As some of you may have already heard, last week there was a reckoning in the erotic eBook market. PayPal sent out warnings to several smaller distribution companies, telling them that certain types of erotic material were not acceptable. Those companies had to remove titles with “questionable” content from their sales shelves within an allotted number of days, or their PayPal accounts would be permanently frozen and they would no longer have access to their funds. For some of those companies, that meant they wouldn’t be able to pay the authors and publishers who worked with them.
Those companies panicked, understandably, and immediately sent out notice to the independent authors and publishers who distributed books through their site, asking them to comply with new terms of service and remove titles from sale that may have been in violation of those terms. Types of material included: pseudo-incest (step family erotica,) barely-legal (18-19 year old girls having sex with older men,) and bestiality with an actual animal… Supposedly, this did not include werebeasties and shapeshifters, but it does just so happen to include Bigfoot.
We had no issue complying with these new changes. The majority of our titles that fell into those categories had been removed from the affected sites back in December, when we enrolled in Amazon’s Select program, but what few titles our authors had they might have been in violation, we gladly removed from sale in a prompt and professional manner.
Then today, without warning, BookStrand shut down all indie author accounts and sent out a letter several hours after the fact explaining that they no longer wished to distribute books by independent authors or publishers, but there were other online vendors who were still happy to work with indies. They just chose not to be one of those companies anymore.
Good riddance to bad rubbish… No, that’s not what they said, though there are a lot of people who certainly feel that was how BookStrand felt about closing the door on indie authors and publishers. That’s what I say about the whole thing. You see, BookStrand has really never been a very powerful avenue for sales for our books, and the hassle of dealing with their lack of professionalism as they’ve implemented bizarre changes without notice over the last few months has certainly not been worth my while.
I think the only thing that bothers me about this whole thing is that Sweet Nothings is more than just Kelly and me. We have six authors, one of whom hasn’t even had the chance to publish her first erotic romance (yes, you heard me… erotic romance,) yet, and the door’s already been slammed in her face. They didn’t just shut down the naughty authors like Kelly and me, they shut out all indie authors. The erotic romance authors, the contemporary romance authors, the romantic comedy authors, the bodice-ripper authors, the BDSM authors… none of whom were in violation of these so-called standards PayPal insisted they enforce.
In the end, it’s their business. They will do with it what they want, and that’s their prerogative. Am I going to sit around and cry because BookStrand doesn’t want our books? God no! I’m going to sit down at my laptop and get to work on my current work in progress, and when that’s done I’m going to publish it everywhere that still welcomes independent authors. And those distributors will earn the thousands of dollars that BookStrand and others like them decided they didn’t need from our sales.