Do Amazon and Createspace rip us off? The update.

It’s has been several months since first publishing and republishing the story about Amazon and Createspace failing to report accurate sales.  It’s absolutely evil.   Here is what has been learned.

It's almost evil!

It’s almost evil!

Hundreds of authors contacted me regarding the inability to see their sales, especially from expanded distribution channels.   The story has been blogged and tweeted.  One author, on the grounds she stay anonymous, as her book was just picked up by one of the “Big Six” and she feared be dropped, told me that over 500 of her books sales never showed.AgeView Press was contacted by the Vice-President of Customer Service at Createspace, George  X ecr@createspace.com  who explained that he takes customer concerns very personally.  He pulled up my account for my latest book SOLO VIETNAM.   Now, I know for a fact that since it was published, April 2013 that at least ten friends have ordered it from Barnes and Noble and other retailers, which should have shown up on CreateSpace’s records as expanded distribution orders from Ingram.   Mr. X kindly shared with me that I had shown one sale from Expanded Distribution.  When asked where that was from?  He was not allowed to provide me that information.    Yet, he could see it from Ingram.

It get’s better.  This time, I chose not to go with KDP select.  I never saw the increased sales following the 4,000 free downloads of my award winning novel FLYING SOLO.  Not even after hawking it with KindleMojo, World Literary Cafe and anywhere I could get the info out there.   Never saw them.   I sold very few books with KDP select.  So this time, I decided to expand my ebook availablity by having in in multiple formats, Kindle, Nook, ebook and ibook via BookBaby.

The jury is out.   Scads of folks have downloaded the book in various formats, many writing reviews.    Yet, to date I show zero sales on BookBaby.   Now, to be fair, their policy is that after a sale is made in particular month, it can take up to 60 days after that month closes for them to report the sales from their distribution.   Seriously people?    Sixty freaking days?  Dont’ we live in an electronic world?   Are these retailers like Kobo, Itunes ibook, Barnes and Noble using the Pony Express?

What the heck?   <—-please insert selected four letter vulgarity here!

As an Indie author and owner of a small press, I find this completely outrageous.  How can one possibly track the availability of their marketing?   Last year, I sold more books hawking them myself via book signings and the Texas Author Book program and made more for each copy.  The problem?   And authors, you will just love this one, the numbers of books you order yourself from CreateSpace do not count as sales!    Yet, when big publishers order 10,000 copies of a new release for distribution, that book is automatically put on the New York Times best sellers list!

Again. . . what the heck?  No that one deserves fuckity-fuck, fuck, FUCK!!!

The morale of the story?   Authors you better love what you do.   Have a great time writing your Indie books, going to book signings and enjoying your fifteen minutes of fame.    Because unless you are born under a lucky star, you are barely going to break even.

What’s sad is that because of the desire to become famous, small press and Indie press have seen waves of authors turn to the dark side.   Vampires were hot, so they wrote that.   Bondage was hotter with 50 Shades of Grey, so they wrote that.    There are literally hundreds of thousands of poorly written books which overshadow quality Indie writing that get’s literally lost in the sea of Indie wannabes.    What’s an author to do?

1.  Keep complaining to CreatSpace to show your immediate electronic and expanded distribution sales

2.  Join forces with reputable Independent Press organizations like Independent Author’s Network, Readers Alliance and Book Your Next Read #BYNR.

3.  Follow Jonathan Gunson‘s tips for Indie author success.   Follow book bloggers.   Make thoughtful posts on their blogs.  Gain their trust.   Then ask for a review.

4.  Before you tweet a random book, READ IT!   Dont recommend books that are off your brand, poorly written crap.   Save your tweets for worthy words.

5.  Keep your network of solid, proven Indie Authors tight.   Communicate and unite.   Network and promo them.   Attend worthy writer’s conferences like Lexicon. You’ll be amazed.   By paying it foward, your returns will be rich.

A lawyer, David Berke has contacted AgeView Press about joining forces with other authors to draw publicity to this dilemma.   The Associated Press contacted AgeView Press, but the journalist, Hillel Italie, HillelHItalie@ap.org  never followed up on the story.   It continues to happen.   To me and to many other authors.  Please email this reporter and let them know this is NOT an isolated incident.

We keep the faith.   Continue to try and stay positive in the marketplace.   And most of all. . . write because we love doing it!    Please feel free to SHARE and reblog this post.   Grassroots efforts really do result in action.   Just ask President Obama!

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18 thoughts on “Do Amazon and Createspace rip us off? The update.

  1. Ken Farmer says:

    Jeanette, we have been using BookBaby since March of 2012. We are now over 30,000 books and never a problem. Yes, there is a 60 day lag, but that’s from Amazon and the foreign distribution. BookBaby pays us on the first of every month, like clock work. Don’t know about Create Space, since we only run 20 or so per month. Hard to keep track.

  2. Ken Farmer says:

    You can get fairly close to the number of books per day you are selling on Amazon from this chart. We have verified this by running a cross-check on our books with our daily over all ranking on Amazon. It’s pretty damn close.You can find your individual book rankings on your Author Central page, by the day for the last six months. Apply this chart:
    Bestsellers Overall Rank 40,000 to 100,000 – selling close to 1 book a day. (per kindleboards)
    Bestellers Overall Rank 40,000 to 200,000 – selling less than a book a day.
    Bestsellers Overall Rank 8,500 to 40,000 – selling 10 to 1 books a day.
    Bestsellers Overall Rank 3,000 to 8,500 – selling 30 to 10 books a day.
    Bestsellers Overall Rank 2,000 to 3,000 – selling 55 to 30 books a day.
    Bestsellers Overall Rank 1000 to 2,000 – selling 30 to 100 books a day.
    Bestsellers Overall Rank 200 to 1000 – selling 100 to 350 books a day.
    Bestsellers Overall Rank 80 to 200 – selling 350 to 550 books a day.
    Bestsellers Rank 65 to 80 – selling 550 to 650 books a day.
    Bestsellers Rank 20 to 65 – selling 650 to 1,100 books a day.
    Bestseller Rank of 10 to 20 – selling 1,100 to 2,000 + books a day.
    Bestseller Rank of 5 to 10 – selling 2,000 to 3,500 books a day.
    Bestseller Rank of 1 to 5 – selling 3,500+ books a day.

  3. Ken…it is not HOW to see the sales. We all know that. The complaint is unreported sales. You are missing the point of the concern here. 🙂

  4. jrcclark says:

    Having worked with Jeanette on this, I can vouch that there are definitely unreported sales! 🙂

  5. ellekynzer says:

    Jeanette Vaughn:
    You are absolutely right…there are not only unreported sales, there is pirating under Createspace’s former name in other countries, and the reason Amazon moved their financial headquarters to Luxemburg in 2005…. now owing the IRS over 1.5 billion dollars. The move prevents authors to collect or to have a hard time suing over royalties/sales in International Courts due to the legal expense.

    I understand Angela Hoy has made “much money” with their questionable connection with Amazon. Many authors have huge readerships online at certain writing sites, yet their book sales on 5 star e books or paperbacks do not show up correctly on either Amazon or Createspace.

    Another concern is a few other e book publishers who give away huge amounts of free content as 10-15% of a book, yet it does not generate sales…yet those large numbers of readers downloading the small content continues over and over month after month…that’s odd too.

    How does a well read writer find reviews of their books in other countries in other languages, if those people have not bought books? Yet none of those reviews have created payments for purchases. Yours is not the first story I have heard about in this situation….there are just too many authos having this issue for it not to be true..

    Many outlets pay through Amazon, and it amazes me that so many complaints have not created an investigation with the U S Commerce Department/FBI considering it’s over many state lines, and seems to show a clear “criminal intent to defraud” authors of royalties.

    Thank you for your diligence in drawing attention to this issue. All authors who have experienced this situation need to stand up and say something……we all need answers as to Amazon’s unpaid IRS taxes, and Createspace pirating of books in other countries….how can a book sell for less than $10. here and be over $20 in Australia for months if it isn’t selling books? Too many questions and not enough answers!

  6. grassroots08 says:

    I still contend that the audit idea is a good one to start with. They have no checks and balances and no one is looking over their shoulders, not even the IRS, and they are getting the shaft too, and nothing seems to touch these Amazon giants. Cheers, Don

    • I published with CreateSpace years ago. I took my work out of print more than a year ago. Been trying to get Amazon to remove my work from their site, sent DMCA notices to both Amazon and Amazon 3rd party Marketplace sellers such as Daily Deal USA. Seems many 3rd party Marketplace sellers seem to just change their storefront name to something else and continue to sell the same items on an hourly basis using many tactics such as spidering, selling from grey market printers overseas and pirate download sites. Seems like Amazon and 3rd party sellers selling on Amazon now are acting as if they own the rights to our work instead of the copyright holders. Not fair. Something needs to be done about this. IMO Amazon is just as guilty for theft as the criminal 3rd party selling on their site. Both currently laughing at the bank.

  7. Carrigon Stw says:

    Everything you’ve said here is pretty much what I’ve suspected. I just published my mother’s autobiography and a companion cookbook. From what I can tell, I probably won’t make much money off either book. And I don’t like that we can’t track every single sale worldwide. And the two month wait on royalties or royalty reporting is insane. I can see one month because traditionally with sales on goods, it’s usually a month, but two months is crazy. What I don’t understand is why we don’t get immediate sales tracking for each purchase. I want to know when each copy is sold. The publishing industry has always been corrupt and shady. I put the books up to honor my mother, who passed away, because it was what she wanted. But while she was alive, she never understood that you do not make millions off of book sales unless you happen to be Stephen King. If you’re lucky, after taxes, you might clear a few dollars per copy, maybe. But you aren’t going to get rich quick off an indie unless you have big connections to Donald Trump.

  8. Class action lawsuit anyone?

  9. yea… i did find it weird when my book, The Asylum, was downloaded for free by the thousands… but has only sold one…

  10. Les Linz says:

    It would seem this to be a good time to query the FTC.

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