Do Amazon and Createspace rip off Indie publishers with failure to correctly report sales?

Guest post by John. R. Clark, Managing Editor at AgeView Press

When AgeView Press Indie pubbed the book FLYING SOLO in May of 2012, the author, Jeanette Vaughan  immediately began tracking sales.   She heard from excited friends and family who immediately emailed when ordering their copies.  The first sales were off of Createspace’s e-store with the title ID number given to the author.   Then, through Amazon, a week later, when the book went live on the site.  Finally on Kindle, when the ebook format was completed.

ostrich head in the sand

“Where, oh where are my royalties?”

Initially, things appeared kosher.    People exclaiming that they had ordered the book, were showing up within a day or two on the electronic royalty reports with a reasaonable accuracy.    But by June and July, sales descrepencies were noted by the author from customers claiming that they had purchased the book directly through Amazon, not an Amazon affiliate.    Many of these sales were simply not listed.The author contacted Createspace customer support, who gave assurance that all sales were being accurately reported.   FLYING SOLO was now also on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select, as well as expanded distribution channels, which included Amazon affiliates in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.    Sales were being reported to the author from readers and bookclubs in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The first note of apparent discrepancy came when a dear friend of the author ordered three copies of the book from Amazon in June.    These books were ordered all at the same time, from direct.   Yet, that cluster of three sales was never posted as such.      Another instance in early July involved the same issue.    Again, a customer ordered three copies, yet no sales were trackable through Amazon’s channels for three sales purchased on the same day.

In the meantime, the author was making public appearnances, being featured on blogs and radio, and rounding with booksignings.   During the months of June and July, no expanded distribution channel sales were posted on the royalty report, yet customers were emailing the author letting her know how much the book was being enjoyed overseas.   More than 15 five star reviews for the novel were posted on Amazon.

What should have shown as a surge of sales, as the book peaked, never appeared on the royalty reports.   The author was suspect.   She contacted Ingram directly, only to be informed that they were not supposed to reveal information to an author directly.  So, the Indie publisher, AgeView Press made the call.    Ingram showed 16 copies of the book ordered through their system total since May.   Those sales never showed on the June or July royalty report.    The author filed formal complaints with Createspace customer service, but received only canned letters in response explaining  that indeed there was an issue with reports in Expanded Distribution and it was being investigated.   Advice to the author from Createspace?  Please be patient.

By August, it was clear there were gross inaccuracies.  The 30 copies ordered from Barnes and Noble never showed up.   Few, if any, sales were listed for August.    Yet. the author had confirmation of over 4,000 copies in distribution worldwide.    The crowning blow came in September.   A plan was devised.    A friend, agreed to help with the investigation.   She ordered a copy of FLYING SOLO on September 7th, taking screen shots of her order and confirmation of payment directly from Amazon.    She printed out her receipt showing date and time of purchase.   The book arrived on September 13, to San Jose, California.   Photos were taken.   The sale was complete.    Copies of all screenshots and receipts were scanned and sent to the author.    By September 20th,  no sales were shown at all on Createspaces report.    Phoning Createspace, the author was informed that no sales were showing for Amazon for the month for that title.    It was time for outrage!     What had been suspected, had now been proven.  Not once, but twice!

Time to climb up the foodchain.  After many phonecalls and emails to Createspace, a Senior customer service “executive” phoned personally and stated he would investigate.    Talk about a wacky result.    Due to the print on demand status of Createspace books, sometimes they are one or two books ahead.   Thus even though your book was printed in one month, but sold in another, a royalty might actually show up in the prior month for that sale.   What???

No one expects to get rich off of writing a book.    Few and far between experience the Oprah Bookclub golden orbs of success.    But how are authors to trust a system, happy to take their money for assisting to create and publish a book, which does not thoroughly, detail accurate sales?    Simply outrageous.   What options does that leave the Indie publishers?     How can they possibly track the success of their marketing efforts.   Is the publishing world doomed to be controlled by the big six?     Are small bookstores and Indie presses to be overrun by powerhouse chains which offer the Indie published writer no turf?

How can the press or the author be sure those sales are accurate with no detail?   Rise up Indie authors!    Repost this story!    Tweet it, facebook it.    Make it go viral.   Print it and send it to your local newspaper and the Associated Press.   This abject fraud is outrageous and MUST STOP!

John R. Clark, Managing Editor, AgeView Press

241 thoughts on “Do Amazon and Createspace rip off Indie publishers with failure to correctly report sales?

  1. Jaye says:

    Reblogged this on Jaye Em Edgecliff and commented:
    Outrageous! Sadly, though I can quite believe it. I don’t trust Amazon; I work with them only because I must.

    I know I’ve other authors, indie especially, following this blog. Surely you’ve seen this happen as well. Make noise, look at the good it did Ms Hogarth with the Space Marines debacle! We’re writers, damn it, let’s remind Amazon why you treat bards ith utmost respect!

    • Thanks so much for your vigorous support! We must unite as one and make our voice clear! Although recently Apple tried to file suit against Amazon and lost!

      • Jaye says:

        No, thank you for this post. I’ve worked sales before. Ebb and Flow are apt terms, but sometimes my sales and the sales of others were far more like flash floods and spontaneous drought. Something was suspicious, but with only my own numbers to look at I decided it was just me and was getting quite depressed.

        As for the lawsuits … yes, and Amazon’s suit against Apple won.
        Truly our Justice system is somewhat oxymoronic when Apple, who allows you to set any price, including free; who allows full marketing options to all users (including pre-order); who offers a full 70% to all price points … they’re such horrible scheming people.

        Unlike Amazon, the paragons of the user, who must always have the lowest prices; who you cannot set for free without agreeing to be exclusive to them, whose 70% royalty isn’t since they charge the author a delivery fee for digital downloads; who only give 70% at certain price points — otherwise it’s 35, and 35 is the only option in some countries without exclusivity … and let’s not even get into their Createspace numbers.

      • This terrifies me. I just recently published an ebook on Amazon, and the idea that I’m not getting accurate data (which is more important to me than the money side) is beyond disheartening… I read through some of the other posts about lawyers and actions. I am very curious to see what comes of it. Thanks so much for posting this!

  2. J. M. Brink says:

    Reblogged this on Indie Fic and commented:
    Author beware.

    Amazon might not be doing this on purpose, or they might not be that incompetent. Regardless if it’s stupidity or malice/greed, this is uncool. Let’s get the word out and keep these jokers honest (or get them some remedial courses in common sense).

  3. grassroots08 says:

    I’m with Createspace, and when I read this, I gulped not once but several times. I suspected something was going on, but can’t track it.
    No wonder they are so courteous and available 24/7 on the phone, look at all the money they are dragging in.

    I have twenty books out and not one sale across the entire board. You can pass this along to others if you want to. Add it to your complaint department. I too have been told on my many sites that folks are buying or have bought my books.

    Maybe I get a penny for every sale and they don’t pay out until it reaches $10. LOL I will be looking hard into this problem for answers.
    Let me know if anyone has a real solution.

    Where eagles fly,
    Don (Greywolf) Ford
    This Indian is about to go on a war path of a different sort.

    • I am sickened by all this news. It is certainly not good news albeit strengthens my suspicions. I feel like some naive little schoolgirl and it makes me mad. Just published my first book; initially as an ebook with Smashwords (they paid me and seem to have reported sales accurately) then another new author friend of mine published her first book on CreateSpace/Amazon. They reported sales of 4 units for the whole month of October and surprise – surprise it came out to .25 under the qualifying royalty amount so no payment On the 25th a family member bought 8 copies so she could write a review, those sales were not reported and it is a week later. We wanted the purchase in before the 31st so it would count and I could get paid. CreateSpace says they don’t get recorded until the books are made. It is 7 days since the order. If they haven’t made them yet, I wonder if they were holding production until after the 31st? I wonder how many others have ordered that I have no way of knowing about. Not Fair! First Book! I’m retired depending on Social Security, 67 yrs old and feeling betrayed.

    • Cod Smit says:

      the same thing happened to me with createspace and amazon. I had listed a title for almost 4 years on there service. Myself, family and friends bought my title continous times. With tracking numbers, screenshots the works to prove it. And yet they still had the nerve to lie to me to say that I didn’t have any sales even after a year. And with full evidence to prove that they were lying and simply stealing my money. They had the nerve to only give me only a very small portion of my sales. Not sales of family, friends and others who I knew for a fact had bought my title. And needless to say, the other sales via promotional work I was doing for my title. I finally had enough of there stealing after more then three years and demanded that they remove my title from there amazon. Would you believe that not only did they NOT remove my title, as if they had the nerve to keep it on amazon to sell as if they owned it. I had to fight like hell for them to take it down. I would advise everyone and anyone to run to the hills from CREATESPACE!!!!! They are not legit! They are a scam company that are only out to steal money from indie artist. Do not let them do this to you. Do not do any business with them whatsoever. You are bettter off selling your title by yourself then to give it to criminals like amazon createspace. Let this be a warning to each and everyone thinking of using them. They are NOT a legit company. They are only scammers, crooks and criminals out to steal your money. Don’t be another victim of Createspace!

  4. You may be going about this all wrong. If you feel amazon is selling copyrighted material and not paying royalties on an ongoing and systematic basis, that is probably a matter for law enforcement. Since this is alleged far and wide per the posts here (and on their own forums), the FBI is probably who should be contacted. If fraud is confirmed, class action attorneys will probably fight over the right to sue.

  5. Katy Pye says:

    Thanks for keeping this effort going. My book hasn’t been out that long, so I’m not sure if the figures are accurate.

  6. This all sounds very disturbing. I am awaiting two proofs from Amazon but am feeling worried they may not acknowledge my work through accurate royalties. Libby

  7. grassroots08 says:

    If what we find in the end is these suppliers of our books are even withholding half the royalty numbers or never intend to pay the royalty share at all, then we have a very serious problem on our hands. We trust an invisible entity to keep good records, but where are the record keepers or watchdogs who should be following them. NO CHECKS or BALANCES here, and that’s a poor system and open for possible corruption.

    Who in government is watching these folks as they take over more and more of the book business? When specific airlines begin to gobble up little flight companies the government gets leery and the courts step in. NO ONE should have a MONOPOLY on book sales!

    Even the Lotteries that operate and handle billions of dollars are supposedly guarded and have watch dog organizations who monitor their bank accounts. How is this any different, except that it is government run? Amazon handles thousands upon thousands of transactions in the area of putting out books to buyers, but what about their accounting practices to be sure all of those millions in royalty shares are doled out properly.

    What we are forgetting is that even the hotter selling books may only be receiving a portion or their due, and as long as some money is being supplied, they may feel they are getting their fair amount, and I contend they may want to watch the purse strings of Amazon too. If, Mr. King, and other big names, thought they were being bilked too, much larger sums of course, the whole house of cards could fall down over Amazon’s head. TIME to keep these guys and gals honest, don’t you think folks?!?

    Corruption and greed seems prevalent the larger an organization becomes. Today I received notice from Kindle/Amazon that they want money to increase my reviews. This could increase my sales no doubt, but we are back to the issue of even more missing royalties, now they make even more money on their end and still may not Pay out on these sales in royalties either.

    I refuse to BUY a review from someone who is doing it for the money, anyway!

    If my readers thought they just bought a book and the author received nothing for the sale, they would simply try and contact the writer themselves for the book. Al least before you BUY my book anywhere, please contact me to let me know, and I’ll let you know if I received my royalties. This would be a sure fire way to unearth any fraud on the suppliers part.

    Go to AMAZON, Click on Books, then put “Books by Don G. Ford” in the search bar, they will all post up on Amazon. If you choose a book there, please let me know which one you are getting, and we can both track that selection. This the only way to really know if they are committing royalty theft or not. Amazon needs to hire an agency to monitor these numbers to keep them honest; greed being such an ugly monster and all.

    Believe it or not, I am a very positive person most of the time. When I feel an injustice is being played out on me or my fellow writers, I just have to speak up, not to muddy the waters, but to come to the honest truth of the matter.

    Where eagles fly,
    Don Greywolf Ford
    Native American Storyteller

  8. Reblogged this on Tricia Drammeh and commented:
    A very interesting (and disturbing) article.

    • grassroots08 says:

      Your comment leads us to realize why Monopolies can be and are so devastating and why they are illegal. Hence this practice is being looked into in depth. Cheers, Don

  9. Merita King says:

    Like many other indie authors, I hate Amazon because of all their suspect practices, but I use them because nobody buys books anywhere else. I wish they would, I’d be happy to stop using Amazon if my books sold elsewhere.

  10. Just tweeted this article out. It’s an important message for all indie authors to remember. My book “Glass People” has been on Amazon since April and I have been wondering if the sales reports listed are accurate or not. I’ve never really thought to look into it until now, but I just might.

    • grassroots08 says:

      Thanks for joining this inquiry. I want to believe we are just a victim of circumstances, and that our family and friends and people who said they bought our books were just being kind and never did. The thought that many of my books were being picked up, if only out of curiosity. Cheers, Don

  11. I just ordered a print copy of my own title. I’ll see whether Amazon reports it. I’ve had no other sales reported since it came out about a month ago, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

    • grassroots08 says:

      Melissa, They will not report sales to you, the author, on books you purchase. Someone else must buy your book via their email. I buy my own books at Createspace all of the time to satisfy my buyers/readers near where I live. No report goes out regarding those sales, ever.

      Someone other than the author must buy your books. Cheers, Don

      • sprachmagie says:

        That’s not true put general like that. If I as the author order my own books from (NOT CreateSpace but the normal Amazon store), the sales show up like any other sales would too. And I’m paid royalties on those sales too, just as if any other person had bought the books from Amazon’s online stores.

      • grassroots08 says:

        I hear what you are saying, Sprachmagie. If the author buys his own books, they (Amazon) BETTER show the royalties. Otherwise this would be an obvious violation. My books are carried by Createspace, so they (Createspace) don’t feel they have to show them as royalty books, since they give me a good book buying rate, this way they are not paying me twice.

        If Amazon sells to me my book, I pay a lot more for it, and I get a small royalty too. It makes sense. The argument has nothing to do with our buying power, but those who are getting our books. They spend the money for them and as far as I can see here, if the royalty is not recorded, whose to be the wiser? I can’t see my buyers; Amazon knows that!

        I still want to be proven wrong about all of this.

      • Why shouldn’t the books you sell through your website be shown as sales? That is not right. Creatspace IS Amazon, don’t forget.

      • grassroots08 says:

        That is a worthwhile point to look into. If a book is put up for free on Amazon they record those 0 sales, and if enough people pick up the FREEBIE, it posts on Amazon as a Best Seller. This is a pretty lie all packaged with a bow on top. Deception is what it is!!! Cheers, Don

        P.S. This needs to be turned on its head!

      • Don, thank you but please don’t patronize me. I ordered the book off Amazon at full price. It wasn’t bought under my Createspace author account. The sale appeared within 24 hours.

    • grassroots08 says:

      I stand corrected. Because you pay a much larger price for your own book at Amazon, they do pay a very small royalty, and it is reported as a sale. So that being the case, I will start to buy my books, only a few at Amazon, so I can get my books on the map there. The bulk of my purchases will be from Createspace; I make much more on my books. Cheers, Don

  12. danadelamar says:

    I received the same explanation from CreateSpace when I noticed that some sales were (seemingly) not reported. Their explanation made some sense to me (sometimes they overprint or print ahead, and they pay you at the time of printing, not necessarily at the time of sale), so I accepted what they said. I’ve seen a flurry of sales recorded lately, but I’m not sure if everything has been accounted for or not. I’d love to see an outside audit performed just for reassurance. I’ve trusted them so far, but now I’m questioning whether I should.

  13. So when are you going to go after traditional publishers? Maybe if enough authors called them to accounting for their business practices, we wouldn’t need to rely on Amazon so much!

    • Good luck on attacking the big powerful six. I think most all of would like to.

      • grassroots08 says:

        I had a gal contact me a few days ago about buying all of my Clay Pond series of kid’s books and a couple other book genres. She is sending me the money for me to purchase them from Createspace, sign them, and put in the mail to her. This would be a win win for the writer and the printer. Sorry Amazon, you are out of the loop this one time.

        If more people will buy direct from authors, this would assure that the author gets their money and the printer gets his/hers too for building the books. Cheers, Don

      • You do realize that Amazon is Createspace right? Amazon owns them so they are still getting their money. They are in monster control of virtually everything. 97% of all ebook sales come from Amazon.

      • grassroots08 says:

        I need to sell my books, and Createspace , even though they are Amazon, they are basically printing my work and I’m paying only for that. If they share the money with Amazon, at least I get my bigger piece of the pie in the sale. Cheers, Don

        Most printers require a large amount of copies before they will send them to the author. I can buy 1, if I’m desperate for the book, I just pay a hefty shipping fee plus tax. I can live with that. I try to put in larger orders (Not too large) to satisfy my personal customers here from book table sales, library visits, and other venues.
        Cheers, Don

  14. Reblogged this on My path to self publishing Multicultural YA, Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels and commented:
    This was an interesting post. Honestly, I’m considering Createspace, and still am. But I do need to research the differences in options. Perhaps when I conduct my own research I will list the pros and cons. But I reblogged this after seeing it on Tricia Drammeh’s blog. It’s definitely an issue I’d like to see if people who have worked through Createspace can give their incite on.

  15. grassroots08 says:

    YMC Junkie,
    The good thing about Createspace is that you can buy 1 book or many for yourself. They do a great job in the printing process. If you need help with covers there are folks here that can assist, other than paying Createspace. I do all my own covers before sending to Createspace. Compare prices, of course.
    Cheers, Don

  16. This is the main reason I sell direct through my website. Yes, it’s nice to reach a larger audience but it does me no good to reach them if the dollars from that audience never reach my pocketbook. Corporate greed and dishonesty are rampant throughout the world, I’m not putting my financial survival in the hands of another company. I do receive occasional sales through them but I don’t push/promote that site, only my own. And my books are priced accordingly.Until Amazon/createspace provide more process transparency, this is the way it’ll stay for me. Good luck!

    • grassroots08 says:

      I’m suggesting to all writers I know that they send folks to their websites to buy their books. Like I said earlier, this way both the creator and the printer get their monies, and Amazon can just keep everyone else’s royalties, not ours. Cheers, Don

      • The problem with that is….Amazon which IS Createspace does not count books that authors order and sell themselves as sales. I have sold over 500 copies of FLYING SOLO, but that doesn’t show as a “sale” in the rank at Amazon. I seriously doubt the free days on Kindle direct to either. But I may be wrong on that one. But your books that you get through Createspace certainly do not! Therein lies the problem and why very few Indie-pubbed books, although selling well will not be considered Best Sellers.

  17. This is something i have encountered more than once, i know of a dozen people who have bought my books on kindle and paperback but the sales just seem to have disappeared. I did notice however that sales on kindle in the UK seemed to be appearing in the US channel and not the UK one. I give out business cards here for my Kindle (UK) books and in one month i gave away 16 of them to interested parties, not a single sale was recorded here in the UK but 16 were reported as sold on .com. That’s a big coincidence if you ask me. For me the jury is still out, however i am looking at other publishers at the moment.

  18. Mary says:

    Reblogged this on Hüify Intern Mary Fonvielle and commented:
    My numbers are nowhere near to this particular story, but I have suspected that my sales reports might not be entirely accurate. Friends and family would tell me they ordered X-amount of books from CreateSpace or that they downloaded it from Amazon, and later I’d never see those sales.

    I guess a few missing sales here and there doesn’t seem like it would make much of a difference, but when a single download can push my Amazon rank up thousands of spots, it makes a difference to me. If this problem is real then I hope it’s addressed soon.

  19. […] Do Amazon and Createspace rip off Indie publishers with failure to correctly report sales?. […]

  20. Reblogged this on Behind Closed Doors and commented:
    This is disturbing to say the least. We trust Amazon and Createspace to pay our royalties due to us and yet this proves they aren’t. I’ve had similar experiences ordering my print books from Amazon. At least 15 sales are unaccounted for in May of this year. I purchased them myself AT FULL PRICE. These books never made it to my royalty statements since then. You do the math.

    • Yours is one of countless stories! I can’t get the Associated Press to pick this up. One writer contacted me, but said there were not enough cases. Bull doo doo! Look at how many are here! – just on my little blog!

      • EXACTLY!!! Here I was worried something was not right with my publisher at first, but nope. It’s all on Amazon’s end. Self publishing has really brought all of it to light for me. We just need to keep it going so more and more authors check their sales. Test it out by having friends purchase books and track those sales.

    • Check out my post below. No sale gets past me because I distribute the books to amazon myself using lightning source.

  21. very interesting blog..I shall now look into the fact that my royalties seem to be missing… thanks 🙂

  22. Olivia Stocum says:

    Reblogged this on The Claymore and Surcoat and commented:
    I hope this was an oversight and not direct manipulation. Scary.

  23. Michele Poet says:

    My books are printed using Lightning Source and I live in the UK. I produced a full colour book which had to be printed in the US and I ordered a set of 12 copies to be sent directly from LS in the US to me in the UK. Instead they sent the copies to Amazon – the depot is twenty or so miles away from my home.
    I wanted to go and collect them from the depot – but Amazon said that was not possible. LS counted the books as ‘lost’ and sent another batch out to me which arrived eventually.
    In the meantime Amazon has sold some copies from the ‘lost’ batch. I know because I bought them discounted myself from Amazon for less than they would have cost me from LS direct.
    They still have the rest of the batch (it isn’t a big seller and I never thought it would be) but back at full price now. I’m pretty certain that no royalties will go through the system for those books because Amazon never ordered them and so there is probably no structure for the royalties to be processed. But they physically have them and they got them for free!! And they are selling them.
    It is extremely annoying.

    • Michelle…that is outrageous! When can we collectively get together to get this travesty to STOP!!!

    • There are no such thing as batches. Copies ordered on Amazon and copies ordered from CreateSpace are printed in different places and shipped from different places. You’re effectively dealing with two separate businesses.

      CreateSpace is basically six or so separate printers working together under one company. CS orders generally come from a printer in North Carolina. Amazon orders are instead printed by CS facilities in Kentucky, New York, Tennessee, Germany and Scotland. When those facilities get overloaded, they subcontract to other printers and your royalty gets delayed however long it takes the outside printer to complete paperwork.

      You don’t and are not supposed to get paid for every sale Amazon makes. You get paid when Amazon or a third party ORDERS the book for resale. You get nothing from actual sales. If they get a return and resell it, you aren’t entitled to anything. If they get a defective copy that has to be replaced, they will probably scrap that copy and get a free replacement from CS under the notion that you got your royalty when they bouight the defective copy.

      You can always use Amazon fulfillment to sell copies of your book direct, opt AGAINST distribution, disable ALL DISTRIBUTION, and simply use CS or Lightning to print copies of your book which you personally sell/ship either as a vendor or through a fulfillment service. Then every copy sold (or returned) has to go through you.

  24. grassroots08 says:

    When is too big, just that? It is so easy to lose these book royalties through the cracks, especially when it seems they are more interested in volume sales than in the promise of a payout (royalties).

    I know this STUFF happens! Ask folks who had once had their book with Caliber Press out of Detroit, Mich. This WAS once upon a time a large comic book Publisher that my son dealt with. Once a month his new book RIB would come out, and for five months a new story was published and sent to Diamond Publications.

    This was a book that was highly acclaimed, even starting out as a Mini-comic for 50cents.

    Folks at Marvel and D. C. were looking at it, and thought the writing was great. Al Williamson, famed Comic God, met my son and told him this fact, and even took him out to dinner in Ohio at the Ohio Con. There he met and had dinner with the best of the writers on Batman, Superman, and Spiderman.

    His books sold no copies according to their royalty number (0). I called Caliber and told them to cancel the book from then on, that my son and his artist were hoping to receive royalties from the sales.

    THEY CAME CLEAN, not with royalty numbers, but ADMITTED there were royalties to be paid, but they didn’t have the money right then. I told them it was over, and they weren’t doing it for the love or fun of it. They felt a twinge of guilt and sent me 11 full boxes of RIB #1 thru #5. Now they sit in our garage!!!

    As I am sharing this, it dawned on me that if the amount of royalties was small they could easily have paid it. I was so upset with them at the time, I neglected to ask for the numbers of books sold and the amount of royalties coming. Now they are defunct after years of doing this to other writers/creatives.

    “RIBS” anyone? The month this book debuted, it received an A+ rating by numerous comic book retailers across the country, in the Comic Buyer’s Guide. It even beat out the new D. C. and Marvel titles at the time. Do the math – it feels like what Amazon is doing, but on a smaller scale. I do believe our books are going out as were my son’s at the time.

    Where eagles fly,
    Don Greywolf Ford
    Native American Storyteller

  25. Joss Landry says:

    Well, I have this little tool called Book Buzzr and it reports automatically all sales that come in, the time, the number of the sale the date and which Amazon sells it. So it’s been efficient over the last 4 months. Only this past Sunday, October 6, it reported sales that are not yet showing up on Kindle. Is this normal? How long does it take for kindle to post the sales? Book buzzr takes a few hours. So we are Monday, Oct 7 where are my sales?

  26. […] via Do Amazon and Createspace rip off Indie publishers with failure to correctly report sales? | jeanett…. […]

  27. Reblogged! Tweeted! and Facebooked!

  28. Janice Grove says:

    I have reposted this to all of my networking accounts, as well as to my current publishing company’s sites, because I know the frustration of seeing numbers that don’t add up. My former publisher told me that sometimes a book just does not sell well (or at all) and there was no way for them to double check Amazon. Now I have more information, for others as well as myself – thank you for posting your experience!

  29. Tam Linsey says:

    I’d wondered about this myself, since I’ve had people say they bought the book but then it never showed up in sales. I thought friends were shining me on about buying it, and just kept quiet. Now I feel guilty for suspecting them, because perhaps they really did buy the books.

  30. Delena says:

    Reblogged this, as well.

    Thank you so much for the heads up!

  31. Looks like a sleepless night pondering the many ways Amazon and the likes are screwing me over.

    • You may find my reply below helpful. I keep track of my sales because I distribute through lightning source. No one can purchase my book without me knowing. authorhannahgraham,

  32. My question to you is if createspace is stealing? Why are your books still for sale through them? I have for years said something was fishy.

  33. It’s best for any indie publisher to be in control of their distribution. I use Lightning Source who list my book on Amazon. When someone orders through any sales channel, I am notified and authorise a copy to be distributed to Amazon. That way I keep track of all sales. Same with Kindle. You don’t have to pay the extortionate fee Amazon charge to put your book on Kindle. I distribute through e-book partnership, who for a reasonable sum, put your book out to all the e-book sellers. You can convert your files yourself or shop around for someone to do that for you.

  34. grassroots08 says:

    Take some time and read all of the comments on this board. Your answers are there! Cheers, Don

    I said this earlier and I’ll repeat myself:
    The good thing about Createspace is that you can buy 1 book or many for yourself. They do a great job in the printing process. If you need help with covers there are folks here that can assist, other than paying Createspace. I do all my own covers before sending to Createspace. Compare prices, of course.
Cheers, Don

    I also said this earlier and I will repeat myself:
    I’m suggesting to all writers I know that they send folks to their websites to buy their books. Like I said earlier, this way both the creator and the printer (Createspace in my case) get their monies, and Amazon can just keep everyone else’s royalties, not ours. Cheers, Don

  35. grassroots08 says:

    Don’t miss out on Joel’s discussion. It will open your eyes and may just save you thousands of hard earned dollars. Cheers, Don

  36. Rich authors buy several copies of their books in order to become best sellers. Createspace prints real good and Amazon is popular. This extortion is what I cannot understand. Someone needs to come up with a way out..
    As far as ebooks are concerned, some authors use other author’s ebooks. It’s a case of dog eat dog.
    My books, Who will Marry My daughter, Holy Spirit My Dearest Friend, How to be Happy & Successful and The Poems In Me (Pen Name: A.B.Imbola) have sold so many unrecorded copies. I have also found a way around that.

  37. ricwillmot says:

    As of 9 October 2013 …

    CreateSpace is incompetent, slow, inconsiderate, and …

    Well, you get the idea. It has taken them over 6 months to still keep sending me interior versions of the book that are wrong, inaccurate and poorly designed. I paid a premium for their service and I would have been better off paying a kindergarten child to design the interior layout.

    If you wish to produce a professional book and don’t want to do it yourself, but rather employ professional designers, editors, etc. Do NOT use CreateSpace. A waste of time and money.

    • grassroots08 says:

      Be careful Ric, those comments are not exactly accurate in my experience. If there are problems getting your manuscript posted and accepted, there are various legitimate reasons for it. I have about 22 books published, most at Createspace.

      But then I don’t pay for any of their services, I simple edit my own work, create my own covers, and submit. 8 out of 10 times they go through without a hitch. One time I sent a cover in called Funny Business and they rejected it. I called on the help line and they got right back to me. They are 24/7 on the phone. I can call at 3am or any hour of the night or day and they answer Johnny on the spot.

      They explained that my back picture was messed up. I told them to look at it again and to read the title once more. “Oh, Funny Business, I get it.” It then was put through. LOL

      I’m sorry that is your experience. Thanks for warning others not to do it own their own but to seek art and editorial help other than Createspace. I always wondered where they make the bulk of their money, now I know, it isn’t off our few books.

      • ricwillmot says:

        Grassroots: I am careful and these are exactly my experiences. I have documented the failings of CreateSpace and my lawyers are currently corresponding with the Better Business Bureau as well as a legal firm in the United States to represent my case against them. I paid for premium services for them to design the cover, complete the interior design and layout, etc.

        The most recent example of their ongoing incompetence over the last 6 months was that the interior layout and content was poorly done. I had to resubmit the manuscript in Word rather than making the adjustments to the work already done (which I found quite unusual) and after 17 days (when it was supposed to be completed in 5-7) less than 10% of the corrections had been made.

        Now, they want to charge an additional fee to make the adjustments they were supposed to have completed from the previously paid editorial service. This has been the pattern ever since we started in May 2013. On every occasion after challenging their mistakes, they have waived the fee to do what they were meant to do, originally.

        In the meantime, I have missed out on substantial sales (I am a conference speaker specialising in accountants, lawyers, financial planners, consultants, etc.) because I’ve not had the physical product available at back of room for sale. And, we’re not talking nickel and dime. This book will be retailing at $99 with a back of room sales price of $75. And, as an example, the previous book similar to this one retailed at $99 and I sold 1,203 copies back of room since it was released in August 2012. Do the math. This is why I’m so upset at the poor performance of CreateSpace.

      • Sad to know their problems extend beyond just tracking sales. I honestly think they started out okay but just have gotten too damned big to care about the individual customer. Let us know if your lawyer wants to handle the nonreported sales issue.

        In Sept of this month…I show zero overseas sales or expanded distributions. Yet I have done four major national appearances for my books winning three awards! I know that is bullshit! Over 100 retweets daily on my books. Where are the sales??

      • Katy Pye says:

        I had Ric’s experience when I was working through the paid interior service. CS team was always nice, but whoever was working the actual layout didn’t cut it. When I finally got the proof, the headers were at the top edge of the page and the title page was crooked. I was backing up against my bookstore launch date, so I shut down the service, sent the book elsewhere (at a much higher price to print), then went back to CS and did it myself. The cover was always done well and I had it professionally designed.

        There are many things I like about the CS experience, especially the phone service, but I don’t recommend their interior help. I used one of Joel Freidlander’s ( templates to set up the book. It looks better than what CS and I were doing, so I’m ultimately happy. CS has my book and I’m working on getting up and running at Lightening Source so it has a shot in bookstore and library sales.

        I don’t know how to track sales accurately. I hesitate asking people who say they’ve bought it, or will, as I’m not interested in putting them on the spot. Short of direct selling off my website, I’m not sure how I could ever really know any of these outfits are accurately portraying my sales.

        Elizabeth’s Landing

      • grassroots08 says:

        Hi Ric,
        Sorry to make you open up that can of worms, but I’m thinking now that if they are doing this to you, they are possibly doing to a lot of other good folks. I figured they had to be making money (Honestly or otherwise) from someone, but it sure the heck wasn’t me! I’ve stayed away from all these publishers when they start asking for money that I don’t have. Hopefully with will raise a large red flag to others who are considering these folks for services other than basic printing. This will give other folks who have been ripped off in kind a place to go – legal authorities.

  38. grassroots08 says:

    I thought about publishing through Apple?!? I found it a bit confusing to apply. Cheers, Don

  39. melindaclayton says:

    Reblogged this on melinda clayton and commented:
    Interesting (and alarming) post. Multiple self-published authors (and at least one indie publisher) claim Amazon isn’t paying accurate royalties. The claims are disturbing, to say the least.

  40. melindaclayton says:

    Reblogged on Very disturbing!

  41. Is this only on Createspace? Because I WATCHED a guy purchase one of my eBooks on Amazon. The sale never showed up.

    In other news, I’ve had two accounts from readers that they’ve tried repeatedly to post a review to the book and Amazon won’t let them. They are not related.

    • Anyone adding a review on Amazon, has to have bought something on their site, as well as having an account… quite problematic for any author, to say the least.
      “Would you like to review my book? Oh, and by the way,but ONLY if you have an AMAZON account…!”

      • So would you prefer that reviews were a free for all, whereby there was no requirement to have purchased, or even looked at, your book before submitting a review?

      • I agree with you completely Leroy; I’m just pointing out the dilemma in requesting reviews from potential reviewers. If the goal is to to have reviews posted on Amazon… i personally have experienced several of my reviewers who could not add their reviews there…

    Experiencing exactly the same as many of you write here…my book published 4 months ago; many reviews and comments from readers-who tell me they bought my novel through Kindle or Amazon and yet NO real sales reported! SOMETHING VERY FISHY GOING ON… !

    Writing individual complaints to Amazon/Createspace takes hours and days of precious time as authors. I’ve tried it myself, and only receive cryptic answers one after another.

    Isn’t there SOME way for all of us to join forces and send a COLLECTIVE COMPLAINT ? To let them know, that we will publicise our complaints throughout the world, through our own great networks.

    • menieux says:

      The best avenue is to file a complaint with the FBI for copyrite infringement if you can get someone to save his/her invoice and send you a copy. You would have a hard time proving unless you have a month with no sales and someone you know has the proof of purchase. There is another writer out there who has an agent from the feds assigned to investigate because she caught them.

      • Janet…if you can find the name of that person that would be great. There is power in numbers. I agree with Linda, we should all join forces.

      • And I agree with Jeanette! Couldn’t we get hold of this FBI guy and have him investigate for ALL of us… ??

      • What makes me mad is I run a local advertising campaign where by I give away cards to kindle readers to encourage them to buy my book, and there is a direct coloration between the give away of those cards and my book sales. However I am in the UK but according to Amazon these books are being sold over where they withhold 30% of my royalties for the IRS ??? We all know when you register in the UK you are given a UK email address and are redirected to Amazon.UK when we want to buy a book, so why are they reporting my sales through .com when its obvious it is through the UK. The only reason I can think of is because of the thirty percent withhold of my royalties, and as my books are being sold in the UK and they can prove that to the IRS then where the hell is my thirty percent going???

      • I have real doubts about the shady practices from Amazon on overseas sales. My first book has been out almost a year and a half and I have about 100 tweets about it a day from UK authors. You can’t tell me I don’t have more than 1, that’s right…one! single sale. I will never see that .78 of a pound! LOL

      • I’m in Australia, and my book had been promoted, with hundreds of tweets going out daily – thousands when you add in the number of followers of those who tweeted – yet, I haven’t had A SINGLE SALE on Amazon as a result! Odd? I’ve now asked those tweeps to tweet my Smashwords link rather than Amazon. It’ll be interesting to see the result.

      • menieux says:

        I searched through all of the posts on Jeannette’s website and found a post from September 2013 from grassroots08 who has an FBI agent doing an audit. I do not know who this person is.

      • I will look back through, I should have his email address and I will contact him! Also…a guy in California, a lawyer was interested in this case too pro-bono. David Berke @berkeslaw

  43. In the Royalty details on Amazon/Createspace, I cannot understand why we as authors are not given specific details of each sale;
    1) Name of purchaser 2) Their address 3) Their country
    How else can we track our sales and keep accounts? Particularly when the sales are of different percentages, whether they stem from the USA, Europe or other countries.

    I also have at least 100 readers who write that they have purchased my novel; either the paperback or e-book version. Several have reviewed it; but as many of you claim… On the royalty report, it states a total of 5 paperbacks sold since July. And of course, because these sales are apparently below their ‘quota,’ (can’t figure out their quota demands as well) I have never received any check for these sales.

    Who wants to be a billionaire???
    Well, guess it would help me buy that dream house in Fuji… but this is outrageous….!

  44. smfernand says:

    My complaint with CreateSpace’s sales reports for my novel, “Appalachian Carnival,” concerns the discrepancy between CreateSpace’s numbers and those of Nielsen’s BookScan, which is provided in Amazon’s Author Central. BookScan purports to report 75% of USA bookstore sales, plus sales, minus any e-book sales. As for my novel, BookScan reports a three-figure number that is more than five times the two-figure number that CreateSpace says it has printed and sold. This two-figure number is independent of my own sales of copies printed by CreateSpace.

    I e-mailed CreateSpace a few months back about this discrepancy, and I received a form letter stating word for word what I had received in reply to another distribution issue some months before. Today, I spoke on the phone with a representative who told me that the discrepancy is due to returns being resold and resellers selling used copies. I told him that I could understand that some copies may have been returned or resold, but FIVE times the total printed? The representative said that he’d look into it and e-mail me back in a couple of days. Let’s see what happens with that.

    After getting off the phone with CreateSpace, I found this blog string. When I searched for similar complaints before, I found two other indie-authors that experienced the same discrepancies in the two reports, and when they asked CreateSpace about it, they were stonewalled the same way I was— by CreateSpace stating that their sales report is correct.

    Perhaps others in this same boat might check into their Author Central page on and see what Nielsen’s numbers are in relation to CreateSpace’s reports. Please let me know what happens. I’ll do the same for you.

    (Nielsen Holdings N.V. is an American global information and measurement company with headquarters in New York and Diemen, the Netherlands. Nielsen is active in over 100 countries and employs approximately 35,000 people worldwide. Total revenues were $5.6 billion in 2012.”[wikipedia])

    • Katy Pye says:

      Thank you for this comment and information. I didn’t know about the Nielsen “map.” Just scanned it and there are lots of one-off sales in various states that don’t show up in my Amazon Central tally. I don’t understand CS telling you these are “returned” books that have been resold. CS doesn’t take returns. I do have expanded distribution, although I shut off the main one to bookstores and have set that up with Lightening Source. Resellers can still buy the book at CS at a lesser discount. Amazon also dropped outside reviews from my “Editorial Reviews” section of some of my pages, not others, mostly paperback version. So, I’ve got work to do and queries to write, I see.

      • Katy Pye says:

        Okay, tally in. I show 95 books unaccounted for in CS royalties, according to what’s on the Nielsen map. I took the “tour” of that section of the A. Central page. “BookScan collects the majority of point of sale data each week from over 10,000 retailers, both online and off.” and “Understanding BookScan Data: BookScan combines sales reported by participating retailers, including Barnes & Noble,, Target, and Buy.Com. Some retailers do not participate, including Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club.”

        NOTE (my emphasis): “These data do not include Kindle or other eBooks sales, USED BOOKS SALES, wholesale purchases, or sales to libraries.”

        “Used books” would cover CS’s “returned and resold,” which it doesn’t do. If I sell a book at Ingram or any place that DOES allow returns and I’ve checked that box as “okay,” I will get dinged in my royalties. They’ll take that sale back from me. I get that. Ingram would be included in the Nielsen map, but I just set that up, so no sales yet. Figuring out, if I can, what to do next.

  45. Laine Crosby says:

    The same thing is happening to me. I do NOT have expanded distribution through Createspace, and I do not sell through the CreatsSpace Store. Amazon and a number of other booksellers (I assume that Amazon owns these and posts them to look like competition), are undercutting me. I just used CreateSpace as a printer. I have not given them any right to resell my book. I have proof they are selling it to others without giving me any commissions. I have ordered it myself and they are not paying me royalties. Where do I turn? We need a class action suit! This is price fixing and copyright infringement! Help!
    Laine Crosby

    • smfernand says:

      As for a class action suit, I quote below CreateSpace’s member agreement. In short: disputes have to go through an arbitrator, their chosen arbitrator, with fees; and this same member agreement invalidates any class action suits. It seems that CreateSpace has this unseemly business under wraps.

      As for me, I will do a second edition of my novel under a new title and ISBN with Ingram’s new POD service, Spark, and see whether they can properly count the copies they print.

      Perhaps some main-stream writer out there might research and publish an article that explains or exposes what’s behind these discrepancies.

      Also, for what it’s worth, I’m going to mail a paper letter to Jeff Bezos asking him what’s going on. Maybe if he, or his office, got a slew of such queries, then the matter might be looked into.

      Around the first of the year, I did contact the folks at Amazon’s Author Page about the sales report from Nielsen BookScan, and I was told that this number (five times what CreateSpace reports) was correct. When I asked why there was a discrepancy in the two reports, they said to ask CreateSpace. Thus, the runaround to nowhere.

      From CreateSpace’s Services Agreement at:
      15. Disputes; Governing Law
      Any dispute or claim relating in any way to this Agreement, your visit to or our Services will be resolved by binding arbitration, rather than in court, except that you may assert claims in small claims court if your claims qualify. The United States Federal Arbitration Act and federal arbitration law apply to this Agreement. There is no judge or jury in arbitration, and court review of an arbitration award is limited. However, an arbitrator can award on an individual basis the same damages and relief as a court (including injunctive and declaratory relief or statutory damages), and must follow the terms of this Agreement as a court would. To begin an arbitration proceeding, you must send a letter requesting arbitration and describing your claim to our registered agent, Corporation Service Company, 300 Deschutes Way SW, Suite 304, Tumwater, WA 98051. The arbitration will be conducted by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) under its rules, including the AAA’s Supplementary Procedures for Consumer-Related Disputes. The AAA’s rules are available at or by calling 1-800-778-7879 (in the United States). Payment of all filing, administration and arbitrator fees will be governed by the AAA’s rules. We will reimburse those fees for claims totaling less than $10,000 unless the arbitrator determines the claims are frivolous. Likewise, we will not to seek attorneys’ fees and costs in arbitration unless the arbitrator determines the claims are frivolous. You may choose to have the arbitration conducted by telephone, based on written submissions, or in person in the United States county where you live or at another mutually agreed location. You and we each agree that any dispute resolution proceedings will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class, consolidated or representative action. If for any reason a claim proceeds in court rather than in arbitration you and we each waive any right to a jury trial. You or we may bring suit in court on an individual basis only, and not in a class, consolidated or representative action, to apply for injunctive remedies. You may bring any such suit for injunctive remedies only in the courts of the State of Washington, USA. The United States Federal Arbitration Act, applicable United States federal law, and the laws of the state of Washington, USA, without regard to principles of conflict of laws, will govern this Agreement and any dispute of any sort that might arise between you and us relating to this Agreement or the Services.

      • WooooOOW!
        What a Paragraph 15 from Createspace!
        When signing up for Createspace, who’s gonna read through such a crazy paragraph??? The day I signed up for CreateSpace… I sure didn’t.
        They sure know how to wrap us authors around their little fingers, don’t they?

  46. Las Vegas Photographer and Videographer says:

    I’ve had my book out of print for close to a year. Still sellers on Amazon marketplace and on the web selling my book as new and “used”. These copies keep turning up. 60 copies new and used are currently available on the web when i search my isbn. I printed about 150 books back in 2008 thru Createspace. I own 45 of them.

  47. I was told they could also be guilty of Racketeering laws. Check out the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

    ​For more information please contact:
    Dean Browning Webb Attorney & Counselor at Law
    515 E 39th St.
    Vancouver, WA 98663-2240

    Dean Browning Webb is the author of
    “Rico Conspiracy Law and the Pinkerton Doctrine”

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