Monday, October 4, 2010

So, Sex Sells, huh?

So, sex sells, huh? We hear that all the time. The notion that if the word sex, or sexy content and images are involved, folks will hand over their full attention, and their money.

This might be the case when it comes to music, or advertising, as in this body wash ad with the sexy image. And yes, sexy images on book covers are standard, eye-catching ways to promote - some of my titles have very sexy covers. But, I want to set the record straight as far as how well a sex related book will actually sell, simply because it is categorized as erotica. It won't - the simple fact that it's erotica is not enough, and it can sometimes be a negative as opposed to a positive. It is an injustice to all erotica authors to assume this - that we can simply throw a few dirty words in a book and we're done. Writing erotica is a bold move, and writing erotica is not easy.

People have said that some authors switched genres to make money in this industry, and that they (we) decided to write erotica to please our publishers and to get on the "sex sells" bandwagon to make money. Well, I'm here to tell you that just because you write an erotica book, you are not automatically going to start pulling in the riches because you now use "P" words that place your titles into a "popular" genre. No matter how popular the genre might be, your book will not sell unless readers know about it through advertising or word of mouth, and it will not garner word of mouth if the writing is inferior. You must still craft a good story, sex or not, and write a page-turner, three-some or not. It's not about the sex, it's about the journey of the characters.

Writing erotica is not the magic road you can take to the land of riches. Deciding to write erotica is not as easy as one might think. A lot of factors must be taken into account. Some are internal, and others are about whether one can write a story that qualifies as erotica - not just one story, many stories, because just as with any genre, it can take a building of momentum to begin to get noticed.

I've written eleven books in many genres, including inspirational fiction, and erotica under the name PYNK, had numerous contracts, self-published as well - writing erotica is not a get rich quick scheme - we are all in the business together, working hard to reach the best-seller lists that will hopefully mean/lead to selling thousands, millions, billions of copies. It's not as easy as simply picking a genre. It's all about writing the book that people can't stop talking about, the one that garners tons of attention, the one that sells out and reprints, and ensures a royalty check is in the envelope along with that lonely royalty statement. Sometimes there's an accompanying check, and sometimes there's not!

In the meantime we write, hopefully because we love it. And we write to express the stories that we feel need to be told, whether romance, mainstream, mystery, or erotica. And though we categorize titles, we should not categorize each other. No matter what genre we write in, we are all authors living our passion, whether we sell or not. The books on the shelves are a smorgasbord of tastes - a plethora of sizes - a melting pot of colors. One does not suit all. Sexy cover or not.

So, sex sells, huh?


Jean Holloway said...

I agree 100%. Thanks for your great insight.

Charles Gramlich said...

In most cases, but not all, I imagine a little sexy image doesn't hurt. But it certainly isn't any guarantee.

Marissa Monteilh said...

Thanks, Jean! Charles, you summed it up in 2 sentences! =)

Shani Greene-Dowdell said...

"Writing erotica is a bold move, and writing erotica is not easy."

Marissa, I could not have said this any better. Authors who venture into this genre have to have thick skin. Writing erotica does not in itself catapult an author into literary stardom and with all of the criticism and infighting in and outside of the industry it can even be discouraging to say the least. So what makes the writer keep on keeping on? The passion for crafting stories of love in its most explicit forms (the real deal for those who can handle it), the layers formed around the story create a bigger lesson for readers to appreciate and grow from.

Without a dedicated market erotica would have dried up years ago, so I appreciate authors like yourself who can bring different perspectives.

Liane Spicer said...

Having written a few erotic scenes myself, I fully appreciate the difficulty of getting it right.

From the perspective of a reader, I've seen enough bad erotica to make me appreciate the writers who take the trouble to hone their art. The sexy image on the cover can only take you so far; the story has got to deliver.

Marissa Monteilh said...

Shani, you are correct, the passion, in any genre, is what keeps us writing! Liane, story delivery is key, hot cover or not, sex scenes or not - write on, sis!!

Max said...

Insightful, thanks.