I write erotica, and it’s probably about as racy as you can get..but then again, maybe not (what the heck do I know). Recently, my writing partner and I published six books on Amazon, and out of those, four were banned within a week. Amazon called it “blocked,” but what’s the difference? They sent me a basic form letter that said the books didn’t meet with one or more of their policies, and gave me a link to a Godzilla sized list of policies. Now that made it a bit difficult for me to know exactly how to fix the problem.

I know it happens to a lot of erotica authors, especially if you write taboo. The books they blocked of mine likely contained dubious consent. Well, if you’ve had this happen to you, and you really want your book on Amazon, contact Boruma Publishing. They’ll also list your book other places, where it will likely sell even better, making you more money. At least, this has been my experience.

This is a little thank you note to my publisher, Boruma Publishing. http://www.borumapublishing.com/

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4 thoughts on “Getting Banned and Blocked Books Back on Amazon

  1. It’s censorship. Of course, the Amazon lackeys who only publish on Amazon will say, hey, tough luck. It’s their company, they can set the rules. But Amazon has something like 80 percent of the e-book market. The books they block are essentially not available to a huge percentage of the market. Censorship. Like you, I also publish on Boruma, which treats its authors (and their readers) with respect. I get about half of my sales through Boruma. The other half is in constant jeopardy of either being blocked or “dungeoned” (removed from the search function). Amazon could lighten up by clarifying its policies, which are enforced erratically, not at all or zealously. I look forward to the day I stop publishing there.

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    1. I’m a fairly new author, so I was very surprised by all of this. It’s amazing to me that censorship still goes on.

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  2. It’s more than just censorship.

    Indulge me for a moment, and step into the infamous WayBack Machine. Go back to when indie publishing was still in its first toddling-baby-steps infancy.

    Amazon’s execs were smart enough to realize that this new technology could make some serious money for the company quick enough to jump in and make it a full-blown business. But the Big Six were understandably leery of the growing fad. “Electronic books are a flash in the pan,” they said. “Nothing will ever replace paperback and hardcover books.” It’s easy to understand why they were so scornful; they were backed by centuries upon centuries of tradition. I wonder if the ancient historians who penned their works on parchment scrolls said the same thing?

    But just like paperback books are more convenient than parchment scrolls, e-books are more convenient than paperbacks…and much cheaper! They take up zero physical space, use considerably less of our natural resources, cost a fraction of paperbacks and, best of all for those of us who are avid readers, you can carry thousands of books anywhere in the world on a device no larger than your hand. No more trips to the bookstore when you’ve finished your current book, either; just log in and purchase another book from anywhere in the world, any time of day or night, whether you’re traveling or at work or lounging in bed in your favorite jammies. No shipping costs or transit delays, either. Just ka-ching! and you can read the next installment of your favorite series in minutes!

    So Amazon, being the far-thinking conglomerate it is, decided to throw their gates open to all the frustrated “I have a great story but no one will publish it!” author wannabes. They are legion, and those willing to embrace the new technology made a fortune in those early years.

    Amazon was so pleased by its success that they allowed anything to be published, no holds barred. More and more authors jumped on the bandwagon…and still everyone made money because the pie was large, the number of published books was still relatively low, and Amazon was pushing the Kindle even harder than politicians push corruption. (Which, between you and me, is saying something!) The Big Six began to take notice, and wonder if perhaps they’d been just a touch too hasty.

    But with greater publicity came greater awareness that certain unsavory genres were not only being published, but were extremely popular. I refer, of course, to erotica. The so-called Moral Majority got its collective knickers in a twist when it became glaringly obvious that the #1 seller was not Bibles; it was hardcore porn. They began pressuring Amazon to eliminate this very lucrative genre.

    Things came to a head when an absolute moron (speak not its name lest you summon it!) published a book detailing how to be a pedophile and stalk children. The very justifiable uproar could be heard all the way to Pluto and beyond. Amazon permanently banned said moron–but not before he made a fortune of his own, because many thousands of copies were sold. Most copies were probably bought by caring parents wanting to learn how to proactively protect their children from stalkers. But the rest…well, it just doesn’t bear thinking about.

    Amazon cleaned house with a vengeance, and blocked any books it considered taboo…and caught a lot of perfectly innocuous books in the net because, in their haste, they didn’t properly review what they were destroying. I remember one author who’d written a children’s book about the family dog…because a dog was on the cover, it was incorrectly tagged as containing bestiality, and permanently blocked. I don’t believe she was ever able to get it republished.

    The Big Six were pleased to see erotica books being removed; they were starting to realize that publishing e-books could be lucrative, and wanted in on the party. But in order for them to really profit, all those pesky little independent authors would have to go.

    Amazon agreed. Millions of independent authors were too much work to maintain long-term. The bookkeeping alone was a nightmare. They wanted books funneling in from just a few controlled sources…no more publicity storms because a disreputable author had snuck in something so volatile. By accepting only from the Big Six, they would have that control, because the publishers would vet everything beforehand.

    They presented the Big Six with contracts. Not everyone agreed with the terms, which were outrageously biased in Amazon’s favor. Indie publishers got a slight reprieve. But the end goal was–and still is–far more than mere censorship. Amazon and the Big Six want indie publishers gone…permanently. Only then can the pie be divided more equitably between just a few major players, instead of several million small ones.

    To that end, they created a Boycott Indie Publishing campaign that gets rolled out every April…coincidentally just about the time readers are no longer cooped inside by bad weather, and e-book sales suffer because readers are outside enjoying themselves rather than reading. Books are randomly ‘hidden’ so that even if you type in the exact author name and title, the book may not be included in your search. Erotica books–the most popular genre in existence–are deliberately low-balled so they show up at the bottom of any search. Or they’re “dungeoned,” i.e. you have to manually click the “Include Adult Listings” text link (when it appears) in order for the book to show up. More and more readers are realizing that’s what they need to do, but it still hurts sales dramatically.

    Kindle Unlimited was another deliberate gambit to chase indie publishers away. Anyone who passed second-grade math can tell you that if you’re only charging $9.95 per month, but paying out top wages for dozens–if not hundreds–of books every month, your business model is seriously flawed. It was doomed to fail. The only surprising thing is that it took so long to happen…until you consider one more thing: KU deliberately operated at a loss because its true purpose was to sucker in millions of authors, remove their books from all competing bookstores…then change the terms mid-stream so that the authors who’d started off making excellent money were suddenly going bankrupt…and couldn’t do a thing about it until their contract time limit expired.

    The strategy worked phenomenally. Not only did Amazon severely cripple its competitors by hoarding all those books into its own exclusive program; several hundred thousand authors left Amazon, never to return, once their contracts expired. Once bitten, twice shy.

    At the same time, Amazon periodically creates/plants more inflammatory news articles designed to stir up outrage, so they can orchestrate ‘witch hunts’ to sweep through and remove huge sections of their still-overflowing library. Plenty more than erotica is caught in those nets…but they don’t care. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    Their Terms of Service are extremely vague…deliberately so, which gives them the power to block anything they choose whenever they choose, with absolutely no recourse available. Their policy enforcement is consistently inconsistent, though whether that’s due to gross incompetence or a deliberate goad to authors is anyone’s guess. If your book is blocked, there is no recourse…ever…because now everything is handled by automatic e-mails with no valid return address. The days of being able to plead your case to a live human are long over.

    Once you realize that their goal is to drive away all the pesky little independent authors who can’t be easily controlled, and corner the market with the “real” books published by the Big Six, everything they have done, and continue to do, becomes crystal-clear.

    Censorship? No, they will never settle for anything so mundane. Greed is their goddess, and they worship her with absolute devotion.

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  3. There are many problems authors face today, especially those publishing taboo content. What many authors fail to voice properly is how Amazon plays into these problems. It’s easy to say Amazon censors books, but a majority of authors out there are either uninformed, or don’t believe this is the case.

    Authors today understand that censorship within an industry often comes from the government. Today, this is the case. Amazon has easily become the biggest retailer of eBooks. Because of their position at the top, they have a huge advantage and ability to control the market. Whatever Amazon doesn’t want published simply doesn’t get published. The problem isn’t Amazon though, it’s the government. Authors need to be aware of this. The government doesn’t want more “rape” porn. Operation Choke Point conducted by the Department of Justice is but one proof of this.

    Today the political climate has changed. Authors, and I’m one of them, that write taboo themes are demonized. To the public, we are seen as instigators of abhorrent behavior. Through our stories, we are seen as enablers of people who do horrible things. This mentality must stop. To do this, the change starts with us, as authors.

    Getting our books out there is key, but these books must also be tasteful. We need publishers who won’t cave under pressure as well. I’ve noticed today many taboo retailers carrying titles so far from their taboo base that it alienates buyers. Authors suffer because of this. Taboo publishers need to work together in today’s market to survive. There is power in numbers, and this goes for both authors and publishers alike.

    Amazon isn’t the problem, as authors know the terms ahead of time. The problem remains public opinion as it drives government policy, and that can only change with us. We must thrive together.

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