Michael Scott Earl is the author of over 65 books, including several LitRPG series. This week he was hit with the suspension hammer from Amazon. According to the author, he was given no reason for the suspension and Amazon has not responded to his requests for more information.
Currently (07/18/18), Amazon only shows his audiobooks available for purchase. None of his ebooks or print copies are available. (https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B019QSNVA2 )
Thousands of his fans are writing to Jeff Bezos and Amazon customer support complaining about their favorite author having his ebooks removed. Fans have posted Amazon’s responses to their questions on the author’s reader page. Responses range from free ebook credits to assurances that the author hasn’t actually been suspended but rather that there is a content issue with his novels. All include some statement that the issue will be sent up the investigations chain.
Responses from the Jeff Bezos emails have usually had the same one sentence response, “this issue will be amicably settled soon.”
Michael-Scott Earle explained his position in a statement:
“...I've got nothing from Amazon, but I've sent them a few emails.
Other authors are scratching their heads, I wasn't stuffing, so the only other things that could have caused it was paying click farms to push my books, or formatting. I didn't pay for click farming (but maybe I was set up), and my formatting is the same as other authors...
...If they decide to ban me, I'm pretty much done. The other ebook distro sites don't have enough traffic to pay my bills, and Pateron is fueled by traffic from people picking up books through Amazon- so I'd never be able to grow it past the people that are in this group. Even the best paid authors on Pateron don't make a living wage.
TL;DR version- Please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You don't have to be rude or threaten, you can just say that you love my work and you really want me to re-instated. From what people have said, my account is still up in the air, so your help could ensure that I come back.”
There is also an online petition for both Michael-Scott Earle and J.A. Cipriano to be have their accounts reinstated.
A couple of weeks ago, I reported on the Michael Scott Earle (MSE) getting suspended from Amazon and all his ebooks being taken down from the platform.
Since then, there have been several new developments.
On July 26th, 2018: MSE shared a letter from Amazon telling him that there were permanently closing his amazon author account and that he would not be allowed to make a new one to continue to sell his work. No reason was given in the brief email from Amazon as to why his account was being terminated. Oddly his audible audiobooks stayed up.
Now MSE fans went crazy hearing this and immediately started to email and call Amazon customer support to demand to know why their favorite author was being banned. Some responses from Amazon:
‘We’re sorry you’re upset, here is a $5 credit for your next ebook purchase’
‘I don’t know, I’ll send this up the chain and get back to you’
‘There’s a quality issue with the text, I’m sure this is just temporary.’
The weirdest response by far was:
‘the author chose to remove his work from the platform voluntarily’
On July 27th, 2018: In an last ditch effort, MSE sent an e-mail asking if there was any way to appeal the ban. Surprisingly, he got a response that yes, they would review it and actually reinstated his access to his author publishing account. None of his books were made available again, but he had access to all his author reports.
As of this recording/post, there are no further updates from Amazon as to whether MSE’s ebooks will be put back up or if he’ll be allowed to publish on Amazon’s platform through a publisher.
However, I had a chance to talk to the author today and he assures me he will continue writing and publishing regardless of what Amazon decides. Some of his non Amazon exclusive writings are on other platforms like Apple’s ibooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo, and other places. Additionally, he’s thought about starting a Patreon so that readers can support him directly. However, as of today, he’s waiting for any word from Amazon either way before he moves forward.
It’s a very tough situation and when I asked the author how people can support him, he suggested to sign up for his newsletter or his facebook group so that he could let them know what he’s going to do and where next they’ll be able to find his work.
Storyteller Michael-Scott Earle's cool club for cool people:
Michael-Scott Earle website
An update to the Michael Scott Earle story. Previously banned Michael Scott Earle announced that Amazon would let him put his ebooks on the platform, but only if it was through a publisher.
While that’s an interesting decision, Amazon has yet to explain to MSE what policy or rule he broke in the first place. But at least he’ll have his works available for his fans. As of now, his ebooks are slowly being put back up on Amazon and he has plans to publish new content very soon.
An update to the Michael Scott Earle story. Previously banned Michael Scott Earle announced that Amazon would let him put his ebooks on the platform, but only if it was through a publisher. Now though that publisher has had their account terminated and all the MSE ebooks are gone again.
Aug 7th- Publisher started uploading my books, and he got an automated email flagging them for copyright. He replied to the email giving them the licensing agreement.
Aug 8th- Publisher continued to upload my books. He got another email flagging books for copyright. He replied with the licensing agreement again.
Aug 9th- Publisher received an email terminating his account because Amazon thinks he is me. He called their phone number, talked to a live human who said the message was automated, but as long as he sends his proof of ownership of the company, the content team will review it and it should be okay. Should take 24-48 hours
Aug 10th- Publisher got an email from the content review team saying they got his personal/corporate info, and they would review it.
Aug 13th- Publisher received an email saying that since he's never replied to them with the licensing agreement for the copyrighted books- they are terminating the account.
Aug 15th - The publisher was on the phone twice with Amazon today for about an hour total. They assured him that the legal department was looking at his proof of ownership.
(Update Dec. 14th, 2018)
Michael Scott Earle has sent out some information to people on his newsletter list asking for help with Amazon. According to the letter, which is long, he’s fairly close getting his publishing account reinstated. There’s a whole long explanation, but what it comes down to is that for a long time Amazon wouldn’t say why they suspended him, but thanks to lawyers, Amazon lawyers finally said that "Readers were going through MSE's books faster than humanly possible, so we think he was cheating our Kindle Unlimited system."
This is BS, but isn’t limited to MSE. Every month for almost half a year, authors on KU have been getting letters saying that they’ve detected unusual page reads. Before, they just suspended authors but more recently they’ve just been taking away any KU reads they think are suspicious without any evidence of wrongdoing. Heck, I just put my novels back on KU, and with in a week got a letter telling me that Amazon was not paying me for suspicious page reads. It’s a huge flaw in their algorithms that think veracious LitRPG readers are bots.
Now, back to MSE and his request to fans and supporters (from MSE):
Amazon has asked to talk again with my lawyers in early January. They've asked me to provide a list of places where I have marketed my books and a list of any botting services I use. What I'm going to show them is a list of the Facebook ads I've run for the last year (it's the only advertising I do) and a huge stack of emails that you all have sent to Jeff Bezos (email@example.com).
So can you help me out?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and copy me on the email (email@example.com) so my lawyers and I can track them.
If my lawyers come to the meeting with a three foot tall stack of printed emails from my 22,000 fans. Amazon's lawyers will have to reconsider the whole cheating angle. It will be obvious that I'm just a great writer with a bunch of hungry fans, and not someone trying to game their broken system.
So, go help the guy out, he’s been banned unfairly and he’s a LitRPG author.