A Technological Assault on My Science Fiction Sales: The Ghost in the Gears at Amazon

by | Mar 31, 2012 | Blog | 6 comments

So there I was, minding my own business—literally, I mean, selling books is my business, and I mind when they don’t sell—and poof, books just stopped selling all of a sudden. The Galactic Mage has been blowing off the e-shelves for weeks, and, Tuesday morning I got up and checked and, somewhere in the night or early morning, sales just stopped. Cold. From light speed to the brick wall in zero seconds flat.

Must be a glitch, I thought. Surely I couldn’t have sold NOTHING. I mean, I know the book won’t stay up in the top ten forever, but from top ten to total death over night? That seemed a bit severe.

I went and got something to eat, answered some emails, and then, before digging in to book two, I checked again, just, well, because it’s like a nervous twitch or something to look in on sales anyway. I can’t help it. There’s a lot riding on it at my house… my wife insists that we feed our children AND our cats. I swear, that woman is soooooooo demanding… so I check. Well, nothing. Not one copy sold still. Probably a glitch, I reminded myself. So, whatever. I started writing.

Sometime later I came up for air and thought, I better have sold something by now.

I hadn’t. Nothing. Not one copy.

I was like, “Holy crap!” Something was going on. Clearly the universe had turned against my book. I just knew it. It was a conspiracy. The whole book industry conspired to take me out, a great universal cabal to block me, even an alien plot to starve out my kids and my wife’s cats… whatever it was, we were under siege!

I waited another half hour. Looked again. Still zip.

The evidence of the cabal was in. THEY were out to get me! I didn’t know who they were, but it was definitely them. Definitely.

Then I noticed the “buy this book now” button was gone on the Amazon screen.

I hit refresh a couple of times. It was still gone. There was literally no way to buy it.

Now it is certainty, I thought. Amazon hates me and wants to starve my cats!

But, reason kicked in. Reason suggested I go look to see if there are other books with no buy buttons on them either. Lo and behold, there were. I went straight to the top too, looked to see if The Hunger Games had a buy button. It didn’t. Nothing did (at least none of the eight or nine titles I clicked through next did).

So, I relaxed. Some. At least it wasn’t a secret plot of the universe to get me.

The upside is, the button came back shortly after that. I’m sure some programmers in the Amazon IT department were in a frenzy to get it back up. I can’t imagine how much money that three or four hours cost them (or however long it was, I don’t actually know because I was asleep when the problem began), but I bet it’s a lot. Which is also why they got it fixed so fast. Fast is relative to the scale of the repair, obviously, but I imagine several hours of science fiction and fantasy ebook sales equals bank for Amazon.

So, anyway, that was my technology mini-nightmare. I suppose it counts as irony when your science fiction story suffers a technological attack. Or else it’s just plain appropriate. Either way, I’m just glad the universe isn’t trying to take out my wife’s cats. That just seemed like overkill, you know? A whole universe versus two fluffy little animals? It’s just wrong.


  1. Verlie Burroughs

    Hello Shadesbreath (sorry I know you as shadesbreath from Hub Pages),

    Speaking of technical glitches, I went to find my referral tracker, thinking it would come in handy one day if I ever figure out how to use it.
    When I found it your name was listed under it (Daulton Books) and I have no idea how that happened, but I tracked you down, discovered your blog. Watched your book trailer (very cool) and now thinking about buying your e book. Just got my Kindle set up yesterday, so I’m good to go.
    I am so happy you will be able to feed the cats. They do like their regular meals.
    Congratulations on the book being published!
    Sci Fi fantasy is not my usual reading preference, but I wil check it out.


    • John

      I’m not sure what referral tracker would have Daulton Books under it (did I sign up at GoDaddy or something off a link of yours when I registered the domain somehow?) I confess I’m at a total loss, but I am glad to know you liked the book trailer. You’ll love your new Kindle too. I finally got one after resisting for a while, and, while I still prefer a nice paper book, I have enjoyed being able to get copies of stuff quick. Especially short stuff. I kind of like having a better sense of my progress as pages stack up on one side of my book mark or another, gives me a feel of progress and conquered turf, where the slider on the Kindle doesn’t, but, it’s definitely good for what it’s really good for. lol.

      If you get the book, I hope you like it. If you’re not into fantasy and sci-fi, I do have a novella out too called Auction Yard that is contemporary fiction, perhaps more in keeping with your reading tastes. It’s good, one of the more artist things I’ve done (or tried to do, lol, you can be the judge.)

  2. J M Leitch

    Hi! I’m a fellow science fiction writer with a book (The Zul Enigma) selling at the Kindle store.

    The reason the Amazon US site crashed is because… finally… J K Rowling has allowed the Harry Potter series to be released as eBooks and that was the first day they were on sale. The response was overwhelming.

    You can read the whole story on my blog at the Red Room. Search for J M Leitch and look for the blog titled: Harry Potter and the Dis-Order of Amazon or How and Why Harry Potter Single-Handedly Thwarted Sales of Kindle e-Books, or check out the url below.


  3. John

    Hey, nice bit of sleuthing there, J.M. It certainly seems reasonable to me that that could have been the culprit. I should write J.K. Rowling and tell her she owes me for those lost hours! (Your book cover looks great, btw.)

    • J M Leitch

      Thank you John… and good luck with the compensation search! I’m glad you like the book cover… I am very fortunate… my friend is an artist and after reading the final draft he did this fabulous painting for me to use as the cover. His name is Wolfgang Widmoser in case you’d like to see more of his work.

      And I LOVE your website ‘look’. Stunning!

  4. John

    Yeah, I’m not holding my breath on that compensation thing. And I’ll check out Wolfgang Widmoser (that name just sounds like a good artist). Thanks.