Hachette Authors Cry Censorship – Welcome to My World!

92583Hachette authors are crying “censorship!”

Ursula K. Le Guin has been quoted as saying, “We’re talking about censorship: deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, ‘disappearing’ an author.”

Welcome to my world, Ms. Le Guin. Were you among the authors who, years ago when Amazon started banning erotica, slapping on the adult filter, making it generally difficult to find, who said, “Hey, listen, you whiners! Amazon is a corporation! Amazon can do what they want! It’s THEIR store! If they don’t want this filth on their site, then more power to them!” I hope you weren’t. Because that would make you an awful hypocrite right now.

And honestly, Ms. Le Guin, you haven’t seen anything yet. You have NO idea what Amazon can do to you and your book(s) to kill your sales. You’re only getting a tiny little taste of what’s possible. You should see what it’s like from over here, in the erotica red light district, where we’re stomped on daily, for no reason whatsoever. Our books our disappeared, our accounts are blocked and banned. Have you ever been making $30,000 a month on Amazon, only to see that dry up practically overnight? I know erotica authors this has happened to. Have you ever released a book, had it hit Amazon’s top 10, only to have it blocked, with no reason given other than it violates some vague Amazon guideline? I know erotica authors who have had to deal with that too.

Honestly, Ms. Le Guin, and all the rest of the Hachette authors, I get it. It royally sucks when Amazon decides to bring its jackboot down on your neck. I’ve been there, done that – have been doing it for the past five years, thank you very much. This is why I cried “censorship!” back then. This is why I tried to get other authors to rally around erotica authors and their books. But do you know what I got? Crickets. Either that, or I heard, “Stop whining, Amazon is a corporation and can do what they want! It isn’t censorship unless the government is doing it, so shut up!”

Well guess what? Here it is, five years later, and Amazon is now turning the tables on traditionally published authors. They’re taking away all the fancy bells and whistles you’re used to getting because you publish with legacy. Trust me when I tell you that I’m tempted to just laugh in your face. Or to say, “I told you so!” But I know what that’s like. I know what it’s like to be beaten down time and again, with no recourse, no way to fight back. You can make all the petitions you like. You can even get Stephen King and James Patterson to appeal to the mass media. But you aren’t going to win.

How do I know? Because I’ve lived under Amazon’s regime and have been subject to their thug tactics a lot longer than you have.

The reality of this fight is that Hachette is going to have to adapt or die. And I’m afraid they’re heading for the latter. Instead of screaming at Amazon – which isn’t going to do you any good and is only going to make you hoarse – I am going to tell you, from a very long, arduous experience with Amazon’s stronghold on the market, that you’d better do the same, authors. Adapt or die. Erotic writers have had to do a LOT of adapting in the past five years, and I imagine we’ll have to do a lot more in the future. But that’s part of the business. We’re used to it. We know that Amazon is a retailer, they’re out to make money, and we’re simply a means to their end. And the fact is, we’re replaceable. And, Ms. Le Guin (and all the other Hachette authors) SO. ARE. YOU.

Don’t think for a minute that because you’ve sold X amount of books, Amazon cares about you. In the end, you’re expendable, and if you (or your publishing company) don’t want to sell books to Amazon on Amazon’s terms, well – there are plenty of authors lined up behind you who will. Books aren’t “special” simply because they’re books. And you aren’t special simply because you write them. Trust me when I tell you that there are plenty of talented people in the world who can write books. And many of them are leaner, hungrier and smarter than you are. Many of them have already begun self-publishing and making a name for themselves as the higher echeleon of legacy publishing crumbles.

So my advice to you, Hachette authors, coming from someone who has had Amazon’s hand around my throat more than once — is adapt or die. You can cry censorship all you like – I have, and will continue to do so. You can stomp your foot and say, “It’s not fair!” And you’re right, it isn’t. But life isn’t fair. That’s one of the first things we learn, right? Complaining about Amazon’s tactics, signing petitions, it’s all well and good, but it’s not going to change anything.

The fact remains that the face of publishing is changing. The writing is on the wall – and it’s about time you started reading it and paying attention to it, instead of trying to run from it.

Adapt or die, authors. Your mommy publisher isn’t going to do it for you.



Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
www.selenakitt.com
LATEST RELEASE: Highland Wolf Pact
180+ Amazon Reviews – 4.8 Stars!
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NEW RELEASE + GIVEAWAY: Highland Wolf Pact – Outlander Meets True Blood!

HIGHLAND WOLF PACT

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100+ Reviews

4.8 Star Average

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Outlander Meets True Blood

If I could explain this book with random, completely stolen pictures from the Interwebs, it would look like this:

highlander7

 

highlander13

highlander3

highlander14

highlander1

highlander12

highlander5

highlander15

highlander2

 

Because SHIFTERS, YO! 

highlandwolfpactMED

BOOK DESCRIPTION

100+ Reviews

4.8 Star Average

HIGHLAND WOLF PACT

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE
GOODREADS
APPLE
KOBO

Sibyl Blackthorne isn’t afraid of anything—except maybe being sold into marriage to a man she doesn’t love. A man she’s never even met. A man who, by reputation, is one of Scotland’s cruelest lairds in over a century.

But what choice does she have, with her father dead and her uncle now married to his brother’s widow, putting him in charge of not only the Blackthorne fortune, but Sibyl’s future as well?

Then her betrothed turns out to actually be far worse than his reputation, so headstrong Sibyl decides life as a peasant, or even death, would be preferable to a future with such a despicable man, and makes plans to run away.

On an organized hunt for wolves—or, as the Scots call them, wulvers—Sybil escapes her fiancé’s clutches, only to find she’s run into something far more untamed and dangerous in the middle of the woods.

When a big, brawny, long-haired man, who only speaks to her in Gaelic and calls himself Raife, simply picks her up and carries her off with him into the Scottish wild, Sibyl knows she’s in trouble.

When he takes her to a place no human has ever been, she knows she’s gone over the edge.

And when he, at last, marks her as his own, she discovers that only one wild heart can claim another.

Psssst: If you read this in a boxed set – this version contains 10K words of BRAND NEW material AND a BONUS epilogue and preview chapter of the upcoming SEQUEL!

EXCERPT:

“What are you doing?” Sibyl protested, but barely had time to get the words out before the big man had divested her of her weapon and had thrown her over his shoulder and began carrying her downstream. “Stop! Let me go!”

Her words were lost in the rush of the water and he didn’t seem to hear her at all as he moved quickly—much faster and more nimbly than she expected of a man of his size—down the shoreline. She beat at his back with her fists, but he didn’t seem to notice that either, and before long, her hands ached. It was like hitting a slab of rock. When he stopped, she lifted her head to look around, noting their position, away from the protection of the tree line now.

And then she heard it. Could he really have detected the sound, so far away? The dogs were barking again. On the hunt. She imagined Alistair telling the story to his men, making up something so he, of course, looked like the wounded hero. Perhaps he would tell them she had been kidnapped by the massive brute who now had her thrown over his shoulder—and really, was that far from the truth? She knew he wouldn’t tell them she had put an arrow through him. That much he would leave out, she was sure. She hoped.

“They’re coming!” she hissed, beating at the human rock’s back again. She hit him in the side, eliciting a satisfying grunt from the man, and did it again, pleased when she heard his sharp intake of breath. “Let me go! They’re coming for me!”

“Bidh modhail!” he snapped, his hand coming down hard on her behind. Sibyl hadn’t been spanked since she was a child and, while it really didn’t hurt, given how much padding she had on under her skirts, the humiliation of it reddened her cheeks and made her instantly quiet.

And then they were flying.

It wasn’t really flying, but it felt that way. He was so agile, so quick and light on his feet, it felt as if he had simply taken flight as they crossed the stream. Behind them, the dogs grew closer. They were onto a scent—likely her own and she cursed herself for not grabbing her hat, which would allow the dogs to pick up her trail—and pursued it with fervor. Sibyl bounced on the big man’s shoulder, squealing at one point, thinking surely he would fall and she would go tumbling head-first to her death onto the slippery, moss-covered rocks, but then they were across, heading into the cover of the woods on the other side.

Once they were a sight distance from the tree line, the man upended her with a grunt, putting her back onto her feet. Sibyl pushed an already tangled mass of auburn hair away from her face and glared up at him. He didn’t smile, but his eyes danced, clearly amused at her stance—hands on her hips, face upturned—and the words that came tumbling out of her mouth.

“You bumbling idiot! You could have killed us both!” she snapped. “I didn’t ask for your help. Do you understand me? I don’t want your help! No! Go! Away with you!”

She shooed him away like an annoying fly but the man didn’t move. He just looked down at her with those devilish blue eyes.

“Goodbye! Mar sin leibh!” She didn’t know many phrases in Scottish Gaelic, but she had learned a few from Moira. Hello, goodbye, please and thank you. So she said the words, hoping he would understand, and from the look on his face, it was clear he got her meaning. “I’m going! Mar sin leibh! Goodbye!”

She turned and stalked off, getting as far as the nearest tree before he grabbed her again.

“Will you stop that?” she cried, pushing at his arms as they encircled her and turned her to him. “No! Chan eil! Chan eil!”

She repeated the Gaelic word for no, seeing the frown on his face at her protest.

“Shh.” He touched a finger to her lips, shaking his head.

“Chan eil,” she objected again, but this time, the word came out in a mere whisper. “No… please…”

“Tha.” His thumb traced her jawline as he looked down at her, the sunlight dappled across his face and chest. She knew the word—tha. Yes. It meant “yes.” Sibyl felt her breath quicken as the stranger traced her lips with one finger, his gaze falling to her mouth, then to her throat, then further down still, to the way her breasts nearly overflowed the top of her disheveled dress.

“Tha,” he said again, lifting his gaze to meet her eyes. So blue. His eyes were so blue. “Yes.”

“You… you speak English?” she whispered, cocking her head at him in wonder. “Who… who are you?”

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Amazon’s Continued Double Standard – About What You’d Expect

If you’re an erotica writer, you know that Amazon has a double standard. If you publish a title and put it into the “erotica” category, there are certain things that aren’t allowed in the title or on blurb. But if you put that same title and blurb into the “romance” category, it’s fine. Half-naked couples in a hot, torrid embrace are just fine in romance, but strangely, in the erotica category, they’re often filtered and sometimes even blocked. Earlier this year, I posted the double standard about covers, comparing my cover with Mia Sheridan’s, both with what we call “Hand-Bras” (i.e. hands covering breasts). Mia’s cover was allowed in the romance category, but mine wasn’t allowed in the erotica category.

It seems strange that the “dirtier” covers, blurbs and titles are allowed in romance, but not in erotica. You’d think erotica is where those types of things would be located. I mean, isn’t that where the adults are looking for more adult reading fare? It seems a little backwards to me to allow STEPBROTHER DEAREST in the New Adult/College Romance category, but Amazon banned, blocked and ADULT filtered every title I had with the mention of a family relation. They absolutely killed my sales of these books, forced me to change not only titles, but blurbs, take out ANY reference to a family name (we had to resort to phrasing like “man of the house” and “mother’s new husband” when referring to a stepfather, for example) and even pay to have covers changed to match the newly stripped titles.

After all that drama and work, after bending over backwards to comply with Amazon’s crazy, ever-changing rules in self-publishing erotica on their site, now a title like “STEPBROTHER DEAREST” appears and hits #2 on the Amazon charts.

The irony is, if Amazon wasn’t gaming the system, I’d have books hitting #2 too. Easily. If readers were actually able to find our books, if they weren’t pushed down the ranks, hidden with filters, constantly beaten down by Amazon’s efforts, erotica writers would be able to have that same success. When Amazon’s top lists started filling with erotic titles and books, they started making new “rules” about what they would and wouldn’t allow. Of course, as you know, Amazon never tells us those rules. They continue to simply say, “We don’t allow pornography or obscene material” (they clearly do) and they define that as, “About what you’d expect.” Right. So helpful.

I don’t begrudge Ms. Ward her success. I’m glad her book is doing well – I hope she makes a million dollars. Honestly. Go buy her book – I did. I read it, I enjoyed it. It’s a romance between a girl and her estranged stepbrother. But let’s call a spade a spade. This book is, in effect, what we in the erotica industry have labeled, “pseudoincest.” It is a relationship not unlike anything I’ve written about myself when exploring “pseudoincest.” It’s a taboo relationship, on the fringes of what is acceptable in polite society. Woody Allen had a relationship with his stepdaughter. He wasn’t charged or arrested for that, but it was certainly taboo.

People like taboo subjects. They’re fascinating and intriguing, and when relationships push the boundaries between “right” and “wrong,” we’re interested. That’s one of the reasons Ms. Ward’s book is selling so well. With a title like, “STEPBROTHER DEAREST,” she knew she was pushing some hot buttons. And good for her! She found a niche and capitalized on it.

But what about all the other pseudoincest books? We can’t even SAY the word “stepbrother.” Not in our descriptions, and certainly not in our titles! We have been slammed again and again by Amazon for using family-relation words and have learned to be good little writers, if we want to continue to play in Amazon’s pool.

But then a book like this comes out and it rankles me. Not the book itself–what I’m angry about is Amazon’s double standard. Penelope Ward can write pseudoincest, put it in romance, call it “STEPBROTHER DEAREST,” and make it to #2 in the store. But I can’t do that, at least not in erotica. In fact, if *I* published that book – same story, same title, same cover – and I put it in romance, Amazon wouldn’t just ADULT filter it, they’d block it. A book by Selena Kitt (even if it contained the exact same material) is already marked. I’ve been labeled. I would have to create a whole new pen name (and likely a new account) to get away with what Penelope Ward is getting away with right now.

Of course, that’s like starting from zero, and Amazon knows it. I can no longer capitalize on my own brand. Amazon has tied my hands, bound and gagged me,  and thrown nipple clamps on for good measure.

Ouch. The hypocrisy is stunning. And their stranglehold on the market gives us all no choice except to comply. Theirs is slowly, inevitably becoming the only game in town.

I’ve been in this business since 2006 and I suppose Amazon’s continuing double standard shouldn’t be surprising. It’s about what you’d expect.

As erotica writers, we continue to change and adapt. We’ve all self-censored to the point of insanity. We now have all sorts of different phrases for things that are no longer allowed on Amazon. We can’t say daughter anyore (or even stepdaughter) so we say, “Brat” or “Princess.” We can’t say stepfather, so we say “Man of the House.” We can’t say incest, or even psuedoincest, so we say “Taboo.” We can’t say cheerleader (really, we can’t say cheerleader? yep…) so we say “Spirit Squad.” Penelope Ward has no such restrictions. She can publish a title like STEPBROTHER DEAREST without the fear of Amazon’s backlash.

I’d love to live in a world where I could do that too. But I don’t. I live in a world where I get “just about what you’d expect…” Thanks, Amazon.

Let’s take a best guess at what Amazon is attempting to do. I’m going to say, on the high road, what they’re trying to do is “protect the children” from sensitive topic. On the low road, they’re trying to protect the sales of their upstanding, vocal, moral minority by keeping the smut from their innocent, adult eyes. The irony is, Amazon’s policies are pushing taboo topics OUT of erotica, into the mainstream! Instead of finding those topics only in erotica, people can now find them all over in romance. Subjects previously only tackled by erotica writers – taboo, pseudoincest, dubious/nonconsent/rape, monster sex – it’s all finding its way into Romance instead of saying in Erotica. Way to go, Amazon! You’ve accomplished the exact opposite effect you were looking for.

So instead of “Daddy’s Favorites: Anna,” I have to title my work, “Little Brats: Anna.” Instead of telling you it’s a story about adult girl and her stepfather, I have to tiptoe around that and tell you the “new man in her mother’s life” has a thing for her. It’s taboo – it’s pseudoincest. It’s no different than STEPBROTHER DEAREST. None of these are. They’re stories about taboo relationships that intrigue and titilate us. I hope you enjoy Penelope Ward’s book. I hope you enjoy mine too – if you can find them. If you’re looking for taboo subjects and type in “stepbrother,” you’ll find Ms. Ward’s book. But you won’t find any of mine, because I’m not allowed to use that word.

So here are my books – just $0.99 for a limited time and free if you have Kindle Unlimited. Enjoy them while you can, before Amazon changes the rules again! (Don’t blink!)

littlebratstinaLARGE

LITTLE BRATS: TINA

Chubby Tina thinks she couldn’t hate herself any more than she already does, when she overhears the woman who raised her telling a friend, “We’re going to be stuck with Tina forever. No guy is ever going to want her.” Even though it’s her freshman year in college, she vows to quit school and run away. That is, until the new man in her mum’s life catches her with going out the door in the middle of the night with a suitcase. Tina finally, tearfully, confesses, and is surprised by the man’s insight and perspective–and how willing he is to show her just how beautiful and loveable he thinks she really is..

littlebratsannaLARGE

LITTLE BRATS: ANNA

Bookworm Anna is always reading something, but never what she should be! When someone close to her comes up with an ingenious incentive plan to motivate her–Anna tells him she wants something far more dirty than money.

littlebratsbeccaLARGE

LITTLE BRATS: BECCA

Tomboy Becca has always been the girl who caught frogs, made mud pies and climbed trees. She’s never cared for or even paid attention to boys much, unless they were tossing a ball in her direction, but when a new girl shows in up at her school during her senior year, all that changes. How does the new girl get so much attention just for wearing skimpy clothes? Becca discovers she does want the boys to notice her after all, and decides to find out how to make that happen. And what better place to start her experiment than at home?

littlebratschristaLARGE

LITTLE BRATS: CHRISTA

Spoiled Christa has never wanted for anything in her life. All the boys want to date her and every girl wants to be her–but Christa wants someone she can’t have. Someone very, very wrong for her. But spoiled Christa is used to getting what she wants–and she’s determined to get her way this time too!

littlebratsclaraLARGE

LITTLE BRATS: CLARA

Clara lives a typical farmer’s life, getting up in the morning to gather eggs and milk the cows. She knows the man who raised her can use all the help he can get, now that the woman who should have helped him raise her and take care of the farm left them both for a richer life in California with a younger man. The two of them have picked up the pieces and developed their own routine, but when Clara approaches him with a question about boys, both discover that they are far lonelier than either of them ever realized.

littlebratsdarlaLARGE

LITTLE BRATS: DARLA

Sheltered Darla knows the the man who raised her has a whole new life, but she still wants to be part of it. When she takes an opportunity to ask him to prove his love for her, it surprises them both.

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Highland Wolf Pact – Goodreads Print Giveaway – Because Shifters with Six-Packs, Yo!

It’s an autographed print book. From Selena Kitt. With a delectable man on the cover who I would definitely not kick out of bed for eating crackers (or anything else for that matter!)

And you guys – it’s a Scottish Werewolf Shifter Romance. Dude!

You gotta go enter to win this one on Goodreads.

Three available. GO!

highlandwolfpactMED

BOOK DESCRIPTION

HIGHLAND WOLF PACT

Sibyl Blackthorne isn’t afraid of anything—except maybe being sold into marriage to a man she doesn’t love. A man she’s never even met. A man who, by reputation, is one of Scotland’s cruelest lairds in over a century.

But what choice does she have, with her father dead and her uncle now married to his brother’s widow, putting him in charge of not only the Blackthorne fortune, but Sibyl’s future as well?

Then her betrothed turns out to actually be far worse than his reputation, so headstrong Sibyl decides life as a peasant, or even death, would be preferable to a future with such a despicable man, and makes plans to run away.

On an organized hunt for wolves—or, as the Scots call them, wulvers—Sybil escapes her fiancé’s clutches, only to find she’s run into something far more untamed and dangerous in the middle of the woods.

When a big, brawny, long-haired man, who only speaks to her in Gaelic and calls himself Raife, simply picks her up and carries her off with him into the Scottish wild, Sibyl knows she’s in trouble.

When he takes her to a place no human has ever been, she knows she’s gone over the edge.

And when he, at last, marks her as his own, she discovers that only one wild heart can claim another.

EXCERPT:

“What are you doing?” Sibyl protested, but barely had time to get the words out before the big man had divested her of her weapon and had thrown her over his shoulder and began carrying her downstream. “Stop! Let me go!”

Her words were lost in the rush of the water and he didn’t seem to hear her at all as he moved quickly—much faster and more nimbly than she expected of a man of his size—down the shoreline. She beat at his back with her fists, but he didn’t seem to notice that either, and before long, her hands ached. It was like hitting a slab of rock. When he stopped, she lifted her head to look around, noting their position, away from the protection of the tree line now.

And then she heard it. Could he really have detected the sound, so far away? The dogs were barking again. On the hunt. She imagined Alistair telling the story to his men, making up something so he, of course, looked like the wounded hero. Perhaps he would tell them she had been kidnapped by the massive brute who now had her thrown over his shoulder—and really, was that far from the truth? She knew he wouldn’t tell them she had put an arrow through him. That much he would leave out, she was sure. She hoped.

“They’re coming!” she hissed, beating at the human rock’s back again. She hit him in the side, eliciting a satisfying grunt from the man, and did it again, pleased when she heard his sharp intake of breath. “Let me go! They’re coming for me!”

“Bidh modhail!” he snapped, his hand coming down hard on her behind. Sibyl hadn’t been spanked since she was a child and, while it really didn’t hurt, given how much padding she had on under her skirts, the humiliation of it reddened her cheeks and made her instantly quiet.

And then they were flying.

It wasn’t really flying, but it felt that way. He was so agile, so quick and light on his feet, it felt as if he had simply taken flight as they crossed the stream. Behind them, the dogs grew closer. They were onto a scent—likely her own and she cursed herself for not grabbing her hat, which would allow the dogs to pick up her trail—and pursued it with fervor. Sibyl bounced on the big man’s shoulder, squealing at one point, thinking surely he would fall and she would go tumbling head-first to her death onto the slippery, moss-covered rocks, but then they were across, heading into the cover of the woods on the other side.

Once they were a sight distance from the tree line, the man upended her with a grunt, putting her back onto her feet. Sibyl pushed an already tangled mass of auburn hair away from her face and glared up at him. He didn’t smile, but his eyes danced, clearly amused at her stance—hands on her hips, face upturned—and the words that came tumbling out of her mouth.

“You bumbling idiot! You could have killed us both!” she snapped. “I didn’t ask for your help. Do you understand me? I don’t want your help! No! Go! Away with you!”

She shooed him away like an annoying fly but the man didn’t move. He just looked down at her with those devilish blue eyes.

“Goodbye! Mar sin leibh!” She didn’t know many phrases in Scottish Gaelic, but she had learned a few from Moira. Hello, goodbye, please and thank you. So she said the words, hoping he would understand, and from the look on his face, it was clear he got her meaning. “I’m going! Mar sin leibh! Goodbye!”

She turned and stalked off, getting as far as the nearest tree before he grabbed her again.

“Will you stop that?” she cried, pushing at his arms as they encircled her and turned her to him. “No! Chan eil! Chan eil!”

She repeated the Gaelic word for no, seeing the frown on his face at her protest.

“Shh.” He touched a finger to her lips, shaking his head.

“Chan eil,” she objected again, but this time, the word came out in a mere whisper. “No… please…”

“Tha.” His thumb traced her jawline as he looked down at her, the sunlight dappled across his face and chest. She knew the word—tha. Yes. It meant “yes.” Sibyl felt her breath quicken as the stranger traced her lips with one finger, his gaze falling to her mouth, then to her throat, then further down still, to the way her breasts nearly overflowed the top of her disheveled dress.

“Tha,” he said again, lifting his gaze to meet her eyes. So blue. His eyes were so blue. “Yes.”

“You… you speak English?” she whispered, cocking her head at him in wonder. “Who… who are you?”

 ENTER TO WIN AUTOGRAPHED PRINT EDITION!

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Banned (Erotic) Book Week 2014

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!

 

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Sibyl Blackthorne isn’t afraid of anything—except maybe being sold into marriage to a man she doesn’t love. A man she’s never even met. A man who, by reputation, is one of Scotland’s cruelest lairds in over a century.

But what choice does she have, with her father dead and her uncle now married to his brother’s widow, putting him in charge of not only the Blackthorne fortune, but Sibyl’s future as well?

Then her betrothed turns out to actually be far worse than his reputation, so headstrong Sibyl decides life as a peasant, or even death, would be preferable to a future with such a despicable man, and makes plans to run away.

On an organized hunt for wolves—or, as the Scots call them, wulvers—Sybil escapes her fiancé’s clutches, only to find she’s run into something far more untamed and dangerous in the middle of the woods.

When a big, brawny, long-haired man, who only speaks to her in Gaelic and calls himself Raife, simply picks her up and carries her off with him into the Scottish wild, Sibyl knows she’s in trouble.

When he takes her to a place no human has ever been, she knows she’s gone over the edge.

And when he, at last, marks her as his own, she discovers that only one wild heart can claim another.

EXCERPT:

“What are you doing?” Sibyl protested, but barely had time to get the words out before the big man had divested her of her weapon and had thrown her over his shoulder and began carrying her downstream. “Stop! Let me go!”

Her words were lost in the rush of the water and he didn’t seem to hear her at all as he moved quickly—much faster and more nimbly than she expected of a man of his size—down the shoreline. She beat at his back with her fists, but he didn’t seem to notice that either, and before long, her hands ached. It was like hitting a slab of rock. When he stopped, she lifted her head to look around, noting their position, away from the protection of the tree line now.

And then she heard it. Could he really have detected the sound, so far away? The dogs were barking again. On the hunt. She imagined Alistair telling the story to his men, making up something so he, of course, looked like the wounded hero. Perhaps he would tell them she had been kidnapped by the massive brute who now had her thrown over his shoulder—and really, was that far from the truth? She knew he wouldn’t tell them she had put an arrow through him. That much he would leave out, she was sure. She hoped.

“They’re coming!” she hissed, beating at the human rock’s back again. She hit him in the side, eliciting a satisfying grunt from the man, and did it again, pleased when she heard his sharp intake of breath. “Let me go! They’re coming for me!”

“Bidh modhail!” he snapped, his hand coming down hard on her behind. Sibyl hadn’t been spanked since she was a child and, while it really didn’t hurt, given how much padding she had on under her skirts, the humiliation of it reddened her cheeks and made her instantly quiet.

And then they were flying.

It wasn’t really flying, but it felt that way. He was so agile, so quick and light on his feet, it felt as if he had simply taken flight as they crossed the stream. Behind them, the dogs grew closer. They were onto a scent—likely her own and she cursed herself for not grabbing her hat, which would allow the dogs to pick up her trail—and pursued it with fervor. Sibyl bounced on the big man’s shoulder, squealing at one point, thinking surely he would fall and she would go tumbling head-first to her death onto the slippery, moss-covered rocks, but then they were across, heading into the cover of the woods on the other side.

Once they were a sight distance from the tree line, the man upended her with a grunt, putting her back onto her feet. Sibyl pushed an already tangled mass of auburn hair away from her face and glared up at him. He didn’t smile, but his eyes danced, clearly amused at her stance—hands on her hips, face upturned—and the words that came tumbling out of her mouth.

“You bumbling idiot! You could have killed us both!” she snapped. “I didn’t ask for your help. Do you understand me? I don’t want your help! No! Go! Away with you!”

She shooed him away like an annoying fly but the man didn’t move. He just looked down at her with those devilish blue eyes.

“Goodbye! Mar sin leibh!” She didn’t know many phrases in Scottish Gaelic, but she had learned a few from Moira. Hello, goodbye, please and thank you. So she said the words, hoping he would understand, and from the look on his face, it was clear he got her meaning. “I’m going! Mar sin leibh! Goodbye!”

She turned and stalked off, getting as far as the nearest tree before he grabbed her again.

“Will you stop that?” she cried, pushing at his arms as they encircled her and turned her to him. “No! Chan eil! Chan eil!”

She repeated the Gaelic word for no, seeing the frown on his face at her protest.

“Shh.” He touched a finger to her lips, shaking his head.

“Chan eil,” she objected again, but this time, the word came out in a mere whisper. “No… please…”

“Tha.” His thumb traced her jawline as he looked down at her, the sunlight dappled across his face and chest. She knew the word—tha. Yes. It meant “yes.” Sibyl felt her breath quicken as the stranger traced her lips with one finger, his gaze falling to her mouth, then to her throat, then further down still, to the way her breasts nearly overflowed the top of her disheveled dress.

“Tha,” he said again, lifting his gaze to meet her eyes. So blue. His eyes were so blue. “Yes.”

“You… you speak English?” she whispered, cocking her head at him in wonder. “Who… who are you?”

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HIGHLAND WOLF PACT

Sibyl Blackthorne isn’t afraid of anything—except maybe being sold into marriage to a man she doesn’t love. A man she’s never even met. A man who, by reputation, is one of Scotland’s cruelest lairds in over a century.

But what choice does she have, with her father dead and her uncle now married to his brother’s widow, putting him in charge of not only the Blackthorne fortune, but Sibyl’s future as well?

Then her betrothed turns out to actually be far worse than his reputation, so headstrong Sibyl decides life as a peasant, or even death, would be preferable to a future with such a despicable man, and makes plans to run away.

On an organized hunt for wolves—or, as the Scots call them, wulvers—Sybil escapes her fiancé’s clutches, only to find she’s run into something far more untamed and dangerous in the middle of the woods.

When a big, brawny, long-haired man, who only speaks to her in Gaelic and calls himself Raife, simply picks her up and carries her off with him into the Scottish wild, Sibyl knows she’s in trouble.

When he takes her to a place no human has ever been, she knows she’s gone over the edge.

And when he, at last, marks her as his own, she discovers that only one wild heart can claim another.

EXCERPT: 

“What are you doing?” Sibyl protested, but barely had time to get the words out before the big man had divested her of her weapon and had thrown her over his shoulder and began carrying her downstream. “Stop! Let me go!”

Her words were lost in the rush of the water and he didn’t seem to hear her at all as he moved quickly—much faster and more nimbly than she expected of a man of his size—down the shoreline. She beat at his back with her fists, but he didn’t seem to notice that either, and before long, her hands ached. It was like hitting a slab of rock. When he stopped, she lifted her head to look around, noting their position, away from the protection of the tree line now.

And then she heard it. Could he really have detected the sound, so far away? The dogs were barking again. On the hunt. She imagined Alistair telling the story to his men, making up something so he, of course, looked like the wounded hero. Perhaps he would tell them she had been kidnapped by the massive brute who now had her thrown over his shoulder—and really, was that far from the truth? She knew he wouldn’t tell them she had put an arrow through him. That much he would leave out, she was sure. She hoped.

“They’re coming!” she hissed, beating at the human rock’s back again. She hit him in the side, eliciting a satisfying grunt from the man, and did it again, pleased when she heard his sharp intake of breath. “Let me go! They’re coming for me!”

“Bidh modhail!” he snapped, his hand coming down hard on her behind. Sibyl hadn’t been spanked since she was a child and, while it really didn’t hurt, given how much padding she had on under her skirts, the humiliation of it reddened her cheeks and made her instantly quiet.

And then they were flying.

It wasn’t really flying, but it felt that way. He was so agile, so quick and light on his feet, it felt as if he had simply taken flight as they crossed the stream. Behind them, the dogs grew closer. They were onto a scent—likely her own and she cursed herself for not grabbing her hat, which would allow the dogs to pick up her trail—and pursued it with fervor. Sibyl bounced on the big man’s shoulder, squealing at one point, thinking surely he would fall and she would go tumbling head-first to her death onto the slippery, moss-covered rocks, but then they were across, heading into the cover of the woods on the other side.

Once they were a sight distance from the tree line, the man upended her with a grunt, putting her back onto her feet. Sibyl pushed an already tangled mass of auburn hair away from her face and glared up at him. He didn’t smile, but his eyes danced, clearly amused at her stance—hands on her hips, face upturned—and the words that came tumbling out of her mouth.

“You bumbling idiot! You could have killed us both!” she snapped. “I didn’t ask for your help. Do you understand me? I don’t want your help! No! Go! Away with you!”

She shooed him away like an annoying fly but the man didn’t move. He just looked down at her with those devilish blue eyes.

“Goodbye! Mar sin leibh!” She didn’t know many phrases in Scottish Gaelic, but she had learned a few from Moira. Hello, goodbye, please and thank you. So she said the words, hoping he would understand, and from the look on his face, it was clear he got her meaning. “I’m going! Mar sin leibh! Goodbye!”

She turned and stalked off, getting as far as the nearest tree before he grabbed her again.

“Will you stop that?” she cried, pushing at his arms as they encircled her and turned her to him. “No! Chan eil! Chan eil!”

She repeated the Gaelic word for no, seeing the frown on his face at her protest.

“Shh.” He touched a finger to her lips, shaking his head.

“Chan eil,” she objected again, but this time, the word came out in a mere whisper. “No… please…”

“Tha.” His thumb traced her jawline as he looked down at her, the sunlight dappled across his face and chest. She knew the word—tha. Yes. It meant “yes.” Sibyl felt her breath quicken as the stranger traced her lips with one finger, his gaze falling to her mouth, then to her throat, then further down still, to the way her breasts nearly overflowed the top of her disheveled dress.

“Tha,” he said again, lifting his gaze to meet her eyes. So blue. His eyes were so blue. “Yes.”

“You… you speak English?” she whispered, cocking her head at him in wonder. “Who… who are you?”

———————————————————

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Do you love fairy tales? Then don’t miss these happily ever afters! Get ALL EIGHT modern retellings of fairy tale classics in Selena Kitt’s Modern Wicked Fairy Tales: Complete CollectionAlice, Beauty, Briar Rose, Goldilocks, Gretel, Rapunzel, Red, and Wendy.

ALICE
In this modern version of the fairy tale classic, Alice is madly in love with a man who taps into her naturally submissive nature and introduces her to the pleasurably painful delights of the BDSM world. When her Wade Knight sends a car to take her to a strange and wonderful new place, Alice finds herself in a very sticky situation where everything is upside down and nothing is as it seems.

BEAUTY 
When a terrible accident ends her husband’s plan to kill her, Jolee wakes up alone in a cabin in the middle of the woods, rescued by a masked man they call “the beast,” with a husband who wants her dead, and miles of state forest between her and civilization.

BRIAR ROSE
When Rose confesses a string of faked orgasms to her fiancé on the eve of their wedding, she finds herself alone, abandoned and suicidal–until her aunt gives her a business card with the name of a special clinic. Desperate for a solution, Rose finds that Dr. Matt’s methods are very different, and he’s determined to get to the bottom of her problem–one way or another.

GOLDILOCKS
The three Behr brothers have stolen something too precious for words and Goldie, safecracker extraordinaire, and Campbell, their head of security, have hatched a foolproof scheme to get it back, but the long, involved plan may just complicate their relationship beyond repair

GRETEL
When their stepmother insists that Gretel and her brother, Hans, go on a cruise with a rich candy-heiress grandmother neither of them has ever met, their world is turned upside down. Hans is seduced by their grandmother’s riches while Gretel resists, but by the time the real reason for their voyage is revealed, it may be too late for either of them to escape their grandmother’s greedy grasp.

RAPUNZEL
Rachel runs Rapunzel’s, a high-end salon on the lower level of a downtown Chicago high rise and lives happily in self-imposed exile in an apartment at the top of the tower–that is until Jake Malden walks in with his teen daughter, Emma, and presents Rachel with a dilemma.

RED
Aside from Griff, a drifter recently orphaned Mae has befriended, she is alone in the big city during the Great Depression. She’s grateful when she meets Lionel, a charismatic real estate agent who arranges the sale of her grandmother’s New York apartment so they can get out of the city. But is Mae’s luck too good to be true–who is the big bad wolf lurking in the shadows? 

WENDY
Peter finds his Wendy while looking for a rare book on “shadow” in the library. After hearing Wendy’s tale of woe, he invites her to come live at his house. But although a large cross-dressing blonde named Tink, who lives with Peter and his band, The Lost Boys, isn’t happy about Wendy’s arrival, it’s Peter’s nemesis, James Hook, who proves to be the new couple’s greatest challenge.

—–

 Love…All things Fairy Tale? We’re celebrating them in all their forms…originals, adaptations, twists and retellings. Sweet or steamy or a little bit twisted! Hop through all the blogs for giveaways at each stop! And don’t forget to enter for the $100 Amazon gift card grand prize drawing too!

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Dear Plagiarizer: Breaking Bad – A Bad Idea

19843099_sDear Plagiarizer:

You are obviously confused about what plagiarism is and how copyright works. Since plagiarism and copyright are important to me, being a writer who spends hours creating the original material I publish and all, I thought I would educate you about the topic. The first place I would have thought you might look, plagiarizer, is to the internet standard, Wikipedia:

Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author’‘s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work.

I can see where you might have become confused, plagiarizer. When the subject of plagiarism came up in school, I remember teachers saying, “Put it in your own words.” And that was the extent of their lesson. But there’s a problem with that phrase–put it in your own words–oft repeated by teachers and professors everywhere. It gives students, writers, and possibly future authors, the idea that putting something “in your own words” makes it yours. It doesn’t. Putting something in your own words allows you to express the idea without directly quoting the person who said it–but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to cite the work the idea came from. That’s the basis of research.

Plagiarizing fiction is a little different from plagiarizing an article or an essay. Two authors can take the same idea and write a completely different story. Let’s take the example one of the forum posters used in their response–that two authors are both writing about a small town girl who falls in love with a vampire. One is Twilight, the other is Vampire Diaries. They both have similar ideas–tropes–but they are very different in their expression, their characters, their happenings, even if they share some of the same vampire lore. Vampire Diaries didn’t plagiarism Twilight, or vice versa, no matter which came first. The authors simply used the same trope (girl in love with vampire, love triangles, etc) on which to base their fiction.

There is never, ever a time, when writing or publishing fiction, that it’s okay to use someone else’s work and “put it in your own words.” Let’s be clear about that. It is wrong to ever rewrite fiction and call it your own.

Apparently, plagiarizer,  you didn’t get the memo or you took your teacher’s word for it that “putting it in your own words” made it all okay. Aubrey Rose has come forward about this issue, but I personally know several other authors this has happened to who are afraid to come forward in fear of retaliation from the plagiarising author. And if the forum post above is any indication, it’s clear you believe you did nothing wrong. After all you said:

I looked at a selling genre and wrote a book around them. I didn’t think it was going to be this severe. I didn’t copy anything. The story stayed in my memory and I had significantly altered it.”

Altering a work does not make it yours. You probably weren’t around back in 2008 when the Cassie Edwards extravaganza happened. She was a traditionally published author whose publisher dropped her because she plagiarised. And being banned from Amazon KDP or dropped from a publisher are the least of your worries when you plagiarize something, plagiarizer.

As to how severe the consequences may be, let me enlighten you, plagiarising author, about just how serious it is. While plagiarism isn’t technically illegal – you can turn in a completely plagiarised school assignment and not get arrested, although you’re likely to fail the course if you get caught, and maybe even kicked out of school, especially at the college level – plagiarism can also be a copyright violation. That’s where you can get yourself into trouble and pretty big trouble at that. And I’m not just talking about your book being removed from Amazon, or your account at Amazon being closed, and your IP and ISP address being blocked by Amazon. Obviously that’s bad enough–it really hits you where you live, when: This is my only income-stream ATM!” 

(Just an aside – I find it ironic you used the acronym ATM, which I assume you meant to indicate “at the moment,” because you are currently using other author’s hard work as your own personal ATM–automatic teller machine. Well, plagiarizer, your bank account has now been closed. And that’s not all that may happen to you. I’ll get more into that later.)

If you are taking someone else’s work and simply rephrasing it, as was the case with Aubrey Rose’s book (and quite a few others I’ve seen as well) – you are violating copoyright. There is a concept in intellectual property rights that you may not have been aware of, naive plagiarizer, called “substantial similarity.” Check this glossary of intellectual property terms for its definition. I’ll repeat it for you here. (Note I’ve cited the source… that’s how not to plagiarize, plagiarizer. I’ve bolded the most important phrase in the quote.)

SUBSTANTIAL SIMILARITY [copyright]. The degree of resemblance between a copyrighted work and a second work that is sufficient to constitute copyright infringement by the second work. Exact word-for-word or line-for-line identity does not define the limits of copyright infringement. U.S. courts have chosen the flexible phrase “substantial similarity” to define that level of similarity that will, together with proof of validity and copying, constitute copyright infringement.

I’m pretty sure, plagiarizer, even if you have not read this particular term, Amazon’s copyright lawyers have. And banning your account is the least of the actions that could be taken against you. Perhaps, plagiarizer, you aren’t as naive as you claim. Maybe you thought you would pick authors you assumed couldn’t pursue you with a lawsuit and decided to rewrite their popular works as your own in order to cash in on the gold rush of KDP self-publishing?

Did you think you wouldn’t get caught? That avid readers wouldn’t notice the similarities between your book and hers? Or did you just not care? You figured, if you got caught, you’d take the money and run?

Here’s the problem with your theory: a) you did get caught, and eventually, anyone who does this, will get caught–someone will find out and you will be exposed and b) you can still be sued. I don’t care what country you live in, how protected you feel you are, or how “innocent” this crime feels in your head.

You think the author you’re plagiarising has no recourse? But how do you know who that author is? I have more than one pen name, plagiarizer, and you could have chosen one of mine and not even know it. I have more than enough resources to come after you. And I would — on principle alone. As self-publishing becomes more lucrative, as more and more authors make money from their creative endeavors, they are branching out into other genres. Hugh Howey is currently writing a romance novel. He has more than enough money – and integrity – to come after you, plagiarizer. What if you plagiarise his pen name “by accident?” What if you plagiarise a traditional author who has branched out and self-published erotica or erotic romance? Anne Rice wrote her erotica under the name A.N. Roquelaure. What do you think would happen to you if you chose to plagiarize her, before anyone knew A.N. Roquelaure was Anne Rice?

Don’t think you’re protected, plagiarizer, that even if you’re found out, the author won’t come after you, because you could be wrong, and being wrong can be costly. Do you know what happens, plagiarizer, if you are sued and you lose?

You give up all profits from the plagiarised work. You pay back the profits, plus damages. The law says you have to pay up to $150,000 for each work infringed. You will also have to pay the author’s attorney fees and court costs. That’s right, plagiarizer–the author won’t have to pay to sue you, in the end. You will pay to be sued. The court can also issue an injunction against you or even send you to jail.

Was it worth it, plagiarizer?

And for anyone out there still doing this, or considering it, because all your black hat internet marketing friends are doing it too, ask yourself this: is it worth the risk? Are you ready to pay the consequences for breaking bad in this instance? Because you never know who you’re plagiarising, especially in erotica and erotic romance. The names you see on the covers? 80% of those are pen names. And they might be pen names of authors who have a lot more money, resources and integrity than you do.

——–

Authors if this has happened to you, check out this resource: Author United Against Plagiarism. The more authors united against this – and the more authors reporting it – the worse it will get for plagiarizers who believe they can continue to do this and get away with it. 

EDITED TO ADD: Plagiarists, THERE ARE AND WILL BE CONSEQUENCES for your actions.

If you are plagiarizing someone else’s work, I would suggest you re-think your “publishing strategy!”

 

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