by Giselle Renarde
Some people have the energy to fight endless battles. Well, that's some people. That's not Giselle.
When I first started writing, I wasn't so aware of the business side of things. I didn't know how publishing worked, and I didn't need to know. I wrote stories for anthologies, submitted them to editors, and the rest basically took care of itself.
Then, I became aware of ebooks. So I started submitting to publishers and getting rejected, submitting again, getting rejected again, and finally seeing some success in the form of acceptance letters. Happy Days.
But I still wasn't much part of the publishing process.
It was only when a lot of my old publishers went under and I started self-publishing that I learned about things that hadn't even been considerations, previously. Like staying away from certain keywords when you publish erotica, because they'll get your book banned, or at least relegated to an adults-only dungeon--which is so much less fun without the beaded curtains. Why can't cyber-dungeons have beaded curtains? Riddle me that, internet.
Anyway, I've learned a lot over the past... holy shit, five years? Did I really start self-publishing that long ago? Feels like only yesterday. I feel like a babe in the self-publishing world, while simultaneously feeling like Methuselah for remembering what things were like before Amazon.
What is the point you're trying to make, Giselle?
Thanks for asking. I was getting off-track, there.
The point is, I've seen a lot of corporate censorship of my work. A lot. So much. Like, it's crazy how much.
If you're an erotica writer, I guarantee someone somewhere is going to ban your books. How can I guarantee that? Isn't it true that only filthy nasty smut gets banned, these days? Nope. Not true in the least. There are a lot of ebook retailers that refuse to stock erotica on their shelves at all.
Okay. Well. I guess that's their right.
Am I chill about that? Should I be chill about it? I don't even know anymore. I've just seen so much rejection. But this is different than the rejections I received as an author submitting my work to publishers. With publishers, if I changed this or that, or if I improved my craft or whatever, there was a chance the next submission might be accepted.
Not so in the case of retailers who don't stock erotica. Better erotica is still erotica. The best erotica is still erotica. And they won't have it. So there's nowhere to go from here. Not with them.
But, like, at least those guys are clear from the outset that they don't accept erotica. They don't sell it. They don't want it.
Is that better or worse than Barnes and Noble, which used to carry every kind of erotica under the sun and now... doesn't?
Here's what happened, if you're not aware: for many, many years, Barnes and Noble sold erotica of all stripes. That includes bestiality. That includes rape. That includes incest and pseudo-incest.
And then, overnight, everything changed.
Barnes and Noble decided they didn't want any of that extreme sexual content on their shelves. Okay. Again, that's their right. It sucks because I was just starting to make good money off Lexi's PI and a few incest titles, but nothing gold can stay.
The thing they did that was super-super-shitty was they actually closed down offenders' accounts. Immediately. Without warning! So one day it's fine to publish anything you like, and the next day it's against the rules and we see that, in the past, you've published content that offends us in the present, so bye-bye account? That's ludicrous. But it happened.
Don't worry. I've saved the best for last.
The best of the worst has got to be Playster. They didn't want erotica on their shelves, so you know what they did? THEY REMOVED ALL GAY AND LESBIAN CONTENT. For real. This is a thing that happened.
Because everybody knows we queers are bound to sneak not only our gay agenda but also RAUNCHY SEX into everything from sweet romances to cozy mysteries.
If you do a quick google search, you'll notice a lot of the posts around this topic say the issue is "resolved." Which is true in the sense that all those innocent LGBT books have been reinstated on Playster's shelves. But "resolved" in the larger sense? I think not. LGBT content is constantly being blocked, being banned, being quietly removed while the overseeing bodies hope nobody notices. A public outcry is bad for business, after all.
And here's where I circle back to what I said at the beginning.
Some people have the energy to fight these endless battles. Last year taught me that I'm no longer one of those people.
When I found out what Playster was doing, did it fill me with so much moral outrage that I blogged about it immediately? Sadly, no. It made me depressed, sure. But I sighed and said, "This again?" and I didn't do a thing. Because I've been through this shit so many times, as a queer writer.
And as a queer erotica writer? Well that's a double-whammy if ever there was one.
When Barnes and Noble took down the very books that were earning me the most money, I don't think I mentioned it to anyone. That was another momentary sigh. My battle wouldn't be with the company. My battle wouldn't even be a battle. My process would be to find the next thing that'll earn a buck.
Because a queer's gotta eat.