New Year, Old Problem: Innocent Author Rank-Stripped For Third Time

While I’m not likely to have this problem, it’s something for authors to be aware of.

David Gaughran

Kristi Belcamino is really being messed around by Amazon. Yesterday morning, she was rank-stripped for the third time, and it appears to be happening every time she puts a book free – even before she hits the promo sites or moves up the charts.

Back in September, Kristi was one of the unfortunate (and innocent) authors who were unfairly rank-stripped by Amazon for several weeks. She had a BookBub promotion which catapulted her up to #3 in the Free charts on September 18, was then rank-stripped, and didn’t have the sanction lifted until October 22 – over one month later.

Along with all the other authors I wrote about in October’s post Amazon’s Hall of Spinning Knives, Kristi received the standard form letter about rank manipulation from Amazon KDP’s Compliance team, regarding her book Blessed are the Peacemakers.

Hello,

We detected that purchases or borrows of your book(s)…

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Amazon’s Hall of Spinning Knives

As I get closer to publishing, these kinds of stories are frightening. Amazon makes unilateral decisions, doesn’t explain their rationale, and doesn’t give due process. They are, of course, a private business that doesn’t need to give due process, but they should realize that shaming people without giving them a chance to respond is bad for business.

David Gaughran

Phoenix Sullivan is well-known in the indie community – I’ve known her myself since 2009 or 2010 and consider her a close friend.

Aside from being exceptionally generous with her time and knowledge, tirelessly sharing her insights on marketing and algorithms, Phoenix is also well known as a vocal campaigner against scammers and cheaters – particularly on the current big issues of book stuffing and clickfarming.

And now she is being targeted.

Phoenix made a box set free for a few days back in September, advertising on Freebooksy, KND/BookGorilla, and Digital Book World – all legitimate sites – and there was no other promotion involved with this title. No BookBub CPM ads, no Facebook campaign, no tweets, no newsletter swaps, no mailing lists.

On the third day of her free run, Phoenix’s box set was rank-stripped by Amazon, a punishment normally reserved for those who have used clickfarms or bots…

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Don’t Kill Her – You’ll Just Make Her Mad

E. A. Copen is a great Urban Fantasy Writer. To be honest, I used to think that. Then I heard about her latest book, Beasts of Babylon, a Horror Western and I wondered why she would write something like that. I decided to read it even though I don’t like horror and I’m not a big fan of westerns. Ms. Copen is not a great Urban Fantasy Writer, she is a great Writer who knows how craft an intriguing tale that grips you from start to finish, no matter what the genre. She is on my “must read” list for sure. (Spoilers ahead)
I was weirdly fascinated by this story that slowly unveiled a town where the sheriff fought to hide the obvious, even though it had already cost him his wife, sort of, and their kids. His wife, Ana, on a mission from God or the Devil, who knows, Copen keeps us guessing there, doesn’t cotton too well to death. She keeps coming back from the grave to continue on her mission, which she thought, at first, was a mission to kill the paranormal creatures that had killed her and her children.
When she can’t get the sheriff, her husband (?) to get a posse to help her, she turns to the other side of the law. The problem with the wrong side of the law is that the right side of the law is tracking them down. When circumstances bring both sides into contact, everything comes to a conclusion as Ana and the others meet the creatures for life and death battles. The twist at the end opens the door for more from these characters, and I hope it comes soon. 

Scammers Break The Kindle Store

I’m not at the level of publication, yet, but if I were, I’d be mighty upset about this! Cmon #Amazon, do something!

David Gaughran

On Friday, a book jumped to the #1 spot on Amazon, out of nowhere; it quickly became obvious that the author had used a clickfarm to gatecrash the charts.

The Kindle Store is officially broken.

This is not the first time this has happened and Amazon’s continued inaction is increasingly baffling. Last Sunday, a clickfarmed title also hit #1 in the Kindle Store. And Amazon took no action.

Over the last six weeks, one particularly brazen author has put four separate titles in the Top 10, and Amazon did nothing whatsoever. There are many such examples.

I wrote at the start of June about how scammers were taking over Amazon’s free charts. That post led to a phone conversation with KDP’s Executive Customer Relations.

Repeated assurances were given that the entire leadership team at Amazon was taking the scammer problem very seriously indeed. But it was also stressed that the…

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A friend’s book needs your help! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these stories and know you will too. Check them out!

Dee-Scoveries

King Bewilliam needs YOU to nominate “The King’s Redress” for one of the 50 Books Worth Reading.
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Or, just fill out this form right here (use the scroll bars to fill out the form with the book title (The King’s Redress) and the author name (Devorah Fox):

The genre is Fantasy.

In a previous contest you made King Bewilliam a Finalist. This year, you can make him a WINNER. Vote, and encourage your friends to vote too. If he wins, King Bewilliam will hold a huge feast in celebration. 😉

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Missed

So, after a week when I couldn’t come up with anything for the #WOW555 contest, I came up with something. How good is it? Well, that will be for you to decide! For this week’s prompt, your story must feature a strong woman in a moment of weakness. Check here for the latest updates, stories and the opportunity to vote! Please note that liking my story here will not count as a vote! You must go to Wendy’s place (see above link) and vote sometime between 8:00 Saturday morning and 6:00 Sunday night.

 

Mary hated cleaning. She looked at the mess and sighed. She’d need a while to clean up this mess. “Oh well,” she thought, “better get started. Then I can get out of here.” She looked under the kitchen sink and found the cleaning supplies. The worst stain was in the living room and she attacked that first. She started scrubbing and realized it would need to soak so she headed back to the kitchen and spot cleaned the drips on the kitchen floor.

She rinsed her rag and headed back into the living room to finish cleaning that stain, then stood up and grabbed at her back. It was a bit sore from the cleaning and she still had more to do. She headed towards the hall closet. The vacuum cleaner was ready and waiting. She pulled it out of the closet and turned it on. She almost didn’t hear the phone ring over the roar of the vacuum cleaner.

She turned off the vacuum cleaner and headed to her purse. She looked at the number on the phone and grimaced. Some clients were just so impatient. “Yes, John. I’m finished. All I have left is some cleaning.” She rolled her eyes at his response. “All I can say is that you’re the one calling me. I should be able to meet you in an hour so you can pay.” She tapped her foot. She didn’t like wasting time. If she had known he was going to be this much trouble, she would have charged double. “Of course I’ll let you see my handiwork. You’re dealing with a professional.” She stifled her laughter. “No, you don’t want to get me mad, that’s right. See you in an hour.”

She looked at the phone in disgust and went back to vacuuming. This place looked like it had seen a fight. That wouldn’t do. She vacuumed and straightened up as she walked through the living room and kitchen. Finally, the apartment was cleaned to her satisfaction. She carefully placed the cleaning supplies back under the sink. Then she took the vacuum cleaner and emptied it into her garbage bag before putting it back in the closet. She hated having to take the trash with her, but it did prevent complications.

“Now, to make final arrangements,” she thought. She looked at John’s former business partner sitting quietly on the couch. She looked around the area and smiled; nothing made it look like he had been dragged across the floor and placed there. She pulled the note out of her purse and looked at it, trying to find the best place to put it. Then she gasped. The note was written by a left hander. She had forgotten that he was left handed and shot him through right temple. She blinked back the tears that began to appear unbidden. She swore at herself. “All that work,” she said out loud. “All that work and they’ll know right away that he didn’t kill himself!” She picked up the trash, stomped out the door and headed to her car. She wouldn’t have time to stay in the city and savor her kill this time.