Erotica authors were
impatiently waiting for July 1, for a look at the new dashboard and the opportunity for a glimpse into the Bezos crystal ball at what they might be paid for the month of July, when the Kindle Unlimited changes took place.
Looks like the numbers are (kind of) in… and the outlook is rather dismal. Erotica shorts authors knew it was going to be bad. I just don’t think most of them thought it was going to be quite *this* bad. Because it looks as if authors will be making about $0.0057 per page. That’s slightly less than half a penny a page, folks.
This was every erotica shorts author’s face when they heard this news:
But we’re erotica authors. We are the most versatile, adaptive and scrappy bunch of people I have ever known. And if Amazon thought we were going to take this lying down?
Bwahahahahahahahahahaha. Then they don’t know us very well!
The objective is twofold:
1. Get Amazon to tell us how many people are borrowing our books, without which our page counts are utterly useless
2. Get Amazon to tell us how much they mean to pay us – NOW. IN ADVANCE. No more of this, “Enroll your books, choose to go exclusively with Amazon, and we’ll tell you later how much you’ll make” crap!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
1. We don’t want to make Amazon mad at us!
Look, if we don’t stop this ride now, we may never be able to get off. And this particular ride ends at welfare-ville. So let’s not go there. There are plenty of erotica authors who have made a nice living from writing. And we are satisfying a very voracious readership. Why shouldn’t they have books they want to read, too? And why shouldn’t we get paid for them?
2. We’ll just opt out of KU and distribute our books everywhere!
3. Aren’t you overreacting? You sound kinda mad…
Yeah, losing 50-70% of my erotica shorts income? I’m mad.
Erotica authors are awesome. They provide you with some great, fun, thrilling, and let’s face it, damned hot stories to get lost in – they deserve to be paid for their work. Don’t you think?
I really don’t think a short story’s worth should be judged by the time spent reading or writing it. O’Henry would be appalled by this new system. Plenty of people pay a hefty ticket price to ride a roller coaster. That only lasts minutes. The length of something should not determine its worth.
AUTHORS: WHAT YOU CAN DO
A. PULL YOUR EROTICA BOOKS FROM KU. If you want to keep your longer romances in, great. But if you have erotica get it OUT.
B. COMMENT, LIKE, SHARE THE FOLLOWING FACEBOOK POST & TWEET:
C. EMAIL email@example.com
Don’t yell. DON’T USE ALL CAPS (even though I am ) Be nice. Concise. And clear!
Tell Jeff, hey look, this is simply a courtesy for business owners. We need to know these things to run our business.
-Show us the borrows. How many people are actually borrowing our books?
-Show us the money. How much are you actually going to pay us?
-Tell him you pulled out (heh). I understand not everyone will. But if you pulled out, yell it from the rooftops!
D. ASK EVERYONE YOU KNOW to email firstname.lastname@example.org We want him inundated with letters. We want him yelling, “Oh Em Gee, STAAAAHHHHP these self-published authors, Jane, get me off this crazy thing!”
Here’s a form email you can give to your readers:
Hello, Mr. Bezos
I am an avid reader, and I am contacting you today on behalf of my favorite authors who participate in your Kindle Unlimited book subscription program.
Under the new reporting system, authors have no idea how many individual people are borrowing their books through KU. This is vital information and authors NEED to have it. Please amend the KDP reporting system to share this information, which you are already collecting anyway and shared up until July 1, with authors.
Also, authors have no idea how much to expect to be paid. The email they received today suggests the payout could be as low as $.0057 per page. As a reader, I want as many authors to keep as many books in the KU program as possible, and it would help if Amazon would tell authors how much they’re going to be paid. It’s not fair that they have to guess and hope for the best when they sign up for KU and give up the fixed royalty rates they receive outside the program.
TEXT YOU CAN USE TO SHARE WITH YOUR READERS
(and feel free to right-click and use the graphic at the top of this page).
Help Authors Spread the Word – PLEASE SHARE!
Many of you know that I’ve been a HUGE proponent of the Kindle Unlimited program. It’s allowed me to gain a broader readership and new fans who would have never discovered me without being able to borrow my books and take a chance on them through KU.
That said, you may not be aware that Amazon made massive, sweeping changes to the KU program starting today. Beginning today, they will only be paying based on pages read, rather than books borrowed.
This change has left authors in the dark regarding royalties since Amazon isn’t telling us how many readers are borrowing our books or how much we’ll earn for each page read.
How can authors make good business decisions without knowing how much money they are earning? The short answer is, we can’t. And that makes many of us question whether we should remain part of the Kindle Unlimited program at all.
That’s why I’ve joined #releasetherate, an author-led initiative with a simple goal: getting Amazon to release more information to authors. We’re not asking for much. We’re asking for two small pieces of data that Amazon can easily produce that will help self-published authors make informed business decisions.
1.) Number of units borrowed per book — Amazon has this data; they have been providing it to us since the Select program began. Why withhold that number now? The only reason is to confuse authors. Give us the total number of customers who have clicked the “Read for Free” button on our book’s sales page. Or, at the very least, give us the total number of customers who have read a minimum of one page of our book.
2.) #releasetherate – Authors are aware that Amazon has a ballpark rate-per-page-read that they are expecting to pay for Select and KU pages read in July 2015. We hope it’s not the .0057 cents per page based on the June 2015 Select Fund and pages read, a rate that would decimate the income of many authors and make it impossible for us to remain part of the Kindle Unlimited program.
If you’re an author or reader who feels that Amazon should #releasetherate, please help us spread the word by sharing this post.
And if you’re as angry and frustrated about the lack of information being provided to authors, as I am, please let Amazon know by sending an email to email@example.com and letting him know that withholding basic business information from authors is making many of your favorite authors wonder if Kindle Unlimited is really the right program for them after all.
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
LATEST RELEASE: Highland Wolf Pact: Blood Reign
Well, authors and readers, the heyday of erotica shorts filling
Kink Kindle Unlimited may be coming to an end. I hope you made hay while the sun was shining, authors. And readers, I hope you got your fill of the all-you-can-eat buffet that was Kink Kindle Unlimited while it lasted, because many of the erotic shorts that glutted the program may be going back to sales-only and being distributed wide, if the rumblings of authors about this new “pay-per-page” system is any indication. I know some (non-erotica) authors who think this is a great thing!
For erotic or non-erotic authors, this is a slide toward being paid by the word. And not words SOLD, like our old friend Charles Dickens, but words READ. If I go into a restaurant and order a steak, but I fill up on drinks and chips and salsa, do I get to send the steak back because I’m no longer hungry? No. If I buy a DVD but never open it (I have Keanu Reeves in “The Day the World Stood Still” AND “Pumpkinhead” on my shelf still in shrinkwrap… sad…) do people not get paid for it? Uhhh no. If I get sick in the middle of a movie and spend 3/4 of it in the bathroom, do I get my money for admission back? No. If I pay for concert tickets and my car breaks down on the way, do I get my money back? No.
So why in the world would an author not get paid for a sale/borrow, based on the initial interest of the consumer to buy/borrow it? Why are authors opting into Kindle Unlimited (the best place for a self-published author to make the most money with the vendor who happens to have the largest share of the ebook market) now going to be paid by “pages read?”
Because Amazon’s been losing money on Kindle Unlimited. And this is a way to “spin” it to make it look as if Amazon is actually listening to authors, while screwing both short and long writers. Yay! Oh wait…
One particular piece of feedback we’ve heard consistently from authors is that paying the same for all books regardless of length may not provide a strong enough alignment between the interests of authors and readers. We agree. With this in mind, we’re pleased to announce that beginning on July 1, the KDP Select Global Fund will be paid out based on the number of pages KU and KOLL customers read.
So those of you who were complaining that “short erotic dino porn” was glutting up the
Kink Kindle Unlimited program and eating up all your precious borrows in the global fund pot? Be careful what you wish for. You got it now. I guess we’ll see how many people are actually reading to the end of your 500 page epic fantasy tome. 😉
I predict that many “shorts” authors will opt out. (Poor Chuck Tingle – from $1.30 a borrow to… probably less than a $0.99 buy would net. But I guess we’ll see! Not that I’m dissing Chuck Tingle – if there’s an audience for Sharknado, there’s an audience for anything!) Not that you should, but many may, just out of fear. But shorts are, in our attention deficit world, not necessarily a bad thing. Erotica writers have always written short – and we’ve generally been paid more for it, too. (Much to the chagrin of authors in other genres!) But for those, like this guy, who say that anything under 30 pages is a “scam?” Dude, go tell O’Henry that, eh?
I know there are scammers out there who have been taking advantage of the
Kink Kindle Unlimited program – writing (literally) 500 words, throwing it up there with provocative covers and blurbs to make people one-click, and boom! Just opening it is 10%, so they now collect $1.30ish per borrow. And that sucks. There are always a few bad apples, right? But let’s not lump shorts writers in with scammers, okay? To each their own. If my readers want to read a hot little short about an illicit relationship between stepsiblings, why not? That’s not a scam. Nor is it or should it be penalized, simply because it’s short.
The SkyJump in Vegas costs you $119 and lasts a few minutes. I rest my case. 😛
I predict that mystery, thriller/suspense and horror writers will make a killing. People read those books to the end to find what happens! I predict short chapters with “cliffhanger” endings. I know people have been complaining about serials and cliffhangers – but I think we’ll see more of them. Because cliffhangers! I predict the sweet spot will be 25-35K. 50K at most. I predict pages of short, snappy, untagged dialogue! 😉 Oh the places authors will go…
As a publisher (and self-published author) I had some questions for Amazon about the new system. Below is a summary of what I was told. I’m providing it to you as information. Do with it what you will!
So authors, if you’re thinking of jumping ship, Amazon wants you to stay. They’ll let you opt out as you wish for the first ninety days. Clearly, they’re trying to prevent a mass exodus here. That, of course, will depend on how much a “page” ends up being worth. And we’ll have to wait until mid-August to find that out…
Ooooo a cliffhanger! I see what you did there, Bezos…! Curses!
After getting such conflicting information about whether or not we were going to get just the metric, “borrowed pages read” replacing the number currently in the “borrows” column, or whether or not we were going to get “borrowed pages read” AND “number of borrows,” I asked Amazon to clarify.
I was told that they have been getting an overwhelming amount of feedback (you go guys! 😉 ) about not getting BOTH the number of borrows AND the number of borrowed pages read.
In light of that, they are CONSIDERING this as an option. They cannot say that it will be out by the time the program is implemented in July, nor can they say that they will ever give both numbers (number of borrows AND number of pages read).
But they have heard the outcry from authors, which has been far bigger and more vehement than they expected, and they may introduce both numbers in the future.
For now, we’re going to have to deal with “borrowed pages read” replacing the number currently in the “borrow” column.
P.S. EROM and EROTICA AUTHORS: www.excitica.com: When KU stops paying you, come to the dark side. We have cookies! 😀Read More
Excite Spice has over 4300 subscribers now and it’s growing! We want to grow even more! To that end, we’re putting out an open call for stories to include in boxed sets that will be used to draw in more readers to see your books! Excite Spice is still free for authors to advertise in (and many of you have seen good to great results, depending on your promo) and will always be free for readers to join. I’d appreciate your help in making Excite Spice another great platform and option to profile your work.
I will likely make these permafree OR I will put them in Kindle Unlimited at $0.99 for borrows (for a 90-day time span). If I do the latter instead of the former, you will get paid (minus Excessica’s 10%) and if any individual bundle receives a Kindle Unlimited bonus, that will also be split among the authors.
I will also be putting something of my own in all of these bundles myself. So if you ever wanted to be in a bundle with me, you’ll have those bragging rights. (If it’s something still worth bragging about?)
If you are interested in being in any of the bundle/boxed sets, fill out these forms. At the moment, I don’t have any dates. I’ll assess what kind of interest I get, collect stories/novellas until the boxed sets are full, and then determine a release schedule.
-LENGTH: stories should be at least 5K or longer
-HEAT: bring it! Anything that isn’t Amazon-blockable
-THEME: see below. Have an idea? Pitch it!
-EXCLUSIVITY: Can be already published, should only be available on Amazon (for Kindle Unlimited purposes)
-PAYMENT: Author split (minus Excessica’s 10%) if book is priced at $0.99 in Kindle Unlimited.
BDSM Boxed Set
Billionaire Boxed Set
Daddy (PI) Boxed Set
Fairy Tales & Fantasy Boxed Set
Gangbang Boxed Set
Gay Male Boxed Set
Historical Boxed Set (any time period)
Lactation Boxed Set
Lesbian Boxed Set
Medical Boxed Set
Menage Boxed Set
Mommy/MILF Boxed Set
Pastor/Preacher/Nun Boxed Set
Professor/Student Boxed Set
Shifter Boxed Set
Stepbrother (PI) Boxed Set
Trans/Gender Bending Boxed Set
EXCITICA is run by Selena Kitt (that’s me!) New York Times bestselling and award winning author of erotica and erotic romance fiction with over one million authored books sold. She has run her own publishing company at eXcessica for six years and has been one of the most vocal authors against the corporate censorship of erotica. She has developed eXcitica 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, 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:
What do I need to do to get my book on EXCITICA?
You should be approved right away and you can start uploading your books!
NOTE: We are in a soft launch 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 the beginning of the new 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?
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
As an erotica author, every time I get a letter from Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) in my inbox, I have a brief moment of panic. If you’re a self-published erotica writer, I’m sure you know the feeling. When erotica authors get notices from KDP, it’s usually the Amazon Book Team writing to tell you to bend over, because they’re about to screw you in one fashion or another. Today, however, I received a very strange email from KDP – although I suppose it’s no surprise, they’re still asking me to bend over and be their bitch.
By now you’ve all read Amazon’s latest PR move in the Hachette feud. I’ve kept my opinion to myself in this matter, for the most part – at least in terms of my blog – because I don’t have a dog in this fight, a pony in this race, a chicken in this… well, you get the idea, let’s not beat a dead metaphor. I’m not a Hachette author and I’ve never been legacy published, nor will I ever likely be, nor am I (technically) published by Amazon or any of their imprints. Taking sides in this fight, to me, is like being the grass rooting for one of two elephants fighting overhead. Either way, I’m about to be trampled. But I’m an erotica writer in the self-publishing world, so I’m used to it by now.
Apparently, Amazon wants me to take up arms and protest against the horrible injustice being carried out by legacy publisher, Hachette. Amazon (seriously MIS)quotes George Orwell, they claim Hachette hasn’t played fair, and essentially come across as a whiny girlfriend who thinks we should all get together and beat up some guy she doesn’t like – a guy she’s actually been cheating on us with all along behind our backs.
So Amazon is asking me to take sides – to specifically choose their side. Why should I do that?
Most self-published authors would jump if Amazon said how-high – and many of them will, in this case. I won’t. I’ve heard the arguments of the Zonists. Yes, Amazon has given self-published authors a platform they never had before. Yes, Amazon has offered up their store/traffic to self-published authors, which is far greater than we could have generated on our own. Yes, Amazon markets self-published books, their algorithms/also-boughts drive more sales, and they process secure payments and hand us money every month. But they haven’t done so out of the goodness of their hearts. They haven’t done so because they truly value authors as content creators and want to invest in our collective futures.
I know, because I’ve been spending my own time actually helping authors, for years, before Kindle even came to the forefront – I started Excessica to help not only myself but other authors like me, who wanted a chance to run with the big(ger) boys. (At the time, it was a little outfit called Fictionwise – but they were the biggest dog in town!) I spent a lot of my own time and effort and money (when I could have selfishly been creating more of my own content, mind you, which would have made me far more cash in the long run) editing, doing cover art, formatting, uploading, marketing for other authors. I did it because I DO value authors as content creators and I DO want them to make as much as they possibly can from their own work (which is why Excessica only takes 10% – and we didn’t take anything at all in the beginning.)
Does Amazon put its money where its mouth is when it comes to truly valuing authors as content creators?
No, I’m afraid they don’t.
Amazon likes to say they support self-published authors, but what they support is their own bottom line. They use us when it’s in their best interest (like when Amazon came knocking on my door, desperate to increase their numbers, asking Excessica’s 100+ authors and 500+ titles to go all-in with Amazon KDP Select before it was first announced) and discard or discount us when it’s not (who found out about Kindle Unlimited before it was unveiled? Anyone? Were you asked if your KDP Select book could be included? Of course not–they already had you
by the balls under contract in KDP Select for at least 90 days…)
Of course, that doesn’t let Hachette off the hook. They don’t support authors either (and, to be fair, treat them even more poorly than Amazon currently treats self-published authors). These are two giant corporations in the middle of a feud, and like all “feudalists,” (ha) they believe we peasants/authors are around for their profit and amusement, to be used at will and tossed aside when we’re no longer of interest. Ask any midlister whose contract has been cancelled how sympathetic Hachette is. Ask any erotica author whose account has been cancelled by Amazon how sympathetic they are to “their” authors.
Hachette has already pulled out their big guns, asking their authors to name-drop and get involved in this fight, and like trained monkeys, they’ve danced to Hachette’s tune. Now Amazon is attempting the same trick–see, Hachette, we have trained monkeys too, says Bezos! In fact, our trained monkeys are even better than your trained monkeys – look how many of them we got to sign a petition! (And we didn’t even have to take out a full page NYTimes ad to do it!) Amazon asked authors to CC them in their emails, I’m sure in part so they could tally up the number of responses and rub it in Hachette’s face.
The fact is, Amazon is using me again. They want something from me that will pad their bottom line–and they’re taking money out of the pockets of the very authors they’re asking to support them! They tell self-published authors to ask Hachette to “stop using their authors as leverage” – while Amazon decides to use “their” KDP authors to try to leverage their own position in their little feud! This is Amazon-logic. It’s the logic of elitists, of a 1% who think the 99% consists of stupid sheeple who simply do whatever they’re told. Because if you follow this action to its logical conclusion, self-published authors are being asked to slit their own throats. I’m being asked by Amazon to tell a legacy publisher to capitulate, stop colluding, and lower ebook prices to reasonable levels. Why would I do that? If legacy publishing keeps their prices high, self-publishers benefit. We can easily, consistently undercut agency pricing, every time. That’s a huge advantage. Amazon wants me to tell Hachette to lower prices so they can sell more books – so that Amazon can sell more books – and in the end, decrease my own piece of the pie?
Gee, Mr. Bezos, if you wanted me to bend over and take it, you could have at least offered me some flowers and candy! Maybe if Amazon had started by offering me a higher royalty, it might have softened me up a little? I mean, there are a lot of things, and I mean A LOT, that Amazon could do to sweeten things up for self-published authors. They could do them out of the goodness of their hearts. Of course, they won’t. They could do them because they value self-published authors as content creators and believe they should receive a fair wage for fair work. Of course, they won’t. They could do them because they want us to say “how high” when they say “jump.” But, apparently, they feel they don’t have to. Apparently they think they can yank up our skirts and give it to us whenever they feel like it. Amazon = alphahole? Not a bad analogy…
If you want me to put out, Amazon, perhaps you could, oh, I don’t know…
1. Give self-published authors an Amazon representative. Every self-published author should have one – that’s only fair.
2. Give self-published authors back the pre-order button. You took it away when you deactivated Mobi as a publishing platform and never gave it back. Now you dole it out to authors you feel are “worthy” of the pre-order button.
3. Allow self-published authors to join Kindle Unlimited WITHOUT exclusivity.
4. Give self-published authors something reasonable – say 60% of list price for borrows – in Kindle Unlimited.
5. Hachette got to pay for coop on Amazon to get their books out in front of the reader – offer the same thing to self-published authors. Why can’t we pay to get our books out in front of readers too?
6. Hachette gets full control over their books – including choosing more that two measley categories for each book. (Or, in the case of erotica, just one!) Give self-published authors the same treatment.
7. Stop serial book returns. You give readers carte blanche, let them return dozens of books, and take money out of self-published authors’ pockets.
8. Define your terms of service more clearly and make your policies and guidelines transparent.
9. Actually TELL us when you’re going to start a program like Kindle Unlimited and ASK if we’d like to be included, rather than opting us in and telling us we can opt-out if we like.
10. Let us make books free at will. Let us price at whatever level we like. In fact, let HACHETTE price their books whatever way they like too. Let the free market be… you know, FREE.
Those are just ten easy things Amazon could do to sweeten up their relationship with self-published authors, to show us that they take us seriously as content creators. Just as seriously as they take Hachette and the other legacy publishers. Will they do them? Oh, maybe. Eventually. In their own time. But not because they value self-published authors. That, I’m afraid, is a delusion. Self-published authors talk about being afraid of biting the hand that feeds them, but what they really need to be worried about is being trampled underfoot of the giants fighting over their heads.
To me, Amazon’s letter smacks of desperation. This is a midnight booty call, folks. Do we answer midnight booty calls? No – we have more self-respect than that. Don’t we? I sure hope so.
Amazon’s calling self-published authors to unite and that’s all well and good, but in the end, we have to have a reason. Indies are independent. It’s right in the name. Simply providing a platform for us to sell on doesn’t cut it, I’m afraid. That’s not enough incentive for self-published authors to rally around a retail giant asking us to cut our own throats in order to keep ebook prices down for consumers, while they pay their own warehouse workers minimum wage, cut off affiliates in states where they might have to pay sales tax, and have an overall 6% effective tax rate.
Not that I think self-published authors shouldn’t unite. I believe they should. And some day, there may actually be a good enough reason to compel most of them to do so. I doubt that reason lies in supporting Amazon’s fight with Hachette. But if I were Amazon, I’d pay closer attention to the self-publishing community, because we’re not playing peasant to their feudal lord and we only look like sheep. We’re really wolves in sheep’s clothing, every one of us, and we have quite a bit of bite, especially as a group. Amazon knows this to some degree – they’re trying to activate that rabid capability to their own defense.
What Amazon doesn’t want you to know, what they don’t want self-published authors to wake up and realize, is that we have far more in common with Hachette and legacy publishers in this matter than we do with Amazon. I know this because I’ve been a small co-op publisher since 2008, and have been using Amazon as a distributor since then. In fact, through Excessica, I have more power than most self-published authors in fighting against Amazon’s strong-arm tactics. Most self-published authors, even though they are, essentially, publishers in their own right (they simply have an author stable of one), have little to no power in negotiations with Amazon. Right now Amazon is dictating terms to Hachette. They can choose to play ball, or they can take their bat and mitt and go home. What are you going to do, when Amazon decides to change your publishing terms? When they want to tell you that you can no longer sell your book at $0.99? When they tell you your royalty rate is now 50% instead of 70%? Or 35%?
I know some self-published authors will rally around Amazon, afraid of biting the hand that feeds them, but I also know that many will not. Many authors will find Amazon’s midnight booty call just as offensive and appalling as I did. And in the end, if we don’t unite for Amazon, we may still combine our forces and use our powers for good. Amazon should watch their backs, because self-published authors may unite all on our own – some of us have already begun. The numbers Amazon is trying to leverage surely do exist – but I’m afraid they may not always come down on the side Amazon wants them to. Marie Antoinette threw bread to the peasants and told them to eat cake – before those peasants all grabbed their torches and pitchforks and decided to storm the castle. She ended up headless. In the end, I’m pretty sure the full force of united self-published authors is not an opposition Amazon ultimately wants to deal with.Read More
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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! 😀
“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.”
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.”
“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!
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!
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 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:
How do you avoid being ADULT filtered?
The “Amazon Bad Word List”
How do you get UNFILTERED on Amazon?
Make the above changes as they apply to your book. Then email Amazon at this email:
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.
But my book has a taboo subject matter—now what?
There are different rules for different vendors. Currently—
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! 😛 (If you know anyone, contact me!)
Hey, does anyone remember when Amazon started banning erotic fiction?
Or when Apple removed “certain” titles from their bestseller lists?
Or when Paypal stopped paying for “certain types” of erotica?
When Amazon began excluding books from its “all department” search?
When Smashwords started cracking down on “nipples and floppy bits and dangly parts?“
When Apple began rejecting outright those books which contained “certain content” they didn’t agree with?
When Barnes and Noble stripped bestselling erotica books (in the top 100) of their ranks by 1,000 points?
I remember, because it makes a difference to me, to my bottom line. This is my livelihood, my living. Every time one of these corporations decides to change the rules (again) without telling publishers (again) what is or isn’t acceptable in their venue, they take food off my table. It hasn’t stopped, by the way. Just because the news isn’t covering it today, doesn’t mean it’s stopped.
Your freedom to read what you like is being eroded every day. Every time Apple rejects a book or app (they just did it again and made the news last week), every time a corporation decides, “We won’t sell that here,” it narrows your choices as a reader. Yes, corporations can sell what they like, they can make the rules on their playground.
But they should then have the cojones to tell publishers and authors what is or isn’t okay with them. Instead, we have to guess, while Amazon and Apple and Barnes and Noble “reserve the right” to arbitrarily refuse one book, but not another.
I’ll give you a recent personal example. This story of mine, Girls Only: Pool Party, has a picture of two women on the front. They’re not naked (look closer) and there are no “important parts” showing. Yet Amazon stamped my book ADULT and excluded it from the All Department search.
However, this book has a very similar cover, but depicts a man and a woman, rather than two women, in the same position. I made the sensible argument that either my book should be unfiltered – or Leo should be ADULT filtered.
This was the response I received:
Regarding “Girls Only: Pool Party,” we have evaluated your title in comparison to “Leo” and stand by our decision not to remove the adult flag. Mature content handling is confidential and we retain discretion over what we perceive as “adult” titles.
I responded, letting them know that I was sure the LGBT community would like to know that they are censoring gay and lesbian fiction but allowing heterosexual fiction to remain in the all department search. In fact, I was sure that there were many reporters and journalists who would be interested in this fact as well, especially after Apple’s publicity last week in banning an app for gay/lesbian content, and I happened to know several of them personally, because they interviewed me during the Paypal fiasco…
Amazon took the filter off my book.
But most authors don’t have the same ‘clout’ that I do, or the means to back up an “I’m going to the press with this!” statement.
There is, however, power in numbers. It’s one of the reasons I developed Excessica as a publishing co-op. There’s always more power in numbers.
So with that in mind – if you have a book that’s been filtered or banned, a book you’ve been told by some corporation that it isn’t “acceptable” to them, please POST IT HERE.
BANNED EROTICA EBOOKS is a Facebook page dedicated to intellectual freedom, for authors and readers alike. Please share it with your friends, go “like” it on Facebook. Support those vendors who refuse to ban books, and tell those corporations who are limiting your choices that you don’t appreciate it!
Just because you haven’t heard about corporate censorship lately, doesn’t mean it’s gone away. In fact, the more silent we are about it, the more they will continue to do it–and get away with it.
Don’t sit back and ignore it. It’s not going away. Do something, even if it’s just “liking” the Facebook page to send the message to corporations: “We want to the freedom to read what we like!”
Make sure they get that message – loud and clear.
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
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