Beginning January 1, 2013
Stop by the new site and take a look around.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Friday Spotlight: Cindy Spencer Pape
Romance vs. Porn: The Erotic Debate
There’s a lot of discussion in the romance world about the definition of romance, specifically is erotic romance really romance? Or is it erotica? Or, is it frankly, just porn for women?
My take? There are a lot of people who like erotic romance. That’s the two word deal, or as one of my publishers calls it (this is a trademarked term, folks!) Romantica. Without the romance, it’s just erotica, or literature with the sole purpose of sexual titillation. That’s not a bad thing, not in my opinion, but it is different. Just like romance without the erotic component is a different type of book. There are markets for each of the three. Magazines seem to be the primary outlet for erotica, and mainstream romance novels continue to make up a huge segment of the fiction market, but there has only recently been an open acknowledgment of the combination—erotic romance—where emotion and sex form equally important components of the story.
In the e-book market erotic romance has found a strong foothold. I think there are a number of reasons for this. Anonymity of purchase is certainly one. There’s no bookseller looking down his or her pointy nose and shaking a finger. No PTA president seeing you walk out the door with “smut.” Speed of purchase is another. There’s also the fact that on-line stores can simply stock more variety of titles, so there’s sure to be something to everyone’s taste.
Yes, in the electronic market, erotic romance far outsells sensual romance. But I don’t think that’s universally true. In paperback, I think you’ll find that erotic romance, while definitely a growing market, is still the minority. Face it—the system was already there for mainstream romance, so the buyers haven’t felt any real pressure (other than cost) to switch. But since e-books really pioneered the erotic romance subgenre, that’s where the sales tend to soar.
Like many other authors, I write both, as a friend put it, hot and hotter. When I started, it was what I’d consider steamy mainstream. Dragon in the System, with Cerridwen Press is an example of that. But when the time came for the sequel, Djinni and the Geek, my editor was honest. If I heated it up just a bit more, I’d sell many, many more copies. So I did, and yes, I did. Lots more copies. So rather than write more at the lower heat level, I’ve mostly chosen to go hotter. Am I trading my soul for money? One commenter, an author I greatly respect, asked us to consider why we write as well as what we write, and to consider how our choices reflect on others who have chosen other paths.
So I did. And you know what? I don’t think my choices reflect on any other authors in any way at all. I choose to write, and read, what I enjoy. And yes, that’s a pretty wide range. Right now, I’m working at pretty much the far end of it, as opposed to the middle, where I started. Do I write for myself? I guess. I’d write whether anyone was buying it or not. But yes, I’m attempting to someday make a living at this, so I will continue to attempt to write to the market. I do not write anything that morally offends me, or that I am ashamed to put my name on. Since I use my real name, I think that’s critical to note.
And when asked if I try out everything I write about (sexually speaking), I have this to reply. “When my husband grows wings and a tail, we’ll talk about it.”
~~~Cindy Spencer Pape has been, among other things, a banker, a teacher, and an elected politician, though she swears she got better. She still does volunteer work in environmental education, when she can fit it in around writing. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two teenage sons, a dog, and a lizard. Her website is http://www.cindyspencerpape.com