I am a new author. I had scheduled a big book launch for my new thriller, Wayward Patriot: Preserving the Vote, on Wednesday, April 19th. This date was important to me because it is the historical date for Patriots’ Day, the celebration of the Colonies’ victory at Lexington and Concord. I had promised friends and followers that it would be released on that day in pre-promotion communications.
On Friday, April 14, I flipped the electronic switch to authorize distribution of my novel to all retailers. Once that is done, automatically uploading all the data from my distributor to online retailers, like Amazon, typically takes 72 hours. By contract, Amazon has up to 30 days to upload the data. Typically, it takes only 72 hours.
By Sunday morning, April 16, much of the data had been uploaded to Amazon and the book was listed on the Amazon Books website. However, the listing stated that the book was ‘Temporarily out of stock’. This makes no sense. This book, and thousands like it, is set up on a ‘print on demand’ basis. The retailer sends the order to the distributor, they print one copy, five copies, fifty copies or whatever, to fill the order.
By Monday, April 17, four other online retailers, including Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million had the book listing in place, including the book image, with no restrictions on the purchase. On Amazon, there was still no book image and the ‘Temporarily out of stock’ notation remained.
I issued a complaint through my author account on Amazon, and even sent them the book image, using their online feedback form that included an option to attach a file. The response I received said they could only work with the publisher. I responded to them explaining that I am the publisher. They then responded that they could only work with the distributor. To support me, the distributor uploaded the book data to Amazon 2 additional times, yet no book image appeared and the ‘Temporarily out of stock’ statement remained. With these issues on Amazon, I had to decide. I chose to postpone my book launch until they got it right.
On Thursday, April 20, I signed into my Amazon Prime account, went to the book listing, and clicked on the link to ‘report incorrect product information.’ I asked why the book was temporarily out of stock since it was an on-demand printed book. I also told them that B&N, Books-A-Million and other online retailers had the book listed, including the book image, without any restrictions. I received no response.
Finally, on Friday, April 21, Amazon removed the ‘Temporarily out of stock’ indicator and replaced it with ‘Usually ships within 2-4 weeks.’ This also is not a normal statement on Amazon’s book site. Still no book image. My self-publishing strategist works with authors doing this same thing all the time. She says she has never seen anything like it happen before. My distributor says their hands are tied because their contract with Amazon requires them to give Amazon 30 days to get it right before they can initiate a request for action. Meanwhile, as of April 25, the book launch remains on hold…
You might ask, “what’s the big deal? The book is available on other outlets, launch the book and send readers to the other retailers.” That is a fair question. There are several reasons Amazon is a big deal. First, they are the #1 bookseller online. Secondly, Amazon Prime account holders can buy the book without paying the $6.99 shipping and handling fee. Most importantly, Amazon has a ranking system that allows me to track book sales and how they are against other books in similar categories. If we can encourage all our readers to buy from them, our ranking goes up and we can use that to promote the book.
I’m typically not one to suspect a conspiracy around every corner, however, the title of my book seems to make people think that it is an election denier’s trope. In fact, it is a fiction novel, a thriller, that has no relevance to any past elections, election systems or politicians.