Sunday, January 27, 2008

As Jennifer asked, here is my thought about the Dear Author post--also posted there as a reply.

I don't think I understand the point being made. There are epublishers for all genres. Some with no erotic stuff at all. Look at Double Dragon et al for example of excellent non-erotic, in this case spec fic, fiction online. Their quality is not the problem, there just isn't the same demand--for many reasons including the competition and the advantages for women buying porn anonymously online rather than from a pimply youth at Borders.

Ebooks sell better in certain areas, mainly sex and self-help. Customers have decided that, not publishers and not author quality. Books are a 'pull economy'. The meet the demand far more than they create it. Any author has learned, you can't make people want a book.

So, "is the E (erotic?) hurting e-publishing"? Is sex a wound or an illness from which a format can 'suffer'? Erotica is a strong niche for ebook writers and publishers. If other genres want to do as well they need to figure out how to make it happen--and realise it isn't just about being good enough, it is about identifying and meeting customers needs and desires. If erotic romance is not what you want to read there are excellent ebooks in other genre out there to be supported and promoted. Feel free to name check your favorite non-erotic ebook writers and publishers here:


Diana Castilleja said...

Stacy Dawn (The Wild Rose Press)
Dayna Hart (Samhain)
Linda Mooney (Whisky Creek Press)
Adelle Laudan (Forbidden Publications)
Sara Dennis
Denise Patrick
Elaine Cantrall
Judith Rochelle

There's an entire network of non-erotic authors at

The last thing I want to see is an E Vs NonE. Each has their sales point. Personally, I'd just like to see a stronger voice made for the non-erotic, rather than the adage "Sex sells" being the grounds for everything.

Page Smith said...

I think that the Dear Author post was more a complaint about one type of book dominating epublishing, rather than a criticism of erotica. Everyone might suddenly go crazy for books about Hello Kitty toasters... or vampires. Heaven knows I can barely look at one because of the glut over the years (vampire books, not toasters).

Menage is still new as any kind of staple in any kind of book. I suppose that a reader gets more... er, bang for their buck, which is the point of erotica for many (not all). Until the novelty wears off, it will continue to sell well.

I throw up my hands in frustration when there's absolutely nothing on television except "reality" shows. Too much of anything isn't good.

Sarah Palmero said...

I don't think (and this is my reading of it only) that the question was meant to imply that ebooks or epublishing has an illness. I think it was meant to ask, as Jane did, whether there is a bias of perception when people look at the books and the online publishing world.

I also think the answers in the comments pretty clearly show that there is.

Yes, if we want non-erotic books to do as well as erotic books, we need to find ways to do that. One of the ways to do that, however, is to talk about the fact that there's non-erotic stuff out there and readily available.

I know SRN used to do reviews of non-erotic books and they got more than a little swamped and stopped. But maybe that's something that should be started up again. Not necessarily by SRN, but it might not be a bad resource to have.

veinglory said...

I see it suggested as a negative that epublishing is assocaited with erotic. It is because... it is. Ebooks are disproportionately erotic.

But have you also seen posts by people who left EPIC because it was all about romance?

Genres that are doing well in epublishing make up a larger part of its identity.

I think that is good. Love is good, sex is good, ebooks are good. 100% win. :)

veinglory said...

I also see that no matter who nicely meant seeing erotica as something 'hurting' a format making a statement that erotica is somehow hurtful, injurious. That by being successful it is doing something wrong. That by focussing on erotic genres pepublishers are doing something bad.

Diana Castilleja said...

There is no "wrong" in a market driven by demand, by consumers. But the mental connection that e=erotic=ebook railroads into obscurity some portion of the writing being put out.

It's simply a misconception that can be addressed and changed, if as a whole we make the steps to do so.

Sarah Palmero said...

I personally don't think epublishers are in the "wrong" to focus on erotic offerings for the time being. Readers want it, they're selling well, etc. If the publishers want to make money, they're "right" to focus there.

However, I think Jane has a point in asking, what happens if NY continues on it's erotic trend too? Ebooks and epublishing begins to look less like a standout.

There was a time when ebooks were really *the* place to go if you wanted erotic romance. Now, you can get a heck of a lot of in in a print book store.

Does NY allow you to write to certain kinks, or M/M as much as epublishers? No, not yet, but I've seen some boundary pushing stuff (as far as "traditional" romance goes) pop up at Harlequin lately, so who knows whether the boundaries might not continue to expand in print as well?

If that's the case, and NY and the epublishing world continue to grow toward meeting in the middle, and print publishers continue to explore putting their books in electronic format, then it makes sense, doesn't it, that publishers might want to think about or work toward equalizing their offerings so that they can continue to compete?

At the moment, with the perception as it is, I think most people do -not- consider ebooks on the same level/of the same quality as print books when it comes to the non-erotic genres. Yes, there are exceptions to that statement and people who will read anything. Which is fantastic!

As more and more people pick up ereaders and get used to electronic books, there's an opportunity for all electronic authors to benefit.

But only if the perception that e=erotic shifts a bit, I think.

...and that was long. Apologies for rambling.

Mechele Armstrong said...

Long post but it was a good one, Sara.

I really didn't see the original post as saying it was bad but more that if readers only associate one thing with epublishing, erotica or erotic romance, than other genres get left out.

veinglory said...

I would argue that epublishing is inclusive of much more types of material than print. I am not sure why those not present are seen as 'left out' rather than just 'not there'.

Is there an assumption epublisher provide a public service and must represent all genres, even if they are not profitable? Do we expect this of print publishers?

Sarah Palmero said...

I don't think anyone is arguing (or would, probably) that epublishers are more inclusive, Emily. I'm certainly not.

I don't understand the not present comment, though. There *is* non-erotic stuff being offered at some epublishers. It's not a matter of it not being there.

Do you mean the readership being left out rather than not there? Because I've seen and heard a slowly growing number of people mumble about wanting less "hot hot hot" and more "traditional" romance. The pendulum is starting to swing back a little, in other words. So I think the readership *is* there, to some extent, but finding stuff when the current focus is on the erotic is tough. It can be hard to see.

I'm not expecting all epublishers to offer all things. As stated in my last long-winded post, the market is hot at the moment. There are, though, some epublishers who already accept less erotic romance or other fiction genres. It would be cool, IMO, if the sales at those houses twitched toward balancing out at some point.

As far as print publishers: I think the majority of the big houses cover lots of genres and subgenres already. Adding erotic lines to their offerings is what's relatively new.

Diana Castilleja said...

Not sure I understand your "left out" "not there" statement either.

I don't expect all publishers to cater to every need either, but if they do diversify (EC/Cerri as an example) then do it so people can find the non-e. Wild Rose Press is another that has separated the two. I know MBaM has separations, but this isn't the norm.

As an example, my work is continually buried by my publishers on their sites because there is no catalogue separation UNLESS they are physically looking for me by name. Does that hinder sales? I don't see how it can't.

That probably comes of as a pure gripe, but it's the very reason I started SRN to begin with. Because as a nonE writer, there just wasn't anyway to be noticed, one author beneath a pool of 30 or more erotic authors.

So the misconception that the E could mean erotic to the consumer to me, is a sound one.

Nell Dixon said...

Moonlit Romance is a small e press specialising in traditional romance and readers go there looking for that. I've had readers tell me they have been turned off e books because they percieve them as all sci fi/fantasy or erotic. E books are a growing market and it's in everyones interests to make sure there is material there for all readers.

Anonymous said...

When my publisher (Amber Quill Press) started out, they were almost exclusively non-erotica, releasing 10-12 new titles each month in all genres (Horror, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Young Adult, etc). Now, more than 5 years later, since sales have dropped off for non-erotica, they release only 1 or 2 new non-erotica titles each month, and about 25-30 erotica/gay titles per month. The owners have told the authors on numerous occasions that they will continue to release non-erotica books, but sales for them now account for less than 5% of the overall business (erotica about 45%---which has dropped also---and gay erotica and gay non-erotica about 50%, which has exploded in the past year).

I'm not sure where the customers are for non-erotica material...they seem to have disappeared in the last five years. But since this is a business, I can't fault any publisher for giving the customers what they demand, even though it doesn't seem fair to neglect the non-erotica material.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Well, Samhain closed its doors to submissions and reopened with a "romance" emphasis in order to reflect the buying trends on their site. Who can blame a publisher for going for the genre that pays?
What, I think, the point becomes is this. Is epublishing developing a reputation of ONLY publishing Erotic romance? If so, marketing for non erotic genres have an image issue in epublishing.
Personally, I like it all. Erotic and sweet. Suspense and fantasy. Everything. Well, except vamps.
Best non erotic authors?
Dayna Hart
Diana Castilleja
Sara Dennis
Emma Wayne Porter
Jenna Bayley-Burke
Brieanna Robertson
Cynthia Spencer Pape (her Wild Rose Press stuff)