I received two emails.
The first is this:
Hello, During our review, we found that the following book(s) is in violation of our content guidelines (see list below for details): Out of the Dungeon (ASIN: B005ZJ4TX0) - Description, Cover Image If you wish, you may make changes to your book (images, title, description, and interior content) to comply with the KDP Content Guidelines and re-submit it for publishing. You can find our content guidelines on the Kindle Direct Publishing website: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A1KT4ANX0RL55I We’ve set your book to “Draft” status. Upon changing your content, please re-submit your book for publishing in order for your book to be made available for sale in the Kindle Store. We appreciate your understanding. Kindle Direct Publishing http://kdp.amazon.com
I made the description MORE squeaky clean than it already was and resubmitted, because the email suggested there was a problem with the description and cover image. (WTF could possibly be wrong with the cover image? It's TAME compared to a lot of books covers).
The second email notifies me that my book will no longer be available from Amazon AT ALL.
We’re contacting you regarding the following book(s) that you submitted for sale in our Kindle Store:
B005ZJ4TX0 Out of the Dungeon
During our review process, we found that your book contains content that is in violation of our content guidelines. Our content guidelines apply to the book interior, as well as cover image, title and/or product descriptions. As a result, we will not be offering this book for sale.
Our content guidelines are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing website. To learn more, please see: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A1KT4ANX0RL55I
For the record: Out of the Dungeon contains no underage characters, no rape, no kidnapping, no bestiality, no incest, no non-consensual acts whatsoever - well. One character gets hit by a truck, and I guess THAT wasn't consensual...
It's pretty straight-forward mostly gay erotica, with bits of power-exchange, and not even my raciest title. Oh, and Amazon has been selling it since October 25, 2011.
So this is what I'm going to tell you - if you write a sex scene of any kind WHATSOEVER in a book you publish with Amazon, be aware that Amazon can ban your book. And this book? THIS book is really similar to Fifty Shades of Grey, which is Amazon's #1 seller in the erotica category. Except the characters are gay. So... is Amazon homophobic?
What can we do about this?
Please - link to this post, copy and paste, tweet, and re-tweet, whatever you can do to pass this on. This is one of those "big bads" that NEEDS to be publicized. If we ever needed a shit-storm about anything, it's THIS.
***Update: Amazon has set my book back to "draft" status and states I may edit it to fit content guidelines (still vague and not at all specific) and upload a new file for consideration. There's particular email address for alerting them the new file's been uploaded. Now to figure out exactly what they don't like about my book. This will be the tricky part. This was in response to my questioning my book's "blocked" status via the KDP Author Help area.***
***Final update: 10/16/13 Amazon has reinstated Out of the Dungeon, and it is again for sale at Amazon. It is possible a Real Person reviewed my book and determined that it does not voilate Amazon's content guidelines. I received and email letting me know this, another email when the book went live again, AND a telephone call this morning. I win. I also retract my pondering that Amazon might be homophobic.***
PS - Debbie Bennett, author of Hamelin's Child, Paying the Piper, and Calling the Tune, has a lovely post about what's going on in the UK with WH Smith, and with Kobo, and also offers some thoughts about censorship - should sites like Smashwords and Kobo put some form of gatekeeping in place? Read her post HERE (and check out her books while you're there - Hamelin's Child is one of my favorites!)