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General Chat - anything Goes > A world distorted by erotica?

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message 1: by Lexie (new)

Lexie Conyngham | 1375 comments Chatting to a friend recently I discovered a new phenomenon (to me): he likes fantasy books, but if he scrolls through Amazon's lists of best sellers, he finds the first fifty or more are of the 'A Vampire Seduced Me' or 'Fifty Shades of Werewolf' type, before he can find anything which is straight fantasy, even the best sellers in the genre. A bit of investigation showed that erotica and related genres tend to attract huge numbers of enthusiastic reviews, much more than in other genres. I'd noticed the same for a 'crime' novel recently (my preferred genre) which has over a thousand reviews despite being, in terms of crime fiction, very poor (there are many one and two star reviews and I suspect they are from crime fiction readers). Nevertheless it had attracted many five and four star reviews from readers more interested in the romance side. Can anyone think of a way Amazon could, as it were, fence off this erotic cross genre writing so that purists could search more easily for the books they want? The tendency to multiple reviews in this genre seems to be distorting their search functions.


message 2: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25062 comments I'd never noticed this. Mainly because I never look for romance or erotica and I have enough fantasy books popping up in my recommendations to keep me happy. I don't know what the answer is.


message 3: by Lexie (new)

Lexie Conyngham | 1375 comments I'm not sure either, not knowing enough about the mechanics of it (Amazon, not erotica!).


message 4: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25062 comments Tee-hee. ;)


Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments I've given up on searching by genre on Amazon.


message 6: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25062 comments I never did. If I search at all, it's by author.


Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments I don't even bother looking at the top one hundred lists anymore.


message 8: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25062 comments Nope. I have my own top 100!


message 9: by Anita (new)

Anita | 3758 comments I never really did look at top 100 or the like but I do wish they would put something on the book if it does contain bad language or sex scenes as I don't want to read either. Many a book has been delayed from my library unread.


message 10: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 4053 comments In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking.
But now, heaven knows,
Anything goes.
Good authors too who once knew better words
Now only use four-letter words
Writing prose.
Anything goes.

I suspect it's something that readers are learning how to scroll past. I think we are all getting better at spotting the sorts of books that we know we won't like.

Could Amazon do more? Perhaps. Every now and again someone comes up with a new idea for a rating system, like they have for movies or computer games. Until then I think we just have to be on the lookout for stuff we won't enjoy.

It's not a new problem. One of the most awkward occasions of my life was when my Mum decided that we were going to watch Last Tango in Paris because it was supposed to be a good film and she had never seen it. It must have been late 1980s on VHS and I was in my twenties.


message 11: by Alicia (new)

Alicia Ehrhardt (aliciabutcherehrhardt) | 4208 comments Will wrote: " One of the most awkward occasions of my life was when my Mum decided that we were going to watch Last Tango in Paris because it was supposed to be a good film and she had never seen it...."

Was it? I've never seen it, either. Even back then there were words on the covers and sections in Blockbuster for you to figure out what kind of a movie was in the box. Those stores knew how to classify movies. 'Community standards.'


message 12: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 4053 comments We knew it was going to be a little bit racy. We weren't prepared for ... ahem ... what we actually saw.


message 13: by Anita (new)

Anita | 3758 comments How embarrassing Will, for both of you.


Geoff (G. Robbins) (merda constat variat altitudo) (snibborg) | 9052 comments Not as embarrassed as some parents were.

During the 1980s it was policy of a lot of film distributors to distribute films on VHS tapes that had been previously used for pornographic material that had been confiscated by customs.

Unfortunately, some of the material was shorter than the porn, and the tapes weren't wiped first, just overwritten for the length of the film, so when it ran over the end and you forgot to turn it off, you got more than you bargained for.


message 15: by Lexie (new)

Lexie Conyngham | 1375 comments Oops!

Mind you, I'm not sure either my friend or I was shocked, but he was certainly annoyed at all the 'clutter', as he saw it, blocking the way to finding new fantasy authors.


message 16: by Grace (new)

Grace Risata | 46 comments I'm still not 100% sure what the definition of "Erotica" is. I'm going to go with "something that would make you blush to show your mom." Anyway, I think authors have a responsibility to put a one sentence warning in the product description that "This book contains scenes of an explicit nature that might turn off some readers." Readers either want it or they don't and they don't like to be surprised. I'd rather have someone not buy my book if it has those scenes, than buy it and be mad and leave a bad review. Just my opinion, anyway.


message 17: by Lexie (new)

Lexie Conyngham | 1375 comments Theories, by the way, are invited as to why romance and erotica attract more reviews than other genres! I wonder if people fall in love or lust with the characters and want to feel they're responding in some way.


message 18: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) | 360 comments There have been loads of complaints about erotica finding its way into other genres. Try typing 'book for teen boys' or 'book for boys' in the Amazon search and see what appears on the first page. It is a lot better than it was a few months ago when the 'stepbrother' stories seemed to find their way into every genre.
I would never allow a child to search for a book using the Amazon search.


Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments Lexie wrote: "Theories, by the way, are invited as to why romance and erotica attract more reviews than other genres! I wonder if people fall in love or lust with the characters and want to feel they're respondi..."

Perhaps the review swap system within the genre is extremely healthy.


message 20: by Pam (new)

Pam Baddeley | 2908 comments I have seen this on some sites - search for 'fantasy' and a lot of scantily clad male torsos come up. A particular problem on some sites when looking for premade book covers.


message 21: by David (new)

David Manuel | 1147 comments Pam wrote: "I have seen this on some sites - search for 'fantasy' and a lot of scantily clad male torsos come up. A particular problem on some sites when looking for premade book covers."

Thinking the scantily clad male torso was the new emblem of publishing and self-publishing that everyone wants to see, I started to use one for the photo on my Amazon author page. Then I realized, "Oh, they want to see scantily clad male torsos with ripped abs." Never mind.


Geoff (G. Robbins) (merda constat variat altitudo) (snibborg) | 9052 comments Pam wrote: "I have seen this on some sites - search for 'fantasy' and a lot of scantily clad male torsos come up. A particular problem on some sites when looking for premade book covers."

Is that because, your main search item is male torsos, Pam? ;-)


message 23: by M.T. (last edited Feb 29, 2016 12:21AM) (new)

M.T. McGuire (mtmcguire) | 7646 comments I try to optimise the key words in my book descriptions so that if people search for, say, funny sci fi books, my free book will appear on the first page of the search results. A couple of weeks ago the 'most' relevant result in a search for teen fantasty fiction books was an erotica book called 'Fisted'.

A group of folks are churning our barely intelligible 'content generated' erotica and romance books at rock bottom prices to get money from ku page reads. They optimise them for all sorts of irrelevant genres - try searching for an action book - and since Amazon gets a cut of the money if anyone buys, and still gets a little interest while the money is in their account even if a reader returns the book, they don't give a shit. They're too busy threatening authors like me with the removal of all our books on Amazon for using the word free on the listing for our perma free books - heaven fore fend that our books might come in ahead of the books in Kindle Unlimited by mad authors who have made their works exclusive to Amazon.

Apparently it's something called the warrior forum which is reputedly full of black hat scammers of amazons search algorithms. Even the romance authors are getting pissed off as its damaging them, by association.

The only way you'll find an actual fantasy book on Amazon these days is if you include the word 'epic' in your search.

Cheers

MTM


message 24: by Lexie (new)

Lexie Conyngham | 1375 comments I heard of an indie writer some years ago who (not sure what his genre was but it wasn't romance) put 'Fifty Shades of Grey' into his key words, changing it to whatever book seemed most popular at the time. Devious.


message 25: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21882 comments I know that with 'Dead Man Riding East' I described it somewhere as 'a love story with more action than fifty shades of grey'

As far as I know, this is perfectly true as whilst I've not read the books, I'm pretty sure that 50 shades doesn't have any sword fights, sackings of palaces or assassinations

I think if she'd managed to work any of those into her book she'd have had a best seller on her hands ;-)


message 26: by M.T. (last edited Feb 29, 2016 03:30AM) (new)

M.T. McGuire (mtmcguire) | 7646 comments Lexi Wrote: Jim wrote: "..."

Now, as an author going direct to Amazon, if I mention any authors who write similar work to mine, Amazon will remove my books - possibly without warning since I have already been warned about using the word 'free' illegally after they'd changed their terms and conditions and not told anyone - I'm supposed to make regular checks, I discovered even though their associates programme emails you updates... go figure.

What is annoying is that I believe you can get away with that kind of thing if your work is by a publisher, just as books submitted by a large enough publisher automatically go into Kindle Unlimited without having to be exclusive to Amazon.

The only way to clean up the search listings is for customers to complain to Amazon that there are no non-erotica books in the fantasy listing, for example. Or that in most cultures, 'action' means running about shooting people ahead of sex.

So if everyone reading who finds this trouble complained, I am absolutely certain Amazon would fear for it's wallet, sort out it's algos instanta and the problem would stop.

Indeed, judging by my sales on other platforms, customers are already abandoning amazon and going to sites like ibooks and Kobo where they can, at least, find the books they are looking for.

Cheers

MTM


message 27: by Pam (last edited Feb 29, 2016 10:48AM) (new)

Pam Baddeley | 2908 comments Geoff (G. Robbins) (The noisy passionfruit) wrote: "Pam wrote: "I have seen this on some sites - search for 'fantasy' and a lot of scantily clad male torsos come up. A particular problem on some sites when looking for premade book covers."

Is that ..."


Er no Geoff (cheek!) I was clicking on the link for 'fantasy' and expecting swords and sorcery ... trouble is, it all appears to be men with ripped abbs and bears in the background - I think the werewolf craze got a bit old so now it seems to be were bears!


message 28: by M.T. (new)

M.T. McGuire (mtmcguire) | 7646 comments Pam wrote: "Geoff (G. Robbins) (The noisy passionfruit) wrote: "Pam wrote: "I have seen this on some sites - search for 'fantasy' and a lot of scantily clad male torsos come up. A particular problem on some si..."

It's not just bears there are tigers phnark! ... :-( strangely, my new title, taken by the ware slug doesn't seem to be doing so well.


message 29: by Lexie (new)

Lexie Conyngham | 1375 comments I like it - but I don't think it has legs ;-)


message 30: by Lexie (new)

Lexie Conyngham | 1375 comments I'm starting to feel a bit lost myself in this - given that my books are historical and set in Scotland, I'm being swamped by kilt-ripping time travellers. Can't think why.


Geoff (G. Robbins) (merda constat variat altitudo) (snibborg) | 9052 comments Jim wrote: "I know that with 'Dead Man Riding East' I described it somewhere as 'a love story with more action than fifty shades of grey'"

I suppose it depends upon your definition of 'action'.


message 32: by G J (Gaff to my friends) (last edited Mar 01, 2016 01:12AM) (new)

G J (Gaff to my friends) Reilly | 1901 comments M T wrote: "It's not just bears there are tigers phnark! ... :-( strangely, my new title, taken by the ware slug doesn't seem to be doing so well."

Is that "Taken" by the the ware slug, or Taken by the ware slug? One definitely does not scream fantasy. The other could be a great read.

Wolf bites slug, slug turns into ware slug, bites human. Human turns into ware slug on full moon. Before you know it ... Slug 2 - American ware slug in Brighton.

As to the ripped bods covers, it's so discouraging that that's what some people think "fantasy" means. Isn't that why we have an elitist genre system - to stop stuff like that from happening?


message 33: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 4053 comments Maybe that is what "fantasy" is starting to mean? As the tectonic plates of language are continually shifting, we will sometimes find that a word changes meaning in front of our eyes.

If we could jump in a time machine and go to meet Shakespeare, he'd think that fantasy was all about fairies and witches meeting in enchanted woods.

Scroll forwards to the seventies and eighties and most people think that fantasy means Tolkienesque medieval/ Arthurian England. That and Yes album covers, and interminably long songs by Led Zeppelin.

Come right to the modern day and it seems to be split fifty-fifty between blokes with ripped abs showing through armour and blokes with ripped abs showing through a sharp suit. In one definition of fantasy, the ladies are wearing chainmail bras. In the other the material might be latex, leather or lace.

Fast forward to the future, and who knows? Maybe sword and sorcery deviates off towards a word like "epic" and the word "fantasy" is appropriated by the "spank me, spank me" fraternity.

And each generation wails that its words are changing, without realising that those words are constantly changing.


G J (Gaff to my friends) Reilly | 1901 comments But there already is a definition for the ripped abs type - Erotica. Admittedly, if you had 'Erotic Fantasy' with ripped heroes in armour and horny heroines in bikini mail (or indeed vice versa) with the same plot content as your average Erotic Fiction, then I think people would be more willing to accept it as a fantasy sub genre. But I think there needs to be a clear difference between 'pure' Erotica (e.g. 50 sheds) and fantasy (in all its glorious guises).


message 35: by M.T. (last edited Mar 01, 2016 02:18AM) (new)

M.T. McGuire (mtmcguire) | 7646 comments Mwah hahahargh it's 'taken' by the ware slug, obviously.

What's interesting about language is it seems to be like names, so when I was a kid everyone was Steve, Dave, Jane, Mary, Andy... and all the old ladies and men were called things like Edie, Alfie, Arthur, Fred, Reggie, Maisey etc. Now all the old people are called things like Tom, Mary, Dave and Steve and the youngsters, who don't remember little old dears being called Enid and Fred are calling their kids names like Alfie, Reggie, Edie, Masie etc.

So it is that in the 1970s, 'Action' was blokes with guns - usually spies - killing one another but it was ALSO slang for a shag. 'Action' as shag slang died out because the BeeGees and Disco were no longer cool but now the things that came after them are uncool and the younger generation is looking back to older words... and up pops 'action' (phnar phnar so to speak) as sex slang again.

Personally, I think the reason is threefold:

One, Amazon wants to give books that are in KU more weight in the search results so a lot of the scammier books end up higher up - the scammers go for romance because it has the widest pool of readers and they read faster than readers in most other genres.

Two, Romance is a really hard (snortle) genre to get seen in because it's massive and there is a lot of competition from people selling an insane number of books. So, a lot of romance and erotica writers aim at less competitive incidental keywords. So if they write a sex book with fantasy in, they will aim it at the fantasy charts where it is more likely to get onto page one in a search. That is understandable but because the average romance writer sells a lot more books than the average writer of bog standard actual fantasy, and because many, many of them are doing it, then, if Amazon gives sales and ranking any weight in its search algorithm, these books will all appear first even if they are really only a niche subgenre of fantasy as a whole.

Three, A lot of porn writers optimise their books for pretty much any damn keyword thinking that if they optimise 'Shag Fest on Gamma Seven' as 'sci-fi action' people looking for military sci-fi books or other types of sci fi books with lots of laser battles in will think 'ah yes, I wasn't looking for porn but now I see that cover I feel like reading some'. Essentially, it's the same marketing method used by the folks behind all those emails trying to sell willy enhancing drugs and diet pills that go into your spam box, only it's slightly less effective.

Looking at what's happening with my sales, I sincerely believe that this method of optimising books for really oblique stuff rather than targeting them for people searching for what you are actually selling is driving readers off Amazon and into the arms of other platforms. For the first time, last month, my off Amazon sales hit 50% of my earnings. This month the income from other sites is looking like it will overtake amazon. Sure, Kobo et al are getting their act together but I am beginning to believe that Amazon is also losing its monopoly.

The only solution I can see is to actually have an official stream on Amazon for adult books, that way, if you search for young adult fantasy or humorous hero the number one book returned in your search is not going to be called 'Erotica: Fisted - a Hardcore erotica fantasy shapeshifter werebear enormous willy cake eating big beautiful woman fuck fest strictly for over 18s only story'. Or something similar. Phnark. I can't remember the exact subtitle but the first two words are correct and I do remember that the subtitle was stuffed with keywords and that there were about 15 of them.

Sorry to use the f word, I just really enjoy making up comedy porn titles!

Cheers

MTM


G J (Gaff to my friends) Reilly | 1901 comments M T wrote: "Sorry, I just really enjoy making up comedy porn titles!"

I think my favourite has always been "The thing that fell from Uranus". Although I don't think that was strictly in the same category.


message 37: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 4053 comments G J (Gaff to my friends) wrote: "But there already is a definition for the ripped abs type - Erotica. "

Well, yes, but erotica has a particular connotation - for some people at least. It can conjure up images of men in dirty macs and IKEA assembly instruction prose of "insert tab A into slot B".

I suspect that "fantasy" is becoming more popular for the ripped abs genre as it seems softer and safer. It hints at "these are things you always wanted to do but were not allowed to read about".

There is also an acceptability point going on here. A lot of this "Filthy Sheds" stuff is being read by women who don't want to advertise the fact that they are reading about bonking. It's still all a bit daring and new. So they would far rather buy into a genre title that didn't sound like porn, with all its male-dominated and sleazy connotations.


message 38: by M.T. (new)

M.T. McGuire (mtmcguire) | 7646 comments Will wrote: "G J (Gaff to my friends) wrote: "But there already is a definition for the ripped abs type - Erotica. "

Well, yes, but erotica has a particular connotation - for some people at least. It can conju..."


Actually yes, that's a very good point about the macs. And the women in chain mail bikinis always put me off traditional fantasy.


message 39: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 4053 comments I find that book covers often bear as little relation to the contents as those pictures of ladies in telephone boxes. Allegedly. Or so I am told.

Many a time I have picked up a book with bikini chainmail on the cover only to find absence of same within. Ditto science fiction books with mile long spaceships on the cover.

And don't even get me started on youtube thumbnails...


message 40: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21882 comments After pondering the wisdom expounded on this blog, I decided to do the opposite,
hide fantasy within a somewhat naughtier title :-)

http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/201...


message 41: by David (new)

David Hadley | 4873 comments Will wrote: "We knew it was going to be a little bit racy. We weren't prepared for ... ahem ... what we actually saw."

I've tried to watch Last Tango twice and fell asleep both times.


message 42: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 4053 comments I wish I had when I watched it with my Mum. Long dull bits interspersed with imaginative use of dairy products.


message 43: by David (new)

David Hadley | 4873 comments Will wrote: "I wish I had when I watched it with my Mum. Long dull bits interspersed with imaginative use of dairy products."

I think the only thing I know about it is its use of butter.


Gingerlily - The Full Wild | 36808 comments Suddenly a title for an erotica TV show popped into my head - "Butter Call Saul"!


message 45: by David (new)

David Hadley | 4873 comments Gingerlily - Mistress Lantern wrote: "Suddenly a title for an erotica TV show popped into my head - "Butter Call Saul"!"

Scraping the bottom there, possibly.


Gingerlily - The Full Wild | 36808 comments It's a slippery slope....


G J (Gaff to my friends) Reilly | 1901 comments Gingerlily - Mistress Lantern wrote: "Suddenly a title for an erotica TV show popped into my head - "Butter Call Saul"!"

David wrote: "Scraping the bottom there, possibly."

I don't know which one of those was worse ...


message 48: by M.T. (last edited Mar 01, 2016 05:34AM) (new)

M.T. McGuire (mtmcguire) | 7646 comments Scraping the bottom with what? Toast? Marmalade to go with the butter? I cannot, cannot imagine how embarrassing it would be to watch Last Tango in Paris with my Mum! If you put that in a comedy book, people would say it was unrealistic and could never happen.


message 49: by M.T. (new)

M.T. McGuire (mtmcguire) | 7646 comments Jim, enjoyed the link. ;-)


G J (Gaff to my friends) Reilly | 1901 comments M T wrote: "If you put that in a comedy book, people would say it was unrealistic and could never happen."

Absolutely! Everyone knows you use Olivio (other olive based margarine products available) ...


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