How I got banned from KDP (and what happens after your account is deleted).

How I got banned from KDP (and what happens after your account is deleted).

A few years ago I was touring “dracula’s” castle in Romania after applying for a Fulbright scholarship to study vampire literature. I republished a translation of an early story that I couldn’t find in the Kindle store, which *should* have been well past the creative commons copyright date.

In an unexpected Christmas surprise, I got some emails saying Amazon had deleted my Kindle Direct Publishing accounts, I can never publish on KDP again, and that they aren’t required to pay me for previous sales.

This happened during the height of my new book launch, when I was #1 in all my categories, and just starting to build reviews. So not ideal. The main problem was I had two duplicate KDP accounts with the same email, using different passwords. One of them was a mistake, but since I’ve had it for a couple years I decided to use it for this new book, because I write for very different genres and the two accounts helped me keep them organized.

So yeah – apparently we can’t have two accounts. That’s against the rules. Mea culpa. Also apparently, they sent me a previous email (that I never saw) which I hadn’t responded to.

Interestingly, one email is harsher. The first says I will receive unpaid royalties. The second says I’m not eligible for unpaid royalties:

First email: We contacted you over two weeks ago regarding content guideline violations with respect to books you have submitted through your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account. Since we have not received a response from you, we are terminating your KDP account and your KDP Agreement effective immediately.

As part of the termination process, we will close your KDP account(s) and remove the books you have uploaded through KDP from the Kindle Store. Subject to the KDP Terms and Conditions, you will receive any unpaid royalties you have earned. Additionally, as per our Terms and Conditions, you are not permitted to open new KDP accounts and will not receive future royalty payments from additional accounts created.

Second email: It appears that you have multiple KDP accounts, which is a violation of our Terms and Conditions, and that this account is related to an account that has already been blocked due to rights issues and violations of our Content Guidelines.

As a result, this account has been blocked and we are removing the books you have uploaded through KDP from the Kindle Store. Note that you are no longer eligible to receive unpaid royalties for sales that occurred prior to this termination. Additionally, as per our Terms and Conditions, you are not permitted to open new KDP accounts and will not receive future royalty payments from additional accounts created.

The Solution

I replied to all the emails I’d gotten and the suggested ‘help’ response email, explained I didn’t know I couldn’t have two accounts and promised to be more careful from now on. Within 24 hours I got another email saying:

After reviewing your response, we have reinstated your accounts and we will once again accept your books for possible publication.

I have full access again and believe I’ll be fine from now on.

The emails they mailed out were probably unnecessarily horrifying (they could have just said “please contact us about your account, it’s been blocked for now…”). Since KDP select isn’t doing much these days, I may just go with Smashwords from now on (you can start your book at free, for the launch and to build up reviews, and then set a price once everything is squared away).

UPDATES: This was my FIRST run-in with Amazon. My second offense happened a year later, when I accidentally added a book to KU but had an old version on Google Play from years before… Amazon kicked me out of KU completely – but I made a big fuss about it and got let back in. Usually, if it’s your first offense, they’re pretty nice about it.

*I’ve actually lost two full years for missing preorder deadlines, even after this first offense, but now they’ve allowed you to push back your preorder deadline by up to 1 month without penalty.*

In 2018, many authors were getting expelled or banned for “rank-manipulation” even if they’re doing nothing wrong, and using no promos other than AMS ads.

(Indie authors try to drive sales during launch so that we get a higher rank for more visibility; but so do some click-farm KU scammers… Amazon has employed an army of robots to try and screen potential offenders, and it’s good they’re taking action, but unfortunately many legitimate authors are getting hurt in the process).

There’s a larger argument to have around protecting readers from spam, shoddy products, or recycled books – some authors were hacking or cheating the system, everyone complained, and Amazon *tried* to make it better but accidentally penalized a lot of legitimate authors.

If your account has been banned

Keep trying customer support, sometimes you just need to connect with the right person who can finally fix it for you. If you broke the KU exclusivity rules or missed a preorder deadline, they’ll probably forgive you the first time. If they say you’ve been manipulating sales rank, it’s *possible* you ordered some book marketing and they are using questionable tactics: especially if they promise results like “at least 1000 downloads” – they can’t guarantee that without using click farms.

Sometimes, preorder files just don’t go through, or get cancelled, which completely sucks but is fairly common even for big authors. It can be stressful when you’re trying to conduct a perfect launch, but the truth is we are barnacles on the side of a whale, and amazon’s profit mostly comes from customers, not content producers, which means they aren’t going to bend over backwards to solve your emergencies.

It may be tempting to think, “screw it I’ll just publish myself!” and not post on amazon at all, but you’d be missing about 85% of the market so that’s not a great solution.

Read this next:

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6 Comments

  • Derek Murphy Posted

    I agree – although I published it because I was sad it wasn’t available in English and I’m a fan of Mircea Eliade. I also contacted the woman who claims to have the copyright and offered her any earnings from the book. I am grateful they re-opened my account, and I’ve learned my lesson.

  • Dalia Daudelin Posted

    Just so you know, you definitely can go with Smashwords for most things but they do not distribute to Amazon. I know they say they can, but if you dig deeper you’ll find that Amazon has not approved them and hasn’t for years. You need to upload to Amazon if you want their customers.

    • Derek Murphy Posted

      Oh my! I didn’t realize that… thanks for letting me know, I’ll need to do more research.

  • Deven Joakim Posted

    Hi,

    I am confronting an another issue, copyright issue. I just replicated and stuck a titile name for a book that is in review. They are sending messages cautioning about the copyright issue and instructing me to send a documentation. As i composed it myself just utilizing the web, i have no documentation to send them. If you don’t mind offer assistance. What would it be advisable for me to do now?

  • Farhan Khan Posted

    same here what shoud i write to re open my account same email come to me of account block they say we are confident

  • Vex Vane Posted

    You should see ones IRS sends out.

    And I agree 100%, those form copy/paste emails are unnecessarily horrifying. First one I got was from AdSense, and it was very minor issue, but it sounded like I was banned for life, when in fact it was just error in code I was copying which took 5 seconds to fix. Mail was automated.

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