Discussion Post: Amazon Censorship

Wow, I’m finding a lot to make me ranty recently!

I don’t even know where to start with the minefield that is Amazon censoring indie books so that they can’t be sold/aren’t selling/are having sales withdrawn. You name it Amazon is managing to pull it off in this little minefield and I’m just going to say it. It’s freaking bollocks!

I know many of you don’t read this genre, but the fact Amazon is doing this is something everybody should be interested in because if they are going to start censoring one group of books and authors what is to stop them starting on another at any time they deem convenient to them.

Many Reverse Harem authors are having their books recategorised as erotica. This may not seem too much of an issue on the surface. But Erotica novels become hard to find especially once they’ve been blocked. They sit behind filters where you can only find them with a direct link. Even the title and author search won’t get you near them.

Amazon has a very ambiguous content guideline:

“What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.”

I mean seriously? Nothing like closing your eyes, spinning around a few times then drawing a line on a chalkboard! For heaven’s sake, this is basically saying it’s totally up to whoever happens to be looking at any one time and what they deem offensive.

So, back to the novels which have been tagged as erotica. Some of them don’t even have any sex in them. They have been tagged this way purely because they are reverse harem. Yes, contrary to popular belief, not all reverse harem’s are bonk-fests! As with any romance genre, they come on a sliding scale. So for books with zero sex to be tagged as erotica and start being penalised as such is just downright appalling.

Some of them do have sex in, but not all books which contain sex are erotica. Now I am not going to sit here and explain the nuances between an adult romance novel containing sex and erotica. But there are differences. So when an author uploads their book and chooses the genre which best suits their book (because let’s face it who knows a book better than the author?) I’m assuming they pick the genres best suited to them.

This is what happened to Kate Morgan when she uploaded her debut novel Five Fathers. Categorised as Romantic Suspense, it has a very slightly racy cover, but not overly compared to most. I haven’t read this yet, but I pre-ordered it months ago so it won’t take me long to get it into my read queue but you can read an excerpt from it here, definitely not the sauciest excerpt I’ve ever had! The point is Amazon, not only re-categorised this as Erotica, they also censored it meaning that now people can only buy Kate’s book if they have a direct link to it which, of course, will obliterate her sales. Needless to say…you can tell in the post Kate put up this morning how devastating this is for her as an author:

If you want to pick up a copy of Five Fathers, even if this isn’t your usual cup of tea, in solidarity for Kate’s plight the link to do so is: https://books2read.com/u/bxq7r6 (this will redirect to your chosen retailer)

So what do we do? We can’t boycott Amazon, most of us use Kindles so the bulk of our books are bought from Amazon. Plus Amazon is the primary publishing platform for indie authors. And while I love the big publishing houses I buy far more books by indie authors than anybody else so a boycott will only punish those authors we really want to be supporting.

I’ve seen it suggested that we boycot Amazon for anything but indie author books. Which is definitely something to consider although I worry with things like this what impact it will actually have because hey, it’s Amazon and do they really care about a few lost sales? Thoughts people?

Other authors have fallen victim to this re-categorisation multiple times with books that are definitely not erotica. Knowing one of the authors affected I know that their books are at best borderline but none that I would put in the full erotica category. It is only due to the absolute bloody-minded persistence of this author that they were able to get Amazon’s decision reversed on one of the novels, but this same author has had their sales rankings stripped from other novels which is incredibly unfair and something I cannot even begin to wrap my head around. This is an extremely popular indie author and they are being penalised for that popularity as far as I can tell. But again we get to the point, as the author they know better than anybody which genre their book falls into and should not be penalised because Amazon has got a stick up their arse.

So… what do we do? How do we tackle this? Come on bookish folk…let’s get our heads together.

Do we set up a petition? Do we all write letters to Amazon in a mass complaint?

Hit me with your ideas…we’ve got a fantastic community, share this post, let’s all get onto this and work with these amazing indie authors to find a solution to fighting the behemoth that is Amazon.

As I said at the beginning of this post, even if this isn’t your genre…it could be your genre next so we need to come together on this.

Discussion Post: Book Community Bullying #antibullying

There has been a lot of discussion in recent months about bullying in the book community. I particularly remember this post that Drew wrote last summer about stopping all the hate flying around in the book blogging community, if you haven’t read it go check it out: An Open Letter: Let’s Stop the Hate.

The point is, bullying is alive and kicking in our cozy little community, we all like to think we are playing nice, and some of us get by without being too heavily affected, I was definitely one of those people until this week, and too be honest I wasn’t going to say anything until I read something this morning which stopped my heart and made me realise we have to stop keeping quiet and start fighting back.

I had an argument with someone, not someone who is particularly a part of the book community, they sit on the edge friends with a lot of authors, a reader. It wasn’t an argument connected with the book world even, and it was dealt with, although our friendship didn’t survive the argument. It happens.

What I didn’t expect was to have several indie authors I didn’t know send me nasty, abusive messages. Threatening, calling me names. All in the name of protecting this person I had argued with. Believe me, it wasn’t that big deal of an argument. I blocked and deleted all of the messages, and had my mental health been in a better state that would have been it. But it wasn’t, I have been very sick this week so those messages were ammunition for my psychosis to really play havoc with my state of mind and I was in a really bad way fighting suicidal urges for three days. Probably what I should have done was copy those messages and outed each of those people publicly, let everyone know the bullies they are. But I didn’t have it in me so I let it go.

Then this morning I woke up and logged into Facebook, and read this.

Two people, an author and an artist, from the indie book community both pushed to a suicide attempt by people harassing and bullying them? This is beyond acceptable. This bullying in the community HAS to come to an end.

As you all know I lost a friend to suicide just two weeks ago and that is a feeling I will never recover from. I also know how it feels to want to take your life and to be led in that hospital bed having tried and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. One of my attempts was the result of bullying and for a person to make you feel like your life is not worth living is unbearable, to know that somebody has that much power over you is the most awful feeling in the world.

We, as a community, need to start fighting back, we need to start telling these people that this is not acceptable. We need to start calling people on this bullshit and telling them that they cannot speak to other people in this way. It’s time to start making it clear that we will not accept anything less than civility.

We have a good thing in the book community so let’s start protecting it and each other. If you have ideas on how we do this, what we can do to stop more authors, artists, bloggers, PA’s from being pushed to the edge then let’s hear it. Let’s talk about your experiences. The more we talk the less power these people have. Let’s name the people who are doing this and take away their power, encourage them to start having more respect for their fellow book lovers.

If people can’t show respect on blogs/in groups/on pages etc then maybe they need to be kicked off/out. Honestly, I don’t hold the answer to everything in my hands but maybe as a unit we do. There are far more of us who are kind, considerate, and understanding than participate in the bullying so we should be able to overcome this and work out a solution.

You all know how passionate I am about mental health, I can’t bear to see these people affecting people’s mental health like this any longer so we need to do something sooner rather than later.