My Immortals Series Re-Cover Did Not Go Smoothly

New Covers!

As previously mentioned, after some market research, I decided the books in the My Immortals series needed new covers. Getting new covers took longer than I liked, but I was extremely budget conscious this time and can’t really complain that each cover was handled as separate project. It got done, and I am very happy with the result. The new covers fit in with the current paranormal romance market.

And Then There Was Amazon

I started uploading at the various vendors, starting with Amazon. I do two print versions through Amazon. One is for Libraries and bookshops. That version is priced very high in order to accommodate the discounting needed and it uses an Amazon supplied ISBN. I do another version using my own ISBN which I price as low as possible so that print readers have the most affordable option. These two versions are identical as to content and cover.

Some additional context: For all of my books, I use a logo for my imprint, cJewel Books, which is registered to me at Bowker and therefore connected to my ISBNS. I commissioned the logo in 2015 and use it on all my books. For print books, the logo appears on the back cover. For EVERY SINGLE BOOK. Here’s the full color logo:

Image that looks like a combination of book pages and a gem. The text cJewel Books appears underneath

The Logo

I love the logo, by the way and I like the continuity it gives. I have been using this logo since 2015. Some more context here. Some of the new covers use the same model as the original cover. Some used new images. All the covers have the same background. I did update some back matter in the eBooks so that the flow was more efficient and more conducive to readers having an easy opportunity to get the next book. There were no changes to the print interiors. The only change was the cover.

For all but two of the books, the uploading went just fine, eBook and print. But for some reason Amazon had a hissy fit about one of the print covers for My Demon Warlord. They started by asking me to prove I had the publishing rights. Even though nothing had changed but the cover and even though the updates were coming from the same account that originally published the book. Amazon “helpfully” has a list of acceptable proof. Unfortunately for self-publishers, none of the acceptable proof applies. My Demon Warlord was never traditionally published. I wrote it my own self for my own publishing career. Amazon explicitly states that it’s not enough to say, but I wrote it! Copyright registration is also not proof they will accept.

At first, I replied that they should be able to tell that the same account was involved in the update and that the only change was the cover. I provided all the ISBNs and pointed out they were registered to me or CreateSpace. This was not sufficient. Then I sent images from my Author Central account showing that both print versions had been verified by Amazon–meaning they agreed that all versions of the book were mine. They cleared the book. Yay, right?


I got another notice asking for the same proof, which I sent. Again. One of the print versions was cleared. Yay! Right?

NOPE Again

I got another notice for the OTHER print version asking for the same proof which I sent again. This was disallowed. WTAF? So I sent the information AGAIN and pointed out the history on this and tried to stay polite. Then I got a notice saying they had cleared the book. Yay! Right?


Yes, they agreed I had the right to publish the book but now they believed I did not have the right to all the images in the cover and to please send proof that the images were properly licensed. Recall that all these books have the same exact background and the they’d cleared an identical version earlier in the day. My Demon Warlord, originally published in 2016, is one of the books where I was using the same model as my original cover. You’d figure this means the problem had to be in the background images  (shared by ALL the covers). Yet all the other books were successfully updated with the new covers. I asked the cover designer to send me the licenses for all the images in that book. I also attached the invoice for my logo, because honestly, I am pretty certain they were having a fit over that. Fortunately, the 2015 invoice was readily available to me because taxes and business expenses.

Meanwhile . . .

Amazon sent me another notice asking me to prove my right to publish My Immortal Assassin. ::Sigh::: All because I updated the cover. Fortunately/Ironically? My Immortal Assassin was traditionally published and I have my reversion letter. I keep all my reversion letters readily available because I have other books where I have been asked 3-4 times to prove my right to publish the book. For some books, I have sent my reversion letter 3-4 times. Anyway, I pointed out the only change was a new cover, same account, blah blah blah, but here is the reversion letter AGAIN. They accepted this proof since a reversion letter is on Amazon’s acceptable proof list.


Anyway, Amazon has finally cleared My Demon Warlord. But is this over? Who knows.

Some Thoughts

I suspect this entire process never once involved a human on Amazon’s side. I suspect I could have sent an image of my cat as proof of my right to publish and their automated system would have said, hey, proof is attached! You’re good. I suspect that once a book is flagged they double down and match book images to images on stock sites and that since my logo is not a stock image, they decided I was stealing.

Several things are obvious to me. Amazon has an unintelligent algorithm that misses some pretty obvious rules. Such as, if they have previously vetted an account’s publishing rights to a book, they do not need to confirm those rights ever again. When the same account updates a previously cleared book, they don’t need to clear it again.

This process is everything that is wrong with Amazon and more. All I did was update covers for books Amazon has already agreed I have the right to publish. How hard it it, really, for them to check that, and what does it say about how bad their backend system is that they don’t/can’t do this?



3 Responses to “My Immortals Series Re-Cover Did Not Go Smoothly”

  1. Liam says:

    What a nightmare! I shouldn’t laugh at the tag for this, but well. It expresses things perfectly.

    There are a LOT of back-end functions in Amazon that are not even nodding acquaintances with human beings. Sometimes this works out fine for them; when it doesn’t… well, they never know about it, so I guess they’re fibe with that? But it’s really no way to treat people, especially if you’re getting a cut of their sales just for existing as a platform.

    (I have similar feels about Uplay and such as well — even internal devs hate proprietary platforms, they’re just as unhelpful to us as they are to the people who buy our games! But we HAVE to use them because it is our company’s platform, arghhh.)

    I’ve done work for Amazon’s “artificial artificial intelligence” department, mostly captioning government television broadcasts at the City and State level. The tasks are parceled out in 10-second intervals or so, and the pay isn’t bad for something I can do at home.

    However, the people who are paying to have these tasks done have to approve your submission. Little did I know that there is one bad actor notorious for denying every single submission, therefore not having to pay for the work done, and they have thousands of tasks in the queue. Even more fun, a rejected submission tanks your overall percentages, which directly affects which tasks you can access.

    They’ve been doing this for years. I only found out after doing two tasks, having them both rejected, but that was enough to drop my 99% to 98% and I lost access to all of my captioning tasks as they require the 99% or higher acceptance rate.

    There’s no way to appeal, no way to fix it beyond doing several hundred tasks that are questionable surveys at best and scams at worst, and Amazon doesn’t care. I only found out about this because there’s an entire subreddit dedicated to just this situation with this company.

    Amazon gets paid, the company pays to list batches of tasks. But the people who do the tasks don’t get paid. It’s just brutal, and it’s cut into my income because these surveys decide after 100 questions you don’t fit their criteria, but they’ll still pay you a penny for the last 10min of work.

    At least they don’t reject it?

    Anyhow! I’m glad you finally did get them all put up, and I really like the new covers! I’m very tempted to try providing a picture of a hand-drawn spider or my cat as “proof” next time Amazon asks me for it.

    I will admit, anytime I’m given the option to upload a picture be it a bug report, a survey for customer service or a thank-you to a delivery person for bringing my package up the stairs… I upload either a picture of my cat, or of one of the latest Dogs On The Subway, because everyone is smiling and thrilled when there is a Dog On The Subway and it’s the only time people get animated and chat with strangers about, well, Dog. It’s ridiculous, and yet no one has ever complained or told me not to. ?

  2. So frustrating! Though in fairness, sending a picture of a cat instead of actual proof is not the best idea. It’s tempting though.

    It’s strange how companies implement some system and then are shocked, shocked! when that system is abused and causes harm to people who did nothing wrong.

  3. Debra Quincy says:

    Amazon can be such a…..

    I havebeen lycky – so far only had small issues, but several of my author colleagues have had huge problems. One of the got her account closed down for no reason at all and it took weeks to get it back.

    It appeared it was their AI that decided Amazon’s polices were violated – even if they weren’t.

    Amazon’s Artificial Intelligence is more artificial than intelligent.

    Some times I prefer Natural Stupidity for Artificial Intelligence.

    Hunan interference is expensive so they try to avoid it as long as they can.

    And the Amazon algo IS flawed! Most computer software is because thorough testing is expensive. It is MUCH cheaper to let the users find the bugs!!