Blindsided and Buttf*cked by Amazon

My Rage Demon is riding me like a cowboy at a rodeo.

Sales have been getting hammered for months now. Just abysmal, hovering around 50% of units and maybe 30% of profits.

At first I thought it was on me – I took a bit of mental holiday from the tough publishing schedule I’d given myself and figured the lack of new titles was dropping me out of the top search ranks. But I had doubts. I began to meticulously review historic sales patterns, made spreadsheets, graphs. Projections. Nothing stopped the slide.

And then, like that, I found out Amazon had pushed my face in the pillow and shoved it in dry.

Turns out that sometime in February my flagship title, my most popular work, Unicorn: Horn of Desire, had been flagged and placed on the infamous ‘Adult’ list. I can’t say for sure exactly when it happened because Amazon did not feel obligated to tell me when they did it, why they did it, or what my recourse was.

Keep in mind this is a business partnership for Amazon; when I make money they make money. The fact they don’t care they just cut off my sales at the knees is baffling.

For those of you who don’t know Amazon has an ‘Adult’ blacklist. They won’t stop you from publishing but they hide your title from general search results… and they don’t make it easy for users to find or turn on the ‘adult’ search because… reasons? What it means to be hidden is that the title won’t come up in general search, or even in title specific search, nor does it show up in your author page. If you don’t have the URL or turn on ‘adult’ results it’s like the book doesn’t exist. It’s the kiss of death, and its arbitrarily levelled.

So now that I know, what are my options?

As I see it, I can take a broad guess at *why* it got flagged. It’s a monster erotica story about unicorns, so probably some vanilla-gawker motherfucker stumbled across it when they were trying out their new Kindle and – shocker – discovered erotica exists on the internet. I have to imagine some puritanical shut-in who has no concept how many works exist with far, far more taboo themes than mine by the thousands. The hundreds of thousands.

So having taken a guess I can make the minimum possible editorial changes and ask Amazon customer support to review it and unfreeze it from the adult list. But since Amazon’s socalled guidelines for what they find unacceptable is quote ‘about what you would expect’ endquote, I have no guarantee what changes they require.

I’m positive Amazon doesn’t either. It’s a corporate policy that allows them to change the playing field at their whim. In good news I’m trying to imagine some support clerk at Kindle Direct Publishing bothering to read my entire title cover to cover so they can make an editorial review. Laziness is almost entirely assured and I can probably rely on an overworked employee making minimum wage isn’t going to spend much time doing line edits. They’ll maybe skim the work, rubber stamp it and put me back in business.

Because the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. Making a series of edits and resubmitting the story  over and over in the hope that someday I will have watered it down adequately enough to squeak past an imaginary conceptual line of ‘acceptable’ content.

 

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