Tag Archives: Amazon

Well, that was fun while it lasted…

way-too-naughtyWell, 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…

fuck-you

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Angel Falls returns to Amazon

censoredSometimes 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.

Why I Will NEVER Become a “Successful” Erotica Author

being a writerThe 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:

“How profitable are using dedicated adult epublishers for non-Amazon safe kinks?”

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. no orgasm for youShrewd 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.)

think differentAuthors 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. 🙂

doing what you lovePeople 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?

Paint-by-number dreams…

I love that Jackson Browne song “The Pretender”! Its poetic description of settling for a hum-drum existence, and the concept of attempting to achieve success through conformity.

That song kept floating through my mind as I read through the insightful article linked below by fellow erotica author Lily Weidner, as she describes in excruciating detail her thoughts and conclusions regarding an experiment she participated in regarding trying to publish through Amazon’s new “KU2” formula.

I would not have the fortitude to participate in such an experimental endeavor, not to mention even having the time. I certainly applaud Lily’s efforts and willingness. In the end, she came to many of the same conclusions I came to on my own in time. The most important one in my opinion being, if in the end you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, what’s really the point?

It’s a very lengthy and extremely detailed article, so I’m not posting it here in its entirety. You’ll need to go to Lily’s website directly to read through the whole thing. But believe me, it’s well worth the trip. 🙂

Sorry, no sexy images, no fancy formatting in this entry… Just a simple passing along of some words of wisdom.

“Are you there? Say a prayer…”

 

My Amazon eBook Publishing Experience

“I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.” —Tom Clancy

Antique Books

When I first started writing back in 2010, short stories were taking off. Sadly, I took a break before Amazon came out with their Kindle Unlimited (KU) program in 2014. What would transpire within those few months changed the viability of shorts within the industry. Coming back from my extended break, I found the market extremely different. To my surprise authors weren’t just turning toward longer works, they were now asking if short stories were even a viable sales option.

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The more research I did, in an effort to figure out what happened, I found Amazon the center of great controversy. Some authors blamed Amazon for ruining the short story market even before their recent change to the Kindle Unlimited program started around June 2015. What has transpired between authors since will not fill anyone with hope. Authors have come to take sides on this argument, with many self published authors shoving their ideas onto forcefully onto others.

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That’s where things took an interesting turn for me as an author. My own opinion was not met with warm reception. Instead, I met a group of self published authors who felt they knew the market better than some publishers and from whom I met the harshest criticism imaginable. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but only so long as they do not harm others by voicing it. In this case, I found a few predominate opinions I felt were harmful to new authors trying to find their way in the self publishing industry.

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(Click >>here<< or on the title to read the rest in its entirety)

The Amazon eBook Market

I wonder how much of an ass-reaming I would get if I posted this on the eroticauthors Reddit group. 😉 I’m sure the Amazon whores would once again try to ride me out of town.

In any case, if you’re an erotica author, this may be some food for thought from the folks at Lots’s Cave…

Lot's Cave Publishing

Zipper Logo Image - ClearAuthored By: Samantha Zacharda
Marketing Director & Promotion
Published By: Lot’s Cave


For the last year stories have abounded regarding authors getting rich with incomes of ten to a hundred thousand per month by writing short stories. Is this possible? How much can I really make?

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Ever since Amazon changed their Kindle Unlimited program, authors have been trying to gauge the eBook market. Authors, particularly those writing short stories (3,000-5,000 words) have started to wonder if the market will even support their shorts, or if a shift into longer works is necessary to earn an income. Doing some initial research, I found answers couldn’t have been more conflicting.

Purple Zipper Horizontal

Usually when conflicting answers exist, one finds in them a majority opinion. With enough backtracking the answer process becomes clear. In this case however, little data could be found with which to form a starting point. What I found is the entire…

View original post 1,782 more words

Three Cheers for Banned Books!!!

dirty storiesI love writing “dirty” stories.

More importantly, I love writing stories that contain ideas… In this case, the underlying theme in most of my stories (along with lots and lots of “hot sex”!!) is the idea of people being able to enter into whatever types of relationships that work for them and satisfy them. No matter WHAT type of relationship that happens to be!

Most people don’t seem to like that “idea”. They don’t understand it. It scares them. And because of that, they don’t wish me to express that idea. It makes them uncomfortable. To me, that’s what good writers do… They make people “uncomfortable”.

As a proud author of banned books (thanks, Amazon…), I thought I’d pass along some interesting information about other “banned books” and how they got banned, courtesy of the ACLU website:


Silence When We Need Speech

sexy reader 051The concept of censorship should be an atrocity to any author. But especially to an erotica author.

I’ve been “in hiding” for a while, therefore pretty much out of the loop. Getting back into the loop, haunting old hangouts, has at times been a little disheartening. While it doesn’t seem to be quite as prevalent, one of the burning questions still frequently being asked is, “What will get me banned?”

What a sorry question for an author to ask. What a pathetic issue to constantly keep in the back of your head as you’re sitting there trying to be creative. So nice to know that the Amazonian hoops are still so successfully squashing independent thought and ‘creativity. As big as they are, how can they not know what’s best for us, right.

With that in mind, here is a year-old article, boldly presented by a proud author of banned books:

Down With Censorship! 11 Quotes From Authors About The Tragedy of Book Banning

In honor of Banned Books Week 2014, we wanted to find out how some of history’s most influential thinkers feel about censorship. Scroll down to read their totally on-point comments.

“Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.” — Mark Twain

“It’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.” — Judy Blume

“The crime of book purging is that it involves a rejection of the word. For the word is never absolute truth, but only man’s frail and human effort to approach the truth. To reject the word is to reject the human search. ” — Max Lerner

“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” — Benjamin Franklin

“Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost.” — Alfred Whitney Griswold

“Yes, books are dangerous. They should be dangerous — they contain ideas.” — Pete Hautman

“Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.” Steven Chbosky

“If librarianship is the connecting of people to ideas…it is crucial to remember that we must keep and make available, not just good ideas and noble ideas, but bad ideas, silly ideas, and yes, even dangerous or wicked ideas.” — Graceanne A. Decandidio

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” — Oscar Wilde

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. ” — Joseph Brodsky

“Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.” — Lyndon Baines Johnson

Read more at http://blog.theliteracysite.com/down-with-censorship-11-quotes-from-authors-about-the-tragedy-of-book-banning/#XPmOip5GRer3lil1.99

Putting All Your Eggs In One Basket

push itAnother erotica author advising against the notion of being “exclusive” with just one publisher/distributor.

Good article, and an argument that I’ve been touting for months, but I would also add to this that it’s also important to PROMOTE all the venues your books are available as well. I still see far too many authors promoting their books by linking ONLY to their Amazon pages, even even when they are available on multiple sites.

If your books are available on sites in addition to (or even instead of) Amazon, start letting your readers know about it!

I’m presenting Mr. Michelson’s fine article below in its entirety, but you can also read it from his original blog, and check out his other posts about his books and where they are available.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What to Do When Publishers Start Banning Your Erotica?

When it comes to banning authors or books, self-published erotica is the low hanging fruit of the world of fiction. You won’t get news editorials defending the right of someone to publish “Cheerleaders 2: The Trouser Snake Returns” and most independent authors aren’t going to pull down the sort of numbers and have the marketing clout that might make a publisher step back and decide to resist public opinion.
It can be worse today because of the of clickbait articles which are designed solely to drive traffic to their parent site. A writer can type up an article, headline it with: PUBLISHER TOLERATES MONSTER/ALIEN/SEXY CHEERLEADER PORN, slap up a few pictures or excerpts and watch the page views (and revenue) roll in. Meanwhile, the publisher’s staff quickly go through the catalog and delist some books so that they can say they’re doing something about it.
First of all, someone, somewhere is now shouting about the First Amendment, that glorious document that protects us from this and lets us sell our erotic stories.
Stop. Seriously. Stop.
The First Amendment only applies to the government. There are some very, VERY limited cases where a publisher refusing to publish something might attract the  government’s interest, but erotic stories? Nope. They have a perfect right to sell or not sell any story submitted to them.
They’re also not doing it because they hate you. A publisher loves one thing: Green, as in the color of the money you bring them. Now individual reviewers or editors might have an ax to grind, but most publishers don’t care. They’re banning books because they think it will ultimately make them more money than keeping those books available will.

So What’s the Author of Erotica to do?

It’s simple:
Never, EVER, let yourself be trapped with one storefront. Always spread books out among several distributors in order to ensure that if there’s a problem with on, it won’t destroy your revenue stream. These companies don’t talk with each other and many of them have far different standards. If a book gets banned or if it looks like one of your books is going to run into TOS related troubles, just sell it via a different channel.
That also helps you if, heaven forbid, you get your entire account banned— you still have books up for sale and you still have an Internet presence. There is nothing worse than realizing that you put your eggs all in one basket and now not only have you been banned, but your fans have no way to keep buying your book. In the time it takes to rebuild your Internet presence you could lose thousands of dollars worth of sales.
Finally, note that if you’re only selling through one publisher, you’re not simply at the mercy of decisions to ban your books or account, but you’re also at the mercy of decisions to change the contract you’re working under. If it’s a choice between rebuilding everything from scratch and accepting a new deal that cuts your royalties by 10 percent, what are you going to do? Well, if you have your books being published through other avenues, you have much more freedom to say: “nope!” and take your books with you.
Finally, a word of advice:
Don’t take it personally. These companies are making a business decision. It maybe a stupid decision, it may be a decision that is harmful to your pocketbook, but it’s not personally aimed at you. In fact, it may be based on an automated scan of your work instead of someone reading it. Getting pissed off won’t change anything and can lead you down unproductive avenues. Just keep your options open and keep writing. You’ll be successful.

Oh, there’s another thing to consider: If you’re good enough to write erotica, you’re also good enough to write general fiction, so in addition to spreading out your options in terms of who you’re publishing with, you might want to consider writing to a wide range of genres.

WARNING!!: I’m About To Go On Another Rampage

chained booksI should probably just stay out of the erotica authors forum on Reddit. At the very least, I should SERIOUSLY refrain from posting there.

Which is why I decided to instead post another blog entry here.

This might end up being just another exercise in futility, but there are just some things that need to be said. This blog post, like earlier ones, may end up finding its way onto the erotica authors Reddit forum anyway. If it does, so fucking be it.

Anyway… One of the latest topics:

Is Amazon really this arbitrary?

So another post with a group of erotica authors again bitching about Amazon’s hypocrisy and unfair treatment. Most of it run of the mill, full of blatant examples and author frustration. Easy enough to leave alone. “Be quiet and just let them stew,” I sat here and told myself.. Hopefully this will be just another step on their way to coming to their senses, and finally becoming sick and tired enough to start telling Amazon to go fuck themselves.

But then, this response shows up, by one of the forum’s so-called “experts”:

Here’s the deal Elena: Amazon isn’t perfect.

It’s that simple.

They are dealing with hundreds of thousands of books being thrown onto the shelves and there’s no way they can properly police every single one. Some of them are going to slip through. It’s BOUND to happen.

And it DOESN’T MATTER.

Those books aren’t hurting you. Hell, they are HELPING YOU. They are drawing readers who want more naughty content, and those readers will move on to books that aren’t quite so OBVIOUSLY BANNABLE.

But, don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. Don’t let what is PUBLISHED on Amazon justify what you WANT to publish.

I can go there right now and find a whole pile of hypnosis/mind control/dubcon books. They are all over Amazon.

I also know full-well that authors are getting BANNED for these things. I just saw another one today with a temp-ban for a title that was almost a year old.

Should I write a dubcon book? Hell, it’s almost GUARANTEED high sales if I can get it up on the store, and there’s at least a chance that it will slip past the censors. I could just go roll the dice, right?

Sure I could, if I didn’t mind risking my ENTIRE account in the process.

When you are writing niche BLEEDING EDGE erotica, you are walking around in a minefield. We’ve put together a decent map that shows where the land mines are. Write erotica that stays within those lines and you are almost certainly safe. Start prancing about outside of the lines, and it’s only a matter of time before you lose a leg (or worse).

TL;DR: Stop worrying about what other people are getting away with. Follow the rules, color inside the lines, and enjoy a long and LUCRATIVE journey in Amazon ebook sales.

I don’t even know where to begin here.. This reaches a new level of pathetic, even for this group.

First of all, it doesn’t MATTER??? SERIOUSLY??

As an author, being told you can’t write something is enough of a kick in the balls. Being told you can’t write something while OTHER people can is beyond frustrating!! If you DON’T get pissed at that, you are no longer an “author”.. You are just a fucking automaton sitting in front of a keyboard banging out whatever you’re told for profit.  Being one of these pathetic automatons is bad enough. Encouraging OTHER authors to be one also is inexcusable!

Telling erotica authors to “play it safe” is absolutely one of the most ludicrous things I’ve ever heard.

Erotica authors.

Play it SAFE!!!

SERIOUSLY???????

If we wanted to “play it safe”, we wouldn’t BE fucking erotica authors in the FIRST fucking place!! You might as well just tell us to abandon the whole notion and write fucking children’s books!

Okay.. Moving on to the next point:

Those books aren’t hurting you. Hell, they are HELPING YOU. They are drawing readers who want more naughty content, and those readers will move on to books that aren’t quite so OBVIOUSLY BANNABLE.

Okay, really?? You’re sitting there trying to tell us that a reader who has had (or came in with) a taste of what Amazon considers “taboo” is actually going to look around and settle for laying their money down on the more “run-of-the-mill” erotica??

Newsflash: If I come into Amazon, or anyplace else, wanting to read a hot story about a horny daughter wanting to fuck the shit out of her father, I am NOT going to “settle for” the latest escapade of a BBW salivating over a tryst with the neighborhood billionaire!

You are right about one thing: Those books ARE helping! They are helping to show erotica authors that THERE IS A MARKET for stories like that!! The answer, though, is NOT to tell authors that readers will simply settle for the other “Amazon-approved” drivel that’s available.. They won’t!! Instead, start telling your readers where they CAN find those kinds of stories they want!! Because right now, readers DON’T KNOW where to find them, because erotica authors REFUSE to steer their readers in ANY other direction besides AMAZON!! And AMAZON will not offer them what they want!

Do you see how your approach is hurting both authors AND readers?? Eventually neither one gets what they want, and frustration is the inevitable outcome for both groups.

But, don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. Don’t let what is PUBLISHED on Amazon justify what you WANT to publish.

On this point we can agree: DON’T publish what you want to publish on Amazon!!

Publish it somewhere else.

And then start telling your readers where it is they can find it.

DON’T tell me that it won’t work, and DON’T tell me that Amazon is too big!! Obviously there is a market out there for the kinds of erotica that Amazon refuses to provide, so DON’T tell other erotica authors not to write it!! And DON’T expect readers to settle for anything less. Because they won’t.

Telling erotica authors to “follow the rules” and “color inside the lines” is the most asinine fucking thing I’ve ever heard of. By our very NATURE , we break rules and completely obliterate the fucking lines!!!

That’s what MAKES us erotica authors!

Our readers don’t expect anything less.

Nor should they.

 

Warm, Watered Down, and All the Fizz Is Gone

still havent gotten offOkay, so you just KNEW I’d be saying something about this at some point! 🙂

Once again, author Selena Kitt presents us with an article exposing the blatant hypocrisy of Amazon. Of course, exposing Amazon’s hypocrisy is like shooting fish in a barrel these days. And she really presents no new information in this latest offering. But very few people are able to rip Amazon a new asshole with the kind of grace and style that Ms. Kitt offers, so of course I personally found this latest posting of hers uplifting most of the way through it.

You notice I said “most of the way through it”. For near the end, Ms. Kitt, like most other erotica authors, old and new, lament and lambast Amazon for the hoops that Amazon makes erotica authors jump through incessantly, yet in almost the next breath she proceeds to promote the very titles that Amazon has forced her to “water down” in order to gain the coveted acceptance onto their illustrious pages. She EVEN promotes that there is a “special” going on for them!

Yes, I understand that bills need to be paid. And yes, I understand that making money is a big part of this whole “writing erotica” deal. But once again, feeding the beast that keeps biting your ass is the very definition of counterproductive. I’ve said it a hundred times before, and I’m going to keep saying it.. Until erotica authors start promoting OTHER venues besides Amazon where their books are available, NOTHING is going to change! Stories will keep getting watered down, transcripts and covers will keep needing to be revised, titles, blurbs and descriptions will keep needing to be “guessed at” as far as what words will be able to slip through the “filters”, and erotica authors will continue to feel that tightening in their gut every time they press the “Publish” button!

Before I go any further, can I just say one thing? I absolutely can’t STAND reading “pseudo-incest” erotica!!! Trying to read pseudo-incest stories is like trying to watch Japanese porn. Sure, they show everything, but they end up pixelizing all the “naughty” parts. Or trying to watch episodes of the old TV show “Girls Next Door”, about Hugh Hefner and his three live-in girlfriends. Yes, entire breasts were shown, but the nipples were “photoshopped” out of them. I mean, what the fuck, we all KNOW the “parts” are there, what’s  the point in trying to pretend they’re not?? Going out of your way to point out that a character is just a “step” brother, or “step” mom or whatever pretty much garners the same effect.

Newsflash: Insulting my intelligence is not the way to make my dick hard.

Anyway, here’s the link to Ms. Kitt’s latest article. I’d considered posting it in its entirety once again, as I have for previous articles of hers I’d commented on, but this commentary got to be pretty long, so I’ll forgo doing that this time around. I did enjoy the article, but I did get a mild touch of mental whiplash near the end.

It seemed to be yet another typical case of erotica authors ending up feeding the hand that bites them.

Banned (Erotic) Books Week – The Latest from Selena Kitt

sexy evilI kind of wish Selena Kitt used WordPress so I could just reblog most of her posts directly. 🙂

In lieu of that, I’m just going to copy and paste her latest offering in its entirety, because it’s just that fucking good!!

But here’s the link if you want to read it directly from the source. (Which I would highly recommend!)

17352184_sIt’s “banned books week” so of course I’m going to talk about banned books. Specifically, banned erotic books, since, that genre happens to be my bread and butter. Recently, Michelle Keep wrote a scathing (and oh-so-accurate) commentary about Amazon’s hypocritical stance on erotica. They advertised “banned books” in a public email, but behind the scenes, they continue to suppress erotica to a great degree, and most customers aren’t even aware.

And for those of you who are rolling your eyes and think that the whole “erotica censorship thing” is over, I can tell you that in the past few months, I have heard from authors about:

  • Audiobooks being filtered. Not from Audible/ACX but on Amazon itself. Check salesrankexpress.com for your audio books and see if they’re filtered. I’ve also heard from authors who have received notice of “unacceptable content” from Amazon about audio books that have been filtered – which have corresponding ebook versions. The ebook versions have not been removed in these cases. The notices seem to be strangely impotent, as Amazon and Audible, while owned by the same company, seem to be operating separately under different rules (or guidelines, as it were.) But that Amazon is going through titles and sending out notices about audiobooks is disturbing.
  • Account blocks. Not BOOK blocks. ACCOUNT blocks. This happened to the aforementioned Michelle Keep, who submitted a book, after making significant changes, after it had been blocked. Amazon has taken a hard line when it comes to resubmitting blocked books. No longer will they “draft” a book and allow you to make changes and resubmit. Now, a book is blocked outright if it is in violation of “content guidelines” – and if you resubmit that book, you may actually have your whole account frozen. Amazon let the Keeps have their account back, after they promised to be good, but I’ve heard of at least one other author who had their account completely removed. Banned from Amazon KDP entirely.
  • More blocked books, specifically dark romance, dubcon and rape fantasies. These are still the focus of the latest purge. Much of what is being reported as blocked involves those topics.

Now that the Kindle Unlimited program has given short erotica new life, we’re seeing a surge of it again in the Amazon store. I imagine the Amazon cockblockers KDP reviewers are being inundated with the stuff, and much of it is being clearly either stolen or outsourced, slapped with copyright-questionable covers, and put up quickly in order to cash in on “borrows.” I’m sure some of them are gunning for those “Kindle Unlimited” bonuses, but I can assure you, no pure erotica author (who isn’t a romance crossover) will be allowed to wear the Kindle Unlimited bonus badge of honor. Amazon will make sure of that. But this is going to cause a backlash for erotica authors, I have no doubt. I predict the noose is going to get even tighter, and punishments are going to be handed out more quickly and with even more force.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much recourse anymore, and the lines of communication — informing authors whether the problem with a book was in the title, cover or blurb, for example — have been closed. Amazon has no interest in telling erotica authors what the rules are, how they may have violated them, or giving them a chance to fix any problems. If you violate the vague, inconsistent, untransparent rules, your book is out. And there’s no three strikes. Two at the most, it seems. If you’re lucky.

I’m sure this is in response to KDP users like the above, who abuse the system to such a degree that jackboot tactics are necessary. Does it annoy me that there are people peeing in the KDP pool? Yes. But Amazon annoys me more. They apply the same punishments to people like the Keeps – who write some pretty amazing erotic fiction – that they do to the blackhat internet marketers outsourcing their stuff and stealing covers for it. Amazon has plenty of money – I think it’s time they invested in more than a few (also outsourced – to places like India) KDP reviewers to handle these issues. They’re a publisher now – it’s time for them to take responsibility for that fact and stop trying to sweep it under the rug.

Instead, they continue to ignore the problem and place the responsibility (and the blame!) for what appears in the Kindle store on erotica writers. How is it our fault one of their cockblockers KDP reviewers approved something that was “in violation of content guidelines?” The fact is, it isn’t. We aren’t the ones responsible for what is or isn’t allowed to be published on Amazon.

But we are the ones who are going to pay the ultimate price.

I’ve been in this business for the past eight years, and that, I’m afraid, is just about what you’d expect from Amazon.

As always, support erotica writers by liking and following “Banned Erotic Books” on Facebook and Twitter.

And read a few banned erotica books this week. We have lots of them on Excessica Eden. Enjoy!

 

The Free Ride is Over

sexy writer 3Just wanted to pass along a post by author Sylvia Storm.

It’s nice to see that an established author is seeing a lot of the same things that I’m seeing. 🙂

To be safe, we should be preparing for the day when niche stores could become our main sales outlets. On the plus side, it would let us control the shopping experience, and still allow for content delivery along the main Amazon channels. On the bad side, discoverability and general sales become very difficult.

It’s a lot of tough news, yes, but I am still hopeful and positive. The free ride had to come to an end, but there are so many opportunities out there for new ways of shopping this feels like a rough spot in a transition. It is getting harder for everyone, but I still feel this will open up new markets and opportunities like custom storefronts or even alternatives like Smashwords. It’s not like sex is ever going to stop selling books, it’s how we are selling them that is changing.

Making the Shit List

new planThere are periods in my life when I’m surprised I have any hair left. Frustration levels reach a peak, and then surprisingly they somehow tend to reach a little higher.

Somehow my last couple of blog posts ended up on the erotica authors forum on Reddit. Someone just decided to up and post it, offering no commentary, no thoughts, no indication whether they agreed or disagreed, just decided to post it and sit back and watch everyone rip me a new one. And rip me a new one they did.

I could have decided to just sit back and let it pass, but instead I opted to chime in and say, “Okay, since the damage is done, this is what I’m trying to say…” But of course no one was willing to listen. Which didn’t surprise me. I was accused of being a dick about it, and they’re right, I was. In my current state of frustration, I wasn’t being very nice in my responses. I was in full arrogant, sarcastic, confrontational mode, and of course nothing got accomplished. I was too deeply embedded in my frustration, and everyone else was too deeply embedded in continuing the status quo.

I kept being reminded of the old saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And boy, is there a lot of fucking insanity floating around these days! On my part as well as everybody else’s.

It’s frustrating watching the directions that erotica writing is going. Amazon and the other biggies keep doing what they do, and erotica authors keep feeling helpless about it, if not downright worried and scared. They want things to change, but are not willing to take the steps to start changing them. Alternatives are offered, but then immediately rejected and dismissed.

So no, I wasn’t very nice about it. I didn’t really see any point to be. Trying to start things out with “meaningful discussion” would have ended up with the same result: “It’ll never work, and it’s all somebody else’s fault anyway!”

I’m sure someone out there was listening, and was understanding what I was trying to say… But they didn’t dare speak up. Why should they, and suffer through the same ass-reaming that I was going through?

It’s obvious that erotica authors are tired of having to rely on Amazon, and for more reasons that I can count. While they lament the ‘power’ of Amazon, they continue to promote Amazon. “The definition of insanity…”

There are people out there in place ready to lead the charge, and entities willing to take up the mantle, but no one seems to want to look their way. They continue to promote Amazon. “The definition of insanity…”

There are things that erotica authors can start doing…TODAY!…to start changing things. But the collective consciousness is absolutely convinced that nothing can go up against the beast with its finger constantly poised above the trigger that could blow up their financial security in the blink of an eye, so they continue to promote Amazon. “The definition of insanity…”

In the meantime, authors and indie publishers continue to get blocked and banned, including the ones who say, “Ohh, it’ll never happen to me! I’m too careful, I have them all figured out.” Yeah… I may be arrogant at times, but I certainly hold no monopoly on it.

I still stand by what I wrote. And I make no apologies for how I said it. In my view, erotica authors need a good swift kick in the ass. But apparently I’m not the one to do it.

So here I sit, bitching about Amazon, and the erotica authors who refuse to do anything to change it when I could be using the time to continue writing my stories.

“The definition of insanity…”

share my thoughts

The Other Side of the Coin

holy fuck - bookDisclaimer: Yes, this is another “bitch about Amazon” post.

You notice how I started out this post with that nifty little disclaimer? Wasn’t that nice of me to put that on there? Now those folks who are just out ‘n out sick to fucking death of me incessantly lambasting Amazon can just skip past this post and move onto other areas of interest, while those who feel the same and want to read more information on the topic have now given me their undivided attention.

Isn’t it neat how that works out? Everybody wins… Those who want to read it, and those who don’t.

Back when I first started seriously pursuing this “author” endeavor, I found myself a bit miffed that my publisher was “modifying” the blurbs and descriptions of most of my books before submitting them to Amazon as well as a few other outlets. It wasn’t due to “vanity” or anything of the sort, I just wanted the readers out there to be fully aware of exactly what types of stories they’re considering purchasing. While I was confident that there was a considerable number of readers out there interested in the types of stories I write, I was also keenly aware that a great majority of them would definitely want to steer clear of them completely. I was told, however, that this is the way the descriptions needed to be presented, otherwise Amazon would outright refuse to carry them. Well, okay, I relented to my publisher’s better judgement, but I still felt guilty about it.

Author Penelope Wilson has a book out titled “My Wife’s Secret Lover“. Ms. Wilson is, like me, a taboo erotica author. I haven’t read this book yet, but it certainly sounds right up my alley. However, given the description provided on Amazon, I highly doubt that I ever would have found it if I went searching for a book with this particular sort of slant to it.

The book received four reviews on its Amazon page: Two were quite  favorable, one was basically, “Eh.. Not up my alley, but some folks might like it.” The fourth one, however, basically played right up to one of the biggest fears I had when I first started putting my books out there:

I bought this knowing full well it was erotica. What it says nothing about is how it’s disgusting material. I read all of 4 or 5 pages so I really can’t speak about the whole thing, but in just that short amount it talks about a dad thinking about his daughter during sex and getting turned on by her school outfits. If that’s your thing..okay. But I am pissed that it didn’t say anywhere in here about this being an incesual book. And whether or not he has actual sex with his daughter doesn’t matter (I frankly have no idea). Just him mentioning these things is enough to put a little disclaimer in there saying “covers thoughts of incest” or something. Because I certainly would not have bought it then.
So just be warned!!
Only gave it 1 star because I had to give at least one!

I genuinely felt bad for this reader. I would have been devastated had one of my books ever gotten any reviews like this. I would have felt deceitful and shoddy. And you can be certain that this particular reviewer speaks for a multitude of other readers who probably felt the same way, but didn’t take the time to write a review expressing their disgust and anger at feeling “duped”.

This is the double-edged sword concerning the fallacy of Amazon’s policies concerning erotica books: Not only do these policies make it difficult for those wanting to find this particular genre of erotica, it also opens up the possibility of those NOT wanting this type of story to stumble across it, spending their hard-earned money on books they not only don’t want, but actually find disgusting. Yeah, three bucks probably isn’t a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but when you’re feeling duped and disgusted, the amount is probably a little irrelevant. It’s still money you could have spent on something you DID want. It’s like putting money into a pop machine and pushing the Coke button, only to have a Dr. Pepper drop through the chute.

And the even sadder thing is, authors of taboo and on-the-edge erotica ARE PERPETUATING THIS by trying to “dance around” Amazon’s hypocritical restrictions, using “code words” that readers may or may not “get”, and using terms that are juuuust short of triggering Amazon’s “banned” button. Many of them act so smug and smart, thinking that they are cleverly pulling something over Amazon’s eyes, but do any of them think about the readers that are actually spending money on their books? Is there any remorse for making some of them feel duped and angry, if not outright disgusted? Or is it okay as long as it pads your royalty statement?

This is yet another reason that erotica shouldn’t be associated with Amazon. Not only are Amazon’s policies unfair and hypocritical to erotica authors and independent publishers, it’s also unfair to readers on both sides of the aisle, those that want hard-edge types of erotica, and those who don’t. And the unfairness to readers is not all Amazon’s fault. In their relentless and unapologetic pursuit of Amazon’s vast exposure, authors of taboo and on-the-edge erotica make themselves blatantly guilty of false advertising.

Perhaps I should have amended my disclaimer just slightly: “Yes, this is another ‘bitch about Amazon’ post… AND some of the erotica authors who associate with them!”

Oh well… Guess you ended up getting something you weren’t expecting, huh?

to hear one voice clearly

The Epitome of Pathetic

carnal pleasures promo edit 1 small

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.

Another Ass Bitten, Another Wake-up Call Missed

i thought he liked thatI’ll admit I don’t know much about Ellora’s Cave (other than they more than likely would reject most of my books), but I do know that they are a somewhat major player in the area of erotic fiction.

A recent blog post I came across, Ellora’s Cave & E-book Sales: A Cautionary (First Amendment) Tale by Miss Primm, makes the announcement that Ellora’s Cave has found itself one of the latest victims of Amazon’s ever-changing and ever-elusive policies concerning the availability and accessibility of erotica within their illustrious web pages. To the tune of Ellora’s Cave losing upwards of 75 percent of their Amazon sales.

Okay, so maybe people like Ellora’s Cave and Miss Primm haven’t really missed the wake-up call, but reasons, reactions, and solutions being bantered about by most folks indicate that they are still dozing through the snooze button.

The basic premise seems to be fairly understood, according to Miss Primm’s words:

E-publishers like Ellora’a cave have a profoundly unique relationship with e-retailers like Amazon. Suckling at the teat of lower production costs and easy distribution, e-publishers have traded one evil for another. They aren’t dealing with the higher costs of print production, but they are at the mercy (of) the policies of their distributors.

So, at least people seem to be somewhat aware of the devil they’re dealing with, and the possible problems it poses. However, that seems to be where the awareness ends. Reading further, however, one comes to the realization that many are still just talking in their sleep:

Ever since Milton Friedman declared that that the only social responsibility of a business is to increase its profits, corporate types have used this argument to justify all sorts of schemes, most of which works at odds towards individual’s interests. So it is no surprise that Amazon will do whatever is in its power to maximize sales, even if it means hiding authors.

Well, in a big way, Milton is right. And most businesses are pretty much aware that the best way to increase profits is to give its customers what they want and treat people decently while doing it. However, many businesses will forgo the latter if the former can still be achieved. Solutions to this dilemma, however, continue to remain elusive to Miss Primm and the great majority of other erotica writers. In fact, the basic premise they’re working on seems to be majorly flawed:

It would seem that hiding content, and restricting cover art is censorship, something that violates our First Amendment rights to free speech. This battleground, whether a single entity can control the information flow of a publisher has been fought on other ground. The Supreme Court weighed in on whether a city or town has the right to restrict the location of news racks. Cities argued that they have the right to control “visual clutter” of the streets, while newspapers argued that such restrictions violate their First Amendment rights. The ultimate result gave neither side a clear victory. Cities can adopt a uniform code for newspaper distribution as long as it is applied to all forms of newspapers, paid daily and free shoppers alike. They can even issue permits and impose fees on newspapers for the placement of racks on city land. But they cannot pick and choose what news racks can appear on the streets.

First of all, this is NOT a “First Amendment” issue!!! Like it or not, Amazon is a private business, free to conduct its business as it sees fit. They can sell or not sell whatever books they choose, they can make available or hide whatever books they please. The example that was cited had to do with cities and towns, which are government entities, which is what the First Amendment is aimed at. The one basic factor that everyone seems to have forgotten is that the Constitution of the U.S. was basically framed to tell the government what it can and cannot do, not what the people can and cannot do. The Prohibition Amendment basically blew the shit out of that premise, and we all know (or should know) the fate of that particular clause.

Now this might seem as far away from the topic of Amazon controlling the sales of erotica as one might get. But think about how publicly traded companies like Amazon, on one hand, want the access to and the benefits of a free marketplace, and then assert their right to act as their management sees fit whether or not those goals mesh with public policy. This seems to me a bigger issue than a single publisher putting all their eggs in one basket and losing out to a corporation. And this is one fight that no one seems to want to take on. Ultimately though, someone is going to have to, otherwise, like Ellora’s Cave we will lose our rights to distribute our material to the vagaries of corporate profit strategy.

There are two reasons no one seems to want to take this fight on: First of all, it is an un-winnable fight. It has no teeth and really no basis for it to win on. Second of all, it’s the wrong “fight”. What erotica authors seem to want to be doing is to join Amazon and then “form” Amazon into what they want it to be. Sorry, people, it doesn’t work like that.

Bottom line? It IS an issue of a single publisher putting all their eggs into one basket. It really is no bigger than that. This is what most publishers, and what most independent authors do!!  The biggest mistake most indie publishers and authors keep doing is they KEEP PROMOTING AMAZON!!!!

There ARE other “baskets” out there. Carnal Pleasures and Excitica are two which come to mind immediately and there are plenty more, most of which do not have NEAR the restrictions that Amazon does. (Does anyone even remember that Barnes & Noble exists?) There is a demand for erotica. What erotica writers and publishers need to start doing is stop associating Amazon with erotica. Lead your audience somewhere else!!

Every time you keep linking your books to Amazon, you just keep feeding the beast. I’m not saying completely eliminate Amazon if they haven’t completely eliminated you yet… But start training your readers to look elsewhere. If enough erotica authors start doing this, Amazon will start to become less and less of an issue.

Perpetuating the problem

rebel all the wayI recently came across the latest blog post by erotica author Selena Kitt. Reading through it had me raising my fist in the air, shouting, “YES!!!” (Well, in my mind anyway. I don’t actually do things like that… really!) She basically wrote an EXCELLENT rebuttal to the email that Amazon recently sent out to all their KDP authors, asking them to rally behind Amazon in their dispute with the publishing company Hachette. It was, to say the least, inspirational.

Let me say, before going any further, I have great respect for Ms. Kitt. She’s been in this publishing game for years, and she has easily written at least ten times as many books as I have. But there are times when I find her just a little confusing.

I received the same email that Ms. Kitt did. Seeing it in my inbox did not fill me with the same sort of dread that she described. Of course, I only have five of my books listed with KDP. Not being enrolled in their KDP Select program, Amazon does nothing whatsoever to promote my books, and the last royalty payment I received from Amazon came to around four dollars and some-odd cents. Ms. Kitt, however, has dozens of books listed on Amazon, if not hundreds, so I can understand her trepidation in receiving the email, but I kind of had to chuckle just a bit when she claimed she has no horse in this race.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I just recently opened a Twitter account. Ms. Kitt was one of the first people that I followed. One of the first things I noticed was that Ms. Kitt tweets a lot. I mean, A LOT!!! Most of them being promotional tweets for her books. Usually her latest one. While to me, a novice, it seemed a little excessive, I figured hey, she’s the professional, it must work for her.

Her excessive tweeting was not an issue for me. Easy enough to scroll past them. What is an issue is how she links her books. Like 99 percent of all other erotica authors, she links her books to… you guessed it, their Amazon pages. And not just on Twitter, anytime I see her promoting her books on any social media outlet, the links are to Amazon!

That is the main thing that confuses me. I can understand somewhat that most erotica authors would do that, since most of them only submit to Amazon, and even if they do submit to other outlets they figure linking to Amazon will garner the most success. But Ms. Kitt’s books are available on a number of outlets, in fact she even has her own publishing company where they are obviously available. Instead of linking to her own website however, she continues to link to Amazon. While that may not make Ms. Kitt Amazon’s “bitch” (according to her own blog post), it’s certainly showing a generous amount of cleavage.

Unlike many, if not most erotica authors, especially ones just starting out, I have my own web page. (The very one you’re reading right now, thank you for visiting!)  Whenever I promote any of my books, whether through back matter or on social media, that’s where I link to. My web pages have a listing of every outlet that my books are available on, including the limited number that are available on Amazon. I never (well…almost never) link my books to their Amazon pages whenever I promote them. There are two main reasons for this: One, as mentioned previously, only five of my books are actually listed on Amazon. Amazon refuses to list my more “taboo” stories, and I refuse to water them down enough to “sneak them through”. And two, linking to Amazon only gives them more power. It only promotes them further, and in effect perpetuates the problem. Over and over again I see author after author treating Amazon like it’s the only game in town. And over and over again, I see Amazon shooting them down one by one.

I give kudos to Ms.Kitt for her excellent blog post. In a way it came just short of rallying erotica authors to join forces against Amazon. (Almost… but not quite.) At the very least, she gives whispered rumblings that the possibility for revolt is there. This was a departure from her usual posts concerning the subject of Amazon. Usually, while she offers scathing criticism of Amazon, she more often than not follows it with advise to other authors on how to “work around” Amazon’s roadblocks. Advise that she is constantly having to update. In this latest blog post, she offers no such advise.

Perhaps that signals a turning point.

Corporate Censorship: Amazon Targets Dark Erotic Romance and BDSM

4630218_m

Heads up authors: Amazon is targeting erotica again. This time, it’s “Dark Erotic Romance” (read: DubCon and NonCon) and BDSM. I hate to say I told you so – but I told you so. I said, back when Amazon caved and stopped carrying the ped0phile’s guide, that we were heading down a slippery slope. I said it again when my own work was first banned from Amazon. I’ve been saying it and saying it, and the slope just keeps getting slipperier. And not in a good way.

Now Amazon has started filtering and banning BDSM simply for being BDSM. For some books, it’s all about perception. Titles with obvious references to abduction, kidnapping and reluctance are being culled. Descriptions with those identifiers are also being removed. And of course, covers are being targeted, now including things specific to domination and submission–chains, ropes, handcuffs, all the markers of the genre, may get a book banned.

When my original incest books were banned and many romance writers said, “Oh it’s just taboo stuff? Well that’s okay, then, I don’t write that…” I warned the erotic romance community that it could be their niche next. Dark Romance as a genre has started to heat up Amazon’s bestselling charts from Deviant to Tears of Tess, featuring heroes who have a dark edge, but some books have apparently gone too far, according to Amazon’s ever-changing guidelines. Lily White’s Her Master’s Courtesan was outright banned on Amazon. Recently, the dark romance boxed set, Bend, was banned as well. Why? In these cases, it was likely enough customer complaint to warrant Amazon checking out the book and deciding that the line between consent and “dubious consent” was just too close for their comfort. Of course, this is conjecture, because Amazon won’t ever tell us what is and isn’t acceptable.

But this isn’t good news for erotica or erotic romance writers, that’s for sure. We’re all standing on very shaky ground with Amazon and the line just keeps moving. It isn’t easy to negotiate or find your way through the morass that has become self-publishing erotica on Amazon. Unfortunately, they still have the largest market share, so it makes the most financial sense to figure out a way to keep your books visible. To do this, you have to keep your fingers on the pulse of Amazon’s ever-changing, unwritten “policy” and respond accordingly.

This will, of course, lead to a lot of self-censorship over time, which I’m sure is the point on Amazon’s part, because erotica writers won’t want to pay cover artists to re-do “inappropriate” covers and they won’t want to write books that readers just can’t find on the behemoth retailer. And dark erotica and dark erotic romance just seems to be upping the ante with every book, with heroes who are complete mysogynists, from drug dealers to human traffickers to violent criminals. Granted, the hero (usually) turns things around, driven by his love for the heroine, but the stakes are getting higher, the drama is getting stickier, and the darkness in these books is getting, well, darker. In the end, dark erotica/romance may have to go back underground, or at least be a little more careful in its presentation, if Amazon has anything to say about it. And, as usual, if a customer complains, Amazon will likely shoot first (by banning a book) and ask questions later (or not at all).

So what is a BDSM/dark erotica/erotic romance author to do?

What May Now Get Your Book Adult Filtered

Besides the list I updated recently, we can now add:

  • Words like reluctance, kidnapping, abducted, captured, master, slave and any other variation in the title or description MAY subject you to the ADULT filter. This is, of course, subject to Amazon’s arbitrary enforcement.
  • Covers that contain elements of bondage, including whips, crops, handcuffs, chains etc., as well as heroines who look as if they are scared or in pain, may kick on the ADULT filter.

What May Now Get Your Book Blocked/Banned

In addition to the original list:

  • Content that involves rape for titillation, as well as nonconsent (even if the heroine ends up in love with the rapist at the end), dubious consent (where the heroine is being forced but clearly is physically enjoying it) MAY be subject to banning/blocking. Content that involves snuff (a character being killed during/after sex) will almost surely elicit a ban. (The bad news about this is that Amazon no longer will put a book back to “draft” status and allow you to change it. If a book is blocked, and you want to change it, you have to resubmit as a new book with a new ASIN. Unfortunately, this is disastrous for books that are doing very well in rankings.)
  • Covers that contain elements of bondage, including whips, crops, handcuffs, chains etc., as well as heroines who look as if they are scared or in pain, may ALSO get your book blocked or banned, depending on the Amazon reviewers’ mood.

Enhanced Adult Filter

Authors have noticed a new feature on the KDP dashboard asking for appropriate reading ages for your book. Great news for authors of kids and YA books. The hope, of course, is that Amazon is creating a “safe zone” for kids, right? But there’s another feature that’s popped up in the past few weeks that is a little alarming for erotica authors under the ADULT filter. Now, when your book is filtered, not only does it not appear under an “All Department Search,” as well as showing up very last in any search results in the Kindle store, regardless of title or keywords – it now doesn’t even show up in the Kindle Store initial search results. Now a reader has to click the “excluding adult items” linkin order to see an ADULT filtered book. (see screenshot below)

excluding adult items

In lieu of this new development, it’s becoming more and more important to keep your erotica and erotic romance books “clean” on the outside, even if they’re dirty as can be on the inside, in order to avoid the ADULT filter. Hopefully (I’m crossing my fingers) this new age requirement will be a boon for erotica writers, creating a “safe zone” for the kiddies, while allowing adult readers to still find what they want. Your book(s) should be fine as long as you can keep them out of the erotica Red Light District!

And if you’re a BDSM or dark romance author afraid your book(s) will be filtered, blocked or banned, all is not lost. You can navigate the choppy Amazon waters and hopefully allow readers to find your book. Unfortunately, I still predict storms ahead on the horizon, but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for all of us. I know we can ride them out together!

 

Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
www.selenakitt.com
LATEST RELEASE: Girls Only – First Time

Corporate Censorship: Keeping Your Erotic Books Off Retailer Hit Lists

Erotica author Selena Kitt has a new article posted on One Handed Writers concerning erotica book limitations and censorship on various big-name ebook retailers, most especially Amazon.

You can also read the article directly on her blog.

It’s no secret how I feel about Amazon’s practices, as well as those of the other big-name distributors. The very fact that a well-known erotica author would have to write such an article about how to “get around” these book retailers’ restrictions is not only absolutely absurd, but sad beyond belief.

It seems the only choices are either to play the game or take a stand. The fact that more and more erotica authors, including the heavy hitters and the most experienced ones, are opting to choose the former almost makes me want to cry.

Turning lemons into lemonade

BOA reddit promoOkay, maybe I’ve just gotten a little “subreddit crazy” lately… LOL…but I’m going to push this thing out of the nest and see if it flies:

My recent encounter with Amazon hypocrisy has sparked a notion in my head… I’m certainly not the first nor the only erotica author who has gotten a book rejected by the almighty Amazon. Not by a longshot!! So in that vein, I’ve created a little subreddit called  “Banned On Amazon“. (Damn, I still like the sound of that. LOL) This will be a place where authors of any books rejected or removed from Amazon’s pages can come and list their books that have been banned, as well as where they ARE available, and where readers looking for titles too hot for Amazon can come and see if there’s anything among the list that might strike their fancy.

On a recent post on this subject that I placed on one of the subreddits, it was asked if there were any other self-publishing options available besides Amazon for material they deem too immoral or distasteful. I was actually a little shocked and saddened that someone would even have to ask that sort of question. So hopefully this will help get the word out that Amazon is most definitely not the only game in town for those who wish to self-publish.

So, if you are an erotica author (or an author of any other genre as far as that goes) who has been shut out by Amazon due to content or whatever reason, feel free to come in and list your book, place a link to your book and/or webpage or blog, where your titles ARE available, or to get an idea of where to submit them. If you’re a reader who’s on the lookout for over-the-edge erotica that is hard to find due to the various constraints of the big publishers, come in and see what’s available and where.

While sharing your own personal experiences and horror stories is certainly permissible, the main purpose of this subreddit is NOT meant to be a constant barrage of complaints about Amazon!! Rather, this is more about turning a negative into a positive, getting information out to people, and providing another way for authors to promote themselves and their works.

May the wind be at our backs….

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