Tag Archive for selena kitt

Corporate Censorship: Keeping Your Erotic Books Off Retailer Hit Lists

Not surprisingly, this is a topic I’ve talked about before, but I just wrote up a new guideline for my Excessica authors (now that we’re taking new submissions and starting to distribute boxed sets) and realized–the rules have changed again.

So I thought I would create another post letting you all know what (unofficial) rules still seem in place and others that have been added, so you can keep your erotic book off retailer hit lists! You may have heard some of this before but it bears repeating–and some of it (everything in PURPLE below) has changed.

Erotica has been under attack and subject to corporate censorship since I started in this business and it will likely continue—and the rules will continue to change. Without warning. And without any advanced notice (or really any notice at all!) So what follows is what currently applies as of this writing. If your goal is to get your book in front of the largest number of readers, then in order to do that, it’s best to play the game, within the (arbitrary, nontransparent and constantly changing) rules.

If it sounds maddening–it is. And while I’m working on an alternative solution, I’ve had some setbacks (that’s a whole other post–suffice to say I’m as anxious as you all are to get it back up and running and I’ll shout it from the rooftops when its ready to go!) so for the moment, our best offense is a good defense.

If you want the rules in a nutshell:  If you dress up pretty on the outside, you can be as much of a whore on the inside as you like.*

(*with a few exceptions…)

AMAZON “RULES”

Amazon has an 80% market share on ebooks and is (and will likely remain) the biggest distributor and biggest money maker for most erotica authors. That means we have to pay close attention to their “policy changes” and adjust accordingly. Unfortunately, Amazon is completely nontransparent about their “rules” so we have to kind of figure things out as we go. This is what we’ve figure out so far:

  • CATEGORIES: When selecting categories—if your book has two characters who fall in love and have a happy ever after, put it in romance. I don’t care if they’re men, women, or giant mutant chipmunks. Put that book in romance. The reason is, once you choose “erotica,” you have essentially chosen to ostracize yourself from all the other categories. Amazon won’t let you choose anything outside of the erotica category—you can’t be in erotica and horror at the same time. Or erotica and sci-fi. If you categorize your book as erotica, you are stuck in the erotica red-light district. In some cases (if your book is really NOT a romance) this is fine. But if your book/story has a romance theme and would benefit from being in other categories, pick romance.
  • AMAZON’S ADULT FILTER: You do NOT want your book/story on Amazon to get ADULT filtered. They do this without warning or notice, but once your book has been filtered, recovering can be very difficult. I have some advice down below about how to avoid the ADULT filter. But sometimes you can do everything right and still get the filter slapped on your title. What do you do then? Check OFTEN to see if your book has been ADULT filtered! Go to Amazon, make sure you are in the “ALL DEPARTMENT” search, and type in the title. If you can’t find your book, you have been ADULT filtered. Another way to check (especially if you are checking a great many titles) is to go to Sales Rank Express. Type in your titles there. If you are filtered, a large red ADULT will show next to your book. Remember – you can’t fight an enemy you can’t see, so you need to know how to avoid the ADULT filter. If Amazon isn’t going to be fair about applying it to ALL books (including Fifty Shades of Grey) that contain erotic content, then we don’t have to be fair about playing by their inconsistent and non-transparent “rules” and “guidelines.”

How do you avoid being ADULT filtered?

  • Keep nudity off your cover. Also keep it out of the inside of your book. You can push the boundaries here, but you risk getting ADULT filtered, so be careful. You don’t want to have to change your cover—that gets expensive. For example, thongs and “hand bras” (i.e. a nude woman with her or someone else’s hands covering her breasts) used to be okay but now they’re not. I can’t count how many covers I had to get changed due to this new “policy.” Tasteful nudity that doesn’t show any “bits” and doesn’t imply sexual action usually doesn’t get filtered. See my A Twisted Bard’s Tale for an example of a title that has nudity but doesn’t imply sexual action. But that rule could change at any moment.
  • Keep your titles and descriptions free of the “Amazon Bad Words List” below.
  • Do not add explicit excerpts in your description or you risk being filtered.

The “Amazon Bad Word List”

  • Nudity on covers (this rule changes a lot – it’s better to be safe than sorry in this instance–changing covers can get expensive).
  • Incest is banned altogether. But pseudoincest (sex between non-biological relations, like stepfather and stepdaughter) may get you filtered. Anything with obvious titles, especially “Daddy” and “Mommy,” but also sister, brother, siblings, uncle, family, etc. are no longer allowed in title OR description. Taboo, forbidden, kin, those words are still allowed as of this writing.
  • These words may get you filtered or blocked: gangbang, rape, reluctant, reluctance, nonconsent, dubious consent (dubcon), forced, or “rough” sex, strap-on.
  • Breeding, bred or impregnation stories may get you filtered or blocked.
  • Any profanity or obscene language: pussy, cock, cum, tits, fuck, sex, clit, etc. are not allowed in either title or description.
  • Lactation, breastfeeding, lactating, milky are all topics and words that may get you filtered.
  • Tentacles and other mythological creatures (minotaurs, centaurs, bigfoot, dinosaurs etc.) may be filtered or even blocked.
  • Excerpts are no longer allowed in descriptions if they are explicit.

How do you get UNFILTERED on Amazon?

Make the above changes as they apply to your book. Then email Amazon at this email:

title-submission@amazon.com

This is the letter I send. Feel free to cut and paste!

Please reevaluate the title ___________ by _____________. The title has been changed and resubmitted to comply with your current terms of service and should no longer have an adult filter placed upon it or be excluded from the all-department search.

Please mark this title NOT ADULT.

ASIN: __________

Thank you.

But my book has a taboo subject matter—now what?

There are different rules for different vendors. Currently—

  • Amazon bans incest, bestiality and rape for titillation. They allow pseudoincest (but without any reference to family relations on the cover or in the description). Rape for titillation they seem to allow—unless a customer complains. Then they are likely to block the book rather than ADULT filter it. (This has happened several times, for example, to Her Master’s Courtesan, which currently is still banned at Amazon, in spite of the book’s incredible popularity!)
  • Kobo doesn’t allow bestiality, rape for titillation, incest OR pseudoincest. Everyone remembers why, right?
  • Apple/iTunes/iBooks doesn’t allow bestiality, rape for titillation, incest OR pseudoincest. They also don’t allow any nudity on covers or explicit descriptions/excerpts.
  • Google is late to the party and have just started banning bestiality, rape for titillation, incest OR pseudoincest. All erotica books must be in the erotica category and should be at least $1.00.
  • Bookstrand and All Romance Ebooks don’t allow bestiality, rape for titillation, incest OR pseudoincest. They also don’t allow “barely legal” or any risqué titles (i.e. “The Cum Slut Gangbang.”)
  • Barnes and Noble puts no restraints on their erotica. Although they have been known, on occasion, to “anchor” a book to keep it out of their Top 100 if they deem it too risqué.
  • Smashwords and Draft 2 Digital follow the same guidelines as their strictest distributor (currently – iTunes/Apple).
  • A1 Adult Ebooks/Fiction 4 All – They allow most anything, however, anything extreme (incest, pseudoincest, rape) must not be obvious due to merchant account issues. (Mastercard)
  • Lot’s Cave – They allow incest, if you write taboo topics. They are currently a publisher but are planning soon to become a distributor.
  • Excessica – We publish everything except bestiality (actual animals, creatures are fine), underage sex (18+ only) and necrophilia (vampires and the undead are fine!)
  • Excitica – We will distribute everything except bestiality, underage sex and necrophilia. Bookmark it and stay tuned!

If you write taboo subjects, you have to be more careful than most. Use innuendo and insinuation. The thesaurus is your friend. Find alternative words and phrases. Taboo, forbidden, illicit. Many authors have started saying, “So hot Amazon won’t let me put an excerpt, use the ‘LOOK INSIDE’ feature to see just how dirty it is.” I’ve put a notice in the “review” section on all my taboo books letting readers know that Amazon won’t let me describe the content, hinting that it’s too taboo for them. Get creative. You’re a writer, right? You can let the reader know what’s inside the book without making it obvious–and if you want to publish on the big retailers, I’m afraid that’s what you’re going to have to do.

I know many authors who have self-censored because of Amazon’s ever-changing policies and that’s unfortunate. There’s a big market for taboo topics and it hasn’t disappeared–Amazon has just made it harder for you to find them. But not impossible. Readers will still find you. And there are still alternative outlets provided to you by stalwarts like Stuart at A1 Ebooks, Phaedrus at Lot’s Cave and me at Excessica–and Excitica too, as soon as I can get someone to shut up and take my money and make it like I want! :P (If you know anyone, contact me!)

Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
www.selenakitt.com
LATEST RELEASE: Power Play: Bailey and the Professor
JUST $0.99 ON AMAZON

 

Excitica – New Erotica and Erotic Romance Distributor!

Erikas New Avatar

2013 was a hella year for erotica. And not always in such a good way. While it gave us some amazing new authors contributing to the genre, it brought a storm of corporate censorship along with it.

The floodgates to erotica and erotic romance really opened in 2011 with the publication of the previously-published-as Twilight fanfiction instant phenom Fifty Shades of Grey. Suddenly the whole world was reading erotica – and every author was clamoring to write it. The market, already bursting with writers who heard they could make more money writing erotica than any other genre, was quickly flooded.

And the race to the bottom (or the top?) continued through last year. While many of us had learned the lessons distributors were teaching – tamer covers, less obvious titles, descriptions that left more to the imagination – there were far too many new authors who didn’t know the unwritten new rules who were vying for visibility in a morass of new work.

And so the perfect storm developed. The Kernel posted their click-bait, Kobo capitulated, and distributors everywhere started to ban erotica. Again. Still. More. *sigh*

As a business owner, I understood their quandry – there was suddenly a great deal of erotica that readers clearly wanted to read on one hand, but on the other, there were other people perusing their site who didn’t want to read it or see it or even know it existed.

What to do?

Each distributor made a decision. None of them had ever allowed underage sex of course, but there were other niches they had to make a call about, like incest, pseudo incest, bestiality and nonconsent.

THE BIG BOYS

Amazon: Most authors’ largest source of income. They decided they’d already drawn their line in the sand. Incest, bestiality and nonconsent was still banned. Pseudo incest was still allowed, but no reference to family relations could be mentioned in the description. And erotica could no longer include explicit excerpts in the description field. Cover restrictions also tightened – no more nudity or even non-nude implied sexual acts or touching was allowed on erotica covers.

Kobo: They banned incest, pseudo incest, bestiality and nonconsent and yet they are the only large distributor who still has a “taboo” category – which is now like a ghost town and the moment an author puts their work there, it’s usually removed.

Apple: They banned incest, pseudo incest, bestiality and nonconsent. Covers with nudity had always been a no-no.

Barnes and Noble: No corporate censorship. Everything is allowed. Although rumors still run rampant that they “anchor” certain books if they break the top 100, to keep them from the bestseller lists.

Google Play: A little late to the party, they’ve just begun banning incest, pseudo incest, bestiality and nonconsent.

SMALLER DISTRIBUTORS & AGGREGATORS

Smashwords: They have to follow the rules for all of their distributors, so they take the lowest common denominator and apply that across the board. No incest, pseudo incest, bestiality, nonconsent or covers with nudity.

Digital 2 Draft: Like Smashwords, they have disallowed those things that displease most of the distributors.

All Romance Ebooks: Since the Paypal fiasco, they have disallowed not only incest, pseudo incest, bestiality and nonconsent, but anything that is “barely legal” (whatever that means?)

Bookstrand: The same as All Romance EBooks - no incest, pseudoincest, bestiality, nonconsent or anything “barely legal.”

So you can see, if you write anything that leans toward the more “taboo” it’s hard to find an audience for it anymore. And before you start in about how “sick” or “twisted” or “crazy” such fiction and people who read such fiction must be, I’d like to remind you that we are talking about FICTION here. It’s fantasy. There are people out there who like to write it and people who out there who like to read it – it’s common and, on a psychological level, doesn’t border on “crazy” any more than fantasies about threesomes or BDSM.

So what is a writer – or a reader – to do?

EXCITICA

exciticalogo

Oops, I forgot one distributor. EXCITICA.

EXCITICA is run by Selena Kitt (that’s me!) New York Times and USA Bestselling author of erotica and erotic romance fiction with over one million authored books sold. She has run her own publishing company at eXcessica for five years and has been one of the most vocal authors against the corporate censorship of erotica. She has developed eXcitica as a subsidiary of eXcessica 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, has just 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?

Sign up HERE for a SELLER ACCOUNT!

You should be approved right away and you can start uploading your books!

If you have any questions, check out our FAQ.

NOTE: We are in “beta” mode 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 later this 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!

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Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won’t Forget
www.selenakitt.com