When we decide to dance with Amazon KDP, we are at the mercy of their terms and conditions. I actually read them live on my podcast channel in 2022 and it took me just over 2 hours.
One of those terms and conditions is that Amazon retains the right to terminate the agreement at any time. In their words:
We are entitled to terminate this Agreement and your access to your Program account at any time. We will notify you upon termination. You are entitled to terminate at any time by providing us notice of termination, in which event we will cease selling your Digital Books and on-demand printings of your Print Books within 5 business days from the date you provide us notice of termination. We may continue to sell any inventory we have of your Print Books. We may also suspend your Program account at any time with or without notice to you, for any reason in our discretion.
So, we agree to this when we sign up and publish books on the Amazon KDP platform. It doesn’t mean we’re not gobsmacked when we find out our Amazon KDP account is suspended or banned. As great as it feels to publish a book, account suspension or termination is the opposite of that feeling.
What can you do?
That’s what we’re going to cover here, but let’s be clear, I don’t have a magic wand that will help you get your account back. All I can do is advise you on how to handle the situation and give you some options to consider as you’re trying to regain access to your account.
Also, if you’re scamming and you know you’re scamming, I can’t help you at all. Most likely you are facing rightful account termination.
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The Difference Between KDP Account Suspension and Termination
Authors usually find out that their Amazon KDP account is suspended or banned when they try to log in and are unable to. Sometimes, they’ll see the email from Amazon first, but if you happen not to monitor your sign up email closely, you could miss this.
It should be noted, there’s a difference between a suspension and termination. Let’s break it down.
Suspensions means they’re just temporarily closing down your account upon further review because they became aware of some kind of discrepancy. They want to kind of figure that out before they make any next steps toward reinstatement or termination.
Suspensions typically happen when Amazon determines you are in violation of their policies and guidelines. It’s essentially a slap on the wrist and will last as long as they deem necessary. After their “further review” of your violation, they’ll usually reinstate your account with a stern warning.
I’ve known some people to get suspended twice followed by a third strike resulting in termination. Whereas, other self-publishers get an immediate termination with no exact rhyme or reason. They’ll usually get some canned response stating essentially “you know what you did.” Amazon really lacks transparency in this area and there is little recourse for authors.
In regard to suspensions, you typically have to just wait it out. The smartest idea is to only give information when specifically asked. In their minds, you’re guilty until proven innocent. Don’t stack any evidence against yourself by sharing more than what Amazon wants to know.
With account termination, your account is closed and it’s clear that Amazon doesn’t want you around. They want you to kick rocks and they are unwilling to negotiate. Game over.
Termination is serious especially if you’ve reached any level of success in self-publishing. The chance of recovering your account is slim to none. Amazon really doesn’t have to have a reason to suspend or block your KDP account. That’s why they keep their guidelines ambiguous, so they can make up the rules when it serves them best.
You may feel compelled to just create a new account. Amazon doesn’t believe in second chances.
If you do create another account, they will find it and shut it down as well, even if you use a different email. Account termination means you are well and truly done publishing books through Amazon. There is one workaround which I’ll cover later.
Most of the time when an author’s account is terminated, they have no idea what to do next. I hope to give you a course of action, so stick around.
It’s worth noting here that a lot of the time, when your Amazon KDP account is suspended or banned, it happened via an automated process performed by the Amazon system rather than a human. In this case, it could be in error, so keep that in mind as you work through handling the sitation. Stay calm.
Common Reasons Your Amazon Account is Suspended or Banned
Amazon will suspend or terminate an account for many reasons and sometimes for no reason at all, but there are a few common reasons I’ve seen again and again. I’ll share those with you here, so you know what practices to avoid!
1. Duplicate Content
This happens most often with no or low content books when people are churning out one book after another with identical interiors. This worked in the beginning, but Amazon cracked down on it citing duplicate content.
So, even if lined journals are your specialty, you’re going to have to differentiate your interiors in some way if you want to publish multiple books.
Duplicate content can also mean plagiarism. Obviously, that’s not going to fly on any self-publishing platform. Get outta here with that!
Amazon utilizes web crawlers to search for content that is published off their platform or previously published on their platform. This is how they find duplicate content and plagiarism. If your book has been leaked during your writing, editing, and formatting process, you may run into issues with Amazon and find it already published.
If you’ve curated blog content into a book, you’ll need to account for where the content came from and that you are the original author of the content.
2. Reusing Titles or Author Names
I’ve done my fair share of recommending that you model success when you see it in publishing. There’s nothing wrong with trying to duplicate someone else’s wins. What I’m not recommending is that you steal from them.
If you see a book title in the wild that is absolutely crushing it and it’s pulling in a lot of revenue, you may be tempted to create a similar book. Maybe you don’t plagiarize the book content, but you use the title.
Who doesn’t want to be Stephen King or Margaret Atwood or J.K. Rowling? We’d all love to duplicated half their success. Maybe you think you can accomplish that by using their name or a similar variation.
Stop right there, Steven King!
That’s a great way to get your account closed even if you name is Steven King! Even if you have no malicious intent, always check your author names and titles before publishing to make sure you’re not publishing duplicate information.
If your name is Steven King, you might want to consider using a pen name!
3. Copyright Infringement
Using images or content in your book that is copyrighted or belongs to someone else is a big no-no. This can include text or images that you’ve used without permission.
Users can submit copyright claims using a simple form and Amazon doesn’t even bother investigating the claim. They will simply block your book. If that’s all they do, consider yourself fortunate. They have a ZERO tolerance policy when it comes to copyright infringement.
So, don’t make enemies in the self-publishing space, or you might find yourself on the malicious end of copyright claims with no recourse. Keep your head down and mind your business.
4. Incorrect Metadata
In addition to your book titles and author names, you want to make sure your book description, keywords, and categories are relevant to your book.
Using you metadata to mislead potential readers for an easier sale will not bode well for you in the long run. You’ll end up with negative reviews and eventually Amazon will catch up with you and spank you for it.
No one likes a bait and switch!
5. Trademark Violations
This is much like copyright. Be sure to check all of your titles, subtitles, series titles, and author names for a registered trademark to ensure you’re not infringing on someone else’s intellectual property. Again, Amazon has ZERO tolerance for this and will shut you down with haste.
Here’s information on how and where to search for trademarks – https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/search
Trademarks are expensive, but if you’re seeing success, you might want to consider registering your own trademarks when it makes sense.
6. Duplicate Accounts
Having more than one KDP account is a hard no with Amazon. They will terminate your account and never look back. You may not even know you have more than one account. I’ve heard of many cases where people didn’t even remember creating a second account and they never even used it.
It doesn’t matter. This is the way to swiftly sever ties with KDP.
The only exception to this is having an additional KDP account for a business entity that has a different EIN number. This would be the workaround I mentioned previously if your account is terminated. However, you have to go through the trouble of establishing a legit business and obtaining a tax number for that business in order to do so.
7. Violating Your Exclusivity Agreement with Amazon KDP
If you’re enrolled in the KDP Select program, that includes an exclusivity clause that says your eBook must remain exclusive to Amazon. This means you can’t sell it anywhere else including your own website. If your book is in Kindle Unlimited, you’re in the KDP Select program and the same exclusivity applies.
The down side to this is if your book is pirated while you’re participating in KDP Select, you could get thumped. So, not only do you have to wear every hat as an author and publisher, you also have to hunt pirates! The best free way to do that is to use Kindlepreneur’s, ReaderScout browser extension. It’s free!
8. Gaming the System
If you use any means to game the Amazon system through spammy reviews or using bots, then you will get slapped eventually. It’s just a bad practice and Amazon may come after you legally.
You definitely don’t want that because they have deep, deep pockets to make their case.
Offering incentives to raise your book in the ranks is against the terms and conditions.
If you’re too lazy to market your book ethically, then do us all a favor and find another hobby!
There are many more reasons that you may find your Amazon KDP account is suspended or banned. These are just the ones I’ve received questions about most recently.
What Happens When Your Amazon KDP Account is suspended or Banned?
When your Amazon KDP account is suspended or banned, you’ll probably find out one of two ways:
- Trying to log in and can’t
- Through an email notification
Make sure you check the email you use to log into KDP regularly. Amazon will send out emails sometimes with a special request and a deadline to respond.
Don’t find out the hard way that you shouldn’t ignore that inbox.
The first thing you want to do is try to stay calm and professional. You’re going to have to let the situation play out, and that’s probably not going to happen on your time frame. Accept this now and save yourself a lot of grief later.
If your account is only suspended, Amazon will conduct their investigation and probably grant you access with a stern warning. All of this will take place via email.
If you haven’t received an email about your account status, give it a few days. Sometimes it can be delayed.
The most important thing you need to do is find out the precise reason why Amazon suspended your account and have them clarify anything you know or don’t know.
If you made a mistake, come forward and say so.
Avoid finger-pointing or citing how others are getting away with similar deeds on the platform. This will not help your case. Mind your business and no one else’s.
If your account is terminated, don’t open another account in rebuttal to the termination. Let things settle down before you appeal or decide to launch a business and open an account with a new EIN.
What Will Not Help You Get Your Account Back
Back in the day, Jeff Bezos’ email made the rounds as a means to make things move over at Amazon. Since Bezos is no longer the CEO and probably doesn’t even monitor his account anymore, this is moot. It hasn’t worked for years.
There’s no longer a customer service phone number for the KDP team. Sure, you can call Amazon, but they shut down direct access to the KDP team several years back. This isn’t due to anything nefarious on their part, they simply don’t have the desire to provide the manpower to deal with the endless questions.
Again, KDP isn’t transparent in any sense of the word. They have provided an opportunity that you are free to take advantage of, but they are unwilling to deal with more than that. So, if you’re not savvy enough to figure things out with the documentation they’ve provided, you are out of luck.
Any attempts to call them out or reach them via social media or YouTube will be ignored.
What to Do if Your Amazon KDP Account is Suspended or Banned
Remain calm and take immediate action. Begin dealing with the situation as soon as you’re aware of it and have received an email from Amazon KDP.
Here are my recommendations should you ever have your Amazon KDP account suspended or terminated:
1. File an Appeal
Appeal the termination. It’s taken some publishers upwards of 3 months to get their accounts back. But, if you go through the right people, you could possibly get your account back sooner.
2. Consider the Alternatives
Push forward with your business and utilize the Amazon alternatives.
For print, consider Lulu, IngramSpark, or Barnes & Noble Press. Keep in mind, you may have to buy your own ISBNs for those options.
For eBooks, you have tons of options including Lulu, IngramSpark, and Draft2Digital, etc. I lean heavily in favor of Draft2Digital. You can always publish directly to the big 4 Amazon Alternatives: iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Rakuten’s Kobo, or Google Play.
Keep in mind, you do not want to republish content from your blocked account.
Aggregate publishers like Draft2Digital have a strict vetting process that detects any content related to blocked accounts. Don’t try to fool them by repurposing or reworking your content. The best idea is to push forward, absorb the loss, and release new content through these other viable options.
3. Reach out to the Alliance of Independent Authors
I’ve talked about this organization a lot. It’s a non-profit based out of the U.K. that is run by indie authors for indie authors.
In the event of wrongful termination, they will help active members get back their account. I’ve never had to use it, but it’s a great insurance policy to have and there are many other benefits to membership like free IngramSpark uploads and updates!
If you’re in the wrong, they’re not going to be able to do a lot to help you. If you want to know more about ALLI membership, click here.
4. Hire a Lawyer
Worst case scenario, hire a lawyer. Find a good business attorney, preferably someone with experience in online entrepreneurship that is willing to represent you and help you get your account back.
This is going to be expensive and it can take upwards of 3 to 6 months to reinstate a terminated account. Be ready for the big bill and the long haul.
Don’t stay strictly on Amazon. There are so many other options from other platforms to aggregate platforms. Many of which I’ve already mentioned in this post.
If all else fails, create a website where you self-fulfill the orders. If you have an email list, you can start shooting exclusive offers to them and collect all your royalties. Ultimately, you don’t want to rely on Amazon for your payday. It’s for reasons like this that I tell authors to build an email list. Amazon can be unreliable sometimes and will pull the rug out from hard-working publishers. And, they don’t even need a reason, they can just do it because they feel like it.
6. Play by the Rules
Do everything in your power to stay on the straight and narrow. Amazon KDP has very straightforward terms and condition that are easy to find.
What Happens Next?
Get plugged in to the self-publishing community. You’d be surprised how much communicating with like-minded people with a common goal can help you. You can get feedback and advice that can help you avoid waking up one day to find Amazon KDP account is suspended or banned!
Here are a couple of free places you can connect:
I’ll see you there!