Powered by Bravenet Bravenet Blog

Janitor On Duty

journal photo

December 17th, 2007

7:51 AM

Small minnows in a big pond, part II

Random obligatory image

I could have posted this in the comments section of Dear Author's relevant article (here), but my response would have plenty of references to my website which I think that can be misconstrued by people as an attempt to plug my site.

I'm more sanguine about threesome and daddy-daughter stories than Jane. In fact, I see this as a pretty sensible move by new epublishers to create a niche for themselves. As I've blogged recently, new epublishers should offer something as an alternative to Ellora's Cave and other big fish in the small pond if they want to attract any kind of audience or fanbase. Setting up a clone of Ellora's Cave or Samhain Publishing is not a practical business move anymore, as countless closings have shown. Striking out by offering something different is the way to go. Ellora's Cave succeeded mostly because it was the first to offer erotic fiction that is hotter than typical offerings out there. Now that the "sexy" stuff by Ellora's Cave and its countless imitators is so ubiquitous in the epublishing scene, it makes sense for someone to offer something even hotter. And the only way one can get hotter nowadays is by acknowledging the silent majority that visit erotic fiction sites to read titillating tales of incest, adultery, and other stuff.

Oh, there will be people who express moral outrage, just like how there were people who expressed moral outrage when Ellora's Cave started coming out with stories featuring BDSM and polyamory elements, but I have a feeling that many more people will keep quiet and buy, judging from the popularity of incest and adultery naughty stories all over the place from fanfiction circuits to erotic writing sites like Literotica.

At any rate, I suspect that little minnows that offer a more kinky alternative to the current big fish have a higher chance of survival than a random erotic fiction epublisher set up to emulate an established epublisher.

My sentiments are echoed by Emily Veinglory in her response on the EREC blog and I have to say that I adore her description of mainstream romance novels as a white heterosexual female submissive and bald-chested dominant white guy thing, heh. But while she's speaking from an author's point of view, I think the reader will also reap similar benefits from an epublisher offering alternatives to the current formulaic erotic fiction in the electronic fiction landscape. At least, readers will - hopefully - be getting something different from a typical formulaic MMF paranormal threesome story of a blond vampire hero, a dark-haired alpha werewolf, and a psychic human heroine. More variety and subsequently more choices for the reader is always good.

The only trouble I can see for such daring epublishers is if they try to pass their works off as romantic fiction when the romance community still have problems adjusting to what Ellora's Cave started oh, ten years ago? It's been a long time, and some people are still foaming at the mouth about it, heh. But all this is for another blog entry, about whether erotic romance is better off being pigeonholed under an  artificial "erotic fiction" genre instead of trying to integrate itself into the romance genre.

But aside from the "eeeuw, incest!" thing, I quite agree with Jane on Dear Author about the dire quality of the offerings of new epublishers. In fact, it isn't just the new epublishers - sometimes the big fish can deliver badly-edited clunkers too, but the new epublishers are at a disadvantage because they don't have a solid track record like the bigger epublishers do.  Now that I no longer review Total-e-bound books (it's my decision to stop, but feel free to imagine that I was sacked or something, heh), my reading time is considerably less packed with e-books. I could open the website for submissions, but I won't, heh, not now. The reason for this is simple: I still have a huge backlog that I intend to look at soon, and also I do not want to be swamped with understandably publicity-hungry new authors whose books turn out to be direly in need of either more editing or a complete rewrite. I'll stick to epublishers that I have considered reliably solid when it comes to delivering the goods for now. I'll let someone else give the little minnows a chance... unless this little minnow offers some interesting alternative to the formula, because then you can I bet I'll be there to at least browse through the offerings.

7 comment(s).

Posted by Selena Kitt:

I'm following the new "groundbreaking" publishing houses with interest, just to see if it's really going to "sell." They assume that women who are reading erotic romance also want to read the more hardcore fetish stuff... I don't know if it will pan out or not. I have lots of "fans" who like the incest stuff, but very very few of them are crossover "romance" fans. Perhaps if they billed themselves as straight Erotic publishers instead of erotic ROMANCE publishers? Still, it should be interesting to see how it all turns out.
December 17th, 2007 @ 11:29 PM

Posted by Shiloh Walker:

Quoting... "The only trouble I can see for such daring epublishers is if they try to pass their works off as romantic fiction."

I think part of the issue is that most are insisting it is erotic romance. They may consider it such, but that doesn't make it so.

When they say it's erotic romance, a reader expects to get erotic romance and while some are going to be open to more hardcore stuff, I'm not sure if the majority are.

If they'd market it as erotica with romantic themes, I'd think they'd actually fare better. The niche market would find them, as would possibly the erotic romance reader who is looking for more daring, but they also aren't risking alienating those who aren't really into the hardcore stuff. But that's just my two cents on it.
December 18th, 2007 @ 5:21 AM

Posted by veinglory:

If it is a love story with a happy ending I think it is romance too. Who says the majority of romance readers have to like it for it to be romance. I eat pie, I hate strawberry pie--but I don't deny that it *is* pie. It has a crust and some stuff in it, it's pie.
December 18th, 2007 @ 7:29 AM

Posted by Shiloh Walker:

Quoting... " If it is a love story with a happy ending I think it is romance too."

I could find some serious flaws with this argument...I've read plenty of love stories within sci fi and fantasy that ended HEA and that were romantic...but they weren't romance.

But I was more referring to people understanding that erotic romance isn't just about the kink, it isn't just about the sex, with a token "I love you" tacked on at the end.

Understanding romance, erotic romance, is important.

However, with all these new epublishers cropping up, I get the feeling that people are seeing the popularity of erotic romance and a lot of them are jumping on the bandwagon without really understanding it. I get the feeling that some of them think that erotic romance is the same as erotica, or that the quality doesn't count as long as it's hot.

Understanding the genre and making sure you're labeling it for the right target audience is important. Otherwise, you end up with disgruntled readers and authors who are writing something that may not really work as well for that publisher.

Now that said, I still agree with Sarah McCarty who commented that a lot of the hardcore story lines would do better if they were marketed to the niche market, or as Selena Kitt said, "Perhaps if they billed themselves as straight Erotic publishers instead of erotic ROMANCE publishers?"

It just makes sense to me.
December 18th, 2007 @ 8:34 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

I think I agree with the opinion that many of these publishers will escape a lot of heat if they market themselves as erotic fiction publishers. In fact, I notice that some places like Liquid Silver and Total-e-bound do just that.

However, some publishers also believe that they will miss out on a big share of the market if they don't market to romance readers. Mainstream dead tree publishers that do this are Kensington (Aphrodisia line) and Black Lace, for example, with Black Lace going as far as to reissue older eroticas with a most misleading "an erotic romance" tag on the cover occasionally.

I don't know. But I personally believe that a reader should expect any and all kinds of envelope-pushing sexual material every time she opens an erotic romance. If she can't take the heat, then she shouldn't be reading such material in the first place.
December 18th, 2007 @ 8:41 AM

Posted by veinglory:

So how is romance defined, objectively, rather than as 'stuff I like'. I think love story (i.e. at least 50% of the book is about one) and HEA really does cover it.
December 18th, 2007 @ 10:45 AM

Posted by Mrs Giggles:

I think there are two different approaches here as to how we define romance. Of course, ideally, any story about love can be considered a romance. But from a marketing point of view, the word "romance" has evolved to be what we know as the romance genre today: HEA, that kind of thing. Romance readers have come to have a set of expectations of what they can expect from "romance".

Personally, in my ideal world, erotic romance, African-American romance, GLBT romance, inspirational romance, et cetera can exist under the big "romance" umbrella. But that may not apply to another reader, whose definition of romance is "what I have come to expect from romance novels from publishers like Avon, Harper, et cetera".

So how do we define romance? For the sake of discussion, here at least, I'd personally define "romance" as the current state of the genre, where erotic romance may or may not be part of it depending on who you ask.
December 18th, 2007 @ 3:12 PM