Crimson Ink and Caviar Dreams

Professional editor and voracious reader.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Erotic romance is here to stay

Recent events have me very frustrated about the industry's reaction to erotic romance. There have been several disturbing trends in one of the industry's leading professional organizations in the last month and now there are online attacks against the genre.

Let's remember that there is a huge difference between pornography, erotica, and erotic romance.

What is erotic romance? These romantic happily ever after stories present a very frank and open discussion of sexuality. Gone is the purple prose, gone is the closed bedroom door. Some of the books explore themes such as ménages and BDSM in a romantic setting. Emotion is always the heart and soul of these books. Remove the sexual scenes and you still have a romance.

Erotica needs to be plot driven but doesn't necessarily need to be relationship driven. There isn't a need for a happily ever after or even any sort of commitment between characters.

Pornography is just sex for sex sake. I've heard it called 'titillation without plot' or 'plot, what plot'.

There is a huge difference between these three genres.

At RT, erotic romance (specifically Romantica, produced by one of the leading publishers) was partially responsible in reversing sales trends in a major retail bookselling chain.

Why are some in the industry running around in a blind panic now? The barn has been open and the cart has been bouncing along the road for some years now. At this rate, you'll catch it in the next country!

Red Sage Publishing has been releasing the Secrets books for at least seven or eight years now.

Black Lace books have been found in the USA and abroad for nearly ten years.

Ellora's Cave has been in business since the beginning of this century.

You can walk into any chain bookstore and see books by Angela Knight, Jaid Black, and Emma Holly gracing the shelves right alongside authors like Virginia Henley, Susan Johnson, Thea Devine, and Bertrice Small, considered by some to be the most explicit romance authors of the '90s. Erotic romance isn't new. The only thing new about it is that the genre is becoming more mainstream.

Many popular New York publishers have announced their intent to cultivate an erotica or erotic romance audience with new and edgy publishing imprints. I applaud them for doing this. There is obviously an audience out there who wants erotic fiction and erotic romance to read. I'll be one of the first in line to buy samplings from all of these new imprints.

For some reason, it has been hotwired into some romance readers that the upsurge in erotic romance means that non-erotic romance is in danger of dying and there are all sorts of 'definitions' of what romance is and a lot of defensiveness going on by those worried about the longevity of romance.

This simply is not the case. The romance genre is not dying! In fact, it is more vibrant and dynamic now than ever. Inspirationals are on the rise, paranormal romance and cross-genre books are making a comeback. Romantic science fiction can be found more easily than ever.

Poll ten erotic romance readers about their favorite authors and books and I guarantee that there will be a good representation of both erotic and non-erotic authors. Erotic romance readers don't ONLY read erotic romance.

We're all romance fans at heart and these two types of romance aren't mutually exclusive. I wish more people understood this.

I am Crimson Ink and I am a *romance* reader.


  • At 4:48 AM, Blogger Jaynie R said…

    Well said. I have a real problem with some people who use erotica and erotic romance as if they are the same thing. I think a lot of these negative comments are coming from people who don't even read the genre and have no idea how much romance is in erotic romance (romantica) - they just presume it is all sex with no story.

  • At 8:27 AM, Blogger Selah March said…

    I think you're right--a lot of the panic is coming from folks who don't/can't/won't write explicit sex, and assume the rise in popularity means they're about to be put out to pasture. But it's an irrational reaction, given the current political/social climate of the country.

    After all, the Red State folks won, right? "Traditional values" trumped "tolerance and diversity" on the nationwide stage and, as you mentioned, Inspirational sales are also on the rise, which is yet another indication of how wide grows the Great Divide. (In my ever-humble opinion, of course.)

    Surely there is room for everyone beneath the big umbrella, given the variety of reading tastes out there. But if some folks continue to fret and fuss and call names--including at least one recent public comparison of erotic romance to "crack"--I foresee more strife in the near future.

  • At 11:03 PM, Blogger Arethusa said…

    I find it rather amusing that the current popularity of erotic romance heralded to some the death of the industry. Is that what they think now about parnormals, or about romantic suspense when it went big? Sometimes we just need to step back and look at the bigger picture.

  • At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Terra Kent said…

    I think that is what all the panic is about is that the EXPLICIT romance is becoming mainstream and sitting on the shelfs beside books such as Nora Roberts, Sandra Hill and the like. Regular romance though has been around since almost the beginning of time it seems and will continue to live on no matter what other genre becomes mainstream beside it. I am a reader of it all and a writer.

  • At 7:44 PM, Blogger Patrice Michelle said…

    Very well said! Most of the erotic romance readers I know talk about how they read 'everything' from sweet to super hot. Traditional romance is not dying. There's just a lot more choices for the readers today. :)

  • At 5:31 AM, Blogger bill naka said…

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