I have only one requirement of erotica: that it excites me. If it excites me, then it is erotic. And yeah I know that some might see this as a rather plebian view to take, like maybe I spend all my time grubbing the internet for dirty stories, and that I do so one-handed. But I promise, there's another layer to it beyond HOMG SEKZ.
Because in order for a book to excite me in that rude-y way, it has to fulfil certain criteria. And my criteria isn't really about whether the book has been labelled literary or romance. It just boils down to three simple things:
1. Is it believable? Now, I know that might seem like a weird question to ask of a book about bonking. But for me, this is a total dealbreaker. If I can't believe in the characters or what they're currently doing - whether these actions be in the future, or in some alternate version of earth, or in the past or wherever - then the book will not excite me. And whether the world classes it as erotic or not, I won't.
2. Are there more than two sex scenes in it? If it's a full length novel, and there are only two sex scenes in it, it is not erotic to me. Unless of course those two scenes are each one hundred pages long, in which case...I probably want to read this book. But seriously - don't fob your 400 page science fiction opus off as erotica, just because they bonk twice for three pages a piece.
3. Is the description of sex intense, well written and graphic enough? This is kind of like three points rolled into one, but it all boils down to something simple: is the author capable of writing a good sex scene? Because the thing is, writing sex is hard. Finding a book with the level and quality of sex writing I want to read is extraordinarily difficult. Too many people think that it's all just tab A into slot B, and who cares about how the paragraphs or sentences flow? Who cares if the word foof is used in place of pussy? Who cares if there's no tension, no detail, nothing at stake?
Well I'll tell you who cares. I do. And if a book has failed to put even the least bit of effort into any of number three, it's not erotic to me. It's just stereo instructions, with some vaguely colourful language.