Death in the Jungle

   Here's a cautionary tale about dealing with Amazon. They're essential if you're a self-publisher, but they can be deadly if your book is selling well. The following is an account of what happened to me:

   Amazon is killing the Original Green! Here's what happened: I noticed several days ago that sales had dropped to almost zero, but didn't realize why until I went to the book's listing on Amazon. As you can see, it says Temporarily out of stock in big red letters. But wait! I've got 74 of the books sitting in Amazon's warehouses just waiting to be sold! I noticed the tiny little link that says "2 new" just below and clicked it. It took me to the offer-listing page for the book, which shows two sellers: and mouzondesign. But wait! Amazon doesn't sell the book! They've never contacted me about supplying the books directly to them. We have no agreement. We haven't even talked! So they shouldn't be listed as one of the sellers... just mouzondesign, which is me.

   So I called Seller Support. They looked at it and said "I'm sorry, we can't do anything about it. That's the Copyright Department." I said "OK, please transfer me to them." They said "Sorry, they don't take phone calls. We don't even know their number. You'll need to email them. But they usually respond within 24 hours." That was nearly 60 hours ago, and I haven't heard a peep out of them.

   Now, to add insult to injury, I've just found out that they've discounted the out-of-stock books by 1/3! This leaves no shadow of doubt that nobody will buy the book. Who would buy a $29.95 book from me if they can wait and buy it later from Amazon for $19.77? But Amazon has no plans to sell the book, so far as I can tell, because they've never contacted me. I'm the author and publisher, so I would know. So this means that sales of this book have essentially ended... this book that I've drained my entire credit line to print. Put another way, I've bet the farm on this book, and Amazon is doing things that will ensure I lose the farm!

   What can I do? All I know to do is to start blogging and tweeting, and try to raise as much stink as I can in hopes that someone in the Copyright Department might be on Twitter and notice, and do the right thing. If so, then this is to you:

   Amazon please talk to me! You wanna sell the book yourself? Fine. Talk to me about it. Give me a call, we'll cut our deal, and I'll get the books on the way. But don't just leave me hanging here like this, with sales cut off and bills to pay! Please talk to me!!!

   PS: Without any discussion or explanation, Amazon backed off their position a few days later. Was it because several thousand people read my posts and tweets, and reacted with serious negative Amazon vibes? I have no idea. But at that point, I was back in business… but with a very queasy feeling about dealing with them.

© 2012 The Guild Foundation Press