the nasty little piece by the British rag The Kernel launched a panic attack throughout the halls of Kobo last month. Other retailers haven't been inactive, but they've been quietly axing or delaying indie erotica behind the scenes.
Nor did I think mine or Alter Ego's books had some special magic exemption from the current witch hunt. So far my erotica series, Seasons of Magick, has remained unscathed.
Alter Ego though?
1) Apple has refused to accept book four in her first BDSM series, despite changes to the cover, since May.
2) Since the beginning of 2012, Apple has sat on Alter Ego's books for three months or more before approving them for sale. By contrast, Blood Sacrifice was on sale at Apple one week after it was shipped by Smashwords.
3) Kobo was taken down all of Alter Ego's books that were distributed by Draft2Digital. Both mine and Alter Ego's books distributed by Smashwords are still available, except for the two(one from each of us) that were released in October.
4) On Thursday, November 21, Amazon took down two of Alter Ego's books. In the past, Amazon slapped on their super-secret-double-probation ADULT label. This time they simply took the books down. Ironically, one of the books is about a married couple, and just the married couple, trying to jump start their sex life after the birth of their first child. When I told fellow erotica authors which book had been banned, the response was universal: "You've got to be fucking kidding me."
A large part of the problem is that there are no guidelines from any of these retailers about what is and is not acceptable. The second part of the problem is the lack of consistency in these mysterious super-secret-double-probation guidelines. The third problem is that the primary target is indie writers.
What do I mean?
E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Gray is okay. Selena Kitt's Babysitting the Baumgartners is not. Why? Selena's book has the rear view of a woman's hiney on the cover and the word "babysitting" in the title.
Chelsea Fox's Dog Gone It was banned for bestiality simply for have a canine on the cover, though no bestiality is even hinted in the description or the text. Meanwhile, Christie Sims and Alara Branwen's Taken by the T-Rex, which does all three, is still available without the ADULT label and a best seller, even though Amazon has made public statements that they will not accept any books with bestiality.
Charlaine Harris' Harper Connelly series, which includes an affair between the heroine and her stepbrother is okay, even though incest and pseudo incest is supposedly verboten according to a statement by Amazon to the BBC.
So what are indie erotica writers supposed to do?
1)l I strongly suggest you read Selena Kitt's guide to surviving the Pornocalypse.
2) Have your readers protest the unavailability of your books. The retailers are more likely to listen to disgruntled customers than disgruntled writers.
3) Realize that Smashwords is the only retailer that will.take responsibility and place an adult filter on their website. Promote them to your readers.
4) If you want to sell on the other retailer sites, understand that you will have to play the game dictated by Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and, maybe Kobo (assuming they will ever allow new indie books again).
It all sucks but there it is. Best of luck to all indie writers, because the Powers That Be are doing their best to tear us down. I don't know about y'all, but I like my taste of freedom, and I'm not about to give it up!
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