Erotica Versus Erotic Romance

This is probably going to be a fairly short piece and it’s just a light topic that you might find interesting. It’s related to the book side of things mostly, but does connect to the D/s aspects towards the end.

People often refer to my books as erotica, and they aren’t. I don’t write erotica, or at least I haven’t at a book length before, mostly because I tend to lose interest in the content. I correct them and explain that I write kinky romance, or erotic romance and there is a big difference there.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with erotica and it has a big following, but if you are looking for that genre than you’d likely be annoyed by my books and I don’t want to disappoint anyone.

Erotica places a huge priority on sex. The plot is very limited and is there just to get you to the next sex scene. Some people love jumping from one adventure in bedroom gymnastics to the next for the whole book, but for me I need a plot outside of the bedroom.

My books have a decent amount of sex in them, some might even say a lot of sex, and they are fairly graphic. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on those scenes, so I assume they are erotic and exciting, which is exactly what I hope for when I write them. But for me sex is just a part of relationship building.

I need the whole package to hold my interest, both as a writer and as a reader. I love a hot sex scene as much as the next person, but if I don’t have emotional engagement with the characters then I’m going to just skim through and then move on.

Erotic romance is a huge umbrella for romance books that have graphic sex instead of the old fade to black. They still have everything else you’d expect from a romance story: conflict, relationship building, misunderstandings, romantic moments, and finally a happy ever after (at least for now.) Sexual content is usually much less than half of the book.

Erotica is a much smaller genre that includes books that are basically all about sex. Everything in them is centered around sex. As a result, your percentage of sex vs plot is going to heavily lean towards most of the book being bedroom athletics.

But even people who know all of that still tend to slot novels with kink or power exchange dynamics into erotica. Why?

Well, I did tell you that this was going to work back around and connect to D/s aspects right? The reason is because a lot of people connect BDSM to sex. In their minds the two are pretty much the same thing. So, if you have written a BDSM novel then obviously it’s all about sex.

Of course, people who are experienced in the scene know better. Sex is a relatively small part of the BDSM world and as a result there are even power-exchange books out there with no sex at all. Discipline-only fiction isn’t the most popular genre on the market, but it certainly exists.

It doesn’t help that Amazon is often prejudiced against BDSM relationships in romance. There are certain words you can’t use in your keywords or descriptions or you risk being shoved into erotica—even though your books might not have nearly enough sexual content to fit in well there. I’ve heard recently even the phrase Alpha Male (which is often used as a codeword for Dom) is risky.

This means they will often move a book into erotica just on that basis, when really it has no business being there. It hasn’t happened to me yet, luckily because it’s hard to get it removed from that category, but it’s a constant worry when uploading a new book.

My last book, Taming His Brat, had some seriously steamy sex scenes, but when you count up how much of the book is actually sex, you’re looking at about 30% at most. The rest is a deep and detailed love story that involves bonding between Charlie and Sam, a mysterious stranger from the past, a plot to ruin their relationship, a letter from her dead father, and all kinds of other things that have nothing to do with a romp in the bedroom.

So far five people have told me that they cried over the letter from Charlie’s father. Believe me this is not what people are looking for when they read erotica.

Anyway, to break it all down for you it’s basically about the focus of the book. If you remove all the sex from your book and you still have a book, then it’s not erotica. If you remove all the sex and there’s really nothing interesting left to read than it is erotica. Easy!

And on that note, I’ll wrap up here. I did tell you it would probably be short and I need to get back to working on my current book: Lights, Camera, Daddy!

6 Replies to “Erotica Versus Erotic Romance”

  1. I have no idea how to classify the book I’m working on. It’s NOT romance… it’s a sci if story but it’s really just discipline/spanking with a side of BDSM… there’s no graphic sex, there’s a huge focus on characters and relationships but not necessarily romantic relationships. It’s too kinky to be mainstream and not sexy enough to be romance.

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    1. That’s a tough one. To be romance there also needs to be a happy ever after (at least a temporary one) so it’s a very specific genre. I’d probably just go with kinky sci-fi and leave it like that. Some books just don’t fit well into established categories.

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  2. i actually learned a few things from this article. im not ashamed to admit i was one of the people who thought erotica and erotic romance. i tend to do the erotic romance, but with more drama to it. The part about keywords and amazon is very helpful, ill keep that in mind when tagging my books for sale. Tell me something, because im new to novel writing, if my book is thrown into the erotica genre im i actually hurting the potential sales of my book?
    also i would love it if you read my first blog post. greatly appreciated.

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    1. It depends. I’ve seen people sell really well in erotica, and get orange banners and everything. But other books just sit there and sell nothing. The general consensus is that if your book is romance you don’t want to be there, because there are a lot more people buying romance, than buying erotica.

      Liked by 1 person

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