“Why Was My Account Terminated??”
…words we hope you never have to say. However, it is being said by many KDP publishers, and for what seem to be pretty arbitrary reasons.
That said, the reasons are seldom arbitrary. Mistakes can be made, and so can appeals, but it is hard to get your account back after you’ve lost it. However, with a thorough understanding of what to avoid, you can significantly reduce the risk of your KDP account ever being banned.
Understanding the Two Main Reasons for KDP Account Termination
When it comes to KDP account termination, there are two primary reasons:
- Misleading content
- Suspicious activity.
The simplest way to ensure your account stays in good standing? Avoid falling into either of these categories.
Okay, chances are you’re a talented, ethical person who is not going to write a book full of snake-oil remedies or try to hack into another author’s account. So, you’re probably safe there.
However, there are a myriad of other ways where you can, consciously or unconsciously, commit an act that Amazon could pick up as a reason to terminate your account.
1. Trademarks: Respect Intellectual Property Rights
Trademarks refer to recognizable insignias, phrases, words, or symbols that legally differentiate a specific product from others. It’s imperative to respect trademarked words or phrases and avoid using them without permission. Unfortunately, many KDP publishers inadvertently violate this rule by not conducting adequate research.
For instance, creating books related to trademarked concepts like Fortnite, Minecraft, Pokemon, Disney, NinjaFoodi Grills, or Instant Pot can lead to trademark infringement issues. To ensure you’re on safe ground, conduct thorough research. Start by checking the USPTO Trademark Database, which lists trademarks filed in the United States. Keep in mind that a term might be trademarked in other parts of the world, so perform Google searches and use common sense when selecting keywords.
2. Copyright Infringement: Respect Creative Ownership
Copyright infringement involves using or producing copyright-protected material without permission from the copyright holder. When you create something unique, such as a book, you automatically own the copyrights to it, including book titles, covers, and descriptions.
Common mistakes in this category include copying titles and descriptions, creating similar covers to competitors, and copying book content. These actions can lead to copyright infringement issues. Always create original content and respect the intellectual property rights of others.
3. Fake Reviews: Ethical Publishing Matters
Amazon strictly prohibits buying and/or swapping reviews. This should be self-explanatory: engaging in review manipulation practices can result in account termination. Always prioritize ethical publishing practices.
4. Duplicate Content: Avoid Misleading Practices
Publishing duplicate content with different covers and titles is a common mistake that can mislead readers. While you can publish the same content multiple times with different cover color options or minor variations, it’s crucial to be transparent in your titles and descriptions. Ensure customers understand that the content is largely the same, avoiding misleading practices.
5. Having Multiple Accounts: Stay Compliant
Amazon KDP rules prohibit having several KDP accounts. If you’re discovered to have multiple accounts, Amazon may ban all of them. However, you can maintain a personal account alongside an account for your LLC (Limited Liability Company). These are treated as separate entities under the law and comply with Amazon’s rules.
6. Not Using Common Sense: The Pitfall of Imprudent Decisions
In many cases, terminations occur due to obvious and avoidable mistakes. Approximately 95% of terminated accounts can be attributed to imprudent decisions made by publishers chasing quick profits. The key takeaway here is simple: create content that you would feel comfortable purchasing yourself. If your content aligns with your own purchasing standards, you’re likely adhering to Amazon’s rules. Keep it straightforward and use your common sense.
7. Regularly Review Amazon’s Guidelines
Amazon’s guidelines and policies for KDP publishers may change over time. It’s essential to stay up-to-date with these guidelines by regularly visiting the KDP help center. By understanding the latest policies, you can proactively align your publishing practices with Amazon’s requirements.
8. Properly Attribute Quotes and References
If your book includes quotes or references to other works, ensure that you provide proper attribution. Failure to do so can lead to allegations of plagiarism or copyright infringement. Always give credit to the original authors when using their words or ideas.
9. Utilize Copyright-Free and Public Domain Content
One way to minimize copyright-related risks is to use copyright-free and public domain content in your books. These materials are not subject to copyright restrictions and can be used freely. However, ensure that you adhere to Amazon’s guidelines when using such content. You can’t, for example, just OCR scan a copy of “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, stick a new cover on it and call it yours (just, um, trust me on that one).
10. Maintain a Professional Author Website
Having a professional author website can enhance your credibility as a publisher. It serves as a central platform where readers can learn more about your work and connect with you. Additionally, you can use your website to showcase your commitment to ethical publishing practices and provide resources for readers.
11. Engage with Your Audience
Building a community of readers who support your work can be a valuable asset. Engage with your audience through social media, email newsletters, or online forums related to your book’s niche. When readers feel a personal connection to you, they are more likely to support your publications.
12. Keep Records of Permissions and Correspondence
If you obtain permissions to use trademarked terms, copyrighted material, or any other content, keep detailed records of the permissions and correspondence. These records can serve as evidence of your commitment to compliance if any questions or issues arise in the future.
13. Consider Legal Advice
Okay, so this is probably a good time to say that, although we stand by the insights we provide above, we are not attorneys and none of this should be considered legal advice.
If you have specific legal questions or concerns related to your publishing practices, consider consulting with a qualified intellectual property attorney. They can provide tailored guidance based on your unique situation.
Protecting your Amazon KDP account and income involves a combination of knowledge, ethical practices, and ongoing diligence. By understanding and adhering to Amazon’s guidelines, using copyright-free content, properly attributing references, maintaining a professional author website, engaging with your audience, keeping records, and seeking legal advice when necessary, you can enjoy a secure and ethical publishing journey on Amazon KDP.
Your commitment to ethical publishing not only safeguards your account but also contributes to a thriving and transparent publishing environment on Amazon. As you continue to create valuable content that resonates with readers, you’ll find long-term success as an independent publisher.
And this ensures that you’ll always…be back.