Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Friday, February 10, 2017

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Thinking Beyond Sex

In case you might be wondering what I've been up to lately, check out this link to the articles I've been doing for the great Future Of Sex site. Other things brewing, but writing about the sexuality of tomorrow has been a blast!

Thinking Beyond Sex

Say you've written an erotica book. What's more, it's a quality erotica book, which is to say that it isn't just about positions, sensations, steamy looks, and lingerie. It has an engaging setting, multidimensional characters, and a plot. It's well written and seeks to do more than turn the reader on. Hurray, and congratulations! I've said it before, but it certainly bears repeating: this is an incredible feat. There are very few people in this world that could have done what you've done. Take a moment to luxuriate in your success.

Done luxuriating? Good. Now you've sent your book out and congratulations (part two), you've managed to find a publisher for your novel—this is no mean feat, especially these days. So now you've written a book, you've sold a book, and soon it's going to be for sale.

Now is the time you must do something very important, and it may surprise you, given the genre in which your book is written.

Don't. Think. About. Sex.

I know, I know—a bit weird, right? After all, you've written an erotica book. So it seems more than natural that you'd want to reach out to sexy, kinky, smutty, erotica venues—and well, you should. But after you do that, you should really try and reach out to places a bit more ... tangential.

Let me explain: erotica is a fine and dandy genre (I'm not disparaging it), but it's also a bit limiting. In erotica, your book is one of dozens, and every last one of them is clamoring to be the center of attention. Sure, yours is different—for whatever reason—but in the erotica world, your book is common first, and special second.

Let's say, for example, that your book is about a soldier during World War II. So why aren't you thinking about your book being a World War II book? Sure, you know you wrote it as erotica, and that's certainly essential to the book's allure, but its more than that, see? Try reaching out to soldier sites and World War II sites (and authors, forums, and such). Sure, there's a damn good chance your emails and announcements will be ignored, but if someone does respond then your book will really stand out: a World War II book— but an EROTICA one. Wow! Unique! Different!

In fact, I'll bet if you really looked at your book, you could find several places to branch off. Is it a love story? Then it could be romance. Is there a mystery involved? Then it could be—well, you get the idea.

Here's an important detail. You should absolutely tweak your announcements in a way to reach these different audiences. Instead of "erotic" and "explicit," try "sensual" and "stirring"—play up your book's connection to their world: a sensual tale of a love and intimacy set in the latter days of World War II ... that kind of thing.

Yeah, I know that sounds like another bit of Madison Avenue trickery, but keep in mind that for many people, the whole idea of a book with any kind of sexual content is a brain turn-off. You have to get them to see your book more broadly—as a bona fide story, rather than merely a sexual tale. The only way to do that sometimes is to squeak it in under their radar. No, I'm not saying you should lie, but what I am saying is this: why get the door shut in your face before you've even had a chance to say one word about your cherished novel?

Thinking of yourself as an erotica writer and your work as nothing but erotica will limit you as well as your publicity opportunities. Look beyond that simple label, and so will readers. You know your book is more than Dick In Jane; you know there's something special about it—so why not use that uniqueness to open a whole new world for both you and your works? Not only will this outlook give you a possible new audience, but you'd be shocked by the number of connections that also could emerge from stepping into other genres and interests. Someone who never would have dreamed of reading so-called smut suddenly has their eyes opened—by you, with your wonderful book.

So try and use the imagination you've developed in your writing to expand more than just your storytelling: try expanding on other possible places for exposure—and other possible places for you to grow and develop as a writer. 

1 comment:

  1. I take your point, Chris. However, there are many, many people who will be outraged if they read a book that includes explicit sexual situations without being warned. These outraged people will then write one-star reviews, or even worse, complain to Amazon and get your books banned.

    I agree that erotica is more than just sex--you know I do. But pretending that it's not focused on sexuality will only get you into more trouble.

    It's definitely hard to be in the erotica biz these days, what with censorship on the one hand and illiterate crap on the other. However, trying to market a book that's erotica as something else is not (usually) going to fly.


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