, 06:50 PM
Amazon sent us an email, again accusing our promotion of (maybe) being used to scam the rankings, but giving us our rank back. No other comment. We've responded with a letter to Jeff Bezos, the Executive Customer team, and the guy who sent us the email, telling them that's not good enough.

Bookbub responded by washing their hands of the matter and telling us it's between us and Amazon, even although it was obviously their promotion, or some bot manipulating it, that caused Amazon to flag us as 'cheaters'.

This tale is not told yet.

veinglory
10-24-2017, 07:25 PM
I don't see any conspiracy theory or way for Amazon to be "stealing" royalties. Amazon had a lot of scammers using a box set system to manipulate rank. Because they don't have the staff to manually inspect listings they created an algorithm to try and detect and de-rank these listings. Like any algorithm it has false positives, mainly relating to box sets with sudden spikes in sales. Annoying but nothing nefarious.

BenPanced
10-26-2017, 10:01 PM
Something hinky actually might be going on. Romance Writers Of America has asked for its members to share their experiences in odd fluctuations in sales at Amazon and KU rankings after promotional pushes. Bad software update? Deliberate malfeasance? Somebody crossed their eyes and the wind changed direction?

veinglory
10-26-2017, 10:42 PM
I am still only seeing a radical uptick in derankings associated with false positives. Every delisted book I have seen happens to innocently have traits that many scam books also have. It is fully appropriate for RWA to wade in because it is capriciously murdering the incomes of some authors. But bad outcomes do not necessitate malicious intent. Just the usual Amazon refusal to deal with a problem followed by huge and haphazard over-reactions to the problem after it hits the mainstream media.

williemeikle
10-27-2017, 01:29 AM
I think we've reached the end of the line.


Amazon's latest response, which we think is their last word, is that it's up to us as authors to ensure that any services we use, including Bookbub, are using legitimate practices and not attempting to manipulate Kindle rankings. Otherwise we're liable to get our ranking pulled, and possibly lose our account altogether.


It makes us wary of even using Bookbub again.

tiddlywinks
10-27-2017, 04:39 AM
Can/will Amazon provide any proof that Bookbub's practices may have resulted in the manipulation of Kindle rankings? Otherwise, it sounds like both sides are washing their hands of it and pointing the finger across the way, leaving you guys stuck in the middle without any clear proof. I would think, if that's Amazon's response, that Bookbub would want to be more accommodating or to clarify, so as not to lose future business? :/

Sorry to hear this, Willie, but thanks for the continued updates.

williemeikle
10-27-2017, 04:54 AM
Can/will Amazon provide any proof that Bookbub's practices may have resulted in the manipulation of Kindle rankings? Otherwise, it sounds like both sides are washing their hands of it and pointing the finger across the way, leaving you guys stuck in the middle without any clear proof. I would think, if that's Amazon's response, that Bookbub would want to be more accommodating or to clarify, so as not to lose future business? :/

Sorry to hear this, Willie, but thanks for the continued updates.


Yep, both sides have washed their hands of it. Bookbub say it's between us and Amazon, and Amazon say it's up to us to police our advertising. There's no proof forthcoming of any of the alleged wrongdoing though. We've asked to see the evidence, but got stonewalled.

veinglory
10-27-2017, 05:37 AM
Amazon is being an ass, because all Bookbub does is cause sales spikes. They are an honest (if unhelpful) company. But this also is part of Amazon's pattern of: deny there is a problem, over-react to the problem, deny there is a problem with their reaction etc. It does mean Bookbub is off the table at least for now.

Arpeggio
10-28-2017, 12:01 AM
Amazon is being an ass, because all Bookbub does is cause sales spikes. They are an honest (if unhelpful) company. But this also is part of Amazon's pattern of: deny there is a problem, over-react to the problem, deny there is a problem with their reaction etc. It does mean Bookbub is off the table at least for now.

The fact that Amazon's business relies heavily on customer reviews combined with how customers rarely post them, has meant that making products (not just eBooks) free / discounted in order to encourage them has the become defacto thing to do.

If I were Amazon, aside from burning a pile of cash I couldn't think of a better way of making less money. If Amazon put more thought and effort into ways of getting customers to review then there might be less need for the above.

That said, they are a stock bubble based on debt powered market share with no profit so perhaps the above is ideal for their strategy of not making money.

Fullon_v4.0
10-30-2017, 10:32 PM
Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sorry things ended up so frustrating and that you were basically punished for your success. I'm about to rerelease a book on amazon and was considering viable promo tools. Bookbub is now OUT!

Al X.
10-31-2017, 01:56 AM
Better yet, ditch Amazon.

veinglory
10-31-2017, 04:53 AM
Given it is the best seller for most self-publishers, that is rather cutting off your nose.

tiddlywinks
10-31-2017, 07:24 AM
Given it is the best seller for most self-publishers, that is rather cutting off your nose.

+1