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Publishing on Amazon

Vlad_Inhaler

This is presumably related to the Office 365 thread: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/bjpjn4/amazon-erotica-best-seller-rankings-removed
Copying and pasting the first paragraph,

In the last few days, word has spread among independent erotica authors on social media that Amazon was quietly changing its policies for erotic novels. Five authors I spoke to, and several more on social media, have reported that their books were stripped of their best seller rankings—essentially hiding them from casual browsing on the site, and separating them from more mainstream, safe-for-work titles.

Michael Loucks

@Vlad_Inhaler

More of this is coming. No company is going to take ANY risk in this regard. It's likely the end of Patreon allowing erotica, too.

Only non-US providers are going to be safe, and only if they have NO point of presence in the US.

FOSTA/SESTA/CLOUD Act have done what can't be done otherwise - created a censorship regime by making companies liable for posted content. It was only a matter of time before Section 230 was killed off because prosectors and plaintiffs' attorneys hated it.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

It's long been known among the independent publishers that you DON'T label your books as "Adult" or "Erotica" unless you want troubles. This only means that you don't click that little box on most sites that states "This book contains adult material". But this is more a marketing decision. If you are marketing porn material, then this has always been the way to go so it's easier to find, but doing so opens you up to discrimination by Amazon and the other companies.

Since most contemporary literature now contains a healthy amount of sexual content, the rule of thumb is that you don't label it as "Adults only" simply because of a few bad words, violence or sexual activity, as long as that's not the book's complete focus.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

Also, isn't Britain making porn effectively illegal in the next month or so?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Geek of Ages

The government decided that the written word doesn't count as porn.

There's been a recent announcement that measures have been delayed while they work out how their control is going to work. At first they were thinking of using the age-verification aspect of credit cards but now they seem to be veering towards passports.

Previous measures included encouraging child protection software on all new computers, then the porn opt-in at ISP level.

I don't see how any unilateral age-verification system can work - are Ukrainian porn sites really going to check British passports for age?

AJ

Capt. Zapp

@awnlee jawking

At first they were thinking of using the age-verification aspect of credit cards but now they seem to be veering towards passports.


I don't have a passport and have no reason or intention to get one. I guess they won't be able to verify my age. Oh, and I don't use my bank cards for age verification either. Last thing I need is someone accessing my meager funds.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

There's been a recent announcement that measures have been delayed while they work out how their control is going to work.


Truth in advertising version: The measures have been delayed (pending cancellation) while they come to terms with the fact that the only technically feasible way to implement the measures is to simply block the entire internet unless you pay the porn access fee.

paliden

I think what will eventually happen is that ISP's will begin to ban any website that is associated with porn much like some countries that ban websites.

awnlee jawking

@paliden

I think what will eventually happen is that ISP's will begin to ban any website that is associated with porn much like some countries that ban websites.


They already do that to some extent by banning sites listed by the Internet Watch Foundation, a scary organisation that seems to have no accountability.

AJ

Dominions Son

@paliden

I think what will eventually happen is that ISP's will begin to ban any website that is associated with porn much like some countries that ban websites.


Even a blacklist of "suspected" porn sites won't work. The true pornographers can create new sites faster then the UK ISPs can find them and add them to a blacklist.

The only workable option will be pay the porn access fee or no internet for you.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Capt. Zapp

Last thing I need is someone accessing my meager funds.

Hopefully that doesn't include meager, struggling authors as well. ;D

That's OK, the occasional word of encouragement and feedback are valid payments too (at least on SOL, as they don't purchase jack shit on Amazon).

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Even a blacklist of "suspected" porn sites won't work. The true pornographers can create new sites faster then the UK ISPs can find them and add them to a blacklist.

The only workable option will be pay the porn access fee or no internet for you.

Haven't these people at least visited the 21st Century before?

Switch Blayde

@Vlad_Inhaler

I have two novels that are in the erotica genre. Both still have their best seller rankings.

Michael Loucks

@Crumbly Writer

Haven't these people at least visited the 21st Century before?


It would appear not. It's the same as the morons who say 'weaken encryption, but just for us'. Can't be done. Even if you used multiple keys, what's to keep the government key (there would have to be a single key or it would be unmanageable) from leaking?

Even a 'per company' second key could easily leak. All it takes is the right amount of money to the right person.

Ditto forcing companies to keep dual keys for each person (passwords leak all the time).

Note: 'dual' keys means encrypting a single key with two (or more) separate keys, and the message with that first (single) key.

Capt. Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

meager, struggling


Meager, as in my bank account balance has five digits, including the two after the decimal point. I am currently unemployed, over 55, have back problems that are not quite bad enough to get me disability, inherited a property which put my assets over the limit for assistance, and have spent almost 2/3 of my savings trying to keep my head above water.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Haven't these people at least visited the 21st Century before?


I tend to doubt it.

Crumbly Writer

@Capt. Zapp

Meager, as in my bank account balance has five digits, including the two after the decimal point. I am currently unemployed, over 55, have back problems that are not quite bad enough to get me disability, inherited a property which put my assets over the limit for assistance, and have spent almost 2/3 of my savings trying to keep my head above water.

I was teasing (always a bad idea), as many of my fans here on SOL are in the same boat. That's why I said that feedback is a viable option, instead of payments.

Ernest Bywater

Due to Amazon's terms of use policies I always tell people to think extremely seriously before publishing to Amazon directly. Anything of mine that ends up on Amazon with my permission is either because it's free and I don't care what they do, or it's published through someone else who protects my interests, like Lulu. There are a few books on Amazon without my permission, and I can't get them to remove them, Amazon refuses to communicate with me unless I create an Amazon account - which I refuse to do.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

I always tell people to think extremely seriously before publishing to Amazon


From the article:

She says she sold half a million copies through Amazon in a three-year period, compared to 35,000 at every other retailer combined. … "There's no way for an indie author to make a living without Amazon"

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

She may believe that Switch, but with Amazon taking a permanent right to sell your story to whoever they want to while only paying you a pittance and telling you how to market it, you need to sell many millions of copies just to cover the basic costs. But for every Indie author who sells millions of copies there are many millions of Indie authors who don't make sell enough via Amazon to buy a hamburger.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

She may believe that Switch, but with Amazon taking a permanent right to sell your story to whoever they want to while only paying you a pittance and telling you how to market it, you need to sell many millions of copies just to cover the basic costs. But for every Indie author who sells millions of copies there are many millions of Indie authors who don't make sell enough via Amazon to buy a hamburger.

Sorry, Ernest, but your 'pittance' is largely because you're only earning 15% royalties (15% to you and 15% to lulu), while if you published directly to Amazon, you'd earn 70%.

True, 70% is less than the other independent publishing sites offer, but they can't offer the same sales, and what sales they do offer have been dwindling for the past several years.

What's more, as bad as Amazon is, their focus remains on the customers. Smashwords keeps losing both sales and customers. When I 'raised my voice' in an e-mail to a customer service rep about a problem they'd been unable (unwilling) to address for three years, they deleted my account. Although that's no big deal, since it was easy enough to create an entirely new account, retaining all the records of my old account, what it did do was to permanently delete the legitimate and legal purchases of EVERY ONE of my readers.

Those readers will NEVER buy another book from Smashwords. That's the main reason why Amazon is so powerful at this point. While they offer independent authors less, customers prefer them because they know they're in their corner.

By the way, since my books generally sell for $6.99, returning me a 70% commission, it only takes a SINGLE sale to purchase that damn hamburger, so you're spouting nonsense here. While few of us are truly 'independent' (i.e. not making enough to make a living wage from writing), the options are better than they are via the alternatives.

Again, most authors' sales are via the single outlet they harp the most. For a long time, mine was SW. Yours in lulu. But that's NOT because lulu is any better, you just have a stick up your ass as far as Amazon is concerned. If you were to remove it, you may just sell a few more books.

As far as your tiresome diatribe about Amazon's TOS, EVERY independent publishing site's TOS read like a legal nightmare. But they don't retain the ability to sell your books forever! What Amazon does, is to distribute your books, on a commission basis, so they can instantly ship the product when ordered, and only pay you when that purchase is made. Yes, that's playing a little fast and loose with your rights as a publisher, but they can thereby sell MANY MORE books than a traditional seller. Deal with it!

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Sorry, Ernest, but your 'pittance' is largely because you're only earning 15% royalties (15% to you and 15% to lulu), while if you published directly to Amazon, you'd earn 70%.


Oh they will offer people who ant to give them permanent irrevocable control of a story more than anyone else, and the payment from Amazon before Lulu take a cut is about 15%. Also, Amazon will tell me what they'll sell at, I'm not allowed to choose a price of my own unless I had over full control to them.

As to the Amazon TOS, go back and read it again section 5.5 Grant of Rights:

You grant to each Amazon party, throughout the term of this Agreement, a nonexclusive, irrevocable, right and license to distribute Digital Books, directly and through third-party distributors, in all digital formats by all digital distribution means available. This right includes, without limitation, the right to: (a) reproduce, index and store Digital Books on one or more computer facilities, and reformat, convert and encode Digital Books; (b) display, market, transmit, distribute, sell and otherwise digitally make available all or any portion of Digital Books through Amazon Properties (as defined below), for customers and prospective customers to download, access, copy and paste, print, annotate and/or view online and offline, including on portable devices; (c) permit customers to "store" Digital Books that they have purchased from us on servers ("Virtual Storage") and to access and re-download such Digital Books from Virtual Storage from time to time both during and after the term of this Agreement; (d) display and distribute (i) your trademarks and logos in the form you provide them to us or within Digital Books (with such modifications as are necessary to optimize their viewing), and (ii) portions of Digital Books, in each case solely for the purposes of marketing, soliciting and selling Digital Books and related Amazon offerings; (e) use, reproduce, adapt, modify, and distribute, as we determine appropriate, in our sole discretion, any metadata that you provide in connection with Digital Books; and (f) transmit, reproduce and otherwise use (or cause the reformatting, transmission, reproduction, and/or other use of) Digital Books as mere technological incidents to and for the limited purpose of technically enabling the foregoing (e.g., caching to enable display). In addition, you agree that we may permit our affiliates and independent contractors, and our affiliates' independent contractors, to exercise the rights that you grant to us in this Agreement. "Amazon Properties" means any web site, application or online point of presence, on any platform, that is owned or operated by or under license by Amazon or co-branded with Amazon, and any web site, application, device or online point of presence through which any Amazon Properties or products available for sale on them are syndicated, offered, merchandised, advertised or described. You grant us the rights set forth in this Section 5.5 on a worldwide basis; however, if we make available to you a procedure for indicating that you do not have worldwide distribution rights to a Digital Book, then the territory for the sale of that Digital Book will be those territories for which you indicate, through the procedure we provide to you, that you have distribution rights.

They claim the right to retain and keep selling even after you cancel the account. They have books of mine I never approved the to sell they still advertise as available through them, despite me asking them to remove them. In response to the many emails I sent them I've had two comments from Amazon, one is a flat refusal to amend their website, and the other is a flat refusal to discuss anything with me until after I open and account with them.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

When I 'raised my voice' … they deleted my account.


If Lazeez had that policy this forum would be a ghost town. :)

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

She may believe that


I hear it from every indie author on wattpad who makes a living from self-publishing. Now, most aren't exclusive to Amazon. They believe in a wide distribution, but the majority of their sales come from Amazon.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


I hear it from every indie author on wattpad who makes a living from self-publishing. Now, most aren't exclusive to Amazon. They believe in a wide distribution, but the majority of their sales come from Amazon.


At first, for me, Amazon was simply a way of connecting with new readers. Over time, though, my readership on Amazon has steadily increased, even before Smashwords guaranteed no one would ever purchase another book from them. Even now, despite publishing three books via Direct2Digital, I've had all of 1 sale and 2 'shares'. Lulu, meanwhile, has become a virtual ghost town, as I haven't had a single sale there in at least the past year, if not more!

That said, I'm continuing with D2D (at least for any new books), because while SW still offers new sales, D2D is a more reliable resource for reaching the same distributors than either lulu or SW is (i.e. I don't have to monkey around with my files to get them to accept my stories, they reliably display my stories the way that I want, and they don't introduce all-new errors, and, if anything does go wrong, I can get a response out of them and hopefully correct the situation!).

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

I guess, like Microsoft, Amazon is now too powerful to be constrained by US antitrust law :(

AJ

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