One of my dreams is to publish a printed knitting pattern book.

I’ve talked about this many times on my Facebook page and with family and friends, and earlier this year I plucked up the courage to start it.

I asked on The Fated Knitter Facebook page and in a few knitting groups there, if they’d prefer a pattern book for colourwork cowls or baby items. (Note this wasn’t an either or choice, more of a first and second choice as I’d like to do both.)

There was overwhelming support for a colourwork cowl book first, so I got to work in my planning.

Now at the time of writing this, all 12 designs have been designed. And 6 of them have been sample knit.

Choosing a Publisher

Designing the patterns was the easy bit. Although not quite as easy as knitting them. But choosing a publisher has been HARD!

Quite simply, I would love to work with an independent (ideally locally) printer and self-publish. But this requires upfront capital (to pay for a print run), and storage and distribution facilities. I don’t have the capital and I’m pretty sure the corner in our spare bedroom isn’t sufficient.

Equally getting a book deal with a big publisher is not a headache I want to start.

So… I went with Amazon. From my research they looked to be the best and most suitable option for me. And all the other online self-publishing platforms all then publish on Amazon anyway. And their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) interface is actually pretty good. I created a few ruled notebooks and a couple of knitters graph paper books (in an actual knitting gauge) to understand the process of creating a manuscript and the intricacies required for printing. I went through a lot of frustrations at first (stupid margins) but figured things out and felt excited and confident for my book.

And I thought the print quality was actually pretty good. My graph paper book has been a godsend and has made designing so much easier for me!

But then… it all went wrong.

Why I’m not publishing with Amazon anymore (and you can’t buy my notebooks either)

Amazon has a minimum page count for printed books – 24 pages. But no minimum for Kindle. I’ve used the Kindle app to find and make knitting patterns in the past quite successfully. (And it was actually how I learnt to crochet). So thought I’d try to add one of my existing knitting patterns to the Kindle store to understand that side of the system. This way I would hopefully be confident enough to do both a printed and digital version of my pattern book.

I chose the Snowflake Cowl and I had to reformat the book so it displayed and linked correctly in the Kindle system, but after a few revisions I got it and it came to 14 pages. I did a lot of research on other knitting patterns on Amazon – studying the titles and item descriptions for patterns – so I could best model other successful patterns. And did a lot of “keyword” research. These are other terms your book might show up for that aren’t in your title. So for example searching “neckwarmer” in Amazon brings up actual finished neckwarmers you can buy (so this keyword is unsuitable and misleading to use for a knitting pattern), but “neckwarmer knitting pattern” brings up similar results to my item.

I submitted the title for review. Here is the response I received (note the bits I have put in bold):

Subject: 1 Amazon KDP book(s) cannot be published

Kindle Direct Publishing <kindle-content-review+5003n00002UU4G6AAL@kdp-support.amazon.com>Sat 28/08/2021 20:45 To: You

Hello,

During our review, we found that the following book(s) causes a misleading customer experience because it could be mistaken for a product other than a book:

Knitting Pattern for Adult Size Snowflake Cowl in DK Double Knit Yarn by Main, Samantha (AUTHOR) (ID: 44008403)
As a result, we will not be making the book(s) available for sale on Amazon.

For more details about KDPs metadata guidelines, visit Help:
https://kdp.amazon.com/help/topic/G201953870

If you have questions or believe you’ve received this email in error, reply to this message. Thanks for your cooperation,
Amazon KDP

Well OK. Based on their response I can kind of see their perspective. Sad, but oh well. I had kind of learnt what I needed to about creating the manuscript file correctly. I filed the email away and carried on. Then (again bold format added by me)…

Subject: Your Amazon KDP Account

Kindle Content Review Sat 04/09/2021 15:04 To: You

Hello,

We are terminating your account effective immediately because we found that you have published books with intentionally misleading metadata, which create a negative customer experience.

You can see the violations reflected in the following book(s):

44008403, Knitting Pattern for Adult Size Snowflake Cowl in DK Double Knit Yarn

As part of the termination process:
• We will close your account
• You’re no longer eligible to receive any outstanding royalties
• You’ll no longer have access to your accounts. This includes, editing your titles, viewing your reports and accessing any other information within your account
• All of your published titles will be removed from sale on Amazon

Additionally, as per our Terms and Conditions, you aren’t allowed to open any new KDP accounts.

You can find our Terms and Conditions, here: https://kdp.amazon.com/terms-and-conditions

If you have questions, please reply to this message.

Regards,
Amazon KDP

Obviously I had questions. How does a title go from being rejected and NOT PUBLISHED, to being PUBLISHED? And how exactly do you determine it was intentional? So here is the email conversation that ensued (spoiler alert: if you have a stone to hand try and get some blood out of it!)…

Samantha Main Sat 04/09/2021 15:32 To: Kindle Content Review

Hello,

Something here is amiss.

I did indeed submit that publication for review, but it was rejected. I understood the reasons given, and therefore never resubmitted it. I received an email on 28th August from KDP confirming this rejection and that it would not be published. I have never received notification that it was published.

The book you mention has not been published by me, and therefore your reason for closing my account is not substatiated. Please reinstate my account.

Kind regards,
Samantha Main

Kindle Account Review Sun 05/09/2021 18:12 To: You

Hello,

Thank you for the email concerning the status of your account.

After reviewing your response, we have reevaluated the Content Guideline violations relating to the titles in your account.

We found that you have published titles with misleading content.

As a result, we are upholding our previous decision to terminate your KDP account and remove all your titles from Amazon.

If you have questions or believe you’ve received this email in error, reply to this message.

If you would like to review our Content Guidelines, please visit: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A2TOZW0SV7IR1U

Regards,
Amazon KDP

Julio P
Amazon Content Review Team

Samantha Main Sun 05/09/2021 18:42 To: Kindle Account Review

Hello,

I’m really sorry this happened. I’m not sure which title was published which was misleading. The one in the termination email I received wasn’t published. I thought it was rejected as per the email on 28th August and I had no intention of trying to publish it again and haven’t tried to.
This is the email I received on the 28th August:
Hello,

During our review, we found that the following book(s) causes a misleading customer experience because it could be mistaken for a product other than a book:

Knitting Pattern for Adult Size Snowflake Cowl in DK Double Knit Yarn by Main, Samantha (AUTHOR) (ID: 44008403)
As a result, we will not be making the book(s) available for sale on Amazon.

For more details about KDPs metadata guidelines, visit Help:
https://kdp.amazon.com/help/topic/G201953870

If you have questions or believe you’ve received this email in error, reply to this message. Thanks for your cooperation,
Amazon KDP

I think it was rejected because it was for one knitting pattern, and not a collection like I now notice other knitting pattern books are. I’m not sure. But I wasn’t going to try to publish it again or any others like it.
If the publication was published somehow I’m really sorry and I didn’t mean for it to be. I would be more than happy for that one to be removed because I didn’t want it to.
I’m so sorry and was really looking forward to publishing a large knitting pattern book with lots of patterns in it with you. I’ve done all the designs and I’m half way through making the samples for photos. I’m getting some great feedback on the designs and have several people eager to buy the book. I’ve done a few smaller books with you already to try and understand the process (formatting the documents correctly was trickier than I expected) before my bigger more complicated book, and made a few sales. I’ve done a lot of research on self publishing and KDP looked like far the best option.
Is there someone I can speak to to try and find out how to fix this please?
Kind regards,Samantha

Kindle Account Review Mon 06/09/2021 11:03 To: You

Hello,

We’ve reviewed the information you provided and we are upholding our previous decision to terminate your account and remove all your books from sale on Amazon.

As a result, we will not be reinstating your account.

Please note that, per our Terms and Conditions, you are not permitted to open new accounts and will not receive future royalty payments from additional accounts created.

Preethi
Amazon Content Review Team

Samantha Main Mon 06/09/2021 12:52 To: Kindle Account Review

Hello,

Is there someone I can please speak to? If I could just speak to someone and find out what the details of the specific problem is then I will know exactly what not to do in the future? I’m not even being given a chance to learn to do better. I’ve dreamt of publishing a knittern pattern book for so long and I was so excited to partner with KDP to do it. Please, can I speak to someone so I can learn how to do better? Have you ever made an exception?

Kind regards,
Samantha

Kindle Account Review Mon 06/09/2021 14:55 To: You

Hello,

I’m sorry we don’t offer phone support at this time. We realize there are times when you’d rather speak with us, however, we’re dedicated to providing the best customer service possible via email.

Thanks for publishing with Amazon KDP.

Preethi
Amazon Content Review Team

Anyone else wondering when this “best customer service possible via email” is going to start??

Samantha Main Mon 06/09/2021 15:16 To: Kindle Account Review

Hello,

If I can’t speak to someone on the phone can you please help and tell me what specifically was wrong with the metadata and how the title in question got published? I don’t understand how or when it was published. I really thought it was rejected. Even now I can still see my other titles in the Amazon search, but not that one. I’m so confused. I just want to learn how to keep doing better so I can achieve my dream of publishing a knitting pattern book. I really didn’t mean to do anything wrong and I’m so sorry it upset you. Please help me and give me a chance to do better so I can achieve my dream.

Kind regards,
Samantha

My other titles were still for sale too at that point, despite Amazon claiming they had been removed. Sneaky!

Kindle Account Review Mon 06/09/2021 23:59 To: You

Hello,

Due to Content Guideline violations relating to your account, we are removing all of the titles you have uploaded through this account from sale on Amazon and we will not be reinstating your account.

You’re no longer eligible to receive any outstanding royalties. Additionally, as per our Terms and Conditions, you are not permitted to open new accounts and will not receive future royalty payments from additional accounts created.

Please be advised that this is our final decision and we won’t be offering further insight or action on this matter.

William G.
Amazon Content Review Team

I’ve been speaking to a few people in the KDP community. Suggestions are that my pattern was rejected because it was too short, and didn’t meet Amazon’s thoughts on what a book is. Someone also helped me understand that other knitting patterns on Amazon go through a different system (as an Amazon Seller) than that of KDP Authors, and they aren’t held to the same high standards as authors, so the listing requirements aren’t as strict. This was a fair point because looking back my research was on items not printed by Amazon and was therefore my mistake. Someone else pointed out to me that, recently, a lot of authors are being caught out by the rejection email. Since it doesn’t say you need to take any action (unless you want to contest it), they think that’s it, and file it away just like I did. Only to then receive the same termination email because you didn’t reply.

Now, did you know that you can email Jeff Bezos? Yes the owner of Amazon. I didn’t. All I wanted to do was speak to someone on the phone, but someone told me he has an open email policy because every customer interaction gives you a chance to learn how to better serve your customers. Chances are high that he won’t reply to your email. Instead he is a master of delegation, and this is how to get your query escalated.

Here is my email to Jeff Bezos…

Subject: Adverse Trend in KDP & Proposed Solution

Samantha Main Thu 09/09/2021 21:53 To: Jeff Bezos

Dear Mr. Bezos,
My name is Samantha and I used to be an author with your KDP program. I have recently had a very distressing experience with the KDP Content Review Team, and I have been speaking with the KDP Community for feedback. I have since learnt of a recent adverse trend occuring within KDP, which I fell victim to, and I would like to propose a simple solution, that benefits both Amazon and authors, so that authors are not caught out like I was.

Briefly…

– I submitted a single ebook title for review.
– On 28th Aug an email stated “we will not be making the book(s) available for sale on Amazon”
– On 4th Sept an email stated “We are terminating your account effective immediately because we found that you have published books with intentionally misleading metadata, which create a negative customer experience.” The only title listed is the one which was rejected a week prior, which I was led to believe was not published.
– The KDP Content Review Team have since refused to tell me how and when the rejected title was published, and tell me what I got wrong in the metadata. You can see the full email conversation below should you wish, including the full text of the two emails quoted above.
– Discussions on the KDP Community tell me that there has been an increase in the number of authors seeing their account terminated shortly after having a book rejected.
– The common theme is that the authors were not aware they needed to take any action from the rejection email.
– As a result, their account is terminated and they go through a similarly bad experience that I have.

Losing authors, especially for a first time issue, simply because they didn’t realise they needed to take action is not beneficial to Amazon or its authors.

Proposed Solution…
If this is indeed the reason why an increasing number of authors are seeing their accounts terminated…

1. I would recommend a review of this practice, particularly for a first time incident.
2. If inaction to a rejection email is a reason you wish to continue to have accounts terminated, I would recommend adding a warning to the rejection email, perhaps something like…

“You must take one of the following actions within the next 5 calendar days:
delete the title from your account;
fix the errors on the title and resubmit it for review; and
reply to this email for further insight on the reason for rejection

Failure to take one of these actions may result in your account being terminated. If this happens you will no longer receive any earned royalties, your titles will be removed from sale, and you will not be allowed to open any new KDP accounts.”

Being told the title was rejected I was not aware I even needed to do anything, let alone in a specific time frame. The wholly unhelpful responses by the KDP Review Team were entirely surprising and distressing. I have had experience with some of your other teams who have been outstanding. One person in particular was very helpful when I was struggling to use my first Amazon gift card. The card inside the display pack was so thin I didn’t realise there was anything inside, and had been trying to use the codes on the outside. She was very patient and together we got to an understanding of where I was going wrong.
Obviously, I would appreciate it if my KDP account could be reinstated so I can continue with my plans for my goal – to publish a knitting pattern book. But mostly, I hope you will consider my proposed solution so that future authors are not subjected to the same deflating and discouraging feelings I went through.
Thank you very much for your time reading this. I hope you have a good day.
Kind regards,
Samantha Main
Future Knitting Pattern Book Author

And the delegated reply…

Executive Customer Relations Fri 10/09/2021 16:45 To: You

Hello Samantha,

My name is Stephanie X (surname amended by me) with KDP Executive Customer Relations; Jeff B received you email regarding your account status and I’m reaching you on his behalf.

I reached out the Amazon Content Review Team, and I can confirm that your KDP Account was correctly terminated because they found that you have published books with intentionally misleading metadata, which create a negative customer experience.

You can see the violations reflected in the following book:

– 44008403, Knitting Pattern for Adult Size Snowflake Cowl in DK Double Knit Yarn

As a result, we are upholding our previous decision to terminate your KDP account and remove all your books from Amazon. Additionally, as per our Terms and Conditions, you aren’t allowed to open any new KDP accounts.

You can find our Terms and Conditions, here: https://kdp.amazon.com/terms-and-conditions.

We appreciate your understanding.

Regards,

Your feedback helps us improve our service.

Click here to rate our service (link removed by me)

Stephanie X
Executive Customer Relations
Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com

You might think that one of the biggest companies in the world, with one of the most advanced computer systems, could answer the simple question of how and when did a book in their system, that was rejected, get published?

As you might imagine my rating of their service wasn’t very high, and one star more than I would have liked to have given.

I do hope they have taken my observation and proposed solution on board. Though with no mention of it in the reply from the Executive team I’m not so sure.

Moving Forward

First I’d like to say thank you to those of you who did purchase one of my notebooks. It was very heart-warming to see those few sales on my (now extinct) KDP dashboard. If you missed it in the emails above, Amazon are not paying me any of the royalties for those sales. My first royalty payment was due later this month. So with my account cancelled, Amazon pockets all of the profit. However knowing you supported me with those few purchases can never be taken from me, not even by Amazon. So thank you.

Amazon have (although they didn’t do it at first) removed all my titles from sale, so they are unable to keep making sales from my work now. If you have one of them, it is a very rare book indeed.

This saga has, I hope you’ll understand why, confused and saddened me quite a lot.

I’m now back where I started, part way through my book, and unsure how to actually get it printed and distributed. The kick in the teeth is that many of the other print on demand publishers (who also publish on Amazon) won’t allow you to create an account with them if you had a KDP account terminated either. Because they don’t want Amazon to find out and kick them out too. (Yes they can track you down if you try to sneak off to another print on demand service, but they can’t tell you when a title was supposedly published).

Obviously I’m not going to stop working on my book.

If I have to compromise and keep it digital then so be it.

If I have to publish them as individual patterns then at least you’ll all still have the patterns.

If there is another way I hope it reveals itself to me. If you’re listening… sooner rather than later please Universe!

Hey ho! Ho hum!

Best wishes, – & happy crafting,

Sam xox

Categories: Projects

2 Comments

Sarah · 11th September 2021 at 1:01 pm

Sorry to hear this Sam, glad I was able to purchase one of your notebooks.
Amazon were not at all helpful to you, I believe things happen for a reason, something better is waiting round the corner for you. I feel your frustration, don’t give up xx

    Samantha Main · 11th September 2021 at 11:05 pm

    Thank you. I will most definitely be continuing with the book. JK Rowling was turned down 12 times before someone took on Harry Potter. Walt Disney was rejected 302 times for Mickey Mouse. We don’t know what we don’t know. But I do know who I won’t be publishing with. xox

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