Thursday, July 24, 2008

Turning the other cheek--veinglory

I was thinking about this today, and I decided there is no one that I hate. I really mean that there is no person out there that I hate on a personal basis. There are political figures that do appalling things, but I don't know them in a way that allows what I feel towards them to be real hatred. Some people I do know bug me, but I wouldn't want anything bad to happen to them.

There are certainly some people whose written opinions either bemuse me, or I actively disagree with them--but this is a largely intellectual exercise and as people I neither know nor care about them. Equally, I rarely know and do not much are about people who disagree with what I write. I understand that many people think writing gay fiction or writing sex scenes is immoral, or wrong or just disgusting. More power to them, they can think what they like--they might somehow feel actual animosity towards me as the writer (although I really don't see how). I am not obliged to care--and I mean that literally.

As a great thinker (specifically Bernard Rollins) once said, if you cannot rephrase an objection to a certain practise in secular terms it isn't morally significant in our secular society. There is no basis for saying that erotic writing is inappropriate as a part of modern culture. Blanket objections to erotica are niche concerns, at most most edicts of a certain religion, at least a matter of personal taste.

But that is somewhat to the side of the point I am trying to make which is this. When I write a reaction to something I have read I am critiquing what I have read. I almost never know the person who wrote the work and I certainly feel no animosity towards them, not even the palest shade of dislike. And even if I did, it cannot matter a great deal. One random stranger on the internet not liking you is hardly a catastrophe. But if it helps: I don't.

When I write a researcher's conclusion that both men and women like romantic types of erotica best because of a "recent movement to romanticize highly explicit sexual material" rather than, for example a deeply ingrained congenital tendency for lust and attachment to go together. I am making that point and nothing more.

When I suggest that a writer is not in a position to say with authority that the romance genre is "has been losing readers... losing sales" due to the existence of highly erotic work on the shelves, again I mean only that. My basis for thinking the reverse it true is that romance sales are, empirically speaking, dropping no faster than sales in other genres--and erotic books outsell non-erotic books at publishers that offer both types.

And if what I say bemuses you, or you disagree with it--feel free to say so. I promise not to take it personally. :)


Meg said...

Great post! (just my opinion hehe)

Anonymous said...

Since my other response mysteriously disappeared from this web page
and you still insist I have not gotten my research correctly
here are a few links to back up my comment about romance sales

In Which We Offer Our Unsolicited Opinion | Booksquare

Harlequin Enterprises: The MIRA Decisions Case
Romance: In Its Own Time - 6/13/2005 - Publishers Weekly

A Billion-Dollar Romance Novel Industry, And Its Lonely Black Author, page 1 - News - Seattle Weekly

and here I am posting my response again

Ms. Veinglory,

It seems you have a grievance with the article I wrote for Affair de Coeur. You can attack me all you want, personally, I don’t care. However, please be a little more accurate with your attacks. I would prefer that you get the record straight. This one Pamela Ackerson had my first short story published at the age of 16. My first book was with a conventional publisher (Sunstar), which merged with 1st World Library as a POD. When the book first came out 6 years ago, for the first 6 months the book sales rank with Barnes and Noble was in the 30,000’s. My second book was published through 1st World Library, was a POD, and I paid much more than the 1900 dollars you claimed I paid. That book did not sell well from the very beginning and it was edited by an excellent editor, which brings you to my exact point … bad editing can ruin a story.

Let me give you two examples of books I have recently read.

Now, I apologize if I offended you. Especially if you are the author who wrote the book where the main characters had sexual relations a week after they met, she sucked his dick and he sucked her c**t which he found himself to be pleasantly surprised because she smelled and tasted like freshly shucked oysters. ::Gack:: Sorry, but that scene made me gag. It makes me look at oysters in a completely different way now. I used to love oysters. Sigh.

Or possibly, did I offend you because you were the author who had her characters meet in the first chapter, having sexual intercourse in a dark hallway with a man she doesn’t know, sucking his dick, doggy style sex while losing her virginity, and then meeting him 2 chapters later and having oral sex in the living room. In my humble opinion, that is not romance either.

I do not profess to be an expert. At 51 years old, I have read every imaginable book available. If I want to read erotica, then I read erotica romance. Some erotica have been written with better taste than some contemporary and historical romances I have read in the last 45 years since I have started reading See Jane Run. So, dis me all you want. I stand by my opinion. C**ts that taste and smell like freshly shucked oysters … doggy style sex with someone you have no idea what he looks like, who he is, etc. is not romance.

Pamela Ackerson

veinglory said...

I have not deleted any responses. You are more than welcome to post any counter opinion. Perhaps you could quote in those article what supports your statement that erotica is causing the decrease in sales. I am not disagreeing that there is a decrease in sales, but that it is disporportionate in romance compared to other genres and that the cause might plausibly being the erotic sub-genre.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Ackerson,

You have quoted three sources above. I went in search of those three sources and found that none of them refer to erotica affecting romance sales. In fact, not one of your sources mentions erotica or sexual content at all!

Source 1.)

The author quotes a New York Times article that stated, "Explosive growth in the market for women’s fiction, particularly in newer genres like chick lit and women’s thrillers, has been drawing readers away from traditional romance novels."

There is no mention of erotica. I read the entire article you referenced, including the comments, and there was no mention of erotica or sexual content in romance on the page.

Source 2.)

The first line of this paper sums up the argument made in the paragraphs that follow: "The primary issue facing Harlequin is the 'steady loss of share in a growing women's fiction market', due to the growing popularity of single-title novels." Again, there is no mention of erotica or sexual content.

Source 3.)

Your third source is a strong statement about the lack of racial diversity in the romance genre.

"An RWA industry report warns of flat sales and 'an aging readership whose demand for traditional mass-market format books will fall.' Book readership is down generally, according to a 2002 study by the National Endowment for the Arts (TV, video games, and the Internet are blamed). Even mighty Harlequin—the industry leader, which produces more than 115 new titles a month and sold 131 million books in 2006—announced job cuts last year, after several lackluster quarters in a row. For that reason, there is money in multiculturalism, in expanding the reader base to new ethnic niches."

There is another reference to shrinking sales: "Howard and other publishing executives know that the romance market flattened in the '70s and '80s, when musty Anglophile romantic lineages (e.g., Tudor and Regency) failed to keep pace with the reality of life for American women who were working, marrying later, and not necessarily preserving chastity for the bridal suite."

The last line of your post, "...Doggy style with someone you have no idea what he looks like, who he is, etc. is not romance," is a statement of what type of fiction you, personally, like or do not like to read. Nothing more. There will always be a fantasy element to romance--and some fantasies start with sex and end with marriage.

Anonymous said...

my original article never mentioned erotica romance as the cause to the loss of sales

otherwise the whole point of the article would have been moot

these references were toward historical romance books not erotica
I expect different verbiage with both genres

Ms. Veinglory wanted to know where I found my information on the decrease of sales so I sent a list of the articles

and also my article was an opinion article
hence the title
wherefore art thou romance

oh and I didn't mean to make it sound like you deleted me
I don't know where the other post went most likely it was my ineptness and not the web site