Amazon Ads for Religious Books
I recently read an online article titled “Amazon: Christian Authors Beware”. In it the author (not named) bemoans that “Amazon is a massive giant and growing.” Two bulleted lists of “facts” and “factoids” were given (without attribution, citation, or documentation, so there’s no way to verify the statements). Then the author asserts that Amazon is not “friendly” or “sympathetic” to Christian books.
The article (posted on January 5, 2017) goes on to tell the story of a gentleman who published an e-book on prayer via Kindle Direct Publishing. But when he signed up to use Amazon’s Marketing Services to run an ad campaign on his book, Amazon denied it, citing their “Creative Acceptance Policy.”
The link given in this article for Amazon’s Creative Acceptance Policy did not go to a valid web page; however, I found the policy at https://advertising.amazon.com/ad-specs/en/policy/book-ads. (A PDF can be found at https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/G/01/AdProductsWebsite/downloads/Kindle_Authors_and_Book_Publishers_Creative_Acceptance_Policies.pdf/ref=a20m_kdp1016cap).
Amazon’s ad policy states that “books with content that is threatening, abusive, harassing, or that discriminate or advocate against a protected group, whether based on race, color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age or any other category” are unacceptable. Okay, so they’re not willing to advertise books that discriminate against Christianity. That’s not a bad thing. (As an editor, I do question the verb tense in that sentence, as well as the repetition of disability in the list. But that’s off topic.)
Amazon places these restrictions on ads for religious books:
Advertisers of religion-specific non-fiction books cannot use Product Display Ads. Non-fiction books with a central theme revolving around a specific religion are restricted to keyword-targeted ads only (Headline Search Ads and Sponsored Products) using keywords relevant to that religion or about religion in general.
“Non-fiction religion-specific books” include sacred texts (including the Bible, the Qur’an, and others), commentary on those sacred texts, and educational or explanatory books about the specific religion.
So nonfiction books that are written specifically for a Christian readership can only be marketed in Amazon ads that target that specific readership through keywords. Not sure I have a big problem with that.
Besides religion, Amazon has two other “Restricted Categories”: Politics and Self-Help Books. They choose not to advertise:
- Works of fiction that have political themes
- Non-fiction books about politics in general or political science
- Self-help books about diet and weight loss, dating and relationships, personal misfortune (bankruptcy, mourning and grief, etc.), or personal health issues (sexual dysfunction, etc.).
For all types of ads, the following are acceptable:
- Non-fiction books about religion in general
- Fiction books with religious themes
- Presence of a religious symbol (star of David, Crucifix, etc.), so long as there are no other violations
There’s also a section on Image Restrictions for book covers. They allow images of military equipment and vehicles (tanks, warplanes, helicopters, etc.) and “non-realistic firearms that are clearly fantasy weapons (ray guns, Star Trek–style phasers, etc.).” However, guns cannot be pointed at a character, directed out toward the customer, or handled by a minor. Images of swords, bows and arrows, and other weapons cannot be shown being used in a violent, threatening manner, for example in the process of injuring another character. Sexually suggestive images are also not allowed.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of Amazon, although I do admit it is a “necessary evil,” and I confess to having ordered many things through them, including books. However, they are not a Christian company and should not be expected to act like one. They sell all kinds of books, including both erotica and Christian Living. But they are allowed to be selective about the kinds of books they choose to advertise as well as how books with specific themes may be advertised.
If you want to market your book through any company, you should carefully study their advertising guidelines. If the ad you want to run does not fit those guidelines, either change your ad to fit the guidelines or choose a different way to market your book. If your book has strong Christian themes, marketing through a Christian venue or using targeted keywords will probably get you better results anyway.
Oh, and if you write an article or blog post that includes “facts” or “factoids,” please cite your sources so readers can verify the statements.