“Sexually Offensive To A General Audience”

Raythe says …

Amazon's "scarlet letter."

Amazon’s “scarlet letter.”

Amazon is supposed to be this book-lover’s paradise, right?  With the Kindle, they practically invented the ebook market for the masses, where ebooks were usually only for nerds who wanted to fiddle around with uncooperative technology.

Now, there are so many books to choose from.  And there is so much variety because authors don’t have to go through publishers and other gatekeepers, so you get all these amazing niches that can satisfy your tastes… right?

If that’s the case, then why do so many readers complain that they just can’t find what they want to read?

If you’re looking for non-vanilla, non-hetero romance or erotica, chances are that you may not find it on Amazon.  Or even if you saw it once and just can’t bring it up in search anymore, there’s a reason for that.

AMAZON HIDES BOOKS

Basically, they place books, at their whim, without any notice to authors, into something called the Adult Dungeon.  While “technically” they’re still available, realistically, no one knows that you have to search in a particular way to find them.

Which means that most book-buyers don’t find them.  How would they know?  Amazon won’t help.  Obviously, they don’t want you to find them!

de-manga-cover-onsiteIf you’re a long-term Member, this isn’t news.  We’ve had to deal with this time and time again because we produce m/m content.  The gay.  

In fact, we just had to deal with it this weekend when, for the SEVENTH TIME, Amazon placed The Dark Earth Yaoi Manga Vol. 1 into the Adult Dungeon.   

There is NO sex in Dark Earth 1.  There is hardly any romantic content at all.  We can only assume it’s because it’s yaoi.

What, exactly, is the Adult Dungeon?

The site Sales Rank Express explains it far better than I can:

Amazon may internally apply the Adult content rating to a book that might be sexually offensive to a general audience. This rating is never shown on Amazon itself, but such books might then be withheld from search results or promotions. So, if the rating has been applied in error, you should try to have it removed.

Other books may be rated Safe to indicate they are not sexually offensive. This rating is meant primarily as a safeguard against a book later being rated Adult incorrectly. (“Safe” is actually S.R.E.’s substitute term for Amazon’s “Not Adult,” which is more likely to be misunderstood.)

Amazon’s application of these content ratings is changeable, inconsistent, and to some extent at the discretion of individual employees. At one point, an Amazon employee in the UK applied the Adult rating to a large number of gay and lesbian books, including children’s books, regardless of whether their content was explicit. Following a public outcry, the books’ ratings were changed. By contrast, a surprising number of Kindle books and Audible audiobooks are blatantly pornographic without being rated Adult.

Nowadays, possibly because of protests against the open sale of obscene books—especially in the UK—nearly all Kindle books and Audible audiobooks receive one content rating or the other. By contrast, printed books on Amazon most often have no content rating at all.

 

LINK: http://www.salesrankexpress.com/FAQ.html#adult (emphasis mine)

If I just published individual books on Amazon and other third party sellers there would be no Dark Earth Manga Series (some of which we don’t sell on Amazon because they do contain sex), Date A Vampire.com, The Erl-King, The Fell, The Hunt, or Valkyrie and many more.

Why?  

Because they think what I write — and what you like to read — is “sexually offensive.”  They wouldn’t let me publish it at all, or they would continually place it into the Adult Dungeon’s no-man’s land where you wouldn’t be able to find it.  Like they keep doing to The Dark Earth #1.

People join Raythe Reign or buy books or art directly from us because they love the material. Many people don’t realize how IMPORTANT such direct sales are to making sure that the type of things you love remain available and are not suppressed.

What does your direct support allow us to do?

  • I can pay artists a real wage to create beautiful manga, even if one day Amazon decides to keep our manga in the Adult Dungeon and no one can find it there.  
  • I can write stories that have sexual kinks that likely this mythical “general audience” would find offensive.
  • We’re not dependent on changeable, inconsistent, arbitrary and unfair judgments of nameless, faceless employees who have no guidance and possible prejudices that they refuse to overcome.

So even as I was dealing for the seventh time with Amazon, I kept thinking of you guys and being incredibly grateful. So, seriously, take a bow, and thank you very much!

Raythe

PS – Kat says, “Hey, want to see something really disturbing?”

Apparently, Googling “Amazon adult dungeon” results in this:

Try it for yourself, tell us what you get.  I got actual search results with Bing and Yahoo, though.  Well done, Google, supposed archivist of the world’s information!  It makes me wonder…

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 12.00.23 PM

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21 Responses to “Sexually Offensive To A General Audience”

  1. Akiraki February 23, 2016 at 5:49 pm #

    Googling “Amazon adult dungeon” I found that raythe reign is second in the listing for most checked out (clicked on) site when googling this. Way to go Raythe, and you too Kate.

    On a serious note, I believe that Amazon is a little to lax in their discrimination between books and other products. Living near one of the warehouses I hear a lot of complaints as is, but reading comments on site makes me rethink of buying things through them more often than not. I’ll stick to commuting to the Raythe Reign main page.

    Good luck with escaping the dungeon…

    P.S. reminds me of Date A Vampire.com

    • admin February 23, 2016 at 10:07 pm #

      I love Amazon on many levels. The way they opened up the publishing world is awesome. Their free delivery is like crack. But the hypocrisy of this? Not so much. I actually think the fact that they are so good at all this other stuff makes it harder to swallow the stupidity of this assignment of adult to random titles based on some employee’s biases.

      There’s so much smut on Amazon it’s ludicrous to nibble around the edges like this. It makes no sense. And why for goodness sake dungeon a book with no sex in it but allow all the milking books and mpreg books alone?! I have no idea.

      The thing is that all the books should be allowed. I don’t want them banning other books but he dishonesty is really galling.

      And I did get the book out of the dungeon for the seventh time but of course lost rank and visibility. Thanks Amazon!

  2. Sandra Timmerman February 23, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

    Over in the NL, the search gave a result of over more than 10 pages..You came up on the 1st page, 3rd item..
    More authors have been complaining about being in the dungeon.. As author and reader you really have to be persistent.
    Good luck in your continuous struggles with Amazon.

    • admin February 24, 2016 at 1:11 am #

      I wish it weren’t a CONTINUOUS struggle! But thank you!

  3. River Iris February 23, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

    Not new, but it’s good to be reminded. When I ‘Googled’ Amazon adult dungeon, I got plenty of people talking about it, but nothing more. It’s a shame. I love Amazon in every other respect. Free two day shipping, discounted learning material, discounts and add-on’s and shows that ‘Netflix’ doesn’t have… Then they pull this stunt when books like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was number one for.. a long time (not for or against the book, but I read it when it was FanFiction and oh boy did it have sexy content. I doubt it was turned down for publication). From a loyal member, River Iris♥

    • admin February 23, 2016 at 10:10 pm #

      There is so much smut on Amazon of every caliber that gets through at least for a time that when they do put books in the adult dungeon it just makes the arbitrariness of it that much more apparent.

      Dark earth has gone in 7 times now and been removed 7 times but I know that they won’t put the Safe tag on it because it’s gay. It’s that simple. So we will have to do this again. I have to check every day to make sure all the books of manga are up. Because they go into the dungeon they lose rank and visibility and therefore sales.

  4. Klara February 23, 2016 at 9:13 pm #

    This is so unfair. How can it be that hetero romance is allowed and anything with slightest gay theme is banned? That really shows equality of rights NOT! 🙁

    • admin February 23, 2016 at 10:11 pm #

      Hetero romance gets hit too just not as often and you really have to push the envelope. But seemingly there are some people at Amazon who simply think that gay = porn not matter what. That’s what we are fighting against and not just Amazon but Google too.

  5. Andarial February 23, 2016 at 10:20 pm #

    I’ve heard about this with Yaoi manga but it seems so silly to me… there are lots of M/M kindle books on amazon (and manga… although now that i think about it… the ones available aren’t as explicit as others I’ve read on http://www.mangahere.co/ but manga in general doesn’t always get licensed in the US) why bother discriminating against a select few when there are already LOTS of books out there (and pretty popular ones at that) with lots of sex in them and in some cases dubious consent. it makes me think people are going around and sending complaints to amazon… this makes me wonder how many other books I’m missing out on because they are in this Adult Dungeon… if anyone figures out how to see whats in there please let us know XD

    • admin February 24, 2016 at 1:10 am #

      I don’t think its complaints from readers that are causing the dungeoning. If nothing else readers of a yaoi manga would be annoyed that there ISN’T explicit sex in it. They would hardly be reporting it for … well, no sex. Amazon does sweeps of its own just because. For no reason and yaoi manga is often hit b/c it often HAS explicit sex in it. But we play by Amazon’s rules and don’t sell the sexy stuff there. Yet it doesn’t seem to matter. We’re still dungeoned for no reason. Thankfully we can still get out.

      • Andarial February 24, 2016 at 5:13 am #

        i meant complaints from non-readers who see m/m of any-kind as “wrong” lol; yes, thankfully you can! dark earth is how i found you guys after all and im sure im not the only one.

        • admin February 24, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

          I suppose that is a possibility! Though good grief could you imagine the type of person one would have to be to just go reporting books?

  6. Keith February 23, 2016 at 10:37 pm #

    What, AGAIN? For the SEVENTH time??? Oo
    This is just crazy… really it makes no sense they’re banning SOME books with erotica but only some of them (I wouldn’t be surprised if 50 Shades actually had a lot of visibility on the site because it’s famous and give them a lot of money…), and in the process they’re also banning books with no erotica at all -_-
    Why would they ban erotica in the first place anyway? I buy most of my non-erotica books in local stores. While I always buy my erotica stuff online. I WANT to find all the gay erotica that’s out there when I search google or amazon!!!

    I don’t know why you have no result when you google “amazon adult dungeon” though Kat, I personally get 500,000 results. Mostly from people warning or complaining about it.

    • admin February 24, 2016 at 1:08 am #

      Trad published books are mostly immune to this unless they are small publishers. For example, Amazon says incest for titillation is against it’s TOS. Does GRRM’s books still have that? Yes. Does Flowers in Attic still exist? Yes. Underaged sex is not allowed. There’s a hugely popular trad book about a teacher and her student which is all sex.

      I think Kat just caught Google on a bad day. But the point is that you don’t learn about it on Amazon. You learn about it from Authors who have had to figure it out.

  7. Wendy Bird February 23, 2016 at 11:31 pm #

    I love buying erotic gay and hetero ebooks on Amazon. I have bought one fairly explicit adult graphic art short stories. I have esp. enjoyed the A. K. Merikan collection of gay biker books which contain very explicit sex. They are pretty much all Yaoi themes with the stronger, larger, aggressive male coming on to the smaller, younger, less aggressive male. These are in the mainstream listings, some for free, with other hetero graphic sex novels including abduction, bondage, borderline rape, etc. These novels do make it quite clear, that the age of the younger partner is legal, even though it may be referenced that they had sex earlier in life. I am not sure why Amazon gives Raithe Rayne problems. I don’t consider the text novels all that graphic, not as much as the novels I have read from Amazon. It may be the graphics that are used, esp. on the front page that are keeping Amazon from advertising Raithe’s novels and graphics more fully. The younger of the couple looks underage. Even if sex doesn’t occur, it may look as if it’s implied or at least in the imminent future. I personally love the graphics, but I’m also not Amazon. Even if there is no sex, that a boy is attracted to a man and the man to him may be enough to get you hidden. Perhaps you can change the covers of your other series to not make people have such knee-jerk reactions. I can’t see Amazon accepting the first edition of this graphic novel with the underage boy. I think you could market other things easily there, but maybe not now that maybe Amazon has you pegged as inappropriate in this way. Good luck.

    • Raythe February 24, 2016 at 1:02 am #

      Really good points, except its not the case that the cover is giving us problems. How do I know this? Simple.

      The first version of the cover for Volume 2 of the manga had only Aidan in a hoodie and jeans. No one else. There was NO skin showing. No sexual content. He was just looking alert. He wasn’t looking sexy or ANYTHING.

      It was dungeoned.

      Yep.

      A guy on the cover in a hoodie. That’s “sexually offensive to a general audience” according to the Amazon employees who dungeoned it. Except, of course, it wasn’t the cover that made them dungeon it. It was because the book was gay manga and every gay manga according to some of the Amazon reps is sexually offensive to a general audience always, no matter what, because it’s GAY.

      Let’s take a look at the cover of volume 1. Aidan is 18 btw, but let’s say someone thought he was underaged. Is he naked? Is he kissing someone? There is absolutely NOTHING in that cover that violates the TOS. Just go to almost any cover in het romance and the cover for Dark Earth 1 is like a “kiddie” cover.

      I know it’s easy to say: well, I’ve found books that are really explicit and they are still there!

      Yes, you’re right. And they should be there if they don’t violate the TOS. But the truth is that they might not have come under the banhammer yet or may escape it altogether. That doesn’t mean they won’t be dungeoned at some point. The thing is that Dark Earth should be in the general search, too, but there’s a thumb on the scale for all yaoi manga even if its less sexy than most het manga. We’re raising awareness here of a poor system with huge flaws.

      BTW none of our text books have any issues even though they have more explicit covers. Only the manga so far.

      Also, I again got the manga back in the general search out of the dungeon simply by saying: you only dungeoned this bc its yaoi. But being about gay characters does not violate TOS. Put it back. And bam it was back. But I shouldn’t have to do this 7 times. I shouldn’t have had to do it ONCE.

      I know you want to look for a reasonable explanation for why this book has issues and others far more explicit don’t. The whole point of the post is to let you guys know that there aren’t reasonable explanations nor are the rules handled fairly, evenly or consistently and yaoi manga takes the brunt of it.

  8. lisa February 24, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    Thenway I look at it is that is up to the reader what they want to read whether it is h erotica or not we are the ones buying the ebooks or hard copies.It is not up to the seller if you are being offended by what someone writes don’t read it read what you like it is a free country.

    • admin February 24, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

      Amazon can sell or not sell whatever it likes. I would have more respect for it if it said we aren’t going to sell any romance period (I say romance rather than only erotica because there’s plenty of explicit sex in romance) but they won’t do that. Sex seriously sustains the book industry. But honestly The Dark Earth is so tame!

  9. Ceit February 24, 2016 at 9:48 pm #

    You are not alone in your struggles with Amazon inconsistencies. I Beta read for a number of authors and they all have problems at some point. I can only sympathise,and say at least it exists ’cause it’s how I discovered you and them and ‘met’ some great authors.

    • admin February 24, 2016 at 10:16 pm #

      It shouldn’t give me any comfort to know I’m not alone. Because playing this game with them is utterly stupid. I’m glad that it let you discover me at least. That’s awesome.

  10. Maria Lazarou February 28, 2016 at 11:25 am #

    Truth to be told i have seen many books in amazon with very sexy covers,because i like to reading books with very “sexually offensive.” material,so i do not understand why they are doing this,.I would like tο think that their problem is not the authors,i hope the problem is solved,if not surely i know where to go Raythe to read “sexually offensive.” books.

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