What to do if your E-bookstore Bans your Title
Don’t panic – sometimes algorithms screw up
I put out a new title recently, offering it up for pre-order on Amazon. Some sales trickled in – yippee. And then came to a dead stop. Which is you know, the deal really. Except ten days after the dead stop I realised I was no longer able to bring the title up by search.
I could see it on my author page, but it was no longer available in any of the geographic book stores by search either by title or author name or any combination there of.
I had that validated by external sources.
Offensive Behavior had somehow disappeared from the bookstore unless you went and looked for it from my US site author page or you had a specific URL. In that I was lucky to have saved URLs for the UK and Australia, but not the remaining stores and I could see the title through the KDP dashboard, but ordinary readers could not.
Not good, not good at all.
I wrote to Amazon and asked if there was a problem as my title had disappeared from the search engine. Here’s the response:
I’m sorry for any inconvenience caused.
I’ve checked your book “Offensive Behavior” and see that it falls under adult content category. I’m sorry; please note that books with adult content will not show up in normal searches.
Our reviewing team reserve the right to make judgments about whether or not content is appropriate; this can include the cover image or the content within the book. They found your Kindle book contains adult content. Books with adult content will not surface in general product searches, but will surface in general Kindle searches for customers that choose to allow adult content.
We’ve found this a good compromise for customers and publishers, and allows us to provide the best experience for both.
Further, I’ve searched your title on our Amazon.com.au (Australia) and Amazon.co.uk (U.K) Kindle stores and can confirm that your book is appearing on the search results when allowing the adult content to be displayed on the results.
We appreciate your understanding and support. Thanks for using Amazon KDP.
All of which means, that Amazon has an Adult content filter. And it’s unclear what that actually means and what content would be considered restricted.
Unless you’ve tried to access an already sin binned title you would not be aware of the filter. You can turn that filter off, but you need to encounter it first and that can only be done by trying to access a banned title. Which is a bit chicken and egg, to say the least.
If your title is behind that filter like Offensive Behavior ended up, it can’t be found easily. And it would be incredibly difficult to market, because you could only do so by a specific link by geographic marketplace.
But the point is, there is nothing about Offensive Behavior (other than a good giggle about the title and the series title, Sidelined) that would make it any different from my other 20 novels in terms of it’s adult content, or in fact the whole of the contemporary romance genre.
So this had to be a mistake, right?
Note this wasn’t about the cover or the blurb or the use of any particular word or image. It was something buried in 110K words of content, so not something I could easily change without guidance, or Google a ninja workaround for, and believe me I tried that.
So I asked Amazon if they could clarify the reason for the application of the adult filter. They had no onus to respond.
Here’s what I said:
Subject: Adult Content Filter – Question
Just learned I have a book that’s been tagged as adult content and so no longer available under general search.
This is certainly not the intention, so I’ve tripped a filter somehow and would like to remedy that. I believe from correspondence that’s it not the cover or the blurb but relates to the content.
This is incredibly concerning because that statement could apply to any of my both publisher (Harlequin) and KDP books.
I understand you may have a need to filter adult content, but I’m at a loss to see what in the narrative would’ve created that requirement. The story is no different to much of the content in the romance genre, using trusted tropes. The book is not erotic romance, which I note are readily available in any case, nor does it deal with any religious, social or physical taboos. It’s essentially a version of a Pretty Woman story with consenting adults.
Is there a way for me to learn what is behind the requirement for an adult content filter so that I might, amend the content, in the case that is a sensible outcome and a doable thing?
Otherwise, do I need to worry about my other 20 titles being re-classified?
The book is: Offensive Behavior. My author name is Ainslie Paton.
This little book has had a bit of a history already. It was snagged in pre-order for a considerable period of time – which we resolved, I’d love to resolve this search issue before March 31st. Pretty much all of my marketing is a bust based on the title’s lack of visibility.
Thanks in advance for your advice in this.
And they responded with:
We’ve reviewed your response concerning the following book(s):
Offensive Behavior, ASIN: B01BZB7NS4
After further review, we have decided to remove the search restrictions so your book(s) will now be found in our general product search results. This may take up to 24 hours to process.
We appreciate your feedback and apologize for any inconvenience caused by this temporary restriction.
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.
And over the next 24 hours the title was available in all markets by simple search again.
So the lesson: Check your titles by search periodically. Don’t panic if they disappear. Do enquire via Amazon help and give that enquiry time to be processed.
In all likelihood you will have been a victim of an over-achieving algorithm like I was and not sentenced to purgatory forever.
How to remove the adult content filter
- Login to your Amazon account. (Basic account, not an author or publisher one)
- On the SEARCH drop down menu, select “Kindle Store”.
- Search for the title of a book you know has been adult filtered. (Could try Sexy Suitors from Space, that may or may not work out, depending on what’s happened to that title)
- You should receive the message “Your search contains adult items which have been hidden. If you wish to see them, click here.”
- Click on “click here” on the Amazon site.