Is Erotica in Danger from Amazon?

So, are my books going get pulled from Amazon?

There is no short answer to this question. After a recent blog post from one of my colleagues had worried another I started to dig. First, I’m not going to just cite the blogs of other authors – that’s a rumor. I don’t spread rumors, or I try not to. Okay, maybe I gossip a little but what I’m looking for here are facts. This is an important issue so… let’s see what I can find.

Trigger Warning!

First, a bit about me. I survived child molestation. I’m also a wife and a mother. So, this isn’t totally unbiased and I’m going to swear so. TRIGGER FUCKING WARNING.

I’m also a US Citizen so when I talk about “society, values  and laws” it’s our culture to which I refer.

What’s being pulled?

The sick fuck who wrote the Pedophiles Guide is in jail. The judge denied his request for a lower bond…Yes, his book was pulled. It violated the law (thankfully there are laws on the books on the subject matter.) We, as a society, have decided raping children is bad. As a mother – I’ll cut off your dick and feed it to you if you come anywhere near my children.

When it started

In the fall of 2013 (thereabout) there were a plethora of books yanked by Amazon. Some were put back up, some were not.

Lily White’s book was taken down and never put back up. Some of Selena Kitt’s books were also removed.

The Guideline

But we have to remember that there is a reason there’s a taboo list. Almost every single publishing house has a list that looks something like this:

  • Pedophilia
  • Rape or incest
  • Necrophilia (does not pertain to vampires or other “undead” characters)
  • Hate messages to any race, gender, religion, or sexuality
  • Bestiality
  • Sexual content with participants under the age of 18

Why? Because society has deemed this indecent, illegal and immoral. Bestiality is one subject where we can walk a fine line. We can have shifters/werewolves etc and have the sex… but not in animal form. You have to know where that line is.

Crossing into pedophilia and incest??? I have my own feelings on the matter and those feelings are pretty strong. Obviously.

Rape for Titillation

This, believe it or not, is getting it’s own section for a reason. Rape is bad. Rape is evil. Rapists deserve to die.

But Anita? What about Rape Fantasies?

Exactly. Some willing participants actually act out rape fantasies with their partners. I’m sure Freud would have a field day with this issue, and I’m no psychologist. But if the participants are actually WILLING and CONSENTING but ACTING it out, there’s nothing wrong with it.

A survivor can actually use this as a healing tool. How? Well, for one, the “victim” can set the parameters. They tell their partner the scenario they desire then the two enact it later on. So the “victim” is actually in control. As a survivor, I can tell you that this can be quite liberating.

But it’s not for everyone. And it can actually trigger things like panic attacks and flashbacks. The scars left behind from rape, molestation and other childhood trauma run deep. For some, they never heal. That’s why there’s community standards regarding these topics. BECAUSE WE DON’T WANT TO ENCOURAGE RAPE, INCEST AND PEDOPHILIA.

Censorship

Censorship exists to protect the innocent and to set some standards. I have mixed feelings on censorship myself. I have no desire to fall back into the Victorian Era’s puritanical ideas of what is decent and what is not. But for Christ’s Sake, a Pedophile’s Guide isn’t something we want available for sale. Thankfully, Amazon used better judgement when it was brought to their attention. And the guy is now in jail, probably where he belongs.

As authors, we have to exercise some common sense. We can’t slap a pornographic cover on our book, then bitch that it got pulled. You can’t write taboo topics then whine that it got yanked. Why?

Don’t Bite the Hand that Feeds You!

I think some of these authors who are complaining forget one small detail. If it weren’t for Amazon starting the self-publishing revolution by giving us a gateway to our readers, we’d be stuck with only vanity publishers as our only outlet. And that, folks, would be a crime.

Amazon is still a business. They have their own community standards and if you want to publish through them, then you have to follow those standards. You are not ENTITLED to publish your work through them. They ALLOW you to do so.

Amazon is our largest and most powerful friend. But if we consistently spread rumors about them being the bad guy… why would they continue to help us?

Amazon has been the Indie champion for awhile now. They are the main retail outlet for us. Don’t attack them for having standards. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Where are all of the news articles?

I searched for awhile. I found blog posts and Kindle Forum discussions but not a lot in the way of reputable news outlets reporting on the issue. So it’s not a big issue IMHO.

So authors, quit freaking out. Use a bit of common sense when writing your books. Understand the guidelines with the retailers. Follow them.

And if your book gets yanked? Sell it on your own site. You have that power.

Marketing 101 for Authors

This is obviously addressed to authors, but readers might find it interesting to see what we go through as well, so please feel free to stay non-authors.

As a disclaimer, I am not an expert. My sales rise and fall. But I’ve been in the business about a decade and I’ve seen what works. I’ve seen what doesn’t. Most of all, I pay attention to what READERS say. READERS – not other authors. More on this later.

I’ve followed the big boys and girls for quite awhile. I’ve had one-on-one conversations with a few of them who were generous enough to spend the 5 minutes chatting with me. I spent most of the time trying to act like a professional instead of squealing like  a fan girl, but still… they gave me their TIME.

I have a very altruistic nature. I care about this business.  I care about you, my colleagues.  I’ve given my assistance to other authors over and over and over again. I will continue to do so. I’m a director at the Erotic Author’s Guild. I host the Erotic Authors Panel. I’ve beta read, alpha read, reviewed and hosted for other authors. I’ve donated my time (which is already stretched too thin) and my money to the cause.

So What Now?

First of all, you too should do your research. Kristen Lamb is a social media expert. She has a few books out, which I highly recommend you buy. She blogs and gives advice away for free. You should follow her. Read her books. She’s a saucy broad from Texas and SHE LOVES AUTHORS. Follow people who are successful. Read. Read. Read.

Now I’ll get to Marketing.

Your Marketing Guide

1. Twitter – Stop auto-tweeting your book links. Readers HATE IT when their twitter feed is nothing more than ads. Engage people. Talk. Hell I tweeted with someone about #chopped (the Food Network Show) and got a DM from two people who bought my book just from cracking a joke about making dessert from Corned Beef Hash and Beets.

2. Don’t be an asshole. Seriously. Don’t do it. We hate used car salesman. Why do we act like them? We’re not selling Avon. We’re selling WORDS. Give them your words. I admit, out of desperation I tweeted ad after ads. Then I remembered I was acting like an asshole. No one likes an asshole.

3. Facebook – Okay, Facebook replaced MySpace and gave us all these cool features: groups, events etc. Problem is, it’s entirely overused. I just clicked on my FB profile to check my stats. I’ve been put in 20 new groups this week (without my knowledge) and have… wait for it… 300 INVITATIONS TO EVENTS. Book launches, cover reveals, follow parties… you name it. What the EVER LOVING FUCK??? Most of the people I don’t even know. I’ve never spoken with them. How did I get here?

It’s like waking up drunk at a party you didn’t remember going to. Not cool.

4. Be gracious. Be giving. Be ALTRUISTIC. – Now I hate book pirate sites. I hate them because they have no right to give away my stuff. I WANT TO GIVE IT AWAY.

What? Anita! You can’t make money giving away books!

Wrong! I track everything. In a decade I’ve given away over 2,000 books. When someone says, “I put it on my TBR or Want List on Amazon,” GIVE THEM THE GODDAMNED BOOK. Email them and offer it to them. Why? Because they’ll remember you. It will impact the reader. You gave up that two bucks and what you’ve received in return is a FAN FOR LIFE.  There’s no better marketing tool than a complete stranger going on and on about how they love an author. Besides, it’s a gift. Everyone likes gifts.1416350_91168614

And you don’t know why it’s on their TBR list. Maybe they have a sick family member at home and they’re financially tapped. They only have $10 in disposable income. But they have 30 friends who love books and aren’t in the same situation. Don’t be greedy. You’re investing that $2 in royalties. And, you’ve probably made a Street Team member you’re totally unaware of.

5. Everyone is hopping on the Street Team bandwagon now. Buyer beware! You must must must reward your street team members. Don’t use them as your doormats. They’re not doormats. They are your TEAM!

6. DO be yourself. Don’t treat people like shit.  But if you’re shy – talk about it. Lot’s of people are shy. They will RELATE TO YOU. If you’re witty, snarky and a downright wiseass. . . others will like you (and some won’t.)

7. Don’t be a jerk to other authors. Even if you hate them. I have one I hate and I have to fight myself EVERY DAY not to out her as the condescending HAG she is trying to throw us back to the Victorian Era EVERY FUCKING DAY! If she were on fire, I wouldn’t piss on her to put it out.

8. STOP MARKETING TO YOUR COLLEAGUES. We are not your mothafuckin demographic!

9. Buying ad space. I just spent all my disposable income last month on ad space. I’m tracking it now. I WILL post where I put the ad and the results when they come in. Why? Because I want you all to be successful.

Dear God! What now? I’m terrified!

Relax. The best piece of advice (and often the most repeated) by successful authors (one making 100k a MONTH!) is: Just Keep Writing. Write more books.

I know it feels like a high school popularity contest… and it is. Except the pool is bigger. There are freaks, weirdos, comedians, stoners, loners, loud mouths and others. You’ll find your crowd and they will LOVE YOU.

Most of all… don’t bitch at folks who leave you less than favorable reviews. As a very wise woman once said, “You can be the tastiest, most delicious green apple in the world. Not everyone likes green apples.”

A Not so Sexy but Helpful Post

I’ve been in this business for about a decade and I’ve learned a LOT along the way.  I read blogs by successful authors.  I follow social media experts like Kristen Lamb.  I take notes, both mentally and literally.  The best thing about the writing community, well, is that it is a community.  We help each other. We give each other spots on our blogs, swap books for beta reading, editing and sometimes review.

I like helping my fellow authors.  I also like getting help.

But I find that I’m starting to get very irritated by some of the newbies.  With books like 50 Shades increasing the interest in erotic literature, there are a ton of people trying to hop on the bandwagon and they are committing every atrocity in the business.  They will use you, step on you and lie.  They have shitty cover art and slap a “New York Best Seller” label on the front. BITCH PLEASE.

I’ve been calling people out on facebook.  I’ve posted little snippets.  So, I decided just to make a post and hopefully, other authors will see and share.  Below applies to all genres of writers.  I’m even providing links of blogs I’ve followed for years.

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What NOT to do:

1. DO NOT TRESPASS: Collaboration is a gemstone in this industry.  I’ll cover that under my DO list.  But USING other authors is a huge no-no.  Don’t post your crap then tag every author you’re friends with on facebook.  That’s no different than putting signs in your neighbors lawn advertising for a service that they don’t use.  Don’t trespass. Don’t post stuff on other’s facebook walls without their permission.

2. DO NOT BE DISHONEST. Do not, under any circumstances, swap reviews for books that you do not read.  Don’t ask people to post reviews for you.  The public will sniff you out as a liar.  Having several 5 star reviews from folks that obviously didn’t read your book is a quick way to land your name and novel in one of the many Amazon Forums… not the kind of attention you want or need.

3.DO NOT LOSE YOUR INTEGRITY.  There is no fast way to the top. It takes time and a SHIT TON of hard work.  If you have the money for advertising that can help speed the process.  Don’t follow people like Melissa Foster who will encourage you to use people… there is a large group of folks who really dislike her for it – and I’m one of them.

4.  DO NOT utilize auto-post features.  This is self-explanatory.

5. DO NOT GET YOUR TITLE WRONG.  First, it’s “aspiring” not “inspiring.”  Second, you are either an author or not.  Believe in yourself.

6. DO NOT GET INTO THE BUSINESS… if you’re not going to stay.  The pool is already diluted.

books_and_wine___later_by_dh6art-d45r29oWhat to DO

1. Follow a social media expert like Kristen Lamb. She gives a ton of advice on her blog for free and she has a few VERY REASONABLY priced books also.

2. Read blogs by folks like Joe Konrath who have been in the business for a long time.  True, he had a back list and that helped… but he’s done the hard work and will tell you how to do it (for free.)

3. If you need to learn how to write effective queries, read The QueryShark.  Janet Reid is no longer doing this, but the archives are full of goodies. UPDATE: I JUST NOTICED THAT SHE’S BACK!!!!

4. Collaborate.  Find other authors to post on their blogs/pages for you.

5. Take the time to contact reviewers for HONEST reviews.  This takes a lot of time as most reviewers have a large pile of novels they still have to get to.  Some will pass. Some won’t even reply. According to one marketing company I spoke with, there’s about a 20% rate of response.

6. Do be respectful.  Respect your audience and your fellow authors.

7. Do read. Read a lot. Read in and outside of your genre. Read the paper. Read blogs of folks who have made it big. They almost always give advice for free.

Most of all, remember that this is a profession.  You must act like a professional.

Q & A Time!!!

img-thingSESSION CLOSED.  Thank you for your questions.  Remember, I do take questions by private message on facebook as well as email at authoranitacox (at) yahoo (dot) com.  I hope you enjoyed today’s Q & A!  See you next week.   

 

It’s that time again.  I will attempt to answer all questions I receive.  I am not qualified to give any medical or marital advice, but I will do my very best.  I’ve been receiving questions already.  Here’s what we have so far:

Question #1 – From Angie – 

How long did you consider swinging before you took in that first experience, and how long was it before you felt comfortable with it? What kind of things could a new couple expect to see at an event, and is there anything that newbies seem to be shocked by frequently?

Answer: (Part One) I’m on my second marriage.  I could have NEVER gone here with hubby #1.  I’d already had some girl/girl and 3some experiences.  The husband enjoyed hearing about my naughty college experiences so we already had “story time.”  But he’s a naughty little boy… I digress.  We watched License to Wed.  (Totally recommend this movie!)  Robin Williams is a priest about to marry a couple and he asks the groom-to-be if he would give the wife-to-be a threesome if that would make her happy.  It sparked the conversation… one that I’m so glad we had.

   It took a few months for us to decide to dip our toes in.  We were hooked.  We started with a threesome and went from there.  Something odd happens during swinging.  At first, it stung a bit, seeing the man I love with someone else… then it became a complete turn on.  By the third or fourth time there was no discomfort with it at all.

(Part Two)  First thing to know is that there are different kinds of events.  There are on-premise clubs, which means it’s a building that houses events usually every weekend.  There are off-site clubs, which are generally hotel take-overs or Meet and Greets at bars.  Then there are house parties.  House parties have far less restrictions, but you never know what you’re getting yourself into.

For beginners, it will probably shock you how easy everyone is being naked.  Most people start off in sexy street clothes then change into lingerie after a few drinks.  By the end of the night a lot of people (on-premise clubs) will just be butt ass naked.  Another thing that surprised me was sitting there having a drink and looking over to see some girl on her knees giving a blow job at the table next to us.  I looked at my husband and said, “Would you look at that cock-sucker.”  Because I make jokes when I get nervous.

People talk about sex very openly.  Since we are a society that has learned not to do that, it can take a bit getting used to.  When it comes to “play time” and you need to quickly go over the rules (no face shots please.) That can be awkward when you haven’t been there before.  After a few times, it’s just like saying, “hold the onions.”

Ultimately, my first club experience, I was just very surprised to see how nice people were and how willing they were to help educate newbies, show them the ropes, answer questions and introduce them to other swingers.  Of course, there are asshats anywhere you go, but for the most part, these are five-star folks.  The most important thing to remember is that you are never required to do anything.

The first time my husband and I went, we didn’t play with anyone else.  We just watched, then devoured each other for hours.  (And fucked like bunny rabbits for days afterward.)  There is a sexual electricity to events like that.  Everyone is supercharged, super-sexed and ready to party.  Everyone’s club experience is unique to them.  Take your time.  Dip your toe in the water… it’s nice and warm.

Question #2 from Darcy – My husband is horrible at oral sex.  It feels like an alien is invading my body.  I’ve tried to guide him, but he just doesn’t listen.

Answer:  Darcy… this is a common problem.  If you ARE bi-sexual, consider having a girl show him how it’s done.  If you’re not, this may sound crazy, but grab an orange (or peach or some other fleshy fruit.)  Carve.  Yes, I said carve.  Grab your paring knife and make yourself a clit.  Then do a little demo for him.  It should get him horny and teach him a thing or two about the art of cunnilingus.  If not, and the oral stimulation is just not there (assuming you love your spouse and want to stick together) then skip the oral sex and get a finger vibrator so you can DIY yourself to orgasm during sex.  That’s my best advice.tumblr_lud0e9FHMi1qbamzro1_250

What would I do?  I wouldn’t blow him again until he learned to eat proper pussy.  =O

NEXT!

Question #3 from Nancy SpankMahBehind  Is BDSM allowed in clubs?

Answer: That varies from club to club.  Some clubs have “dungeons” for this sort of play.  However, I have seen it get very awkward when it’s practiced in regular play areas.  Some people are uncomfortable with it and don’t understand what’s going on.  Like any other kink, it’s a taboo some understand, some don’t and some totally disagree with.  I would seek a club with a “dungeon”.  One club I know have has an experienced Dom for ladies who want to try it.

Question #4 from Anonymous  Are you really a woman?

Answer: Yep, complete with a vagina, stretch marks and two spawn walking around with my eyes and features.  Though I’d love to be able to stand and pee…. I fantasize about those moments.