Thursday, July 10, 2008

popularity contest

Well, a lot of the ground has already been covered, but here’s my take on the topic of the week. There are a lot of people who like erotic romance. That’s a two word deal, or as on of my publishers calls it (this is a trademarked term, folks…) romantica. Without the romance, it’s just erotica, or literature with the sole purpose of sexual titillation. That’s not a bad thing, not in my opinion, but it is different. Just like romance without the erotic component is a different type of book. There are markets for each of the three. Magazines seem to be the primary outlet for erotica, and mainstream romance novels continue to make up a huge segment of the fiction market, but there has only recently been an open acknowledgement of the combination—erotic romance—where emotion and sex form equally important components of the story.

In the e-book market, particularly, erotic romance has found a foothold. I think there are a number of reasons for this. Anonymity of purchase is certainly one. There’s no bookseller looking down his or her pointy nose and shaking a finger. No PTA president seeing you walk out the door with “smut.” Speed of purchase is another. There’s also the fact that on-line stores can simply stock more variety of titles, so there’s sure to be something to everyone’s taste.

Yes, in the electronic market, erotic romance far outsells sensual romance. But I don’t think that’s universally true. In paperback, I think you’ll find that erotic romance, while still a growing segment of the market, is still the minority. Face it—the system was already there for mainstream romance, so the buyers haven’t felt any real pressure (other than cost) to switch. But since e-books really pioneered the erotic romance subgenre, that’s where the sales tend to soar.

Like my colleagues here, I write both, as Regina put it, hot and hotter. When I started, it was what I’d consider steamy mainstream. Dragon in the System, with Cerridwen Press is an example of that. But when the time came for the sequel, Djinni and the Geek, my editor was honest. If I heated it up just a bit more, so it could be released as an Ellora's Cave title, I’d sell many, many more copies. So I did, and yes, I did. Lots more copies. So rather than write more at the lower heat level, yes, I’ve chosen to go hotter. Am I trading my soul for money? One commenter, an author I greatly respect, asked us to consider why we write as well as what we write, and to consider how our choices reflect on others who have chosen other paths.

So I did. And you know what? I don’t think my choices reflect on any other authors in any way at all. I choose to write, and read, what I enjoy. I encourage everyone to do the same. There is room in the world for a wide variety of tastes, and I applaud that. But for me? What I enjoy, includes a pretty wide range. Right now, I’m working at pretty much the far end of it, as opposed to the middle, where I started. Do I write for myself? I guess. I’d write whether anyone was buying it or not. But yes, I’m attempting to someday make a living at this, so I will continue to attempt to write to the market. I do not, however, write anything that morally offends me, or that I am ashamed to put my name on. Since I use my real name, I think that’s critical to note.

And when asked if I try out everything I write about (sexually speaking), I have this to reply. “When my husband grows wings and a tail, we’ll talk about it.”


  1. Good post Cindy. I also write for myself and like you I was told that if I hike the heat a tiny bit I could sell it as an EC and make more money. But I write under my own name, no pen name. My husband is proud of my writing and so are my family and friends, my former boss and colleagues. I'd rather continue this way. I enjoy my friends' erotica novels even if I don't write under the same umbrella. There is a say in French that translates literally:

  2. Oops I didn't finish the sentence: Colors and tastes cannot be discussed.

  3. Mona that saying is awesome. It's cryptic and deep. That's like my all time favorite joke: What's the difference between a duck? (no I did not leave anything out of that question) The answer: one of its feet is both the same. Swiss humor. At home we call those non-joke jokes because they sound like a joke set up but, ENH!??!

    Cindy awesome post as ever. It takes true comfort to put your real name on your work. Your confidence is inspiring and your writing is NUUUUUUUUUMMMY!!!

  4. Excellent post with some important points. Incidentally, I read your Heart of the Bear and now I'm eagerly waiting for the next in the series! Yummmmy is right!

  5. Mona--you've gotta do what works for you. I really think it's that simple. And I love the saying. What you want, what meets your needs, what makes you happy. Kelly and Anny, thanks! Those little tidbits are better than ice cream.

  6. Loved the post Cindy!! I agree that I'd not have read much erotic or erotic romance before ebooks. Just a few anthologies and single titles that I found by chance because before the internet, it was hard to find what I enjoyed reading and took chances on print not knowing if it would be the sensuality I enjoyed reading (I do enjoy reading even sweet regencies, just depends on the genre). But I don't go looking for the sensuality, I look for the blurb, the genre, theme, author, publisher, etc. I don't say to others who read books from the best sellers list that has alot of violence and murder in them and the like that they shouldn't read those, that its a personal preference. Thats the same way I feel about what I read, that it should be my choice and preference and I go up to the checkout proud of my purchases! I so love to read and appreciate all you and all put out!

  7. Its like you say, you do what works for you.

    I feel that sex is one such activity that needs a titillation by imagination, & your's alone can never be enough. So sharing it through books and via media makes scope for making your life more exciting.

    After all it is excitement & novelty that we seek, whether in food ( even food tastes better just by the sake of its presentation) or sex. After all, both are hungers that live with us as we live...

  8. Excellent post. I think most of us write romantica (erotic romance) because we love it. For many of us, there's a fantasy element involved, too. I love the idea of writing fantasies into a story that is my own creation.

  9. When I sent my 'agent' the 3rd book in the series, he told me about the erotic romance genre. And then I found out about EC and discovered my heat level was considerably tame in comparison! I wondered if I could write it, and I've discovered I'm getting better at it.

    Great post, Cindy:)

  10. Great post, Cindy. I agree we have to write what we're comfortable with, regardless of what "seems" to be popular at the time.


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