Saturday, August 6, 2016

Amazon Restricts Promotion of Books with "Religious or Spiritual Content"

I promised in my previous post to share the results of my experiment with various marketing tools that Amazon and its subsidiaries offer to self-published authors. The newest edition of my book, Setting Goals That Count: A Christian Perspective, went "live" with Amazon and Kindle in mid-March. With recent advances in print-on-demand and e-book technology, as well as Amazon's commitment to make its publishing platform as user-friendly as possible, production is now the easiest aspect of the whole process. It's possible to produce a steady stream of new books in print and electronic formats with minimal distraction from my writing routine.

Marketing and promotion are also easy with the tools available from Amazon and Google. However, I encountered a snag with Amazon's marketing platform that was quite unexpected: They reserve the right to restrict the advertising of religious or spiritual books, so they rejected the ad I submitted for my book. Here's the beginning of the e-mail I received from Amazon Marketing Services:

Thank you for submitting your ad campaign "________" for review. To help provide a welcoming experience for customers of all faiths and beliefs, we restrict religious advertising at Amazon. Our creative acceptance policies for books available at, notes that we are unable to approve your ad if it contains overtly religious or spiritual ad copy, images, or symbols (for example, the Star of David, a crucifix, the Star and Crescent).

Please re-submit your ad after bringing it into compliance with our creative acceptance policies. 
I thought my ad copy was fairly innocuous. It simply said, "What Is Your Calling? Use simple worksheets and questionnaires to find your way. For Christians of all ages." Perhaps I just needed to reword the ad to "bring it into compliance" with Amazon's policies, so I followed their link and found this:

3. Restricted Ad Content and Books
There are several customer experience sensitive categories that are not appropriate for a general audience. The following categories may be restricted from the homepage and Kindle E-reader placements: 
  • Non-fiction self-help books relating to dating and relationships
  • Non-fiction books that allude to sensitive financial topics (e.g. bad credit or bankruptcy)
  • Non-fiction self-help books that refer to topics of grief, mourning, and loss
  • Books for weight loss
  • Religious or spiritual content
  • Books about political parties, issues and related content
Apparently, my book's overt Christian message excludes it from the usual Amazon promotions. I wonder, have any other ACFW members stumbled across this problem with their Christian fiction?


  1. At least this isn't discrimination targeted against Christians, or even against religion. Amazon is just trying to avoid controversy, and I don't really blame it. But that doesn't mean it isn't frustrating.

  2. I haven't used any Amazon promotion options. However, I have used Goodreads ads and Facebook ads without any noticeable restrictions at all.

  3. I encountered this recently. I wrote back and said, "Fine. Then follow the policy and restrict it from the homepage or Kindle ereader placements."

    They then approved the ad.

    But then I accidentally terminated my ad two days later, and now I cannot get it re-approved. Ha!

    So somehow I snuck one through, but apparently it was a one-time deal.