Publishers Weekly: Indie Authors Deliver Erotica

Great article from Publisher’s Weekly, quoting yours truly, about Indie writers rocking the erotica world! Thank you, Allison Schiff, for writing such a sex-positive and erotica-positive article!

And go go erotica authors! :D

Some highlights:

“Basically, they’re hiding our books on their site and it’s becoming harder and harder to find our audience,” says Kitt, whose incest-themed books were banned from Amazon. She has since released revised Amazon-only versions to avoid the filter, including Back to the Garden, a collection of four short stories centered on incestuous encounters. The original uncut book is available for sale on other sites, including Barnes & Noble and IndieBound.

“The problem is that Amazon isn’t listening to the throng of readers who want this material,” says Kitt, who also laments Amazon’s notoriously vague content guidelines. “They’re not the vocal ones, but they vote with their dollars.”

AND

While it can’t be denied that the wild success of Fifty Shades of Grey put erotica as a genre firmly into the mainstream, it’s the self-publishing realm that keeps it thriving. “There’s no more brown paper bag; the shame of that is gone,” Coker says. “You don’t have to look across the cash register at a snotty bookseller who’s judging you, real or imagined, for whatever you’re buying—you can browse, download, and read with total freedom and anonymity.”

AND

“I write erotica for a living,” says Kitt unapologetically. “It’s a genre with a huge audience, and I’m not ashamed of what I write—and I don’t think readers should be made to feel ashamed of what they’re reading, either.”

What do you think, erotica readers? Are you tired of being sent the message by retailers that what you read is “bad” or “dirty” or “wrong?” Go leave a comment on PW!

Email retailers and TELL THEM how you feel – stand proud and get loud!

EMAIL AMAZON - that’s Amazon’s executive customer service!

EMAIL KOBO - that’s the head of the company himself! Tell him how you feel about his ban on “certain” erotica content!

EMAIL iTUNES

EMAIL GOOGLE

You can also support authors and find out details about banned books at BANNED EROTIC BOOKS.

And if you’re an erotica author, join THE EROTIC AUTHORS GUILD!

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Corporate Censorship: Keeping Your Erotic Books Off Retailer Hit Lists

Not surprisingly, this is a topic I’ve talked about before, but I just wrote up a new guideline for my Excessica authors (now that we’re taking new submissions and starting to distribute boxed sets) and realized–the rules have changed again.

So I thought I would create another post letting you all know what (unofficial) rules still seem in place and others that have been added, so you can keep your erotic book off retailer hit lists! You may have heard some of this before but it bears repeating–and some of it (everything in PURPLE below) has changed.

Erotica has been under attack and subject to corporate censorship since I started in this business and it will likely continue—and the rules will continue to change. Without warning. And without any advanced notice (or really any notice at all!) So what follows is what currently applies as of this writing. If your goal is to get your book in front of the largest number of readers, then in order to do that, it’s best to play the game, within the (arbitrary, nontransparent and constantly changing) rules.

If it sounds maddening–it is. And while I’m working on an alternative solution, I’ve had some setbacks (that’s a whole other post–suffice to say I’m as anxious as you all are to get it back up and running and I’ll shout it from the rooftops when its ready to go!) so for the moment, our best offense is a good defense.

If you want the rules in a nutshell:  If you dress up pretty on the outside, you can be as much of a whore on the inside as you like.*

(*with a few exceptions…)

AMAZON “RULES”

Amazon has an 80% market share on ebooks and is (and will likely remain) the biggest distributor and biggest money maker for most erotica authors. That means we have to pay close attention to their “policy changes” and adjust accordingly. Unfortunately, Amazon is completely nontransparent about their “rules” so we have to kind of figure things out as we go. This is what we’ve figure out so far:

  • CATEGORIES: When selecting categories—if your book has two characters who fall in love and have a happy ever after, put it in romance. I don’t care if they’re men, women, or giant mutant chipmunks. Put that book in romance. The reason is, once you choose “erotica,” you have essentially chosen to ostracize yourself from all the other categories. Amazon won’t let you choose anything outside of the erotica category—you can’t be in erotica and horror at the same time. Or erotica and sci-fi. If you categorize your book as erotica, you are stuck in the erotica red-light district. In some cases (if your book is really NOT a romance) this is fine. But if your book/story has a romance theme and would benefit from being in other categories, pick romance.
  • AMAZON’S ADULT FILTER: You do NOT want your book/story on Amazon to get ADULT filtered. They do this without warning or notice, but once your book has been filtered, recovering can be very difficult. I have some advice down below about how to avoid the ADULT filter. But sometimes you can do everything right and still get the filter slapped on your title. What do you do then? Check OFTEN to see if your book has been ADULT filtered! Go to Amazon, make sure you are in the “ALL DEPARTMENT” search, and type in the title. If you can’t find your book, you have been ADULT filtered. Another way to check (especially if you are checking a great many titles) is to go to Sales Rank Express. Type in your titles there. If you are filtered, a large red ADULT will show next to your book. Remember – you can’t fight an enemy you can’t see, so you need to know how to avoid the ADULT filter. If Amazon isn’t going to be fair about applying it to ALL books (including Fifty Shades of Grey) that contain erotic content, then we don’t have to be fair about playing by their inconsistent and non-transparent “rules” and “guidelines.”

How do you avoid being ADULT filtered?

  • Keep nudity off your cover. Also keep it out of the inside of your book. You can push the boundaries here, but you risk getting ADULT filtered, so be careful. You don’t want to have to change your cover—that gets expensive. For example, thongs and “hand bras” (i.e. a nude woman with her or someone else’s hands covering her breasts) used to be okay but now they’re not. I can’t count how many covers I had to get changed due to this new “policy.” Tasteful nudity that doesn’t show any “bits” and doesn’t imply sexual action usually doesn’t get filtered. See my A Twisted Bard’s Tale for an example of a title that has nudity but doesn’t imply sexual action. But that rule could change at any moment.
  • Keep your titles and descriptions free of the “Amazon Bad Words List” below.
  • Do not add explicit excerpts in your description or you risk being filtered.

The “Amazon Bad Word List”

  • Nudity on covers (this rule changes a lot – it’s better to be safe than sorry in this instance–changing covers can get expensive).
  • Incest is banned altogether. But pseudoincest (sex between non-biological relations, like stepfather and stepdaughter) may get you filtered. Anything with obvious titles, especially “Daddy” and “Mommy,” but also sister, brother, siblings, uncle, family, etc. are no longer allowed in title OR description. Taboo, forbidden, kin, those words are still allowed as of this writing.
  • These words may get you filtered or blocked: gangbang, rape, reluctant, reluctance, nonconsent, dubious consent (dubcon), forced, or “rough” sex, strap-on.
  • Breeding, bred or impregnation stories may get you filtered or blocked.
  • Any profanity or obscene language: pussy, cock, cum, tits, fuck, sex, clit, etc. are not allowed in either title or description.
  • Lactation, breastfeeding, lactating, milky are all topics and words that may get you filtered.
  • Tentacles and other mythological creatures (minotaurs, centaurs, bigfoot, dinosaurs etc.) may be filtered or even blocked.
  • Excerpts are no longer allowed in descriptions if they are explicit.

How do you get UNFILTERED on Amazon?

Make the above changes as they apply to your book. Then email Amazon at this email:

title-submission@amazon.com

This is the letter I send. Feel free to cut and paste!

Please reevaluate the title ___________ by _____________. The title has been changed and resubmitted to comply with your current terms of service and should no longer have an adult filter placed upon it or be excluded from the all-department search.

Please mark this title NOT ADULT.

ASIN: __________

Thank you.

But my book has a taboo subject matter—now what?

There are different rules for different vendors. Currently—

  • Amazon bans incest, bestiality and rape for titillation. They allow pseudoincest (but without any reference to family relations on the cover or in the description). Rape for titillation they seem to allow—unless a customer complains. Then they are likely to block the book rather than ADULT filter it. (This has happened several times, for example, to Her Master’s Courtesan, which currently is still banned at Amazon, in spite of the book’s incredible popularity!)
  • Kobo doesn’t allow bestiality, rape for titillation, incest OR pseudoincest. Everyone remembers why, right?
  • Apple/iTunes/iBooks doesn’t allow bestiality, rape for titillation, incest OR pseudoincest. They also don’t allow any nudity on covers or explicit descriptions/excerpts.
  • Google is late to the party and have just started banning bestiality, rape for titillation, incest OR pseudoincest. All erotica books must be in the erotica category and should be at least $1.00.
  • Bookstrand and All Romance Ebooks don’t allow bestiality, rape for titillation, incest OR pseudoincest. They also don’t allow “barely legal” or any risqué titles (i.e. “The Cum Slut Gangbang.”)
  • Barnes and Noble puts no restraints on their erotica. Although they have been known, on occasion, to “anchor” a book to keep it out of their Top 100 if they deem it too risqué.
  • Smashwords and Draft 2 Digital follow the same guidelines as their strictest distributor (currently – iTunes/Apple).
  • A1 Adult Ebooks/Fiction 4 All – They allow most anything, however, anything extreme (incest, pseudoincest, rape) must not be obvious due to merchant account issues. (Mastercard)
  • Lot’s Cave – They allow incest, if you write taboo topics. They are currently a publisher but are planning soon to become a distributor.
  • Excessica – We publish everything except bestiality (actual animals, creatures are fine), underage sex (18+ only) and necrophilia (vampires and the undead are fine!)
  • Excitica – We will distribute everything except bestiality, underage sex and necrophilia. Bookmark it and stay tuned!

If you write taboo subjects, you have to be more careful than most. Use innuendo and insinuation. The thesaurus is your friend. Find alternative words and phrases. Taboo, forbidden, illicit. Many authors have started saying, “So hot Amazon won’t let me put an excerpt, use the ‘LOOK INSIDE’ feature to see just how dirty it is.” I’ve put a notice in the “review” section on all my taboo books letting readers know that Amazon won’t let me describe the content, hinting that it’s too taboo for them. Get creative. You’re a writer, right? You can let the reader know what’s inside the book without making it obvious–and if you want to publish on the big retailers, I’m afraid that’s what you’re going to have to do.

I know many authors who have self-censored because of Amazon’s ever-changing policies and that’s unfortunate. There’s a big market for taboo topics and it hasn’t disappeared–Amazon has just made it harder for you to find them. But not impossible. Readers will still find you. And there are still alternative outlets provided to you by stalwarts like Stuart at A1 Ebooks, Phaedrus at Lot’s Cave and me at Excessica–and Excitica too, as soon as I can get someone to shut up and take my money and make it like I want! :P (If you know anyone, contact me!)

Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
www.selenakitt.com
LATEST RELEASE: Power Play: Bailey and the Professor

JUST $0.99 ON AMAZON

 

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Excitica – New Erotica and Erotic Romance Distributor!

Erikas New Avatar

2013 was a hella year for erotica. And not always in such a good way. While it gave us some amazing new authors contributing to the genre, it brought a storm of corporate censorship along with it.

The floodgates to erotica and erotic romance really opened in 2011 with the publication of the previously-published-as Twilight fanfiction instant phenom Fifty Shades of Grey. Suddenly the whole world was reading erotica – and every author was clamoring to write it. The market, already bursting with writers who heard they could make more money writing erotica than any other genre, was quickly flooded.

And the race to the bottom (or the top?) continued through last year. While many of us had learned the lessons distributors were teaching – tamer covers, less obvious titles, descriptions that left more to the imagination – there were far too many new authors who didn’t know the unwritten new rules who were vying for visibility in a morass of new work.

And so the perfect storm developed. The Kernel posted their click-bait, Kobo capitulated, and distributors everywhere started to ban erotica. Again. Still. More. *sigh*

As a business owner, I understood their quandry – there was suddenly a great deal of erotica that readers clearly wanted to read on one hand, but on the other, there were other people perusing their site who didn’t want to read it or see it or even know it existed.

What to do?

Each distributor made a decision. None of them had ever allowed underage sex of course, but there were other niches they had to make a call about, like incest, pseudo incest, bestiality and nonconsent.

THE BIG BOYS

Amazon: Most authors’ largest source of income. They decided they’d already drawn their line in the sand. Incest, bestiality and nonconsent was still banned. Pseudo incest was still allowed, but no reference to family relations could be mentioned in the description. And erotica could no longer include explicit excerpts in the description field. Cover restrictions also tightened – no more nudity or even non-nude implied sexual acts or touching was allowed on erotica covers.

Kobo: They banned incest, pseudo incest, bestiality and nonconsent and yet they are the only large distributor who still has a “taboo” category – which is now like a ghost town and the moment an author puts their work there, it’s usually removed.

Apple: They banned incest, pseudo incest, bestiality and nonconsent. Covers with nudity had always been a no-no.

Barnes and Noble: No corporate censorship. Everything is allowed. Although rumors still run rampant that they “anchor” certain books if they break the top 100, to keep them from the bestseller lists.

Google Play: A little late to the party, they’ve just begun banning incest, pseudo incest, bestiality and nonconsent.

SMALLER DISTRIBUTORS & AGGREGATORS

Smashwords: They have to follow the rules for all of their distributors, so they take the lowest common denominator and apply that across the board. No incest, pseudo incest, bestiality, nonconsent or covers with nudity.

Digital 2 Draft: Like Smashwords, they have disallowed those things that displease most of the distributors.

All Romance Ebooks: Since the Paypal fiasco, they have disallowed not only incest, pseudo incest, bestiality and nonconsent, but anything that is “barely legal” (whatever that means?)

Bookstrand: The same as All Romance EBooks - no incest, pseudoincest, bestiality, nonconsent or anything “barely legal.”

So you can see, if you write anything that leans toward the more “taboo” it’s hard to find an audience for it anymore. And before you start in about how “sick” or “twisted” or “crazy” such fiction and people who read such fiction must be, I’d like to remind you that we are talking about FICTION here. It’s fantasy. There are people out there who like to write it and people who out there who like to read it – it’s common and, on a psychological level, doesn’t border on “crazy” any more than fantasies about threesomes or BDSM.

So what is a writer – or a reader – to do?

EXCITICA

exciticalogo

Oops, I forgot one distributor. EXCITICA.

EXCITICA is run by Selena Kitt (that’s me!) New York Times and USA Bestselling author of erotica and erotic romance fiction with over one million authored books sold. She has run her own publishing company at eXcessica for five years and has been one of the most vocal authors against the corporate censorship of erotica. She has developed eXcitica as a subsidiary of eXcessica to create a home for erotic works of all flavors.

EXCITICA like the rest of the distributors, still doesn’t allow underage sex, bestiality (although shifters are fine, even sex in shifter form!) or necrophilia (vampires excepted!) but we do allow many of the things the other distributors don’t, like incest, pseudoincest and nonconsent.

What does EXCITICA do for erotica and erotic romance authors?

First and foremost, we give you 60% of your profits! W00T! Cha-Ching! Secondly, with Selena Kitt’s brand and name behind it, EXCITICA will soon be known far and wide as the place to go for HOT reading!

Small Publishers: You are welcome! We have room for your entire catalog and the uploading interface is simple!

Taboo writers: EXCITICA is home for you! EXCITICA will be known among readers as the place to go for the books they can’t find anywhere else. Like yours!

Erotica writers: Even if you publish “just vanilla” erotica (and we all know that’s still HOT!) EXCITICA will be your home too! Readers who read taboo don’t JUST read taboo erotica and your books will be there to discover when they want something a little bit different!

Erotic romance writers: No one can live on taboo alone – and if you are an author paying attention to the market, you know that dark erotica readers don’t just read taboo and dark erotica – they read romance too. A lot of it! And they’re going to like yours! And if you write dark erotic romance? (And we all know how hot that genre is right now!) You’ve found your real home with EXCITICA!

What does EXCITICA do for readers?

One of the biggest problems with erotica at the big distributors is categorization. Some have none at all. Amazon, the largest distributor of ebooks, has just added a few token categories to erotica – two years after Fifty Shades of Grey was first published! It’s hard to find the erotica you want on the big distributors (especially since places like Amazon often go out of their way to actually hide it from you, using the ADULT filter on certain titles!) and it’s even harder if you’re looking for anything out of the ordinary or taboo.

That’s one of the things EXCITICA has strived to do – categorize things for readers (and writers) so that every fetish, every niche, has a place and can be found. The better a writer categorizes their work, the easier time a reader will have of finding it. From incest to pseudo incest, to cuckold to dubcon, to gangbang, pregnant, or creatures, EXCITICA has categorized it ALL! And if you write it or read it and you don’t see it? Contact us, we’ll add it!

Am I worried about EXCITICA being censored or shut down?

Only mildly. Of course, writing in the genre has its risks. I think we all know that, and it’s been proven over and over as the corporate jackboot of censorship has come down harder and harder on our necks.

But my goal in creating EXCITICA was to give all erotica, in all its different flavors, a real home. A SAFE home. A place where almost everything was welcome, and readers nor writers would feel ashamed about it. To do that, I had to be sure that we wouldn’t go through any more drama like we did during the Paypal fiasco.

But the good news is that, since Visa clarified its position about paying for the WRITTEN WORD when it comes to erotica (and Paypal reversed its decision not to pay for “certain” type of fiction) Paypal has nothing to fear, and neither do we. EXCITICA will accept Paypal – and Paypal has publicly stated they are fine paying for any and all erotica that doesn’t have nudity inside the ebook.

That means EXCITICA does have a few tiny rules:

  • We do not publish picture books of erotica. Graphic novels and comics are welcome, but photographic stories inside ebooks are not.
  • We do not publish bestiality (shapeshifters are fine) necrophilia (unless you count vampires) or underage sex.
  • No sexually active characters under the age of 18. References to past relationships and sex before the age of 18 is fine, but no detailed sexual content with characters under the age of consent in the U.S, is allowed. We require that your work have an legal age disclaimer stating that all characters are above the age of 18.

What do I need to do to get my book on EXCITICA?

Sign up HERE for a SELLER ACCOUNT!

You should be approved right away and you can start uploading your books!

If you have any questions, check out our FAQ.

NOTE: We are in “beta” mode right now – we’re still working out a few bugs here and there, taking feedback from authors and readers alike. We won’t fully launch (with big time advertising, contests and all that exciting stuff!) until later this year. But we DO want to hear from you, so please contact us if you have any feedback for us!

And we would LOVE it if you’d check out all our social media profiles, “like” us and spread the word! And if you want to keep up with what we’re doing?

JOIN OUR MAILING LIST!

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

GOOGLE PLUS

PINTEREST

Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
www.selenakitt.com

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New $0.99 Boxed Sets + a HUGE Giveaway – Win Amazon Prime Memberships, HULU + Gift Cards!

Happy March!  

Is it spring yet??

It’s still cold here in this arctic land, but I have teamed up with a few friends and put together an awesome and steamy paranormal romance box set for you!

FIRST: enter the GIVEAWAY – win an Amazon Prime Membership, a year of HULU for FREE or TONS of Amazon gift cards!

Now – only $0.99 for a very limited time!

LOVE CHARMS: A Paranormal Romance Boxed Set

On Amazon Kindle

on Barnes and Noble Nook

on Kobo

on iTunes 

 

Love is in the air.

Whether you like your romance fun or flaming hot, the “Love Charms: A Paranormal Romance Boxed Set” is the perfect way to sample a cross selection of today’s popular authors. We had fun putting this together and added a nice mix of stories including witches, demons, vampires and more. Mystical magic, mayhem and fun combine to make a bundle of stories you won’t want to put down. Better yet, we’re offering it at a low introductory price. “Insatiable Reads” is a name you can trust to offer you boxed sets of sexy goodness from the authors you’ve come to love.

10 scorching paranormal romances for ONLY 99 cents!

LIMITED TIME ONLY!

(REGULAR PRICE: $9.99)

Blinded by Magic: A Witch Romance by Ava Catori: Raven’s weakness is mortal men. She’s fallen hard for Derek. There’s just one problem, he doesn’t know she’s a witch. Can he accept her truth or will their relationship crumble?

Blind Date by Selena Kitt: Selena Kitt’s Blind Date ventures into the strange and surreal realm of magical realism in a hot Valentine’s Day romance that takes on the classic Greek myth of Eros and Psyche.

Breathless by Cerys du Lys: Sadie and Evan live in different worlds. Brought together by fate, and held there by hope, can they bridge the gap dividing humanity, or will long held fears and prejudice force them apart forever?

The Passion Cure by Deanna Roy: Jet is a Nix, an outcast enchantress with zero power. To conjure a love spell to save her family, she seduces a handsome enchanter who is willing to break the rules, and possibly, her heart.

Marked by Charisma M. Cole: Jade Murray is a witch that can communicate with the dead. After a summoning goes awry, two murders rock the human and supernatural world. One thing connects the gruesome acts: Jade.

The Warlord’s Concubine by J.E. & M. Keep: As a servant to the princess for much of her life, Mirella sees the conquest of the land as an opportunity to elevate herself.

A Demon and His Witch by Eve Langlais: Remy’s seen a lot during his tenure in Lucifer’s guard, but nothing can prepare him for the witch with the acerbic tongue–and voluptuous figure. Can he convince her to love him and not kill him?

Psychic Appeal by Michelle McCleod: Psychic Sofia Parker has fallen in love, a problem because her new relationship drives the lovesick ghost of her ex-boyfriend to come back from the dead…anyway he can.

Memoir of a Reluctant Shaman by Ty Nolan: When his love spell goes wrong, our hero is exiled to be fully initiated as a Shaman in this spicy tale of New Orleans Voodoo and Native American magic.

Vampire Lords of Blacknall: Trinity by Shirl Anders: Only a creature of the night can save her. Lady Beth Winslow never stays home at night. She fears her stepbrother. Then a monster stalks her in the dark woods and she cannot tell beast from savior.

***************************************************************************************

Here is another New Box Set from some of Selena’s friends…

FATED MATES:  The Alpha Shifter Boxed Set

Some Mates Are Meant To Be…

12 scorching shifter romances for ONLY 99 cents!

LIMITED TIME ONLY!

(REGULAR PRICE: $9.99)

If you like your men dark, dangerous and alpha, this exclusive shifter romance boxed set is for you. Featuring hot stories from popular New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble bestselling authors, including Adriana Hunter, Liliana Rhodes, Lynn Red, A.T Mitchell and more, these steamy books and alpha shifters will be sure to whet your appetite and leave you longing for more.

On Amazon Kindle

on Barnes and Noble Nook

on Kobo

on iTunes

***************************************************************************************

Some More Deals from Friends

Riding Desire: Alpha Bad Boy Biker Boxed Set (14 BRAND NEW limited edition contemporary romance books)

JUST $0.99!

On Amazon Kindle

on Barnes and Noble Nook

 

***************************************************************************************

 

First Moon (New Moon Wolves) BBW Werewolf Romance by Michelle Fox

JUST $0.99!

On Amazon Kindle

on Barnes and Noble Nook

***************************************************************************************

 

Spring Fling (A New Adult Anthology) by Julia Kent, Sara Fawkes, Cathryn Fox, Lauren Hawkeye

JUST $1.99!

On Amazon Kindle

on Barnes and Noble Nook

 

 

***************************************************************************************

Make Me: Twelve Tales of Dark Desire

This is dark erotic romance – and I mean DARK!

I’ve read some of these and they are intense.

If you like your romance with an edge, this collection is for YOU!

JUST $2.99!

On Amazon Kindle

on Barnes and Noble Nook

 

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Calling All Selena Kitt Fans! Join Her Street Team!

Calling all Selena Kitt Fans!

Do you want to tell the WHOLE WORLD about Selena Kitt’s books?

Then this is the place for you!

APPLY TO JOIN SELENA KITT’S STREET TEAM

If I had you at hello, click the link above to join! If you want a little more info, read on…

What is a street team and what do they do?
A street team is a group of fans that band together to support an author. Some of the the things you might be asked to do on a street team, for example, are read an ARC (advanced review copy) and leave a review when a book releases, buy a book when it first comes out, put Selena’s books on your Goodreads “To Be Read” shelf and generally spread the word about a new release by doing things like posting on Facebook and Twitter.

What will you NOT be asked to do as part of the street team?
You won’t be asked to up or downvote any of the reviews on Selena’s books anywhere on the internet, nor will you be asked to vote against another author who might be seen as “competition.” In fact, this type of behavior isn’t just discouraged – it could get you removed from the street team. We want to give Selena and her books LOTS of love but there’s a lot of room in the world for other authors and their books – it’s not a competition!

Who should join Selena’s street team?

  • Fans who are 18+ (for obvious reasons!)
  • Fans who have a FACEBOOK. If accepted to the street team, you will be asked to join a private Facebook group so you can connect with other street team members.
  • Fans who really LOVE Selena’s books! She should be one of your top ten go-to authors, an automatic buy every time you see her name!
  • Fans who have 200+ Twitter followers and 100+ friends on Facebook (this isn’t mandatory though!)
  • Fans write a blog (preferably book/reader/review oriented) (also not mandatory!)
  • Fans who review books on Goodreads and Amazon (also not mandatory!)

Why should you join Selena’s Street Team? (What’s in it for ME?)

All sorts of things are in it for you, reader! Here is a sample of off the oodles of extras street team members get:

  • Exclusive info – story excerpts, deleted scenes, chapter previews, covers etc.
  • ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) That’s right – you get to read the book before anyone else!
  • Special prizes and giveaways available ONLY to street team members
  • Exclusive contests for street team members with chances to win autographed books, gift cards, etc
  • SWAG!

How much time am I expected to spend?

We want it to be more FUN than work – so the time requirement is really only about 1-2 hours per new release.

Required upon acceptance (if you haven’t already):

Things that are optional but would be great:

  • Tell family and friends about Selena’s books
  • Recruit subscribers to Selena’s newsletter and followers to her blog
  • Request Selena’s book(s) at the local book store and/or library

Each time Selena releases a new book, you’ll be expected to at least:

  • Buy the book
  • Write a blog post (if you have one)
  • Talk about it on Facebook
  • Tweet about it on Twitter
  • Review it (honestly!) on Amazon/Facebook/Goodreads

Interested?

APPLY TO JOIN SELENA KITT’S STREET TEAM

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Black Friday – Cyber Monday Giveaway!

Cyber Monday Banner

I have to confess – the thought of going out on Black Friday makes my eyes roll back in my head and my ears bleed. I.HATE.BLACK.FRIDAY. There, I said it. A girl who doesn’t like shopping — as elusive as that infamous unicorn! So I won’t be heading out at two in the morning to hit the stores, that’s for sure. I’ll be chillaxin’ with a turkey sandwich in my jammies all day, watching my husband carry in all the Christmas decorations. I’m the one who has to put them up – he’s the one in charge of all the heavy lifting!

But as much as I hate Black Friday, I love my readers, and I’d hate for you to have to go anywhere on Black Friday to get the good stuff. So I’ve joined together with a whole bunch of amazing authors and we’ve each lowered the price on one of our books to just $0.99 so you can stay home and curl up with a great read! (If you haven’t gotten your hands on MODERN WICKED FAIRY TALES, the COMPLETE Collection, now is your chance!)

Not only that, but since we all adore Cyber Monday (oh the bliss of shopping online!) we thought we’d have a Facebook party too! And YOU, reader, are invited!

So, get a $0.99 book from one of these talented authors on Black Friday!

Michelle Fox ~ Tawny Taylor ~ Kami Kayne ~ Tamryn Ward ~ Tabitha Conall ~ Danielle Duncan ~ Adriana Hunter ~ Aspen Hayes ~ Charlotte DeCorte ~ Amy Valenti ~ J.E. and M. Keep ~ Dez Burke ~ Marina Maddix ~ Starla Cole ~ D. H. Cameron ~ Karolyn James ~ London Casey ~ Claire Charlins ~ Julianne Reyer ~ Malia Mallory ~ Ava Lore ~ Clara Bayard ~ Julia Kent ~ Michelle McCleod ~ Molly Prince ~ Selena Kitt ~ Emme Rollins

And THEN,  join our CYBER MONDAY FACEBOOK PARTY!

I know what you’re thinking – ohhhh no, I have to “like” more Facebook pages and join mailing lists, uggghhhh!

NOPE!

We’re going to have FUN! We’ve got trivia, games, contests, you name it. You can wish cash, prizes and there will be FREEBIES too!

So remember, just two things:

JOIN the Cyber Monday Facebook Par-tay!

and ONE-CLICK to load up your ereader with the the $0.99 titles below on BLACK FRIDAY!

Modern Wicked Fairy Tales (COMPLETE COLLECTION) by Selena Kitt
Rock Star Romance Boxed Set
New Adult Boxed Set
Shifter Romance Boxed Set
Lucky Girl by Emme Rollins
Heartstrings by Adriana Hunter
Burning For Him by Michelle Fox
My Alpha Billionaire by Tawny Taylor
Naughty (Box Set) by Kami Kayne
Hopelessly Broken by Tamryn Ward
Protecting The Pack by Tabitha Conall
Evading Nevah by Danielle Duncan
Wild Impulse by Lexi Lane
Need Me – Being Trevor’s Toy by Charlotte DeCorte
Little Tease by Amy Valenti
The Warlord’s Concubine by J.E. & M. Keep
Skin Deep by Dez Burke
Vegas Knights by Marina Maddix
Syria’s Seduction by Starla Cole
Havana Curves by D.H. Cameron
All Access by Karolyn James
The Stronger, Safe Kind by London Casey
West For Love by Clarie Charlins
Alice’s Steamy Wonderland by Julianne Reyer
Dominating by Malia Mallory
The Billionaire’s Wife by Ava Lore
Rocked by Clara Bayard
Her Billionaire’s by Julia Kent
Psychic Appeal by Michelle McCleod
Curves For The Lone Alpha by Molly Prince

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Selena Kitt in Salon: A self-published erotic novelist pioneers a new kind of porn

That’s right – I’m in Salon. I know, you’re jellin. :D

Thanks to Noah Berlatsky for writing the article – who knew you could find so many themes in “porn!”

Wait, if you can find themes, is it still porn? Maybe it’s it’s own thing now. Like a cross between women’s erotica and porn. Worn? No that’s not right. We’ll work on it. Because Mommy Porn is just silly. Although it does kind of fall into the themes Mr. Berlatsky talks about. Maybe it’s apropo after all!

Anyway, here’s the link: A Self-Published Erotic Novelist Pioneers a New Kind of Porn. Go read it. Great article! I can only take credit for writing the book, Babysitting the Baumgartners. (Now stupidly titled Sitting for the Baumgartners on Amazon. And without the original cover too. See this blog post for the reasons why Amazon is retarded. And reactionary. And retarded some more. And no, I don’t want to hear why it isn’t PC for me to call Amazon retarded. I can use that word if I want to – I can use ALL the words – I just, apparently, can’t use them all on Amazon. *sigh*)

Do you think they’ll let me back on Wikipedia, after they deleted me because there weren’t enough “relevant sources?”

Am I special enough NOW, Mommy? :D

 

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Porn Hunt 2013: Gossip Boys “Researching” Porn Real Hard

One of my all-time favorite movie scenes is from Doubt.

A woman was gossiping with a friend about a man she hardly knew— I know none of you have ever done this—that night she had a dream. A great hand appeared over her and pointed down at her. She was immediately seized with an overwhelming sense of guilt. The next day she went to confession. She got the old parish priest, Father O’Rourke, and she told him the whole thing.

“Is gossiping a sin?” she asked the old man. “Was that the hand of God Almighty pointing a finger at me? Should I be asking your absolution? Father, tell me, have I done something wrong?”

“Yes!” Father O’Rourke answered her. “Yes, you ignorant, badly brought-up female! You have borne false witness against your neighbor, you have played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed!”

So the woman said she was sorry and asked for forgiveness.

“Not so fast!” says O’Rourke. “I want you to go home, take a pillow up on your roof, cut it open with a knife, and return here to me!”

So the woman went home, took a pillow off her bed, a knife from the drawer, went up the fire escape to the roof, and stabbed the pillow. Then she went back to the old parish priest as instructed.

“Did you gut the pillow with the knife?” he says.

Yes, Father.”

“And what was the result?”

“Feathers,” she said. “A world of feathers.”

“Feathers?” he repeated.

“Feathers everywhere, Father!”

“Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out on the wind!”

“Well,” she said, “it can’t be done. I don’t know where they went. The wind took them all over.”

And that,” said Father O’Rourke, “is gossip!”

———————–

It seems a little bit of gossip has gone a long way this week toward creating a lot of trouble in the ebook world. Jeremy Duns likes to gossip. That much is apparent from his voluminous Twitter feed. (How he managed to get any books written is beyond me!) He also has a history of attacking other writers. He and Kernel magazine owner Milo Yiannopoulos (self proclaimed gossip who even refers to his ezine as “technology gossip”) got into it with someone in the Twitterverse about erotica and all of a sudden, this… “article” (and I use that term loosely) was born. It lambasted Amazon for not doing anything about titles he deemed unacceptable (i.e. those of a sexual nature) on Kindle. But that wasn’t enough. He then had to make a list of smutty titles. And then another one. Then he dug a little deeper and started accusing all the major retailers of allowing “filth” on their virtual shelves. (Never mind that he defends sending naked pictures of your ex to other people–but that completely fictional erotic story? That’s just wrong!)

Now, I have no idea if Jeremy Duns and Jeremy Wilson are the same person.  The byline on the “articles” is Jeremy Wilson – but it was Jeremy Duns who was tweeting his prudish, pedantic heart out on Twitter before the articles appeared. I really don’t care if they are the same person, different people or conjoined twins. The result was the same. A little bit of Twitter gossip ballooned into three gossipy (and poorly researched) “articles” in a magazine that boldly claims it is all about gossip. I’m sure these gossip boys got off “researching” their topic–researching it real hard! I think they got so excited about doing it they forgot to include a lot of actual facts.

The Kernel has a history of presenting things in the worst light, twisting facts to suit their sensationalist needs. Want proof? The guy who runs it, Milo Yiannopoulos, doesn’t exactly seem to be the most ethical fellow, as this article proves. He even calls himself a gossip and identifies his blog as “technology gossip.” If you want some examples of the controversy Mr. Yiannopoulos has invented or stirred up, just check out this wiki page.

When Jeremy Duns Wilson pointed out the most shock-and-awe titles in his “article” (and I use that term loosely) in The Kernel, that’s when the notoriously extremely conservative UK rag, the Daily Mail, picked up the story. I guess that makes sense – they’re all about gossip too right? In a stellar act of journalism (not), they posted titles on their site they clearly did no research on. One of Excessica’s titles was listed. It’s a little romance story called Dog Gone It by Chelsea Fox. Ms. Fox is a romance writer. She even said herself, “There’s hardly any sex in it at all! This is crazy!” Apparently, the Daily Mail posted it simply because it had a dog on the cover, professing to all the world that it was “BESTIALITY!” I can assure you, as the publisher of this book, at no time do any humans have sex with any dogs and portraying this book and the author this way was a serious act of libel.

Then the BBC picked up the story and ran with it. You would think a mainstream news organization wouldn’t lower themselves to culling articles from gossip rags. And twenty years ago, that would be true. But today, gossip IS news, unfortunately. So the BBC spread the gossip further.

Once it hit a mainstream news source and they accused the largest bookstore in the UK of carrying erotica titles that they deemed “unacceptable,” that’s when it got real. (Never mind that most of these titles had been available for a very long time. Years, I would venture to say. At least since WH Smith launched the Kobo reader in their stores back in 2011 and started using the Kobo feed for their ebooks. I know my books have been on Kobo for years.)

What did WH Smith do? They acted like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar. “What? Who me? I had NO idea! You mean there are COOKIES in this jar? What!? I’m appalled and disgusted! Get that offensive cookie jar away from me! That’s it, we’re banning all cookies from now on! No cookies for anyone!”

Brilliant. Bloody good show, ol chap!

So WH Smith took their bookstore offline. That’s right, completely offline. As of this writing, they are still offline. Even I could have told them that wasn’t a good idea, and the experts apparently agree with me. But that’s what they did. They shut down the presses and put up a statement saying they would be unpublishing ALL self-published books. Not just erotica, folks. All of them.

I wrote a blog post a long time ago called, “Self Published Authors Banned From Kindle,” talking about the possibilities of a backlash against self-published authors due to Amazon’s (and other distributor’s) perceived liabilities in publishing. Most authors said I was being too “Chicken Little” about it. Self-publishing wasn’t going anywhere, they said. They were safe, they said.

Hm. Not so much. When David Gaughan‘s entire Kobo account gets hit, now authors start to listen and perhaps realize that they, too, aren’t as safe as they once believed.

Unfortunately, many self-published authors not only thought they were untouchable, but they have acted holier-than-thou whenever the subject of erotica comes up. “Well, it’s good that they’re taking those books down!” But when suddenly their own books are being threatened?  Now, all of a sudden, it’s a problem – it’s not fair, it’s censorship, it’s overreacting.

WH Smith obviously confronted Kobo about the material in question, and since Kobo is the one who feeds them their content, the buck now stopped with Kobo. They started by taking all self-published books down from their store. I could almost hear Kobo president, Mark Lefebvre, yelling, “Shut it down! Shut it ALL down!” Do you think they knew these books existed on their site? I know they did–they even created a “taboo” category for it. Kobo knew. So did WH Smith. What’s going on now is a bunch of damage control and whitewashing.

The only books of mine that currently appear on Kobo are the ones we uploaded via FTP years ago, before Kobo developed its self-publishing platform, Kobo Writing Life. Then books started re-appearing, slowly, one by one. Obviously, they were doing all of this to appease WH Smith. One vendor, who was up in arms about titles they a) knew perfectly well existed in their online store and b) who only professed to not know now simply because it was convenient and c) only paid attention to them now because someone (The Kernel) had started gossiping, a little doggie with a bone it just couldn’t let go. (They got bored and have moved on from erotica now, although they’re still targeting Amazon. This time it’s holocaust denial books.)

Amazon and Barnes and Noble, not to be outdone and having caught whiff of the stench coming from the other side of the pond, started working on their catalogs too. Barnes and Noble claimed to be working on ridding their virtual shelves of offensive titles. So far I haven’t experienced that firsthand, but perhaps they don’t have the manpower to put into doing it quickly. Amazon, on the other hand, came down like Thor’s hammer and started removing books from their store with lightning speed using all the keywords used in the articles like virgin, teen and yes, babysitter.

That’s right, fans–my Amazon Top 100 Bestseller, Babysitting the Baumgartners, was taken down. They couldn’t remove the audio version, since Audible is far less reactionary and, in my experience, much more protective of intellectual freedom, so that one is still there. But they removed the CreateSpace paperback version. As of this writing, I have changed the title to “Sitting For The Baumgartners” (Really, Amazon? Really?) and they have restored the Kindle version. But not the print one. If you’ve read it, you know that there is no underage sex in it – the babysitter in question is nineteen, going on twenty. And while it does explore an alternative lifestyle, there is definitely a story being told, as there is in all my fiction. It’s not “porn.” It’s erotica.

Perhaps, if someone along the way had said, “Whoa, wait a minute – what’s really going on here?” instead of jumping to conclusions, shutting down big online book retailers, banning titles left and right or simply hiding entire accounts of books from view, this little witch hunt could have been focused on the “real” problem. Considering how out of hand it has gotten now, I’m surprised they haven’t started burning the books (digital or not) and hunting down the authors to burn them too–as witches, of course. When we look back on it, we’ll think of the Porn Hunt of 2013.

Most of the titles they referenced in their article aren’t even written by real authors.

What? How can that be, you ask? Well, let me explain.

Having heard there was “gold” in them thar hills, many black-hat internet marketers have entered the erotica field. That’s right–they go on Fiverr or other sites looking for ghostwriters, have them “write” a story (some of them just pull stories from Literotica or other free story sites instead and hope they don’t get caught) slap a girl with big breasts on the cover, title it for SEO keyword search (which is why they have such long, “porny” titles, in case you were wondering) and then “publish” them via Amazon’s KDP platform. Or Kobo’s Writing Life platform. Do they make money? A ton of it. Why doesn’t Amazon or Kobo stop them? Good question. I think they try. When they discover one, they delete the account. But black-hat internet marketers are just above the level of “criminal.” What they do isn’t technically illegal, but it’s ethically wrong. So they have no qualms about creating another account and publishing the same material again.

The Kernel references Shannon Leigh (whose once extensive catalog, you’ll note, has been decimated–she has one book left, and the term babysitting has been switched out for a ridiculous, clunky replacement, “teen worker”) who is clearly recognizable as a black-hat internet marketer. I knew it at first glance. She’ll lay low until this all blows over, and then she’ll upload those titles again, trying to get around Amazon’s “adult filter” by using phrases like “teen worker” instead of “babysitter.” Most of the ‘real authors’ of erotica and erotic romance don’t do what Ms. Leigh did. Most erotica writers have begun heeding my earlier warnings, toning down their titles, covers and blurbs. We all went through the Pornocalypse. We’re not stupid and most erotica authors want to play by the rules. We have conformed to Amazon’s rule changes over and over and over again.

But none of that mattered to the “journalists” (Bwahahaha! Ahem. Sorry.) at The Kernel. They found a little sensationalist bit of gossip and spread it like wildfire! Did they care who they hurt? No. They just wanted to cause some drama. And they succeeded.

So instead of going after who they should have all along, the retailers overreacted (to say the least) and started going after EVERYONE. Erotica writers who don’t have “porny” titles are being lumped in with black-hat internet marketers whose main goal is to game the system by trying to garner the most visibility by using shock and awe tactics. The Kernel was clearly taken in by their efforts. So are many readers, unfortunately. What Mr. Duns and Mr. Yiannopoulos did on Twitter and spread to their “ezine” was nothing but a bit of fear-mongering. Gossip. They didn’t check their sources, and neither did The Daily Mail. And the response to the original article was a huge overreaction.

The question now is–how far are they going to go?

They won’t touch legacy publishing’s books, of course. But I can tell you, a lot of my stuff is tame in comparison to what’s being offered (and protected by legacy publishing) out there right now. Tampa by Alissa Nutting is nothing but kiddie porn. It touts itself as a modern day Lolita, but Nutting is no Nabakov, and it comes off as blatant child pornography. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma contains incest between underage siblings. (Not step siblings, mind you – actual biological siblings). That one’s protected by legacy. Self-published erotica writers write things no worse than any of the above, or worse than any of the numerous romance, erotic romance and new adult/college romance titles out there, for that matter, but they are being singled out, simply because they CAN be. Kobo and Amazon aren’t removing Fifty Shades or any other erotic books protected by big publishing logos. But their content is quite similar to what’s being removed.

I’ve been through this enough times to know, this too shall pass. Perhaps the black-hat internet marketing folks will finally take the hint and disappear. It was those “authors” (using that term lightly too!) who started the ramped-up title and cover competition. Erotica authors (those who actually took the time to write a good story) who didn’t title this way saw themselves slipping in rank and felt forced to compete with “Daddy’s Anal Whore.” So they started titling using keywords and put out covers showing more and more skin. I warned authors this was going to happen. And so it has.

I’ve also called Amazon out again and again on how they lack any parental controls. The same goes for all of the other retailers. It isn’t there and it should be. That’s the only thing the gossip-mongers didn’t get wrong, and may be the only good thing to come out of this mess. I won’t let my children search anything on Amazon. I know what’s out there–and I know Amazon won’t protect them from seeing it. The only retailer who does this right is Smashwords. They have a simple parental control switch which is defaulted to “OFF.” Those who are offended or who have children using the search can simply switch it to “ON” and keep those titles from appearing.

Would some authors try to get around the parental control by labeling their book as “not adult?” Yes. The black-hat internet marketing folks sure would. But it’s certainly better than nothing, like Barnes and Noble and Kobo have done (until now). It’s also far better than Amazon’s “Adult filter” solution. And it would definitely be more useful. Amazon’s current solution simply puts a Band-Aid on the problem. It’s like trying to plug the Hoover Dam one tiny hole at a time. They “fixed” my book, Babysitting the Baumgartners, by simply having me remove the “offensive” word from the title. It’s still on the cover, but that’s okay with them. And it’s still the same book inside–titled as Babysitting the Baumgarters at every other retailer.

I think the message here is loud and clear–no one cares what’s inside the book. It can be the most raunchy tale of sex and debauchery since the Marquis DeSade started writing, as long as the title, cover and description don’t reflect that. Of course, you see the problem. Erotica writers are being asked to deceive readers. We have to pretend our books aren’t about sex. If they involve sensitive subject matter that could trigger some readers (pseudoincest, nonconsent etc) we aren’t allowed to label them as such. Of course, if one of my books gets into the hands of someone like that, they’re going to complain to the retailer–and the retailer is going to simply remove the book, because the customer is always right.

This puts erotica writers in a very bad position. And yes, it’s quite unfair. The retailers have put the burden on us, as authors, rather than assuming it themselves. Frankly, they should have anticipated this problem before the first Kindle was ever released. Everyone knows new technology is driven by porn. And it’s widely known that erotica pretty much made the Kindle. And even if they didn’t anticipate it, they have had more than enough time to come up with a real, workable solution. Unfortunately, until they do, many self-published authors are going to suffer–or live in fear of something like this happening again. So don’t shoot the messenger–in this case, erotica writers–put the blame where it should be, on the shoulders of all of the distributors who have done nothing, or next to nothing, up until now.

So what can you do? As a reader, you can:

Sign this Petition

Write to Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Apple and all the other book retailers, telling them you support intellectual freedom and do not support corporate censorship

“Like” the Facebook page: Banned Erotic Books  - we are working hard to keep authors and readers updated when something like this happens

Buy your books at Smashwords, or direct from your favorite erotica author’s web site–Excessica has its own and there are many good writers to be found there

I’d just like to point out that erotica writers aren’t perverts–at least the ones I know. We write for a living, and what we are writing is fantasy. Words, not actions. This is fiction, folks. It doesn’t hurt anyone. And the “but it might make someone DO those horrible things!” argument has been debunked again and again. Books about serial killers don’t make people become serial killers. Books about rapists don’t make people become rapists. Books about incest (or pseudoincest) don’t make people go have sex with family members. In fact, research shows that most people who do read incest erotica don’t, in fact, fantasize about actual family members. As for rape–it’s also well documented that rape fantasies are common for women (the BDSM community flirts with this and there is a cross-over) and psychologists say that it’s completely normal. And, in the end, what we are talking about here is just words. Words, not actions. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. But telling other people they can’t write or read it crosses the line of personal and intellectual freedom.

That’s not okay.

And one last thing. There is a reason we look back at the witch hunts in Salem and cluck and shake our heads and wonder how people could have overreacted like that. Gossip is powerful. It’s insidious, it’s heinous, and the people who participate in it suffer from the need to feel superior to others, to compensate for their overwhelming feelings of inferiority. Gossip is a form of passive-aggressive violence and the people who run or write for rags like the self-proclaimed “tech-gossip” site The Kernel are far more offensive and damaging to humankind than even Ms. Shannon Leigh’s over-the-top erotica titles could ever be.

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Endings: Happy Ever Afters

happilyThe “Happy Ever After” has an important place in literature, to be sure, but it isn’t the only way a story can end. I find it ironic that fairy tales have seemingly cornered the market on the happy ever after. Remember Pretty Woman?

Vivian: I just wanna know who it works out for. You give me one example of somebody that we know that it happened for. (i.e. the happy ever after)

Kit: Name someone? You want me to name someone?

Vivian: Yeah, you know a person that it’s worked for.

Kit: You want me to, like, give you a name, or something?

Vivian: Yeah, I’d like a name.

Kit: Oh, God, the pressure of a name… Cinde-fucking-rella!

 And when Richard Gere wants Julia Roberts to settle for less, she tells him, “I want the fairy tale.”

Of course the irony is that many of Grimm’s original fairy tales were very dark and included themes of matricide, patricide, infanticide (all kinds of cides!) cannibalism, decapitation and a big, whopping dose of incest. But fairy tales have been Disneyified since then and all the princesses get their princes–without having to go through a lot of the darker tribulations of their original predecessors.

I’m not averse to “unhappy” endings, or even ambiguous ones. My most popular freebie, Taken, doesn’t have a traditional happy ever after, and romance readers *hate* that book because of it. No one dies, mind you. There’s no murder or rape. It just so happens, at the end, the main character doesn’t know whether or not the couple she’s been involved with ever stayed together. I could turn all those frowns upside down if I simply changed the last paragraph, giving the reader the assurance that yes, the couple made it. They were one of the lucky ones. They got their happy ever after.

Of course, that isn’t the way life works. And the naysayers cry, “But this is fiction, not real life!” True enough. But the ending of “Taken” is apropos–it’s far more interesting to me that our girl is still thinking about the couple in question and wondering about them, some time later. It says a great deal about her psyche and how that one liaison affected her. Should I have given that up in order to placate the reader?

Maybe. I know lots of authors who do. There are many publishing houses, big and small, that refuse to take “dark” romances because they’re… well, too dark. If an author doesn’t give everyone from the main couple down to the pair of hamsters sharing a cage in the story a great big fat happy ending, they assume no one will read it.

I think that’s ridiculous. I’ve done happy endings, even in fairy tale form (Modern Wicked Fairy Tales) and I enjoy them. But sometimes a story requires a not-so-happy ending. Think of The Time Traveler’s Wife, for example. (Hopefully that book is old enough I’m not giving anything away here!) I cried my eyes out reading that book, but I was still somehow satisfied when I finished. That’s a far greater trick for an author to pull off than simply pairing everyone up and saying, “Yay! It all worked out!” One of Excessica’s anthologies, “Heartache,” explored the darker side of relationship and romance, and as you might guess, it’s not one of our bestsellers. But it is poignant and at times, a breathtaking collection of stories. One of the best we’ve done, I think, and it saddens me to think the cult of “Happy Ever After” has relegated books like that to the bottom shelf.

So what about you? Do you have a preference between “happy ever after” and not-so-much?



Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
www.selenakitt.com
LATEST RELEASES:

Hussy
Forbidden Fruit
Yank

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Amazon at it Again – Blocking Pseudoincest and Monster Sex!

calvinball1

Amazon is at it again. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised anymore when Amazon decides to change the rules of publishing erotica on their site, but there are days when I feel like my career in this genre is a little bit like playing Calvinball. (Anyone else remember Calvin and Hobbes?) The only rules are the ones Amazon makes up – and they constantly change. And to make it even more “fun,” they don’t tell you what that rules are, or when or how they are going to change.

Can you tell transparency isn’t exactly this company’s strong suit?

So what’s new? Amazon is cleaning house. The message I got (and I actually talked to an Amazon customer service representative, in fits and starts, a bit like trying to crack a code or talk to someone speaking backwards Pig Latin) is that Amazon doesn’t mind selling or profiting from erotica, and it isn’t going to ban it or stop selling it—they just don’t want it to actually look like erotica is about… you know… (sex!)

They are specifically targeting pseudoincest (i.e. those stories where sexual relations take place between perfectly legal of-age step-siblings, or between 18+ stepdaughter and stepfather, stepmother and 18+ stepson, etc.) and monster sex (tentacles, bigfoot, etc). As far as I can tell, right now they are reviewing any new work or anything that shows up as new (i.e. if you tweak your title, change the price, upload a new cover, and republish). If they find a title too risqué, they are blocking it (not just slapping the ADULT filter on it or kicking it back into draft, mind you, but actually blocking/suppressing it) and sending an email out to the author letting them know where the problem lies (title, cover or blurb) if not exactly what the problem is.

They are currently only looking at NEW or REPUBLISHED titles, but be forewarned—you are going to want to clean up your catalog, because down the line, I got the feeling they intend to start going through already-published titles. So what, exactly, is the new policy? What’s ok, what isn’t?

Welcome to Calvinball Amazonball, where the rules constantly change and your opinion doesn’t matter!

It’s all hit and miss with Amazon, as usual, and there’s no telling what will or won’t be approved, to tell you the honest truth. I’m so tired of playing this game, I’m about ready to quit. Just when you think you know the rules, they change. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, Amazon throws another ball at your head. And of course, there’s no transparency.

The ADULT filter is still being used—completely arbitrarily and without warning to authors or publishers. I recently had a freebie of mine, Connections, ADULT filtered. But back in May, I put ujnderwear on the girl and they unfiltered it, no problem. Some time between May and a few days ago, when I noticed it was filtered, Amazon changed their mind. Of course, they didn’t tell ME about it. No notice. Months of lost downloads and exposure. Thanks, Amazon!

Why am I doing business with this capricious, duplicitous, unreliable company again? Oh yeah, because they’re the biggest distributor in town and provide me with the most exposure for my work. That’s really unfortunate, because I feel quite stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I want to sell (and this is my business, my livelihood, of course I do—there’s a real person here, raising a family, and I have braces and wrestling shoes and a mortgage to pay!) I have to deal with Amazon.

But they sure don’t make it easy.

Amazon’s so vague-as-to-be-useless “guidelines” they point erotica writers to when they reject a title don’t give me any idea what the rules actually are. When I talk to Amazon customer service, they speak in code. Their lack of transparency is truly appalling. They don’t tell authors or publishers when they ADULT filter a title. And until recently, when an author noticed and appealed, they simply pointed them to their vague (useless) guidelines. Thanks to a conversation I had with Amazon a few months ago, at least now they are giving us some direction (title, cover, description or content) even if they still won’t tell us specifically what the issue/problem is.

So in trying to interpret the new rules of Calvinball Amazonball, I’ve come to the following conclusions. Of course, your mileage may vary, and the rules may change tomorrow.

COVERS

Anything containing nudity is now completely out (unless you want to be ADULT filtered). No breasts, no hand-bras, no bare bottoms. Thongs aren’t okay anymore. Even some lingerie is being rejected. You can have the hottest, smuttiest prose you want on the pages of your book, as long as the cover doesn’t reflect your content.

Also, couples are okay on covers, however, if they are touching each other in any way, and they look like they are actually enjoying it, it may be rejected. If the models are passive, you may get it through. However, if they have that “oh yes!” look, or happen to be groping each other? Nope. That’s right, Amazon has now pushed our sexuality back to the Puritan age. We can embrace, but we can’t look like we’re actually enjoying the sex! Anyone have a sheet with a hole cut into it we can put between our characters? *sigh*

TITLES

Most of the same rules I gave you before still apply here. Keep the “bad” words out of your titles and descriptions. You’re a writer—you’re going to do some creative writing here. Mommy, Daddy, Sister, Brother, Siblings, etc, may get you  blocked (not just filtered—blocked) if it’s in the title. The same goes for monster sex—tentacles, bigfoot, centaur, etc. in the title may now get your book blocked. Again, it seems arbitrary right now—some titles are getting through—but it’s better safe than sorry. I know, it’s frustrating. How is anyone going to find your story without a keyword in the title? But if you put it in the title, no one is going to see it, because Amazon is going to block it. How’s that for a nice Catch-22? Thanks, Amazon!

DESCRIPTIONS

Again, you’re going to have to get creative. References to relations (i.e. Mommy, Daddy, Sister, Brother, etc) won’t necessarily get you blocked here (although they might get you filtered) but it depends on how explicit you are. The more tame you are in your description, the better. Amazon doesn’t want someone who accidentally stumbles onto your title to be “shocked” by what they find.

And that’s really what it comes down to. A year ago, Amazon’s erotica bestseller list was full of shock-and-awe titles. It was like erotica authors thought they had to outdo each other in order to gain any visibility on the charts. Well, that’s changed. Go look at the erotica titles on top now—they have titles, covers and descriptions more in line with Fifty Shades of Grey. They’re tame, soft, romantic. This is clearly the erotica image Amazon wants to present, and that’s what these “policy changes” seem to indicate.

I predict that a year from now, erotica on Amazon is going to look very different—even the hardcore stuff. Amazon isn’t just hiding it behind the ADULT filter anymore, they’re outright blocking and suppressing titles they don’t want their customers to see. Is it corporate censorship? Yep. Is it unfair? Yep. But Amazon can do what they like and life is unfair.

In this business you either change and adapt, or you… well, you don’t die. You just lose visibility and fall into obscurity. Which, for an author, is pretty much the same thing.

So erotica writers, now you have the new “rules,” such as they are. You need to decide for yourself what you’re going to do.

I do have some predictions. I imagine a lot of authors who jumped on the gravy train a year or two ago (writers who had scoffed at erotica with disdain who suddenly started writing in the genre looking for a big payout) will fall off. It won’t be worth it anymore, because it won’t be so easy for readers to find them and the money will dry up.

Some will switch genres and find success there. Some will go back to their day jobs. But the pool of authors writing erotica is inevitably going to shrink because of this change. I don’t like the corporate censorship and self-censoring that’s happening because of Amazon’s policy changes and I don’t like any company big enough to force such a change on the face of literature. But the bright side, if you want to find one, is that the authors who remain will be the ones who truly love writing it, who care about their craft and their readers.

Those authors, I believe, will adapt—their covers and blurbs and descriptions will become less shocking and titillating, but I think the quality of the work will rise. I think erotica itself as a genre will become better. The writers who love it will stay, and the readers who love it will find those authors and stick with them.

At least, that’s what I hope.

For those authors who aren’t willing to give up—this is a time when building a name for yourself in the genre, creating a brand, cultivating a relationship with fans and building a mailing list is going to be crucial. It’s once again going to get harder to find what you want in the erotica category on Amazon, so you as an author need to find a way to directly connect with your readers.

I truly wish you the best of luck in your game of Calvinball Amazonball!



Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
www.selenakitt.com

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