Oops. It’s the fifth Friday of the month and that means all the Mad Ones are sleeping in. Well, not all of us since I happen to be up to write this. But it means there’s no regularly scheduled post. What to do? What to do?
Let’s see. There are a couple of stories over at The Passive Voice that caught my eye this morning. The first has to do with Amazon — again. It seems there are reports of Amazon stripping rankings from some “romance” titles. While I haven’t seen much about this, at least not when compared with some of the uproar a few weeks ago over reviews disappearing, there’s enough talk about it to have me suggesting anyone who has published a romance title that might fall into erotica or the “harder” romances check your titles. So far, it appears to be limited in scope but Amazon hasn’t said much, if anything, about it yet and that is always worrisome.
In a post from Hypable, there is a possible explanation offered. It is possible this action has been Amazon’s knee-jerk response to the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). As the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, FOSTA could “force online platforms to police their users’ speech more forcefully than ever before.” That is a chilling prospect and one we need to not only keep an eye on but fight against.
If you read Hypable’s article, you’ll see a series of tweets from romance author CD Reiss. While I share her concerns, I do want to point out something to everyone. Many of the online sales platforms such as Amazon have long had as part of the terms of service verbiage about non-consensual sexual content. Many of them say the inclusion of such material in your work, be it a book or art or something else, is a violation of the TOS and can be cause for removal of the title or cancellation of the account. The reason for this is that these companies have to deal with so many national and international laws. So this might be another reason, no less troubling that the FOSTA implications, for what Amazon has been doing.
My advice? Check your keywords and change them if you need to. Also, keep an eye on what Romance Writers of America is doing about this situation. There is no professional writers’ organization, in my opinion, that is better at protecting its members’ rights than RWA. Since they are aware of the situation, they will act if they feel there is a problem. Keep an eye on their social media accounts and their website for further information.
The second interesting piece from TPV tracks back to Publishers Weekly and, ultimately, to Microsoft. It seems Microsoft has been quietly rolling out its e-bookstore. This is an older story, almost a year old, but it is a good reminder that there are other options out there for authors. It is also a reminder that, no matter how big the parent company, an idea might sound good on paper but not be a splash in reality. While I’m not one to tell folks to limit their horizons when it comes to releasing their books, I have concerns about the Microsoft store. It begins with the fact that, at least according to this article, only those using Windows 10 can use the store. Then there’s the fact they only get their titles from Ingram’s CoreSource digital asset management distribution platform. It is something to check out if you are looking for another platform to release through. However, I have to wonder just how vibrant the platform is a year after its initial release, especially since I have seen almost nothing about it during that time.
So that’s it from me this morning. What interesting or odd news from the world of publishing have you see of late?