Fixation, fascination, art form, or a bandwagon; what is erotica? With the success of books such as the over exposed Fifty Shades of Grey and its opening weekend box-office take, things are wide open. I mean that in regards to the literary world, not the legs and mouths of men and women around the world.
Minds have begun to open. And through those doors, imaginations are beginning to leave aisles on hands and knees of well lit bookstores, away from family, fantasy, and friendly frolics to the blindfolded, hidden world of the e-reader friendly download sites for taboos, teases, and tongues. Handcuffed to stories of things never imagined, and certainly never admitted to.
The business is booming and thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey every type of writer is dipping their toes into temptation.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing for the literary world? Are we seeing literary minds become open or, as I asked before, are people merely jumping on a sales bandwagon and riding it until it is completely spent?
Call it Romance or Erotica, but call it sales gold. It may have its up quarters of sales and quarters of going down but the key is—sales. If you write it well, you can make a nice living. Readers tend to shackle themselves to a good writer of Erotica and wait in anticipation for a tease of a coming please and an alert to come for their latest release.
Is it the writing quality that gives the reader its fix?
What is it about Erotica that has the world trembling and quivering in the dark with their e-readers and jumping for their energy button or sliding a finger at every sound with fear of discovery in the dark?
It’s the final frontier of human endeavors.
But why the writer boom? Is it the sexual awakening within? According to an article from January of 2014 therichest.com the number one earning genre for writers is Romance/Erotica at $1.44 Billion followed by Crime/Mystery with $728.2 Million.
Who is spending this money? Who are the readers? According to survey commissioned by rwa.org and conducted by Nielsen they are 84% women and the ages of the readers average between 30 and 54 years of age and right here in the good old South is where the people seem to like the Romance the best. Yes, Erotica is in the Romance genre in case some writers have forgotten that part.
Let’s look at some review quotes from Huffington Post reviewer Jesse Kornbluth.
“As a reading experience, Fifty Shades or Grey is a sad joke, puny of plot, padded with conversations that are repeated five or six times and email exchanges that are neither romantic nor witty.”
“As porn tricked up to resemble a novel, there’s no hope for this book — it’s “S&M for Dummies.”
Is it the writing quality that has readers hooked?
“It’s “mommy porn,” racy enough for suburban readers but not hardcore S&M like The Story of O: “Women feel like it’s O.K. to read it… It’s taboo for women to admit that they watch pornography, but for some reason it’s O.K. to admit that they’re reading this book.”
You do the web searching for all the sales figures you want but what you will find is sales are generally strong for this sub-genre of Romance (Pun intended? Perhaps.). Why? As I mentioned before, the e-reader, a device that puts every readers desires at their fingertips without leaving their homes and risking embarrassment of anyone knowing their dirty little secrets is the facilitator of this now well endowed guilty pleasure .
According the survey from rwa.org Erotica is just behind contemporary Romance in what is bought and Erotica is also just behind Contemporary in e-reader purchases with 44% compared to 48%.
There will be some that will read this and turn their snobbish lit noses up at the appalling thought of Erotica being looked upon as literature. If you know me, then you know I do not take any subject on a whim. I like to delve in to my subject and thoroughly get to know it as far as what it is like and what makes it satisfying.
Does that make me an erotica reader? No more than any other person. It is not my particular genre, but then I spend almost every waking hour working on my own novels or reading a book for a review or interview. Would I read a good one if given to me for a review if one takes in to consideration who I am and my interest. I think my about page on my personal blog would give people an idea? Yes.
But what it does mean is I recognize some do hold Erotica to be a legitimate form of literature. In truth, there are many books one might call Erotica if not for the story lines and authors of them that make them mainstream. I am sure you can think of many books with sex filled scenes. I see quality Erotica as the Romance genre with a bit more kick to it.
But how do people decide what to read when it comes to their Erotica? The survey says;
- The Story
- The Author
The story is key. It’s not just pumping out hard men and willing women in words. What I see needing to happen is a taking over of the genre. As with all genres before that become a hot thing, there are those who jump on to get their piece before the reader learns there is a difference between good writing and simply words on a page by someone trying to make a buck with a quickie.
Writing is writing and as our profession we should be assuring the highest quality we can. And one person’s Erotica isn’t another person’s. There are various kinds of Erotica.
Those make-a-buck writers, I avoid calling them hacks, or genre whores, are what ruin a genre. There are writers out there doing the good work now. Looking at Amazon’s list of most popular Authors in Erotica, we’ll skip over E. L. James since I believe everyone knows of her and how her series began as a fan fiction thing and went from there, I will mention the numbers 2-4.
Number two is Sylvia Day on that list. Site is sylivaday.com.
Number Three is Jordan Silver from right here on WordPress at jordansilver.net.
Number Four is Ann Charles, site, anncharles.com. Her site is powered by WordPress.
I am not providing details of careers so as not to be seen as endorsing one over another. You can be your own judge. The links are there to their sites and you can easily google names to find more information.
I clicked and read the first page of the inside of a book of each on Amazon, two for one author just to make certain. Normally I would not go to a second book of an author if the first was just that not connecting with me. But, I wanted to see the writing and content. All three are different in their approach to the subject and style of writing. I won’t say which one I would read if I were to read one because that’s not what this is about.
I will say the quality is different with each, and the writing of one is not quite up to what I would expect to find in the top 5 of a list of good writing. I would think some editing and proofreading was needed. And perhaps it was the approach that turned me off. But apparently the approach turns enough on to sell books. Yes, that is the one I tried to read at least two first pages of. There is no way I could read a book by that one author.
I know that I am no top selling author, so if I named names that person could come back to me and say something but you know, sometimes sensationalism and garbage sales, tabloid in paperback and e-book form. And really, I would never trash an author. Even hack authors write. It may not even be they are really hacks, just authors encouraged to write by those who love them and want them happy, but don’t know truth helps a career more than not.
Erotica is nothing new. It’s been around since ancient times and even old Will Shakespeare wrote a touch here and there. I think ultimately if it’s going to be done it needs to be done properly and professionally. Put out quality work and make it a respected genre.
But if it does become a fully accepted or openly accepted genre with accolades left and right will it still hold thrall the masses? Will the final frontier become boring?
I suppose you could look to the fact there is still a market for Star Wars books after all these years. In spire of the horrid trilogy prequel.
Does Erotica have staying power? Does the populace have the appetites to keep it going? Every person comes to a point of awakening and wants to discover and a great majority want to discover in private. Perhaps you will read an Erotica from me some day. But it would need to be the characters telling me that’s what they want. My books go where they will and I don’t get in their way.
Perhaps that’s what we should be looking at as writers. Simply be honest in your writing. What are the characters telling you? Don’t force them in your pre-made box. If they want kink, give them kink. If they want hard driving, heavy breathing, woman satisfying, body aching sex, then satisfy those characters like you’ve never known satisfaction before.
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