“Note: All characters depicted in the image below are over the legal age of 18.”
Well… actually… No, they’re not. Hate to break that to you, but you had to learn sometime, young grasshopper.
The characters in the image are purely fictitious. They were never born. They’ve never had birthdays. Not a one. They only exist in the mind of their creator.
So I ask you, how silly is it to make a claim that they are actually over a certain age?
Yet that’s exactly what needs to be specifically claimed in order for images like that to be posted or displayed on most forums and web sites, even the most “adult” oriented ones.
I write erotica. Very “naughty” erotica. So naughty that if the characters were actually real and were caught engaging in some of the activities I write about they could very well be spending considerable time behind bars.In order for my stories to be accepted by most distributors my publisher has to put a notice on the title page stating that all characters in the story are over the legal age of 18. But it’s a lie. They’re not. Not because they are or are not written that way, but because the characters do not in fact actually exist. They are an “idea” expressed in words. Just as the drawing above is an “idea” expressed through lines and colors put together to form an image. To tack on a disclaimer stating that all the characters are over the age of 18 as if those characters were in fact actually real is downright ludicrous.
Many people -probably most- believe that writing a story or drawing a picture of very young people engaging in sexual acts is illegal. It’s actually not. I could write scene after scene about having sex with a two year old and I would still be within legal limits. Actually doing so would be another matter completely of course, but I could write about it as much as I please. I wouldn’t do that, of course. Not because it’s illegal, or even necessarily because it’s immoral in some way, but because the concept doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. I wouldn’t write about a woman being raped either, regardless of age, for the same reason. I prefer all my characters to be happily fucking each other. No matter what their ages.
Actual photographs or videos depicting very young people engaged in sex is another matter. That’s actual proof that someone was in fact harmed in the creation of them. But drawings? Stories? If these actually were illegal there would most likely be quite a number of art gallery and museum curators locked up right now. Some works by Shakespeare would be illegal to own. As far as that goes, the Bible itself would end up being criminalized. Yet none of these things have “disclaimers” being tacked onto them. To do so would be absolutely silly.
And so is putting “disclaimers” on my stories.
The powers that be certainly like to perpetuate the myth that writing about very young people having sex is illegal. I guess they figure it would curtail other folks writing about it or reading about it. The sad fact is it seems to be working. And who are these “powers that be”? Outfits like PayPal and credit card processors mostly. Can you imagine that? Bankers actually taking a moral high ground. Actually, they’re not even doing that. They’re securing their profits by trying to protect their “image”. They seem to have a fear of even looking like they’re even remotely supporting such notions. That’s their absolute right, I suppose. But in doing so they’re sorely stifling freedom of expression.
So, when you see the “disclaimer” at the beginning of my stories, I hope you’ll just give it the short little laugh it deserves for being so ridiculous and go on to enjoy my naughty little tale. But once… just once!... I would love to be able to put on a disclaimer such as this one:
“Note: NONE of the characters in the following story are over the legal age of 18! They actually have no ages. They were never actually born. They’ve never had birthdays. They are purely figments of the author’s imagination. They don’t really exist. Get the fuck over it.”
Well, the holiday season is upon us. And, as usually happens, Amazon and a few other illustrious vendors of the written word has decided to go in and do their seasonal purge to “protect” their pristine images. Which of course means my catalog of available titles gracing their pages has -once again- shrunk considerably.
Merry fucking Christmas to me.
So, sorry Amazon addicts, you must travel a different road to reach the dubiously incestuous little town of Angel Falls. You can, however, still get your fill of couples cheating on each other. Apparently that’s still much more acceptable than consensual copulation with one’s own kin. Go figure.
Actually, the story behind that is somewhat amusing. Kobo was actually the one who started raising a stink to the distributor that Boruma Publishing uses to submit to sites such as Amazon, Kobo, and numerous others. Amazon of course decided to jump on that bandwagon. In effect, that distributor decided it would no longer accept – at all- anything that delved into incest, BDSM, dubcon, or anything else that would surely and swiftly cause the downfall of civilization as we know it. However, once that distributor actually saw the HUGE percentage of titles that Boruma Publishing removed from their listings because of that policy, it made them say, “Umm… Hey… Wait a minute…”
At least they know what side their bread is buttered on.
So, reversing their decision, they became much more lax on the subject matter they will accept. They still won’t distribute those titles to American-based behemoths such as Amazon and Kobo, but they will still distribute to the numerous international sites they deal with, which is actually starting to provide them a much bigger percentage of profits than even Amazon.
So much for the land of the fucking free…
Sometimes the good folks at Boruma Publishing just amaze the shit out of me.
Going through various channels, the first four books of The Angel Falls Library Files, “Craving His Attention“, “Sharing Secrets“, “Give and Take“, and “Tattletale“, are once again gracing the pages of the ever-popular Kindle section of Amazon’s website. (The links for each can be found on each book’s individual page.) Books 5 and 6 are expected there shortly.
I have rather mixed feelings about this…While I applaud Boruma’s efforts and abilities, it is, after all, Amazon. “Feeding the beast” is still somewhat distasteful to me, considering the way Amazon treats many individual authors. Plus the fact that, even though these titles managed to slip through despite their EXTREMELY taboo nature, descriptions and excerpts had to be “adjusted” to hide that fact, which in effect means that readers really won’t know what they’re getting until they actually buy the title, and readers who actually DO want titles that extremely taboo still won’t be able to find it unless totally by accident.
In any case, there they are for those folks who are helplessly addicted to Amazon’s nifty little “Buy now with one click” button. I would still much rather readers buy my books through other venues for various reasons, not the least of which is that the royalty percentage I receive through Amazon sales is atrocious due to the various channels these books need to go through. (I receive the highest royalty percentage on sales through Carnal Pleasures and Carnaltopia.) But, for those who insist on only going the Amazon route as their source for smutty entertainment, well… a sale is a sale, I suppose. I just won’t get paid as much.
By the way, the debut title of my love, Lilly-Rose Young, “Pushing Boundaries“, is also available on Amazon.
The business of writing erotica is a rather strange animal these days. Perhaps it always has been, but considering I’ve only been a serious contender in this game for the past couple of years, that’s really the only experience I have to draw on. I spend a considerable amount of time pondering on where we are, how we got here, and…probably most importantly…what can we do about it. As is usually the case, the answer to the last question is as varied as the authors it affects. There really is no “one-size-fits-all” solution that will work for each individual author.
A question was posed recently on the Erotic Authors forum on Reddit:
A rather excellent question to pose, actually. However, me offering any sort of response personally on that particular forum is usually not a good idea. My viewpoints are not well received there. I’m sure a couple of people from there will follow me here and drag me in front of the tribunal to deliver the obligatory 30 lashes for daring to speak ANYTHING negative about Amazon or the authors who publish on it, but at least I can’t be justifiably accused of “starting a fight” there. (Not that it would actually stop anybody from doing so, of course.)
Truthfully, the short answer to the above posed question is, only moderately so. Let’s face it, the way this erotica writing thing is set up at the moment, I will NEVER expand beyond just the nice little extra “spending money” I receive monthly from my publisher. Admittedly, this is mostly by choice. As much as some people may want to accuse me of playing the “Victim of Amazon” card, it is certainly not what I’m doing, nor have I ever done that. I tell people time and time again, if Amazon works for you, then by all means go that route.
The frustrating thing for me usually is I see author after author after author complaining about how Amazon operates, how they keep getting screwed over by Amazon, how fearful they always are about getting dungeoned or dropped completely by Amazon every time they press the “Publish” button, yet time after time after time the only solutions that are ever given any serious consideration involves continuing to feed the hand that bites them. Because of Amazon’s recent changes to their Kindle Unlimited program, authors of erotica, especially short form erotica, now have to work at least three times as hard to maintain the same amount of money they were earning before these changes. I sympathize completely with those who are so dependent on Amazon when they say, “Well, what else can we do?” Unfortunately, the only answer I can give today is, “Nothing”. The main reason I am not a “victim of Amazon” is that I got in on this erotica writing endeavor shortly after Amazon and many of the other biggies did their erotica purge. I never grew dependent on Amazon’s royalties. Real, honest “victims of Amazon” however are out there. By the hundreds, if not the thousands.
The problem right now is, Amazon makes it too easy. They make it easy for authors to write crap, and they make it easy for readers to buy it. One click to publish, one click to purchase. Their fucking apps are everywhere. They come pre-installed on damn near every computer, every tablet, every smartphone. Do I blame Amazon for this? Fuck no. Shrewd business folk they are, they’ve expertly learned how to profit from convenience. If readers want to buy poorly written erotica, and writers want to produce it, why is that Amazon’s fault?
(And yes, some people will totally rip me a new one for using the words “poorly written erotica”, but honestly, you CANNOT convince me that dozens of ‘so-called’ authors can pump out 5k stories on a daily, or even weekly basis and honestly say that these are anywhere NEAR being considered “quality” work!)
One of the questions asked in the above post is, is there a market big enough to make it worth publishing outside of Amazon? The answer to that easily is, of course there is! If nothing else, Amazon itself has proven that to a fault. The “market” is definitely there. The question is, outside of Amazon, how does an author reach them?
Readers definitely want quality erotica. The problem is, readers don’t want to look that hard to find it. As difficult as it must surely be to try to find diamonds among the dung heaps on Amazon, readers are willing to do that because it’s… everyone say it with me now… “convenient“! One stop, click click click, oh, this one looks like it might be interesting, click to read (hell, they don’t even have to buy the damn thing these days with convenient subscription), read until they’re bored, click click click, wash, rinse, repeat, run out of shampoo. (Sorry.. Idea for a shower scene popped into my head.)
Authors who publish outside of Amazon (or who want to) need to make it easier for readers to find them. Readers don’t know. All they know is the convenience of Amazon. And this is what trips a lot of authors up when trying to do anything outside the virtual walls of Amazon. This necessitates authors becoming more adept at self-promotion. I’m fortunate enough to have a little bit of background experience in that area. Many authors do not. I understand. What I don’t understand is most authors are soooo willing to take the time and effort to try to learn not only formatting correctly, but also try to figure out all the ‘secret’ ways to work around Amazon’s restrictions, learn keyword usage, unlock SEO strategies, and basically “game the Amazon system”, but yet choose to remain so totally clueless on the best ways to self-promote and refuse to learn how because Amazon will simply do that shit for them if they go exclusive. Well, how’s that working for ya?
At the risk of sounding completely immodest, I am extremely proud of my stories. I never send ANYTHING out unless I am at least moderately satisfied with them, and they tell the story I wish to tell. They are of good quality, many people have bought and read them, and I have received much complimentary feedback from folks who have truly enjoyed them.
So why am I not “successful”? Well, in many ways I am. I write what I want, people have bought and enjoyed them, and I get satisfaction out of putting together a good story written in a quality manner. I can honestly look at my catalog and say, “Hey… I did a damn good job!”
Why am I not making more money? Well, mainly by choice. Not only do I refuse to cater to Amazon’s ridiculous and ever-changing guidelines and strategies, I refuse to spend so much effort trying to cater to people’s laziness. I do know how to write fairly decent promotional pieces and I can point people in the direction to go, but you know the story about horses and water. I will keep trying, though. I’m fully convinced my “audience” is out there. It’s just a matter of figuring out which walls to break down that separates us. Or patiently waiting for the time it takes for that to happen. In the meantime, I’m out nothing but my time, which I spend doing what I like doing anyway, whether I make money at it or not. It would be nice though to be able to spend more time doing it. 🙂
People ask me all the time why I don’t just publish what Amazon will accept. Well, then it really wouldn’t be my story now, would it? Sure, I could make money at it. Maybe even make a living at it. But then again I wouldn’t enjoy what I’m doing.
And where is the “success” in that?