Author Topic: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers  (Read 120606 times)

Offline ghostwriter80

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Amazon is, yet again, changing their "acceptable" content policy when it comes to KDP uploads. Day by day, they are going through the back catalogs of all the erotica writers/uploaders and indiscriminately pulling down titles which have been up for a long time due to acceptable content policy violations. It crosses many different genres of erotica: BBW, Scifi, BDSM, light erotica, etc. Including the ones which are titled in a non-raunchy manner. They are especially hard on the ones which are graphically and explicitly titled, such as "[Expletive] in Hard the A** By The Neighbor".

They do not give any specifics as to what constitutes acceptable content as it is very, very vague, as posted on their website and sending customer service emails to them only gets you back more vague reasons as to why the stuff is unacceptable to them normally.

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A3KIRDTX1UQJX0

The issue is if that if an author re-uploads previously "unacceptable" content back to KDP they block your account. So this makes uploading old material back to amazon, even if it is retitled, nearly impossible.

Long story short, yesterday my editor and I lost 106 erotica titles, many of which had been up for a year or more as ebooks, that violated amazons new "acceptable" content guidelines.

Basically, the erotica market on Amazon is getting so censored and "acceptable" content policies are getting so erratic it makes little to no business sense to continue operating there at least on a print and ebook basis.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 08:43:33 AM by Betsy the Quilter »

Offline emilycantore

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Any evidence this has happened to anyone else?

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Condolences.
That's a hard blow against porn writers (sorry, could NOT resist. I'm ebil. EBIL!)

Bottom line is that Amazon can set their own rules as to what they deem acceptable. It's not censorship. It's inventory.

This goes with my personal "sky is falling" paranoia that, now that Amazon is firmly entrenched in the book publishing market with more Big Five playing their game, they no longer need the indies and are pushing them out of sight in favor of the higher-priced merchandise.
If I wasn't such a coward, I'd publish an eBook for 12 bucks to see what happens.
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Offline ghostwriter80

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I have a couple of KDP accounts and this is the email that two of the account got yesterday. Names and titles have been redacted:

Hello,

We're contacting you regarding the following book(s) that you submitted for sale in our Kindle Store:

(106 titles listed)

During our review process, we found that your book contains content that is in violation of our content guidelines. Our content guidelines apply to the book interior, as well as cover image, title and/or product descriptions. As a result, we will not be offering this book for sale.

Our content guidelines are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing website. To learn more, please see: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A1KT4ANX0RL55I 
 
Best regards,
(customer service rep name)

Offline Duane Gundrum

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Reading their content guidelines, this has to be my favorite, because there's absolutely no way to figure out what's wrong:

Offensive Content
What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.

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Offline jvin248

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... I'd publish an eBook for 12 bucks to see what happens.
.
I tried that with a boxed set, thought I'd see what that party might be like, had my shoes polished and jacket on to go mingle, and then midway through uploading found Amazon has a price ceiling for indies at $9.99.
.
.
       

Offline Duane Gundrum

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.
I tried that with a boxed set, thought I'd see what that party might be like, had my shoes polished and jacket on to go mingle, and then midway through uploading found Amazon has a price ceiling for indies at $9.99.
.
.

Really? I never knew that.

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Offline Harper Alibeck

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I am on another message board with writers who are reporting that this is happening, and while it's true Amazon can do whatever it wants (it's their store, after all), when asked for guidelines writers can follow that are clear, to make sure that titles/covers/content meet publishing standards, Amazon gives nothing.

We're all in business *with* these eBook retailers, so to partner with an entity that gives vague, ever-changing guidelines without warning of the change is disturbing.

Offline ghostwriter80

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The real master stroke in all this is that if you have any titles which are produced under royalty share audiobook productions through ACX.com that are delisted then you are in "breach of contract" for 7 years worth of royalties to the audiobook narrator.

Offline TK aka BB

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Reading their content guidelines, this has to be my favorite, because there's absolutely no way to figure out what's wrong:

Offensive Content
What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.

Yikes.

From what I understand, for content, it's poop, pee, animals, rape-for-fun, and snuff, right?

Covers and titles should be a little cagey, right?

I can just picture some Amazon person sitting in a little room, "reading" all these books for content, just to make sure they conform, again and again and again.

TK Kenyon

Offline AdrianC

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2013, 06:21:38 AM »
It's always seemed like Amazon didn't care what was in the books as long the title, cover and blurb were vague enough to conceal it.  Maybe things are changing.  It would be unfortunate, but it would be their loss.  I have no doubt authors and fans would find an alternate distributor and leave Amazon with its 'respectable' table of smut like 50 Shades.

Offline Nicole Castro

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2013, 06:33:03 AM »
It's always seemed like Amazon didn't care what was in the books as long the title, cover and blurb were vague enough to conceal it.  Maybe things are changing.  It would be unfortunate, but it would be their loss.  I have no doubt authors and fans would find an alternate distributor and leave Amazon with its 'respectable' table of smut like 50 Shades.

"We're not going to sell one of the hugest markets anymore." Smart move, Amazon. All the Fifty books are still there. I wonder how much money they have made off of EL James.


 
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Offline mrv01d

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2013, 06:34:15 AM »
The real master stroke in all this is that if you have any titles which are produced under royalty share audiobook productions through ACX.com that are delisted then you are in "breach of contract" for 7 years worth of royalties to the audiobook narrator.

Typically audio books aren't blocked, at least thus far. It seems that ACX is enough of a separate division that what goes for ebooks doesn't go for audio, but that could change.

M
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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2013, 06:40:32 AM »
The issue is if that if an author re-uploads previously "unacceptable" content back to KDP they block your account. So this makes uploading old material back to amazon, even if it is retitled, nearly impossible.

They don't seem to have an issue with people reworking blocked content and resubmitting it. I've seen some communications with Amazon where this is explicitly stated as the best course of action. It's probably worth pointing out that in the past when this has been an issue people have always had warnings, so it's not an out-of-the-blue block.

Quote
Basically, the erotica market on Amazon is getting so censored and "acceptable" content policies are getting so erratic it makes little to no business sense to continue operating there at least on a print and ebook basis.

I disagree strongly with this sentiment. Regardless of the hoops I have to jump through Amazon still represent around 70% of the market. Beyond banning erotica outright (which they have given no indication that that is their intent) there isn't much they could do which would make pulling the plug on them indicitive of good business sense as far as I'm concerned.

Adapt. Adapt. Adapt.

Offline mrv01d

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2013, 06:43:46 AM »
Yikes.

From what I understand, for content, it's poop, pee, animals, rape-for-fun, and snuff, right?

Covers and titles should be a little cagey, right?

I can just picture some Amazon person sitting in a little room, "reading" all these books for content, just to make sure they conform, again and again and again.

TK Kenyon


What is so interesting is, at the same time, Amazon is repackaging VC Andrews work (which is incest central) as romance. They also have a trad pub book that depicts graphic sex scenes between an adult and minor. It's not as explicit as some of the erotica, but it's graphic, disturbingly graphic. There is no way pedophiles aren't buying that book and having a good ol' time. That book is not blocked OR filtered from search results.

As always, I continue to believe it's a profit margin issue. Traditional books make more money for Amazon. Known authors (VC Andrews) make more money. When you marginalize lower profit centers, you force consumers into higher prices points/bigger profits. So incest and pedophilia are A OKAY so long as Amazon has maximized revenues. If they don't find you valuable, there's no reason not to block you and they get to hide behind the morality of 'porn is horrible' which almost no one questions. It's slick.

And again, as I've said many times before, sex machines and other 'toys' are available complete with uncensored, unfiltered graphic photos.

What they do and what they say, don't match. It's not morality, it's money.

Of course Amazon can sell whatever they want BUT on the consumer level I believe it's fraudulent for their manipulation of the search results (for filtered books at least) to be a secret. If they are going to block access to books, they should inform the consumer. Imo it's price fixing along the lines of what Kohl's and JCPenney did, manipulating prices to maximize profits.

I am thankful I didn't write any taboo erotica, however, I have regular ol' shapeshifter romance that has been filtered in the past. I could easily be blocked on Amazon's whim. Anyone could.
M

« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 10:15:37 AM by Betsy the Quilter »
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Online Christa Wick

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2013, 06:46:30 AM »
For the blocked or filtered titles, are you working with title-submission@amazon.com? Escalate to them. If you want to make changes, they can temporarily unblock it so you can make the changes. If they tell you they can't, they've done it for others.

Offline MorningJoe

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2013, 06:52:17 AM »
I have been hit by this as well.  It does seem a bit random looking at which titles they blocked.  I have one Step-daddy PI which I understand is an area they are focusing on but I also had another title which had a 19 year old consenting adult that ended up in an encounter with the couple that had hired her for a babysitting job.  No incest, all consenting adults, and no other "yucky" categories that i can think of.  It has a plot and character development plus a tame cover image but was blocked.  Funny enough I submitted the next book in the series which was much more explicit and it got through fine.

I am just writing across the various sub-genres and watching to see what happens.  Unfortunately some of the most profitable niches seem to be the ones that are getting shut down.  :(

Offline Ty Johnston

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2013, 06:57:21 AM »
I tried that with a boxed set, thought I'd see what that party might be like, had my shoes polished and jacket on to go mingle, and then midway through uploading found Amazon has a price ceiling for indies at $9.99.

That's only if you want the 70 percent in royalties. KDP actually allows a maximum list price of $200.

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A301WJ6XCJ8KW0

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Online Christa Wick

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2013, 07:00:24 AM »
Morning Joe - from some of the other authors I've communicated with, it sounds like they're going after the barely legal titles now, too. So anything clearly suggesting barely legal, especially with virgin, is subject to getting hit.

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2013, 07:51:26 AM »
It took KDP more than 3 days to approve my new release. Are they cracking down on everyone, or just erotica? Smashwords also took 2 weeks to approve the Premium catalog, which combined with Amazon really messed up my release plans. I wonder if it's not related? I've never had issues like this. Another author suggested it was due to the cover image/naked back on my cover.  But for Pete's sake, mine is nothing compared to lots of covers out there. Color me confused.

Offline D.L. Shutter

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2013, 08:02:45 AM »
Judging by the erotica forums I lurk at this is growing. Perhaps moreso than last years crackdown. Anything suggestive of violence, non-consent, PI and (potentially) bestiality themes is getting smacked hard. Bottom line (IMO) is that Amazon is prioritizing customers complaining about adult material found while searching for keyword related items. I say that because I hear a lot of rallying that smut writers are being maliciously targeted. Despite filters that have been in place for awhile now I still see smut while searching for misc stuff. I don't mind but I'll bet tens of millions of other shoppers do.

It's Halloween season. Just imagine how many "Force F*@%ed by the ------" titles are popping up during costume searches for kids right now. It happened to me the other night.

Also, the writing is clear that the days of graphic covers, titles and descriptions are over. Everything needs to be as tame as possible on the outside or lanquish in invisibility. Or be banned outright.

Which is just what erotica writers need: even more returns and scathing 1 star's for content that isn't obvious enough in the presentation. As if that didn't happen enough already.

Offline MorningJoe

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #21 on: September 27, 2013, 08:06:06 AM »
Morning Joe - from some of the other authors I've communicated with, it sounds like they're going after the barely legal titles now, too. So anything clearly suggesting barely legal, especially with virgin, is subject to getting hit.

Thank's Christa.  It just took me by surprise since everyone was consenting adults and quite happy with the arrangement.  I guess having the word Babysitter in the title may be one of their flags.

Offline Claudia King

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #22 on: September 27, 2013, 08:19:02 AM »
Yikes. That doesn't sound good. :(

I haven't had any issues with this yet, but a couple of my titles could definitely be in the firing line based on what people are saying. I really hope they become a little more transparent about what is and isn't acceptable if this continues.

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Offline Liv & Lacey

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2013, 08:20:17 AM »
For the blocked or filtered titles, are you working with title-submission@amazon.com? Escalate to them. If you want to make changes, they can temporarily unblock it so you can make the changes. If they tell you they can't, they've done it for others.

This worked for me. My best selling title, which had been ranked 5K-8K for at least a month, was blocked. I emailed title-submission@amazon.com and asked to re-work the cover, description and title. I re-worked it, it was re-blocked. I asked again, really stripped things down the second time around, and it was accepted and published.

Amazon's just trying to clean up the store front. I changed zero content within the actual book. They're not out to get writers of erotica, they're just trying to keep their storefront from turning into a wall of super-smut.

My advise is to re-work your title, description and cover then resubmit.
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Offline MegHarris

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Re: Warning: KDP banning old and new erotica titles en masse from self-publishers
« Reply #24 on: September 27, 2013, 08:21:01 AM »
Quote
Bottom line (IMO) is that Amazon is prioritizing customers complaining about adult material found while searching for keyword related items. I say that because I hear a lot of rallying that smut writers are being maliciously targeted. Despite filters that have been in place for awhile now I still see smut while searching for misc stuff. I don't mind but I'll bet tens of millions of other shoppers do.

Well, then, why don't they just institute an adult on/off switch? They've been muddling around with adult titles for a long time now. Why not just do like Smashwords and have a real, proper adult filter that people can use or not, as they choose?