So, you've written a book. You polished it to perfection and published it through Amazon. After spending time carefully deciding what categories your book should be listed among you see that Amazon (without your knowledge) has tossed your awesome book into the black hole of EROTICA.
Why? Well, the more I research the subject, I've figured out quite a few reasons. Some of them are downright stupid, as you could imagine.
First, let me clear something up. There is a big difference in EROTICA and EROTIC ROMANCE. They are NOT the same thing. In an erotic story the plot itself revolves around the sex. If you remove the sex, there is no story. In an erotic romance, the story revolves around the romance as well as sub-plots, there just happens to be sex in it. If you remove the sex, you still have a story. Yes, that is oversimplified, but that is the way I define the difference. No matter how you look at it, EROTICA and EROTIC ROMANCE are not the same thing. Oh, and NEITHER OF THEM ARE PORN. That is quite another category. PORN is sex just for the sake of sex. There is no plot, just sex.
But, I digress. I was looking all this up because two of my books got thrown into the black hole of EROTICA and I could not, no matter how hard I tried get them into the proper categories. I tried everything.
First, I went into the book's details page on KDP and manually selected the categories over again and republished. That didn't work.
Next, I called and called until I finally got someone on the phone. He was unable to help me, but at least he was polite.
When I finally got an email in response to the actual issue, and not simply a form letter blowing me off, the person explained that my covers were considered "mature content," and that I needed to change them. Okay, so I changed the covers. They weren't by any means obscene to begin with, but whatever. I wrote them back, stating that I had made the changes requested and politely asked that my books now be placed into their proper categories, seeing as how NEITHER of them is erotica.
I was very rudely informed that my books had been labeled as having "mature content." That Amazon reserves the right to decide what is "mature content," and my books would never be allowed into their general search feature.
What assholes, right?
Well, after careful consideration, I found a way around this. Now, I'm not trying to publish filth and slip it under the radar. Certainly, some of my books are erotic romance, but none of them are straight erotica. If Amazon is going to use that category, they should at least teach their employees the proper definition.
And for the record, I am very offended if someone says I write "smut." I want to punch them in the face. But, I'm getting off subject. LOL
Oh, before I go on, there are apparently "trigger" words that, if found in your book description, can get them automatically thrown into the EROTICA category.
I'm sure some people are wondering why it's so bad to be in the EROTICA category. Because EROTICA is where books go to die. Amazon lumps everything in there that "offends" them and books get buried. It's a good way to have your book (that you undoubtedly worked very hard to complete) never see the light of day.
Back to trigger words. It is perfectly all right to include a warning with your book. I do this. However, never use phrases like "mature content," "18 and over," "adult," etc. These throw up a red flag. (It is okay to say that your book contains graphic violence, and sex. I like to include that no werewolves were harmed in the making of my books. LOL) Also, when publishing through Create Space, NEVER click the button that says your book contains adult/mature content. Even if it does, that is what a description is for. That button is what getting thrown into the black hole is for. ;)
As I searched the net for information, something else that bothered and surprised me were the number of people that thought this "feature" of Amazon's is somehow protecting children. That's ridiculous! If your kid is shopping all by themselves on Amazon, and using your credit/debit card, something is wrong, and it isn't with Amazon. Besides that, it isn't the job of a retailer OR the authors to worry about what someone else's kid sees. That's called parenting. Placing an honest description on your book is all you have a responsibility to do. Period.
So, here's what I did. So far, it has worked.
The only choice I felt like I had, on my books, was to unpublish them both. I didn't just click republish though, like I know others have tried. I uploaded them both as completely new titles, with new covers, and slightly changed their descriptions.
Unfortunately, this means that one title will loose the slight momentum of about 90 sales thus far. BUT, it will be visible in the proper categories, which should lead to even more sales.
Once again, I'm not trying to be dishonest. I'm simply trying to help readers find my books, in the logical categories where they belong. I always tell readers as straight-forward and honestly as possible what they are getting in the book's description.
I hope this helps someone else who is dealing with the erotica black hole.