Amazon rank-stripping erotica books and authors.

(Latest Edit: 3/29/2018 – 10:15pm – Most of my book rankings are now back. Back-end at Author Central I still can’t see my author ranking for Kindle/erotica and Books/erotica, but hopefully that will come back soon. I’m cynical enough to wonder if their stock shares plummeting today, combined with someone noticing a sudden dip in their income in Kindle books, finally woke someone the fuck up at their HQ to yank their heads out of their asses. And gee, it’s funny how you can see my overall author ranking plummet when the rankings disappeared, and they literally have shot back up now.)

As I write this post, Amazon has rank-stripped pretty much all of my Tymber Dalton books on its site. (These are books published by Siren-BookStrand.) If I log into Author Central, I can no longer see overall ranks for them, or my author ranking under the erotica section. Many authors have been reporting this happening to them, and there’s a discussion about it over on Kindleboards. I can see my books’ rankings (as of right now) in various sub-categories, but their overall rankings are GONE.

Nobody is quite sure what all this means, because Amazon, of course being Amazon, is being closed-mouthed about it. And it’s impacting authors because now it’s harder to find and search for erotica books. This is also not the first time they’ve done this, because previously they’ve rank-stripped MM/LGBTQ books, and some erotica books, but usually after enough outcry they rectified it.

Some people theorize it might have something to do with the SESTA/FOSTA act just passed in Congress, maybe a law of unintended consequences kind of thing. The timing is right, if that is the case.

Some people are theorizing Amazon might be trying to create a separate “back room” for erotica content, but there is not yet any proof of that.

So…what can you do as an author?

Firstly, stop screaming “censorship.” Amazon is a business, and while it might piss us off and jerk us around, let’s be honest that they’re the biggest game in town and they comprise a majority of the average writer’s sales. They also have a TOS, and they can decide not to sell our works if they want to. Censorship is the GOVERNMENT clamping down on things.

Some authors are trying to change their blurbs, keywords, and sales categories, and republishing the book to see if it “jailbreaks” it from the dungeon. This has worked for some authors. Be advised if you try this, however, that if Amazon thinks your book really is erotica (although it’s impossible for an author to make that determination because the bastards won’t GIVE us a hard and fast criteria to go by) you might find your entire catalog dumped into the dungeon, so to speak.

Make sure that, as an author, you’ve gone into Author Central, claimed your Amazon author page, and that all your books are showing up there. Hand out your Amazon Author page link to everyone, make it clearly visible on your website and social media, etc. So far, it appears if you do that, people can find your books.

Make sure your WEBSITE is the center of your promotions web. Direct everyone THERE and have easy-to-navigate pages for your books with all your sales links at the various vendors posted there. If Facebook was to clamp down tomorrow on us, and you don’t have a website, you’re fucked. Also, make sure it’s easy to view and navigate on mobile devices.

Encourage your readers to make sure they don’t have “safe” mode engaged on Amazon. If they do, they still might not see your works.

Also, readers and authors, complain to your local legislative representatives (Senators and Reps) that, helloooo, law of unintended consequences, they need to amend this law to exclude art/literature. Because it sure as heck seems to be a very fishy coincidence it happened just after the bill was passed.

I’ll update this post as I find out more information. If you have information to contribute, feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail about it and I’ll add it.

Edited to add this link:

https://www.xbiz.com/news/234491/sestas-passage-has-immediate-chilling-effect-on-adult-content-distribution

Edited on 3/29/2018 to add several links:

https://twitter.com/andrewtshaffer/status/979137503461625856

(I had not heard of Radish before this, but apparently it’s a trickle-down effect.)

https://the-digital-reader.com/2018/03/29/amazon-has-shadow-banned-romance-titles-from-the-kindle-store/

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/bjpjn4/amazon-erotica-best-seller-rankings-removed

And the RWA is looking into it:

https://twitter.com/romancewriters/status/979056520242647040

If you’ve experienced issues with your Amazon rankings/your books being erroneously reclassified, please contact carol.ritter@rwa.org AND Amazon at crm-sra-compliance@amazon.com. We are currently investigating this matter. All info provided by members is helpful and appreciated.

https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/29/new-federal-rules-blamed-in-disappearance-of-kindle-erotica-titles/

https://news.slashdot.org/story/18/03/29/1439232/amazon-is-burying-sexy-books-sending-erotic-novel-authors-to-the-no-rank-dungeon

8 thoughts on “Amazon rank-stripping erotica books and authors.

  1. Maybe I am dense but I have not been able to imagine how this could be connected to FOSTA.

    OTOH the mysterious always requires explanation.

  2. I fear they re also restricting reviews of erotica. I had a review rejected a few days ago and the only reason I can think is because it mentions ‘sex’ twice.

  3. Tymber, thank you for posting this. I posted a status update on my FB Timeline because I’m worried about using key words in my reviews that could trigger Amazon to put books I review into erotic. I tagged you but I know you’ve been very busy. There were a lot of responses both ways but now I’m really going to have to watch what I put in my reviews because of this nonsense. Again, thanks for posting this. I truly appreciate it!

    Pam

  4. Tymber, I thought Siren always classified our books as romance, and not erotica, which means Amazon is changing classifications as well as whatever else they’re doing. Or am I delusional??? Also, has Siren taken any stance on fighting this???

    • It depends on what line it was in. If it was classified as contemporary/mainstream romance by them, then yes, it probably is in romance. But Amazon doesn’t have an “erotic romance” category, so ER goes into “erotica.” Because Amazon is dumb, apparently. I don’t know what Siren’s official stance is on this. Unfortunately, they’re caught by it, too.

  5. Some author friends are reporting that their romance books have been re-categorized by Amazon as “Erotica”, e.g., one friend who writes Romantic Suspense not erotica. What’s on the cover is not to blame either. One friend reports the cover of her now-suddenly-Erotica book just has motorcycle handlebars and no people. So it appears Amazon is not only rank-stripping, they are reclassifying romance books en masse and willy-nilly.

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