I’m going to tell you a little secret. I’m a single guy, I don’t own a car right now (instead I share one with my brother), I don’t have a family, no kids, no mortgage, and no huge bills. I’m not in debt or owe some big credit card company thousands of dollars. In fact, my monthly payments typically go to the usual things, which mostly include cable/Internet, cell phone and my share of the rent. As I said above, I don’t have any extra cash to shed to child support or anything else. And for that I’m truly grateful. My life is all about the simple pleasures right now and I intend to keep it that way.
Keeping that in mind, I can easily survive on a 3 figure monthly income right now. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to save money, but at the very least I can survive, which is more important. So, after my departure from Demand Studios (I still have an account, but no titles are ever available), I started to explore the Kindle and took it quite seriously over time. As many of you know by now, I have earned as much as $700+ dollars while also building an income stream for other loved ones simultaneously. While the Kindle is NOT my only source of income, it makes up for about 60% of it. So it’s safe to say that I need this source to survive right now.
But what happens when Amazon suddenly threatens to close your account? You automatically shit your pants. That’s what happens.
Toward the end of January, Amazon sent me a horrific letter stating that some of my content was also available on other websites in the form of articles. This is a portion of the e-mail I received, to be more specific:
“During a review of your KDP catalog, we have found that the content of some of the books you have uploaded is freely available on other websites.
Copyright is important to us ? we want to make sure that no author or other copyright holder has their work claimed and sold by anyone else. Please reply and provide us with one type of information listed below to confirm your rights to distribute each of the following books.
Your entire catalog has been removed from sale on the Kindle Store and will remain unavailable until you confirm your rights to distribute these books.
1. If you hold exclusive publishing rights for this content, please provide any documentation you may have from the author (or other copyright owners) of the content and provide an explanation of your rights. Alternatively, you may have the author or other copyright owner contact us directly with confirmation that you have rights.
2. If you are the author of the content, please provide a statement confirming you retain the publishing rights to the content and provide an explanation for why it is freely available on other websites.
3. If the book(s) are public domain works, please confirm this and include the information you used to make this determination for each book. We may request additional information to confirm the public domain status.
If your catalog continues to contain titles that fail to comply with these conditions or do not meet our Content Guidelines, your account may be terminated.”
So, here’s the reason I had gotten that terrifying email…
When I was writing articles more actively, I had written several of them for various content mills. These included a long article on pregnancy, selecting the best espresso machines, and even Spanish articles about some good, low competition niches. In an effort to increase my search engine ranking, I built numerous backlinks to such content, also including a portion of the original content into those backlinking campaigns. On top of all this, I used to sell my own PLR content (written by none other than me) and sold it to clients without re-selling rights.
Eventually, I decided to post that content on Amazon in the form of ebooks. I added more content to these short articles and removed them from the Web. At least the original articles, anyway. Being the moron that I am sometimes, I thought everything was safe. After all, the PLR content was created by me and the other articles were also under my own name. Well, it turns out that Amazon didn’t like that at all, eventually finding duplicates all over the Web and thus questioning whether I owned the content published in their platform. After panting and freaking out for a few minutes, I immediately emailed them explaining the whole situation. Now remember, my entire catalog was removed from the KDP platform, so at this point in time I was making NO money from my books whatsoever.
Then the waiting game began. Let me tell you, it’s not fun to wait around for an answer– not when you’re wondering if 60% of your income is about to go up in smokes in a matter of days. About 5 days later, I finally received a reply stating that my account was back online. However, I was asked to remove any and all questionable books I did not own the rights to, if any. Even though I was in the clear (proving that I did own the rights), I still decided to remove them simply to avoid any headaches in the future. Much of my content is still out there, and thanks to my previous backlinking efforts, it will be next to impossible to remove everything from the Internet.
As a result, January will probably be the only month where I earned more than $700. Due to the books I unpublished, I expect my monthly earnings to drop by at least $200. Nevertheless, I plan to re-build a healthy income in the next several months. Granted, I’m a bit busy diversifying and working on other projects at the moment, but I’m also trying to keep the same amount of focus on ebook publishing.
If anyone ever receives this scary email, don’t panic like I did. Put your thoughts in order and politely explain to Amazon why your published content is also found all over the Internet. Assuming you actually do own the content, that is…
Best of luck.