Survey: Amazon erotica

A while back, Amazon, under pressure from some of the more Puritanical factions of US society, changed the way they handle search results.

Amazon has long been popular with people who self-publish books, because it offers powerful tools to self-published authors and an enormous storefront where authors can reach their readers. This system has shaken up the publishing industry and allowed a lot more writers to reach a lot more people–something I think is awesome.

I am one of those authors. I publish erotica under the pseudonym William Vitelli. And I noticed something strange: I woke up one day to find that, overnight, I’d gone from making about $2800/month from Amazon sales to making less than $100.

Amazon has made changes to the way self-published erotica appears in its search results. Many, but not all, self-published books no longer appear in Amazon search results, even if you type the name of the book or its author exactly. The books are still listed for sale, but you have to know the Amazon URL to find them.

It’s hard to say how the new search results work. This removal from the results seems, unsurprisingly, to target niche erotica. Some books seem to appear for some users but not others, irrespective of search settings. Some books just don’t show up at all.

Many Amazon self-published erotica authors have been badly hit by this; I’ve seen people saying online that they’ve seen their Amazon royalties drop by thousands of dollars a month.

That suggests to me there are people who want to buy erotica who aren’t finding what they want, and authors who want to sell erotica who aren’t able to do so.

So I started thinking, what if I set up a Web site that lists Amazon erotica, including books that don’t appear in Amazon search results, and crowdsource the database? I’m thinking of a system that would allow users to suggest books that might otherwise be hard to find, and search tools that would let users look for what they want. The site would then give links to the books on Amazon.

The site would, the way I’m thinking of it, also allow users to review and rate books in the database.

So I’m turning to you, O people of the Internet. What do you think? Do you read erotica? Do you buy erotica on Amazon? Has the change in Amazon search policy affected you? Would you use a site that was a searchable database of erotic books on Amazon?

Let me know what you think! I’ve set up a Survey Monkey survey. You can find it at

It’s quite short–only 9 questions–and I’d be quite grateful if you could help me out by taking it, and/or recommending it to other people.

Thank you all very much!

Bringing Home the Bacon

I have a client who doesn’t pay me reliably. This is, as one might expect, a nontrivial source of stress from time to time.

I also really like the idea of starting to get paid for writing, seeing as how (a) I do it all the time anyway and (b) I really like doing it.

In addition, I have some other projects I’m working on, which have the potential (or so i think, at any rate) to become a regular source of income.

So that’s where you come in, O fellow citizens of the Internettubes. I am using you guys as my Internet Reality Check. I’ve got several things I’d like to start working on, and I’d appreciate some quick poll answers to get a sense of whether or not you folks think these trees are appropriate candidates for some barking up upon…err, that sounds awkward, but you know what I mean.

Project #1
zaiah and I have created a new Tarot deck, the Tentacle Monster Tarot, whose theme is tentacle monsters and the schoolgirls they love.

It started out as a bit of a joke, but as we worked on it, we started to realize that it was shaping up into a very interesting project. We started out with a conventional Tarot deck, but frankly, the traditional Fool’s Journey story arc is rubbish. It starts out good, but it loses coherence and falls apart about two thirds of the way through.

So we scrapped it and came up with our own. You can see a list of the cards here. You can even do online readings here.

What we don’t have is an artist or the money to print the deck. However, I’m thinking about putting up a proposal on, which is a Web site for getting funding for art and creative projects. This proposal would include enough money to pay an artist and print some (very nice) cards.

What do you think? Is there any interest in either promoting such a project or buying a Tentacle Monster Tarot deck?

Project #2
A few folks have emailed me saying they’d like to see a downloadable version of the Travelogue I’ve written here. I’m currently working on a PDF/eBook version of the Baltic portion of the Travelogue, with some new commentary and higher resolution pictures. It looks like it’ll be about 200 pages or so by the time all is said and done. (I hadn’t realized that I’d written that much!)

Considering its length and how much work is going into the eBook–I’m laying it out like a high-end coffee table book–I’m wondering if this is the sort of thing folks would be willing to pay a couple bucks for.

Project #3
A while back, I blogged about the emails I get from the popular “Training” story I put on Literotica. I’t s a very popular story, which I’m working on finishing.

I’m also considering rewriting it, cleaning it up a bit (it’s currently about 135,000 words, which is a bit unwieldy), and offering it up as a downloadable eBook. I’m also wondering if this is the sort of thing that people would be willing to pay for.

Project #4
The Map of Non-Monogamy that I’ve done has actually turned out to be even more popular than the Map of Human Sexuality that I did and turned into a poster.

I’m considering making a poster version of the Map of Non-Monogamy. As with the Map of Human Sexuality, the only way I can afford to do this is by getting folks to pre-order the poster; if I get enough pre-orders to pay for the poster run, I can do it, otherwise all the pre-orders get refunded.

So, how many folks might be interested in that project?

Project #5
I’m also thinking of taking sections from my poly and BDSM Web site, bundling them up as eBooks with specific themes (for example, all the jealousy parts of the poly Web site, all the ‘never do this’ and ‘how to’ parts of the poly Web site, all the kinky sex ideas from the BDSM site, and so on) and making them into downloadable eBooks for about $1.99 or so, which is actually the lowest I can charge and not have all the money vanish in credit card merchant fees.

How many folks might find that useful and worthwhile?

So here’s the poll bit. I’d like to get your feedback even if you’re NOT interested in any of these things. I’ve made the results closed, so there’s no social pressure to say that you’d be interested in supporting a project if you’re not.

If you’d like to make any comments, feel free to leave them to this post. I’ll make the comments screened, so that nobody else will see them unless you specifically say it’s OK to unscreen the comments. I’d love to know what you have to say!

Today’s devil’s choice

So, before I introduce the poll I’m about to introduce, let me start by saying that I like sex. I really, really, really like sex. It’s fun, it’s enjoyable, it’s an amazing gateway to intimacy and shared experience, it’s an awesome tool for getting to know someone (and yourself), and it’s fun.

No surprise there.

So, here’s the poll. It’s a simple, one-question, yes/no thing:

Someone comes up to you and offers to place you into a fit, healthy, 23-year-old body. This new body will be completely immune to all diseases, and also totally free of the ravages of aging. You’ll never get old and you’ll never be sick; excluding accident or deliberate choice, you won’t die.

But, there’s a catch. You’ll never have sex again. You won’t feel the urge, you won’t have a sex drive, nada.

Do you take the deal?

Me, I say “yes,” for the very simple reason that giving up sex for radically extended life seems like a no-brainer to me. After all, I can’t have sex when I’m dead! So to me the question actually reads “Would you like to not have sex and also be dead, or would you prefer to not have sex but still be alive?” Since I take joy in many things in life other than sex, like bacon and cats and friends and blue skies and spinning fire and World of Warcraft and Leonardo da Vinci and vodka cranberries and VNV Nation and flying kites, the choice between “no sex and also dead” or “no sex but still alive” is an easy one.

Plus, I think that if I were given enough time, I’d probably find something just as good as sex. zaiah thinks that I’m an optimist.