Independent erotica writers are in a panic: it seems Amazon wants to hide their sexy novels from its customers.
Amazon hasn’t announced any changes to its policies on erotic novels, yet over the last few days, several authors have reported that their books are being stripped of their “best-seller” rankings. This leads to massive revenue loss for indie authors, as it makes their novels practically invisible to browsing shoppers, burying them beneath more mainstream, PG content.
A best-seller ranking does much more than tell users what’s selling well on Amazon.com. It affects how the book appears in search results, whether it shows up in advertisements or is ever recommended as a “book you might like.” Removing the ranking prevents erotic books from surfacing, reducing the availability and visibility of the authors’ works.
It appears the change in policy only affects the US Amazon site, and not the Amazon sites of other countries, leading some to believe the new policies are a direct result of FOSTA/SESTA, a new law that passed the US Senate this past week. The law purportedly aims to prevent online sex trafficking, but in making websites civilly and criminally liable for the content their users post, has resulted in extreme internet censorship, particularly in the distribution of sexual material.
It’s unclear how Amazon distinguishes which romance novels are too lewd for its taste. Many romance authors are scrambling to re-categorize their novels as something more wholesome, while others have seen their work re-classified as erotica without their permission.
Writers who complain to Amazon about being labeled as erotica are told: “To remove your book from its current categorization you will need to remove the erotic or sexually explicit content and resubmit…”
Without Amazon, indie erotica authors have few alternatives for selling the eloquent masturbation material they poured their blood, sweat and tears into. For any humble member of the sex industry, puritanical America is becoming a very a bad place for business.