On Fiction4All’s fascinating failed experiment in pulling erotica – and their perfect response to it

I signed up with Fiction4All as another distribution source for my stories back in April, and have been happy to get a few sales from them. They have a few domains which sound kind of “adult”, and then Fiction4All, which has a mix of everything. A few weeks ago, they sent me an email stating, in a nutshell, that they’d grown large enough that while they’d be keeping erotica on their adult domains, they were pulling erotica off of Fiction4All.com as a mainstreaming measure. I wasn’t too bothered by it – unlike Amazon they weren’t playing favorites with genres, and their other domains were 100% up and running. They have every right to tune their site’s content for their perceived market.

And then a couple days ago I got this email from fiction4all:

“Since removing erotica from our Fiction4All site some weeks ago, we have been keeping a close eye on who is visiting the site and where they are looking. Our observations indicate most of the traffic to the site from the past couple of months has been to what are now dead links to erotica books – links still on the major search engines. There has been almost no interest in the kids section of the site and as those of you who use the author suite to monitor our sales will know, we have sold nothing much either. Traffic started to decline a week or so ago and with no real traffic coming to Fiction4All, myself and my new colleague, who is responsible for much of the new-look on Fiction4All, have had a long conversation. As a result, we have built a parallel universe on Fiction4All so we can restore the erotica section there. There are just two links to it from the main bookstore – one on the home page and one in the Mainstream Fiction section – both of which will offer a set of red curtains with a message the first time someone visits the site. This is a reversal of our decision a couple of months ago but it is evident we need the erotica titles to bring people in to take a look at the non-adult section of the site.

We now have the erotica store back in place and in the next few days will update the author and publisher suites to clarify the relevant royalty rates.. At the moment we are still testing the links and the restored books but already, overnight, we have seen more activity on the site than in recent days so hopefully this is a good sign.

Obviously if you are an author or publisher represented on the site and you can promote your titles or those of other authors it would be appreciated. Without substantial sales no site can survive for long and though we have robust sales on our various adult venues, we need to make Fiction4All as a site stand alone in terms of business as otherwise we will soon have to decide what the future holds for the site.”

Notice – when they dropped erotica, their mainstream sales started dying too!

I’m really happy to see that they’ve reversed their earlier decision, and I wish them all the best with it.  My titles are still on their site and I still intend to finish converting the rest of my back catalog to ePub to list there.  My best guess as to why this happened, is that their customers were being initially drawn in by erotica, but stuck around buying mainstream content too… when the erotica was gone, they moved to buying their mainstream content at whatever new outlet they’d moved to buying their erotica from.

Unfortunately, Amazon is huge enough that they don’t need this, so they can afford to keep  sacrificing a new sub-genre of erotica authors every six months to keep the book burning censors happy.  But hopefully the smaller publishers will learn from Fiction4All and exercise some caution when they think about tightening the noose.

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