As an indie author, I fully embrace the fact that that nobody owes me shit. As per Chuck Wendig’s latest blog post, I completely agree that writing the best book you can is the best way to get noticed, and that since there’s a buttload of new books being launched every day, it really makes no sense to bitch and moan about how no one’s reviewing your books.
But, if I may put forth a counterpoint to this argument, I suspect that not all books are being treated equally when it comes to Amazon reviews.
Indeed, when it comes to erotica authors, we’re getting screwed. Not only do people tend not to want to write reviews of dirty books in general, but I’ve got proof that Amazon actively censors reviews of erotic books.
Yesterday I set out to do a favor for some of the erotica authors I’ve recently reviewed on my blog. I wanted to repost my positive reviews of their books at Amazon – a place where more reviews = more sales. Sounds simple enough, right?
Three of the four reviews I cut and pasted from my blog went through verbatim, no problem. They were posted to the site in a matter of minutes – and that includes my review of tentacle porn. The fourth was flagged by one of Amazon’s censors, and would not be posted to the site no matter how much I changed the wording, substituting ever more vague allusions to the sex scenes in a flagrantly erotic book – a book specifically listed in Amazon’s “erotica” category.
I submitted this review SEVEN DIFFERENT TIMES.
It was rejected SEVEN DIFFERENT TIMES.
The last review I submitted is surely the most inoffensive thing I’ve ever written in my life. It read, in its entirety:
“This book is worth 4 stars. It is hot. It is about an office relationship that goes into some very not-work-safe territory. If you’re into office romance, this is the book for you.”
If you can explain how that review qualifies as either profane or obscene, I would really like to hear it.
After seven rejections, I figured I was just getting the same cranky person on the other end of the review line, and they were simply auto-rejecting whenever they saw my name pop up in the queue again.
So first, let me just say: Fuck you, Amazon Mystery Censor.
Secondly, I went back this morning and reposted the second-to-last incarnation of my review, which retained the basic gist of my blog review but substituted the word “saucy” for the word “erotic,” and ended by saying that I couldn’t give away the full monty, so you’d have to buy the book to decide for yourself.
That review went through in a matter of minutes and is currently live on the site.
Obviously I managed to bypass the cranky censor, who’d probably gone off duty to shit in an old woman’s cereal, kick puppies, steal pacifiers from toddlers, or whatever it is Amazon censors do in their free time.
So to make a long story short (too late!), my point here is this:
IF YOU WRITE EROTICA, DO NOT BE SURPRISED THAT YOUR BOOK HAS NO REVIEWS.
It’s not because your book sucks.
It’s not because your book scares off reviewers, who don’t want their real names associated with dirty books.
It’s because Amazon is censoring the way people write about erotic books.
After seven rejections of a simple review, even the most rabid fan is going to start feeling frustrated and give up on posting it at Amazon.
Personally, I think that stinks. Even though I don’t owe these authors an Amazon review, I find it appalling that once I’ve taken the time to write one up, Amazon is going to do its darndest to keep it off their site.
So for those of you who write erotica reviews at Amazon, I salute you. And for those of you who have written reviews and been rejected by Amazon’s censors, keep trying! It ain’t easy being an erotica fan, but I appreciate each and every one of you who have written a review, despite the odds. You are truly the cream in my coffee, the hot fudge on my sundae, the variable speed buzz in my vibrator.
Stay classy, reviewers, and keep up the good work!