So, apparently (quelle shocker) there’s a book kerfluffle right now. An author wrote a dark erotica book that went #1 in the romantic erotica category on Amazon. Then a bunch of other people started reporting it to Amazon.
NOT cool. Not cool at ALL.
If you don’t like a book, don’t read it. But unless it’s plagiarized, or does something like portraying pedophilia for titillation, don’t fucking report it. That’s petty and douchey and simply shows the kind of person YOU are.
HOWEVER…here’s the flip side of the coin.
Authors do NOT always get to choose what categories the ‘Zon sticks their books in. You can choose some basic categories when you upload it, but the other categories? It’s like some code monkey at Amazon tosses a dart and hits a random spot. And sometimes trying to fight with them to get them to change it is just bullshit. Do NOT assume that’s the category the author chose.
AUTHORS – there’s a VERY simple, easy fix for this that you CAN control, even if your book is with a publisher. When you upload the book for sale (if you do it yourself) or via your Amazon Author Dashboard (for publisher-loaded books) just insert a little line. ONE FREAKING LINE.
At the top of your book blurbs, start out with a VERY SIMPLE disclaimer. Regardless of the kind of book. Use the word count, the romantic pairing (if erotica or romance) and a basic descriptor. (Do NOT go fucking keyword-stuffing happy, either.) Put this at the TOP of your blurb.
(70k, MM, contemporary, romance, HEA)
(30k, MF, dark erotica, dub-con, might trigger some readers, HFN)
(40k, MMF, erotic romance, BDSM, HEA)
(80k spy thriller)
(69k historical cozy mystery)
…and so on. Make it SUPER-EASY for the reader to immediately see what kind of book you wrote and how long it is.
Now then. READERS…
READ THE FREAKING BLURBS. Even if there isn’t a disclaimer in the blurb, if you hate MM books and there are only two HEROES being described in the blurb? Um, hello? Logic? Also, if the book is in an LGBTQ category, that is a hint that, helloooo…
I see SOOO many reviews for myself and other authors where MM (or MMF, as opposed to MFM which is TOTES different) where the reviewer says they hate MM action in a book.
THEN WHY DID YOU BUY IT WHEN THE BLURB CLEARLY STATES IT’S A MALE/MALE BOOK?
I get it that if you buy a book that turns into dark erotica/dub-con/whatever, and you had NO clue from the blurb, okay, leave a review that states THAT.
“This book wasn’t my cuppa, reader beware it contains _____ and that isn’t disclosed in the blurb.”
(Just go back and READ the blurb BEFORE you do that, because ya might find out it was a case of reader-fail on your part.)
But what DON’T you do?
YOU DO NOT REPORT THE FUCKING BOOK JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE IT.
I hate liver. I don’t call the health department demanding Publix pulls it from the fucking shelves.
I cannot eat spicy foods. I don’t demand that Publix pulls hot sauce from its shelves, or that they stick it in a far-assed corner somewhere just because _I_ have a problem with it. I simply walk on by that section and don’t buy hot sauce.
In the United States, we are already fighting a growingly hostile climate in terms of diversity.
How about we don’t be dicks when it comes to our books, huh? (Or other art forms.) Leave the artists alone. That’s someone’s LIVELIHOOD you’re fucking with. I have readers who don’t enjoy BDSM books and so you know what they do?
They don’t buy my BDSM books. Or, they don’t like my shifter books, so they don’t buy my shifter books.
And you know what? That’s TOTALLY COOL, because I have genres I’m not fond of as a reader. I have no problem with my readers who love some of my books but don’t like the others. This world would be a shittily uniform shade of crap-brown shirts (yes, mental image totally deliberate if your mind went there, too) if we all wore the same clothes or liked the same things and nothing else.
Worse, if OTHER PEOPLE DICTATED to us what we’re “allowed” to like and enjoy in terms of our books/art.
You know what makes my readers totally rock and why I <3 them so fucking much? Even when I write books that aren’t their cuppa, they don’t fucking report them. They simply don’t buy the ones they aren’t interested in.
Because they’re MATURE ADULTS.
You are NOT the art police. You should NOT be the art police. Because that shit goes bad REALLY fast, and if you can go after someone else’s art? Guess what? That can spin around and bite YOU in the fucking ass in a heartbeat when someone decides they don’t like YOUR art and comes after YOU.
Then we’re all wearing crap-brown shirts before you know it. (Don’t think it can’t happen. It already has, many times, in history.)
And if you’re a writer encouraging your readers to report a book for reasons OTHER THAN PLAGIARISM? (Again, plagiarism is a different subject, it’s a crime, and it’s douchey.)
You’re an immature, jealous douche.
Want a prime example of this kind of douchery that’s not a romance book? Go look up the reviews for Chuck Wendig’s book Aftermath. It’s a Star Wars book. A LOT of people wrote shitty reviews for it based on the fact that it HAS GAY PEOPLE IN IT.
Oh, the humanity! <sarcasm> He wrote a book in a series that basically is an allegory for “Nazis=bad people” (which is why some mental midgets are protesting the latest Star Wars movie) and had the AUDACITY to include…oh, DIVERSITY. HOW DARE HE?
<more sarcasm, in case it wasn’t clear>
That particular subset of people got pissed off at him because he is a vocally outspoken proponent of equality and representation for women and the GLBTQ+ community and freedom in art and diversity in art. And he “dared” to be an artist and reflect real-world ideals in a fictional book.
So they came after him. I get that not everyone is a fan of his. That’s fine, too. But he’s a voice in the darkness TRYING to help. And I respect him for that.
And look what happened. (Joke’s on his haters, because his book’s a bestseller, but still.)
And if you’re a reader following an author who is telling their readers to report a book for … reasons? Because they’re jealous or don’t like something in the book? (Again, NOT talking about plagiarism here. I’m talking personal preferences.) Then yeah, you might want to rethink that whole witch hunt mentality. NOT cool.
It’s hard enough to make a living as a writer. Right now I’m pulling, no shit, 16-hour days, nearly 7 days a week. And I’m getting by, but we’re not rich. Don’t assume full-time writers are rich, because most of us are working our asses off to make ends meet. (And unfortunately, with my health issues, working a job outside the home full-time isn’t possible.)
Having to worry that someone might get a stick up their butt and decide that BDSM sex is wrong and let’s report the books is a legit fear myself and other writers worry about.
Or what if they think shifter books are wrong?
Books about demons?
Books that espouse a different religion?
Books about <gasp> gay people??
Think about it. We covered this shit in Fahrenheit 451, did we not?
BANNING BOOKS IS BAD, IMMATURE, AND DANGEROUS TO A FREE SOCIETY. STOP REPORTING BOOKS JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE THEM.
And grow the fuck up. Did you just get out of middle school? SERIOUSLY?
If you don’t like something, move on past it.
(Final caveat because I know someone will bring it up: If you stumble across a MISCATEGORIZED book, for example, erotica listed as children’s lit, OBVIOUSLY I would encourage you to e-mail the author/publisher and give them a heads-up that the code monkeys somewhere screwed up. But don’t be a dick and report it for content. Try to be HELPFUL and point it out to them that yo, that erotic dub-con double-cocked alien gang-bang slave book should totes NOT be listed as kids sci-fi and okay for children ages 3 and up, just sayin’.)
And yes, now I TOTALLY want to write an erotic dub-con double-cocked alien gang-bang slave book…