Zoe Note from the future: This blog post was written a few years ago, and the screenshots of my emails were accidentally deleted in a website move. If you happen across this blog post and are interested in those email exchanges, feel free to email me at zoeyorkwrites AT gmail DOT com.
This week, two of my SEALs Undone books are on sale. Fall Deep is free, and Fall Fast is 99 cents. This is a series that has been a fan favourite since I started it, and neither of these books have been discounted to these prices before, so I was pretty stoked.
And I should say before I derail into a complaint, that both books are having a fantastic sales week, and I love my readers.
Oh, Amazon, you bunch of crazy prudes.
No, I’m done being polite and professional about this, because you see, I tried that. And the customer service I got back from Kindle Direct Publishing was appalling, and totally dismissive. Let me be clear on this point: I totally get that not everyone who works in a call centre is familiar with all the nuances of genre fiction. Even though romance is the biggest, most popular genre of all. Even thought this is their entire job, to support authors who publish books on the Amazon platform. I understand that there will be some dialogue back and forth while we straighten out a problem.
This is not my first kick at that particular can.
But it is the first time that I’ve been told flat out, from the get-go, “sorry, nope, can’t help you.”
And that’s pretty appalling, because I play by all the rules. I don’t write anything that violates the Amazon KDP TOS. I don’t write anything that comes close to being inappropriate.
I write romance.
Except it’s NOT that dirty. This is the most ridiculous book to decide to stick in the so-called erotica dungeon, because it’s actually very sweet. As I try to explain to the customer support reps, this book is about a Navy SEAL who meets a flight attendant and they have a spark. Then there’s a snow storm, so they act on that spark.
Newsflash to Amazon: The vast majority of romance novels sold on your platform have a similar heat level to this book.
To get specific, while this book has a decent number of dirty words in it (although I counted them, and they aren’t out of line from my average), there isn’t any sex act that in itself would push a book into erotica. (For example, anal sex, a threesome, fetish sex…if you want any of those, though, my Ainsley Booth books might be right up your alley, and BY THE WAY, those are shelves as romances!)
Is it kind of dirty? Yes, enough that it could be shelved in romance -> erotica, maybe if you squint, and enough that I put the erotic romance subtitle on it, just to be clear that the hero uses the F-word while he’s making love to the heroine. But this book is about two people who fall in love. Not two people who have a wild sexcapade.
Okay, so let’s back up to the start of this week, when I go to change the price on Fall Fast. I see that it’s changed on Amazon.com, Amazon.com.au, and Amazon.co.uk, but not Amazon.ca, so I send KDP an email about that.
And this is when I notice that it’s not in the right category, so I send them an immediate follow-up email.
I’m going to leave out the back and forth here where they didn’t know what book I was talking about, because maybe their emails don’t stay connected the same way mine do. The next day, I get this email back from them.
To remove your book from its current categorization [“erotic fiction”, and move it back to “romance”], you will need to remove the erotic or sexually explicit content and resubmit as a new ASIN.
That’s Amazon’s resolution suggestion to me. In order for this book to be shelved as a romance, I need to remove the sex from it.
Man, I wouldn’t want to date Amazon. Not enough cold showers in the world.
So I reply, because surely they’re mistaken. It’s happened before, many, many times. Pierre just copied and pasted a form response, right? Because it’s a romance novel. It’s going to have sexual content in it, even explicit sexual content.
And again I have another thought, and I tag it on as a second email, because really, something’s gone weird here, right? So I just need to speak to a supervisor and get it straightened out.
This is what I got back.
I can’t properly explain how ragey this response makes me, because they’ve just lied to me, and I tell them as much. This email I copied Jeff Bezos on. I’ve never done that before. I’m not that girl. I don’t believe in jumping the chain of command. But seriously????
EDITED TO ADD: This was eventually resolved with the help of the Executive Response team who replied to my email to Jeff Bezos. It was a metadata problem, and once I removed the word erotic from the keywords, the book was put back into the Romance categories I wanted (Military Romance specifically).
It’s a shame it takes that much drama to take care of a very small fix.