Has Amazon Killed Sex Book Publishing?

It’s undoubtedly been a wacky, weird road to travel down these past couple decades for those of us involved in sex writing. Be one a scribbler of naughty stuff or a publisher of those scribblings; the goalposts have been “slip, sliding, away,” as Paul Simon would say, over what to write and where to publish during these heady and hearty days of digital. And if anybody gives you a clear-cut definitive answer on where things are headed, even within the next couple months, ignore them; they truly have no clue.

Jeff Bezos, CEO and President of ‎Amazon

Yes, eBook publishing was a massive change to the landscape and a good one for those of us writing niche or genre stuff. I didn’t start publishing my stuff in earnest until I met the wonderful Jean Marie Stine of Renaissance E Books and found that not only could I publish, I could get paid for the naughty stuff that was pouring out of me that I knew mainstream publishers did not want (this was before Fifty Shades of Grey hit and every house everywhere suddenly wanted to publish erotica). The little risk/solid reward model of eBook publishing made perfect sense to me, and I got up a whole bunch of titles with Jean, which led to me gaining some traction (and confidence) to search out other houses and jump-start my career.

eBooks are still out there, but I dare say another and probably the most significant change to the market—to all markets actually—is Amazon.

Good and bad.

For publishers? 

Let’s take the good first. 

Amazon provides exposure of a scale no publisher’s already hard-working distribution department could beat.

The bad? 

Suddenly, Amazon provides exposure of a scale no publisher’s already hard-working distribution department could beat. Being the biggest player, Amazon set rules everyone had to follow, or one could not get their books up on this depository of stuff.

Early on (and still happening), there were guidelines (lots of us saw them as restrictions) set up across the Amazon platform that quickly found, and pretty much deleted, any erotica that did not play by Amazon’s rules. Those authors who wrote fetish stuff, especially age-play fantasy stuff (which was exactly what my first books with Jean Marie were) were set under deep scrutiny, with books excised from Amazon lists at the drop of a hat.

The problem here was that there were no concessions made for the grey areas (like adult consensual age play or fiction about ‘water sports’) in the initial flagging and mass exodus of lots of titles Amazon thought exploitative. Yes, they have gotten better with not just jettisoning stuff whole cloth, pretty much lightening-up on us smut scribes, but still there are lots of restrictions on the site/store that are not so easy to decipher.

Hey, it’s their sandbox, they can make the rules, I have no problem with that. But Amazon’s reasons for jettisoning titles, in the best of instances, still seem somewhat arbitrary.

For writers?

The good. 

Amazon worked hard (I will give credit where credit is due) to create a template where just about anyone can upload a book, its cover, and price (and Amazon helps price books as well if you are ignorant in this area) and set up their own ‘shop’ to start selling directly. For the most part, and within the restrictions mentioned above, erotica authors could technically ‘publish’ without having to spend all that much money (or any at all) to do so.

The bad. 

Amazon worked hard (I will give credit where credit is due) to create a template where just about anyone can upload a book, which means, now, a pro erotica writer, who may have worked for years building his or her talent, skill, and business acumen, is pretty much competing on a level playing field with amateurs.

Is this good or bad? You decide. But it does mean there is a lot more stuff for the picking out there and a wide range of ‘quality.’

(It reminds me what you find when you got out for an evening at your local café and catch an “Open Mike” night).

The Only Game In Town

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

There is no dirty little secret here. Amazon works on a rather ‘transparent’ business model.

But it has become an only-game-in-town situation, and that usually scares the shit out of me; monopolies have always scared me and I don’t want only want one option when it comes to the ice cream flavors I can chose from.

And really, it means nothing much at all if somebody comes up to you and says, “I have published a book on Amazon.” Having a book up on the portal is about as unique as having an Instagram page these days.

I don’t have an Instagram page and have long since forgotten the short stories I self-published on Amazon.


I have a natural aversion to making money and becoming famous. That’s a joke.

Actually, as you have realized reading these columns, I abhor social media and figure just adding to the din of so many other-self-published sex scribes out there will just result in me spinning my metaphorical wheels.

If a publisher I am with puts my book on Amazon, (and pretty much everyone I have published with has), that’s their business. But I have long since given up the idea of putting stuff up there myself. My thoughts might change on this, but for now, I dance with the devil just about as much as I care to.

Should you publish on Amazon? Are they indeed the biggest, and best? I’d advise doing some research beyond my sage advice (not that I really gave you a thumbs up or down here) and figure how, and if, you want to get involved with Jeff Bezos baby.


NINE TO ETERNITY is an anthology of science-fiction short stories edited and anthologized by M. Christian. NINE TO ETERNITY, features a whole bunch of other excellent writers, including Ralph Greco, M. Christian, Ernest Hogan, Emily Devenport, Cynthia Ward, Arthur Byron Cover, Jr., David Lee Summers, Jean Marie Stine, and the estate of Jody Scott, to make Nine To Eternity: A Science Fiction Anthology a memorable reading experience.


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