Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: Reading Beyond Amazon

Welcome to the virtual book tour for the second season of the gripping psychosexual thriller The Flesh Cartel! Join authors Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau all week long as they kick off season 2, Fragmentation, with the release of the third episode in the serialized story: Choices. One lucky winner will win an awesome Flesh Cartel t-shirt—just leave a comment below with your name and email by 1/13/12! Follow the whole tour & comment at each stop to earn additional entries:

Reading Beyond Amazon

Last October, we released the first episode of our serialized psychosexual thriller, The Flesh Cartel. We were excited but nervous, which are normal feelings for authors on release day, although with this particular title they were felt a little more keenly. Our advance reviews were favorable, so it wasn’t that, not really. It was more the fact that The Flesh Cartel was kind of . . . extreme. Violent. Intense. A harrowing, horrifying thriller set in the world of sexual slavery. Riptide put up copious, clear content warnings in the book description to help readers decide whether it was right for them (you can read those descriptions on the Riptide website), but when you release something that pushes boundaries, somebody’s bound to push back.

What we weren’t expecting was that “somebody” to be Amazon.

The day after our release, we woke up to an email from Amazon stating our book had been removed from their website due content violation. No further explanation of what content had sparked its deletion, no reply to our questions about how to rectify the problem, and no process to appeal their decision. As far as the average Kindle user knows, The Flesh Cartel never existed. We were willing to play by the rules and release a special Kindle version edited to Amazon’s standards, but nobody at Amazon was willing to tell us what edits we would have to make. Which is why the first two episodes of the Flesh Cartel aren’t available on Amazon, and future episodes seem unlikely to appear there either, despite our publisher’s best efforts.

(If you’re curious, you can read more about The Flesh Cartel’s banning on our Banned Books Week-themed post Freedom of Icky Speech and Me, which was graciously hosted by popular M/M romance blog Chicks & Dicks. It was amazing to see so much support not only from Flesh Cartel fans, but also from people who will likely never read the book but still support its right to exist, and the rights of readers everywhere to choose for themselves what they’re willing and able to read.)

Since then, one of the most frequent questions we get about the Flesh Cartel is where folks can buy it (answer: pretty much everywhere but Amazon) and how to load it onto their e-reader device. We know many Kindle owners buy exclusively from Amazon because the process is so simple and straightforward, but trust us—loading books onto your Kindle from an indie bookstore or a publisher’s website or even your local library is very quick and easy. And beneficial for a number of reasons.

Buying solely from a proprietary ebook shop comes with its downfalls: books from the Sony store come packaged with DRM, which means they can’t be transferred, even between one person’s devices. Nook and Kobo’s selection is limited, at least compared to Amazon’s. You have less access to “indie” titles offered on sites like Smashwords or Lulu. You miss out on awesome sales and buying incentives offered by publishers like Riptide or specialty sites like All Romance eBooks. And all those proprietary file formats don’t work on other devices; if you buy a book from Amazon, you can’t read it on a Nook, but if you buy the same book direct from the publisher, you’re likely to receive access to the title in every conceivable format. Lastly, sites like Amazon take a huge chunk of the sale price of any book, so buying direct from a publisher gives maximum support (and royalties!) to your favorite authors.

Luckily, buying from an indie ebook store or publisher site is easier than you think. Let’s say you’d love to buy the latest season of The Flesh Cartel direct from Riptide, who just so happens to offer it at a significant discount (just $8.99 for all four episodes, which cost $2.99 each on third-party sites!) Just hop on over to Riptide’s website, and once you’ve checked out:

1. Download the book in the format you need. (If you’re a Kindle owner, that’s a mobi file. If you’re a Nook owner, that’s an epub file. For Sony owners, you want the pdf or epub. iPad readers want the pdf. If you want to read on your computer, grab the html or pdf. If you’re reading on your smartphone, any format will do as long as you have the right app to open it.) Save it wherever you’ll be able to find it again, like your desktop or a folder you make specifically for your ebook collection.

2. Turn on your ereader. Take the USB cable it came with and plug your ereader into your computer. If you have a Kindle, an icon for it will pop up on your screen like any removable drive (USB stick, external hard drive, etc.).

3. Drag and drop the file from your desktop (or wherever you saved it) to your ereader icon. Voila, you’re done! (If you own a Kindle, Amazon even provides a handy video for this:

If you don’t feel like whipping out the USB cord every time you want to put a new book on your Kindle, there’s an even easier way to transfer content: by emailing it to your device. When you registered your Kindle, you chose a Send-to-Kindle email address, which is [something] If you can’t remember yours, sign in to Amazon and go to Manage Your Kindle, then click on Manage Your Devices in the left-hand menu. At the top of the center pane, you’ll see your Send-to-Kindle address. To prevent people from spamming your Kindle, only authorized emails can actually send things to that address. If you’ve already authorized your email, then you’re all set--all you ever have to do to load a non-Amazon book onto your Kindle is send it to your Send-to-Kindle address as an attachment and turn on your device’s wireless. In about sixty seconds, your new book will appear on your Kindle via its Whispersynch function the same way an Amazon-purchased book would. If you haven’t already authorized your email, you can do it in four easy steps. 1. Go to Manage Your Kindle.

2. In the left-hand menu, click “Personal Document Settings.”

3. Click “Add a new approved e-mail address” (under “Approved Personal Document e-mail list”).

4. Enter your email address and click “Add address.”

And that’s it. Once you’ve done that, you never need to do it again, and you can email books you bought from anywhere to your Kindle. You can even email personal documents like pdf or Word files. This is the method we use to send books we’ve purchased at publisher sites or indie bookshops to our Kindles, and it literally takes ten seconds.

So if you’ve got a Kindle but don’t want to—or can’t—buy your book of choice at Amazon, or you’d simply like to take advantage of the incentives at other retailers, give the above steps a try. Buying from other retailers is easy, and it comes with lots of benefits, not the least of which is feeling good about supporting inclusive policies and freedom of choice.

Blurb: The Flesh Cartel returns for a compelling second season with "Choices." Brothers Mat and Dougie Carmichael thought nothing could be worse than being snatched from their home and brutally dehumanized in preparation for sale as sex slaves. But they learn their suffering has only just begun when they’re shipped to their new master’s home.

Professional trainer Nikolai Petrovic is a master of his trade. His ultra-rich clientele pay him to create perfectly tailored playthings, and Mat and Dougie are the latest in a long line of men who have walked into his remote mountain home as terrified victims and left it permanently altered: subdued and obedient, ready and even eager for a life of service.

To achieve this, Nikolai must take a drastically different tack with each brother. Dougie, manipulated with affection and denial. Mat, controlled by pain and fear. The one thread in common for both men is choice. Nikolai prides himself on never forcing, but will Mat and Dougie submit willingly to his vision, or will they first need to learn the price of disobedience?

Author Bios:
Rachel Haimowitz is an M/M erotic romance author, a freelance writer and editor, and the Managing Editor of Riptide Publishing. She's also a sadist with a pesky conscience, shamelessly silly, and quite proudly pervish. Fortunately, all those things make writing a lot more fun for her . . . if not so much for her characters.

When she's not writing about hot guys getting it on (or just plain getting it; her characters rarely escape a story unscathed), she loves to read, hike, camp, sing, perform in community theater, and glue captions to cats. She also has a particular fondness for her very needy dog, her even needier cat, and shouting at kids to get off her lawn.

You can find Rachel at her website, Tweeting as RachelHaimowitz, chatting in the Goodreads forums, and blogging at Fantasy Unbound. She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.

Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write. She has a degree in history from Simon Fraser University with a concentration in British and Irish studies; much of her work centred on popular culture, oral folklore, and sexuality, but she was known to perplex her professors with unironic papers on the historical roots of modern romance novel tropes. (Ask her about Highlanders!) When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her newborn daughter or standing in line at the local coffee shop, waiting on her caramel macchiato.

You can find her tweeting as @HeidiBelleau, email her at (at), or visit her blog:


  1. I'm first!

    But I think the authors probably already know how much I...well, love isn't quite right. Need, maybe. Crave, definitely. Like Rapunzel's mother I am wasting away as I wait for more...

    And I just had to do the verification thingy. My word was 'on slave'.

    1. Well thank you for reading along with us Rosemary!

      And oh dear to that captcha!

  2. What does Amazon know? Who are they to judge? Glad to know how to get your work to readers despite a bit of "mainstream" hypocrisy! Yay, you!

    brendurbanist at gmail dot com

    1. I have no idea who they are to judge, considering some of the other books they gladly stock! Ah well, what can you do?

  3. I'm gonna hafta check this out
    I'm intrigued
    PicardsMom at yahoo dot com

  4. And I've bought M/M stuff from Amazon
    any way we the readers can help??
    as in request your work??

    1. We tried to do a write-in to request them to reinstate the book, and a lot of really nice people did email on our behalf, but in the end they didn't cave. :(

      The only thing to do now is buy it direct, or from third-party sellers who WILL carry it, like omnilit/allromanceebooks

  5. Things have a way of working out for the best. Congratulations on Season 2 of The Flesh Cartel. It's amazing, intense and everything I love in a psycho-thriller. Amazon should be ashamed of their decision. It's stupid...and offensive. I can choose what I want to read or what I want to avoid!
    If it weren't for other dark themed books that are m/m at Amazon, I'd think their reaction were homophobic. It doesn't make any sense. Anyway, I'm glad I found Riptide and I look forward to future episodes...eagerly. Please keep writing ladies...I do so enjoy watching poor Mat suffer ;) Denise A.

    1. Thank you Denise! Amazon's decision was definitely disappointing for sure, but Rachel and I are just going to keep writing the series and hope readers find us regardless!

  6. Very informative post. Thanks for sharing.



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