by Giselle Renarde
My first ebook was published by Dark Eden Press. They went out of business a year later, but I learned a hell of a lot in that time. They published quite a bit of M/M and menage fiction, including a phenomenon that was new to me: twincest. Incest, with twins.
People wrote that? Oh mercy, won't someone fetch me the smelling salts! I was scandalized.
But I forgot about that pretty fast.
Years passed when I wasn't scandalized by anything. And then last year I realized the market was changing in a way that shocked even my hardened smutter's heart. Suddenly, it seemed like the only erotic ebooks that were selling were... gross. When I was granted access to a publisher's back end (no comment), the only books flying off the shelves had titles like (I'm going to try to make these up, but they might be real) "Fucking My Family" and "Daddy Spank Me Good" and "Sucking Mommy's Tits."
I remember having a phone conversation with my mother at that time. She asked me, "How's the writing going?" Dangerous question, because the answer's never glowingly positive. I told her, "My work all stopped selling, all at once. Nothing sells now, except this... stuff... It turns my stomach. I could never, NEVER write that."
Should we fast-forward to the part of this story where I eat my words?
Yes, let's do that.
One afternoon, I took a hot shower and then crashed on my bed, in a weird sideways fetal position. I don't think I was asleep. I don't think I was dreaming. It was more like watching a movie in my mind, remaining conscious all the while.
Adam and Sheree's Family Vacation. We're talking serious hardcore incest erotica. Exactly the stuff that used to turn my stomach. Exactly the stuff I said I'd never write.
And you know what? Adam Sheree's Family Vacation is probably the best erotica I've ever written. On that hazy afternoon, when my hip joint locked so badly I actually cried trying to squirm off the bed, I asked myself if there was any way I could write this book a little more... mainstream?
Nope. Couldn't be done. Well, sure it could, but I didn't WANT to write it differently. Something shifted in me. I don't know what changed, but I went from being grossed out by taboo erotica to actively wanting to write it... just like that.
Adam and Sheree's Family Business, and two more taboo books that haven't hit the market. I'm very lucky to have ties with a publisher that accepts well-written taboo content, but that's not common.
Those of us who submit a lot of stories to anthologies can probably name the "no-no"s without even looking them up. Let's see... no underage characters, no sex with animals or dead bodies (but undead are okay), no scat, no incest, no... what am I forgetting?
I've seen some publishers with "no infidelity" on that list. If I see that, I don't submit. Infidelity is kind of a staple, for me.
But back to taboo: even if your work is embraced by a kindly publisher, that's only Stage 1. There's no getting around the fact that Amazon doesn't sell incest erotica. They're the giant of the e-publishing world, and they won't carry your work. Nope. Censored. Sorry!
Same goes for sites like All Romance and BookStrand. Thank goodness for Barnes & Noble or I'd be screwed.
But your book's available for sale. So what? How are you going to tell people about it? You think your go-to marketing spots want their sites cluttered with shameful, embarrassing incest sex? Maybe some are cool with it, but not all. And do you want to burn bridges by trying to showcase your taboo work there if you're really not sure?
Taboo erotica used to squick me, big time. I don't know why it doesn't anymore. I don't know what changed, but suddenly my favourite topic is forbidden love between consenting adults. I'm lucky to have a supportive publisher, but there are readers out there who want this type of fiction and will have a hell of a time finding it.
If it were easier to purchase taboo fiction, would we authors write more of it?
Hey, maybe that's Amazon's trick: stem demand by cutting off the supply. Yeah. That'll work. Because people never want what they can't have...