I'm not a Pirate - really I'm not!
This week I found a message from KDP in my 'in-box'. This is an portion of what it said:
"We contacted you recently regarding Kindle books you have published which contain content that is freely available on the web. We haven’t received documentation confirming that you have the necessary rights to publish these books. Please be advised that we take copyright violations very seriously and, as stated in our previous email, a lack of a response or failure to prove you have the exclusive rights to these books may result in the termination of your account.
As a result, we have temporarily suspended your ability to publish or change the books in this account. If you have already responded to our inquiry and we somehow missed your response, or you wrote in to Customer Service about it, please reply directly to this message and let us know.
Please be advised that we won’t accept content that is freely available on the web unless you are the exclusive copyright owner of that content. For example, if your content comes from a source that allows you and others to re-distribute it, and that content is freely available on the web, we won’t accept it and make it available for sale in the Kindle store.
Here are some examples of your books that are freely available on the web and for which we have not received proof that you are the exclusive copyright owner:
DANCING WITH FATE (ASIN: B005MGU31I)
To reinstate your account, please reply to [email@example.com] with the following declaration: “I confirm that I will remove any content for which I do not have the exclusive publishing rights and that I will adhere to all terms in the Content Guidelines when submitting new content.”
Until you respond to [firstname.lastname@example.org] regarding these issues, your account will remain suspended. Once we reinstate your account, you must remove any other content currently available for sale in the Kindle Store that may violate our Content Guidelines. Instructions on how to unpublish your content can be found here:
Huh? Whats going on here. It sounds as if I'm being accused of piracy. As you can imagine I was 'spitting feathers', both at the accusation, and the fact that my book, although still available in paperback had
been deleted from Kindle and the Amazon store. I had, in fact, replied to the original email soon after I received it, several months ago. It had started 'Hello' without a formal saluation or mention of my name, and at first I thought it was 'spam'. I forwarded it to Kindle Direct and queried if it was genuine. I received no reply, but a couple of days later received an identical email. Since they quoted my ASIN number correctly, I decided to take a risk and sent a reply, confirming that I did, indeed, hold the sole rights to 'Dancing With Fate' having requested them back from the original publisher The Wild Rose Press early last year, after the paperback versions went 'out of print'.
So it was something of a shock to find my book had been 'deleted'. Obviously my email had failed to get through (nothing new, AOL frequently loses my emails), but when I didn't hear further from Amazon, I'd assumed they'd received and accepted my reply, especially, after waitiing for a few weeks, I checked and 'Dancing With Fate' was still available on Amazon and Kindle.) I suppose, to be fair, they gave me plenty of time to reply, before deleting my book, but I just took it to mean all was well. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I found the copy of the email from The Wild Rose Press and forwarded it to Kindle Direct, together with the following message:
"I write as 'Hywela Lyn' and have written several books available on Kindle. 'Dancing With Fate' was originally published by The Wild Rose Press and published as part of their 'Song Of The Muses' series in 2008. In 2011 I requested and was granted my rights back to both print and Electronic versions. I self published 'Dancing With Fate' with Smashwords, and 'Create Space' as well as Kindle.
As an author, I am as concerned as anyone about copyright violations. My books are all for sale at what I feel is a realistic and fair price. I occasionally make changes to the price of 'Dancing With Fate' (The price of my other books is controlled by my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, and have also offered it as a free download for a limited time during 'World Book Night' weekend as a special promotion, but I emphasise that this 'free offer' was for a few days only.
Although I am happy to submit the paragraph “I confirm that I will remove any content for which I do not have the exclusive publishing rights and that I will adhere to all terms in the Content Guidelines when submitting new content.” I repeat that I have not personally published anything to Kindle, that I do NOT have the exclusive publishing rights to, and that 'Dancing With Fate' is the only book I have self published, to date, that I retain all the rights to this title, and furthermore that I have no intention of ever trying publish anything to which I do not have sole rights, so actually this paragraph has no relevance. "
I received an email confirming that they accepted that I was the legal owner of all rights to 'Dancing' with Fate' and that they were back on my 'bookshelf' but I needed to' re-publish' them. This I did immediately, it just entailed clicking a few buttons and waiting for them to be approved. I received confirmation that D.W.F was back on Kindle, but then received another email refusing to accept it on the Amazon site for all the reasons stated in the original email. Spitting more feathers again, and using a few choice swearwords which usually never pass my lips, and which luckily only the dog heard, I wrote a short, sharp reply, reiterating what I'd said in my previous email and once more forwarding the email from The Wild Rose Press. Today I received this:
After reviewing your response, it appears as though we may have blocked your title in error and for this, we apologize. Thank you for your cooperation in providing the requested information. Please resubmit
the following book(s):..............."
So, hopefully that's the end of that saga. The main purpose of this post is not just to moan (although boy, it does feel good :) ) but to say, should you ever be in a similar position there are a few things to remember:
1. Not all emails starting 'Hello' and not from friends, are necessarily spam. If in doubt forward to the sender, typing in their email address and not using any links (just in case it is a 'phishing scam') and if you don't get an answer in a few days, contact them again.
2.. If you're happy the email from KDP is genuine, reply immediately with as much information as possible to prove you do, in fact, own the rights.
3. To back up your statement, send a copy of the 'reversion of rights' from your original publisher (If you don't still have it, contact them and they should be able to supply a copy) If you self published from the start, give as many details as you can, including dates of submission to KDP and details of editors and cover artist, if you didn't do these yourself. I hate book piracy, it's hard enough for most of us to make anything from
writing as it is, and I suppose we should be grateful that Amazon is so quick off the mark to step in when it suspects someone of piracy. It's just rather unnerving to be accused of it oneself!
To end on a happier note - today I recieved a new revew from a reader on Amazon:
"Dancing With Fate is sooo about love. A fantastic ending to boot! The story took me far from my daily routine, my familiar sights and sounds, and my expectations. Wow! Where do I start - at the beginning - middle - or end; they are all my favorite places. As is stated about the content: it is "out of this world" in a realm inhabited by Mythological characters that seem to sit beside me. The main figure is likable and lovable, as is her beau. Throughout, while being challenged off and on, I was hoping they could stay together. I can't give away too much here, so I'm off to purchase the other books by Hywela Lyn - a very lovely and talented author, indeed! Worlds of thanks to you, Hywela...from Cat Kaulback, Kinsman, OH (visit dreamhorseguesthouse.com)"
Thank you Cat, and bless you. I'm a happy bunny again. Have you had a similar experience. Was I justified in being annoyed, or should I just be glad Amazon appears to be keeping such close watch and protecting our interests?
You can find out more about Lyn and her books on her WEBSITE