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Monday, May 6, 2013

Truth in Advertising

I hate to be nitpicky, but no, your car really isn't running on recycled dinosaurs. Try recycled algae or peat moss. But that isn't as funny or as cool.

Who wouldn't want to stuff a tyrannosaurus into the gas tank? (I wonder if car manufacturers would respond to a petition to change "horsepower" to "t-rexpower"? My car has a 20 t-rex power engine!)

But it isn't true.

I ran across a discussion in one of my author groups that's been eating at me for the same reasons.

An author complained that if she tagged her book as erotica on Amazon.com, they wouldn't let her list it in any other category. Her solution was to tag all her books as "Family" instead. Um, no. Just no. Erotica does not equal family oriented entertainment, not in any society I want to be part of.

I would have probably forgotten about it, except a few days later I was chatting with a neighbor about ebooks. She mentioned she'd bought one listed in the family category that should have had TV-MA or XXX warnings on it instead. She said she gave the book a really bad review for that reason. She's the sweetest lady, who would never viciously attack anything, not even a cupcake with a fork. For her to give you a bad review, you had to do something horrid. Like lie about your book.

When you slap labels on your book, it isn't all about making sales or getting noticed. It's also about informing the customer what to expect. Some customers really don't enjoy spicy hot romance books. Some of us don't enjoy MM or MMFM or whatever alphabet soup romance you want to cook up. We are not your target audience. Someone else is. When you label your erotic story as family entertainment, you are lying to the consumer. People don't like being lied to. They tend to get upset. Upset people do things like complain and give you bad reviews. Upset people tell their friends and give you a bad reputation. You end up losing sales, not to mention any goodwill you may have earned.

Those ratings are a tool. Don't abuse them. Don't push boundaries just because you can.

And for pete's sake, DON'T LIE TO THE CUSTOMERS. You are not going to convert them from family/sweet reads to erotica by mislabeling your stories. You are only going to make enemies.

I think from now on, I'm going to label all my dry, scientific papers as erotica. That should get me more sales...