Okay, so I’m sitting here contemplating exactly how to organize this particular post. There are actually so many facets to it that it almost makes my head spin:
I’ve recently been participating somewhat on a Reddit forum that caters to writers of erotica, and erotica writer wanna-be’s. Not surprisingly, a significant percentage of the posts and discussions there deal with the topic of Amazon. More specifically, how to deal with them, how to work around their “restrictions”, and the “secret” to making Amazon work for them without ending up getting the old heave-ho. Most people are full of questions, especially the newbies. And there are a significant number of people there who consider themselves Amazon “experts” who are sure they have the correct answer. The problem is, advise that may be sound today may not be quite so sound tomorrow, as the rules may suddenly change, because that’s what Amazon does.
Right now Amazon has erotica writers wound up tighter than a fucking clock. Questions get asked by the dozens, and some people think they have the answers, but they really have no freaking clue. Even honest-to-goodness experts like Selena Kitt, with years of experience, spends a considerable portion of her time writing out “how-to-guides” filled with advise of what to do and what not to do on Amazon, only to end up having to constantly revise them.
Watching it all from a distance is reminiscent of sitting at a circus watching a bunch of silly people in funny make-up all trying to fit themselves into the tiny clown car. It’s humorous until you suddenly realize that people’s lives -and their livelihoods- are being seriously affected by all this.
I actually haven’t been in this “author” game for very long. In fact, it’s coming up on almost a year since I started seriously pursuing this. Ironically, just about the same time that Amazon and other venues suddenly started trying to “sanitize” themselves. Maybe that gives me somewhat of a unique perspective, as Amazon started pulling my plugs long before I started getting too dependent on them. Many people have been making a living off of Amazon for a very long time, so I can understand their reluctance in wanting to give up on them.
But more often than not, anymore the advise that the “experts” seem to be conveying to the up-and-comers is, “Conform to Amazon’s guidelines. Write only what they want you to write. Don’t rock the boat, and don’t do ANYTHING that will end up getting you banned! Amazon is king, and you need to do what they want if you want to succeed.”
And that just makes me sad. Not only have they grown accustomed to Amazon sucking their own creative soul dry, they are encouraging the new generation of erotica writers to follow suit. For any author, especially an “established” author, to advise any other author, especially an up-and-comer, “Don’t write what Amazon doesn’t like” is almost downright criminal.
There is a reason a person decides to become an author: They have a story to tell. Granted, it must be told well, but told it must be. THAT is what “established” authors need to start telling the newbies again! “Tell your story, and tell it the way you want it to be told!” If people want to read the story, they will. If they don’t want to read it, they won’t. That decision shouldn’t be made by a bunch of executives in empty suits sitting in high-rise offices.
It’s time to face the facts: Anything erotica-related submitted to Amazon is just a ticking time-bomb. Author after author and company after company keep setting it off. And yet the “established” continue to keep beating the drum, “Change your tactics! Hide what your story is really about. Keep conforming to Amazon, and only write what they want you to write.”
And if they change the rules? AGAIN?? Well, then conform even further, until there’s nothing left but the sanitized version, and the entire reason you wanted to become an author in the first place is entirely destroyed.
Amazon has become an enemy of freedom of expression. It’s time to stop associating erotica with Amazon.
It’s time to start training our readers to look elsewhere.