Monday, April 16

The great Erotica debate

The Wranglers welcome Erotica Author J.E. Taylor. Thanks for coming, J. E., and for sharing information many of us have no clue about.

Most folks in the writing world are aware of Paypal’s crackdown on Erotica subject matter. Their hot buttons include bestiality, rape-for-titillation, incest and underage erotica.

Looking at Smashwords terms of service, there are key phrases included that don’t specifically address these items, however, one can derive the prohibition just from the wording in the Terms:

Any story (erotic or otherwise) that advocates the following is prohibited to be uploaded to Smashwords:

• Hateful, discriminatory or racist views or actions toward others

• Violence against another person, whether or not the other party is a willing participant.

• Illegal activities

Erotica’s objective IS to titillate, therefore it acts as an advocate to the activities within the pages.

Mind you, the key is the use of these subject matters in such a way as to glorify the act. So, my translation of the Terms of Service is that any erotica exploiting murder, rape, incest, underage sex, torture, terrorism and a litany of other illegal acts for the purpose of turning on the reader is not allowed. The Paypal items cited above fall into this realm.

This issue was that Paypal didn’t stop there, they lumped everything together in one big basket whether it was a legal act or an illegal act. So, if you were writing say - pseudo-incest – which is between consenting non-related adults (stepfather/stepdaughter scenarios) and is not considered an illegal activity – Paypal deemed it inappropriate and therefore should be banned.

There is a market for such things as pseudo-incest and light BSDM, which doesn’t cross the line into the realm of illegal. In these situations, if you were caught doing these activities for real, you wouldn’t be thrown in jail – unless, of course, if you were engaging in a public venue and then you’d be arrested for indecent exposure.

The underlying issue that worried a great number of erotica writers and mainstream writers alike is if PayPal was able to get places like Smashwords to ban certain types of erotic fiction that highlighted legal content - would it end there?

What happens when they set their targets on non-erotic fiction? Horror, thrillers and crime fiction come to mind as targets because they certainly contain illegal acts within the pages. What about movies – would films such as Scarface and The Godfather be the next target?

Mr. Coker over at Smashwords had the wherewithal to sit down with Paypal and have an open discussion about where this was leading. He proved his point that censorship of this kind is not okay and eased the minds of many because Paypal backed off their hard line position for the items deemed as ‘legal’ erotic fiction.

So, what are your thoughts on this heated issue?

Thanks for swinging into this stop on my Blog Tour and I hope you’ll stop by Bitten By Books on the 20th for a chance to win a $50.00 Amazon gift certificate and if you’d like to check out Crystal Illusions, here’s the blurb as well as the buy link on Amazon.

Amazon Link:

Crystal Illusions

Assistant D.A. Carolyn Hastings has an uncanny knack for putting away criminals. With one of the best prosecution records in recent history, her future as Manhattan’s next District Attorney looks certain. But her sixth sense for winning cases threatens to work against her when she starts seeing a string of murders through the eyes of the killer.

With suspects piling up as fast as bodies, and the motives of those closest to her questionable, Carolyn doesn’t know who to trust. When the FBI assigns Special Agent Steve Williams to the case, Carolyn discloses her deepest fear - that the man she loves may be the one responsible for the city’s latest crime spree.

The only thing Steve knows for sure is Carolyn has an inexplicable psychic connection with the killer, and all the victims have one thing in common…a striking resemblance to Carolyn Hastings.

And he knows it’s only a matter of time before this psychopath knocks on her door.

“Taylor has a strong thriller where every single character has reasonable doubt flashing like a neon sign hanging over them, and right from the beginning you are trying to guess who the killer really is. Gripping, rich and magnificent - crime whodunnits don't get any better than this!” Author Poppet / Gemma Rice – Author of Quislings, Blindsided, Djinn and Dusan

Until next time,



  1. I'm OK with Paypal's crackdown. it's their right. There are other ways to pay for things. I don't think people, companies, organizations should be forced to do something they don't want to....because forcing anyone to do something is never good. And I don't think using hypothetical "what if" questions are fair when making decisions about 'real' issues.

  2. Em-Musing - thanks for piping in.

  3. I have to say, before your post, I hadn't given it much thought. I'm not an erotica reader so I supposed - and this is embarrassing - it was one of those 'it's not about me' things that I just lt pass by. You raise some interesting points, though.

    Thanks for being at WordWranglers today, JE, and good luck with your book.

  4. Not sure I have an opinion. Thanks for coming by WW today, though.

  5. Kristina and Ann - thanks for dropping by. While my Steve Williams series isn't in the erotica field - my Games Series is and even though this issue didn't affect me directly, it affected quite a few of the writers under my old publishing label, so I've had both perspectives. I'd rather be the one censoring what I choose to read as opposed to having someone else's values pushed on me.

    I agree distributors have every right to say what is on their platform or not - but it just rubbed me wrong to have a pay engine making decisions on whether they would do business with the distributors or not based on values and not on business models. It's like Master Card or Visa shutting down your ability to make a purchase (a legal purchase) because they don't like the product.

    Just my two cents. :)

  6. Wonderful post full of interesting facts. I hope they get it worked out to where most people are satisfied with the results. Your book sounds great, JE, thanks for sharing with us today :)

  7. Jennifer - thanks for swinging in. I was hoping this would be a thought provoking post and it's wonderful to hear everyone's take on the issue.

  8. I'm like others and didn't give it much thought. I figured if I wanted to by erotica, I'd use another way to pay for it. Thanks for stopping by today. Your book sounds great!

  9. Shawn - Paypal was trying to get the vendors to pull the books off their shelves - using their clout like a bully would. Paypal is also the payment option of choice and integrated into e-book places like Smashwords, Allromance and Bookstrand and undoing this option would be detrimental to the distribution chains.

    Bookstrand shut off their distribution service to all independent publishers and authors regardless of what they wrote (even non-erotica genres were shut off) based on Paypal's ultimatium of freezing their account if they didn't comply. So there is now one less avenue for the independent writers to utilize to get their books out there in front of readers.

    If Smashwords had complied with their demands instead of opening a dialogue - you wouldn't be able to buy from these venues even if you wanted to. That's the rub.

    I respect distribution firms right to choose what is on their shelves and don't fault Bookstrand for taking the route they did because of their business model. Mark Corker at Smashwords wanted further clarification and ended up getting some relief from Paypal - a more reasonable stance that went hand in hand with what they already had in their terms of service, so this was a win for all independent firms.

    Amazon didn't have this issue because they built their own payment engine - which based on thier size makes perfect sense.

  10. I didn't realize they were trying to get vendors to pull titles. That's a whole new issue. I would have a problem with that!

  11. Good article, though since I don't read erotica, I don't have an opinion...

  12. Thank you to everyone who stopped in and took the time to read and comment. And thank you to Liz and company for giving me the floor. Have a great week all!