❗️Note: This is long and unedited. I’m too weary to go back over it and really just want everyone to know what’s going on and why I feel so ill. I beg that you bear with me during this fiasco and thank you for your continued support.
Kindle Direct Publishing’s Mistreatment of Authors is Killing Me
It’s no secret that I suffer from depression. In fact, I have always been very open about my struggle with mental illness and how it affects both my life and my writing. As an author, I believe I have a duty to be vocal about my journey to wellness and to provide representation for the mental ill in my fiction. That being said, it isn’t always easy to navigate the literary world with the dark cloud of depression and anxiety hanging over your head.
My work is published through Lillium Publishing House LLC and, as the good publishers they are, they pretty much handle every aspect of my writing career, including manuscript uploading and account management. They make it easy on me by removing certain triggers and stresses, such as dealing with Customer Service agents and their fast talking ways. But, like every small company, they are not without fault and sometimes it’s difficult for them to stay on top of every little thing. They are people and they make mistakes.
After the recent release of Dead Like Me, I noticed that there was a significant decrease in my Kindle Unlimited Page reads and eventually realized that all of my Kindle Exclusive titles had been dis-enrolled from the program. This prompted both my publisher and myself to start researching the matter and led us to a dead email address and emails saying that one of my books, What’s Done in the Dark, had repeatedly violated their exclusivity agreement.
But…All of my books are exclusive to Amazon? Or, at least that’s what we thought.
During a change in organization, Lillium Publishing let go of an account manager that negligently handled my accounts and the accounts of other Lillium authors. A person they trusted and paid to do a job made several mistakes, never updated information and left without having properly documented or reported what happened to these accounts and the status they were left in. They were paid for a job they did not do. This resulted in What’s Done in the Dark being listed on iTunes and other retailers without our knowledge via accounts that I don’t even have access to. Which means it was in fact in violation.
And now, my books are banned from KDP Select for a period of twelve months. Because of something I had no control over. My readers, most of which prefer the cost effective Kindle Unlimited to purchasing my books outright, are now unable to enjoy my work. Just the thought of my readers being negatively effected sends me into a tailspin. But it gets a lot worse.
KDP has a rule that, since my name is on the account as the author, only I can contact them in regards to said account. My Publisher, who represents me in all my literary endeavors, is not allowed to contact them to explain the issue. So, putting on my big girl pants, I started the arduous journey of trying to get in contact with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing myself.
Here is what I’ve tried:
❌ Calling. They have no direct customer service phone number.
❌ Every email I send is returned with a generated reply.
❌ When I call Kindle Technical support (an unrelated number) and beg to be transferred to that department, they shoo me away with promised phone calls and follow up emails I never receive.
❌ They’ve ignored my Facebook messages.
❌ They’ve ignored my Tweets.
❌ I’m not entirely sure how to send smoke signals (seriously, tell me how and I’ll try).
I am currently in an infinite auto generated email loop that no real person is reading, trying to explain the situation to a bot to clear my name. I’ve never had any reason to receive a violation and shouldn’t have it held against me when I wasn’t the one in control. I wasn’t in control.
With all of my emotions surmounting and hopelessness settling over my head, I can feel my depression swelling and it is at an all time high. I feel helpless. I feel ineffective. I feel useless. I am powerless against a billion dollar corporation that doesn’t care about me at all.
My friends and family notice the signs. They’re reaching out to me, even as I write this, because they’re worried for my safety. Because they know where my thoughts are and that they aren’t the least bit healthy. Writing. Being an author. These are the only things that have ever given my tiny little life meaning and, even though I’m sure there are other ways, all I see right now is darkness that I don’t have the strength to cope with.
I just want a chance to explain what happened. I just want a real person to look at the account and see that what transpired was done in oversight and not in malicious intent. In any fair and just system there is a chance for appeal. In any other company there is always a department put in place to assist its customers in times like these. Why not Amazon? Why don’t you care that while yes, there are horrible scammers out there who are gaming the system and STILL getting away with it, mindlessly passing judgement without the facts only hurts the people you’re trying to protect.
Amazon needs to treat its authors better. I’m not the only one out there dealing with this and I’m far from the only one with mental illness feeling the way I feel right now. Something desperately needs to change. Before the unthinkable happens.
❗️❗️If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 800-273-TALK (8255) or through chat available 24/7. https://www.usa.gov/features/recognize-the-signs-of-suicide-and-find-help