Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Left In the Dust

I don't think it comes as news to anyone that both erotic romance and e-publishing are on the upswing. As readers turn to e-books more and more as a viable sorce of material, and offerings from places such as Ellora's Cave show up on bookstore shelves, both the subgenre and the alternative format are gaining validity and acceptance as true forms of writing in the romance genre.

And rather than break into the market by starting in category romance, it seems like many writers are dipping their toes into the stream via e-publishing. Write a really good, hot love story and submit it to Ellora's Cave or Cobblestone Press and hope to be taken on board. Perhaps something in the print industry will come of it. Instead of being ashamed of having taken this road into traditional publishing, writers who got started in e-publishing can hold heads high and proud. As the category-to-singe-title romance writers were in years past, the e-published writers are today.

So I should be excited that a whole new world of opportunity seems to be coming of age just in time for me to take advantage of it. In addition to the printed publishing market, I have the electronic market to fish.

Except, every time I read of another newly published e-author, she's written something erotic. E-publishers seem to be all about the hot, the spicy, the non-vanilla sex. Sure, the story is important. After all, this isn't just a random sequence of sex scenes strung together (a la porn) but rather a love story that owes a healthy portion of its existence to the sexual relationship between the two (or three or four) main characters. I get it. I have no problem with it.

But I don't write non-vanilla sex.

Let me clarify. I can write hot, steamy sex scenes. I want my hero and heroine to yearn for each other desperately, and when they finally get together, I want the pages to fairly smolder. I'm not into boring sex, nor am I into behind-closed-doors implied sex. It's not that I don't want or appreciate the hotness and spiciness, in either what I read or what I write. In fact, sweet stories leave me disappointed because it feels like something key is missing from the big picture.

But I'm into more traditional things. Like monogomy. Like sex between two people rather than three or more. I'm not big on reading sex scenes that involve really out-there sexual practices. Anything other than very mild bondage (think silk scarves, not handcuffs and chains) just goes beyond my own personal preferences in what I read or write. And don't get me started on what comes into my mind when I read about anal sex.

Not that I would deny other people their own enjoyment, mind you. I'm glad this market is flourishing and that so many have found a new subgenre to explore. I'm all about whatever floats your boat and to each his own and all of that. I don't think anything but well of readers or writers of erotic romance. More power to them.

It's just that my own personal boat is floated on calmer waters, that's all. While others are deep sea diving and boogie boarding the big Kahuna waves, I'm happy to snorkle along the shoreline.

So I feel like many doors that should be open to me - those e-publishing doors - are actually not so much open as painted with a No Admittance sign. I don't have it in me to write hot enough. Weird to be censored for being too non-explicit, but that's me.

Too, for me, sex is the icing on the love story cake rather than the cake itself. My scenes will be hot and steamy (so I hope), certainly, because great sex is part of a great love IMO. But they come a far secondary to the love story. I like slow, building sexual tension. I like the big bang (pardon the pun) payoff when finally, finally the hero and heroine consummate their relationship, especially after they've come to realize that no one else will do. I love that magic moment, both as a reader, writer, movie viewer, connoisseur of good love stories.

But once a few well places sex scenes are described that contribute to the story overall and establish the new position of the relationship, I'm no so keen to write (or read) sex scene after sex scene just because a) I can or b) the readers want to read it or c) because it's what is required by a publisher. I personally get bored with books that have sex scenes on every other page. I skim that stuff. Yeah, the sex is great between the H and h. Really great. So, what else happens?

I'm sure there are e-publishers out there who welcome manuscripts with more traditional love scenes or tamed down sex in them. It's just that I don't hear about these e-publishers. It seems that the ones focused on erotica have gotten all the press due to the popularity of the sub-genre and, perhaps, have recruited the writers who would also gain an audience via traditional publishing due to the content of what they write. Miss Erotica Writer can start off in e-publishing but also has a fair chance of getting published in print because she's writing what's hot right now. So she brings a certain cache to her original e-publisher, validating it when she crosses over and proving that true talent can be found on the internet.

I have no intention of changing my style to fit the erotica market. I would never feel comfortable writing in that subgenre, so I could never do so successfully. I can only hope that as e-publishers of erotica gain the acceptance they deserve, they'll pull non-erotica publishing e-publishers along on their coat tails, as it were. Too, maybe by the time everyone has caught up, those e-publishers will have figured out a way to improve those horrible computer-generated covers that bring tears of pain to my eyes.

Meanwhile, I'll putter along in my little Sunfish, looking for a nice breeze and thrilling to the occasional big wave when it comes along.


Lia said...

"I'm not into boring sex, nor am I into behind-closed-doors implied sex."

In that case, you should try Cerridwen Press, Cobblestone Press, or Samhain Publishing.

Cerridwen is geared specifically toward stories that are less explicit than those at Ellora's Cave.

I just had a story accepted at Cobblestone, and I don't see myself as an erotica writer. In fact, the stories heat level is something along the lines of what you'd see in a Harlequin Blaze. Maybe a little hotter, but nothing extreme or non-vanilla.

As for Samhain, I read a story that had zero sex in it. None. It had plenty of sexual tension and some serious smooching going on, but no sex. That's what worked for this story.

If you have something you want to submit, any of these publishers will consider stories with scenes as you describe them.

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