This post by The Rejecter got me thinking (more) about ebooks, and erotica/erotic romance ebooks in particular.
The Rejecter says ebooks should be viewed as a completely different industry. While I’m not sure I entirely agree (although I see the sense of it and don’t actively disagree), I do wonder if, as I said in the comments to Rejecter’s post, if ero ebooks shouldn’t be considered as different from ebooks in general.
The reason being, of course, that this is the only genre in which ebooks have really taken off on their own, apart from NY publishers choosing to release some of their titles in ebook on Fictionwise or similar sites.
As far as I know, only two ebook publishers have received recognition from professional writer’s organizations (that would be RWA in this case, I don’t think SFWA etc. have recognized any ebook publishers, so please let me know if they have and I’m wrong): Triskelion and Ellora’s Cave. Both of which do erotic romance. (Trisk does regular romance as well, and EC does so now with their Cerridwen Press imprint, but for a long time EC was the only one.)
What interests me are the reason why, more than the wherefores. Personally, I think it’s because these books are so different from anything out there before. I think it’s because women were looking for something exciting, something very sexy (and very graphic). Something with unconventional heroes (you guys know I’ve railed against the “your hero must be a good man who doesn’t really hurt anyone in the book, and your heroine must be kind and loving and care for the little children” conventions of traditional romance, and will continue to do so. They’re not bad in themselves, and I like writing within them, but I also think we can branch out and give the readers something new. Maybe this should be another post), unconventional heroines. Heroes and heroines who don’t wait until they’re in love to fall into bed. Something where perhaps there are two heroes and one heroine. Basically, something that pushes the boundaries.
Not only were these books not available in most bookstores–at least, not if we still want our Happy Ending (a convention I do NOT rail against). Sure, there was erotica, at some stores. But a romance where sex is viewed not merely as the culmination of the H/h’s feelings for each other, but an important part of the development of those feelings? Very hard to find.
Then you have to buy such a book. Take it to the counter, and feel like the bookseller is smirking at you (which they aren’t, come on. But the feeling remains.) Or the people near you in line.
See now why erotic romance ebooks took off so well? Nobody knows you’re reading it, nobody knows you’re buying it. Just pick something, download it, done.
And I don’t think the popularity will ease now that the NY pubs are doing erotic lines of their own. Ebooks in this category still offer a wider range of situations. More graphic laguage. M/M books, or F/F scenes, or BDSM, or whatever takes your fancy.
However…I am emphatically not one of those people who claims that publishing is dead, that now people can self-publish easily the real talented writers will do so, creating another seperate industry, and leave Random House holding the bag, or whatever. It’s not going to happen. As someone (an Anonymous) said in the comments to that Rejecter post, self-publishing removes the filters which ought to be in place. You have no idea if you’re buying the next To Kill A Mockingbird or the next book you’ll throw across the room after two pages. (And am I the only one who’s noticed how many self-pub writers don’t post excerpts on their sites? And wonders why? Is that perhaps an indicator of the writer’s feelings about their work–whether or not they’re willing to share some for free, or is it simply most of them are farid to give any of it away for free because they see it as money lost? Or simply ignorance of the business?)
People buy books from publishers because they trust them. Bottom line.
Which has strayed a bit from my original topic, but so what. I think erotic romance in ebook form is a bigger industry than other ebooks. I think if you’re writing erorom, the bar is higher in ebook and print than perhaps other forms of literature in ebook (which is just my feeling, as I haven’t actually read many other ebooks aside from erorom, but the ones I’ve read I have noticed a difference [this excludes also books put out by Wild Child Publishing because I know how stringent they are] between the quality of eroroms and the quality of, say, mysteries. Hell, EC is so inundated with subs it takes longer to hear back on a query and first three from them than it does with Donald Maass–a year at least.)
So there you go. I think I’m done. Share your thoughts.
Oh, and who volunteers to send my hook to the COM for me? I’ll be at the big party that night, and we’re spending the night in the hotel, and while I should be back by 8 EST the next morning I can’t be certain, so would rather have someone do it for me if you can and don’t mind and won’t forget and all that stuff.