If you haven’t heard about the new Paypal policy and the major controversy that surrounds it, you would do well to read about it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s article has a pretty clear and succinct summary of the situation. As far as I can tell, the author of that article is not an erotica author, nor does she appear to have any vested interest in the subject.
The general consensus is that Paypal’s new policy and the reasons they give for it is nothing more than a cover for puritanical censorship. Erotica writers have been quick to cry foul and claim persecution and vendors who are tied to Paypal have been split between pointing their fingers (albeit with their hands supposedly tied behind their backs) and openly coming out with some sort of quasi-moral statements in support of the new policy.
One of the most eloquent bloggers on the subject is Remittance Girl. Her posts here, here, and here cover the topic in great depth and with careful analysis. The comments and discussion that follow make for interesting, thoughtful reading.
If it were about the money, Paypal and the vendors like Smashwords would rally together to ensure the distribution of the works in question rather than squelch them. Database technology is advanced enough that it would be entirely possible for Paypal to work with vendors through some sort of verification system to develop an adult purchase vetting process. When I buy a sex toy online, I get a big huge warning that says “Sex toys are not refundable under any circumstance whatsoever. ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO CONTINUE.” Would it really be so hard to do this with an e-book with taboo contents? “This book contains graphic depictions of rape, bestiality, or other content (okay, the lawyers can mess with the wording on that.) No return credit will be granted under any circumstances.” So, seriously, Paypal etal if you want me to think it’s about the money, you need to try a little harder.
If it were about the money, you’d be working harder to please the customers, i.e. the readers. The consumers of taboo erotica are out there. Take a look at the graphic above. On Elliquiy, the roleplay forum I frequent, the largest roleplaying board is “NC: Human-Freeform Solos.” After socializing, non-concensual roleplay is the biggest thing happening over there. Within the top ten, in fact, are two non-con boards and the extreme board. I do believe that says something. There is a market out there, and it’s way bigger than people think it is.
The unfortunate thing I see in all of this, is that the typical reader of taboo Erotica is not very likely to stand up and protest this sort of censorship. It takes a great deal of courage and fortitude to do so. I can’t even begin to count how many times people join Elliquiy and express their delight at the non-judgmental nature of the forums. I hear how people have been so afraid and ashamed of their fantasies that they can hardly even admit to them on a closed, adult forum. It’s akin to coming out of the closet. Openly admitting to fantasies that broach sexual taboos carries a huge social burden. I don’t honestly see readers openly protesting Paypal in defense of their often hidden and shame-inducing reading materials.
I don’t know what the solution is. If I were an entrepreneur, however, I would be finding a way to start a new business called “Freedom To Purchase What I Want With My Money, Thank YOU” to go head to head with Paypal. The name might need to be a little more marketable and shorter to stuff it into an easy box for clicking, but seriously, where is the competition with some cojones?
EDIT: Given some further reading…particularly this response by Mark Coker, founder of Smashword, I will just say, that someone, somewhere along the line, has to stand up to the banks and funding institutions that are supposedly behind the whole mess. It begs the question, whose IDEA was the ban and what was really behind it? I seriously doubt the returns on erotica sales is much of a blip on the radar.
Quick Links For Good Reading:
Remittance Girl’s Blog
Electronic Freedom Foundation
The internet is simply buzzing about the latest policy Paypal is enforcing. The general consensus is that Paypal’s reasoning is simply a cover for what amounts to puritanical censorship. Erotica writers have been quick to cry foul and claim persecution, vendors have been split between simply pointing the finger at Paypal and speaking to their own moral agenda.
The second thing I’d like you to consider is that although this state of affairs affects writers economically, there are relatively few of us. Who it hurts most, by far, are readers who should have a reasonable expectation of having the freedom to choose what they want to read and how, within the bounds of law, to spend their money.
It is very easy to make this about us – the writers. But please be rational about this. It is not easy to find people, especially influential people, who are going to be willing to stand up and defend a group of writers who dabble in fictional descriptions of incest, bestiality and rape. They should, yes. But they won’t.
I hate to admit this, but I’d never heard of a book blog tour before July 2011. I was at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association annual conference and decided–almost on a whim–to attend a talk on blog tours. I had started blogging (both here and under my ‘real nam’) a while ago, but considered blogging primarily an exercise in procrastination. If I didn’t feel like editing or writing, I’d go make a blog post. I try hard to keep things topical on this site–either related to sex, issues about sex or writing sex. On my other blog I am all across the board writing about cooking, reading, knitting and parenting. It’s not focused, and I don’t really care so much.
I walked into the workshop thinking it would be about how author’s need to create their platforms, to blog about ‘their work’ and to create a connection between them and their readers. I was surprised to learn about this marketing thing that’s been happening under my nose for years. I’ve read dozens of book blog tour posts without even realizing that is what I was reading. It was more than a little obvious, within a few minutes from the start of the class, I had seen dozens of blog tours without actually recongizing them for what they were. And, as a previous marketing professional, I felt a little silly for not having some sort of intuitive notion about the power of the blog tour.
I think everyone is familiar with old style “book tours.” The author travels around the country visiting books stores, does readings, signings, radio and television spots. Very well known and higher profile authors get spots on nationally syndicated shows, but most authors don’t get that kind of publicity. The Holy Grail of television used to be Oprah Winfrey’s book club. This kind of tour is difficult to organize, hard to fund and exhausting. I don’t know exactly how blog tours evolved over time, but they have become a standard way of promoting a new book either in lieue of a traditional tour or in addition to it. And, they are the perfect venue for marketing anthologies.
And of course, I’m going to plug the anthology you’ve already seen mentioned on this blog, Voyeur Eyes Only. The blog tour started on February 14th and here’s a link for the entire blog tour schedule .
I’m the guest blogger over at this blog today.
I’m a sucker for calls for submissions with themes. It’s like being in a writing class and getting a fun prompt. Here’s a theme…on your mark…get set….WRITE! As a matter of fact, I keep stickies all over my computer for various anthology prompts as a quick entry into writing. If I am ever stuck on something I am trying to do, I look at a writing call for submission as a way to get me to write about ‘something.’
Essemoh Teepee announced an anthology open only to authors attending the first Erotic Association Authors convention in Las Vegas last September at the closing party. The idea was really simple and fun:
Imagine you are a guest of the towering Skylane Hotel. It affords the best views of the Las Vegas Strip, including hotel rooms of all the most famous Las Vegas hotels. That’s right, you’re a voyeur with a very powerful telescope and can see into the hotel windows of any of the other famous hotels that surround the Skylane. Take your inspiration from such famous hotels as the ornate Bellagio, Paris, the hotel that started it all, The Flamingo, the new and naughty Cosmopolitan, the Wynn, etc.
The only restriction is that all the sexy action must be able to be seen through the telescope at the Skylane. Otherwise, the sky’s the limit: straight, gay, menage, who knows, there might even be a vampire or two.
I had a couple of ideas pop into my head right away. I am, by nature, more of a voyeur than an exhibitionist, so it was fun to turn the table and develop a character who gets off on displaying herself to an imagined audience.
I am still a baby in the erotica market. In fact, this collection contains my first published short story (I have self-published elsewhere, and have other work ‘accepted’ but not finalized yet.) I am honored and delighted to be found in such quality company my first shot out the gate. I’m including the table of contents with a links to most of the other authors in the collection so you can check them out.
The proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated to help fund the Erotica Authors Association Conference. You can purchase the book at Amazon. The audiobook will be available on February 14th. A fun audio teaser can be found here.
UPDATE: The audio version is now available at Audible!