Amazon has rules and regulations for what it allows to be published, which can make writing erotica difficult. There are several kinks popular with readers that just aren’t allowed on Amazon. I’ve heard of many authors being relegated to “the dungeon,” where their books are categorized as Adult, and therefore not shown in search results.
Some books are outright banned from publication, which is what happened to me when I tried to publish a short story called Billionaire Daddy’s Brat, the first in a series entitled Billionaire Daddies. Here is the email I received from Amazon about 48 hours after I hit the publish button.
This is the description I had for my 6,000 word short story:
Weston Keller is a hardworking, self-made billionaire with an almost perfect life. The only problem is his disorderly, oversexed eighteen year old stepdaughter, Taylor. Late one night, Taylor makes it clear she wants him. Can Weston stick to his principles and resist her or will he give in to the taboo temptation of being with his very own barely legal brat?
The stepdaughter was eighteen years old and not actually related to him, which I made very clear in the description and the book itself. Still, it was too taboo for Amazon.
Amazon's Content Guidelines
I clicked on the guidelines link they provided in the email. It used to say that they prohibited “basically what you’d expect,” which wasn’t helpful at all. Now they have some more guidelines, that still aren’t really helpful at all. Under the subheading “Other prohibited content,” they mention “pornography or other inappropriate material.”
Does Amazon consider erotica pornography? It’s unclear.
Next, I clicked on the link for “Offensive and Controversial Materials.” This is what they had to say:
This page gave a bit more information about some of what they find offensive. Under child abuse and exploitation, it says “products depicting children or characters resembling children in a sexually suggestive manner.”
Perhaps this is why my book was banned from publication. I took out the word stepdaughter in the book description and the story itself and Amazon published it shortly after. I changed the relationship between the “daddy” and stepdaughter to his wife’s orphaned niece, who was still living in his house as an eighteen-year-old senior in high school. The word “stepdaughter” was the only issue.
They also have overall “Community” guidelines for sexual content. This includes not only authors and sellers, but also readers leaving reviews for books and other products. User comments that are deemed inappropriate or too sexual may be rejected. See the below description.
Too Taboo for Amazon
To solve my issue, I changed stepdaughter to Weston’s wife’s niece. She still lived with them and he was still her guardian. All Amazon cared about was removing the word stepdaughter. I resubmitted it with only the word change and it was published less than 24 hours later.
So what exactly is too taboo for Amazon? It depends, and it changes all the time. Some books that were previously published on Amazon were then later banned or marked as Adult.
- Too much boob
- Too much ass
- Explicit sex positions
Banned Content and Keywords
- Incest or pseudo-incest
- Rape, some dubious consent
- Sex with animals (were- animals like werewolves and extinct animals like dinosours are ok)
- Sex with children
Other Sites with Less Restrictions
If you don’t want to tame down your story to fit Amazon’s guidelines, there are other places you can publish your erotica without restrictions. These include:
Smashwords – distributes to major retailers like Apple Books, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble. Authors receive 60% of the list price or 80% when sold directly on Smashword’s website.
Draft2Digital – this site allows you to keep about 90% of the list price of your book.
Literotica – only free content is published here, but they have a large readership. You submit your story using their writer’s guidelines and it is normally published within 3-7 days.
Wattpad – only free content here as well, but with a huge readership, you could use it for advertising.