It was a Saturday night in January 2022. I was about to turn in when I stupidly decided to check my email before bed. I should have left that damned phone sitting on the charger. Instead, I saw an email from Amazon KDP.
KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is a service provided by Amazon that allows authors to publish on their platform. There are other platforms to sell ebooks, but if you want to be part of Kindle Unlimited, a subscription service that gives you access to unlimited ebooks, then KDP is your only avenue. Kindle Unlimited is where the money is. A great majority of readers use the service to read as many ebooks as they want. There are people out there that read a book a day, and authors get paid by the page-read.
The email accused me of having multiple KDP accounts, which is a violation of Amazon’s terms of service. My KDP account was terminated and I was forbidden from ever opening another one.
The only problem was, I didn’t have multiple KDP accounts. I had been using the same account since I started self-publishing in 2014 and I’d never opened a second one. There was no reason to. It just didn’t make any sense.
I figured this must be a bot error or something, but every time I tried to appeal to the powers that be, I was shut down. Was there more to the story? Was there something in one of my books that somebody didn’t like? Normally when someone gets cancelled they are publicly crucified on Twitter, but that didn’t happen to me. It was just like I had never existed. I felt like John Proctor in The Crucible. “I’ve given you my soul, but leave me my name.” I felt like Winston Smith in 1984. I watched in sick horror as my books were shoved into the memory hole and burnt up.
My protests fell on deaf ears.
Amazon wasn’t interested in hearing my side of the story. I was guilty until proven innocent, and the punishment was the termination of my self-publishing career. The literary outlaw was on the gallows and Jeff Bezos was about to drop the noose.
Surely something could be done, right? This is Amazon, the company that started the self-publishing boom. The company that put the gatekeepers on notice. They wouldn’t just ignore reason would they?
Amazon doesn’t care about authors. Amazon doesn’t care about right and wrong. Amazon cares about making money. They’re not interested in paying someone to look into their mistakes. They just don’t care.
My first three published stories were set in the Star Trek universe. They appear in the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds IV, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 08, and Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Prophecy and Change anthologies. I’ve been a Trekkie all my life, and I hear that Jeff Bezos is a Trekkie as well. He paid to be in Star Trek Beyond. He put William Shatner in space. I think he sees himself as a Zephram Cochran type of character, but I don’t see him that way at all. If Bezos is like anyone in the Star Trek universe he’s Grand Nagus Zek, a man who is rich beyond his wildest dreams, but that has no moral obligation to do what is right. He doesn’t know my name. My name doesn’t matter. The truth about this situation doesn’t matter. I’m supposed to just shut up and go away. Amazon destroyed my career and my dreams and I didn’t even get to talk to a person on the phone. I got cancelled with a form letter.
Bezos cancelled my writing career two months before I was set to launch a new series.
Two months. What was I supposed to do?
I connected with some publisher friends of mine, and upon their advice, I scrubbed my name from my new series and published it under a pen name. It did ok, but unfortunately, folks that read my previous books on Amazon had no way of knowing that I had a new series out. I lost all of those readers. Normally the Amazon algorithm will show those books to new readers, but not anymore. I’m almost fifty years old and I had to start all over with a new name. Back to Square 1.
Thank God for Draft2Digital. At least I can get this book and my other titles back on the market. I don’t know how they will do without Kindle Unlimited. I can’t even use D2D to republish those ebooks on Amazon. At this point, I’m selling more paper books than ebooks because very few people buy ebooks anywhere except through Amazon. But these books are my legacy. My name isn’t my legacy anymore, Amazon took that from me.
What does the future hold? I don’t know. I got knocked off my horse and spent some time staring up at the sky. There were buzzards circling overhead. I thought I was done for, but my wife and my kids and my friends pulled me back up on my feet and now I’m back in the saddle again. This is likely the last blog I’ll ever write as Kevin G. Summers. Kevin G. Summers is dead. But his spirit lives on.
See you down the road.