A while back someone asked me some stuff about writing Erotica and I figured I’d answer finally.
These aren’t verbatim.
First thing. This person wanted to know how I know what is/can be arousing to readers.
So this is really not how I work. My erotic stories start out like every other bit of fiction I write. There is a voice or a phrase, sometimes there is a theme type thing to explore or I will (as y’all have seen) I sometimes just grab a prompt and go.
The writing process for me doesn’t change with the genre or subject matter. If I’m writing fiction, there is a story to be told. Most of the time when I start I am not even sure it will be erotic or horror or whatever. I just go.
As for the question of how I know something will be sexy. Thing is I don’t actually. I know what I want to explore and what turns me on but I can’t say the same for other folks.
Sometimes, I am working through things that don’t fit right into erotica in a neat and tidy way. I want to explore the things that are outside of just getting wet or having a boner. The tears. The internal machinations a person might go through because their own arousal makes them uncomfortable.
I like tension. I like finding the outer edges of what is generally considered pleasure and playing around there.
They asked about the markets and frankly, I don’t care about the erotica markets. I just don’t. I have not written anything appropriate for the market in general in probably 6-8 years. To read a good piece on E.L James and the current state of the markets go here.
I don’t think E.L James broke erotica. I think erotica was going into a weird place for over a decade.
If I look back at the first erotica that wasn’t mainstream straight stuff (Anne Rice) that I was reading it wasn’t just fap porn for the most part. There was plot and sctructure. Yes, the plot revolved around sex, but it wasn’t a Penthouse Forum letter style so there was some substance. I read a lot of non fiction sex writing as well that revolved around pleasure, body politics, queerness etc.
So my foundation is pretty good.
Now even way back when I saw a lot of things that indicated to me that erotica as a market for my own work was probably not going to be great for a long time. My characters were/are not all White with slim voluptuous (YES I see tht a lot) hips and perfect for the Manly Man’s boner. Or they weren’t the Dick Swingingest White Butches or the Dick Swingingest White gay men with muscles and perfect bubble butts..you get the picture.
The other thing that started happening was the slow melding of romance (HEA etc) and prescriptive “heat” levels in a lot of presses. That is a huge reason why I stopped being interested in the markets.
Frankly, writing with those type of deal breaking parameters just is not the business for me.
So the industry as I see it has grown smaller. We’re expected to produce a certain experience and if we’re not giving that experience or giving those covers (I’ll get to that) then there’s not a whole lot of space in the market.
There is also the issue of the appearance of diversity without any substance.
I was browsing an erotica press that was courting me a bit of a collection. As I scrolled through hundreds of ebooks I saw a lot of the same things.
In my, uh, bracket of heat ratings (scorching naturally) I saw a lot of thin White women in various colors of thongs. A lot of bare chested White men. A few scattered interracial couples etc.
Now that’s all well and good but, that is not something that would fit my work. Generally speaking, I’m not writing models having sex.
Industry wise, I personally have felt that there’s not a place in the market for my work for a long time. Long before E.L James wrote fanfiction and turned it into an empire.
I’m not mad that just is what it is.
For me, once I let go of the emotional dependence on having a chance in the marketplace, I have felt like the erotica I have written is better. It’s hotter. It suits my literary tastes.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but for me there has been a freedom in letting go of the idea of writing for a marketplace. It is a big part of why I don’t freelance more.
Really at the bottom of it I just want to write things. There are a lot of things in my head and writing them makes my life easier.
Same person asked me about writing the other but we’ll get to that another day.
Now y’all ready for an announcement?
It is official. August 31st my book Self Care Like a Boss is being launched into the world. In celebration of that my publisher and I have started a teeshirt thing. Come here to check it out.
Come read some of the book here.
More details as they come.