Bliss Devlin is a supernatural/mythological erotica author. Her books are compelling because yes they’re very clearly erotica but there’s a story (sort of) attached to all the sex. As a non-sexual reader, I appreciate that there’s a setting, challenges (well, at least initially) for the female lead, and at least one ongoing plot to hook you from one book to the next. I’m not convinced that her demons/monsters are demonic/monstrous, but then I’ve also questioned this same thing when it’s coming from a hardcore horror author. I’m surprised that I’ve found aspects I genuinely like in an erotica series, but for whatever reason I do like Bliss Devlin’s writing.
Amazon (here used as the corporation and the publication filter) isn’t as open-minded as I am.
Here’s the controversy: Bliss Devlin submitted a novel called The Rebel to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing for it to be approved and published. There’s probably a less redundant way to say this, but Amazon KDP is all about approval and publication. She got a response from someone at Amazon KDP stating that they couldn’t publish her novel because of objectionable content. Devlin was sad about that for understandable reasons, but more importantly she was confused by how her novel was objectionable when Amazon KDP published novels with much worse content. I can vouch for that, as I did in a status update post on Blog Job. You’ll get the same information here as well in more detail. For now, keep in mind that just like Devlin, I have questions about the legitimacy of Amazon KDP’s objections to her novel.
Out of curiosity, I researched the content guidelines for Amazon KDP to see what Devlin may have violated. I only saw two potential points, and neither of them seemed particularly fair in singling her out. The first potential issue was with guideline one stating “We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts”. Well, there goes the entire erotica genre, all romance novels except possibly Inspirational/religion romance novels, horror novels with heavy, abnormal sexual scenes, and some non-fiction. The second potential issue was with guideline two stating “What we deem offensive is probably what you would expect”. In other words, Amazon KDP is making authors play a guessing game of what Amazon KDP thinks is or is not offensive.
Now for the fun par: Check out examples that have been considered perfectly okay by Amazon KDP.
- Consumed by Matt Shaw. Extreme horror novel with inbred cannibal serial killers and copious amounts of rape.
- The Angel of Vengeance by Wade H. Garrett. Extreme horror novel with highly descriptive torture on every page.
- Anything by Shane McKenzie that’s not published by Samhain.
- Anything by Tim Miller, but especially see his April Almighty series. He’s technically published by GutWrench Productions but the Kindle edition is published by Amazon KDP.
Those are obviously the horror novels. Next we’ll look at some (okay, one; my romance/erotica reading is very limited and I am supremely lazy about doing the research) of the romance/erotica titles allowed by Amazon KDP.
- Demon Seed by Desiree Acuna. A young adult woman who was sheltered and despised by her family trades herself to a demon in exchange for keeping her family alive and then the erotica kicks in. If you crave sex scenes then you’ll love this book. I appreciated it because it also has a story, not a particularly complex story but still a clear story. The print edition is published by New Concepts Publishing, but on Amazon the Kindle edition is published by Amazon KDP.
There’s other novels that I haven’t read and want to get around to that sound very much like they’d violate Amazon KDP’s publishing guidelines. I’m thinking that if Amazon KDP wants to have credibility in censoring certain novels, they should consider what they’re already published and thoroughly explain in their guidelines what’s acceptable or not in content. Authors shouldn’t have to play the “Guess what’s acceptable” guessing game when submitting their work for publication.
There is a happy ending to this story. Today I checked out Devlin’s Facebook page and saw that she resolved the issue with Amazon KDP and will revise her novel so that it fits into the publication guidelines. While I’m impressed that she didn’t take “No!” for an answer, I don’t think she should’ve had her novel rejected without a good explanation.