Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Are We Just Writing for Ourselves?

So, seriously guys, is it just us around here? Have the literary perverts just closed in upon themselves, telling each other stories while groping in the dark?

This question came up at the Circlet Press retreat this year (go look at #PornCamp if you want some giggles) and most of the participants seemed OK with the concept. I was not.

I'm not sure if, in a post-Fifty Shades world, we can afford to be that insular. That book is decidedly not OK with the BDSM sexuality of its, uh, hero, and yet it's being held up as a stunning success in the markets of kinky and erotic fiction. This makes me think that a lot of people are not finding us, don't know what other stuff is out there, or how to find it. That makes me incredibly sad.

Every weekday I write a newsletter, Erotica Today, just because I hope it leads curious people to where all the porn's at. It can take up to four hours to put one together, and I do it so that our erotic work can be found by people outside the community who want to read it. Recently, I added tags relating to Fifty Shades to its Livejournal community, hoping that it draws new readers in. I have no idea if it's working, or if it'll ever work.

So, can anyone think of anything we can do about this? I mean, yes, Shades has made the press, but then what?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post. I think it's likely that people aren't finding us, though I don't think this is just about Fifty Shades. I think about big, popular fantasy series such as Kushiel's Dart (full of kinky sex) or Terry Goodkind's Wizard's First Rule (full of kinky sex), which were very much bestsellers but somehow escaped media notice. I wonder if the deal with Fifty Shades is it's not hiding behind another label -- it's being called erotica, and that's what's surprising people so much.

    Circlet's approach always made sense to me, because I first encountered explicit descriptions of kinky sex when reading big epic fantasy books, so specfic erotica really does seem natural.

    But I think there has been a stigma to writing and reading erotica (as opposed to fantasy that contains erotica), and hopefully what's going on with Fifty Shades will remove some of that. I am hoping we will benefit from that effect.

    That said, Fifty Shades also has a couple things going for it, like the full marketing support of a major publisher, visibility in supermarkets, release in e-book, print, and audio forms, and so on. It's hard to compare small press or e-book only releases to that kind of push.

    I guess overall what I'm saying is, I hope this helps people find erotica. It _is_ still hard to zero in on publishers and writers -- it took me years to do it. I don't think the problem of searching electronically has at all been solved. I think Fifty Shades connection to Twilight was a huge boon to it. Circlet (and your anthologies) has that going -- with connection to popular classics -- but I think that's a different scale from Twilight, and it's clearly not visible. There were a bunch of articles recently about Total E-bound releasing erotic editions of classics, and it frustrated me that this was seen as a new thing -- I've seen so many erotic takes on Jane Austen, etc, yours included.

    I see the frustration and am not sure what can make what we do more visible. It needs to be acceptable, it needs to be connected to popular mainstream works (so that readers can explore into erotica), and it needs to be possible to find things in the endless maw of books on Amazon.