As some of you may know, JA Rock and I have been advised by our publisher to change the title of our Mark Cooper versus America sequel, which was called Brandon Mills versus Virginity. Because Amazon would refuse to list it with that title.
When I mentioned this on Goodreads, a few people pointed me towards this book:
Why is this book allowed to use the V-word, but we aren’t? I suspect that it’s all to do with the way this book is tagged. While this book, for all I know, might be full of sexy good times, it’s not listed as erotica or erotic romance, so it escapes the cull. Here’s how it’s categorised on Amazon:
Actually, there is a heap of books on Amazon with the V-word in the title. There are books about this woman:
And this man:
And this product:
And, yes, even virginity exactly as it pertains to sexual experience, or lack thereof:
The title, if you can’t read it, is Virginity: A Treasure. Personally an idea I find more disturbing that a lot of stuff in erotica (yes, even counting monster porn) but that’s a discussion for another day.
So what’s the big deal about the word virginity in our title, Amazon? Brandon Mills is nineteen. He’s an adult, who happens to be a virgin. It’s not unusual. It’s also not unusual for a nineteen year old college boy to spend a lot of time obsessing about his status.
What’s frustrating about this, as JA pointed out in an email, is it’s about sex. It’s fairly obvious that Amazon is only targeting erotica and erotic romance titles. You don’t see the same rules being enforced on writers of chainsaw blood-splattering gore, do you? And why should you? It’s ridiculous. Adults have the right to read what they want to read.
Except, apparently, when it comes to sex. Then a quick glance at the title – not the content, mind you, but the title alone – will allow Amazon to make the decision for you. Because there is absolutely no content in Brandon Mills that crosses any boundaries. The sex is consensual, and it’s sweet and funny and awkward. There’s not even any kink in it! Okay, there’s a mild dinosaur fetish, but that’s kept out of the bedroom.
Here’s what JA wrote in her email, which sums it up nicely:
I think the way they're doing it now does come off as an attack on sex. Because I don't see the same kind of scrutiny being applied to books in the thriller genre--notorious for exploitative depictions of maimings and murder and sexual assaults. So why should a romance that depicts those things--as long as it's in a negative light--be any different?
Come on over here, double standard. Step into the light so we can all see you.
And, you know what’s most annoying about this entire thing? The fact that Amazon pretty much owns the universe. What Amazon wants, Amazon gets. As much as a part of me wants to says “Fuck you, Amazon!” and publish only to other retailers…well, that would be a pretty dumb financial decision. Amazon is the market.
It would just be nice if the market took its head out of its arse one day soon.
In the meantime, I hope you'll all enjoy Brandon Mills versus the V-Card when it comes out!