Amazon rejects advertisement for Kapiti author's book for being 'too provocative'
Amazon has rejected a Kiwi author's advertisement for her debut novel, stating the cover and content is too provocative.
The strange thing is, one of web giant's own companies designed it.
Kapiti author Shona Moller paid "well over" US$1000 (NZ$1370) to Amazon publishing company Create Space for the design and blurb on the back of her novel, The Trajectory of a Fallen Angel.
But when she tried to promote it on Amazon and Kindle, she was told the cover featured "undue attention towards a body part which is considered provocative and sexual".
The cover features a woman's bare chin, neck and upper chest, with a hint of visible cleavage.
Amazon's media team did not respond to questions, sent on Tuesday (NZT), but in emails Moller provided from Amazon's customer team the company said the ad's "provocative imagery and content" violated company guidelines.
Amazon's advertising rules prevent sexually suggestive imagery, including "images of characters in sexual situations or in sexually suggestive poses".
The ad title "Sexy, Funny, this NZ-Based Novel is a Page-Turner" was also sexually suggestive, Amazon said.
"Kindly consider changing the cover image to a non-provocative one and also edit the ad's custom text, headline and the book's description."
The blurb on the back and the ad text – both of which Moller amended slightly – describe the book as "darkly funny, erotic and deeply moving".
"You've mentioned that it is an erotica novel," Amazon's team wrote.
Moller said it featured some sex scenes, but it wasn't erotica, and certainly wasn't another Fifty Shades of Grey.
The story follows a character called Emma. "Emma doesn't shy away for everything," Moller said. "When there's sex scenes she talks about them as they happen.
"She swears quite a lot and drinks a bit much.
"She's sort of one of those people everyone has in their family and you only invite to certain things."
Moller supplied Create Space with the cover image, but said there was no feedback at any stage that it was going to be banned. She wasn't aware of any cover restrictions, but didn't believe the image was explicit.
"The cover has been artistically shot and is not sexual or provocative in the slightest."
Moller, a visual artist, spent five years writing the book. She said the setback made the novel practically invisible.
"Without being marketed on their platforms, it's virtually impossible to find, and this makes their stance indefensible for new authors like me.
"There shouldn't be gatekeepers with art. We should be able to choose what we view and listen to, so long as it's not racist or objectionable."