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Bill Hiatt said:
If they are treating different romances differently based not on the amount or nature of the sex, then that definitely seems discriminatory. Of course, this could be Crystal's mistake rather than the official position of D2D. Dan's earlier email suggested the organization as a whole couldn't look at the issue until after the holiday weekend.

The problem with Crystal may also be a misunderstanding of the boundaries for erotica. I'm not sure everyone on this forum would define the term in the same way. I'd certainly agree with you that a romance could go further than kissing without becoming erotica. For me, the boundary might depend upon how explicit the sex is, but I'm not sure everyone would feel the same way. (I don't write romance or erotica, so I haven't given the boundary issue much thought.)
Bill - while I think yours is a reasoned response. Here's the thing: in no one's definition does romance = just kissing. NO ONE'S. That's why there is "sweet romance" which is a specific genre where there is nothing more than kissing.

Maybe my version of romance is steamier than another's. Fair enough. But I know what I just told you about romance in general is true.

And it is the hypocrisy I'm seeing that m/f books with far more than kissing sail through to Playster, but not gay or lesbian books that is really chapping my hide.
 

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Lorri Moulton said:
Romance is romance! I don't care if the main characters are m/m, w/w or m/w....romance is a story about two people, who care about and love each other. Why is this being banned?

I'm glad I'm in KU.
Yeah, but Amazon has done crazy stuff too. I had to get one book out of the adult dungeon 12 times. TWELVE. Finally, I forced them to put a note on the damned thing to say it had been reviewed and approved. It's yaoi manga which we STROVE not to have anything, even kisses in, but that genre was routinely getting dungeoned no matter what was actually in the book, title, description or cover.
 

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X. Aratare said:
Bill - while I think yours is a reasoned response. Here's the thing: in no one's definition does romance = just kissing. NO ONE'S. That's why there is "sweet romance" which is a specific genre where there is nothing more than kissing.

Maybe my version of romance is steamier than another's. Fair enough. But I know what I just told you about romance in general is true.

And it is the hypocrisy I'm seeing that m/f books with far more than kissing sail through to Playster, but not gay or lesbian books that is really chapping my hide.
I do think it's the apparent unequal treatment that's the problem. If you look at Playster's TOS, it gives them plenty of wiggle room to ban *anything* sexual, including kissing. The language is that they don't allow anything that's "obscene, vulgar, pornographic, offensive, profane, contains or depicts nudity, contains or depicts sexual activity, or is otherwise inappropriate as determined by" them.

It seems self-sabotaging to interpret those limits puritanically, but hey, it's their catalog. What they can't do, so far as I'm concerned, is label two men kissing "inappropriate" while letting a man and a woman go all the way up to explicitly described intercourse before slapping on the "inappropriate" label. Well, they can do that, but if they do, they should own their discriminatory stance publicly, IMO.
 

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While I am attempting to withhold judgement until this issue gets more official response from Playster/D2D, I've got to say, what's going on here looks pretty obvious.

Discrimination.

It's not okay. I, for one, want to know about shady business practices like that, so that I can make informed decision about who to avoid giving my money to. They have the right to keep LGBT books out of their store. I have the right to blacklist them for offending me.

And I can't imagine what they'll end up saying. Own up to it, and stick with their policies? Or say, "It was a 'mistake?'"

Right. :-X I've got some oceanfront property...

We'll see.
 

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but found an apocalyptic story featuring two gay men and promptly blurred the cover to shield sensitive eyes from the shocking going ons. The cover shows a mushroom cloud.
Well, despite how angry and offended I feel about Playster's antics, this made me laugh. Thanks for sharing!
 

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The only thing I ever put into Playster was political non-fiction, so I'm waiting to see if they do a 24Symbols style mea culpa. If they do not then I will remove my non-fiction as they would not be someone I wish to do business with.
 

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X. Aratare said:
Bill - while I think yours is a reasoned response. Here's the thing: in no one's definition does romance = just kissing. NO ONE'S. That's why there is "sweet romance" which is a specific genre where there is nothing more than kissing.

Maybe my version of romance is steamier than another's. Fair enough. But I know what I just told you about romance in general is true.

And it is the hypocrisy I'm seeing that m/f books with far more than kissing sail through to Playster, but not gay or lesbian books that is really chapping my hide.
Yes, we all agree that inconsistent enforcement of erotica rules based on whether the content is same sex or not is wrong. What was in my mind at the time I first responded, and what I should have made clearer, was that Crystal wasn't looking at a lot of books and making comparisons. She was just looking at yours. Does yours only include kissing? I may have misunderstood your earlier posts, because I thought yours had somewhat more than that. If not, then yes, Crystal's response is less easy to explain than I thought.
 

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We can assure you that Playster is in absolutely no way discriminating against LGBTQ+ content.  We've been receiving books with underage characters, and therefore put a temporary ban on all books labelled 'erotica' that are delivered from self-publishing platforms.  We acknowledge that this is a cautious approach, but we're working diligently towards a long-term resolution.  We're committed to providing authors with an alternative revenue stream but, as a small company, we don't yet have a QA team large enough to go through books at the rate we receive them.

We're taking all of your comments into consideration, and we're investigating the possibility that some books have been mislabeled. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this.
 

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Discussion Starter #90
X. Aratare said:
Take a look at this garbage response I got from D2D:

Hello,
In the case of the book that was rejected by Playster, Cursed Broken, there is sexual content throughout the file. They do not allow erotic romance or erotica. I found several very graphic scenes portraying two men together in sexual activity. Any sexual activity, not just penetrative sex, is not something they will allow.

This book appears to be to graphic to overturn the decision with Playster, I apologize for the inconvenience.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Best Regards,

Crystal
Draft2Digital

So according to D2D if ANY BOOK has anything more than kissing it's not allowed on Playster.
Actually I should amend this as Crystal says: NO SEXUAL ACTIVITY so really kissing is out, too ... Is looking across the room at another person considered sexual activity? Not sure. Hmmm, maybe we shouldn't even allow people to LIKE one another in the books. That might be misconstrued as sexual activity! So I guess NO ROMANCE books should be on there? huh

Those of you whose M/F books have more than kissing: were they not allowed? Somehow I think not ...

This is complete and utter [bullcrap].

I responded to D2D as follows:

I am really disappointed with D2D. There is a distinct difference between erotica/erotic romance and romance. The fact that a company who is distributing books does not know this shocks me. Romance CAN AND DOES have sex in it. It is NOT just kissing. In my 100k book, there is LITTLE sex in it in comparison to most m/f romances.

But if you really are telling me that Playster ONLY accepts kissing: What about all the m/f books with full blown sex on its site? See kboards: https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,255017.0.html to see how absurd that statement really is.

I'm sorry but this is simply nonsensical. Either Playster has the absolute worst review system possible which somehow allows all the sexy m/f books in and not the m/m or its prejudiced against gay romance books.

Also, I'm truly SHOCKED that D2D believes it should be the arbiter of what genre a book should be in. That's not your role as a distributor. I am truly tempted to pull my books off your site and spread the word.

***

As an aside, I don't give a damn about Playster. I hadn't even HEARD of them before I got this original email about not taking my books. I called and put up a fuss because I see this for what it REALLY is: gay = porn thinking and I fight that with all I can.

I've been writing gay romance for a long time and I've seen it all. But having D2D evidently SKIM my book to tell me: OMG, YOU HAVE SEX IN YOUR ROMANCE SO WE WON'T HELP YOU! is one of the lowest moments in my career. Is D2D so clueless that it thinks romance books DON'T have sex in them? Or are JUST have kissing? Where they Hell have they been?

I'm really thinking that I'm going to pull my books from them. In my view they are aiding, a discriminatory practice.
What's most troubling to me is that m/f romances at steamy/spicy heat levels are being accepted. Yet m/m and f/f romances are deemed too graphic.

This makes zero sense.

Do you by chance have any heterosexual romance in D2D/Playster? I'm wondering because we need to push this point across. Romance has various heat levels and there's a huge difference between erotica, ero-romance, and steamy romance. I understand Playster's content guidelines reject any sexual content, but m/f romances with sexual content should also be rejected.

We've got to keep driving this point, as it seems LGBT romance and fiction is getting a special explicit label, whether warranted or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #91
Playster said:
We can assure you that Playster is in absolutely no way discriminating against LGBTQ+ content. We've been receiving books with underage characters, and therefore put a temporary ban on all books labelled 'erotica' that are delivered from self-publishing platforms. We acknowledge that this is a cautious approach, but we're working diligently towards a long-term resolution. We're committed to providing authors with an alternative revenue stream but, as a small company, we don't yet have a QA team large enough to go through books at the rate we receive them.

We're taking all of your comments into consideration, and we're investigating the possibility that some books have been mislabeled. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this.
I appreciate your response, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that I did not categorize my title under erotica. There is definitely something amiss here.
 

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Discussion Starter #92
Playster said:
We can assure you that Playster is in absolutely no way discriminating against LGBTQ+ content. We've been receiving books with underage characters, and therefore put a temporary ban on all books labelled 'erotica' that are delivered from self-publishing platforms. We acknowledge that this is a cautious approach, but we're working diligently towards a long-term resolution. We're committed to providing authors with an alternative revenue stream but, as a small company, we don't yet have a QA team large enough to go through books at the rate we receive them.

We're taking all of your comments into consideration, and we're investigating the possibility that some books have been mislabeled. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this.
I'd also like to further clarify that none of the characters in my rejected title are minors.
 

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I'm glad to see the message from Playster and to know it rejects discrimination and is trying to fix this problem. The difficulty for me comes in figuring out where and how the "mislabel[ing]" could have happened. An author submits Book MM and Book MF to D2D and chooses to distribute both to Playster. These books have similar content, and the author does not give either book an "erotica" label or category. Book MM ends up banned by Playster as erotica and Book MF doesn't. So ... when and how was the "erotica" label placed on Book MM and why wasn't that label placed on the Book MF?
 

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Playster said:
We can assure you that Playster is in absolutely no way discriminating against LGBTQ+ content. We've been receiving books with underage characters, and therefore put a temporary ban on all books labelled 'erotica' that are delivered from self-publishing platforms. We acknowledge that this is a cautious approach, but we're working diligently towards a long-term resolution. We're committed to providing authors with an alternative revenue stream but, as a small company, we don't yet have a QA team large enough to go through books at the rate we receive them.

We're taking all of your comments into consideration, and we're investigating the possibility that some books have been mislabeled. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this.
THIS is absolutely APPALLING. You are suggesting that the authors with books in this thread who have books rejected are because they have MINORS in sexual situations?!

(1) My books do NOT HAVE the erotica tag. They just have the gay stories and romance tag.

(2) I have NO UNDERAGE CHARACTERS.

So this is the biggest load of BS I have ever seen.

M/F books are getting through M/M books are NOT. You need to address this.
 

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elizabethbarone said:
What's most troubling to me is that m/f romances at steamy/spicy heat levels are being accepted. Yet m/m and f/f romances are deemed too graphic.

This makes zero sense.

Do you by chance have any heterosexual romance in D2D/Playster? I'm wondering because we need to push this point across. Romance has various heat levels and there's a huge difference between erotica, ero-romance, and steamy romance. I understand Playster's content guidelines reject any sexual content, but m/f romances with sexual content should also be rejected.

We've got to keep driving this point, as it seems LGBT romance and fiction is getting a special explicit label, whether warranted or not.
I only write M/M so I have nothing to compare with.

I pushed as hard as I could, but D2D actually quoted sections of my book at me (as if I didn't know what was written there) and said: this makes your book erotica/erotic romance and that is the ONLY reason that Playster rejected you (which by the way, it DOESN'T. There's explicit sex in romance, it's if there's a story without it that makes it romance or one of the others). I had to laugh (bitterly). I pointed them to this thread and to the Playster store. Seeing Playster's incredible unbelievable response which suggests the only reason that they are barring books that are m/m is because of underaged characters (meaning we may be engaged in something deviant, I guess) is just appalling and makes clear that steam level is not why they aren't accepting certain books. It makes it appear they don't even KNOW WHY they aren't.
 

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X. Aratare said:
THIS is absolutely APPALLING. You are suggesting that the authors with books in this thread who have books rejected are because they have MINORS in sexual situations?!

(1) My books do NOT HAVE the erotica tag. They just have the gay stories and romance tag.

(2) I have NO UNDERAGE CHARACTERS.

So this is the biggest load of BS I have ever seen.

M/F books are getting through M/M books are NOT. You need to address this.
Sorry for the misunderstanding; we were not insinuating that at all. We were just clarifying that our refusal of 'erotica' was a cautious response to books with underage characters being delivered to Playster in the past. We were not at all suggesting that your books were refused for this reason.

We're investigating the labeling thoroughly, using some of the examples in this thread, to establish exactly what's happening. Thanks in advance for your patience with this.
 

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Dear Playster:

Um, how about emailing this explanation directly to people whose books are not approved, with some idea of when you will have a system that will detect and approve compliant books.

Because right now you have a system is that in effect discriminatory, whether that was your intent or not. I would suggest fixing that before a major gay rights organization decides to make your life even more difficult.

I know large systems are not easy to manage, but transparency would sure help.
 

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This is the kind of shake-out necessary. I've just about given up trying to label my non-erotica books as anything other than erotica, because I often get flagged. Most likely because 90% of my backlist is erotica.

But definitions that turn into policies need to be chewed, chewed over, and chewed again. Once we have a standard - whether we think it's fair or not - at least we know where the limits lie.

On another note, while I have no issues with M/M stories or sex, a publisher with Mormon owners might. We need to be prepared that some might find M/M interaction deviant, no matter how you or anyone else feels about it.

I don't think any of us would expect an Islamic publisher to publish books on bacon recipes.
 

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Mercia McMahon said:
D2D have a track record here in that one of its other Smashwords-doesn't-have-it retailers is 24Symbols, who also provoked a kboards thread when LGBT books were taken down. The kboards search engine failed to bring up that thread (in which Dan of D2D also commented IIRC) and a general internet search only brought me a link to an author complaining about it:

http://www.brianolsenbooks.com/lgbt-discrimination-at-24symbols/
Hey, that's me! I just saw this thread and checked my own books - three of the four books in my wide series are still "Publishing" at Playster, and have been since 6/21, when I submitted them. Book three was published the very next day, 6/22.

Book three is "Mark Park and the Flume of Destiny," which is the only one of the three books that's NOT tagged "Gay and Lesbian." This is the exact same thing that happened at 24Symbols way back when - book three was the only book with an unblurred cover.

None of these books are tagged erotica. They're all sci-fi adventure. They're all in the same series. The only difference is the Gay and Lesbian tag.

I'll watch to see how this plays out, but I expect I'll be pulling my books from Playster. (I mean, apart from the discrimination, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to only make book three available...)
 
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