Friday, November 13, 2015

Erotica Readers & Writers Association: Changing of the Guard

The Erotica Readers and Writers Association has been around since 1996. It pre-dates my foray into the erotica genre by ten years, and is coming up on its twentieth anniversary. Adrienne Benedicks has run it from the beginning, and I remember finding my very first publisher (Stardust, now defunct) on their Author Resources page. Adrienne is now retiring - and moving to greener pastures and a warmer climate! She felt it was time to pass the baton, and I was honored that she thought of me.

In recent years, as Amazon (and other retailers) have pushed back against erotica authors, I have seriously considered giving up on the genre altogether. But in the end, I simply can't walk away from something I've invested nearly ten years of my own time and energy into. Besides, I love erotica as a genre. And I love erotica authors. I have never met a more fun-loving, open-minded, good-hearted crowd of people. Erotica authors are the first line in the defenders of the freedom of expression. They go places others are often afraid to venture, and tackle topics that far too many shy away from.

I have some great ideas about how to develop the Erotica Readers and Writers Association into an even stronger community and resource for both readers and authors that I'm sure I will be implementing in the future, but truthfully, what's in place right now is a gold mine that, I'm afraid, too many people don't know about!

For instance, did you know that the Erotic Readers and Writers Association has a lively discussion list? In fact, they have several! The Parlor is a place where everyone can discuss whatever's on their mind, Storytime is where authors can offer their work for critique, and the Writers' List is a place where authors can network and talk about all things writing related. I've been a part of those discussion lists for the past year, and it's been a great experience to connect with new erotica authors and erotica lovers.

For readers, there's a huge library of erotic fiction available for free in the Treasure Chest! There's straight erotic fictionqueer fictionkinky eroticathe softer sidequickiesflashers, and even poetry. It's not just erotic books, either. There are a wide array of articles in the archives, plus adult moviessex toys, even suggestions for erotic music to set the mood. It's an erotica lovers dream!

You can also follow ERWA on Twitter, we have a brand new ERWA Facebook page, and you can sign up for the ERWA newsletter to keep up on what we're doing next.

For those who are already a part of the ERWA, I want to assure you that I have no intention of dismantling the site or bringing a bunch of new changes in too quickly. The site has grown and changed organically over the past twenty years, and I imagine it will continue to do so over the next twenty years.

Self-publishing and the rise of ebooks have given erotica a newfound freedom of expression that was unheard of twenty years ago. If I look into my crystal ball to see what the next twenty-years holds for erotica, I have to admit, it's a bit cloudy. But I do know one thing - as a genre, erotica isn't going anywhere. As long as there are humans, the expression human sexuality in all its forms will be explored by the most daring and adventurous of writers, and read by the most curious and open-minded readers. That much I do know.

My hope is that erotica's future is so bright, we'll all have to wear shades.
Portrait of sensual brunette woman in red hot lingerie.
But wherever the future of erotica as a genre may lead, I intend to be a part of that for a long time to come.
 Selena Kitt

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pornocalypse 2015 - Part Two (The Barnes and Noble Version)

psaPSA: Barnes and Noble has made keywords and publisher names unsearchable on their site.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news twice in a week, but here we go again. This time it's the folks over at Barnes and Noble. I've had reports (that I've now verified) that erotic keywords are being severely restricted. A search for "menage" comes up with a total of 3,661 titles. BDSM returns 6,988 titles, and incest comes back with just over 1,000 titles. Subkinks (like father-daughter or mother-son incest) are coming up at 20 to 40 total. Now, I haven't checked the erotica keyword search results on Barnes and Noble in over a year, I admit, but back then, menage returned somewhere around 175,000 results, BDSM 110,000, incest about 80,000. For menage to suddenly come back with less than 4,000 books - it's pretty clear that something's happened.

Another interesting search restriction that's been verified is that searching for a publisher on Barnes and Noble returns no results (unless the publisher's name is in an anthology or listed somewhere other than the "publisher" field - our Excessica anthologies come up, for example, but none of our books do, and yes, they used to!) From Excessica to MacMillan - no results. For small publishers, this is a disaster. Many small pubs have spent years building a brand, and have readers who search those publishers for new books on the larger distributors. This eliminates that as an option (unless you do a search from Google - the results clearly come up there - which serves to prove further that this is a Barnes and Noble restriction.)

The conclusion we can draw here is that publishers and keywords are now restricted from the general search on Barnes and Noble.

My guess is this - Barnes and Noble is using a nuclear "quick fix" option. (Like when they dropped ranks on books by 1000 a few years ago - or anchored other books to keep them out of the Top 100...) They wanted to make keywords unsearchable going into the holiday season and in doing so they had to turn off publishers as a search term. I think keywords and publisher search were linked in their system somehow. So when they shut off one, they shut off the other--like throwing off a breaker to turn off one light in the house.

Barnes and Noble has been known to panic like this in the past.

And now, we'll see - but I think they'll move on to individual books that have keyword-stuffed titles still coming up in searches. Because those are the books still showing when you search for things like "menage" and "BDSM." Most of them have long keyword-stuffed titles that Barnes and Noble's search engine is still finding.  Suppressing publisher and keyword searches decimated the titles available that come up in a search - and made less work for them. Now instead of 200K titles they have to comb through, they have to go through only a fraction of that.

If you're an erotica author thinking, "Ohhh! I'll just keyword-stuff my titles then!" let me say one thing - I wouldn't if I were you.

Earlier this year, Barnes and Noble threatened to close Excessica's account if we didn't get rid of keywords in parenthesis after our titles. We had to go through and remove them all and clean things up or face being banned from publishing on Barnes and Noble. I didn't blog about it at the time because we seemed to be targeted as a publisher - I didn't hear anything through the erotica grapevine about it happening across the board. I'm sure a few others were targeted as well, but it didn't seem to be widespread.

This, however, is a sweeping change I think all erotica authors need to know about. I know, in the wake of KU 2.0, many erotica authors went wide with their books and were starting to gain some traction on Barnes and Noble. I have a feeling this is going to ruin Christmas for quite a few.

Thanks, Barnes and Noble. Amazon didn't give us any warning or use any lube, but just because you got sloppy seconds doesn't make it hurt any less.


Pass the eggnog, erotica authors. We're gonna need it. Because while the storefronts will be safe "for the children!" this holiday season, none of the grownups will be able to find your books. Again.

Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won't Forget
LATEST RELEASE: A Modern Wicked Fairy Tale: Peter and the Wolf

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pornocalypse 2015 is Upon Us!

psaPSA: For those authors who have yet to discover it - Amazon is currently going through and classifying a great deal of romance books as erotica.

Pornocalypse 2015 has begun...

How do I know this? Because they shunted nearly 3/4 of Excessica's catalog into erotica. All of a sudden my author rank rose to #2 in erotica - sounds great, doesn't it? What's the problem? I mean, doesn't erotica belong in erotica?

Yes. And no. It's a lot more complicated than that.

Anyone who publishes erotica and/or erotic romance knows that the line can be unclear between what is considered "erotica" and what is considered "erotic romance." Generally, longer books with a romance focus (i.e. two people falling in love, overcoming obstacle(s) and ending up with their happy ever after, or at least happy for now) even if they have explicit sex in them, are considered romance. Shorter works are a little more dicey, but even short stories can be erotic romance if they have all of those elements I listed above. So who determines what belongs in erotica and what belongs in romance?

Amazon. Their store, their rules, right? The problem is - we all know how inconsistent Amazon is when applying their "guidelines." Case in point, when they decided that most of our catalog belonged in erotica, they decided to place Hunting Season in erotica. There's zero sex in that story. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. It's horror, not erotica, and that's where we placed it. But Amazon, in their infinite wisdom, decided to place it in erotica.
Does this look like erotica to you?

That alone tells me that Amazon clearly painted us with one brush, without any regard to actual content. If your catalog is primarily erotic romance and/or erotica - they may have done that with yours as well. If I were you, I'd check.

Unfortunately, I don't know an easier way to do this, except to check one book at a time. To check what categories your book is in, go to the Kindle book page, and scroll all the way to the bottom of the page. You will see a list of categories your book is in there. If you only see "erotica" listings, your book is in erotica.

So far books have been moved without much rhyme, reason, consistency or transparency. And definitely without any warning. Some authors have had their erotic romance sent into the erotica categories - along with their children's books and cookbooks!

Hello? Amazon? You in there?

Excessica is a small press - we have 450+ authors in house and about 1000 books. Amazon deciding to put 3/4 of our content into erotica without any warning, and then offering us little or no recourse, is just an unacceptable and unprofessional way to treat content providers. But we all know that while Amazon likes to be known as customer-centric, they don't treat their workers very well. Or their white-collar employees either, for that matter. Now that Amazon has decided to pay their content providers half-a-cent a page, I'm starting to feel like I'm working in some sort of digital sweatshop. They expect all sorts of exclusivity from us, and put all sorts of restrictions on us, and then pay us a half-penny per page read? Just how long do they thing indies are going to tolerate this kind of treatment?


In my conversation with the Amazon customer service representative about this situation, I was told, "We are improving our ability to identify erotic content, so you'll see more books put into erotica going forward."

Me: Just going forward?

CS: No, we'll also be identifying other content and moving it into the erotica categories.

Me: How will you be identifying this content?

CS: I can't tell you that.

Me: How can we get our books out of erotica?

CS: You can change the content and resubmit it.

Me: How would we know what to change?

CS: ....
What... the...?


If you find your book(s) in the erotica category and you didn't place them there, and you believe your book(s) belongs in romance or another category, you can email to ask them to review the book(s).

Why don't you want your book to stay in erotica? Well, there are a few reasons. But the main one is VISIBILITY. If your book has a tame cover and blurb, it has a clear story, two characters who fall in love, overcome an obstacle, and end up together in the end? Put it in romance. Because by definition, it is romance. Erotic romance, to be sure - but Sylvia Day and E.L. James are in romance, and they write erotic romance. I don't see them being forced into erotica-only!

What's so bad about EROTICA as a category? First of all, if your book is put into erotica by Amazon (rather than you choosing the category on your own - and yes, there are some books that do belong there!) you will never be able to change it again without their permission. If your book gets forced into erotica, your KDP dashboard will show the categories you initially chose. But the book page will show "erotica" - and ONLY erotica.

The other problem is, if a book is in erotica, it can't be in any other secondary category outside of it. It can't, for example, be in both "romance" and "erotica." (Not to be confused with erotica>romance, which is still inside the erotica category). It can't be in both "erotica" and "sci-fi," for example. Erotica does finally have some sub-categories, but they are definitely located in a red-light district of Amazon's store. They aren't searchable from the main book page, until you drill all the way down (pun intended?) to the erotica category itself. So romance as a category has way more eyes on it - your book will be seen by far more readers in romance. And there is plenty of crossover between romance readers and "erotic romance" readers. I would venture to say, except for those who specifically seek out "sweet" (i.e. no-sex or fade-to-black sex) romances, most romance readers expect some sexual content in books in the romance category.

There's also another problem with Amazon shoving books into erotica, aside from visibility. One of the biggest trends this year has been stepbrother romances. Amazon allowed the first one in romance, and erotica authors were shocked. Up until that moment, we'd been shown that using "familial" words (Daddy, Mom, Brother, Sister, Step-anything) was a blockable offense. Books would be blocked (even if step-father erotica was allowed - and it is) if authors used those words. So we came up with a whole lexicon of words, like "man of the house" for Daddy and "princess" or "brat" for daughter.

Once the stepbrother craze began, erotica authors began trying to put those words in titles again. Some stepbrother books were blocked in erotica - but they sailed through in romance just fine. Clearly the message was "familial" words are fine in romance, but not in erotica. (And I'm calling the "Daddy" craze coming in romance right now... here we go again...!) But check out the list of "bad words" on Amazon in erotica and see if you don't see the issue here!

So I asked the customer service representative about these kinds of books. I told them that they'd just put books that would be considered blockable by their reviewers into erotica. What happened if I went to make changes on that book a couple weeks from now and new-reviewer Viper from India decided to block it based on the unwritten rules they refuse to tell us? Or if notoriously ham-fisted Carlos F happened to be reviewing and blocked it?

I was told they wouldn't block books they'd placed in a category.

I laughed.
How would they know??

CS: "Oh we keep records on changes to each book."

Me: Uh huh. But how do I know your reviewer is going to read and pay attention to them, given your incredible amount of employee turnover? I could be penalized for having that book in an erotica category when you're the one who put it there!

CS: Oh that wouldn't happen.

Me: Oh you mean like the last time I had to fight to get a book out of the erotica category, you told me personally none of our catalog would be forced there without notifying us as a publisher...?

CS: Oh. I didn't... Did I? I don't believe...

Me: Oh yes you did. So in other words "we wouldn't do that" until you decide to do that anyway and to hell with whatever you said at the time because technically you don't have any clear or consistent policies or guidelines, do you? So you can say whatever the hell you want. And you want me to believe you now?

I have been fighting with Amazon for the past week to get many of our books (which belong in romance) back into romance. For example, they put my top 50 bestseller with over 400 reviews, Step Beast, into erotica. Yes, it has sex in it. But it's not erotica. It's romance. It belongs (with all the rest of the stepbrother romance) back in the romance category.

They also put my gay romance, One Second Chance, into erotica. It's most definitely a romance - with a plot. In fact, it was an Epic award winner.

And then this happened. As I was emailing ASINS (Amazon's book identifiers) back and forth with them, they sent me a list of books that weren't ours, saying they'd removed the "erotica" restrictions from them. This was their exact email (sic):

After further review, we have decided to remove the search restrictions so your book(s) will now be found in our general product search results. The change takes up to 24 hours to process. Bellow you will find the ASINs and the links showing the books in the Kindle Store with the correct categories.

That was followed by a large list of ASIN identifiers. I started going through the ASINs. None of them were published by Excessica. And they were all extremely explicit! I don't mean, they might or might not be romance. I mean, they have keyword stuffed titles with explicit descriptions and they are all clearly erotica. 

But Amazon decided to put these books back into romance? While refusing to put books like the ones I listed above back into romance?

Here's one of the books Amazon decided should go back into romance (where it still is, as of this writing, although I don't expect it to stay there long) but my award-winning gay male romance? Nope.


Then there's this one. It's in romance - Amazon put it back into romance, and it's there as of this writing. But they won't put my lesbian romance, Stay, which definitely has a plot and a relationship, back into romance.


 Wait... what??

And one more example. My book, Surrender of Persephone, a Greek god romance - Amazon has shoved it into erotica. But this book? This book was put back into romance - even with its warning at the end! It's currently there as of this writing.




And this is only a fraction of the list of titles I have that Amazon put back into the romance categories. I won't list all of them (and I was reluctant to list the ones I have already, given that I'm sure Amazon will target them now) but I thought it was necessary to list a few to prove a point. Given Amazon's actions, I can only conclude that:

a) Since they have no real guidelines about erotica - they tell us "it's about what you would expect"
b) We have to read between the lines and figure out what Amazon allows, based on what is currently in the category, what they let through, and what they block, ban and adult filter...

It seems, given this list of titles and their descriptions? 

Amazon apparently "expects" adult diapers, twinks and fisting belong in romance. 

Look, I have no problem with Amazon deciding what is or isn't "erotica" in their store - if they do so with some consistency and transparency. But as it stands, their slash-and-burn tactics (and I seem to have to write at least one of those pornocalypse posts a year) when it comes to erotica, instead of developing a real solution to the "erotica problem," only creates more of a mess. Like Smashwords or other retailers, they could solve this problem by allowing customers to decide whether or not they wanted to see "adult" material. It's as simple as installing a button or toggle switch. But that would mean Amazon would have to admit to selling erotica! *gasp*

The reality is, without clear guidelines, self-published authors and publishers can't really follow them - and how can Amazon expect dishonest content providers not to take advantage when they provide no structure whatsoever? But instead of being clear, consistent and transparent (why oh why isn't Amazon run by this guy??) Amazon continues to stick their heads in the sand, pretending nothing is wrong - until they're forced (for example, when they launch a new Etsy competitor like Handmade or maybe just because Kindlemas is coming!) to clean up the storefront. Then they run around like crazy, targeting the most visible books (like mine and Excessica's) like a 13-year-old shoving Playboy between his mattress.

I bet Jeff Bezos did that a lot when he was a kid.

Once again. Amazon FAIL.

Selena Kitt 
Erotic Fiction You Won't Forget 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

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

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:

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!

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.



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.

(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 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 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

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

Well, authors and readers, the heyday of erotica shorts filling
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 
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
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 
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 LATEST RELEASE: Highland Wolf Pact: Compromising Positions

Thursday, March 12, 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.

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…

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



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?

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