Sex Sells Books

muscular arm with heart tattoo
Strong and sexy sells books. A LOT of books.


Want to know how many books sex sells?

Over $1 billion per year. That’s a lot of hot steamy romance novels.

I believe erotic fiction should be celebrated not snickered at as a lower art form. Is it sensational? You bet. But that doesn’t make it less-than in any way. Myself, Anna Yeatts, and Damon Shaw (all editors for Flash Fiction Online) launched a Kickstarter of erotic romance called Nasty: Fetish Fights Back. And we are in an interesting spot because we love all kinds of fiction.

According to the Romance Writers of America, those steamy romps pull in 1.08 billion dollars per year (2013). That could pay for a whole lot of literature and MFA degrees.

FFO publishes literary and genre on equal terms, paying Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) approved pro-rates, but it, along with most other genre and literary sites, don’t publish erotica or even graphic sex.

So Who’s Getting A Piece of That 1.08 Billion Dollar Romance Pie?

Me. That’s who.

Or I hope.

book with glasses on top
By 2010, romance novels were the fastest-growing part of the e-book market; Julie Bosman, of the Times, wrote that readers were trading “the racy covers of romance novels for the discretion of digital books.” – “What Happened to the Harlequin Romance” The New Yorker 8 May 2014. Online.

I have a literature degree and will soon have an MFA in genre fiction. Now, that, right there, will make most literary people scoff. To them, genre fiction which ranges the gamut between science fiction to paranormal teen romance and every conceivable thing in between (I’m not going to list them all, but just imagine your local bookstore and all the genres they have shelved). To some academics, these genres have no value because they have nothing to offer beyond entertainment.

Needless to say, genre fiction has shaped my life and helped me become the person I am today. Now, that may or may not be a good thing, time will tell, but it is the truth.

Because of genre fiction, I feel that I’m a better person.

But that doesn’t stop the sneers from my academic friends. I was in an undergrad literature workshop at a traditional university (possibly the worst place for a young writer to be), and the instructor told me that my story was pure sensationalism. She said this in a bad way. So I took out all the fun parts and she loved the story. But, looking back, the story itself sucks.

Speaking of the divide between literary and genre fiction isn’t anything new.

Most people in the writing world have opinions one way or the other. Some, in fact, argue that literary fiction is a genre and not the elevated art form it claims to be. But it is interesting to note that the authors who the academic world holds up as pentacles of success were considered sensational by some in their day.

Now let’s get sexy!

tattooed shirtless man
(This may or may not get you in the “mood” but I felt obligated to try)

Okay, I took off my shirt.

We have three tiers of fiction: literary, genre, and erotica, then erotica can be seen as lower than genre. Genre people call erotic fiction sensationalism.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Labeling anything as less-than is always a bad idea. To wag your… finger at someone for liking erotic fiction or any fiction for that matter is an act of aggression. You’re telling that person that they’re wrong and that you’re right.

This kind of thing never ends well.

We can see this play out in the erotic genre itself. Most authors won’t hesitate to use their given name in a genre story, but when it comes to erotica we often see pseudonyms. Erotic authors have been taught to write in the shadows. Do all erotic authors do this? Of course not. Some don’t give a fuck, and sometimes branding comes into play. If you write YA then you don’t want your readers picking up the novel you wrote about BBCs in space.

Anyway… where was I?

Oh yeah, my socks are off now too.

Stop treating Erotica as a less-than.

With this Kickstarter, treating erotica as a less-than stops now. It is our goal to publish quality erotic fiction from some of the best writers in the business.

I’ve seen the top 10 erotic novels on Amazon, and while I agree that they are sexy, and it is obvious that the writers put a lot of heart into their stories, my editorial fingers snag on the rough edges. I see missed opportunities where the sexy could be spectacular.

That is our goal, and we need all the help we can get for this uphill climb.

Okay. Now, my pants are off.

Nothing left to hide.

But let’s keep the lights on and celebrate the NASTY inside all of us.