Hello gorgeous readers and fellow writers,
I’ve only been in the erotica game for five seconds, and I’ve already felt the sting of the Amazon filter. My first ever series, a gay historical erotica series called ‘Lust On The High Seas’, was recently filtered. I had the first title, ‘Claimed By The Captain‘, running permafree on Amazon. Rankings were steadily climbing, and downloads were increasing, and I was really looking forward to the roll-on effect.
Then it all came to screeching halt.
At first, I put it down to an after-holiday slump. But as downloads continued to decline, I realised that something else was going on.
I searched for my book by title on Amazon.
It wasn’t there.
From my research, I knew that there’s a great site called ‘Sales Rank Express‘ that I could use to check my titles. I searched for my name, and sure enough, there was the proof; the words ‘ADULT’ in big red letters stamped beside my titles.
So what does this mean for erotic writers if this happens to you?
The effect of the ADULT filter on a title is pretty clear. An ADULT filter excludes your title from an all department search; that means anyone who types keywords into the search bar to find books (and that seems to be most purchasers) will not be able to find your title. This makes your book practically invisible.
Even if your title is reinstated to ‘Not Adult’ at a later time, the affects of the ADULT filter, especially on the fickle and ever-churning erotica category, means that your title will have lost its momentum, and will have dropped significantly in the rankings. It will be unlikely to ever recover.
The ADULT filter kills your book, dead.
What can you do about it?
My first reaction was anger when I saw the big red ‘ADULT’ sign listed next to my book. I’d done my research; my cover had no nudity, my keywords were clean and my product description wasn’t any worse than many similar titles in my category. There is so much smut on Amazon that comes up on any given search. Titles like ‘Pounded In The Butt By My Own Butt’ somehow manage to avoid the filter, while my gay erotic romance suffered the sting. Go to the site of any erotic writer, and you’ll read the same story over and over. Amazon’s adult filter is arbitrarily applied, titles get thrown into the adult dungeon seemingly at random, and Amazon continues to maintain a tight-lipped, opaque approach to its application.
But at the end of the day, anger ain’t going to sell any books. It’s an imperfect system, but erotica writers are nothing if not adaptable. Luckily, there’s many amazingly talented and experienced erotica writers out there, who have plenty of information regarding the Amazon Filter and how to avoid it. Here are some key take aways:
Avoiding the Amazon Filter
The best way around the Amazon Filter is to avoid it altogether. There are two amazing posts, one by K Matthews here, and another by Selena Kitt here, where they discuss the Amazon Filter, it’s affects, and ways to avoid being slugged with it. I’ve already found (with only eight titles under my belt) that I use a different cover for Amazon to everywhere else (listing slightly different subtitles as per K Matthew’s post) and have a ‘tamer’ description.
It seems a bit ridiculous, resorting to euphemisms and innuendo, and trying to avoid the word ‘erotica’ on your cover when it is erotica, but that’s the game we have to play.
But What If I’ve Already Been Hit?
Don’t panic. You have a couple of options. The first is that you could unpublish your book, change the title, tweak the description and get yourself a new cover. Unpublishing might seem like the easy option, but in many ways it’s a pain. For one, you’ll lose any reviews and rankings your book has. As you’ll be uploading a new book, any links you have going to your old book are going to be defunct. If you market on iTunes, or Google or Nook, you’re also going to have to deal with having what is essentially the same book listed on multiple channels with a different name, and even if you’re in KU, you may have people buying your book again, thinking they’re getting something new when they’re not.
Your other option is to make changes to your metadata (subtitle and description) and email Amazon pleading your case. For my two titles that received the filter, I took the second option. I tweaked the descriptions, applied the changes, waited for them to update and then wrote to Amazon. In both cases, Amazon resolved the issue quickly (within 24 hrs), and took the ADULT filter from both of my books.
If you want to email them the email address is:
Selena Kitt has a fantastic proforma email you can use to send to Amazon, so you don’t even have to write the email yourself, just fill in your details.
Outcomes, and Last Comments
My freebie title ‘Claimed By The Captain’ never recovered from the Amazon ADULT filter. Although there was a slight upturn in downloads once the ADULT filter was removed, I watched the title over the next week fade into oblivion. It was a valuable lesson to me, and I’ll definitely be following Selena Kitt’s and K Matthew’s advice more closely for future titles.
Pleasure yourself with words this week, lovelies. Until next time,