The book Amazon didn’t want you to read.

I almost titled this post, “How Amazon set our production schedule back by a full month.” It would’ve been 100% accurate.

We’ve put out enough books at Silver Empire now that the actual process of getting a book live on their store is now pretty routine. Files are ready, we upload them, fill out all the details on Amazon, and punch the button. They say it can take up to 72 hours for the book to go live. But until recently, we’d never had a book take more than 12 hours.

Until the time it took a month.

The King’s Regret by Philip Ligon

I punched the button on Philip Ligon’s latest, The King’s Regret, back in May. As I usually do, I submitted the book the night before I actually wanted it live. Typically, it’s live by the next morning when I do this. Often it’s even live before I go to bed.

This time around, I woke up the next morning to the following lovely e-mail from Amazon’s KDP support:

During our review, we found that the following book(s) contains content for which you may not hold the necessary rights. Some or all of the content within your book(s) is available on Amazon from a different publisher.

The King’s Regret by Ligon, Philip (AUTHOR) (ID: XXXXXXXX)

In order to publish the book(s), reply to this email within 5 days and provide us with documentation and/or verification showing you hold rights to the content. Please submit all documentation you have along with an explanation of any previous editions to help in our review.

Um, WTF?

First of all, I can 100% assure everyone that this was an original work. Mr. Ligon actually lives less than 15 minutes from my house. I know him personally. Great guy.

So I submit our contract to Amazon and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

No answer. So I call them. Get assured that they’re on it, asked to wait just a few more days.

So I wait.

I e-mail them. “What’s the status of this?”

In response to your previous email concerning the status of your book.

The King’s Regret
Ligon, Philip (XXXXXXXX)

Unfortunately, we need additional time to look into the matter. We are sorry for the delay and for any inconvenience this may have caused. We will be in touch within five business days.

Thanks again for your patience.

Um, thanks? That was helpful. So I respond with a very simple question: “Is there anything I can do on my end to help speed up the process?”

To which I received the following lovely response:

In response to your previous email concerning the status of your book.

The King’s Regret
Ligon, Philip (XXXXXXXX)

Unfortunately, we need additional time to look into the matter. We are sorry for the delay and for any inconvenience this may have caused. We will be in touch within five business days.

Thanks again for your patience.

Best regards,

That’s not a typo. I literally got the exact same e-mail in response.

At this point it had been nearly three weeks since we punched the button on the book. So I escalated things a bit further. In my next e-mail, I threatened to get lawyers involved. Somebody out there was clearly violating our copyright, and I wanted it stopped. I also copied Jeff Bezos on the e-mail personally.

(Why would I do that? Because I’ve heard of about a dozen or three other authors who have had similar problems who didn’t get them resolved until they did that. So I figured, “what the hell?”)

It took another two days after that, but we finally started seeing progress. I got an answer back that wasn’t a form letter… but still asked us to wait. Then I got the first truly substantive communication I’d received on the entire affair:

Your book was not published because of the following concerns:

We were unable to establish a match between your account and The Newquist Corporation.

We need some additional time to review the documentation you sent. We’ll be in touch within 5 business days. We appreciate your patience.

OK, this is at least getting somewhere. Although this is still utterly ridiculous, because this is the legal business name on my KDP account, and uses the same taxpayer ID that’s on that account. I e-mailed them back to tell them so. Guess what I got?

Yup, wait 5 business days…

A month after we punched the button, I woke up one morning to find that the book was live on Amazon.

Woot! Victory! Right?

Well, kind of. The book is live, but our launch plan was completely boned up by Amazon’s incompetence. And yes, for the record, I don’t believe this one to be malice, but “merely” incompetence on their part. I wondered for a while, because I know a fair number of people now who have had big corporations smack them down over politics, social media posts, or just violating some small portion of the tiniest fine print in ways they can’t even identify. But in our case, I think it just took them 10x longer than it should have to sort out the problem.

As a friend of mine said at the time, “imagine if they were this evil and competent?”

There’s a hard lesson in this story. In the long term, you cannot rely on any large corporation for your business. Sooner or later they will screw you.

We’d already been aware of this, and have been taking steps to build our own platforms for some time. But it’s not easy to separate from Amazon and still be successful at selling books. They make it that way on purpose.

Want to help us out? The absolute best thing you can do is stop by our online store and buy some books direct from us. Unfortunately, most of our eBooks are in the Kindle Unlimited program and we can’t sell them to you directly. We do have some that are not – including my own works War Demons and Vigil (see the full list of ebooks at the end of this post). But for now, the selection of our books available “wide” will have to stay limited. You can, however, purchase any of our paperbacks or hardcovers directly from us. Best of all, our direct prices are lower than Amazon’s. So you save money and we get a higher cut when you by straight from us.

If you’ve already purchased a book directly from us, thank you! (And thanks if you’ve bought any of our books, whether direct from us or not!) Please do consider leaving a review. Our site only allows reviews from those who have bought the book directly from us, so you can rest assured that they are honest. Or at least someone had to put skin in the game by purchasing it to leave a dishonest review.

We have 31 books available in our online store. You can see the full list here. If you want to help us out, but at a lower price point than print, the following are available in eBook formats directly from us:

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