Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Erotica Authors Pull-Out on Amazon KU – Time to Come To The Dark Side!

releasetherate
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 more than half a penny a page, folks.

This was every erotica shorts author's face when they heard this news:

06
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!

Introducing the #releasetherate campaign

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. Won't Bezos get mad at us? We might get in trouble!

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. Why don't we just go wide?

That's part of the message we need to send. If you haven't already sign up for an Excitica Publisher Account, do that now.

3. You sound mad, calm down.

Yeah, losing 50-70% of my erotica shorts income? I'm mad.

What do I have to do? SIMPLE!

A. PULL YOUR EROTICA BOOKS FROM KU. Every book you leave in is telling them YES, CONTINUE SCREWING ME OVER.

Wait, what about my romance? I need to eat! Fine, leave it in, but if you have erotica get it OUT.

B. COMMENT, LIKE, SHARE THE FOLLOWING FACEBOOK POST & TWEET:

C. EMAIL jeff@amazon.com

Be polite, cordial, and clear. Keep it short and sweet and include the following info:

-We want to know how many individual people are actually borrowing our books
-We want to know how much you actually plan to pay us.
-If you followed through on pulling all your short fiction (I know not everyone can do it, seriously. Don't do something you can't afford, but remember you're getting paid like ten cents for a full read now anyway) mention this in the email!

D. ASK YOUR NEWSLETTER/FANS/FRIENDS/RELATIVES/PETS to email Bezos, too. The more emails they get the more likely they are to act.

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).
Thanks go to Natalie Deschain and Cassandra Zara for spearheading this campaign!

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 jeff@amazon.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.
Selena Kitt 
Erotic Fiction You Won't Forget 
highlandwolfpactbloodreignMED

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The New Kindle Unlimited – What It Means for Authors & Readers

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!

It's not.

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...

Amazon said: 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. :P

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!
  • Borrows will be displayed as PAGES now instead of BORROWS. So TOTAL number of PAGES (not broken down by number of borrowers) will appear on the report where the "borrow" appears now. We'll be getting no other information besides this. We won't know the number of people who borrowed each book - will will JUST know the TOTAL number of pages read in each book.
  • Pages will display and count in the report as they're read by the reader. This will be when a user syncs up. Whether that's hourly or monthly. Pages will appear as they're read/synced, and you'll get paid for those during the next payment period.
  • The 10% rule applies no longer. Pages are pages. They click into it and back out? One page. Click in and swipe left? Two pages. Swipe all the way through the backmatter? You get paid for all the pages.
  • There will be an SRL (Starting Read Location) determined by Amazon (start of Chapter 1). The ERL (end read location) defaults to the end of the Amazon book. If someone flips all the way to the end, you'll get paid for backmatter pages. However, linking from the TOC to the end of the book? That would be two pages, no matter how many there were in between.
  • They do not have "average number of pages read" information up to this point (yeah, sure) and cannot provide that information currently.
  • Page averages will be done using the new "KENPC" system. The current page estimation system will change to the new (KENPC) one once the new KU rolls out in July.
  • You only get paid for pages once. If they read the page again, it doesn't count.
  • Rank - ghost borrows for rank will still have the same effect. A person borrows, rank goes up, but they may never open or read the book, meaning you may never get paid for it. But authors will still get the same rank boost for being in Select.
  • For the first 90 days, everyone enrolled in KU will be able to opt out AT ANY TIME. You are NOT TIED TO THE 90 DAY PERIOD. This is the best and most important news (which is why I saved it for last? heh) This will apply for at least the first 90 day period of the new system.
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!
Selena Kitt Erotic Fiction You Won't Forget www.selenakitt.com LATEST RELEASE: Highland Wolf Pact: Compromising Positions

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

STEPping Out: Amazon's Familiar Double Standard. Again. Still.

Five months ago, I did a blog post about Stepbrother Dearest - the first stepbrother book that broke the pseudoincest barrier, pushing into romance. At the time, I lamented the fact that as an erotica author, Amazon wouldn't allow me to use the word "stepbrother." Not in my title, not in my blurb, not anywhere (except maybe inside the book, where it wasn't searchable) that might warn a reader that they were about to read something about "pseudoincest" (i.e. a relationship between non-biological family members). But Penelope Ward was allowed to use the word "STEPBROTHER" in her mainstream, new adult romance novel about (wait for it) pseudoincest. With that decision, Amazon took its double standard to a whole new level.

Since Ms. Ward's use of STEPBROTHER in her title, Amazon has seen a huge influx of Stepbrother titles in romance. Here's the interesting thing--Amazon still won't let erotica authors use any reference to relationships in their titles. We are still calling daughters "little brats" and fathers "the man of the house." Granted, they seem to have backed off a little on some terms. We can use the word babysitter now, although the word "virgin" can still get you in trouble. Erotica authors are using the "first time" euphemism instead.

If nothing else, Amazon has forced erotica authors to adapt.

Well, they've adapted again. There has been a large rash of STEPBROTHER titles appearing on Amazon written by erotica writers. But they're not appearing in erotica. They're showing up in romance. Some of them belong there--no reason an erotica author can't write a romance, right? Of course not. As long as it's a romance, I see no problem with it. It's a current loophole, and if Amazon's going to leave one, authors are going to walk through it until a wall is put up. That's been proven in this business over and over again.

The problem is, there have been a few cases where a "stepbrother" title has been banned/blocked. If an author misjudges the market and accidentally puts their book into the "erotica" category instead of romance, they risk getting the book blocked. In erotica, STEPBROTHER or ANY family reference is still taboo. (Ironically, the word "taboo" is just fine though!) But you can put it in ROMANCE with the words STEP, STEPBROTHER or STEPSISTER. So far, Daddies and Mommies or variations thereof, are still out. But, authors can get away with a lot more in romance in general. If an erotica author tried to publish a book called PRICK it would get ADULT filtered faster than you could say "Put a condom on that!" But in Romance? It hit Amazon's top ten.

Isn't it ironic? The place where you'd expect all the dirty words, we're not allowed to use them. At least, on the outside. While the romance authors get to write about cocks in their blurbs and put half-naked people on their covers and write about pseudoincest all they like - as long as they give their characters a happy ever after, of course.

I realize a lot of authors are jumping through this loophole, hoping to cash in on the "pseudoincest-romance" craze, like they jumped on the motorcycle club bandwagon, the shifter bandwagon, the billionaire bandwagon, etc. And I don't blame them. Amazon opened the door and practically invited them in to this one.

The problem is, Amazon can slam that door too. So while I'm not above jumping through this loophole myself--I've just started a series of books called "Stepbrother Studs"--I want to caution writers. Especially erotica writers, who are jumping on this trend. Tread carefully. Watch your blurbs, watch your covers, watch your titles, and pay attention to the market. If you're putting books in romance, please make sure they fit the genre.

Otherwise, you may find out just how hard Amazon can slam a door that was previously wide open. And how much that hurts. Right in the pocketbook. Ouch!

Believe me, I've been there and done that, and it's not fun. So make hay while the sun shines, why not? But let's not keep pushing the boundaries until Jeff Bozos decides to stop clowning around and pick up the whip again to force authors back in line. That's only gonna hurt everyone, in the long run.
So, to sum up, if you're writing step-romance:

1. Make sure it's a romance.
2. Put it in ROMANCE, not erotica, if it has a "Step" in title. (and see rule 1)
3. If it's not a romance - if your characters aren't falling in love (and no, adding 'and they lived happily ever after' at the end doesn't make it a romance) don't put it in romance. Readers are going to be pissed and you're going to risk your account when the book gets blocked. If you want to see what an stepsibling pseudoincest erotic romance reads like, there are three listed below that will be free for 24 hours (and available to be borrowed on Kindle Unlimited). Are they hot? Yep. Are they short? Relatively. Are they romances? I think so. Read them and judge for yoruself.
4. Watch your blurb, title and cover. Remember your audience. Romance readers like it dirty too, sometimes, and that's fine, but pushing the boundaries too far may end up coming back to bite you. So just be smart.

I've got the first three in my new series out now. Free. If you want to take a look at them for what to do, go ahead. Covers are sexy guys (fits the genre), titles have "stepbrother" but they're in romance. And while they're not novels, they're a good 8-10K in length, and they all have couples who are fighting their taboo attraction to one another, but ultimately give into it--and fall in love. In other words, they're romances.

Check them out. Judge for yourself.

stepbrotherstudsaaronLARGE
FREE through 3/12/2015
Melinda loves winning, especially when it means trouncing her arrogant stepbrother, Aaron.

He thinks he's all that and a bag of chips, but the nineties called and it wants its catch phrase back, because as far as Melinda is concerned, he's more like all that and a bag of dicks--at least, he is lately.. All her friends think he's hot, but they don't have to deal with his smug smirk or his giant ego. All they can talk about is his rumored, giant... something else.

So on their long train ride home for winter break through the Canadian mountains to Upper State New York, she decides to make a wager with her big-headed stepbrother, one she hopes that will settle the score between them, once and for all.

FREE through 3/12/2015
Jill’s parents aren’t home, it’s the middle of the hottest summer on record, and there’s a huge built-in swimming pool in the backyard.

Well, what would you do? The only thing standing between her and the best party of the summer is her jerky older stepbrother, Brian. He says he's trying “protect” her but he never lets her do anything fun! It looks like he’s going to be a party-pooper this time too, until the perv decides to give her what she wants—with one caveat.

 Everyone who comes to the party, has to come naked.

 Now the hottest party of the summer just got hotter, and Jill’s about to find out that she’s not too keen on the way all the other girls look at her sexy stepbrother. In fact, she’s starting to look at him in an entirely different light herself…

stepbrotherstudscameronLARGE
FREE through 3/12/2015
Virginia hates him. Her stepbrother, Cameron is older, annoying, listens to crap music, borrows her stuff without asking, and teases the ever-loving life out of her.

She hates him when she finds out he's taken her iPod again.

She hates him even more when she finds out he's been spying on her, and not only that, he's been "sharing" his sexy discovery. And charging his friends admission!

 She hates him while she's plotting her revenge. She hates him all the way up to the point that she can't anymore.
Because now, she's falling for him--the one guy she knows she can't have.

 
Selena Kitt 
Erotic Fiction You Won't Forget 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Excitica - New Erotica/Romance Storefront - Selena Kitt

EXCITICA

exciticalogo
exciticascreenshotNOV2014

After a rocky start in March of 2014, we've now opened our doors again with a fully functioning web site that will become THE home for erotica and erotic romance!

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

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?

JOIN OUR MAILING LIST!
We will be advertising new books and giving away free stuff!
Selena Kitt 
Erotic Fiction You Won't Forget 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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!
  highlandwolfpactMED

Thursday, October 9, 2014

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

Chubby Tina thinks she couldn't hate herself any more than she already does, when she overhears the women 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
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
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
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
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
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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Banned (Erotic) Books 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!

Selena Kitt Erotic Fiction You Won't Forget www.selenakitt.com LATEST RELEASE: HIGHLAND SHIFTERS