Tag Archive | Amazon

More Strange Activity on Amazon Affecting Authors and Customers

So, the last week of March, there was an activity that happened to a lot of erotica and erotic romance authors having their books shadow-banned on Amazon. This was the action of putting titles into different categories and not having them show up in a general search or the store. Eventually, some answers came out that it was a “mistake” and that the titles were being put back.

Now, more is coming out in regards to reviews. People, regular Amazon customers, are having their accounts removed from Amazon for having violated “Terms of Service (TOS)” that they received a free product or gift card to do a positive review. Secret groups have formed on Facebook and Twitter to discuss what happened. Many former customers on Amazon are using the tag #amazonclosed to discuss how many don’t know why their accounts were closed or how maybe writing positive reviews for a free gift or gift card might have backfired on them. There is even speculation that it is Russia hacking Amazon and closing accounts.

Then, this last week starting in the beginning of April, authors have noticed hundreds to thousands of pages reads being taken out of their March Kindle Unlimited reports. According to a Kboards.com thread,  many of the authors have noticed a drop over the last week. The speculation is that it could be from the shadow-banning of the erotica, that made many other titles much more noticeable the last week of March. Or it could be because of the recently closed accounts, and they are deleting the reads for all of the accounts.

Who can say what it truly is, but Amazon itself. What has been disclosed by Amazon are new law suits filed this week a UK book stuffer on April 5. Book stuffers make up bogus books using previously published book material or sometimes just gibberish, to get clicks and reads. But often, they use “bots” and click farms to manipulate KU page reads and rob Amazon and legitimate authors of hard earned cash from the program. They also tend to rank high and get reads from unsuspecting readers that think they are a legitimate book.

Many authors and I’m sure readers will be happy to see these scammers finally going down. I know there has been a calling to clean up KU for years, and it seems to finally be happening. But there is a lot of fall out, of legitimate customers and authors, losing accounts or pages. This always seems to happen. It’s hard to know who has been playing by the rules and who has not. And to make it more difficult, scammers sometimes have picked legitimate authors to focus their bots on and buy reads to make them look more legitimate. There have been reports of some authors having this happen to them.

So, it might be that finally Amazon is going after the book stuffing scammers that have plagued Kindle Unlimited for years. And it might be also some back lash of still going after reviewers that still receive gift cards and free products to do positive reviews on Amazon. Of course, it’s a private website and all reviews belong to Amazon when you write them. But because of this backlash, I have noticed a real fall out of people wanting to review for Amazon anymore.

Most people have been leaving reviews on Goodreads these days for my books, and just not bothering with Amazon anymore. Plus, Kindles tend to direct you to the Goodreads site to review when you finish a book. I know, I’ve started reviewing more when I’m done with a book on my Kindle on Goodreads, and not even bothering to review on Amazon. Though, the email prompts will get me to motivate these days and write a quick review of a book I’ve read on Amazon these days.

So, it was surprising to me to hear there were still people leaving reviews for gift cards and free products still. The Zon also has the right to regulate its own website, which in some cases, is welcomed to get rid of the scammers. But in true Zon fashion, the nuclear option does sweep up some innocent bystanders. Reading tweets about how people will not be able to buy things for Easter or other means just shows how much power Amazon has over our lives now.

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Lynda Belle Pulling Her Titles From Kindle Unlimited

sexywritingI am announcing that all of my titles will be pulled from the Kindle Unlimited program on Amazon starting on April 1. Over the next two months, titles will be slowly leaving the program, but will be available to read through their last term in the KU program. My followers/readers are welcome to borrow my titles from the KU program until they are no longer available. They will still be available to buy on Amazon, and will soon start to be appearing on other retailers in other ereader formats.

This will be the last weekend my catalog will fully be in KU! Grab them now while you can! I wanted to give my readers time to have a last hurrah! before they are removed slowly from the program. So, enjoy!

Link to a list of Lynda Belle’s Titles here on the blog!

Link to Lynda Belle’s Author Page on Amazon!

How Long Will This Take?

I’ve unclicked the renewal box in KU. So, some titles will start becoming unavailable from KU by April 1. Many more will have about a month until they are not available in KU, and the full catalog will be out of KU by end of May. So, this gives some time for any of my followers/readers to pick up titles over the weekend before they start to become unavailable. Keep in mind, they will still be for sale on Amazon, just not in the Kindle Unlimited program.

What Will This Do To Bimonthly Discount and Freebie Deals?

They will still continue! The freebie titles will now be through Instafreebie and different selected $0.99 deals will be on more retailers. So, it will be a win-win for readers. The only real change will be that titles won’t be available as KU reads.

Why Is This Happening?

I guess this has been brewing with me for awhile, and the episode of shadowbanning erotica and erotic romance this last week on Amazon has just been the last straw. KU is not worth it anymore to me, and I can just use Instafreebie and list titles I want at $0.99 to use in promos. SO, that KU draw is totally dead. After almost 3 years in KU, I’m pulling out. I’ve also seen a real slow down for KU reads in the last 6 months, and I’m not sure if this is due to Amazon promoting erotica and spicy romance less or not.

But I need to think about my bottom line, and reach new readers to help stay in business. So, this is an option that will help me do so. It seems to me to be the right time to leave the Kindle Unlimited program.

Thank You To Everyone That Has Been A KU Reader In The Past

I do want to thank everyone that has enjoyed my stories and have read through my titles in the KU program. I am glad that you have stuck with me, and I promise to write more outstanding titles for your pleasure. This restructure is going to allow me to move full speed ahead, and still be able to write great erotica and erotic romances for you.

***AGAIN TO NOTE: Lynda Belle’s titles are going to be leaving the KU program starting on April 1. It will take a full two months for all titles to be fully out of the program. So, feel free to read and enjoy her titles as they remain in the KU program. This will be your last chance to read them in KU over the next two months.

-Lynda

Erotica and Erotic Romance Getting Shadow-Banned on Amazon

sexywriting So, being the Indie erotica and erotic romance writer, I’ve been on top of a development that started on March 22, just before the weekend. I went to a steampunk conference over the weekend, and missed the first initial hoopla and worry from what was going on. And then it all hit me in the face on Monday, March 26–Amazon was changing the rankings on erotica and re-categorizing some spicy and erotic romances into erotica.

When ever the Zon starts messing with things like this, it means something drastic is about to happen. Last time, it was KU2. That sucked to no end for people that wrote short stories, me included, where everyone started to get paid by the page instead of by single unit download. Now, they are starting to “shadow-ban” titles, spicy romance and erotic romance too, that has an “adult theme”.

The Low Down of What is Going On

There are a lot of rumors and speculation about why this is happening. In clearly the Zon’s fashion, there are no real answers when sending emails or messages to the powers that be at Amazon. Just answers to the point that titles are being reassigned to the erotica category because your book has “adult themes”. This is not only affecting regular erotica, but a lot of the steamy and erotic romance that clearly follow a romance plot line and isn’t all about the sex. Is it censorship?

Well, you have to look at why it might be happening. There is apparently a law that passed in US congress on March 21 that is supposed to help stop online sex trafficking. FOSTA or the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act is supposed to help stop online sex trafficking, but it is having a much wider affect because it holds the websites accountable, retroactively. So, many websites, including Craigslist’s personal ads, are shutting down and purging of sexual explicit content. In essence, the new administration is cracking down on sexually charged content, and it’s leading to a purge on many sites like Apple, Reddit, and Amazon.

What Does This Mean To You As A Reader?

What does it mean to romance readers of adult romances (formerly new adult), spicy romance, erotic romances and erotica? It means you are going to have a harder time finding what you like to read. You can still find erotic romances and erotica on Amazon, but not in a general search. And since the general store ranking is gone, there will be less “customer also bought” suggestions for titles.

There are still erotica categories, but they are harder to find. I’m sure other websites may follow suit. I haven’t heard anything from Kobo yet, but they are in Canada. So, that might be the saving grace for them. ANY US COMPANIES will most likely be reacting to this law. But then, I expected something like this from this administration. I knew the suppression would begin, but wasn’t sure how.

So, what could be next? Well, it’s come to the time where I will need to, and many other authors, will have to consider KU2 a mute point now. The promos haven’t been as productive lately for me, and going WIDE, which means taking my titles to other retailers, will be the only way to get new readers and help me meet my bottom line. So, in all likely hood, as an erotic romance or erotica reader, you may not find titles you want to read in KU anymore. They will still be on Amazon, but harder to find, and you’ll have to pay more for them since it won’t be profitable for them to stay in KU any longer.

Plus, I am going to try to continue my promotional bimonthly lists. It will still be a way for you to find fabulous erotica and erotic romances from good authors. But as far as the deals, there might be less freebies and more just $0.99 discounted titles.

So, yes, bottom line, you will most likely start paying more for these erotic romances and it will be harder to find them. But looks like I’ll keep up my promotions as long as I can. I’m also going to check with the other authors to see if they are planning to stay in KU. Not sure how this will all turn out, but like with most changes like this, adaptation is sometimes the only option. And to stay in business, sometimes, it’s the only choice for an author.

What Next?

Through all the things I go through as a self-published author,  I’m going to keep writing. I have some ideas for stories I haven’t finished yet, and will keep going. I’ve had to recently go back to work, and not write full time. That has been a set back too. But whatever happens, I hope you stick with me as I wade through yet another obstacle in the road for an erotica and erotic romance writer.

I hope you understand also, because not only do I write it, I read this genre too. So, I’m going to feel your pain. I am considering maybe ending my KU membership too. If enough writers and readers pull out, maybe Amazon will get a hint that this kind of censorship is just not what the customers want. But then, I’m just one little author in a much larger pond. But then, it’s all I have.

UPDATE: 

The ranking for the erotica titles for both indie and traditional published titles have come back on Amazon. It is possible that things either have been reworked and categorized, or more likely, it was some cliche that went on for more than a week.

An email from a Kboarder, Nate Hoffelder, is quoted as saying:

“A recent Kindle Store change inadvertently affected the display of sales rank for some titles. We have corrected this issue.”

Whether all the erotica being given new categories was due to a cliche, or something else, it is unclear. Some people still have had their titles recategorized, but the sales ranking has been added back on to many erotica titles that were missing them. So, I’ll keep updating as more happens with this.

 

Other blog posts about this subject:

The Digital Reader:

https://the-digital-reader.com/2018/03/29/amazon-has-shadow-banned-romance-titles-from-the-kindle-store/

The Motherboard:

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/bjpjn4/amazon-erotica-best-seller-rankings-removed

The Tech Crunch:

https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/29/new-federal-rules-blamed-in-disappearance-of-kindle-erotica-titles/

Kboards Thread on subject:

https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,261904.msg3642901.html

Forbes Media Article:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamrowe1/2018/03/31/amazon-deranked-romance-titles-week-restoring

Last Chance: Memorial Day Erotica Deals $0.99 and FREE

This is your last chance to get all the fabulous erotica titles before they all go back to regular price on Tuesday. Load up your ereader with sizzling books for your summer reading. Even I take advantage and pick up some deals. So, last call! -Lynda

Memorial Day Weekend Erotica Deals Promo 2017 List

  • Lynda Belle

Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance

PerfectEscort-FINAL

Deals disappear after today!

The Perfect Escort (FREE)

https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Escort-Call-1-ebook/dp/B010E4V50U

The Perfect Date ($0.99)

https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Date-Call-2-ebook/dp/B01AO9VMG2

The Perfect Fling ($0.99)

https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Fling-Call-3-ebook/dp/B06WWJ86VT

  • Jacinta Laurenti

Genre: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales

redridinghdRed Riding Hood Unadorned ($0.99)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y5M6R7Y

  • Regina Green

Genre: LGBT Historical Erotica (Victorian)intiatephoebe

The Initiation of Phoebe (MMF Erotic Romance) (FREE)

https://www.amazon.com/Initiation-Phoebe-Erotic-Romance-ebook/dp/B00OYTXEJW

  • Anita Louise

justwayyouareGenre: Erotic contemporary romance

Just The Way You Are (FREE)

https://www.amazon.com/Just-Way-You-Are-Adlers-ebook/dp/B018T8UW02

When A Man Loves A Woman ($0.99)

https://www.amazon.com/House-Not-Home-Michael-Analese-ebook/dp/B018TC3OIU

  • Lady T. L. Jennings

Genre: Gay Victorian Erotic Romancelostlabyrinth

Lost in the Labyrinth (FREE)

https://www.amazon.com/Labyrinth-novelette-Intentions-Victorian-collection-ebook/dp/B01LZAQFVK

Complicated Affairs (Gay Victorian Erotic Romantic Novella) ($0.99)

https://www.amazon.com/Complicated-Affairs-Victorian-Romance-Novella-ebook/dp/B00AD9WJKW

  • Serena Biggs

Genre: Romantic Menage Erotica

Gifting The Girlfriend (Share Everyone Book 1) ($0.99)

https://www.amazon.com/Gifting-Girlfriend-Share-Everyone-Book-ebook/dp/B00TRDOZAW

Team MILF: The Arrival (Kingsburg Cougar Club Book 1) ($0.99)

https://www.amazon.com/Team-MILF-Arrival-Kingsburg-Cougar-ebook/dp/B00T852DLC

  • Kayla Angel

exhibitionistgirlGenre: Exhibitionist Erotica

The Exhibitionist Girl: The Virgin Exhibitionist ($0.99)

https://www.amazon.com/Exhibitionist-Girl-Virgin-ebook/dp/B01NBMOXX0

  • Alison Lace

Genre: Contemporary Erotica

Good At Her Job (A Trinity Kane Short Book 1) ($0.99)

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Trinity-Kane-Short-Book-ebook/dp/B00QHEU5KI

  • Lucy Johanson

Genre: Erotic Romance

My Doctor Without Borders (FREE)

https://dl.bookfunnel.com/5imyi6l170

Promotions, Facebook, Affiliate Links Affecting Author Accounts With Closure

I usually don’t blog about the business of self-publishing. But there are some times when things happen in the self-pub industry that start to affect many of us, it could affect you if you are a self-published author. If you’re a reader, it’s good to know what authors go through to bring you their stories. It is a thankless job sometimes, with little monetary reward but meager royalities and the adoration of readers. (Yes, I adore you all. I live for your comments and reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. And yes, I do read them. Thank you for all the praise over the last year.)

So, please forgive me while I go onto a soapbox for awhile and talk about something that has been happening in relation to book promotion. Some of you have been very grateful for the cross-author promotions I’ve been doing for the last several months with other erotica authors. I did it mostly to find a better way to promote books without paying the large fees to promotional sites that send out newsletters and emails with deals and free ebooks. I figured I could join together with other authors, and do the same thing with our own email lists. And our followers and readers have LOVED IT! In fact, I’ve picked up a few deals myself from my fellow authors. So, I know it’s been a win-win for us all.

Jump to what is going on this month, June 2016. There is a new fear on the wind from the Zon (Amazon) lately. They are cracking down on a TOS rule that is part of their affiliates program about using massive mailing lists with affiliate links in their website. I’m going by what other bloggers have said since I haven’t had an affiliate program since Amazon pulled the program in California due to laws passed to collect sales tax from Amazon in this state. With websites anchored here, Amazon would have had to pay sales tax, and they cut loose all the websites with addresses in this state. They’ve done this in other states too. So, I haven’t had any affiliate links tied to my website for several years. So, again, any references to TOS is taken from other websites.

Here is a listing of some of the websites that have been listing their stories of how their accounts have been nuked, or canceled, due to many reasons:

  1. Some are for large amounts of clicks suddenly( The theory is that it’s a click farm picking prawnie authors to help hide the fact they are a click farm.) http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2016/06/dangers-for-prawny-authors/
  2. closure and reinstatement story,   https://pjbayliss.com/2016/06/06/steal-my-books-please/
  3. sharing your link with all the metadata tags/tracking tags(So, just take your pasted link to your ASIN), https://pjbayliss.com/2016/06/06/steal-my-books-please/
  4. Identity Fraud connection to closed account: https://darrienia.com/2016/06/18/authors-beware-a-new-danger-for-ku-authors/
  5. Pixel of Ink Shut Down Thread: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,237670.0.html
  6. More on ebook promoting websites shutting: http://the-digital-reader.com/2016/06/15/amazon-brings-the-hammer-down-on-discount-ebook-sites/

Here’s the thread on Kboards.com’s Writer’s Cafe that drew my attention to this topic:

http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,237687.0.html

The speculation of what exactly is going on is this long thread above. It’s one of several things mentioned going on. But I have to say, while this happens, the Zon on a purging spree, it’s good to steer clear of the situation. Several things I’ve been doing with my cross-author promo ring clear:

1)  It’s unclear whether it is promo sites, Facebook KU groups or click farms distracting their trails causing the accounts to be taken down. But as usual, steering clear of the Zon’s efforts to purge is always wise.

2) The recent closing of Pixel of Ink because of violation of affliate program clicks with their mailing list/website shows kind of the way the Zon is going right now. So, I’m really happy that I’ve been leading this new trend of promotion for authors where we utilize our own blog and email lists to share sale deals with readers and followers. After all, giving real people great deals is what we want in the end. Real sales from real readers that will want to come back for more deals.

3) Future cross-author promos: going to avoid additional mention of titles with paid promotional websites.

4) Some authors have larger lists than others. It is a bigger benefit if you’re a small prawn joining with a big prawn. But it is good to have content and deals whether you have a large or small mailing list. It gives content and deals to your followers. I’ve gotten such positive feedback in comments about how my followers really like the other deals from other authors. I mean, you can only post so much about yourself and how to write. Readers do appreciate other topics, and reading deals is right up their alley. So, with my 220 mailing list, 32 followers on my blog, and 1500 on Facebook, it is my humble numbers that I share with you all. Adding all the authors in the promo together, we get a pretty big pool of readers/followers that we promote to. We are joining together in this sharing with each other. Authors helping authors.

So, I’m happy that this way of promoting, cross-promo with other authors using our blogs and mailing lists, might be the way of the future of promoting if the big promo sites get taken down. The ways of them getting money from affliate clicks might be their demise now that the Zon is cracking down in that part of the TOS. They are most likely going to go subscription, and how many people will join and shell out another fee for something they’ve gotten for free all this time.

Maybe all these account closures is a temporary cliche going on because of the current Amazon purge. Legitimate authors getting swept up in the new Amazon war on scammers happens. It’s just horrible that the legit authors get destroyed in this process. If you’ve all joined me in this experiment of cross-author promo, thank you. We’ve been doing other promos than the promo sites lately, so that may help. It also might put us in the middle of internet promotional and publishing history. The days of large promotional sites might be waning, with authors choosing to do cross-promotion instead of hefting out hundreds of dollars to a promo site.
Who knew the big promo sites were violating TOS to get money? With the threat of their account being shut down, authors are going to choose to ban together to promote more together than rely on high-priced promotion sites with huge mailing lists. (I’ve always thought creating your own list makes more sense anyway. The saying is you just need 1,000 superfans to be a best selling author.)
I’ll update when I find out more, but for now, it may take some time to figure out what is really happening. Some are figuring to ignore KU all together, but some of us that do make legitimate money, writing real stories, aren’t running quite yet. Mostly avoiding what might be triggers, Facebook ads, the Affiliates Program(which I can’t do since I live in California. Some states have been banned by Amazon for this program due to sales tax laws passed in the state), possible Fiverr or other author promo sites, and just sticking to author cross-promos. All we can do is wait and see.
Until further notice,
-Lynda
UPDATE: The person that lost their account on Amazon has had it reinstated.  She is also leaving Kindle Unlimited/Select. She received a form letter from Amazon letting her know that she needed to avoid third party promotional sites that gave guarantees.

I concluded that even with a form letter, it still seems to point to this, a third party promotional site. Otherwords, they would have sent her another form letter. And it also seems to go along with what Amazon is purging right now, third party sites using the affiliate codes in their emails which is against their TOS. Sometimes you have to read between the lines, even with a form letter. 😉

 

 

 

A Christmas Gift To My Readers

I'll_Be_Home_For_ChristmasFINAL1

Greetings and a very Merry Christmas to you and your kin. For the Holidays, I’ve put I’ll Be Home For Christmas on a special free promo starting today through Dec. 26.  It’s my way of wishing you a very Happy Christmas. They’ll be more surprises during the next year. I’ve got all sorts of new stories brewing. So, check back in 2016 for new upcoming releases including The Perfect Date On Call Series #2, and a new Roman Slave series launch. Happy New Year, and I’ll see you in 2016! -Lynda

Link to Amazon here.