Monday, December 29, 2014

Kindle Unlimited: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

I have to thank Nigel Mitchell for this link to a story about authors complaining about Kindle Unlimited.  Kindle Unlimited is the program that allows users to pay $9.99 to get as many books from Amazon's Kindle Select Program as they want.  Basically it's Netflix for books.  There are already services like Oyster that do the same thing, though I looked at Oyster and its selection kind of sucks.

Anyway, I've already gone on record as saying Kindle Unlimited has been awesome for me.  It has just about doubled the money I get every month.  Sure I might not end up getting as much per book with Unlimited, but would the people who get it through Unlimited actually buy the book otherwise?  Or would they buy it and then "return" it since Amazon's system is so pathetic about returns? 

In reading the article, I think the people who are complaining are those who are having success beyond Amazon.  If you're considering whether or not to enroll in Kindle Unlimited that's what you need to consider.  If you've have good success with other sellers like Smashwords, B&N, or Kobo then you don't want to use Kindle Unlimited because you have to take your book off sale from anywhere except Amazon for three months at least.

If you're like me and 95% of your sales are coming from Amazon, then Kindle Unlimited makes sense.  With it I can double my revenue stream and people who might be on the fence about spending $2.99 for a 50-page book or considering doing something shady might not if they think they're getting it "free" with Kindle Unlimited.

As for whether Kindle Unlimited will change the world of bookselling and so forth, it's really too early to tell.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Confusing World of Amazon's Content Guidelines

Last Tuesday I was supposed to release Transformed Into a Cougar Too (Transformed #20) on Amazon.  But they rejected it for "offensive content."  What is offensive content?  Only Amazon knows and they ain't saying.

On December 7, 2014, at 4:03 PM, Kindle Direct Publishing  wrote:


We’re contacting you regarding the following book:

Transformed Into a Cougar Too (Transformed #20) by Filler, Eric (AUTHOR)

During our review process, we found that this content is in violation of our
content guidelines. As a result, we cannot offer this book for sale. If we
identify additional submissions with similar content that violates our
guidelines, we may terminate your account or you may lose access to optional KDP services.

To learn more about our content guidelines, please visit our Kindle Direct
Publishing Help page at:

Best regards,

Kindle Direct Publishing

Here's how the page it links to describes offensive content:
Offensive Content
What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect. 

Gee, that's really helpful.  So basically it could be anything.

I asked what specifically the problem was and got this long-winded yet unhelpful reply:

On December 8, 2014, at 1:03 PM, Kindle Direct Publishing  wrote:


We're contacting you regarding the following title:

Transformed Into a Cougar Too (Transformed #20), ID: 5539262

We’ve confirmed that your book(s) contains content that is in violation of our content guidelines and we will not be offering this title for sale in the Kindle Store. As stated in our guidelines, we reserve the right to determine what we consider to be appropriate, which includes cover images and content within the book.

If you wish to re-publish your book(s) with content that meets our guidelines, it will need to be submitted as an entirely new ASIN and go through our standard review process. Previous customer reviews, tags, and sales rank information are not transferable because the title will essentially be a different product.

Our content guidelines are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing website.

We appreciate your understanding.

Best Regards,

Dakota K.
Your feedback is helping us build Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company.
Connect with KDP and other Authors and Publishers:
Follow us on Twitter!/AmazonKDP

Earth's most customer-centric company?  LOL.  We've confirmed there's offensive content and you can resubmit it...but we won't say what the offensive content was.  So how do I know what to change to resubmit?

I'm pretty sure when directors send movies to the MPAA, they actually tell you what content causes it to get the rating it gets.  I don't think they say, "There was offensive content that's probably what you think it was."  Because really that's not very useful to anyone.

So I tried twice more to get someone to explain to me what was wrong and got these useless responses:

On December 9, 2014, at 3:32 PM, Kindle Direct Publishing  wrote:


Publisher feedback is important to us as we strive to improve our services and programs for our publishers.  However, as we have previously stated, your book will not be made available in the Kindle Store at this time.

Best Regards,

Sophie L.
Your feedback is helping us build Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company.
Connect with KDP and other Authors and Publishers:
Follow us on Twitter!/AmazonKDP


As stated in our content guidelines, we reserve the right to determine what
content we consider to be appropriate. This content includes both the cover art image and the content within the book.

We’re unable to elaborate further on specific details regarding our content

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Best Regards,

Frederik M
Your feedback is helping us build Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company.
Connect with KDP and other Authors and Publishers:
Follow us on Twitter!/AmazonKDP

Wow, that's really Customer-Centric of you.  Basically I don't think anyone there knows, at least after the first drone who flags the book.  So after that all they do is shield themselves with bureaucratic double-talk and form responses.  At the very least they could better define what offensive content is.  Their definition is so vague that it's useless.

I did resubmit the book.  I think some drone had a problem with a cigarette on the cover, sort of like how the MPAA gives movies an R-rating now if they have a cigarette.  I mean when I submitted it with a new cover they accepted it.  It just would have been nice if they'd said that at the start.  That and didn't lock the book down so I couldn't just replace the cover.


Anyway, the gist of this is that if some Amazon drone flags your book, you're pretty much on your own to figure out how to fix it.  For such a "Customer-Centric Company" they really need to be more helpful to authors.