This is a follow on to a previous post…
Over the weekend I discussed the positioning of my writing as ‘erotic romance’ with my wife. I was not sure how I felt about the sex scenes I had written or planned and wasn’t sure adding them would help or hurt any marketing efforts. My lovely wife said that back when she read what she termed as ‘suspense romance’ she recalled the sex scenes were even more explicit than what I had written, and as such didn’t see that what I had written so far actually applied to the ‘erotic’ label. As a consequence I did some more research on the distinction between romance and erotic romance. The general consensus seems to be that in erotic romance the sex is largely no-strings-attached and/or deviates from pure pair-wise heterosexual whereas plain romance the sex is about love and is pure pair-wise heterosexual. There also appears to be a bit of a distinction based on word choice, meaning more graphical descriptions of ‘parts’ leans toward erotic while less graphical is romance. Based on that ‘definition’, such that it is, I am still not totally clear on my work. My intent is to evolve the sex between my characters into love (part of the story is about how they need help to even realize they have fallen in love with one another) but that process is aided and abetted by a third party (woman) who also happens to wind up in love with both of the other characters, hence not pure pair-wise heterosexual. Since I wrote what I have so far as less graphical and was planning on continuing that theme, intend for there to be ‘forever after’ love at the end (complexified a bit because it is a three-way instead of pair) I think I will strip out the ‘erotic’ label and stick with just the ‘romance’ bit. These distinctions matter because they influence how any work gets positioned/marketed. If you position wrong you are spending resources targeting a population that isn’t going to be satisfied with your product (this is as true in erotic romance thrillers as it is in such things as bicycles, rocket ships and nuclear power plants). Consequently, if my sex scenes are not hot enough for the erotic market, I am deemed a failure and there is bad word-of-mouth hurting sales. Conversely, if my sex is deemed inappropriate for the romance-only crowd they are also dissatisfied and there is poor word-of-mouth. AFter all that analysis, I am thinking now of dropping the ‘erotic’ moniker as I think I am better off without it. Of course, all my efforts to categorize things may be moot if I go with a traditional publisher, but it will no doubt be a factor if I do decide to try and find one as I would be targeting romance publishers (as opposed to erotic-focused publishers).
Though I haven’t had time to actually do anything, there is also an element of analysis paralysis regarding putting my writing on the web. Initially I planned on a simple password protected site run over HTTPS and any feedback needed to come via email on the part of the reader. However, I immediately started to get into more elaborate designs: first having a link on each paragraph (I was thinking each sentence, but believe I have talked myself out of that) that would pop up a new browser window that would take the reader to a comment section where they could provide feedback without having to create a separate email. That then mutated to carrying over the relevant text so they didn’t have to refer back to the previous window which then immediately lead to storing the content and responses in a database which naturally lead to showing the reader any previous comments which of course lead to some sort of diff mechanism so readers coming back after I have made changes can easily see what is new/different. So, I have gone from maybe two hours of work to weeks-long development of a full-blown application and I have yet to set fingers on keyboard (well, regarding this issue). This aspect of my design process is fairly normal, I don’t like to tie myself down too soon during design, sometimes the best ideas sound crazy at the start (of course, most of them really are crazy, got to sift through a lot of gravel to find the occasional nugget!). What has given me some slight pause in simply discarding the elaborate idea and going back to simplicity (though perhaps retaining the pop-up window for adding comments (though without carrying the selected text along)) is that the couple of places I have looked at regarding critiquing authors on-line have been terrible. All text based, showing their deep roots back to their listserv beginning and basically a huge pain in the ass. While I don’t think there is much money in something like this, it does appear to be something needed. Still, again, I haven’t put the needed time/effort into the retro game and I think there is money it that; why should I think I will do something for free? Also, I started writing stories because I couldn’t make the effort to program the game, so now I am going to make time to program that isn’t the game? I think I have just talked myself into going back to the simple version, perhaps with the small add-on to skip the need for email.
So much analysis, so little accomplished!