Mid Crisis Update (I am PISSED.)

Let me start off by saying that: I. AM. FURIOUS.

Second, this is going to be a LONG post.


How in the fuck did I arrive here?

Well, lets get back to where it all started.

As March of this year rolled around, I noticed something strange. All of my page reads for February had disappeared. At first, I honestly didn't think much of it. I figured it was some kind of error. Weird errors have been known to crop up, and I was busy.

Then I suddenly got a message.


We are reaching out to you because we detected reading or borrow activity for your books originating from illegitimate accounts attempting to manipulate the Kindle programs. These accounts might be related to a third-party marketing service. You will receive royalties associated with legitimate or paid sales; however, we will not pay for reading activity related to illegitimate accounts. 

We fully support the efforts of our publishers to promote their books.  However, please be aware you are also responsible for ensuring that the strategies used to promote your books comply with our Terms and Conditions. We encourage you to thoroughly review any marketing services employed for promotional purposes.

We take activities that jeopardize the experience of our readers and other authors seriously.   Please know any additional violation of our Terms and Conditions – including violation caused by any marketing services you, or others on your behalf, may have used – could result in account level actions, up to and including termination of your KDP account. 

Please email us at content-review@amazon.com if you have any questions.

Amazon KDP

So I was like: WTF? I promptly got back to them, ensuring them that not only would I not attempt anything illegal or illegitimate in regards to my page reads, I don't even know how. And as for marketing: well, I had actually finally done some marketing...back in October...and in March.

So the marketing I did back in October of 2017 was for Desire, was very low-key, and resulted in basically no sales/page reads. So I figured, "Oh well." And didn't come back. Obviously there was no way that this could be affecting my page reads in FEBRUARY. (Side Note: My page reads for February weren't even that good. No sudden spike. No massive uptick. Honestly, they were below average.) And the marketing set for March was slightly more upscale, but...it was set for March. Obviously, it could have no bearing on what happened in February. (Spoiler: It didn't do well either.)

Naturally, I was confused. And naturally, I began asking: "So, given the fact that this is not at all my fault, when am I going to get my page reads back?"

At first, I got a boilerplate response.


Thank you for your email regarding the status of your account.

Illegitimate reading or borrow activity is intended to manipulate Kindle services or products. This activity sometimes results from marketing services you might have used to promote your book. We encourage you to review any marketing services used. Please know that you are responsible for ensuring the strategies used to promote your books comply with our Terms and Conditions to avoid termination of your KDP account.

You may email us at content-review@amazon.com with any questions.



So, I sent another response, again emphasizing my need for further information on this, primarily, uh, when do I get my page reads back now that you know it's not my fault? I've been hearing stories about Amazon's stonewalling tactics of just repeatedly sending the literal same copy/paste boilerplate response, so I was about prepared to give up. The amount of cash from the page reads wasn't really that much at all, and honestly, writing erotica on Amazon is kind of like living with a gun pointed at your head. You don't really want the attention of the person whose finger is on the trigger.

But I did ask again. And I got an actual, interesting response.


Thanks for writing back to us.

I see that you've written to us about 2 issues. I'll do my best to provide a thorough answer to each of your inquiries in this message.

1. Unfortunately, this issue is one that will require input from another team, so I can't answer it directly. I've forwarded your concerns to the team that handles this issue, and they will consider your input.

Someone from the appropriate team will reply within two business days.


2. Royalties earned from pages read are available the following month, when the KDP Select Global Fund is announced. That’s why you don’t see any royalties from pages read in your sales dashboard.

Hence, you will be able to see the February report by 15th March 2018.

The KDP Select Global Fund is announced monthly in our community forum on kdp.amazon.com

Thanks for using Amazon KDP.

That first issue was me asking about which specific titles had been affected by the 'illegitimate reading or borrowing activity', which was really just more for my curiosity. But the second issue was: "When do I get my page reads back?" Obviously, he had misunderstood the question, so in response, I sent him a picture of my account, specifically the fact that ALL the days in February had dropped to zero for page reads. This is where it got interesting.


I'm sorry for any disappointment this issue has caused.

I completely understand your concern here regarding zero page reads for the entire month of February.

We'll need a little time to look into the issue. I've reached out to our Report team to investigate this issue why no pages read updated is there any technical glitch from our side.

We'll contact you with more information within 3 to 5 business days.

Thanks for your patience.

So it was acknowledged as a glitch! Amazon acknowledged that my page reads were taken IN ERROR. Now, I'll definitely admit that this was probably written by someone who didn't know for sure. But it was something. While I was dealing with this, I recieved another message from a totally different person.


We encourage you to thoroughly review any marketing services employed for promotional purposes.

We take activities that jeopardize the experience of our readers and other authors seriously.  Please know any additional violation of our Terms and Conditions – including violation caused by any marketing services you, or others on your behalf, may have used – could result in account level actions, up to and including termination of your KDP account.

Best regards,

So I was confused again. I responded to it, asking what specifically this was in regards to, because I was already in contact with Amazon over an error. Unfortunately, they never responded. And to save us all some trouble, every week or so, I'd contact the initial guy asking, "So...how's it going with my page reads?" He responded two times, saying that they needed more time and apologizing...and then he never responded again after my latest attempt. So that was frustrating. But by then, I had other concerns, like the fact that March was my worst money for sales. Ever.

I was furiously trying to wrap up Sex & Survival Season 3 and Demoness II. And I did. I launched Demoness II and decided to give my idea of re-releasing Hellcats as some novels a shot.

Well, I exploded in mid April and things were fantastic. To be clear, I was making more in one day than I did for ALL of April...consistently. I have never even come CLOSE to that level of success.

Then, all of a sudden, without warning, I got this message on May 10th.


We are reaching out to you as a follow-up on our previous communication regarding reading or borrow activity originating from accounts attempting to manipulate Kindle services. We detected continued illegitimate activity after our communication and, as a result, we have suspended your account to protect our publishers and readers experience.

We need you to take the necessary actions to stop the activity. We encourage you to review any marketing services you may have used, since you are responsible for ensuring that the strategies used to promote your books comply with our Terms and Conditions. Once you have done so, please send a response to content-review@amazon.com which includes a statement that you reviewed all marketing services you may have used, and confirms the discontinued use of any that might be responsible for this activity.

Once we receive this affirmation, we will reactivate your account. Please be aware, any additional illegitimate activity may result in termination. If we don’t receive this affirmation, we will terminate your account after 14 days.


Amazon KDP

And I promptly shit my pants. I was suspended, which basically meant that I couldn't access my account. Now, to be clear, I had done NO more marketing of any kind after that one in March. I didn't really think I needed to, at least not for awhile. I promptly responded, being as thorough and transparent as possible in my response.

I spent the rest of the day freaking out, having anxiety problems, and eventually managed to sleep. Well, I woke up the next hoping for an update. Oh, I got an update all right.

Every single one of my eBooks was gone. That was when I really started to panic, because that seemed like the next step to termination. Although, oddly enough, all my paperbacks were still there. And people were messaging me, letting me know that my books were missing. Well, not much longer after this, Amazon responds, saying that they have decided to reinstate my account. I regain access and see that, oddly, all of my titles still show as Live in the store. And yet the lead to dead pages. So I thought maybe it was something that was going to self-correct. I gave it a few hours.

It didn't self correct.

I e-mailed Amazon about the problem, and then, deciding to be proactive, tried to republish a few of my titles by uploading new versions. (I needed to do this anyway, to update a few of the links in the back of my newer titles and correct a few errors I had noticed.)

That didn't work.

As of yesterday, (May 13th), I received a response from Amazon, saying that they were going to look into the error of my missing books, and they'd get back to me within 5 business days. So, if I'm very lucky, then by Friday my problem will be fixed.


Let's recap, shall we?

After three and a half years of busting my ass, never once breaking the rules, struggling to make a living, and earning Amazon money for sales through my books, and writing over ONE MILLION WORDS, I finally began earning a REAL living for once in my ENTIRE LIFE. I finally began to enjoy ACTUAL SUCCESS. And I had done it without breaking any of the rules, without taking any shortcuts. I had done it RIGHT.

And Amazon arbitrarily just fucking DECIDED that I was guilty and fucked me over for basically no reason. What in the FUCK is this guilty until proven innocent shit? How can I POSSIBLY prove that I'm innocent to them? How can I prevent this from happening again!? How can I POSSIBLY know who is reading my books!? How can I stop bots from auto-reading my titles!? I have literally ZERO control over that!

And to make matters even worse, a "glitch" suddenly takes ALL of my titles down DURING THE BEST EARNING DAYS OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. This has cost me LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. And how long is this going to take to recover from this? I am EVER going to see this level of success again?

And it gets worse.

Because of this, I am basically being forced to pull all of my titles out of the Kindle Unlimited. Unless Amazon can somehow promise me that this will not happen again, I literally cannot risk losing my ENTIRE account. And I don't want to do it. I don't want to pull my books out of the Kindle Unlimited. The readers were clearly enjoying it, and some people were specifically thanking me for making it available through the KU. But now I have to deprive them of that because Amazon fucked me over for literally no reason.

I'm sorry if I seem overly petty or vindictive, but this is straight up disrespectful of Amazon to treat me, AND OTHERS, like this. I am not the only one this has happened to. I know that. And some people have had their account terminated and lost EVERYTHING.

How in the FUCK is this fair at all?

So...yeah. I'm really pissed. I'm normally a really chill person, and the thing is, I actually can understand Amazon's position. Some shady motherfuckers are using bots to fuck Amazon over, and fuck people out of page reads, and game the system. And that's wrong. And Amazon should do something about it. But this is NOT the answer. I actually wouldn't even mind them subtracting any illegitimate page reads from my account. I would gladly give those up, because I agree, it's not fair for me to benefit, even indirectly, from someone else scamming the system.

But this is absolutely NOT the way to handle this. Threatening and, in some cases, ruining the lives of innocents authors is seriously fucked up. Because for a lot of people, writing is our LIVES. Not only is it what pays the bills, but it's what we live for, what we get out of bed in the morning for. I don't write for a hobby, I don't just write as a job. I write because I love it, I write because I care about it, I write because making a living from writing has turned what was a pretty miserable life into a happy one.

And Amazon is threatening to take that away.

One final thought for right now, as I await Amazon's response. I have to say that this has utterly shattered my trust in Amazon. Before, whenever I had a problem, the responses were often prompt and professional, and they solved the problem. But this is fucking ridiculous. In an interview in 2015, Jeff Bezos himself put out a bold statement: "But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at jeff@amazon.com." Basically, he was saying, "If you have a problem, email me personally. I'll handle it." I've heard people say that you do get a response if you do this.

So you know what? I'm going to do just that. I'm going to e-mail Jeff or at least his staff and let him know that his company has failed several people with this blind, guilty until proven innocent, or really just guilty, mentality.

Wish me luck.

And as a little P.S....

For some reason, the eBook version of The Misty Vixen Starter Pack still has a page, although the title is 'currently unavailable'. I got a new review for it from Aris Echevarria stating: "can't give a review because as i in the process of downloading this book it suddenly came up as "this is currently unable to download " so i tried other books by this same author and they were all gone. Censorship?" Thanks, I appreciate that. And I appreciate all the people who reached out to me to try and let me know what was happening, and who've tried to help me.