There are currently hundreds, if not thousands, of erotica and erotic romance authors making a living self-publishing on ebook sites such as Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, AllRomance, and others.
As an avid reader of erotica, I was beginning to feel like most of these writers, at the risk of taking a cheap shot at my own kind, are, in my opinion, not that great.
Let’s start things off on the clear– I never imagined I would ever be an erotica writer. When I wrote my first erotic short story, it was for me and me alone– my own desires, my own pleasure. I’m a science fiction and fantasy writer by trade. It’s what I went to school for, and it’s what I always planned on doing with my life. Erotica was something intimate, something I shared and wrote with my romantic partners and never aspired to show to a larger audience or to make money off of– until I did. College was expensive, and writing was leading me to a point where I was embodying the starving artist trope a little more than I wanted to.
So, maybe I sold out. That’s how I felt when I first started, anyway. I read what was available at the time and did my best to replicate it. As a result, my first stories were little better than expanded porno scripts, with one dimensional characters and sex scenes so dry an industrial sized barrel of personal lubricant wouldn’t have made penetration possible. And the sad thing is, they sold– better than I ever imagined. An endeavor that began as a scheme to avoid wasting precious student loan payouts on things like books and alcohol grew into a lucrative career, despite the fact that the stories I was writing were devoid of life, hopelessly trite and barely worth the paper they were printed on (and we’re talking ebooks here, so they weren’t printed on anything at all– harsh).
The fact of the matter is, writing passionless 3000-word sex scenes that you are almost entirely disinterested in wears on a girl after a while.
So, why erotica in the first place? Beyond the paycheck, a couple of reasons, really. For one thing, I love to write. Always have– probably always will. It’s the one profession I can never imagine retiring from. If money was no object, my laptop would still be frying my ovaries as I clickety-clacked away on its keyboard, making up lies and justifying them with pretty literary words. Sure, I can imagine doing something else with my life, but I can’t imagine being happy with it. I’m a writer. Writing is just what I do.
Secondly, I’m a slut. Physically speaking, maybe not so much– I can be a little picky when it comes to sexual partners, admittedly– but sluttiness doesn’t begin and end with the number of people you go skin to skin with. What we’re dealing with here is a mental sort of sluttiness– I’m a cerebral tart, if you will. Maybe it’s something about a strict Catholic upbringing, or maybe everyone’s brain works like mine but they’re not quite so vocal about it, but I have a dirty, filthy mind. I think about sex– a lot. Erotica is a good way to put that kind of gutter thinking to use. After all, idle hands…
The third reason I write erotica is the least practical– and as a result, perhaps the most poignant. For the majority of history, female sexuality has been heinously repressed, with little done to rectify it. While men were heralded, urged toward and socially rewarded for sexual activities, women have been put down and degraded for exactly the same. Sex, for many women, has become a topic of shame, when in no way should it be. Further hindering the abilities of women to fully explore their sexuality is the fact that the vast majority of pornography was in no way, shape or form produced with women in mind. Just take a look at excerpts of interviews with former porn stars— this is not an industry that was created with women in mind. But video pornography is not the be-all, end-all of sexually liberating material out there. Erotica, written by women, for women, allows for full exploration of nearly any sexual fantasy under the sun, in an environment that is conductive to the reader’s imagination and in a medium in which no real people can be physically victimized or psychologically scarred.
Erotica is a movement that is feminist at its core. It’s a safe zone in which a woman can find empowerment in her own desires, safety in her own fantasies, and liberation in her own sexuality. And if that’s not a damn noble cause, then I don’t know what is.
My problem with erotica– even the kind that I’ve written in the past– is that by and large, it’s not treated as a labor of love. A heaping handful of authors in the genre are in it for the money and the money alone, and another handful have become so caught up in the sway of the almighty dollar that they exercise deceptive, utterly sketchy business practices or settle for selling sub par work . But like I said, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of writers self-publishing erotica.
Shouldn’t every one of them aspire to be one of the good ones?
And so, seeing the house I’d built out of bent second-hand nails and dried out driftwood, I surveyed it carefully and burned it to the ground. Then, like Danerys Targareyan emerging from the embers of her husband’s funeral pyre, a new endeavor was born– filthy and nude and now with dragons. India Reid Erotica– stories that give a shit for readers that give a shit.
Or, anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Au revoir, à bientôt, and thanks for supporting your local battery factory by continuing to wear out your vibrators.