Amazon is the largest distributor for ebooks. The numbers vary, but all remain consistent: Amazon is the big no. 1. It is the essential market for selling ebooks and for self-published authors.
Authors like myself.
In late April I self-published on Amazon my YA science-fiction/fantasy novel, How to Stop Wildfire. I also published two short-story-ish things on Amazon and Smashwords.
For How to Stop Wildfire I went KDP Select: went exclusive. Which I am no longer.
But all of that is really is not important. What does matter is my name.
My name is Sarah Sunday. That is my birth name. Not a pen name. Quite unique, right? Whatever. That really is not important.
What is important is that another author is using it (I’m guessing) as a pen name. And this author is an erotica novelist. I don’t have anything against erotica writers. I honestly do not care. Do what you want. Read what you want.
But there is a problem.
This is what bothers me.
I typed in my name under ‘All’ on Amazon, and my book is listed third, among erotica novels (which should not come under general searches, I learned later.)
It gets worse (for me) when searching under ‘Kindle.’
I have to scroll all the way down to get to my work. That is a relatively minor gripe.
The serious issue is the fact my Amazon author page is listed right in the middle.
Suggesting that I am in fact the author of these works, when I am not.
This author does not have an Amazon Author Central page. In fact, ‘she’ does not have much of anything. No contact information AT ALL. Great.
It gets weirder.
She has published like five/six (maybe more) novels in the past few weeks. Things like ‘Disciplining Her Little Lass,’ ‘The Doctor Takes Her Deep,’ and my personal favourite: ‘Doctor Pounding,’ which is apparently a series. All short erotica novels.
Note that some say ‘explicit’ IN THE TITLE. It is good explicit adult work is getting through and coming up under general searches. Kids will love that.
I found this entire thing to be odd. The rapid-fire posting and the…sketchiness of it. And I was pissed. I was asking myself all these questions.
How does one even handle duplicate names?
Is ‘she’ real? Is ‘she’ a dummy account?
Isn’t there etiquette with this? Such as: don’t use a name that is already taken? Shouldn’t she change her name, because I was here first? And I can’t even contact her.
I didn’t have many options.
I filed a complaint to Amazon KDP.
And this was the response:
A stunning example of dumping information I already knew and pretending to hold a solution when really they are saying: ‘tough life.’
But they gave me a chance to call them, so I did. In a thirty minute conversation I learned, basically:
She can use that name.
I can’t really do anything.
The representative I spoke with realized and told me that erotica novels should not be coming up under general searches. So kids don’t, you know, accidentally read a sample of ‘Doctor Takes Her Deep,’ or something.
So now they are reviewing her novels to see if they need reclassification (which they probably will.) But I am holding my breath.
Names are powerful things. Legally speaking using two different people using the same one can be a hazy area. The cases with this are kind of obscure and you really only have a case if you are someone like Stephen King. And that is questionable, even then. It is a mess.
There are no true answers, but I want to believe that there is a right one.
If the author of these books is reading this I want to talk.