I’m not sure how to tell you this but…..

Amazon have closed my account. You will therefore not be able to access any of my titles on either Amazon or Kindle Unlimited. I’m feeling confused and pretty shaken up right now, but I have been keeping a timeline of events for evidence, so if you’re interested, I’ve copied it below. It basically boils down to me trying to upload a new story onto Amazon with a title they didn’t like. I will obviously try to fight this, although many authors before me have experienced similar issues with Amazon and have ultimately been unsuccessful in their fight. Fingers crossed x

Timeline of events:

29/12 – I try to publish a short story book with the title “Crime and Punishment: Erotic short story: Running into an old school friend never felt so good…or forbidden”.  Book is not published and set to status “blocked” on KDP without explanation or discussion.

30/12 – I email (politely) to ask why it is blocked, as there are ample books from multiple authors on Amazon (at least 2 of them from erotica authors) with the same title of “Crime and Punishment” which I assume the issue relates to.

31/12 – Billy from KDP emails me back to say they “uphold their decision”, but doesn’t provide any details to help me fix the problem.

31/12 – I email back (politely) to ask if KDP can please specify which book on Amazon my publication is being flagged about, because there are loads of books of Amazon with the same titles.  Then I can alter the title of my book accordingly to adhere to KDP’s rules.

31/12 – I receive an email from Jasa at KDP requesting 5 business days to review everything, and being thanked for my patience.

31/12 – I look at my KDP Dashboard to discover the message “Your account has been closed and access removed”

31/12 – I receive an email from KDP to state that they are terminating my account, effective immediately, and that I’m not eligible to receive any outstanding royalties (i.e. my income of the past 2 months, because Amazon pay author’s up to 90 days after a book sale/page read)

31/12 – I email (again politely), apologising for whatever it is I’ve done (which they still haven’t really explained) with examples of other authors who have published the same titles on Amazon and offering to retract my short story from sale instead, or change the title to something KDP deems suitable. I copy this to jeff@amazon.com, as many authors have suggested when this has happened to them.

31/12 – KDP respond stating I copied my email to an unknown account and in order to protect my privacy, they will only respond to the email address which on file for my account (which no longer exists). I will receive a response within one business day.

31/12 – I reply (still politely, incredibly), to explain I copied the email to Jeff@Amazon, in the hope of flagging Amazon Executives attention.

31/12 – I should be celebrating the approaching new year and also the fact I’ve just had the best month of sales ever with Amazon.  Instead, I sit quietly, unable to fully relax or sleep, and see out the worst new year’s eve on record, vowing that if I ever manage to get my account reinstated, I will no longer write exclusively for Amazon, as I have done for the past 5 years, if this is how they treat people. As much as you will yourself to keep calm and justify in your own mind that this massive over-reaction by KDP must be a mistake you can logically and calmly resolve, you can’t help the physiological changes that take place in your body (heart-rate fluctuations, nausea, inability to focus, concentrate or sleep, fear at the loss of income, anger at the unjustness of their treatment). It’s not just about the loss of income I’ve been striving to earn (and have spent money in order to maximise) but also about the impact on future income, plus all the plans I have in place (for future book releases, pre-sales, advertising plans, etc). Without access to KDP, EVERYTHING changes, at least for me. I ponder how this has parallels to being in a toxic relationship, where a partner can completely over-react to the smallest mistake you make without explanation, leaving you feeling isolated, fearful, afraid to question and very confused.

01/01 – I check Amazon first thing because I’m obviously not asleep, and all of my books (50 unique titles across 3 pen names) have now disappeared completely, rather than just saying “unavailable” as they did last night.  It’s like the past 5 years of output never existed.  I cancel my Kindle Unlimited membership because I’m starting to feel angry. I hate the thought of giving Amazon any further income when they have confiscated my own, and while I wait for a response, it feels like the only positive action I can take.  I’m starting to get contacted directly by readers now, asking why they can’t pick up any of my titles on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited and kindly asking what they can do to help.  I haven’t responded yet because I don’t know what to say.

01/01 – A lot more readers are starting to get in touch now – love you guys. Comments range from “WTF, this can be fixed right?!” and “F’ing Bullshit”, through to “This is bloody shocking”, “That is really shitty – a really nasty way to start a new year” and “You are not alone”, which means so much thank you.

01/01 – A bog-standard response from Amazon again, now asking for 5 working days (having said they’d get back to me within 1 working day), because they need some “additional time to review everything”. Seriously, how much is there to review?! Once again they thank me for my patience (which is now pretty limited). I reply saying I’d be grateful if they could sort this faster than a week. I haven’t slept for 36 hours with worry and I’m running on empty – not sleeping properly for another 5 days will have a detrimental impact on my health and I have a young child to care for.
It probably sounds stupid being this worried, but we are talking about my only income source here. I have effectively worked for the past 2 months (November and December), anticipating to be paid for that work (which includes spending time and money on advertising to drive people to my books on Amazon), only to be told I’m not going to be paid for that work. Instead, Amazon will retain 100% of the profits that my books sales made since 1st November – they won’t be refunding you guys who purchased my book either – and during that time, I’ve released 5 new titles. No wonder Amazon’s profits are so huge because this is not a unique situation – I could provide you with a long list of authors this has happened to.

01/01 – The final word from Amazon. All communication lines have now been closed to me, and the KDP team can only be contacted on the phone via an active KDP account (which I obviously don’t have).

02/01 – I unexpectedly stumbled across an option to submit an appeal to Amazon about my account closure, which I’ve submitted today. So far, I fear all of my interaction with Amazon might have been via bots, so I really have my fingers crossed that my appeal might be read by a real person.

02/01 – I’m honestly overwhelmed by all the support I’ve been getting about this – of course there have been a few notable exceptions, as there always are in life, but overall, your support has buoyed me through this tricky time. Thank you. The more I speak about this experience, the more authors are contacting me, letting me know exactly the same thing happened to them. This is not an unusual event and although many have fought to get their accounts reinstated, many have not. Amazon put up barriers to prevent their authors making contact, once accounts have been closed. The online interface we have access to is how contact is made to request help – that includes phone calls (which Amazon control by you requesting a call and them calling you). Once access to your account has been removed, your ability to query, challenge or even interact with Amazon is taken away. With a “normal” organisation, one might expect to be able to speak to a real person, or challenge decisions, but Amazon have structured themselves in such a way to make this almost impossible. And as per the email I received yesterday, they are now ghosting any emails I send them.

03/01 – Having been twittering pretty regularly and copying in @KDPAmazon, they have finally responded. Despite pointing them towards this timeline of events, which explains my account has been closed (so I can’t contact them by phone), and my emails are now being ghosted by Amazon KDP, as per their final email instruction to me that their decision was final and they would no longer engage (so I can’t contact them by email), @KDPAmazon’s advice has been:
“We recommend replying directly to this email [the one’s received by amazon about account closure] to resolve any problems.” And to “Please contact the content review team”. And that “Email continues to be the best mean to appeal the closure of your account and follow up on the status of your case.”

14 thoughts on “I’m not sure how to tell you this but…..

  1. Hi F:
    I completely agree- this does feel like being in a toxic relationship.

    I just went onto Amazon & it is as you described- no sign of your products, either on KU or the general Amazon site.

    I’ll gadfly Amazon on your behalf as soon as I get on a laptop rather than a mobile device. I understand I’ll be able to get to a Customer Service chat window.

    I’m so dreadfully sorry your 2022 ended on a sour frantic note and 2023 has started like this. Dreadful! Thanks for letting us know. Hopefully this will be rectified quickly.

    Hang in there, friend. You are not alone.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Karen – they really mean a lot – I must say I do feel somewhat isolated right now! As for the 2 email addresses – the one with 3 f’s was a typo, probably because my fingers are working faster than my brain right now, which feels sluggish! Thanks for the website link which was interesting. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident – Amazon closing author accounts for little or no reason is a well known phenomenon – I don’t know that many authors personally, but of those I do know, it has happened to 3 of them. 2 managed to get their account reinstated and the third simply didn’t bother because it is such an uphill struggle. Thanks so much for your support and happy new year x

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  2. Hi Fenella, me again: I was trolling through Google, trying to find the best way to advocate for you, and stumbled on this article: https://www.themarysue.com/amazon-deletes-account-tries-to-take-money-oghenechovwe-donald-ekpeki/ Perhaps the trouble might be tied to your status as an “international” writer?

    Also, in your post, you listed 2 different emails for Bezos: jefff@amazon.com (3 F’s) and jeff@amazon.com (2 F’s). Which is correct?

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  3. Hi Fenella

    That is really shitty. I am so sorry this has happened to you – a really nasty way to start a new year.

    Sending you a big hug and best wishes for a speedy outcome in your favour. If there is anything I can di to help please let me know. (Not sure what…!)

    With very best wishes
    Judy

    JUDY LOVE

    Like

  4. The speed with which this all occurred is really bewildering, said from the viewpoint of someone very unfamiliar with publishing and Amazon publishing. I didn’t know that Amazon’s publishing was so heavy-handed or that their work was so apparently disjointed.
    I’m so very sorry that this has happened and hope that it will be resolved soon. You are a terrific writer and your fans will support you in whatever direction you go.
    XO

    Like

  5. You’re one of my favorite authors. Do you have a Patreon account? I can’t be alone in wanting to continue supporting your writing career and would happily subscribe.

    -E

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  6. I thought it was me! Along with your other respondents, I too would be happy to advocate on your behalf. I am a new reader to your work and just love how your writing flows and was all settled in to digest your many works.

    I also think it is so great that you are sharing every interaction as knowledge is power and there will be a HEA for this I must believe!

    Will be tracking along with others,

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  7. I wonder if there is a support group for writers who have similarly been ejected by Amazon. If there is, what have they done or where have they gone? Maybe they will have some good insight for where you can land. It absolutely sucks that Amazon has done this: no explanation, no possibility of discussion or amelioration. I’m pretty angry here. Such injustice! Thank goodness you have a WordPress page to let us know.

    Like

  8. Hello.
    I agree with the previous comments. What a crappy end to the old year and what a crappy start to the new year. I’m a big fan of your writing as well.
    I also absolutely can’t understand why Amazon is doing this. I’m also not an author, but it makes me so angry when there’s no constructive communication whatsoever and you’re just blocked.
    Can you get legal advice?
    Or maybe it would help if these cases were made public, because it also affects other authors?
    And what can we do for you as fans?

    With best wishes
    Sandra

    Like

  9. I love your work and am very sorry and angry about how you’ve been treated. I don’t know what legal help you can get, but stealing your royalties is just outrageous. This is the age of big corporations acting arbitrarily with impunity.

    Where else will your fans be able to get you work in the future?

    So Sorry, Kevin

    Like

    1. Thanks! I’m pretty relieved too. I’m still working through things tbh. 80+ of my paperbacks were deleted, so I had to reload them all manually, all of my ebooks were returned to an earlier version so they all had to be reloaded too, I’m still fighting for a significant proportion of income that Amazon are continuing to withhold, even though they said the issue has been fixed, and it has been a complete drain on creativity, as you can imagine. But at least my account has been returned! I’m now starting to remove a number of my titles from Kindle Unlimited so I don’t have all my eggs in one basket in the future!

      Like

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