Being in the Amazon Dungeon

I’ve been published by a publisher and I’ve self-published. Neither is a cakewalk. Both avenues take hard work, compromise, and a few regrets. In either case, after your book has been published, there’s Amazon. Many writers have a love/hate or hate/hate relationship with the ‘Zon, as we call it in the biz. Can’t live with it, can’t kill it. For some, it’s their bread and butter; for others, their dry, burnt toast.

If you’ve written something mainstream and the powers that be at the ‘Zon shine beneficently on your book, then it may be pushed before eager customers, with such phrases as, “Customers who bought this… also bought ….[name of your book here].” Ah, sweet success!!

However, if you write what is known as erotica or erotic romance or even “women’s porn” as it’s sometimes called (which is just rude) and you put a suggestive cover on said book, you may find yourself in Amazon’s dungeon. It is dark, windowless, and nearly impossible to get out of. And you’ll find that no readers are looking at your book down there. Worse still, if they search your book’s title, it may not show up in the results. That’s the curse and purgatory of the ‘Zon’s dungeon. Here’s the thing: even erotica authors have to sell books to make money to live so they can write more books. That’s how it works for any genre. And despite the current slew of 99-cent and free digital books, no, writers can’t use the zero “income” they earn by “selling” for free to buy food or clothing! Huh, go figure! But that’s another rant.

This rant is to do with Amazon tossing an erotica author’s books in the dungeon. For having a suggestive cover. On erotica. Suggestive. Not nudity. Someone’s idea of suggestive. Which must equal offensive to someone at the ‘Zon. How do I know the dungeon exists? Well, duh. The Erotic Lords series covers are too erotic apparently. Two out of three anyway — can you guess which one is labeled “not adult”? I will have to have them redone or languish in obscurity, chained to a wall in the dungeon, with nary a handsome savior in sight.
cover for One Lord Down by Seven McBay

cover of One Lord to Go

One Lord Too Many cover
You can determine the Amazon label of a book by going here: http://www.salesrankexpress.com/. Type in a book title and you can see if it is labeled “none” (meaning safe for now until someone at Amazon deems otherwise), “not adult” (meaning safe forever), “ADULT” in big red letters (meaning off it goes to the Amazon dungeon). And the kicker is that it has to do with arbitrary reasons, as I said, such as a cover that is too suggestive to someone’s eye, or a keyword or a book description that rubbed someone the wrong way. And the other kicker is that you will find loads of erotic books labeled “not adult,” even if they are about college-age kids boinking (can I use that word?) their mom’s friends or multiple partners having sex without a plot or even a whiff of a story to be read anywhere between the covers (as long as those covers aren’t too suggestive).

Getting down off the soapbox. Almost. One final statement: Writers need to sell books to make a living. Readers can buy or not buy, and bad writing usually falls by the way side because of bad reviews and readers not buying. However, if a reader wants to buy books of a certain genre, then the playing field, or in this case, the digital bookshelf of Amazon should be level. If you’re in the dungeon, it’s not level. If a book doesn’t show up in a reader’s legitimate search of the site, even though the book matches the reader’s search criteria, right down to the title, then that’s censorship. Isn’t it?

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