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Ebook Publishing > Amazon may be screwing you…again

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message 1: by Jay (new)

Jay Greenstein (jaygreenstein) | 244 comments A month ago, the publisher of three of my books, Double-Dragon, closed their doors. So I decided to do a quick edit and republish via Amazon. But…

When I checked, my author’s page, which had been listing 27 novels, it now listed only seven, and two of them were from the 3 unpublished titles (a reseller was offering used copies). Pressing the author’s-name link on the sales page for the missing novels took the viewer to a sales page listing my other work, but not to the author’s page, as it should. So, I contacted Amazon Author Central…and entered the Twilight Zone.

Try #1: I notified Amazon’s Author-Central about missing titles on my author’s page. In response, they said I needed to create an author’s page. Obviously the one who got the letter didn’t read/comprehend English. With a sad headshake and a sigh, I tried again.

Try #2: They wrote back to say that all was fixed. But, they’d added only 4 titles out of the remaining 20. Lazy? Incompetent? Either way…

Try #3: They added a few more titles.

Try #4: In response to this one, all but 2 were now showing. Yay! But…. I discovered that one of them—the second novel of six in my Sisterhood of the Ring series—was not only not on the author’s page, a search of Amazon, under my name, under the series, or under book’s name, resulted in no results, anywhere. The novel’s sales-page was still there...if you knew the address. And a search on Google found it. But a search on Amazon? Nothing.

So…it couldn’t be found by a reader who’d enjoyed book 1 and wanted to read book 2. How long had that been going on, and killing sales of the series? No way to tell, but I’d been wondering why there were no sales of that book, or the others that followed, for a while.

Try #5: They fixed the missing series-book problem, but hadn’t added the other missing novel I mentioned. Obviously, competence isn't a criteria for hiring at Amazon.

Try #6: They finally added the last missing book. But…a check showed that now, a book that had been on my Author’s page on 8/19 was missing. Apparently, I’ve been enrolled in a game of Whack-A-Mole.

Try #7: I'm still waiting a response on the last missing novel, though I’m guessing that since it’s only one, it will appear today. But…

Why did I detail all this? Not because I’m angry, think it’s funny, or even to vent.

I did it to show how incompetent Amazon’s help staff is, and warn other self-pubs that you had better regularly check your author’s page to be sure it reflects the novels you have published, to be certain that they haven’t literally lost one, or more, of your novels, as they did Jennie’s Song—or deleted titles from your Author’s page.

If they do that, it mat be more than an inconvenience, it could be, literally, money out of your pocket.

message 2: by Leah (new)

Leah Reise | 356 comments I find it’s hit or miss with Amazon Central Staff. Sometimes they do a great job fixing something missing (like the last time I noticed one of my book’s Editorial Review sections was gone). Sometimes though I run into issues with some of the staff having too great a language barrier to fully understand my inquiry, or sometimes they just don’t seem to critically think before answering and then respond with strange incoherent answers that don’t answer my question directly and instead address a completely different issue because they interpreted my question wrong. But I don’t have 27 books out; only 2. Still, I’ve run into more problems than I’d care for with Amazon Central and getting issues fixed with competence. I think it helps to address our experiences to their management in a constructive way. They can’t fix what they aren’t told about.

message 3: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4335 comments Mod
All fifty-some of my titles are still there and always have been. Whenever I've had to deal with Amazon, I've used patience and kindness. It can go a long way if done right.

message 4: by Leah (new)

Leah Reise | 356 comments I agree Dwayne. Patience and kindness gets the best results. I live by that, and with that said, I have been very frustrated with the staff not understanding the problem and not being able to communicate understandable replies. I’ve brought it up to them constructively, and have had some positive results. But the delay in the resolution of the inquiries I’ve personally submitted over this process has definitely been time consuming and frustrating. Hopefully it will continue to improve.

message 5: by Anna (last edited Aug 25, 2020 12:18AM) (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 547 comments I'm afraid I've definitely come across answers which were not at all related to my query. They're always wonderfully polite but appear to have a selection of sentences to draw from which totally miss the point. I don't think they are Amazon Central Staff, more likely some other department. This is such a disappointment because in almost all other respects, Amazon is very much on the ball.

message 6: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 896 comments I have discovered, that even though I get sales through Amazon, that going wide keeps them on their toes. They don't like competition and have discovered that they aren't my only vendor. I'll agree that their help staff is hit or miss and I'm sure that a good share of them don't comprehend English very well or are reading from some sort of script. Like Dwane said, kindness, a good sense of humor and patience is the key.

message 7: by Iain (new)

Iain Dunvegan | 12 comments Leah wrote: "I find it’s hit or miss with Amazon Central Staff. Sometimes they do a great job fixing something missing (like the last time I noticed one of my book’s Editorial Review sections was gone). Sometim..."
Obviously I have been fortunate. There have been various issues with Amazon but everything has been resolved quickly, completely, and with a smile. The smile was in the way they answered my queries.

message 8: by M.L. (last edited Aug 24, 2020 08:05AM) (new)

M.L. | 1122 comments In my communications, they are always polite, extremely so.

There are different reasons for tech problems. If you've ever seen a schematic - a basic A, B, C - they are complicated. Add the various systems, legacy, etc., I don't see how anyone navigates them.

The idea of someone being out to 'screw you' - if you want to go down the paranoia path, up to you, but no. Amazon is customer centric.

In Jay's case, since you already had 27 in another system, I looked at Double Dragon - now owned or imprint of Fiction4All. They have a message to authors, if your books are missing, "click here." You moved your books, true, but these systems can have quirks buried in them, links that don't go away. Apple can't even explain some things and why they can't chase down problem sources.

Communication, I try to be clear in messages to tech - but it's like writing--it is writing!--sometimes it's not as clear as I thought. A change of views: would they understand my crystal clear message? :-)

Until I see someplace that does it better than Amazon, I'll stay there.

message 9: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1122 comments Forgot to add! 98% of the time they solve the issue.

The other 2%, heaven forbid, it might be user error!

message 10: by Seralynn (new)

Seralynn Lewis | 4 comments Jay wrote: "A month ago, the publisher of three of my books, Double-Dragon, closed their doors. So I decided to do a quick edit and republish via Amazon. But…

When I checked, my author’s page, which had been ..."

I feel your pain. I had a similar experience a few weeks ago. I won't go into the gory details but suffice it to say...if you ever see the number "500" in the top left hand corner of the page on a totally white background - meaning the page ONLY has the number 500, on it, don't bother calling customer service. My dear husband, a network engineer, determined it was a server error on their part and it cleared up by the next day...the problem was I spent 3 hours on chat and on the phone with no resolution.

Moral of the story...if you see this error...go do something else and try back later. Lesson learned the hard way. :)

message 11: by Leah (new)

Leah Reise | 356 comments Iain, that’s good to hear.

message 12: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1122 comments It's good to hear about the 500 error, too. The blue screen of death is familiar but the white screen of death less so.

message 13: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 547 comments Thank you, Seralynn. I've logged 'see 500 - come back hours later' in the recesses of my brain (where it might get lost... sigh) but just maybe it will save me the worry and the time. Thanks again.

message 14: by Peter (new)

Peter Topside I never saw the 500 error, but published my first book, Preternatural, almost a year ago. It wasn't until recently that I figured out that Amazon never linked my paperback and ebook versions together. So anyone who viewed either format thought that the one they were looking at, was the only version available. They also never generated the automatic 3rd category for my ebook either. I did reach out and they were quick to fix both errors, however, never using their system before, I was a bit disheartened to see this kind of thing. It may have cost me additional books sales.

message 15: by Jay (new)

Jay Greenstein (jaygreenstein) | 244 comments M.L.: While Double Dragon is now owned by another company, since they’ll host, but not promote, I elected to self-publish my work. But before I do, and to be certain I’m not muddying the water, I need the rest of the novels to appear on my Author’s page.

We’re down to one missing novel, now, but apparently, Amazon’s service department has decided that I’m to be ignored. It’s a simple problem, one that Amazon caused. But it took five polite letters to the Author-Central help-desk to get them to the point where there was only one missing from my author’s page. But…once they reached that point, they’ve ignored my last three requests to please fix the last missing novel. I can only surmise that I’m now on an “ignore” list. So no, they're not nearly as customer-centric as you suppose. In fact, since out of five communications, not on of them was able to do more than add a few of the missing titles, their competence is in question, too.

I didn’t open this thread to bitch about my problem, though. What matters is two things: First, Amazon can screw up your page while making a change to it, and second, and of more importance, they can, literally, lose one of your novels. While its page is still there it can’t be found via their search window, which costs you money. That being the situation, a once a year check that all is well, and that all your offerings show a link to your authors page (and you should establish one) might be worth the effort, as will verifying that your novel comes up as a result of a search for your name and that title.

message 16: by Jay (new)

Jay Greenstein (jaygreenstein) | 244 comments An update: After eight tries, I received an email saying that they'd added Zoe, literally minutes after posting. So today I'll begin adding my republished work. Surely nothing will go wrong with that...

message 17: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Powell | 1 comments Not much to add here but I did want to note on that I have seen from customer service other places that corporations seem to be playing with using auto-responses a lot. There are many times when people are using translate to read your emails and reply, but I think they are also trying to automate some help answers by identifying key words in your email and using an algorithm to answer the basic questions automatically. If you then have a more complex problem, you're likely to have to go through the robot gatekeepers a few times before you get to a real person. Just a guess.

message 18: by Anna (last edited Aug 26, 2020 08:43AM) (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 547 comments Spot on, Lisa. It's how I've found things.

I can understand why big corporations feel they have to do this but it is not helpful for genuine queries which need answering sensibly.

message 19: by Mark (new)

Mark Abel | 40 comments The first time I contacted Author Central asking what the impact would be if I made a change to my then current reading sample, the employee responded back saying that he had executed the change I was only asking about. In any case it worked out but I agree there is a language barrier and my advice is to be as accurate and concise as possible when asking a question or requesting a change. Prayer is highly advised also. A friend of mine used to say, "light some candles and face East, just to be sure." :)

message 20: by Gail (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 237 comments I haven't had any difficulty with Amazon and in their defense, I needed to change a published book title and cover on Amazon yesterday and it was a breeze! While doing so on my Goodreads profile is a nightmare...both editions are still showing up while the previous version on Amazon is gone, ugh.

message 21: by Ireland (new)

Ireland Gill | 2 comments I have the same issue with the first book in my series as well! Older edition with the first crappy cover is still out there for the world to see. LOL I've tried to get it removed on Amazon and Goodreads, but no luck. :( I'm just hoping my readers find the newest and updated versions with the good cover before being scared away. haha

message 22: by Gail (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 237 comments Ireland, I unpublished the old edition on Amazon - now I see the paperback is still there anyway. Why can't Amazon & Goodreads (who are affiliated now) just allow an author to DELETE old editions???? Guess that would be too easy...

message 23: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 723 comments Mod
Goodreads, specifically, wants to keep obsolete editions in the database - if thy deleted an edition, how would they approach people who had that edition marked as read? Swap to a random different edition? To the default edition? What if they had more editions read and reviewed more of them, that could cause conflict as well.

message 24: by Gail (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 237 comments I'm only asking that the current book be viewed by readers, not the current along previous editions, especially when I changed the title and cover - not the content. Goodreads did automatically add the previous title on the new book profile, which is fine.

But like Ireland said, when authors improve their books, covers, titles, we don't want our previous 'mistakes' to be posted too. Previous editions are obsolete now.

message 25: by Gail (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 237 comments Ahhh, Tomas. The Mark-to-Read people. Just noticed I have 8, ugh. I missed that in what you were saying. Got it. Thanks

message 26: by Gail (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 237 comments Well, after hours of searching and attempting every possible thing imaginable, I finally found out why my new book covers weren't posting on my profile/dashboard and I was able to make it the 'Primary' edition. My apologies to all for venting...and thank you for your thoughts.

message 27: by A. (new)

A. Nation (anation) | 26 comments I contacted a goodreads librarian, Cyndi, and she helped me with several of my book covers and provided links to help me do it myself. You need to contact "I need a goodreads librarian" and they will help you.

message 28: by Gail (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 237 comments Thanks A. I think I'm all set now, but I wondered...exactly where do you go to contact them?

message 29: by A. (new)

A. Nation (anation) | 26 comments I contacted Cyndi through the facebook group, I need a Goodreads Librarian. It only took one day before she got back to me.

message 30: by Gail (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 237 comments Thanks, A.!

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