Worrying times for digital authors

There's been a bit of upheaval on the internet over the past week.  Amazon had their Seller accounts hacked and all sellers had a notification from a 'fake' Amazon telling them that their money had not been paid and they should update their bank details.  Fortunately, being a suspicious character I didn't click any links and signed into my Amazon Seller Account in the normal way, to be told that, yes, someone had infiltrated their accounts and all our bank details and payments had been frozen.  Several frantic emails from Amazon to me followed, saying that fake emails had been sent, to be ignored and that 'we are fixing the problem, be patient'.  Then emails saying I'd been paid by mistake and that they were taking money back, then emails telling me the problem was fixed. What was fake and what was genuine?  No idea - they all looked the same.  I changed my passwords and hope now that it's all sorted.

At the same time, Kobo Writing Life suspended all 'indie' published books ostensibly  because of the fear of abusive content.  I've no problem with books being  vetted for abusive material, but it seems that they have taken this much, much further.  Small 'micro' publishers are also affected.  My partner Neil publishes four authors, including myself and all our titles are suspended.  It could be said that mine are 'self-published', but the other three are definitely not and this is very harmful.  Also, all four of us are published by the Big 6 (whose books are not suspended) and several of the books concerned are E-editions of books published in paperback by Penguin, Robert Hale and Constable. Most of mine are literary biography - a genre not renowned for its erotic content!   It could be said that Kobo are deliberately targeting Independent publishing of any kind, not just 'self' publishing, and this is a very worrying tactic for a company owned by WH Smith.

The internet is a dangerous place and Indie authors seem to be more vulnerable than most on its dark streets.  We need to make sure we keep up to date with the technology.  Cyber Censorship is an even more difficult issue.  I believe passionately in freedom of expression, but I don't want extreme violence and porn of any kind to be freely available to people innocently browsing the pages of the Kobo catalogue.  But what about all the other outlets? Are they going to follow suit?  Will we have to declare explicit content when we publish?  Will the rules be more stringent for independent authors than the Big 6?  What is clear is that there's more need than ever for Indie Authors to belong to groups that will help them out and give them more clout when it comes to challenging people like Kobo and Amazon.  I belong to the Alliance of Independent Authors, Awesome Indies and Authors Electric and it's quite comforting to be part of a tribe.


  1. I didn't have an email, however there is no automatic bank transfers for Oz authors.
    The send a check by snail mail!


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