Tuesday, August 29, 2017

This I Believe: The Erotic Author Manifesto

Last week, the erotic community was in turmoil over an apparent erotica purge at Barnes & Noble, followed immediately by Amazon doing… something… to all KDP accounts. I blogged about it here.

In a nutshell, I believe it was the typical “bad behaviour” from those authors who are chasing the quick buck — those who broke all the rules and brought unwanted attention and scrutiny on the erotic community — that were the source of this turmoil. For example, authors of incest erotica categorizing their story as coming of age fiction, and things like that. You know, those who ignore the boundaries we respect in the erotic industry. (I also blogged about that in the same post, which you can find here.)

This fortnight’s topic — This I Believe — is the perfect launching point.

That post on my blog was about authors doing all the wrong things. So, if there are wrong things, then what are the right things?

That’s a tricky question.

But I came up with a few guiding principles.

Thus, I present to you:


This genre is open to everyone.
Everyone can read it and everyone can write it. It is our duty to welcome new authors to the fold and to support them, as we have benefitted from the support of others. It is our duty to make this space and welcoming and positive environment for readers. Karma works its way through the erotic author community; good deeds will come back to you. So too will bad deeds.

All kinks are welcome.
We are a sex-positive community. That means that even if there’s a kink that’s not our thing, we don’t disparage it or look down our noses at those who enjoy it. Every kink brings joy and pleasure to someone; we have no right to judge them for it. (However, the caveat to this is that full consent is a requisite.)

All genders and orientations are welcome.
Like with kinks, you might be heterosexual and the thought of homosexual sex makes you a bit squeamish — but that doesn’t make gay sex wrong. This space is open for those who identify as male, female, and anything between or outside of those two identities. We welcome readers and authors who identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer, two-spirit, ace, demi, intersex, fluid, and more.

We will respect the box we’re in.
We are sex-positive, but the wider world is not always so. To protect ourselves, our community, and to continue to thrive, we will respect the boundaries put on us. This means categorizing and tagging our works appropriately, being honest, and being professional.

Erotic writing is a profession.
Whether we make a lot of money or next to nothing, writing erotic fiction is a profession and we take pride in what we do. We support others and are supported by others. We ensure that we are putting our highest quality work online. We continue to learn and grow and develop, and we support others as they do the same.

We are a community.
Writing, publishing, and selling books is not a competitive venture — we are not trying to outdo each other. Readers can and do choose several books from several authors. We are a community, a team, a family — and the more we work together, the more successful and happier we will be.

Any thoughts? Anything missing that should be added?


  1. Great post!

    I can't think of any major item to add (though I might later). However, I'd suggest that "respecting the box we're in" means recognizing that some of us are concerned about anonymity, and that you must be very careful never to "out" your fellow authors.

    And your blog on the latest pornoclypse... I'm still cringing at your examples!

    1. Absolutely -- confidentiality and anonymity are a must! I'm fortunate that my day job is totally okay with what I write and publish -- they've even joked about having me do a live reading -- but very few are in such a place where it's safe to be out about what we do.

  2. Your manifesto is exactly the way the Erotica Readers and Writers Assn. lists operate. We turn people into erotica writers, hopefully writers with ethical standards. Will post a note on ERWA referring to this blogpost.

    1. I haven't participated much with ERWA -- but I've always been impressed with what I've seen. Another fantastic resource that operates in much the same way is the forum at Dirty Discourse. If only we could make membership with either ERWA or DD as a prerequisite for publishing!

  3. I seem to be so out of the loop that I didn't know about the Barnes& Noble erotica purge, although i did vaguely know that Amazon sometimes gets a bee in its bloomers about erotica. I don't know whether self-published erotica has been more of a target than work from more or less traditional publishers, but I suspect we're all affected. I know that a friend who works with the same publisher I do is convinced that her last anthology was condemned to the dreaded "Adult Dungeon" or whatever the term is. I don't know how to tell, since I can still find her title on Amazon if I search by author or title (and it appears in my own book list because I have a story in it) but maybe it doesn't appear in less specific searches. In any case, when I look at the 100 top sellers list in my category the vast majority of the books there (mostly just short story or novella length) are made to look as raunchy and formulaically outrageous as possible. No purging noticeable there any time I've looked, and I look often. Compulsively, even.

    I'm worried, because my friend's book is one of a yearly series, and I'm editing the next one, coming out in November. I also edited the one before hers, and mine did reasonably well, while hers hasn't come close to the usual sales for that series. My new one may well tank, too, if we have porn purges going on and dragging erotica down too. I'm certainly beginning to wish that almost all of my books didn't include "Erotica" in their titles.

    1. If you can find it with a simple search on Amazon, it's not in the adult dungeon. Books in the adult dungeon do not appear when you do a search -- instead, somewhere near the top of your search results page, you'll have a little link that says something like "adult search results were omitted" or "include adult search results".

      I don't think anyone knows how or why some books sell and some don't. That being said, my first hunch at a sudden fall in sales on one title is that it could be the keywords that are being used. (On Smashwords, you can see the keywords that people enter and it's clear that most people don't know how they work.) KDP has a very good and very clear help page on keywords. (You probably know this already, but putting this out here for anyone who might have stumbled across this post and has the same problem!)

      But it could easily be the cover image is not attractive for a certain reason, or the keywords are a little too generic and her book is being buried in results. Or there could be absolutely no reason -- it just is.


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