Wednesday, August 10, 2011

So Where's the Erotica?

First, I'd like to thank all the authors who've responded to the post about self-publishing. I will start posting about your books and I'll let you each know when the posts are up. I'd rather spread them apart, so each author has their own time frame. But I'll be doing at least one or two every week.

On to the erotica title above. I will admit that I often cross a few lines when it comes to writing erotica. I do have my own lines that I won't cross, but I honestly believe that when people are buying my books they are buying them partly because of the erotica. And one of my biggest concerns is am I letting them down if there isn't enough erotica in the book. So I try to conceive what might happen in real life, from an openly gay man's point of view, and I take it from there. I write mostly about gay men. Gay men are highly sexual people, in spite of what some people would prefer to believe. And if an opportunity arises in the storyline where I think an erotic scene is going to work, I do it. I prefer the erotic scenes to have a romantic impact for the most part. But in books like AMERICAN STAR, it just doesn't work out that way until the end. Other books are different. The romance is there from the start, like STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM AT THE PLAZA, and the need for too much sex is not there. But there's no way to judge these things, especially if the story is taking different directions I didn't plan. I'm not one of those writers who control their characters. My characters control me, and I try to listen to them.

I also think sex is an emotional experience. Sometimes more emotional than others, but even in the most casual circumstances there is, in fact, emotion. I know there are others who would disagree with me, but this is my interpretation and I don't want to let my readers down. I also don't have any serious sexual demons in my past. I was never abused or bullied by anyone. And I think this allows me to view sex with a little humor and objectivity.

The reason why I'm posting about this today is because I've been reading books lately that are classified as erotic romance...or erotica...and I'm not seeing any actual erotic scenes in these books. If the storyline is good and the writing is solid, it may or may not make a difference to the reader. But for me, I'm usually left wondering what the author was thinking when he or she was writing the book. Do they think five lines of pg rated sex is actually erotica? I'm not joking about this either. I've seen it happen.

I know there are different opinions about this. And I know that the amount of erotica in an erotic romance varies from author to author. And there's nothing wrong with less erotica. I've been working on a historical f/m/m romance for the past year that has far less erotica than I've ever done before. The storyline just didn't call for a lot of sex. But I'm going to at least make it clear to the reader that it's light erotica. So they know what they are buying.

I know from experience that readers and book reviewers will always slam authors for writing too much sex. Some feel it is their moral and ethical duty. Others feel they've cornered the market on romance and emotion, and don't consider good sex part of romance and emotion. But I've never once heard of a reader or book reviewer slamming an author for not having enough sex in a book. Which means that if your book doesn't have enough sex, you're never going to know it.


Emma Lai said...

So, to me erotica has lots of sexual tension and more graphic scenes. If a story doesn't have those things, then maybe it should be marketed as a straight romance. No shame in that.

ryan field said...

I agree. It's all about the marketing and how it's explained to the reader.

My problem is that when I write a book with less erotica, which I'm doing right now, I don't want to let readers down the same way I've been let down. Which is also why I don't do this often. That's why I'm always trying to get my own product info out there. The web sites where they sell books don't do this in detail. Publishers do it well, ARe does it well, but so many don't.

I think this is one of the hardest parts or being a writer nowadays. Getting the book marketed the right way.

Emma Lai said...

Well, I write romance and erotica and have chosen to not use separate pen names for both. I've had readers cross over between the two because they like my writing, and while I might have left scorched faces behind, they weren't disappointed in the story, or so I've been told.

I think if you write the best story you can then readers won't be disappointed...even with more or less sex. With more sex, they can skip over the passage if it's too daring. With less, they can put their imaginations to use. :)

ryan field said...

I'm glad to hear that. I've used pen names and they never worked. The books with pen names are hard to promote and I always feel so sneaky doing it. I once hired an intern to help promote one of my pen names and that turned into a disaster. Someday, it will make an interesting blog post.