Friday, 8 March 2019

And the Erotic Romance versus Romance debate continues...

I need to rant and what better place is there, than here? 

Warning for language, if you proceed.

SO, I have a re-release coming out this month. I wrote this story in the early days of my writing journey, back when I thought I was going to write strictly historical romance. Little did I know then, how titillating and what a rush it is to write erotic romance.

But, I maintain this story is historical romance, pure and simple. That's how it was released the first time—and was well-received without controversy—and Historical Rom is what I reported on the book information sheet when I submitted it to the 'new' publisher. I've just been informed the story will be released as erotic, historical, romance, because, get this, there is SEX in the story. WAIT, WHAT?!? 👀 blink, blink.

This is what I was told:

No sex + happy ending = romance
Sex + happy ending = erotic romance

I highly disagree with this!!! 😠

To me, NO SEX in romance, is either categorized as sweet romance, or YA (depending on age, of course). 

Normally the erotic/not erotic argument comes down to how much sex and what kind of sex. Not sex or no sex. I'm actually floored by this! 😮

I mainly write erotic (romance) now, and I can tell you this story is not erotic. Sex is not what drives this story forward, it is the love story along with the historical significance, plus my own little twist on that history, that is the heart of this story. And yes, I agree, a story can be extremely erotic without there being any intercourse/penetration/climax—however you want to define it—at all, but I feel like the formula above is skewed.

Now, I understand publishers have guidelines that they live by, and those guidelines were in place long before I came along. And let's face it publishers bloody-well do as they please. I know from experience, bringing up my concerns to the powers-that-be over there, will fall on deaf ears, or if I get the right/wrong person riled up, I'll get a set down. But we all know how important the genre tags are.

I'm very cognizant about the historical accuracy, because diehard historical buffs will pick out the things that are not correct. But, my fellow authors, as we know, the same goes for readers who love their erotica. Historical Romance readers want the plot to be driven by, just that, romance, a love story, and history, which my story is. Whereas erotic fans want, yes, a good story, and perhaps some love and romance, though it's not a prerequisite, but what is, is a great deal of sex. They want their steamy bits, and they want them often, often, often. THIS story, is not laden with sex. The hero and heroine are not even intimate until the back end of the book—lots of tension mind you. Readers of erotica will be sorely disappointed if they pick up the book, and they won't be shy about saying so. And readers who read historical romance, will take one look at the erotic genre label/tag on the publishers website, or on Amazon and will navigate away from the book without a second thought, if they even see it at all, since again, as we know, Amazon likes to hide erotic works.

Readers of erotica also like explicit and highly descriptive sex scenes which use a certain vocabulary. Again, this story doesn't have that. It does have some steamy scenes, but historical romance connoisseurs also stick to a defined vocabulary during intimate scenes, which I have observed. 

And I will tell you in the beginning, back when my work first started being published, making the switch from more ambiguous depictions to the straightforward speech erotica demands, was tough. I was encouraged to use words that I didn't even use in my everyday life. I mean, I'm not a puritan, by any means. And I'll call a m*therf*cker, a f*cker, if he or she so deserves. But there were certain female body parts that I did not refer to with 'those' particular words. My early editors would often comment, 'you're being rather coy, just say it!' These days, I have no such qualms. The words roll off my fingertips without a second thought. And in my everyday life, now that *ssh*le that cut me off at the corner, is also a m*therf*ckin' c*nt! 😏 LOL

Anyway, winding down... I'm just afraid the book is not going to reach the target audience. And I've already been through the wringer with this one, when it was with the other publisher, [er...out the side of my mouth—non-payment]  so I'd hoped for better things this time around. Sharing this story means a lot to me.

So, my fellow authors, and readers alike, now that I've opened the erotic romance versus romance debate, I'd love for you to weigh-in, in the comments. 
Or should I just duck and run, for opening this particular can of whoop-ass—OH, NO... that's a whole other genre altogether. LOL. 

As a reader, too though, I know how frustrating and disappointing it can be when you pick up a book expecting one thing and you get another. On the other hand, sometimes you find some hidden gems that way, too, or a new-to-you author, or genre

Thanks for allowing me to vent my frustration. It won't change a thing—they gonna do, what they gonna do—but perhaps I'll feel better just getting it out.

Happy reading, folks,
a.k.a. H K Carlton


  1. I am with you on this. In fact, some of what you write sounds like me when I first began writing erotic romance. I too had a problem using certain words that I'd always deemed strictly bedroom words.

    I love erotic romance, and yes, I want the sex, the build up, the words, description and everything in between. There's nothing more irritating than picking up a book that doesn't live up to the expectations of the blurb, excerpt, cover, and genre. And guess what, you're the one who's going to pay the price. Readers who haven't read you before will be really careful about buying any more of your books after that. Maybe not but you shouldn't have to be forced to take that chance.

    I am so happy that I decided to go indie a few years ago because that wouldn't be a problem for me now. Sorry you have to go through this, and good luck.

    1. Thanks Tory.

      It's sad when the publisher won't even listen. You'd think, by now, they would know how important it is to get it right. They're not new at this.

      I put out my first indie book this past December. Though it was a re-release the freedom was wonderful. I hope to do a few more, on some other stories that I've obtained my rights back to. Maybe once I get the hang of it, I'll do a whole lot more, and even put out some new material. That's the goal.

      Thanks so much for weighing in, Tory. I truly appreciate the input and commiseration. We've all been through it.

      All the Best!


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