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Romance or Erotica

Lumpy

So I have been reading a few places, and getting a little confused. This is less for SOL and more for places where I would actually sell an ebook.

How do you know if your book is romance or erotica? What level of sex in a book moves it from one to the other. I see some saying that you can have explicit sex in your book and still have it fall in the romance category rather than the erotica category.

Others say any explicit sex makes the book erotica.

Dominions Son

@Lumpy

How do you know if your book is romance or erotica? What level of sex in a book moves it from one to the other. I see some saying that you can have explicit sex in your book and still have it fall in the romance category rather than the erotica category.


Why do they have to be mutually exclusive? Why can't a book be both?

Chris Podhola

@Lumpy

How do you know if your book is romance or erotica?


It's definitely a grey area, but there are some lines (although faintly drawn). Is the story in question focused more on romance, or is it more about sexual exploits? Does the love interest come first, or does the sexual relationship lead to romantic feelings? Are there more than one partner involved for the main character?

The answers to these questions won't necessarily preclude a work from being either romance or erotica, the lines are blurry at best, but answering some of these questions and others like it will help you categorize your work. If the focus is on romance, categorize it that way. If the work focuses ore more about sex than romance, but romance still comes into play, you could go either way. It would depend more on how you wanted to market it and what you wanted your sales expectations (or marketing strategy) to be. (It is more difficult to advertise erotica than it is to advertise romance).

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@Chris Podhola

I always knew my story fell on the edges of erotica at best. I mean, only about 4,000 words out of 180,000 are sex scenes. The rest are either romance, character development (outside of sex and romance), or plot.

I was more looking at the marketing. From what I have been reading, while erotica sells well, if you don't have a particular angle to it (or particular kink), it doesn't do as well.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Lumpy

Wow ... 180k. That's a lot. The industry standard for either erotica or romance is 80k. To me, those numbers are guidelines and I don't necessarily obey them stringently myself, but seeing that number makes me wonder why so long? To be honest, my first instinct would be to ask you how difficult it would be to cut that story into two parts. Could you make it a series? Could you close one story effectively at about the half way point and offer the second half as a continuation?

I ask this because many readers might be intimidated by story that long.

Anyway, to answer your question, your instincts are correct. Erotica does definitely do better if it has a particular slant to it.

As far as marketing goes for romance, this can also be difficult until you have a minimum of four reviews. If you can publish it and get four reviews right away (somehow), that opens up the possibility of advertising on the sites available for Kindle free days (assuming you made it a KDP select item).

If you don't know what I'm referring to, go to authormarketingclub.com This site has more information on where to market a book that you have on a Kindle free promotion. (You have to query these sites at least a week in advance). Most of them also require a minimum of four reviews (at least four stars) and most of them offer guaranteed placement on their site or newsletter for a nominal fee (some are $5, some are $10 and some are a little more, but all of them are worth the investment). I've gotten as many as 4000 downloads during a promotion from using these sites.

Hope that helps.

Replies:   Lumpy  Lumpy
Bondi Beach

@Lumpy

How do you know if your book is romance or erotica?


Harlequin can help you answer that question.

bb

Lumpy

@Chris Podhola

Well, I always planned this at novel length (and as a novel with sub-plots and a cast of characters). And it is almost done. I expect it to come in at 200k (and have outlined 4 other books the same length to follow in the series).

Thanks for the tips on marketing a romance. This is the first thing I am putting out there, so still flying a little blind. I was kind of hoping to ask my readers here to post a review on amazon when I put the finished work out there. Wasn't sure if that was something allowed.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Lumpy


Wasn't sure if that was something allowed.


It's a grey area. Personally, I don't do it. I take the reviews I can get, but the idea of asking for them seems ... awkward? Amazon frowns on this practice, but if you ask here at SOL, I doubt they'd ever know.

Also: 80k is novel length. 200k is epic length. Most publishers recommend against debut novelists from beginning at the epic length, because they aren't ready for it. It takes a lot of talent to carry a reader that far, for that long in a story.

But that's the benefit of self publishing. You don't have to listen to what the professionals have to say.

Switch Blayde

@Lumpy

How do you know if your book is romance or erotica?


If the sex drives the plot, it's erotica. If the romance drives the plot, it's romance.

However, it could be erotica with a subgenre of romance, or as the founder of Ellora's Cave coined Romantica, romance with a subgenre of erotica.

Lumpy

@Chris Podhola

Chris,

I took your advice and split my book. I found a workable spot where it makes sense to split it and actually, I think it makes the main plot work out, since it kind of switched mid way in the book anyways.

My question is, should I change what is here to match the two books, or should I just leave the 1 mega book here and have 2 books for the rest of the world?

Chris Podhola
Updated:

My answer to that would be, have it deleted from here and put it into KDP Select. That way when you put the first one on a free promo, you have something else for your customers to want.

Having an audience here at SOL is wonderful, but if you are trying to work your way into publishing in the paid market you need to publish some things in the free market and leave them there solely and other things in the paid market solely. Otherwise your free market customers have nothing to cross over to. The purpose of building an audience is so that you have a customer base to start with.

Update your SOL author homepage so that it leads the readers here to your professional author page. That way, when you do add more things to SOL, your readers have somewhere to go to get more of your work. Fortunately for you, these items won't be free and you have potential sales. If you keep everything you have published in SOL also, your customers have no reason to purchase your paid works.

richardshagrin

My suggestion would be whatever is less work for you. You may get less pushback from Amazon or other sites if the stories you want to sell there are clearly different than what is posted on SOL. Particularly if you use different titles for the two parts than for the complete story here there should be no problems with Amazon adjusting your pricing there to zero because a different story here is free.

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@richardshagrin

This site doesn't count towards Amazon pricing, since it requires an account to access.

Or so I have been told.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Lumpy

This site doesn't count towards Amazon pricing, since it requires an account to access.


Not true. Amazon says they will price match your novel wherever it is, even from your own site. Requiring an account has no effect on it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

It sounds like it's erotica>romance. You'll find, though, that most books fit into multiple genres, and when you publish it, you can list it under several as well. Genres are a 'softer' designation than they used to be.

Chris is also right, 200K is way too long for a Romance book. Readers frequently prefer longer books, but you should be aware of genre limits. Romance and Mysteries tend to be shorter (by a significant amount), while science fiction tends to be longer (because there's so much back story to cover). A visit to your local bookstore will give you a decent idea of what the genre standards are (just discount the big name titles, since those authors have earned the readers' trust).

I may be making assumptions, but with a name like "Lumpy", it needs to be said. If you're writing a Romance, you'll probably want a pseudonym. It's more effort, and won't help you publish any other books under your actual name, but it's another genre specific detail. Most romance readers won't read a Romance novel written by a man. I suspect you could get away with it if you're writing Erotica>Romance, though.

The thing to remember about publishing, is that first books don't sell well. The first thing many readers do, when they see a book they're interested in, is to Google the author (by the way, you may want to look into a website as well). If they don't see any references, or if they only see a single book, most readers will pass it up. There are just too many first-time authors who get discouraged and never continue. The more books they see, the more likely they are to purchase from you.

But don't worry, you'll make it up. Every subsequent book will help sell your earlier books. Assuming your readers are satisfied, you'll earn their trust. That's why serials are so popular with publishers now. Many traditional publishers are now discouraging first time authors with only a single book, telling them to come back when they have a trilogy (sounds counter-productive, I know, but what can I say).

As Chris says, you want to keep the first book in a series short, so it's easier to give it away free (and for a reader to read quickly). Selling a first book virtually guarantees later sales (they decrease over time, but stay largely consistent). The key is to charge little (or give it away for free) for the first book in a series, and to charge the most for the final book.

I'd keep the other books (after the first) between 50,000 to 80,000 words, just because of the genre standards. Rather than cutting them at that size, you'll do better editing them down. If you keep in mind what the readers expect, it's easier cutting the scenes you personally love. :(

I'm not sure what the 'average length' of erotica books is, since my local book store doesn't keep that category on the shelves.

P.S. As for SOL, they prefer longer books, so you could post the entire story, but it's a bitch maintaining separate copies of a book. So I'd recommend you post whatever you publish (you don't want readers expecting to get more by reading your books for free).

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