I know! I haven’t posted in five days. Internet Blasphemy! And poor Adam Vance has suffered as well – he hasn’t logged any flogging for “Scarcity” or even put up a blog post. (He *really* needs some reviews, too, help a brother out!) I’ve been on Facebook nearly every free minute this whole time, as well as answering TWO HUNDRED emails in the last few days.
It’s been a hell of a ride, let me tell you. TL;DR – I submitted Kyle’s New Stepbrother II: Long Hot Summer (now available only on Smashwords!) to Amazon, and, 24 hours later, it was BLOCKED. Which is a marketing-departmenty word for BANNED that doesn’t have such negative, book-burny connotations.
Now the deal with Amazon is that they do not tell you why a book is “blocked” beyond the vaguest amount of information. In this case, it was blocked “for content.” Exactly what content, I don’t know. Is it the two consenting adult stepbrothers who meet as adults after their parents’ remarriage? I don’t think so, because #1 went through. And FSM knows there is *plenty* of hetero stepbrother romance/erotica on the ‘zon.
Amazon’s guidelines on what they ban are as unspecific as can be, deliberately, of course, to leave themselves infinite latitude to change the guidelines behind the scenes. This is the sum and total of the rules: “What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.”
Um no. What they deem offensive is probably about what some bluenose in Arkansas will buy, stroke off to, return for a refund, and then denounce in an angry letter. That’s the great linguistic flaw in that cover-all phrase. It’s not what *I* would expect. Or what many other readers would expect.
I’ve been told it might be the cover – are the two men too intimate? Most gay covers don’t feature two men touching – instead they’re left to stand around, keeping their distance, staring into opposite directions like some 90s album cover.
Is it the scene where Kyle sneaks into Nick’s bedroom, and then (CENSORED LOL buy the book!)? Could be. Is it the sex in the park, which is illegal? Could be. I DON’T KNOW. I’m “expected” to know what they deem offensive.
So I could have written back, and asked for more guidance. But, in the experience of smutmeisters wiser than I, this would not be a good idea. It could trigger a ban on #1, which is making BANK in terms of borrows right now. (Yeah, irony. I FINALLY made it to #1 on the gay lists! Only because of a censorship controversy! Never ever ever has success come to me via the front door. Always through some weird ass side door experience. Whatever! I’ll take it!) That sucks, doesn’t it? That we have to be so afraid of Amazon that we can’t even ask questions? But Amazonology is like Kremlinology – all you can do is guess what goes on behind the curtain.
So I offered up #2 as a free book on Facebook. They can stop me from selling it, but they can’t stop you from reading it, and seeing for yourself why they might have done so.
And man, did I ever get a response. I spent my time answering these letters, and sending out hundreds of copies of the book. Here is JUST A SAMPLING of the typical emails I got:
I must read close to over a thousand books a year. My choice’s of what to read, are just that MY CHOICE> It is ridiculous that Amazon is taking that away from me.
I like to piss off amazon, so how much would you like for your book? 🙂
Right i’ve just finished book 2 of Kyle and i seriously can’t see why amazon banned it !!! I mean seriously did they give you a reason as to why it was being banned at all because i for one truly enjoyed it and didn’t see any reason for it being banned! … Now either i read your book too fast and missed that part OR they are just m/m prudes !!!
Thank you and best of luck with Amazon. They seem to be as arbitrary as FB when it comes to what they allow and what they don’t. Hell, they have monster porn, Unicorn sex, human and animal breeding. Apparently, that is more acceptable to general society? It’s truly past time that companies try to determine what adults should be allowed to read.
Supporting you all the way. Just sent my 2 cents in to Amazon for what it’s worth. Here’s hoping that they care enough about their loyal customers to listen to what we want.
Sorry Amazon banned your book. It seems there is no consistent method they use.
Love this in mobi and or pdf please. I will enjoy any that ama bans!!! Just makes me want it more!
And that means a couple of things for the future. One, the story of Rocky and Dex is BACK IN PRODUCTION. It’s got a title: “Have a Little Faith in Me.” Awesome Aubrey Watt is working on the cover, which I’ll have to show you in a week or so! I put it in cold storage for the winter because, fuck, feelings and winter are a bad combo for me. The intensity of writing emotional scenes just drains what little life I have in the winter; I get exhausted, cut corners, race to the finish to be done with them.
But with as much support as I’m getting now, I am more than ready to deal with feels. And since the book is already 2/3 done, and I need to strike while the iron is hot, it’s probably about THREE WEEKS or so from being done.
Two, I need to write #3 in the Kyle and Nick series! But I’m afraid to submit it to Amazon, afraid that some censoralgorithm will flag me as submitting two BANNED books in a row and threaten closure of my whole account. That sucks, right, to be so afraid of a large corporation’s wrath? But Amazon = 90% of the ebook market. I’m probably playing with fire even writing this blog post. If Amazon kills your account, you’re done as a professional writer. Kaput.
Well, your only option would be the same one that screenwriters had during the Hollywood Blacklist – ghostwriting. Banned from working for their leftie politics, they wrote the screenplays and someone else put their name on them. Could it come to that? Who knows? Amazon has generally only blocked accounts for extreme violations – repeatedly and dumbassedly trying to resubmit a blocked book under another title with another cover, for instance. But with the infinite latitude they leave themselves, who knows what will trigger the next wave of account closures?
It’s funny. As a reader mentioned above, being Forced Gay by a Dinosaur and getting Dino-Dicked in the ass is totally acceptable. Maybe #3 should be called “Kyle’s New Step-Dino III: Long Hot Jurassic Period.” That’ll pass review!
Anyway. I also need to start a new hot series of erotica shorts – that won’t be banned or even skirt the fringes of bannability. And I do have an idea or two 🙂 Let’s just say, this dude is the cover model – and OF COURSE after scrolling through hundreds of photos of blandly attractive men, when I finally zero in on a dude who’s got “IT,” that magic personality that sets him apart from the run-of-the-mill beef, well, OF COURSE he’s a Francesco Cura model!
The title of #1 will be “Would I Lie To You?” This one still needs time in the Easy-Bake Oven before I have more detail, but don’t worry, I’m still hard at work in the smut mines 🙂 xo Brad