Did you ever wonder what happens to sales when your story is rated as “Adult?” The answer is as X-rated as your story is and if you’re not squeamish about blood read on at your own peril.
I recently published my latest story, Idle Hands, wide to both SmashWords and Amazon. Within a short time, the story’s rating went from Safe to Adult!
Initially, Idle Hands had an overall Amazon Best Seller’s Rank of about 90,000 before the Adult rating went into effect. It’s Best Seller’s Rank in the Erotica categories was around 110.
For those of you who are not familiar with Amazon’s Best Seller Ranking, under 100,000 is great, tremendous as our president would say, with lots of hand waving and “Trust Me, Fake News.” I have no idea how many stories Amazon sells for the Kindle but would assume that it’s well over a million. SmashWords’ catalog is over 500,000, and Amazon has to be many times that.
In general, your story needs to be under 500,000 in the Best Seller Ranking to get much in the way of sales. Erotica is a smaller percentage of the overall number, and the best I’ve seen on one of my stories is about 30,000, which puts it in the sub-50 of best selling erotica.
You can imagine my delight when I saw Idle Hands immediately drop below 100,000. Then a few hours later, I checked, and it was now ADULT! Well, fuck me!
Amazon rates the content of a story as Safe or Adult. If the story is Safe then it’s including in Amazon’s search engine so your followers can find it. If it’s ranked Adult, it is invisible to searches and the only way a potential customer can find it is if they have a link to the story, such as
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PS91HVP which allows the user to find the story. But if the user simply searches for erotica to buy, your story will not show up. In the trade we call this being thrown in Amazon’s Dungeon and it’s a bitch to get out of!
For more on being ranked Safe or Adult, check out a previous blog post of mine on this thorny topic:
Over the next few days, Idle Hands has whipsawed back and forth between Safe and Adult for some bizarre reason. I would write a letter asking for the story to be re-reviewed and it would flip to Safe and then within a day get flipped back to Adult. It’s now back to Safe, and I’m holding my breath that the censors will move on, “Nothing to see here folks.”
The interesting thing is how the story’s Sales Rank changed with the Content Rating. Refer to the graphic above and note that after being ranked Adult, the story’s ranking fell to 367,138 then rose to 84,159 after being ranked Safe. Then fell to 426,591 after being re-ranked as Adult. Now it’s currently at 89,325 after being rated Safe 7 hours ago.
SalesRankExpress still shows Idle Hands as Adult, but I have Amazon’s email in my grubby hands showing that at 2 AM, they flipped it to Safe.
What does this teach us? Use SalesRankExpress.com or similar method to check your stories’ ranking regularly and quickly drop to your knees and beg for forgiveness when you get slapped with an Adult content rating.
To learn more about Idle Hands, click here for info on KinkyLiterature about this smut filled story.
You explain this quite well… but it seems like Amazon suffers from some weird kind of personality disorder! I can see making a Safe or Adult determination once they get their hands on it and read it (I guess someone reads it, don’t they?) but what’s going on there that they keep flipping it back and forth? Seems to me that if this part of their business is dependent on authors wanting to sell on Amazon, boosting their catalog and getting a lot of people to hit that one-click buy button, they wouldn’t cause all of this ruckus.
Since I don’t know how the other sellers behave in this category, I get that Amazon just might be the only “real game in town” if you wanna be published and make some money and at global levels… but maybe they need some medication for their personality disorder or their censors need some serious couch time with a professional to suss out their attitude about things erotic.
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What was interesting is that I found “glory hole” is now on the list of no-no things for the title. This is especially of note since you can search for “glory hole” and get hundreds of stories about glory holes but now new titles cannot use this word. WTF?
Amazon has told me they’ve ranked this story as safe but it’s still ranked as Adult. Your best sales come in the first 30 days as Amazon gives a higher ranking in the search engines for “new” stories. Now that they have jerked my chain for going on two weeks, my initial month’s sales have taken a hit.
Those two spikes just look like plain old sales to me. In fact, you can see in the first spike that it has two gradients, suggesting two sales.
Are you certain you had 0 sales that week?
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I never said I had 0 sales, I’ve sold 12 copies at Amazon in the first week. Sales were good and normally the stories sales rank will track up and down but not jump from 90,000 to 400,000 quickly. I just know that when readers can’t find you they don’t buy.
Very graphic (so to speak).
And no, I have seen no indication that anyone at Amazon actually reads the books they shunt over into Adult. It’s all based on triggers (which change constantly, i.e. they’re constantly moving the finish line).