What do I mean by this?
I’ve been in this game awhile so I have some knowledge. But I also have the memory of an elephant. Wanna know where the water hole for 50 years ago is? Ask me! But that longevity and knowledge also means I look at sites/providers etc and with the knowledge of what went before, make educated decisions as to how to go forward. Whether it’s how to accept payments (and let me tell you that scares the bejeezus out of me) or what platform to upload to, I want to know more before I commit.
Recently, I attended an event and prior to, there were the usual questions asked. How to set up, how to accept funds… You know, the behind the scenes basics. The stuff we all asked when first starting out with these events.
But something occurred to me.
We as authors need to share the knowledge we have. The experiences. The things that make us choose certain aspects of our business. (Let’s be honest, because writing is as much a business as a craft these days.) That Corporate Knowledge that long standing authors have of the inner workings of the biz.
Who remembers the heady days of 2012/2013? You know, when the sites were littered with books that pushed boundaries? Before a certain British online bookstore suspended their trading then the avalanche of changes that came sweeping across the playground.
I remember those days. I remember them really well. Then the crash came .I remember author catalogues were banned. Sites started dropping titles and really loud screams of discrimination emanated from sections of the marketplace. Those who loved erotica. Those who didn’t. Those who wrote Dub-Con (for those who don’t know the term – Dubious Consent) and the blogs, declaring they’d (certain authors) would be ruined.
A payment system waded into the middle and stopped some authors from accessing their payments. Locked up the funds that were contained in the accounts. Froze the assets they'd earned.
Things eventually settled. The new norm became the way of doing business and we sailed on. But there's nothing new in the world and everything that goes around comes around... as they say.
There was some longterm damage: the trust, the indefinable thing that says to us, “use this provider” was irrevocably damaged by those of us in the marketplace at the time, though.
Now, I’m seeing a sniff of the same behaviour again. It comes in, creeping out fo the darkness by degrees. One step followed by another. The new internet laws (Fosta/Sesta bill for example) is curbing anything that shows on the internet that could be described as obscene (yes, I am just cherry picking what I write here but bear with me, this is for a reason.) Advocates of the bill say it’s to curb trafficking but the tentacles spread far and wide. It’s part of the reason for the clamp down on advertising on many social media sites. In fact, I saw a clanger just last night.
Now, this blog isn’t about so much the regulation, but seeing the same issues wind around again. Whether it follows the same path is anyone's guess, but where there's smoke there is likely also going to be fire.
Let’s just refresh some of the verbiage that surrounded those heady days of 2012/2013 (I’m redacting business names and you’ll see where they are removed from with highlighting, but I’m sure if you google you’ll find the offending information)
“First and foremost, we are going to focus this policy only on e-books that contain potentially illegal images, not e-books that are limited to just text. The policy will prohibit use of XXXXX for the sale of e-books that contain child pornography, or e-books with text and obscene images of rape, bestiality or incest (as defined by the U.S. legal standard for obscenity: material that appeals to the prurient interest, depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive way, and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value).
In addition, the policy will be focused on individual books, not on entire “classes” of books. Instead of demanding that e-book publishers remove all books in a category, we will provide notice to the seller of the specific e-books, if any, that we believe violate our policy. We are working with e-book publishers on a process that will provide any affected site operator or author the opportunity to respond to and challenge a notice that an e-book violates the policy.”http://bit.ly/2UnWQHt
Or how about this?
He also points out that this latest order is part of a bigger push by XXXXX to start “aggressively enforcing a prohibition against online retailers selling certain types of ‘obscene’ content.”https://tcrn.ch/2TzIKFJ
I’m not against any platform having rules. I welcome it. But the playing field keeps changing and we as authors are gatekeepers of this knowledge. Those who’ve come before and those who’ve been in the business a while have this deep well of knowledge and rather than brushing it off with “everyone accepts payment via XYZ” maybe listen and think about why someone in the marketplace won’t use that. Make an educated decision by using the Corporate Knowledge available to you.
It just may save you some grief.
Some reading that may be useful to those questioning why I’ve written this blog.
Censorship (2012/2013) style:
New Censorship 2018/2019 style: https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/4/13/17172762/fosta-sesta-backpage-230-internet-freedom
Payment Systems declining to accept payments:
https://blog.smashwords.com/2012/03/inside-mind-of-best-selling-erotica.html(this one takes some reading)
Payments frozen by Payment System 2012/2013:
Other reasons for Frozen Assets by Payment Systems:
Let me be clear, I don’t have all the answers. I’m not sure I’d want to. But what I can say is, working together, asking questions and sharing our knowledge doesn’t make us lesser of a cohesive group and make anyone person better than all the others. Instead it strengthens us as a collective.
We may forgive but the knowledge remains.
Bowing out now