Amazon Kindle Vella has recently started a program where authors can serialize their work.
I began serializing my novel, "the Zany Time Travels of Warble McGorkle" there. The first installment (Preface and 1st Chapter, which is entitled Chapter 0) was accepted and made live. Then I submitted the second installment, which was Chapters 1 and 2. These were rejected, and I got this email:
At their content guidelines page, the only thing that might fit is this: "Language promoting violence or intolerance"
But this is satire - it's really the opposite! It exposes faulty thinking and feeling in an attempt to combat such. This type of censorship is completely backwards and wrong-headed, in my opinion.
This is what I see on my book's page regarding this rejected episode:
There were no previous messages from them, so I don't know what their beef is. My response was:
It is true that the protagonist (Warble McGorkle) is a boor, a racist, an elitist, and a megalomaniac - really "not a nice man" at all. But this is satire! Why would they reject his views (if that's what the problem is) when the material is obviously (should be obvious) satirical? In fact, "satire" is noted among the "story tags" here on my book's Kindle Vella page:
They would doubtless reject "All in the Family" if it was produced today, too, based on their reaction.
Note: there is no foul language used in the book, the "N" word is not used, nor anything truly shocking.
Here are the two chapters which were rejected. I had to supply two for the second installment, rather than one, because just chapter 1 was too short for an installment/episode, according to their submission robot/algorithm. I would be interested in hearing what y'all think is the objectionable part or parts of this (chapters 1 and 2 appear at the end of this post).
I got this reply from them when I asked for specifics on what they found objectionable:
I then replied to them as follows:
CHAPTER 1 – Warble Decides to Become a Philanthropist
One morning, Warble feels the nascent onset of an epiphany—or is it the three boxes of Pop Tarts(™) he had for breakfast? (only his proctologist knows for sure).
“Mary, a man can only wear so many clothes, live in so many houses, eat so much food, and drive so many cars.”
“Finally, Warble!” Mary says, thinking her husband is willing at last to downsize his personal fleet of automobiles to just a couple, or maybe three. “It will be great to convert our 30-car garage into a nice guest house, so when my mother comes to visit...”
“Hold on there a minute, Mary!” Warble says, holding his palm forward in a defensive gesture. “You’re always jumping to conclusions. I didn’t say I was going to get rid of all of my cars. It’s just that I’ve come to the realization that a man doesn’t need a different car for every day of the month. I figure seven cars, after all--one for each day of the week--would do me almost as well. And that will allow me to fire one of my mechanics, saving us a fortune.”
“You call minimum wage a fortune?” Mary asks, shocked.
“Most definitely, Mary!” Warble confirms. “It is a fortune to Juan. He can feed half his village in Old Mexico for what I pay him. And it’s not like I’m obligated to pay him that much—what’s he going to do if I pay him less, turn me in?”
“You should at least pay him the going wage for mechanics, Warble.”
“Mary, my hands are clean, my conscience is clear, and I sleep considerably better than your average, run-of-the-mill baby at night,” Warble says, in a self-satisfied tone. “I didn’t know Juan was an illegal alien when I hired him.”
“No! He didn’t tell me, and I didn’t ask him.”
“But you know now,” Mary prods, trying to awaken Warble’s dormant conscience.
Warble claps his hands over his ears. “I know nuh-think! I know nuh-think!”
“Sure you don’t, Sergeant Schultz,” Mary says, crossing her arms and turning away.
“I think you’ve got your cartoon characters mixed up, Mary,” Warble says, removing his hands from over his ears. “I’ve heard of Sargent Shriver, and I knew Charles Schultz (the renowned inventor of peanuts) personally, but this Sargent Schultz character you invoke is, I’m afraid, a figment of your addled cranium.”
“Forget it, Warble,” Mary sighs.
“Forget what?” Warble asks, deadpan.
“Thank you,” Mary says.
“You’re welcome,” Warble responds, absent-mindedly (even more absent-mindedly than normal, that is). Warble looks out the window, with a wizened gaze blanketing his visage.
Or so he thinks, anyway.
“Mary,” he finally says, “I’ve come to a decision. I’ve realized who I really am, what I want to do—what I must do.”
“Oh, no,” Mary involuntarily says, expecting the worst (although she has no idea what it is Warble might decide to do, having given up trying to figure out her husband and his wacky whims years ago).
“Oh, yes, Mary!” Warble says. “I’m going to become a philanthropist!”
CHAPTER 2 - The Reverse Rachel Carson
“You? A philanthropist?” Mary questions, having a hard time wrapping her mind around the concept.
“Yes, Mary. My mind is made up, like a bed at the Paris Hilton around 11:00 a.m. or so,” Warble affirms.
Now that Warble is rich as Croesus, he wants fame. While it’s true that he has fame--of a sort and after a fashion--Warble realizes that he is really more infamous than famous. As nice as he once considered that to be, he’s no longer quite satisfied with it. He wants respect, admiration--even reverence.
So, Warble’s plan is to work things out so that his genius is recognized as altruism, not cynical selfishness or greedy-guts capitalism (as he knows some people think and, in fact, have explicitly charged). In short, Warble wants to become famous for saving the world.
In actuality, Warble thinks things are going just swell in the year 2024—the rich are getting richer, unused land in the countryside is being made productive by paving it over, and thus all birds (having no longer any habitat) are being made extinct. Warble thinks this latter situation is “a good thing,” because as a direct result thereof there will be no more:
--Bird poop (pigeons in the cities, seagulls at the beach, as well as geese in the parks will no longer plague their unfeathered friends and benefactors with their copious offscourings)
--Roosters rudely awakening gentlemen farmers (rich guys who live on farms in the country but don’t do any real farm work themselves).
Soundtrack note: “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell and/or Counting Crows
Additionally, as Warble sees it, eradicating all birds has a side benefit: Parents will only have to discuss bees with their kids, saving half the time and trouble. This will give parents everywhere more time and energy to give attention to the important announcements from sponsors on television shows.
Warble’s only problem with the way things are going in the world is that he is so excited about future prospects that he is impatient to see the eventual fruition, the natural outworking, of matters. Specifically, Warble can hardly wait for the complete eradication of “unused” land, and the shifting of all material things from the inefficient poor classes to the fitter, stronger, wiser, more intelligent wealthy segment of society.
So, seeing great things ahead, but being unwilling to wait for their gradual appearance, Warble decides to help things along a little by going back in time to implement the positive trends early, so that progress toward his heart’s desire can be arrived at more quickly. This way, he thinks, he can eventually return “home” to 2024, and live in a world that will already be in a perfect state of balance—something he thinks would otherwise take perhaps another century or so to reach.
Soundtrack note: “Born on the Wrong Side of Time” by Taste
As a means to further his ends, Warble wants to speed up, among other things:
--The forced extinction of all “non-productive” animals
--Genetic Manipulation (so everyone can be like him, creating a master human race)
It may very well be, if you are familiar with Warble’s quirks and foibles (in other words, his psychopathic personality, megalomaniacal methods, and his nerdy nature), that none of this surprises you much. Except maybe the time travel element—how does Warble intend to be able to go back in time in order to manipulate events?
The next chapter will tell you all about that, so turn the page already.
Soundtrack note: “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
I haven't heard anything new from them, but the status of my last submission has now changed to "publishing," so I guess they see it my way now: