Author Topic: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders  (Read 354 times)

LilyBLily

Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« on: September 08, 2019, 12:52:52 AM »
I've just heard about Amazon yanking yet another pre-order that had garnered thousands of sales already and was part of a publisher's expensive campaign. Can't mention the name since it was on a private info loop. Nick Stephenson was open about that just happening to a book for charity that he contributed to that also had thousands of pre-order sales racked up, and Amazon just pulled it and took six days after being contacted about it to fix it. The sales were never restored, of course. Amazon makes no reparations whatsoever.

So, I'd be cautious right now about doing a fancy launch around a pre-order.
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2019, 12:58:30 AM »
I've just heard about Amazon yanking yet another pre-order that had garnered thousands of sales already and was part of a publisher's expensive campaign. Can't mention the name since it was on a private info loop. Nick Stephenson was open about that just happening to a book for charity that he contributed to that also had thousands of pre-order sales racked up, and Amazon just pulled it and took six days after being contacted about it to fix it. The sales were never restored, of course. Amazon makes no reparations whatsoever.

So, I'd be cautious right now about doing a fancy launch around a pre-order.

I followed that one up with a couple of the authors, after I was shown a vid one of the authors did. Apparently Amazon asked for contracts after the book went up for pre-order, but yanked it before asking.

The interesting thing for me was the anthology contains a link at the back to a course on how to do anthologies, and they are promoting it as access to the course if you buy the book. Which I thought was against ToS. I pointed that out to one of the authors in it, but haven't heard anything since.

But it is possible the book was yanked because it triggered several bot cues.

But it's hard to know. They were not told to remove the link to the course as far as I know, and the book did go back up. As far as I know, they didn't lose any of the pre-orders, just the rank for them.
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RPatton

Re: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2019, 01:25:23 PM »
Fairly sure that anthology that was yanked, was yanked because it was straight up an infomercial and there was a litany of broken TOS clauses. Amazon didn't just pull it because they were being mean. Amazon pulled it because there was some serious shady stuff happening with it (including some things that might have been considered incentivization).

As for the most recent removal, I strongly recommend asking questions and peeling back layers before assuming Amazon removed a book for no reason.
 
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LilyBLily

Re: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2019, 02:04:38 PM »
Fairly sure that anthology that was yanked, was yanked because it was straight up an infomercial and there was a litany of broken TOS clauses. Amazon didn't just pull it because they were being mean. Amazon pulled it because there was some serious shady stuff happening with it (including some things that might have been considered incentivization).

As for the most recent removal, I strongly recommend asking questions and peeling back layers before assuming Amazon removed a book for no reason.

Good advice. The unidentified instance I cited, a book that launched yesterday, seems to be a straight-up novel that's selling briskly but is not in the top 100 in its category. The poster said Amazon had admitted it made an error. But the poster also said that Amazon did not restore any of the pre-orders and that Amazon claimed it couldn't even put the book back on sale. The small publisher had to submit a new file. The book is around 5,000 in the Amazon U.S. store right now, which does not suggest that a ton--or even a modest number--of pre-orders were restored. If I hear more about that book--like a big rank drop that suggests the pre-orders were responsible for tonight's rank--I'll report back.

As for anthologies, I know an author who was so determined to get that USA Today Bestseller status the author cheerfully worked with an evil, litigious person who shall not be named even on this site who clearly manipulated that bestseller anthology event. Made me take a step back from that author. Also from anthologies.

 
 
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RPatton

Re: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2019, 01:41:56 AM »
Fairly sure that anthology that was yanked, was yanked because it was straight up an infomercial and there was a litany of broken TOS clauses. Amazon didn't just pull it because they were being mean. Amazon pulled it because there was some serious shady stuff happening with it (including some things that might have been considered incentivization).

As for the most recent removal, I strongly recommend asking questions and peeling back layers before assuming Amazon removed a book for no reason.

Good advice. The unidentified instance I cited, a book that launched yesterday, seems to be a straight-up novel that's selling briskly but is not in the top 100 in its category. The poster said Amazon had admitted it made an error. But the poster also said that Amazon did not restore any of the pre-orders and that Amazon claimed it couldn't even put the book back on sale. The small publisher had to submit a new file. The book is around 5,000 in the Amazon U.S. store right now, which does not suggest that a ton--or even a modest number--of pre-orders were restored. If I hear more about that book--like a big rank drop that suggests the pre-orders were responsible for tonight's rank--I'll report back.

As for anthologies, I know an author who was so determined to get that USA Today Bestseller status the author cheerfully worked with an evil, litigious person who shall not be named even on this site who clearly manipulated that bestseller anthology event. Made me take a step back from that author. Also from anthologies.

Not to discredit the work that goes into anthologies to get letters, but in my mind they are no better than a degree from a for-profit "university". Get a book there on your own and keep it there for two weeks (even with huge marketing spends) says a lot more to me.

There's a reason the NYT eliminated some considerations. The complete manipulations that were always justified by saying, "but the trads do it too..."


ETA: Not that Amazon doesn't screw up. They do. And sometimes, they honestly can't do something. In this case, I would say they can't just return all the sales because it would be against the law. However, I imagine they could send out a notification to the former pre-order customers that the book has been released.

I still recommend people avoid pre-orders with Amazon or do them short enough that any problems aren't so detrimental they destroy a launch. So... 3 weeks is probably that sweet spot, maybe 4 weeks, but anything more and you risk losing a bunch of sales if anything goes wrong.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2019, 01:53:37 AM by RPatton »
 
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Lynn

Re: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2019, 01:53:17 AM »

Not to discredit the work that goes into anthologies to get letters, but in my mind they are no better than a degree from a for-profit "university". Get a book there on your own and keep it there for two weeks (even with huge marketing spends) says a lot more to me.

There's a reason the NYT eliminated some considerations. The complete manipulations that were always justified by saying, "but the trads do it too..."

It's really disappointing to me that I can't get past the stain of it all now. Whenever I see "USA Today" or "NYT" bestselling author on the cover of a book by an indie writer, I immediately take a second look and not in a good way. It's really ruined that for me. I totally see "scammer" flashing in the back of my mind, and I have to actually think to stop that gut reaction, because I know it's not true for everyone. But it's all tainted now. It's me, but what can I say? Once you know things, it's hard to un-know them!
 
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RPatton

Re: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2019, 01:58:24 AM »

Not to discredit the work that goes into anthologies to get letters, but in my mind they are no better than a degree from a for-profit "university". Get a book there on your own and keep it there for two weeks (even with huge marketing spends) says a lot more to me.

There's a reason the NYT eliminated some considerations. The complete manipulations that were always justified by saying, "but the trads do it too..."

It's really disappointing to me that I can't get past the stain of it all now. Whenever I see "USA Today" or "NYT" bestselling author on the cover of a book by an indie writer, I immediately take a second look and not in a good way. It's really ruined that for me. I totally see "scammer" flashing in the back of my mind, and I have to actually think to stop that gut reaction, because I know it's not true for everyone. But it's all tainted now. It's me, but what can I say? Once you know things, it's hard to un-know them!

I have the same visceral reaction. In fact, I know an author who made the NYT non-fiction list with both his books. He said the first week was from marketing, butt the the subsequent weeks was all from word of mouth (And he wasn't like 124 on a list of 125, so that helps).

Basically, if you aren't in the top 30, I pretty much discredit your achievement. But I shouldn't. I just can't get past the comments of authors complaining how much they spent on marketing and it being patently unfair that NYT didn't count them...
 
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David VanDyke

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Re: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2019, 09:25:18 AM »

It's really disappointing to me that I can't get past the stain of it all now. Whenever I see "USA Today" or "NYT" bestselling author on the cover of a book by an indie writer, I immediately take a second look and not in a good way. It's really ruined that for me. I totally see "scammer" flashing in the back of my mind, and I have to actually think to stop that gut reaction, because I know it's not true for everyone. But it's all tainted now. It's me, but what can I say? Once you know things, it's hard to un-know them!

I agree. But, but most readers won't know the difference, and don't know about the scams or shady tactics.
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LilyBLily

Re: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2019, 12:37:14 PM »
I agree that readers don't know and many of them wouldn't care if they did. In trying to deal with Amazon's procrustean bed, indies do things that the rest of the world probably thinks are preposterous.

Incidentally, that unidentified book I mentioned above is now at 4,000 in the Kindle store. I presume the author's wails were because the hope or plan was to be doing even better via pre-orders. If I hear more about that incident, I'll post it.
 

PaulineMRoss

Re: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2019, 07:44:05 PM »
Incidentally, that unidentified book I mentioned above is now at 4,000 in the Kindle store. I presume the author's wails were because the hope or plan was to be doing even better via pre-orders. If I hear more about that incident, I'll post it.

If the unidentified book is the one I think it is (it sounds like it), the author's wails were at least in part due to the lost revenue from the (presumably) large number of pre-orders at full price. Which is entirely understandable. I'd be wailing too!

I did a little bit of investigation and it seems that this book is the first in a new series, and also the author's first venture into a new genre, and the first book released via a publisher rather than self-published. The author may have other pen names I know nothing about which may be more successful than this one, but the status of the author's previous books do not suggest that there's a rabid fan base out there lining up to get the new book. I haven't heard of many instances of Amazon yanking all pre-orders for a book, but those I have heard of involved either incentivised purchases or some kind of link to courses or similar.

I'm not very good at reading the entrails in these cases, and I don't want to jump to conclusions, but it does make me go Hmmmm.

Writing epic fantasy as Pauline M Ross; writing Regency romance as Mary Kingswood
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notthatamanda

Re: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2019, 08:17:31 PM »
Incidentally, that unidentified book I mentioned above is now at 4,000 in the Kindle store. I presume the author's wails were because the hope or plan was to be doing even better via pre-orders. If I hear more about that incident, I'll post it.

If the unidentified book is the one I think it is (it sounds like it), the author's wails were at least in part due to the lost revenue from the (presumably) large number of pre-orders at full price. Which is entirely understandable. I'd be wailing too!

I did a little bit of investigation and it seems that this book is the first in a new series, and also the author's first venture into a new genre, and the first book released via a publisher rather than self-published. The author may have other pen names I know nothing about which may be more successful than this one, but the status of the author's previous books do not suggest that there's a rabid fan base out there lining up to get the new book. I haven't heard of many instances of Amazon yanking all pre-orders for a book, but those I have heard of involved either incentivised purchases or some kind of link to courses or similar.

I'm not very good at reading the entrails in these cases, and I don't want to jump to conclusions, but it does make me go Hmmmm.
Is it one of the big publishers?  They could have done a lot of promotion on it.  Even a small press could have gotten lucky with some promotions.  If they didn't do anything scammy, how heartbreaking to see a good launch destroyed like that.  I have no idea who this might be so I'm conflicted.  I hope Amazon will learn from this case and look into it a little more before yanking the orders.  An account can be reinstated.  Orders cannot.  (Another poster commented on the legality of that so I am going with their opinion on it.) Since it is a preorder, there could be plenty of time for a little more investigation, so if Amazon is listening, please talk to the publisher before doing this. But maybe they were obvious violations, so in that case, I'm glad Amazon is cleaning this stuff up.  Like I said, I'm conflicted.
 
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PaulineMRoss

Re: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2019, 08:27:57 PM »
Is it one of the big publishers?  They could have done a lot of promotion on it.  Even a small press could have gotten lucky with some promotions.  If they didn't do anything scammy, how heartbreaking to see a good launch destroyed like that.  I have no idea who this might be so I'm conflicted.  I hope Amazon will learn from this case and look into it a little more before yanking the orders.  An account can be reinstated.  Orders cannot.  (Another poster commented on the legality of that so I am going with their opinion on it.) Since it is a preorder, there could be plenty of time for a little more investigation, so if Amazon is listening, please talk to the publisher before doing this. But maybe they were obvious violations, so in that case, I'm glad Amazon is cleaning this stuff up.  Like I said, I'm conflicted.

Not a big publisher, a small, very specialised one, and yes, absolutely they could have done a ton of promotion on it. The author said as much. One can only hope all that effort was on the right side of the ethical line. But it's so unusual for Amazon to yank all pre-orders like that. Some things they do are definitely glitches but I don't see this being an accident. But like you, I'm conflicted.

Writing epic fantasy as Pauline M Ross; writing Regency romance as Mary Kingswood
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notthatamanda

Re: Amazon Yanking Big Pre-orders
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2019, 08:45:24 PM »
I guess it's something to keep in mind if one ever has the means to do a lot of promotion for a preorder, maybe notify Amazon ahead of time about it.   Kind of like giving your credit card company a heads up on a large purchase or travel so they don't shut your card down while you are on vacation.