Marta Salij recently wrote in an article entitled, “Hot fiction for and by women,” for the Detroit Free Press and reprinted in the Journal News, that erotica has gotten the attention of some of the biggest romance publishers. She mentions that Berkley, Harlequin, Avon and Kensington are launching “more sexually explicit and adventurous” lines than they have in the past.
Some of our readers tell us that they want to see more sex in our stories, too. When I hear these types of comments I wonder if these are romance readers who want more sex or erotica readers looking for another source of erotic materials. Or is it simply that if you ask someone if they want more sex in any facet of their life will they automatically say YES!
Certainly the larger publishers have room to launch an erotic-style line or produce a couple steamier books each month without alienating their traditional readers. But are smaller publishers supposed to abandon their traditional vehicles (and readers) to jump on the erotica bandwagon? If romance fiction suddenly morphs into erotica where will the romance readers go to find the stories they want?
I personally think the situation will work itself out before the flow of romance fiction dries up. Keep in mind that bandwagons get crowded and with all that jostling around the music stops sounding as sweet. Next thing you know a wheel falls off and you’re stranded waiting for the next bandwagon to go by. Or in less metaphor-laden English, trends either become the norm or die. And there is always another trend nipping at their heels.
I think our goal should be to continue with those elements of romance fiction that are most appealing: well-defined characters, compelling relationships and stories plus a good balance of sex and romance. That’s way one way to keep the music sweet and our readers coming back.