Bestselling Self-Published Novel Inexplicably Disappears From Amazon UK Causing Huge Lost Sales

A bestselling self-published novel – Sugar & Spice by writing duo Saffina Desforges – disappeared from Amazon UK 18 days ago, with no reason given to the authors. Repeated requests to KDP UK have failed to elicit an explanation, let alone a solution, costing the authors significant lost sales.

But before I get to that, a lengthy – but necessary – disclaimer.

When I praise Amazon, I get comments claiming that I’m some kind of acolyte, naively placing my trust in someone that will eventually crush me, without blinking, if they can make a dollar out of it.

When I am critical of Amazon, I get accused of biting the hand that feeds, causing trouble for the sake of it, or of having some kind of grudge against the company.

Amazon provokes diverse, passionate reactions – especially in the publishing business. To avoid comments of either stripe diverting attention from the issue at hand, I will state my position clearly.

Amazon is a corporation. Like all corporations, its primary goal is to make a profit. Unlike many corporations, Amazon consistently sacrifices short-term profit for market share (which, in turn, aims to provide greater long-term profit).

While individual actions or policy changes may prove beneficial or detrimental to self-publishers, I don’t think helping or hurting self-publishers is an aim we can ever ascribe to Amazon.

I think that self-publishers’ business interests can be aligned with those of Amazon (and I think they are largely aligned now), but I don’t think there is anything permanent in that arrangement, or anything which feeds into that calculation other than Amazon’s own goals and aims.

Like every corporation, Amazon looks out for their own interests. In fact, that is their legal and financial duty to their shareholders.

Having said all of that, I think that Amazon is the most “indie friendly” of the major retailers. I mean this in a relative sense.

Amazon don’t massage their bestseller lists to prioritize trade-published books (like Barnes & Noble are suspected of doing), don’t build storefronts for books from large publishers (like Apple are planning), and don’t discriminate against self-published titles by actively reducing their visibility (like pretty much all the other major retailers do).

I don’t think Amazon does this out of any special love for self-publishers. Rather, I believe that the level playing field we are afforded is a happy symptom of Amazon’s mission to always display customers the books they are most likely to purchase whoever the publisher is.

I think that Amazon (currently) provide the best service to self-publishers. KDP is the most open, inclusive, user-friendly self-publishing platform. It’s also the most powerful, allowing us to reach readers across (most of) the world, and gives us the tools to present our work in the most professional manner.

Most importantly for me, the level playing field allows me to sell (a lot) more books than anywhere else. My monthly checks from Amazon dwarf what I earn on the other retailers.

I have a positive disposition towards their publishing imprints, and also the company as a whole from the perspective of a consumer.

None of this, however, blinds me to what I perceive as their faults, or any mistakes I feel they have made along the way.

For example, I think the $2 surcharge Amazon applies to e-books purchases in large swathes of the world is regressive and unfair, and slows the growth of e-books in those countries. I can’t understand why Amazon doesn’t sell e-books at all to residents of many international countries like, for instance, the predominantly English-speaking Singapore.

Also, while the service I have received from KDP US has been (mostly) excellent, I have heard mixed reports for authors using KDP UK. This latest incident, however, is by far the most serious.

“Saffina Desforges” is the pseudonym of a pair of British self-publishing writing partners. Their debut novel Sugar & Spice was a huge hit, shifting around 100,000 copies – mostly on Amazon UK, largely earlier this year.

Their issues with KDP UK started in the summer when Amazon began cracking down on what they felt were extraneous sub-titles to novels. Without warning, or requesting the authors to make the change themselves, Amazon removed their subtitle – which was something along the lines of “the controversial psycho-sexual crime thriller”.

Amazon don’t have any clear guidelines for sub-titles, and while some authors/publishers may have strayed into a gray area by mentioning things like competing authors or titles in their sub-title, that was not the case here.

The effect of this sub-title alteration was to put the book back in “publishing” mode. This also coincided with a huge drop in both sales and ranking, costing them the hard-fought #2 spot in the overall UK Kindle Store and – they believe – significant sales (they were shifting over 800 copies a day at the time).

There are any number of reasons why a book can suddenly drop in the rankings. Amazon regularly tinker with their algorithms – and the content and presentation of information on a book’s product page – which can have a dramatic effect (in either direction) on a given title’s visibility throughout the site, its sales and, ultimately, its ranking.

In this case, however, Amazon made repeated changes to their subtitle throughout the summer, and the same pattern was observed: the book slipping into “publishing” mode, and an ensuing drop off in sales and ranking until the book went “live” again and gradually recovered position.

While I have no official confirmation of the effect of “publishing” mode, this tallies with a number of reports I have heard with regard its negative effect on sales and ranking, and, indeed, my own experience.

On each of the three occasions I launched a title, I subsequently uploaded a revised version a few days later to correct a typo or to add something to the back-matter that was missing. Each time, when the book went into “publishing” mode again, the launch momentum of the book was stopped dead in its tracks, and sales and ranking plummeted.

This sub-title issue, however, was only the beginning of the problems with Sugar & Spice.

18 days ago, Sugar & Spice disappeared from Amazon UK altogether. The book is still on sale on Amazon US, but the address where the book should appear on Amazon UK leads to a generic page indicating a broken link. UK sales, obviously, have ground to a halt.

To be clear, the authors didn’t un-publish it, and no notice was served by Amazon regarding its removal. Indeed, KDP UK have been unable to ascertain the reason for the book’s disappearance, or resolve it, and can only confirm that they are still “investigating” the matter – 18 days later.

Needless to say, the authors are upset. I contacted Mark Williams (one half of the Saffina Desforges partnership) after he blogged about it this weekend, and he estimates the loss of sales in this eighteen day period as being in “four figures.”

It’s hard to believe that the book may have been removed deliberately (for whatever reason). While some books have been removed in the past for – amongst other things – content violations, this is a book which has sold more than 100,000 copies over a period of eleven months without any such complaints. In any such cases that I am aware of, the publisher was always notified. Indeed, the (same) book is still on sale on Amazon US.

Mark Williams also confirmed that Amazon have failed to give him (or his co-author) any reason for the book’s disappearance – over a succession of emails. He believes that their responses to him indicate that this is a technical issue which they have been unable to discern or resolve.

On a site with millions and millions of products, it’s only natural that technical issues will occur from time-to-time. I can accept that book listings will go down on occasion. But an 18 day (and counting) delay is unconscionable.

I don’t know if the authors will have a case for compensation for all these lost sales – I’m not a lawyer, and I’m in no position to judge their rights of redress under the terms of the KDP contract or UK law. Their priority right now, understandably, is getting the book back on sale.

I sincerely hope that this matter is resolved to their satisfaction, and soon. A good first step from KDP UK would be to make this issue a priority, and get Sugar & Spice back up on sale as soon as possible.

Whatever your feelings on Amazon, I hope this is something we can all agree on.

UPDATE (MON): I have now seen several of KDP’s emails to the authors. From my reading of them, two things seem clear. First, Amazon did not pull the book intentionally. Second, Amazon have said that they think it is a technical issue (perhaps a database issue, or something to do with an automated process that populates multiple pages from a database, I’m not 100% sure.).

I have also seen emails saying that the technical team is looking into it, and that they are attempting to resolve it. They make multiple references to their attempts to fix the issue, and repeatedly pledge to do so shortly.

UPDATE 2 (TUES): The book has now been restored, with all 241 reviews still intact, and the book is climbing the charts once again. I don’t know if the public pressure was a factor (the timing is coincidental at least), but thank you to huge amount of you who spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time he spends outside. He writes fiction under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

63 Replies to “Bestselling Self-Published Novel Inexplicably Disappears From Amazon UK Causing Huge Lost Sales”

  1. Note: To avoid confusion there are two editions of Sugar & Spice – the original UK English edition, and a US English edition.

    Naturally, the UK English edition is the one that was responsible for all those headline-grabbing sales numbers, and this is the version that has gone missing in the UK.

    The US English version is still on sale, but has never generated notable sales in the UK – the UK version was the one with over 100 five star reviews, that appeared in the Also Boughts of a huge number of top-selling titles, and that (twice) climbed the the #2 spot in the overall UK Kindle Store.

  2. “Amazon don’t massage their bestseller lists to prioritize trade-published books (like Barnes & Noble do),”

    Really? Do you have a citation/evidence for this? This is also the first time I heard Apple was planning storefronts for books.

    1. Hi Will,

      Thanks for catching that. I’ve amended it to “like Barnes & Noble are suspected of doing.” There is no solid proof, that I am aware of, but there were many reports from self-publishers – anecdotal evidence largely – that during the summer, Barnes & Noble recalculated their bestseller listings to exclude lower priced (largely indie) books. Books that were in the Top 100, and priced $2.99 or below, suddenly dropped out of the Top 100, with no real change in sales numbers.

      With regard to Apple, HarperCollins have struck a deal for a storefront for children’s books (and I believe are planning the same for Barnes & Noble) which was widely reported during the summer by The Bookseller and others.

      I can dig out links for both of you like.


      1. I’m definitely interested in reading the links. I think I saw some mention of the B&N stuff on KindleBoards months ago, but I have no idea if that was a blip or not.

      2. My new (re)release Creative Spirit was ranked about #700 at as a 99 cent launch for a few days, and then dropped to around #10,000 the next day even though numbers were about the same. Incontrovertible proof? No. Squirrelly? Yeah. But BN is determined to climb into the tar pits with James Patterson, so it’s really not so shocking.

        Sorry to hear about this, Mark. I don’t see how you could have any recourse for financial compensation, as Amazon is not obliged to sell anyone’s product. Hopefully they will make up for it with a promotional lift. Good luck with the resolution.

  3. This sounds to me like someone who had it in for this book for some reason was messing around with it. It’s a very strange set of coincidences, and a good example of a worst case scenario for e-books. No answers, no solution, no satisfaction.
    It would make a good mystery story.
    I hope the authors solve this problem and get back on track. Being a writer is tough enough as it is.

  4. An alarming post, Dave. I can understand why the authors are upset. Incidentally, you can add me to the list of people whose sales stall whenever I update a title. It’s very noticeable every time I upload a new version and go into publishing mode.

  5. They do have issues. My recent update of cover art suddenly reverted to an older file with no explanations. Rather than argue, I’ll just re load it.
    Amazon is currently the best channel for indies but we need to be aware of the potential pittfalls.
    I’m surprised that Amazon UK isn’t more concerned about fixing a best seller. It doesn’t bode well for those of us who are down in the trenches waiting to climb out.

  6. Why is the Amazon tech support so poor? You could get a FOIA request on what cereal the President eats for breakfast processed in less than 18 days. As much as I appreciate Amazon as both a self-publisher and reader, they seem to be following some disturbing trendlines. The $2 surcharge Dave mentions above is an outrage. On the publisher side, there are these weird “delivery fees” at $0.15/MB that eat into royalties for every eBook sale (70% royalty option only). What is the purpose of this? A standard YouTube video is 10 times the size of an eBook, and YouTube isn’t charging anything for transferring data. Then there’s the whole Kindle Format 8 issue, where they have not released any guidelines on KDP discussing how to get this format to work, despite the Kindle Fire being out for two months already.

    Amazon may be getting too big, bureaucratic, and tyrannical for their own good (think Microsoft post-Windows 95 for those of you over 30). Beware of the Ides of March and all that.

  7. It is so easy to be on the sidelines and say, “Yep, stuff happens, especially when technology and huge numbers are involved.” Quite another when the glitch happens to YOU and it’s your goods and pocketbook taking the hit.

    I feel for the authors. Nothing is more panic-making than something going wrong like that, especially when it APPEARS there is nothing they can do about it except wait for Amazon to fix whatever it is that needs fixing. Do they have a lawsuit? I’m not lawyer, but unless Amazon did something deliberate there probably isn’t a case. Would it be nice if Amazon compensated the authors somehow? Yes, indeed. Will they? Probably not.

    The best thing to come out of this story will be the warning to all self-publishers. Everything is peachy until it is not. Stay vigilant, move quickly at the first sign of trouble and remember that huge corporations with massive, complicated operating systems don’t or can’t always move quickly. Self-publishers also have to remember that they aren’t really customers of Amazon. They’re suppliers. Amazon’s priorities about where to spend time and money will go to paying customers first, and then small suppliers will be further down the priority change. That’s not a gripe against Amazon, it’s just a reality of finite time and money. Is there anything the authors could have done to prevent this? I don’t see how.

    I hope the authors get back on track and recover from this mishap. I hope the press generated by their story lights a fire under Amazon and they work extra hard to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

    1. It’s definitely a bummer for the authors. But the thing is that Amazon is losing money too, so they don’t have any motivation to do this (at least as far as I can tell). It sounds like something standard of many big companies (and especially the government): a culture of complacency and sloth rather than responsiveness. You just know there’s some 25-year old tech who could fix this in like 6 seconds… but he/she needs the departmental manager’s permission… and the manager’s secretary is out on Thanksgiving holidays… and the memo got lost in the routing folder. You get the idea.

  8. These authors were bragging in the summer how they manipulated Amazon’s rankings and were across every newspaper at the time boasting with their sales figures. Just like the Google slap, it looks like they’ve been slapped by Amazon. Great, give other authors a chance. Nothing like losing ‘control’ hey.

    1. Ian,

      I think that comment is uncalled for. I think you might be confusing knowing how to play the Amazon system with “manipulating Amazon’s rankings”. There is no known way to “manipulate” Amazon’s rankings, but there are plenty of perfectly ethical strategies for positioning yourself to benefit from them. You should not confuse the two.

      I also don’t see how this gives “other authors a chance” (even if that was a desirable outcome, which I would question). Books are not interchangeable commodities. If “Sugar & Spice” is unavailable, that does not directly increase everyone else’s sales. Books do not “compete” in that sense because they are distinct products – not interchangeable like mustard.


      P.S. I try and keep a respectful tone on this blog.

    2. THESE AUTHORS WERE DOING NO SUCH THING, Ian Daniel. Please get your facts right.

      Apart from some one-off coverage in local papers and a very one-off two line mention in the Sunday Mail this summer we have NEVER been across any newspapers, boasting our sales figures or about anything else.

      You are referring to another UK writing duo who took #1 and #2 on Kindle UK simultaneously with two self-published books. They signed a six figure deal with Harper Collins, who orchestrated all the publicity and the “bragging” was standard publisher’s hypes.

      1. Mark, have you tried published the existing US version as “world rights” and seeing if it shows up in the UK store? I do know Amazon was cruising to chop out multiple versions of books–I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but it might get you back up and for sale until the issue is resolved. Good luck.

  9. Thanks sooo very much for The WG2E shout-out today, David!

    I value your perspective on this issue.

    As you know from my comments yesterday on The WG2E, I do have some serious issues with the “facts” of this situation. And personally, I have always had terrific responses (and timely) from Amazon KDP on all issues I’ve ever had.

    I’m also wondering if the fact Mark and Saffi had two versions of this book on Amazon UK at the same time if that didn’t factor in somewhere…speaking of which, it appears by the ranking that the version there is still doing well.

    Are other writers doing that (putting a UK-speak and US-speak version on any Amazon site at the same time)? I haven’t seen that done before, but maybe I’m just not aware of it till now.

    Cheers to you for providing a very balanced post on this topic! U rock!!!

    1. Hey DD,

      We can only speculate as to the reasons for the book’s disappearance. The emails from KDP seem to indicate they think it’s a technical issue, but until they actually get to the bottom of it, we are just guessing.

      I think we can both agree that if it was anything to do with having a UK English and a US English version, then Amazon should have communicated that. If that was the case, that is easily fixed. But I really don’t think that is the case as I can give you a long list of titles where multiple language editions of books co-exist on Amazon, and both UK and US English editions have been up on Amazon UK for months now, without any issue, until 18 days ago.


      1. David, you’re absolutely right: my books are both on UK and US Amazon – no problem there. And since I’m up here speaking, just wanted to add David that with this post you did an excellent thing for our poor friends who’ve been royally mistreated – possibly for a technical glitch, but what a glitch!

        Maybe we should show support on Twitter too?

  10. Would Amazon see UK English and US English versions as “multiple language editions”? I’ve just been having this conversation with a writer of non-fiction travel book, as in which to go for considering that he is British and his main market will be American.

    1. That is an open question, but I would point to the fact that, for example, UK English is a separate setting for Kindles (along with French, German etc.) I remember going back-and-forth with mark on the UK/US language issue earlier this summer. I decided to exclusively write in US English. He decided to release two versions. Others have released both versions in the same book. I don’t think any of those solutions are perfect, but could perhaps be fixed with a technical solution on the Amazon side – namely, offering the option to download in UK or US English. I doubt, however, whether this is, or ever will be, a priority.

      As to your friend, I would recommend writing in US English, given that is where his primary audience is. UK readers are far more forgiving of US English, having been exposed to it for many years through films, TV, books, and music. US readers are less forgiving, and a small, but vocal, subset sometimes think that the book contains typos, when in fact it is acceptable UK English iterations of the same words.

      EDIT: And as I said above, if this is the cause (which I doubt), it should have been communicated to the writers. According to KDP UK’s emails, they seem to think it’s a technical issue – but have given no more detail than that.

      1. Hmm, an interesting point. Up till now I was simply going to have one version of my upcoming novel – a UK English version (I’m an English writer). What are the disadvantages of uploading two separate versions of the book (beyond, I assume, going through the kdp process twice)? I’ll have to figure out if it’s worth the extra complication.

        Good news that Sugar & Spice is back up, by the way.

  11. Gnarrr… You know everytime I hear about this issue I want to charge into Amazon’s Quality Assurance department and look at their complaint handling system and discoer what’s going on… BUt I”m a little fish and my resume’s not that good to even atempt such a feat… but being the quality mind person I am and working in the Quality Assurance department of a small bio-tech, I really want to know what’s going on behind Amazon’s doors!

    :} Cathryn

  12. I agree with DD. I reckon some IROC was given the task of weeding out duplicate items and mistakenly thought this was the same eBook published twice.

    I read the blurb and found it confusing. Is this non-fiction about someone called Black or fiction based on fact. If the latter, how closely?

    1. Hey JJ,

      It’s fiction.

      As I said to DD above, we are only guessing at this point, but I have given my reasons there why I don’t think this is the case. I could be wrong however. Assuming I am, and the book was removed for that reason, Amazon should still have communicated this to the authors. They certainly should have told them that when they (repeatedly) emailed to find out why their book disappeared – as that is something which is (or should be) easily rectified.


  13. Unfortunately, having dealt with contracts in the past in other venues, they probably have no discourse. It’s a sad part of being self-published. You have no protection. Once you sign the contract (which might not even have been read due to the giddiness of being published) you’re locked into that happy addendum of:

    “Amazon reserves the right to do whatever they want to whenever they want to and you can’t do anything about it so there :P”

    Only in legalese.

    It’s like a cellphone contract. Once you sign, good luck getting out. You just handed your soul over to the devil. MWAHA.

  14. Is it just me, or does the only end-game solution seem to be an authors’ online co-op where 10-15% goes to overhead and upkeep and the rest to the authors? No fears of the royalty rates being changed, no non-responses from tech support that does not answer to you, no worries about mysterious lending programs put into action without permission.

    1. Whatever the cause of this situation, I think it’s always prudent to attempt to diversify your income streams. Reliance on one source for all of your sales is not a particularly healthy place to be. There are many (valid) reasons why Amazon US make up the overwhelming majority of indie sales (some of which I alluded to above), but that leaves indies particularly susceptible to outside shocks – like the Amazon Big 6 sales we saw in the summer.

      Doing it, however, is much harder than saying it.

    2. I think you are spot on, dragon6. I am trying to work towards something along these lines from Australia. But as David says it is difficult to set up. Just one issue will show this. Does the co-op have a gate-keeping role in rejecting/ accepting self-published.authors/ works as trade publishers have for their authors. If not won’t some of the criticisms now being levelled at Amazon be redirected at the co-op administration. I think your suggestion is worthy of further discussion and a blog or three.

  15. “Everything is peachy, until it is not.” So true. My little “Ain’t Love Grand?” was bobbing along earlier this year on a little bestseller list until the description was mysteriously changed to something bizarre and the sales promptly sank. Many emails later, the problem was resolved, but the boat was sunk. The responses from Amazon gave me the feeling that they were very confused and needed a brainiac computer genious to track down the problem. I doubt it’s an evil plot. The whole ebook digital mechanism is a universe unto itself. Amazon UK needs a few more brainacs to keep the system running smoothly.

  16. Pingback: Best-Selling Indie Novel Disappears from Amazon UK | The Passive Voice
  17. As I recall, the Amazon contract states clearly that they are not responsible for lost sales if a book goes down. 🙁

  18. Why didn’t they reload the UK version once they noticed it went missing and then ask questions later? It seems that the UK version could be up and selling as Amazon seeks an answer to this issue.

    1. That crossed my mind. I can only assume that it would be a contravention of the KDP ToS to re-upload the exact same book. In addition, they would lose all those reviews (over 200), as well as their sales history, and their position in those crucial “Also Boughts” that drive so many sales.

    2. Precisely the issue of reviews, etc. We had well over 100 five star reviews and that in itself is a huge selling point.

      Just a month previously Amazon managed to make our (and many other authors’) reviews disappear for a week. declaring in their place “Be the first to review this book.”. There was a noticeable drop in sales in consequence.

      Also all our promo is geared to the link for the existing book. new upload would mean a new link.

      More significantly we assumed Amazon would have this matter resolved in a matter of days at most.

  19. David, I’m puzzled by what you say about a book’s status being affected by being ‘in publishing mode’. As it remains on sale, the old version seamlessly giving way to the new, why would this affect sales and rankings? I’ve reloaded revised versions of my books, and not noticed an ill effect.

    1. Hi Lexi,

      A lot of this is supposition on my part, and I could well be wrong. It is something I have noticed myself, and something I have heard several other self-publishers mention – namely that they have noticed a pronounced drop in sales when the book goes into “publishing” mode.

      I don’t have any more solid evidence than that, and I accept that it could be one series of coincidences. Others have commented above that they have noticed the same thing – but again, it could just be a coincidence.


    2. Lexi, when you go into publishing with an adjustment the book remains available but the internal promo and any ride with the algorithms abruptly stops.

      If a book is static and the publishing phase is short (many changes and new uploads will go through in twelve hours) but if the book is getting heavy internal promotion a change can be quite harmful.

      When Amazon put us into publishing when they removed our subtitle it lasted some three days and sales dropped dramatically (by several hundred a day – taking us from #2 to outside the top twenty) for exactly the period we were in publishing. Amazon then decided they would reinstate the sub-title after all, and we went into publishing again, and again with huge sales drops exactly coinciding with the publishing phase. No sooner did we come out of publishing than the internal promo resumed and we stormed back to #2.

      We saw exactly the same coincidence of sales drops and resumptions when made updates to more recent releases.

  20. My main concern is the slow response of a massive corporation with a huge shopfront to this issue. My main sadness is the angst (both financial and other) it is costing the authors. Securing replies from KDP on any issue isn’t easy and over a period of days and a number of emails, one often never deals with the same person twice.
    The only way to bring pressure to bear is for we indies to tweet, re-tweet, and share the story online, creating our own tsunami of publicity. Make it big enough and surely Amazon will eventually ‘pull their finger out’.

    1. I think you are right. Public pressure through blogging and tweeting has gotten Amazon to act quickly before. Personally, I don’t know how these authors are keeping their cool – I’m sure I would have had a public meltdown (or three) by now.

  21. Hi David, I believe Amazon’s reasons for selling in certain countries like Singapore (where I am from originally) might be due to political reasons. There’s always been a “no-fly-zone” for books deemed damaging by the ruling regime. These include those written by dissidents and critics of the local judicial system. Alan Shadrake was jailed for weeks following a scathing expose on the death penalty. E-book versions of these “banned” books will likely suffer the same fate. And since chances are that indie writers from Singapore quite likely fall into the same box as the struggling artist, anti-establishment types and yes, political dissidents, I wouldn’t be surprised that it is the pressure from the local government that prevents Amazon from shutting their reach from places like Singapore. All tragic nonetheless.

    1. Hi Jef,

      You could well be right.

      I imagine the reasons are quite different for each country. In Japan, for example, it appears there are linguistic difficulties (namely in rendering their language on the current Kindle models). Much of the Middle East might be in the same boat. But I can’t understand blocking pretty much all of Africa. There are various ways around these restrictions, but customers shouldn’t have to jump through these hoops.

      I’m sorry to hear about the repressive attitude the Singaporean government is taking towards books and their authors.


  22. I have just posted the following update to the above:

    UPDATE: I have now seen several of KDP’s emails to the authors. From my reading of them, two things seem clear. First, Amazon did not pull the book intentionally. Second, Amazon have said that they think it is a technical issue (perhaps a database issue, or something to do with an automated process that populates multiple pages from a database, I’m not 100% sure.).

    I have also seen emails saying that the technical team is looking into it, and that they are attempting to resolve it. They make multiple references to their attempts to fix the issue, and repeatedly pledge to do so shortly.

  23. Let’s hope they do fix it shortly, David. It’s time. And if making a few noises will help the Zon put it closer to the top of their list of priorities, then you deserve many thanks from Saffi, Mark and all the S & S fans out here. Thanks for the post!

  24. Thanks for the info Dave, another item to add to the checklist to watch out for.

    Are we going to see “Storm” in time for X-mas? just curious.

  25. Here we run into one of the areas were self-publishers ARE treated differently than publishing companies, and I think there is really very little excuse for it. When there is a serious problem, self-publishers have ZERO direct contact with Amazon. There desperately needs to be some way for KDP authors to be able to directly contact Amazon when there is a serious problem.

    While to a large degree, Amazon is responsive to emails, it is ridiculous that they are losing thousands of dollars and can’t even make a phone call about it.

    I must admit I wasn’t aware of the issue of subtitles. Mine have subtitles. It’s never caused a problem, whether it’s because the sales aren’t big enough to get Amazon’s attention or because they are closely related to the subject matter and genre of the novels is an interesting question.

    1. JR, I don’t think it’s a conspiracy–Amazon pulled a very successful Neal Stephenson book due to complaints about quality control–apparently the formatting job was bad. I would guess traditional publishers have the same challenges. So it isn’t just indies being picked on, it;s a big system trying to adapt to changing rules. Over a million books and counting. The subtitle problem is something different, as some people put in ridiculous keyword grabs like “bestselling crime mystery thriller better than John Locke and Dean Koontz sure to paranormal romance your kindle’s pants off” or things to that effect.

  26. I complained that my books were not in their UK store but I had seen them previously. They said, “Oh, yeah, they are” (paraphrase) and when I checked back they were listed. I don’t know what kind of glitch I had bumped into but apparently that is all it was.

  27. Pingback: Setting The Record Straight: Missing Bestseller Reappears Amid Rumor And Speculation. « mark williams international
  28. Good news! I just added the following to the above.

    UPDATE 2 (TUES): The book has now been restored, with all 241 reviews still intact, and the book is climbing the charts once again. I don’t know if the public pressure was a factor (the timing is coincidental at least), but thank you to huge amount of you who spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.

  29. What a nightmare! Sounds horrible.

    I’m curious about the subheading thing. I was planning to call my new book, SKIN GAMES: A Brutal Crime Drama

    Do you think the subheading will be an issue with Amazon?

  30. Either Dave or the Authors, if you’re following this:

    From any of the info you got from Amazon…anything relating to the cause for this? I’d be interested in hearing about that if possible?

    Maybe you made it onto a daily or weekly banned list by accident and they won’t admit to it? Or maybe I’m just being paranoid after reasing a bunch of Selena Kitt’s older blog posts.


    1. As far as I am aware, there was no communication from KDP UK prior to the restoration of the book and none since (that I know of). I saw many of the emails from Amazon. It appears to have been a technical/database issue. That’s all I’ve got.

      1. The book has now been back best part of two days and we have heard nothing from Amazon.

        I have now published the full KDP emails on this issue on the MWi blog –

        There is also a detailed explanation about the US Edition, which seems to have caused some concerns.

        In the event Amazon do offer an explanation beyond that hinted at in these emails we’ll be sure to post on it.

        Meantime our thanks to everyone who expressed support publicly or privately.

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