For the past couple of months, Amazon appears to be dealing with a lot of bugs.
Naturally, anytime we start to see glitches in the world's largest bookseller, we authors tend to get a little nervous.
And lately, it's been bad enough that we even thought to prepare a whole article about it.
- Bugs that Amazon has had lately
- Potential solutions
- Potential causes of the problems
Please note that all of this information is likely to change quickly, and so don't be surprised if anything you see here is already out of date.
Additionally, if you see anything else that is not included on this page, or you have found a solution that we don't mention here, please let us know. We would love to keep this page up-to-date while Amazon sorts this out.
Known Issue #1: Pricing
It seems like a number of authors are dealing with some pricing issues.
We have seen several authors report that the prices of their books jumped considerably, without the author making the change.
So far, the examples we have seen are for paperbacks only, but we are not assuming that ebooks are not affected
So we have seen several paperbacks jump several dollars in price, leading to lower sales because people are not buying the expensive book.
Furthermore, it appears that when someone does buy the more expensive book, authors do not get higher royalties. They continue to get the royalties from the original price point.
According to some authors, Amazon knows this is a bug, and they are working on it. However, in the interim, here are a few things you can do:
- Check all your books to make sure the prices are what they should be
- If the price is incorrect, go into your KDP dashboard, update your book and hit publish again. This should hopefully reset the system.
- If that doesn't work, contact Amazon KDP support
Known Issue #2: Missing in Categories
Another known issue relates to Amazon's categories. Apparently some authors are not showing up in their categories, even if Amazon says they are.
In some instances, authors are finding that their books are not appearing in certain categories.
If you use a tool like this one to know what categories your book is listed under, then explore those categories only to find that your book is not listed, this might be your problem.
Furthermore, many authors are reporting that Amazon continues to tell them that they are in those categories, even though they clearly aren't.
With a tool like Publisher Rocket, you should have a very good idea of how well you rank in that category. Therefore, if you don't see yourself near that rank, there's a good chance you have somehow been excluded from the category.
Once again, we think Amazon knows about this one, and they have told some authors that they are working on it. However, we have yet to see any progress.
Here are some potential solutions to help:
- Check in Publisher Rocket which categories your book should be listed under, and roughly how well it should be ranking
- Contact Amazon for support if your book is not appearing for the categories it is listed under
Known Issue #3: An Increase in Terminated Accounts
Some authors are finding that their accounts have been terminated.
We have seen an increase in the number of authors having their account suspended or terminated.
Since the majority of these cases are generated by an automated system, it’s important to know what to do if this happens, and how you can make it right with an actually Amazon support representative.
If you have had your account suspended or terminated, here are some tips:
- Respond immediately to any email warnings you receive
- Keep politely communicating with Amazon support
- Talk to someone with a contact at Amazon, or contact the Alliance of Independent Authors if all else fails
This is a much bigger topic than can be summed up here, which is why we have a whole article about it, which you can read here:
Why Are These Glitches Happening?
In any tech-based industry, small bugs are part of the game, especially when you make a large, global changes to your technology infrastructure.
And while Amazon remains tightlipped, we do have some evidence that they have been making large-ish changes.
For example, Amazon has made a lot of changes in how products are categorized. We have seen this in non-book products over the last couple of weeks, suggesting that categories in general are in flux.
The following image comes from a friend's Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) account, where you can clearly see an effect on sales as a result of some of the changes Amazon is making.
The date of this drop appears to roughly coincide with some of the glitches we are seeing.
What Can We Do?
The good news is that these kind of glitches do not tend to last long. After all, Amazon is all about the user experience, and they don't want things like this to be happening, because it will mean that authors will continue to support the platform, readers will have a poor experience, etc.
Basically, no one wins in the scenario, so they will want to resolve it soon.
That said, this is just further evidence that authors must always be vigilant. Even a small technical glitch can have a huge impact on sales.
And if, heaven forbid, something worse happens, such as Amazon shutting down your account, it pays to have backup plans.