By now I’m sure most of you have heard something about Paypal’s “new” rules for retailers regarding fiction some might consider morally questionable. Any fiction containing incest, pseudo-incest (step or foster or even role-playing), barely legal characters (meaning anyone 18 or 19), or scenes which contain dubious consent or rape, and even some forms of consensual BDSM, are no longer able to be sold on any website which accepts Paypal as a form of payment. Because of this, All Romance Ebooks, Bookstrand, and Smashwords have all been forced to remove a great many novels and short stories from their websites. Erotica and even some of the more envelope pushing erotic romance have taken a pretty hard hit.
Both of my Tempestuous stories have been removed from these sites and are no longer for sale. At this moment, the only two places you can purchase these titles are 1 Place For Romance and Rainbow Ebooks. However, I fully expect they’ll be removed from those sites before long. They may even disappear before this blog post goes live.
Unfortunately, this leaves me with a hard decision. At one time, I promised those of you who emailed me that I would write a third, longer Tempestuous novel in the near future. I’m sad to say that unless something happens to change the course of self-publishing, them I’m not going to have any choice but to scrap plans for that novel. With little to no avenue to sell a story of that kind, there seems little I can do but stop writing them. That makes me feel like I’m letting “The Man” win—which I hate—but I’m just not sure what else to do.
Over the last week or so, I’ve heard a lot of people say this new development isn’t a form of censorship because Paypal is a company which can choose to do business however they like. That may be true. Nonetheless, by narrowing the margin of acceptable topics in fiction, then Paypal is essentially forcing censorship onto publishers and distributors if they want to continue receiving payments through them. Considering the fact that Paypal has become the company for online payment, it isn’t so easy to avoid doing business with them in one form or another online. Many publishers use them as their sole form of payment for books—some even pay their authors using Paypal—leaving them at the mercy of Paypal’s whims. If publishers and distributors aren’t willing or able to stand up to Paypal, then you can imagine how little indie authors are able to do. It used to be, if you had a story that was unpublishable through a traditional or electronic publisher, then you could still self-publish it yourself and reach an audience. That appears to be over now. The rug has been pulled from beneath the feet of indie authors.
To me, the future of erotica is unclear. The topics being sacrificed at the moment may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I don’t think anyone should be surprised when Paypal decides to add more subjects that aren’t morally or socially acceptable to them on down the line. It’s a slippery slope that leaves everyone vulnerable.
Links of interest:
Petition to stop internet censorship
More information about the consequences of Paypal’s new ruling:
Join “Amazon Censors” on Facebook