The Value of Amazon’s KDP Select for Taboo Authors

Lot’s Cave has always been dedicated to helping authors with various publishing strategies. Right now, the big question in the market seems to concern Amazon. Do you publish with Amazon? Is exclusivity worth it? Are there options for authors writing taboo content?  The questions can seem endless to an inexperienced or new author. Perhaps the main question though has always been is KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited worth it? Well, let’s take a constructive look at answering that question for you!

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A Call To Authors Of Incest Erotica

Publishers Are Banning Incest Erotica

Or Why We Need To Embrace Content Guidelines

Recently, many publishing websites have been altering their content policies. As an author specializing in incest erotica, I understand this sudden trend. My titles have previously been distributed and made available on Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Google, Smashwords, and other retailers. So, when a select number of publishers decided to no longer accept my catalog’s content, it meant making a difficult choice. Either I unpublished over fifty titles (more than 70% of my entire catalog), or I could try breaking the rules. Ultimately, I decided to embrace the issue and unpublish my catalog where appropriate. Why did I choose to neglect over 88% of the Romance market? Well, here are ten reasons I unpublished where necessary, and why you should too!

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Short Stories With Lot’s Cave

Lot’s Cave would like to take a moment to personally thank Lily Weidner for participating in another of our studies. We’d like to direct readers of this post to also check out her personal experience and perspective of this experiment in her latest post titled: Elusive Money & Indie Publishers


 

Is the short story market dead? If you haven’t done so already, consider reading our last publishing experiment focusing on Amazon’s short story market. The experience proved so beneficial, we decided to try another! This time, Lot’s Cave wanted to test the viability of publishing short stories outside the Amazon system on all other possible publishing platforms. What we found was quite surprising, and many of our authors will find the confirmation they’ve been looking for.

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With Amazon’s self published market becoming more popular through Kindle Unlimited, Lot’s Cave has found indie authors tending to shift away from indie publishers. Since we’re an indie publisher, this trend has been cause for concern. Many authors outside the Lot’s Cave family felt indie publishers provided no additional benefits to selling their eBooks. This sad opinion caused us to rethink how we advertise our eBook services directly to authors, not just readers. Putting our knowledge and experience at the forefront, we found there are in fact many benefits to publishing with indie publishers like Lot’s Cave.

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Before discussing the experiment in detail, it’s important to note the need for indie publishers. Lot’s Cave is one of very few e-publishers specializing in controversial subject matter. Our experiment then, focused on short stories with this controversial subject matter in mind. While Lot’s Cave is an e-publisher, we’re also a distributor. We fully believe the best way to maximize profits is not through publishing only with Lot’s Cave, but embracing as many publishers as possible. With that in mind, Amazon’s exclusion from the experiment remained rooted in their refusal to accept controversial subject matter and their requirements for publishing exclusivity.

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Our Publishing Objective

Much like our Amazon experiment, Lot’s Cave decided to do some prior research to accumulate as much data beforehand as possible. As a company, Lot’s Cave wanted to know what a new inexperienced author could expect by publishing and distributing short stories. Finding new authors writing in the 5,000 word range tend to make a monthly income of $20 a month on Amazon, we wanted to see what new authors rejecting Amazon’s exclusive high traffic website could make. To do so, we came up with the following criteria:

Rules for Lot’s Cave Short Story Experiment

  1. All stories are to be within the 5,000 to 6,000 word range including end matter
  2. eBooks must be distributed through Lot’s Cave to affiliates
  3. Stories must feature controversial subject matter
  4. The controversial subject matter chosen must remain consistent
  5. Prices will stay at $2.99 for single stories
  6. Bundles (three stories each) will be priced at $4.95
  7. The Collected Set (nine stories) will be sold for $9.95
  8. eBooks must feature a common cover design across all titles
  9. Author will focus solely on publishing short stories acting as a new author
  10. All eBooks should feature cover, front matter, formatting, and end matter standard for Lot’s Cave authors.

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Preparation

Before conducting the experiment, Lot’s Cave worked closely with our author to assure the overall objective remained consistent, and in line with their own goals. Letting the author choose the controversial subject matter, Lot’s Cave then designed covers with the same overall look. Our author already had an author page established, author biography, and avatar. With everything in place, we let our author write and prepared for the first week of the experiment.

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Week One

Publishing the first short story on the 27th of November, the first three shorts and volume one bundle sold a total of $51.30.

Week 1 Title Sales

Week 1 Books Sold

Week Two

After selling so well the first week, Lot’s Cave was happy to see week two sales total up to $69.93.

Week 2 Title Sales

 

 

Week 2 Books Sold

Week Three

After week three, we were starting to notice a steady trend in sales, as the total ended up coming to $56.32.

Week 3 Title Sales

Week 3 Books Sold

Week Four

To conclude the month’s sales, we published a complete set of all nine stories. Publishing only this one bundle set, sales still came to $55.13.

Week 4 Title Sales

Week 4 Books Sold

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Summary of Author’s Income

In total, the author’s nine shorts and four bundles made $232.68. This is a significant amount. Remember, many authors new to publishing shorts within the same range on Amazon make a potential $20, even in their exclusive Kindle Unlimited program. By publishing outside Amazon’s exclusive program, authors can potentially make $212 more. For authors unfamiliar with Lot’s Cave, or the distribution process, lets take a look at the added benefits of publishing through Lot’s Cave contributing to this difference in overall sales potential.

Total Title Sales

 

 

Total Books Sold

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Contributing Factors

Content: One of the biggest factors in the success of going through Lot’s Cave is the fact Lot’s Cave takes taboo subject matter. When publishing in a wide market beyond Amazon, Lot’s Cave has found this to be necessary step in attaining higher sales. Readers are not only demanding taboo erotica, but they’re willing to pay for it. This competitive pricing also brings us to our next advantage.

Higher Price Points: Notice how well our author’s bundles sold, and the prices for each. Three story volumes were priced at $4.95, while the complete set sold for $9.95. Royalty rates really make a difference with these maximized price points. There’s no reason to sell quality work for less, and Lot’s Cave knows it. Even authors new to publishing short stories will discover their books sell better at the appropriate price point.

Publisher Quality:  Lot’s Cave sold $72.98 out of the total $232.68. This means that as an indie publisher, Lot’s Cave sold over 30% of the author’s overall books. However Lot’s Cave also acts as a distributor, which yields our authors a unique advantage. Our books sell by author, but also by subject matter. Readers looking for taboo themed books can browse our whole catalog, increasing the likelihood of new authors selling their books. In fact, we question if such performance would have even been possible without Lot’s Cave’s prior commitment to quality.

Established Reputation: Along with publishing quality comes a benefit unique to indie publishers. Not only do authors receive a top quality book, they have access to an established customer base. Right from the start, new authors are able to present their work just as, if not better than, established authors. This goes deeper than the eBook itself, but to the company itself. Lot’s Cave has worked hard to attain the reputation as the premier publisher of controversial subject matter, and our authors see a direct benefit in their sales because of it.

Distribution Time: One of the interesting advantages Lot’s Cave learned happened to be in the time necessary for distribution. Since Lot’s Cave handles the formatting and distribution uploading, our author was free to spend the time writing. For authors this is another distinct advantage, as we’ve found many authors complain about complicated upload processes or the time investment involved. When distributing through Lot’s Cave, authors can rest assured we handle those hassles for them.

Cover Cost: Every eBook needs a cover, and Lot’s Cave recognizes the investments covers potentially pose to authors. Many authors today purchase their own photo stock, often at a minimum $40 a month. Other authors can pay an average of $25 for a quality cover. In either case, this investment comes directly out of the author’s income. Lot’s Cave has no such charge for our quality covers, making it easy for authors to not only produce their next book, but make a profit for doing so.

Quality Covers: Not only is cover cost an issue, but knowing the right design can be a challenging new step for authors. When publish to many different websites, it’s difficult to find a cover that stands out across multiple platforms. Luckily Lot’s Cave has experience in this area, and we offer all of our authors this quality cover design. As a company, we see an author’s success as part of our own success as well for new or established authors alike.

Conclusions

Starting out, Lot’s Cave wanted to see what new authors could expect in Amazon’s exclusive program, as well as what they could expect outside. We had our own ideas, but we lacked the numbers to prove it. After two months publishing on Amazon and elsewhere, we can back up our analysis with some figures. The process has been a long one, but the results have been well worth it. What we’ve found is still quite a new idea.

Lot’s Cave can only conclude any author wishing to make money is better off encompassing as many e-publishers as possible. Instead of investing in this process by themselves, authors stand to gain a huge advantage maximizing the potential of distribution sites like Lot’s Cave. What makes a distribution site stand out above the rest remains for individual authors to decide, but we’ve learned transparency and experience top the list of qualities.

As Amazon’s authors continue to compete in an exclusive market shying away from short stories, Lot’s Cave has found readers still desire the same lengths as before. The profit hasn’t disappeared, at least not elsewhere. Quality is key in today’s market, and we’re proud to show our authors produce the best story possible. While it might be difficult to believe, the numbers simply don’t lie. Our eBook market is shifting, and we’re here to help authors shift with it every step of the way.

While paying an indie publisher to distribute books may seem like a senseless waste of money, our results tend to direct our conclusion otherwise. What many authors lack in today’s market is experience, and time. These two factors contribute to sales greater than splitting the royalty fees involved. Often, these fees are minuscule in comparison to the profit authors make. At the end of it all, not all publishers are created equal, and indie publishers can still be a valuable asset to self-publishing authors of both short stories and longer works.

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The Amazon eBook Market

Zipper Logo Image - ClearAuthored By: Samantha Zacharda
Marketing Director & Promotion
Published By: Lot’s Cave

Special Note: Lot’s Cave would like to add a special thank you to Lily Weidner for participating in the Amazon publishing experiment. The transparency required has been quite eye opening and insightful. Please check out Lily Weidner’s followup post as well, found here.


For the last year stories have abounded regarding authors getting rich with incomes of ten to a hundred thousand per month by writing short stories. Is this possible? How much can I really make?

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Ever since Amazon changed their Kindle Unlimited program, authors have been trying to gauge the eBook market. Authors, particularly those writing short stories (3,000-5,000 words) have started to wonder if the market will even support their shorts, or if a shift into longer works is necessary to earn an income. Doing some initial research, I found answers couldn’t have been more conflicting.

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Usually when conflicting answers exist, one finds in them a majority opinion. With enough backtracking the answer process becomes clear. In this case however, little data could be found with which to form a starting point. What I found is the entire industry consists conceptually of a clear divide most easily represented by factions we find in the initial Kindle Unlimited program (KU), and what authors have come to call the second Kindle Unlimited (KU2). Desperately wanting some numbers to work with however, I came up with a solution–I did a study of my own. The goal was to achieve $20.00 in profit.

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With help from a Lot’s Cave author, I was able to create a test designed to take advantage of Amazon’s large eBook market size. Since Amazon’s KU program had been designed for short stories and the new KU2 program is now desgined for longer works, contrasting income performance between the KU and KU2 programs could simulate what it would be like for a new author specializing in short stories starting out with their first book. As an added byproduct–which is what this is about–I would also learn what authors face when trying to sell their eBooks on Amazon. After spending a couple of days to form the rules of this research project, I came up with the following:

Rules for KU2 Publishing Experiment

  1. All stories are to be the minimum 3,000 words
  2. eBooks must be enrolled in KU2
  3. No additional marketing must take place
  4. Stories must have a common kink
  5. Prices start at $.99, and then after a week increase to $2.99
  6. At minimum, author should publish two books a week (9 titles a month)
  7. Titles should include subject matter metatags
  8. Covers must fit their target audience’s particular style
  9. After completing 9 titles, bundles must be published in varying forms
  10. Stories must emphasize romance with intense but short sex scenes

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First, an Amazon Author Page was created to begin the experiment. Starting our test off, progress seemed quite slow and uncertain. Week one saw a total of two sales and sixty-five page reads. Given Amazon’s current payout rate (.0005 a page) our author only made $1.02. To my surprise, discouragement over that insignificant amount was immensely high. Convincing the author to keep writing new titles wasn’t easy, but Amazon’s ninety day exclusivity trap helped. The author had already committed such a large investment to the test that persuading the author to continue for the remainder of the month was not difficult.

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Thankfully, week two saw somewhat better results. Significantly, this result could only be due to the price increase from $.99 to $2.99. Page reads increased while sales increased dramatically. Taking a quick look at the numbers, week two tripled the previous week’s results. Seven sales and two hundred and thirty-six page reads increased the week’s total to $3.61. While the author remained apprehensive, I could detect a little more eagerness to move forward into week three.

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To my dismay, the growth occurring in week three was quite minimal. Sales topped out for the week at nine purchases and page reads dropped to two hundred and ten. Thankfully, the author was still able to see an overall increase for the week’s profits at $4.17. By this point however, the author made it clear the process didn’t seem worth the effort. The author felt drained and expressed a feeling that writing wasn’t as enjoyable as it once had been.

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Finishing up the month, our author completed the nine titles. Able to take a break from writing, the author decided to release an additional four bundles created from bundling various combinations of the nine titles. Interestingly, week four’s breakdown is rather surprising. Out of thirteen sales, only one of them came from a bundle and there were one hundred and thirty-one page reads. For the final week, the author made $8.28.

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Summary of Author’s Income

  • Week 1: $1.02
  • Week 2: $3.61
  • Week 3: $4.17
  • Week 4: $8.28
  • Total Month: $17.08

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Before we examine the market figures, let’s examine what no other study gives… the author’s experience. Interestingly, our author became extremely discouraged. This occured despite nearly reaching the $20 personal income goal. What caused this? Well, the author felt the money didn’t merit the time and effort put into the process. Worse, the author began feeling readers didn’t enjoy the titles because some of them were no longer selling after the first week they were published.

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Moving onto the numbers, the first month performance of $17.08 is nothing to shy away from. In fact, the amount is actually quite impressive for a new author starting from scratch. We can see the growth potential, after all, because no marketing was involved. What’s important to note though, remains the fact the author felt the eBook titles were worth more. Dividing the author’s income by the number of books released ($17.08/13), we find the author only made around $1.31 per book published. Sadly, this is nothing considering the figures reflect an entire month.

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Worse, $1.31 per book title published isn’t even the right number when comparing income to actual sales. Lets look at the sheer number of eBooks the author sold. On the surface, we’re quick to assume the author sold thirty-one copies. However, we must calculate into this figure the number of page reads. With a total of six hundred and forty-two reads, we can figure out the real number of books this would be.

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Given the average page count (according to Amazon) was twenty pages per book, that would equal an additional thirty-two eBook sales (642 pages/20 = 32 books). With a grand total of sixty-three eBooks (32+31=63), the payout rate becomes $.27 per each book sold. Can anyone blame the author for feeling their title is worth more than twenty-seven cents? Even if the author only spent three hours working on the book, minimum wage would make them $21.75. Chances are the author spent more time writing their book than just three hours, but the statistics remain quite dismal. After nine titles, there’s a potential twenty-seven hour investment. At a minimum wage job, the author could have made $195.75.

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It’s interesting to note, there’s hope at the end of this bleak tunnel. The author that participated in our Amazon experiment also publishes novels with us at Lot’s Cave. These longer stories of 40,000 words each are priced out at $4.95 and distributed across multiple retail platforms. This fact allows us to compare the same amount of effort on longer titles, distributed across multiple websites. The results couldn’t be more eye opening.

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Taking the author’s latest eBook alone–written during the previous month, we find the sales for that month coming in at a total of sixteen eBooks sold. While that number may seem small in comparison to their Amazon sales, this book was able to be sold at the $4.95 price. Assuming these websites payout at a consistent rate of 70%, this author made $55.44. Keep in mind, this is one book. While it may not be minimum wage, it more than doubles what the author made on Amazon.

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Now it’s important to note that longer novels have a very unique distinction from short stories. Longer novels have staying power while sales on short titles drop off quite quickly. This means the most this author will ever make on Amazon from their titles is that initial $17.08. No future sales income can be expected. Yet this author’s longer novel will continue to earn sales for several years, adding to the $55.44 amount. While the author may have felt discouraged at their efforts from putting out nine titles, the author did not feel that way about publishing one full lenght novel with Lot’s Cave.

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While not every novel will sell sixteen titles a month, the opportunity cost to other authors following in these footsteps is important to consider. Amazon authors are invested in their shorts taking off immediately, if they fail to perfom, there’s no back catalog to make up the difference. If the worst happens and a novel does not take off however, consider having the benefit of having a back catalog that still sells alongside the future new release. In order to make the $17.08 Amazon monthly figure, an entire back catalog of multiple novels would only need to sell five titles. With a full month’s time span, five additional sales seems entirely reasonable. The back catalog becomes an almost guaranteed source of income the author can depend on. So, what happens if an author wants to go down this path and shy away from Amazon’s market?

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The very first thing an author should do if they wish to publish outside Amazon’s market is examine their short stories. Because of Amazon’s market size, we can see how many authors feel they run an output treadmill. This output treadmill has caused many authors to diminish the quality of their short stories. If this is the case, authors need to invest in revamping their stories. Before publishing elsewhere, consider doing a general read through for errors.

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After revamping the story, formatting remains the most important issue with eBooks coming from Amazon. For authors formatting their own books, reading up on the latest formatting requirements is a time consuming investment. This is a necessary investment however, one readers highly notice and value. Taking time to add the appropriate formatting can really set an eBook apart from the rest.

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Another important difference is pricing. Amazon authors choosing to list their eBooks on multiple websites often find pricing uncomfortable. When authors are accustomed to charging $.99, selling the same eBook later for $2.99 can be quite unnerving. With the new price point comes a new change for author’s accustomed to Amazon’s market, slow sales. Instead of selling a book every day, authors can wait two or three days before seeing a single book sell. The benefit of this however is the higher royalty rate balances out the sale’s rate.

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Lastly, any author looking to publish across multiple websites should factor in time. On Amazon, the results of sales is immediate with a sixty day lag period for payout. When authors choose to list books across multiple websites, this can be a significantly longer progress. Payouts have been known to range from a month to six months, or longer. Keeping this in mind will help authors looking for immediate results; sometimes authors just need to set a time length and stick to it beforehand.

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In closing, the Amazon experiment was a grand success. The marketing insight I gained for Lot’s Cave has been exceedingly helpful for both Lot’s Cave authors, and those coming in from Amazon. While each market has its own difficulties, it’s important to remember different systems work for different types of authors. The main thing to note however is this, authors can still make the same, if not more money, by skipping Amazon’s eBook market. There’s no need to feel trapped or held over a barrel.

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How to Enhance Your eBook

Lot's Cave Logo Text


With so many authors trying to make a transition away from Amazon, there’s an apparent problem. The challenges many authors face remains rooted in the fact Amazon was a market of its own. There were facts, data, market techniques authors learned to navigate Amazon’s market. Sadly, authors are having to realize these techniques do not work outside of Amazon. Successful authors upload their books only to realize there’s no sales. If there are sales, authors become disappointed seeing their small profit. Many authors remarked that Amazon was, “an easy gold mine” one that has dried up paying out a potential half a cent a page. Taking a moment, authors will notice a few necessary techniques in the market outside of Amazon.

Amazon Means Cheap: Many authors have never made this association themselves, but Amazon eBooks have become cheap. With Amazon being seen as a, “potential gold mine,” many authors put up whatever they could to make a small fortune. This growing quantity of eBooks lowered prices below the standard $2.99 to a surprisingly low $.99 even bundles of 30 books were offered for this $.99 price. The eBooks readers got for their $.99 drove them to alternative sites like Smashwords. Readers that enjoy good quality eBooks would rather pay the $2.99 then settle for these bad quality $.99 eBooks. Because of this, today’s market is filled with readers that avoid Amazon looking books, and yes, they can tell. This means that if authors want to sell their eBooks on sites outside of Amazon, they need to shed their “Amazon identity” and present a better quality product.

Text Based Covers: These covers with full text are a sure way to turn off readers. There’s nothing more distracting than an image covered behind blocks of text. Covers are made to appeal readers, and initiate their interest. When all readers are left with is a blur behind bold often off colored neon text, that doesn’t say much about a book’s potential story. Some of the best selling books in the market today have one word titles. These intriguing titles combined with sexy cover images really excite the reader’s curiosity. Authors coming off of Amazon will find their block text covers will not appeal many readers. This directly impacts sales, leaving some authors to feel discouraged. The market has potential buyers, they just happen to know what they want. Text based covers are not what readers want.

Long Book Titles: Similar to the issue of text based covers are these long book titles. A book’s title should never take a full cover to display. Often, this problem arises because there’s too many keywords in the book’s name. This stems from Amazon having a weird way of using metadata or a book’s keywords. Authors could literally write anything in the keywords, and it’d have little to no effect. Outside of Amazon this issue doesn’t occur. Readers will find a book based on a catchy title, along with those keywords typed in the appropriate box. It’s painful to see good titles off Amazon drowned in layers upon layers of the book’s keywords. Readers are not accustomed to this on outside sites, and many associate this with lower quality eBooks now. If authors want to improve their book instantly just edit out these keywords from the book’s title.

Quality Cover Images: Now first off, I know not everyone is a cover artist or can afford to pay for covers. Amazon books however are well known for extremely lower end covers. These are covers using photos that are often quite frankly terrible. Often, these images will have very little to do with the book’s story at all. When the image does pertain to the story, it’s off colored, neon colored, out of focus, stretched, or even appears photoshopped. Put bluntly, these covers do not further a book’s sales. However, it’s worth noting these bad covers are better than some books with no cover images whatsoever. In the end, a book should have the best cover it can. Whether that means being creative with ideas, or just knowing how to put an average but good cover together. A well put together cover will sell an eBook, but a poor one will not.

Certain Kink Advertisement: Outside of Amazon’s market, there’s a realm devoted to the controversially kinky. While menage might be the highlight on Amazon, it’s standard elsewhere. Authors should note certain kinks are not in high demand outside of Amazon. This includes (with exceptions) Billionaire Romance, Alpha/Breeding, Menage, Tentacle/Monster Erotica, and Pseudo-Incest. While these categories in many instances will appeal to some readers, they aren’t the selling point authors think they are. Many times this has to do with the content Amazon excluded that outside sites allow. Pseudo-Incest can be replaced for outright Incest, Billionaire Romance can be BDSM, Monster Erotica often gets turned into Bestiality. The market can be quite different when listing kinks… in the keywords.

Pricing: The last change to note has to do with pricing. Many books on Amazon have become cheap to seemingly compete in the market. However, these lower prices actually harm books outside Amazon. Readers want to pay for good quality works. Authors often remark, “$2.99 was the going price, but it’s too much now” this is far from true. $2.99 is still the going rate for a short. Longer works can get as high as $5.95, but they have to be good quality. Remembering that price can communicate quality, authors will appreciate a reader’s willing to buy their properly priced works. Please take note, this does include bundles. Series books as a whole set should never be priced at $.99. Nor should books be given away free just to promote a series. These tactics worked mainly in the heyday of Pulp Fiction, but not anymore. Readers honestly associate a price with a book’s quality now.

While this post in no way should be taken as an end all fix all, it stands as a starting point. Authors who have shifted to an Amazon only focus and are now confused. They’ve forgotten what the market continues to be, though it’s only been a year. An author’s knowledge of the market continues to be a critical advantage. Taking a moment to fix a few of these changes will result in a better sales potential. Every author wants to succeed in the market today, and Lot’s Cave understands this. We hope this post might give a few authors a starting point. In time, authors can then learn the critical marketing information we’ve acquired as a company over the years. The Kindle Unlimited program’s fate may be uncertain, but that’s no reason to panic. Just take a deep breath, and try something new. It might not be so bad after all.

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The Erotic eBook Market On Amazon

Notice the dramatic changes in erotic books over the last couple years. Market saturation has become the norm, leaving authors to fend for themselves at a loss to figure out the reasons for their rapidly declining sales. What happened?

Amazon has erotic issues! 

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While self-published authors try hard to locate multiple distribution sites, they remain unaware of any good solution capable of competing with Amazon sales. Authors agree Amazon excels as the best place to publish erotic eBooks. But Amazon keeps censoring books resulting in banned author accounts, and confiscation of authors’ hard-earned royalty money.

Authors who grow increasingly tired of Amazon’s repeated issues are learning that other solutions, such as Lot’s Cave exist, and will publish their Amazon censored erotica. They disagree with the idea of Amazon being the only place to make money. Additionally, successful self-published authors find they can bypass Amazon’s exclusive publishing deals.

With controversial erotica being the bestselling subgenres of erotica in today’s market, many self-published authors find they can’t publish their books on Amazon. One of the best ways to get your book or account banned for life is by publishing incest or bestiality themed erotica. Because of this content censorship, many readers looking for taboo based erotica no longer search Amazon’s website as it yields either incorrect or poor content results. This leaves many authors questioning the effectiveness of Amazon’s market for the book’s target audience. With no readers to buy their books, what money do authors stand to make?

Looking at Amazon’s latest censorship trend while pooling together the combined experiences of erotica authors, let’s analyze Amazon’s publishing policy and the significant difficulties one must hurdle.

Guidelines Aren’t Clearly Stated or Consistently Applied: Many books on Amazon contain content that authors know aren’t within Amazon’s Content Guidelines. Popular books containing BDSM, bestiality, incest, and more can be readily found on Amazon’s website. Yet Amazon uses the popular, ‘unsuitable content’ blanket term to regulate author’s controversial content. In no other genre is this issue raised more than self-published erotica. This means authors never know if their content is within guidelines, even if they try to meet Amazon’s murky standards.

Amazon Doesn’t Publish Incest, Bestiality, Dubious Consent, or BDSM: While Amazon’s policy is to not publish BDSM, incest, bestiality, or dubious consent, readers can find the subject broadcasted across the Amazon bookstore. Self-publishes find their books banned, while books from notable publishing companies have no problem selling their books. Complicating issues is Amazon’s sexist policy for adult erotica. Covers depicting women in BDSM themed bondage is quickly banned, while a male in the same situation is quickly overlooked. This conflicting standard happens repeatedly across various erotic subgenres indicating a company bias if not outright sexist policy.

Complaints Against eBooks Are Indiscriminate With No Appeal: Amazon’s customer first policy only complicates an author’s ability to provide quality content. Controversial erotica will always raise complaints despite artistic value, political merit or moral point to be made. At times, Amazon users ban books they haven’t even read leaving them with wrong impressions. Complicating matters are religious standards against any adult material, even in an artistic light. This indiscriminate policy victimizes authors, leaving them with no way to appeal Amazon’s mistake.

Banned Accounts Result In Lost Royalties: Getting a book or account banned may seem like the worst thing Amazon can do, but it gets worse, much worse. A banned account can mean the entire account is frozen, with all funds confiscated and reverting directly to Amazon’s bank account. Because Amazon delays royalty payments, this confiscation can result in authors losing several months’ worth of sales. Amazon’s policy states ‘If we terminate this Agreement because you have breached your representations and warranties or our Content Guidelines, you forfeit all Royalties not yet paid to you.’ Making this issue worse, is a banned account means authors can never make a new account because, ‘If after we have terminated your account you open a new account without our express permission, we will not owe you any Royalties through the new account.’ This is true regardless of a mistake on Amazon’s part, or whether a valid ban took place.

Feel free to share your personal publishing frustrations!