Amazon changed the price of ALL my books to free yesterday (1st May), for reasons best known to themselves.
I only found out about this by chance when I was scrolling through Amazon in an idle moment (yes, a lot of those at the moment). My eye was drawn to the cover of one of my novels with £0.00 written underneath, which led me to check my author page and find to my amazement everything was completely free (not just for Kindle Unlimited as usual, but everything). I didn’t mind about the short stories as I often put those on free download as part of a KDP promotion, hoping to draw readers to my novels (there are some short titles intentionally free at the moment), but I was somewhat agitated to see there had been multiple free downloads of my Sing with the Choir novels. Previously, they had only been free on a very few occasions, for example, Three Hundred Bridesmaids was free for a few days at the start of lock-down because I wanted to do something positive and cheery.
I am always happy, of course, to be discovered by new readers (and there’s the slight chance I might get a few reviews from Amazon’s mistake), but the feeling of powerlessness as I watched the books slipping away yesterday evening was tricky to deal with.
One of the problems with KDP is that you can only contact Amazon by email. They still haven’t replied (beyond an automated reply saying my email will receive a response in 1 to 2 days) but the books have now been priced correctly. Whether this is because I emailed in, or possibly some mighty bot picked up on the error, I don’t know (yet). Hopefully there will be some light shed on the subject later today or tomorrow.
In the meantime, if you feel moved to check out my Amazon Author Page (after hearing my tale of woe!), please be my guest.
Jenny Worstall Amazon Author Page
UPDATE: Sunday 3rd May
I’ve had not just one, but two emails from Amazon! One opened with Greetings from Amazon Senior Support (hoping this isn’t some sort of comment on my age or general decrepitude), and both emails expressed regret that all my books had been offered free, said their tech teams were aware of the problem and were working hard…thank you for your patience…etc. etc., you get the picture. Noticing the sign off warmest regards, my mind flooded immediately with visions of boiling pits of hell…again, you get the picture, but I digress.
In the meantime, my Facebook post about the subject has attracted a host of comments and I have learnt I am not alone (to misquote Matt Hancock). Many authors have sympathised; they too have watched helplessly as their books were downloaded with no payment. One author actually managed to get through to Amazon support on the phone. Well done you!
It’s worth pointing out that no one is blaming the down-loaders, as the books were advertised for free. Worth pointing out too that it’s obviously much worse for the more successful authors who have probably had non-paid-for downloads in the thousands. But even us less successful authors who get by with a few paid downloads here and there (and I am happy to admit I am in this category) have lost out, not least with the anxiety of the situation. At one point I was so desperate I considered unpublishing all my books (yes, all my babies, steadily growing on Amazon since 2012…). Only the bigger fear of trying to publish them again afterwards held me back; it would be bound to be horrendously complex and tricky and, knowing my luck, go spectacularly wrong. Besides, I had rather lost my trust in Amazon KDP at that point.
It has become apparent, although interestingly not confirmed (admitted?) by Amazon, that the whole kerfuffle has been caused by a computer glitch, triggered by the massive amount of price changing going on, itself a result of the abolition of VAT on ereading on Friday 1st May in UK.
Three cheers for the abolition of VAT on ebooks, but a miserable silence for the unintended adverse consequences for Amazon authors…
Will Amazon be compensating authors for lack of earnings? The jury’s still out on that, but I’m not holding my breath.
PS Reflect on this: the reading public now have kindles bulging with unintended freebies, and won’t be needing any new books for a long, long time.
PPS If you did, by any chance, download one of my books during the viral Amazon free-for-all, and, even bigger chance, you enjoy reading it, I have a very simple message:
REVIEWS ALWAYS WELCOME!
Jenny Worstall Facebook
Jenny Worstall Author Facebook Page
FURTHER UPDATE: Tuesday 5th May
Computer says no! Just heard from Amazon and they say this:
I hope this email finds you well and my apologies again that some of your books were falsely offered for free.
I understand your concern with the missed royalties due to the books offered for free, and I’m sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused. However, I hope you’ll understand that we are unable to offer compensation in relation to this matter.
That’s it then, although I have replied and will update if I hear anything interesting.
FINAL UPDATE: Friday 8th May
It’s VE day and I have good news! This arrived from Amazon:
On May 1, a technical issue caused your book(s) to be incorrectly set to free. We’ve since fixed the issue and will be creating a royalty adjustment in your KDP account to compensate for free units purchased. This adjustment will be added to your July royalty payment…We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.
After a week, a result! Shows it’s worth (politely) asking again if the first answer is ‘no’. I sincerely hope all the other authors who have suffered in the same way will be getting a similar email very soon