Tuesday 8 November 2022

Most terrifying sight - account closed

This is the most terrifying sight a self-publisher on Amazon can wake up to, and I just woke up to it. My account has been closed, and I can't access my bookshelf, my orders, anything.

Ironically, this month of November was turning into my most successful month for ages. As of yesterday I'd sold 32 books already in just 7 days (comparing amazingly well to October's total of just 60 books in a month, I was up from 2 a day to 5 a day). That has now stopped dead, which is dreadful news and a real gut punch.

The problem seems to be one book and one book alone: 2020s Pop Star Colouring Book.

The bulk of this book started life as "Pop Star Colouring Book", the second of the colouring books I produced at the end of 2021, following the 1970s book and before the 1990s. As the year rolled on I've ended up making about 15 such books, which have sold pretty well. By far the best seller is the Eurovision book, of which there are two volumes. 

Then in July 2022, the Kindle Content Review team blocked this book (whose full listing title was: Pop Star Colouring Book: Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran, 24 top artists to color (Pop Star Colouring Books)/ B09HG6HR73) saying that "Metadata that violates our guidelines may include... Unauthorized references to a trademarked brand, term, or phrases...Unauthorized usage of a trademarked art, image, logo or monogram" 

I appealed, but they wouldn't unblock the book. So I let it lie. Then, in October, I thought I would try and repackage the content from that book, add new images, and publish a new book called 2020s Pop Star Colouring Book.

I uploaded this new book, with its new cover (above) on 30th October and, the very next day, it was Blocked. 

As in July, the email from Kindle suggested I'd used trademarked brands or content. I exchanged a few emails asking what I needed to change, because, as always, the books comprise all original images drawn by me, from photos of pop stars. 

After a couple of emails they finally mentioned that it was the band "BTS" that was a problem. So I showed them a new version of the cover with BTS removed, and offered to change the content accordingly. 

They said "Since we're unable to move the book into an editable status, If you want to resubmit this book it needs to be submitted as a new entirely book and go trough the standard review process." 

So I created a brand new cover, and additional new content including the images of Adele and Olivia Rogdrigo you can see on the new cover up top. I uploaded it on November 5th and it went into In Review, as per the screen grab.

Then this morning, Tues Nov 8th, I wake up to "This account has been closed" which is terrifying.

I have appealed, and await further notice.

UPDATE: At about 6pm, Tues Nov 8th, came the reply:

After reviewing your response, we have reevaluated the Content Guideline violations related to the titles in your account.

We found that you have uploaded material through your account for which you do not have the necessary rights.

As a result, we are upholding our previous decision to terminate your KDP account and remove all your titles from Amazon.

So, we move on to the next stage of life which is Saying Goodbye To The Colouring Books. (Continued in next blog)

PS: The place NOT to go for sympathy and support when your account gets closed is a Facebook group called Amazon KDP Books - Kindle Direct Publishing whose moderators are the most nan-splainy bunch you've ever met. As soon as they realised the nature of my Pop Star Colouring Books, they were all over me like ants for breaking copyright rules (typical comment: "Most likely, you didn't own the rights to the images in your coloring book. Even if you draw it, if it's based of a copyrighted image, it's still plagiarism." 

One moderator (and the respondents do seem to be mostly moderators) posted me a link to the Copyright Law of the US Copyright Office (many 1000s of pages thick). When I jokes about this being a bit long, she added: "It behooves you to take the time to read what is covered by copyright!" They like their exclamation marks on the KDP Group. 

The same moderator is fond of her capital letters: "self-promotion is not allowed. READ our RULES."

One guy posted "help me mom" comparing me, sarcastically, to another colouring book publisher who'd been taken down for publishing a Baby Shark book. I mean, he may be right, and I may well deserve to be cancelled. But the feeling of kicking a man when he's down pervades the group, and can be found in other comments they've left on other peoples posts. I will be leaving the group and sticking with 20Booksto50K and the new one I've found, Wide For The Win (perfect for people who can't, or don't want to, use Amazon KDP)

PPS: The denizens of "Amazon KDP" group may be right, and I may have brought this upon myself by making colouring books based on other peoples images, in which case I shall have to happily accept that.

What's less easy to accept is some of their attitude. Check out this exchange, when I replied to someone else's totally separate thread about acquiring an agent:

If it's too small to read, it goes:

Me: I try getting an agent, every few years or so. It used to be fun collecting rejection letters. Now rejection emails are a lot less satisfying. To be honest, I remain mystified as to how anyone gets an agent, and I've been a published writer and artist (in comic books and magazines) for over thirty years!

Trevor: maybe it takes a quality product? I think I remember that you had an issue with plagiarism? Agents only get paid when they sell a book. If you produce a book that they can’t sell, of course they won’t represent you. Why should they?

Me: Ha ha. The colouring books (of which you speak) are a different matter. My graphic novels are nothing to do with those. But thanks for taking the opportunity for an unwarranted back-handed insult. They always brighten up an afternoon.

Trevor: oh. That wasn’t meant to be backhanded. It was flat out insult. Sorry. Once a person engages in plagiarism, I have zero respect for anything they create. Everything is tainted.

That's a 'moderator'. Anyway, as I say, onwards and upwards.

Update: After another, different, moderator had chosen a different thread to choose to insult me on, I replied saying I'd had about enough of being called a thief. Sadly I didn't have time to screengrab that. When next I looked, I'd been ejected from the group. The Amazon doesn't fall far from the tree, eh?

(Kev F's graphic novels)

Findlay Macbeth - Amazon  - Etsy 
Prince Of Denmark Street - Amazon - Etsy 
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Amazon Etsy 
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - tbc
Tales From The Bible - Amazon -  Etsy (signed)

Eurovision Colouring Vol 1 Amazon -  Lulu £10.94 - Etsy £6.99
Eurovision Colouring Vol 2 - Amazon £15.32 - Lulu £10.72 - Etsy £6.99
Eurovision Colouring Best Of British - Amazon
Doctor Who Colouring - Amazon £11.84 - Lulu £9.98 - Etsy £6.99
Punk Colouring - Amazon £15.61 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
70s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £10.98 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
60s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £12.69 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99


Ger Apeldoorn said...

I somehow knew the future woul dhold some sort of 'man against robot' struggle, but I never expected it to be this 'man against bot' version. Were there any humans involved in this decision, you think?

Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre (and Kev F the comic artist) said...

Who knows? I'm appealing.

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