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In the KDP content guidelines it says:

Pornography We don't accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.

However, they sell hundreds of erotic novels, including very graphic ones. I was wondering if anyone had experience publishing erotic fiction on Kindle and if they had any knowledge of where the boundaries are.

I think the offensive part is clear; I guess they are talking about acts that are violent or would be distressing to read, but when they say pornography, do they mean visual only?

Has anyone heard of KDP banning erotic fiction for being too graphic? Just based on some of the other authors that they publish, I'm guessing they are pretty lenient. Does anyone have any experience in this domain?

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I have self-published several erotica titles under a pen name through KDP, and I've participated in a number of discussions about this in a writer's forum that I frequent. What we have seen over time is that there are certain topics that Amazon considers taboo, and those are pretty certain to get you banned. These topics include bestiality, incest, and non-consensual sex of pretty much any kind. There may be some writers who have managed to sneak in a book that might cross those lines, but these seem to be the main red flags.

As far as the graphic nature of your content, Amazon doesn't seem to be too restrictive unless it happens to cross into one of those forbidden territories. They don't have the resources to read and analyze every title submitted to them, so it would be hard for them to screen every erotic title that comes their way. The main thing they focus on initially will be your description, so make sure that you aren't too graphic there and that your description isn't offensive.

Something even more critical than the content, however, is the cover of your book. If it depicts anything blatantly sexual or shows too much flesh, then it could get your book blocked or, even worse, labeled as an "Adult" title. If your book falls into that category, then it will usually be blocked from pretty much all search results and will find it harder to make any recommended lists.

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  • Thanks so much Steven! Great information! I am now slightly concerned about the last comment about the "Adult" rating. I guess this is a bit like the R rating in the cinema? I had just assumed that all erotica fell into this category, but is there a milder category like Erotica or Mature or something? Is the "Adult" rating just to do with the cover or is it also to do with the content? If it's also the content, does that content have to cross a certain line? Thank you! – MoniqueH Mar 5 '16 at 5:26
  • HI Steven, I was wondering if you knew what the boundary is between the Erotic rating and Adult erotica? Is it to do with how explicit the content is, or how disturbing? Do things like curse words make a difference? Thanks. – MoniqueH Mar 6 '16 at 19:30
  • Unfortunately, I don't think anyone can define this. Amazon uses an automated process that helps them identify "adult" content, and the algorithm they use is proprietary, so we are left guessing. As long as you stay away from the three taboo topics, though, your content should be okay. Strong language or descriptive content have not caused any of my books to be flagged. – Steven Drennon Mar 6 '16 at 23:19
  • Thank you very much. I saw that some famous authors in the genre are in the Erotic category, so I hope my book will fit in there too. I am just concerned about the number of times the F*** is used, the fact that I use actual body part names, rather than euphemisms, and that there is a dungeon-type thing going on at one point, but all consensual and just a little bit of BDSM stuff, pretty mild. Is BDSM something that could tip me into the Adult Category? I checked out 50 shades and that was in Erotica as well as romance and Contemp. women, and that isn't that tame in parts! – MoniqueH Mar 7 '16 at 0:57

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