So, being the Indie erotica and erotic romance writer, I’ve been on top of a development that started on March 22, just before the weekend. I went to a steampunk conference over the weekend, and missed the first initial hoopla and worry from what was going on. And then it all hit me in the face on Monday, March 26–Amazon was changing the rankings on erotica and re-categorizing some spicy and erotic romances into erotica.
When ever the Zon starts messing with things like this, it means something drastic is about to happen. Last time, it was KU2. That sucked to no end for people that wrote short stories, me included, where everyone started to get paid by the page instead of by single unit download. Now, they are starting to “shadow-ban” titles, spicy romance and erotic romance too, that has an “adult theme”.
The Low Down of What is Going On
There are a lot of rumors and speculation about why this is happening. In clearly the Zon’s fashion, there are no real answers when sending emails or messages to the powers that be at Amazon. Just answers to the point that titles are being reassigned to the erotica category because your book has “adult themes”. This is not only affecting regular erotica, but a lot of the steamy and erotic romance that clearly follow a romance plot line and isn’t all about the sex. Is it censorship?
Well, you have to look at why it might be happening. There is apparently a law that passed in US congress on March 21 that is supposed to help stop online sex trafficking. FOSTA or the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act is supposed to help stop online sex trafficking, but it is having a much wider affect because it holds the websites accountable, retroactively. So, many websites, including Craigslist’s personal ads, are shutting down and purging of sexual explicit content. In essence, the new administration is cracking down on sexually charged content, and it’s leading to a purge on many sites like Apple, Reddit, and Amazon.
What Does This Mean To You As A Reader?
What does it mean to romance readers of adult romances (formerly new adult), spicy romance, erotic romances and erotica? It means you are going to have a harder time finding what you like to read. You can still find erotic romances and erotica on Amazon, but not in a general search. And since the general store ranking is gone, there will be less “customer also bought” suggestions for titles.
There are still erotica categories, but they are harder to find. I’m sure other websites may follow suit. I haven’t heard anything from Kobo yet, but they are in Canada. So, that might be the saving grace for them. ANY US COMPANIES will most likely be reacting to this law. But then, I expected something like this from this administration. I knew the suppression would begin, but wasn’t sure how.
So, what could be next? Well, it’s come to the time where I will need to, and many other authors, will have to consider KU2 a mute point now. The promos haven’t been as productive lately for me, and going WIDE, which means taking my titles to other retailers, will be the only way to get new readers and help me meet my bottom line. So, in all likely hood, as an erotic romance or erotica reader, you may not find titles you want to read in KU anymore. They will still be on Amazon, but harder to find, and you’ll have to pay more for them since it won’t be profitable for them to stay in KU any longer.
Plus, I am going to try to continue my promotional bimonthly lists. It will still be a way for you to find fabulous erotica and erotic romances from good authors. But as far as the deals, there might be less freebies and more just $0.99 discounted titles.
So, yes, bottom line, you will most likely start paying more for these erotic romances and it will be harder to find them. But looks like I’ll keep up my promotions as long as I can. I’m also going to check with the other authors to see if they are planning to stay in KU. Not sure how this will all turn out, but like with most changes like this, adaptation is sometimes the only option. And to stay in business, sometimes, it’s the only choice for an author.
Through all the things I go through as a self-published author, I’m going to keep writing. I have some ideas for stories I haven’t finished yet, and will keep going. I’ve had to recently go back to work, and not write full time. That has been a set back too. But whatever happens, I hope you stick with me as I wade through yet another obstacle in the road for an erotica and erotic romance writer.
I hope you understand also, because not only do I write it, I read this genre too. So, I’m going to feel your pain. I am considering maybe ending my KU membership too. If enough writers and readers pull out, maybe Amazon will get a hint that this kind of censorship is just not what the customers want. But then, I’m just one little author in a much larger pond. But then, it’s all I have.
The ranking for the erotica titles for both indie and traditional published titles have come back on Amazon. It is possible that things either have been reworked and categorized, or more likely, it was some cliche that went on for more than a week.
An email from a Kboarder, Nate Hoffelder, is quoted as saying:
“A recent Kindle Store change inadvertently affected the display of sales rank for some titles. We have corrected this issue.”
Whether all the erotica being given new categories was due to a cliche, or something else, it is unclear. Some people still have had their titles recategorized, but the sales ranking has been added back on to many erotica titles that were missing them. So, I’ll keep updating as more happens with this.
Other blog posts about this subject:
The Digital Reader:
The Tech Crunch:
Kboards Thread on subject:
Forbes Media Article: