It’s been a wild ride in indie publishing the last few days. A media attack on erotica quickly spun out of control, shutting down book stores and wiping some indie authors off the face of the internet. Below, we recount the sequence of events wreaking havoc across the publishing industry…
On Wednesday October 9th, an article in UK ‘news publication’ Kernel Mag triggered a widespread banning and blocking of self-pubbed books. Action was taken across multiple booksellers, and, while the initial focus was on erotica, the problem soon spread to other genres….
The first flaw in Kernel Mag’s anti-porn campaign? The article portrayed the problem as (mostly self-pubbed) erotica and then featured books published primarily by internet marketers, not authors….Internet marketers routinely outsource story production to third world countries and are known to publish hundreds of stories at a time. The quality is low, the covers are in-your-face graphic and the titles are keyword stuffed to the point that even Google gags on all the search terms. It’s not an issue of genre, but a business model used by some marketers to extract profit with no concern for quality….
Other indie books originally targeted by Kernel Mag, ones written by actual authors, were wrongfully accused of bestiality and rape….Dog Gone It by Chelsea Fox was singled out because of a dog on the book cover, not because ‘journalists’ read the content to verify their assumptions. When asked for a quote, Miss Fox said, “This is crazy. There is barely any sex at all in Dog Gone It….”
Multiple self-pubbed authors had books blocked because of the word ‘virgin’ in the blurb or title. Books that were unblocked on appeal were immediately blocked again. Covers featuring only faces were deemed to be offensive and blocked. Fully clothed people on covers, alone, not touching anyone, were blocked. Author Alexx Andria resorted to creating ‘brown paper wrapping’ covers for her books, which were eventually reinstated….
On Monday morning (October 14th) Kobo began wiping indie published books off their website. Not just erotica, but all indie ebooks, including David Gaughan, who is well known for his how-to guides Let’s Get Visible and Let’s Get Digital….
It’s important to note that this latest round of self-pubbed book banning (there have been two previous large scale attempts to control fiction in the past three years) stems from the United Kingdom, which has some very controversial anti-porn and criminal laws up for vote. Police now have expanded powers to arrest anyone suspected of the potential of being a sex offender–no crime necessary….
Further, Amazon.com still sells a wide variety of sex toys with no inhibitions. It seems, the only thing they won’t sell are books that the media–particularly British media–tells them not to. …
Amazon continues to erratically ban self-pubbed books, put them back up for sale only to ban them again, and generally act without any coherence. By late Monday afternoon, Change.org had a petition up urging Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo to stop removing erotica. Over 7000 readers signed within hours….
Books about serial killers don’t make people become serial killers. Books about rapists don’t make people become rapists. Books about incest (or pseudo-incest) don’t make people go have sex with family members. In fact, research shows that most people who do read incest erotica don’t, in fact, fantasize about actual family members. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. But telling other people they can’t write or read it crosses the line of personal and intellectual freedom. And that’s not okay. …
Read the rest at IndieReader.com
This is an important issue right now in the romance writing world. Although other genres have been hit as well, it’s romance writers who are bearing the brunt of this. This year, for the first time ever, the RITA awards, the Romance Writers of America equivalent of the Hugo or Edgar or McCavity, is allowing self published authors to participate, and also for the first time includes a category for erotic romance. The Executive Director of RWA issued a notice on the RWA forums that the RWA is closely monitoring this situation. It would be hoped that other author industry groups are doing so as well.
~guest host Kat Sheridan