I'm steamed this morning.
The letter I just sent off to Charles Flowers, president of the Lambda Literary Foundation, explains what has me so up in arms:
I was just writing to call your attention to a situation at Amazon that potentially affects authors of GLBT literature.
I woke up this morning to an e-mail from Amazon announcing their new "author profiles." If you have a book on Amazon, you're eligible. I went in to do mine and was stopped short when I tried to post it because I got an error message saying that a term in my bio was "potentially inappropriate" and needed to be addressed before I could proceed. That word? GAY...of course. I removed the word because I could not post until I did, but found this to be extremely disturbing, especially in light of the recent fiasco at Amazon with sales rankings.
I have written the following message to Amazon, but have not heard back yet. I have also since learned that there are other authors who are having the same problem with the word "gay" in their bios (even when it's part of a title).
Here's what I wrote to Amazon:
When I tried to update my bio, the system flagged the word "gay" as potentially inappropriate and would not let me post the bio until I removed it. Since I write award-winning GLBT fiction, I feel a bit censored by this and do not appreciate it. Since when is the word "gay" inappropriate? I would think you would have learned from your recent "glitch"! I removed "gay" from my bio, even though it's important. I hope you will look into this discriminatory policy. Also, only two of my books (I have ten in print) show up and when I tried to add the others, it said they were already added...but they didn't show. Curiously, the only two books that showed up are "straight" titles.
Rick R. Reed (the writer UNZIPPED magazine called "the Stephen King of gay horror")
UPDATE: Amazon has since resolved the "glitch" and, as of yesterday afternoon, I was able to add the word "gay" in my author profile. Customer Service sent me a response to my query, which I am pasting below. It was interesting to see how fast they corrected this. But I still wonder how the word "gay" got flagged as "inappropriate" in the first place.
Thank you for contacting Amazon Author Central.
We appreciate your feedback on the beta version of Author Central. We have fixed the issue and you can now upload all the content you want.
With respect to the books you tried to add, the changes will be reflected on Author Central within 3 days and on your Author Page within 7 days.
If you have further questions don't hesitate to contact us again.