Friday, March 23, 2018

My Ranking! My Precious Ranking!

Lost: sales rank listing for all erotica books on Amazon US. If found, please return to their rightful place.

Yep, as of yesterday (Aussie time), any books categorized as "erotica" have lost their overall sales rank position on Amazon US. Apparently this happened on Amazon India a while back, too. The books still retain their category ranking, but not an overall one.

Plenty of theories have already abounded as to why this is. Having been through the Pornocalypse in 2012, and all the ongoing adjustments that have been slapped upon us since then, I'm treating this as a big red flag.

Maybe nothing much will change. Maybe everything will. I don't wanna go all Chicken Little here, but it worries me that perhaps this loss of one particular status point will be only the first step toward a total relegation of all erotica titles. Either to the seedy backstreets of Amazon, or off the distributor's site completely.

It's fair to say that erotica must still constitute an enormous part of Amazon's revenue, so logic would dictate they're gonna stick with selling it. As long as they're able to without risk.

The passing of the SESTA/FOSTA bill is being pointed to as a credible cause for this change. I'm as apolitical as my own chest hair is, so I can't really say much. Also, I'm in Australia where the bill will only have a flow-on effect (though it could be huge).

I mentioned the Pornocalypse earlier. At that time, when Amazon and others made an overnight (apparently) and unannounced decision to place far greater limits on what could be published, it felt as though the world of erotica had ended. We all got through that, and through every minor Pornocalypse since then.

But each time these changes happen, it saps a little more of our strength, and our power. If we want to keep playing in the biggest sand pit in town, we have to keep handing over a little more of our soul. Okay, that's probably too dramatic, but it does feel that way. Even in the cases where we're churning out a 3,000 word story which is nothing but genitalia being diddled, it's still something that came from us. It might be a red-headed step child, but it's still our baby.

For me, this hits just as I was getting moving on churning out short smutty tales under a new pen name. None of those five books have overall ranking, and none of them have done all that much yet. That's pretty normal, since you really do need to have a bunch of books out before you could expect much action. But now I need to sit back and wait, to see if there's any point in continuing that project.

I'd like to think nothing much will change. I more strongly believe much will change but most of it will be well below the surface. The distributors rely far too heavily on their precious smutbux to simply send it all packing.

In the end, though, this simply strengthens my resolve to get my non-erotic/non-romance stories cranking again. Ribald poetry, children's books...even zombies and post-apocalypse. Because it seems, now as much as ever, there are far fewer strictures on KILLING people in books than there are on loving them.


  1. I try to label my stuff as romance. Much of it is, of course, at least by my definition.

    A colleague from ERWA has started categorizing his very smutty erotica as horror. Apparently he's getting a good response.

  2. I was hoping this was just a temporary glitch. Do readers pay any attention to the ranking? I certainly do, compulsively, as a writer/editor. I guess it's unfortunate that all the books on my backlist include the term "erotica" in their titles. Guess I can save some time by not checking rankings for my more recent books nightly--or spend more time keeping track of the category ranking to see whether theres been any movement. Sigh.

  3. Especially in the U.S., violence is always preferred to sex. Laurel Hamilton, author of the Anita Black books, has said that when she's in England, they tell her she has way too much violence in her books. But when she's in the U.S., they tell her she has way too much sex in them. We're still affected by the Puritans, centuries after they're gone. The U.S. is like an unruly teenager, who is experiencing "feelings and urges," but ashamed of all of them. So with violence generally accepted as the only outlet for male "feelings," we're SNAFU!


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