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Misinformation or Affirmation – You be the judge

Dear Readers:

A couple of days ago, I blogged about Aphrodisia and its attempts to have its Erotica line pimped as romance despite the line editor’s statements in an interview which seems to suggest that no HEA is required for these stories. Kate Douglas came over concerned that we were spreading some misinformation about the Aphrodisia line.

Other Aphrodisia authors came out in support and left comments.

Susan Lyons said

. The authors have virtually no guidelines, except that the book needs to be HOT! There are contemporaries, historicals, paranormals, humorous books, poignant stories, etc. etc. And all kinds of different sex between consenting adults (or consenting shapeshifters, or whatever).

Lucinda Betts said

The point is that HEA often go with sex, in life and in literature. The Aphrodisia books deliver the emotions that make sex hot for our readers. Sometimes that means we give our readers the HEA. Other times we don't. . . .There are several exerpts there [on my website]. Can you guess which end with an HEA?

Devyn Quinn wrote:

Our stories are about people connecting, enjoying that connection and regretting it when it is gone, or reveling in love when it stays.

Is the Aphrodisia line an erotic romance line or is it an erotica line with some authors writing romance? Will Aphrodisia’s marketing plan backfire? or gain new readership? Do you care? Will these authors be hurt by the fact that there are no parameters or is there truly a large and untapped market of straight erotica that is going to grow from the romance reader community?

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

27 Comments

  1. Keishon
    May 26, 2006 @ 07:03:23

    I’ve only read one book from that line, Wolf Tales, and while it may end with a HEA, it clearly wasn’t romantic to me. I have no further plans to buy any books from that line unless the name on it is Emma Holly.

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  2. Twists and Turns
    May 26, 2006 @ 08:34:58

    [...] Then there's Aphrodisia. Again, we have a link to DearAuthor. I think this is a reflection that we are moving in this direction. Of course, I could be totally wrong, given that publishers are usually slow on the uptake or totally wrong too.  [...]

  3. Jami
    May 26, 2006 @ 09:42:51

    Hey Keishon,
    If you like sexy romance, I really recommend you give some other Aphro titles a chance. Yes, I am an Aphro author (my book doesn’t come out until November), so I have a bit of a vested interest. Anyway, one of the things Kensington is doing with the line is to provide a lot of variety in the line, both in terms of subgenre (paranormal, historical, contemp, etc) and sexual content. They have a very diverse group of authors, who all write very differently. Yes, some books do have scenes with multiple partners, same sex scenes, hero and heroine having sex with people other than each other while moving towards HEA. Some may not find this romantic. Some readers have no problem with it. Other books (like mine!) are pretty straight (and I mean that in all senses of the word) contemporary romances where the hero and heroine shag like bunnies on their way to HEA. IMHO, I think you risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater to completely dismiss the line because the first and only book you picked up was not your speed. That’s like saying you’ll never read another Avon Historical romance because you didn’t like Julia Quinn.

    Oh, and on the HEA note – I believe there are som Aphro titles that don’t have HEA, but they are the exception, not the rule.

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  4. Jane
    May 26, 2006 @ 09:46:22

    At the risk of being shown to be completely ignorant, I think if you don’t like Julia Quinn, you aren’t going to like the rest of the Avon line. It’s the best of their line and what all other of their offerings (even Kleypas to some extent) are modeled after, imo.

    I think it is great that Kensington is all about diversity but how will I know whether a book will have an HEA?

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  5. Jami
    May 26, 2006 @ 09:55:33

    Hmm. I think Kleypas is very different from JQ – JQ (who I actually do like) is very light, chatty, not terribly sensual. I think Kleypas’ books are very sexy, with darker heroes and heroines and none of the comedy and banter JQ has. Anyway, on to the real topic at hand. In terms of identifiying an HEA – hmm. got me stumped. Hey, I know, buy all my books! They all have an HEA! Okay, such shameless shilling is wrong, wrong, wrong! Seriously though, I would say read the cover copy. If the core story appeals to you as another romance would, chances are it will resolve the way you want it to, if that makes any sense.

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  6. Dear Author.Com »Blog Archive » False Advertising?
    May 26, 2006 @ 11:23:23

    [...] The comment thread for this post is now closed. Any further comments on this topic can be made here. Please remember that the comment section is for discussion of the review or topic. It is not a place to promote your books. We have specific contests for that. Any further comments made by authors that include promotional information not requested by another poster will be edited. [...]

  7. Dear Author.Com »Blog Archive » Notice to Commenters
    May 26, 2006 @ 11:27:36

    [...] Notice to Commenters Written by Jane on 26.05.2006 | Misc window.document.getElementById(‘post-291′).parentNode.className += ‘ adhesive_post’; The comment thread for the False Advertising is now closed. Any further comments on this topic can be made here. Please remember that the comment section is for discussion of the review or topic. It is not a place to promote your books. We have specific contests for that. Any further comments made by authors that include promotional information not requested by another poster will be edited. [...]

  8. May
    May 26, 2006 @ 11:50:41

    Jane, I’m definitely not the biggest fan of Avon, but I’d say that Kinley MacGregor’s books are very different from Julia Quinn or Lisa Kleypas, therefore I think you are taking the assumption too far.

    I think that provided the romantic relationship is at the forefront of the story, there is nothing ethically wrong with it being marketed as a romance.

    But the reader’s mileage may vary.

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  9. Nonny
    May 26, 2006 @ 12:11:34

    If they want both books with HEAs and ones without, I would honestly prefer they had two lines rather than shoving them all together and labelling them as Romance when some of them aren’t.

    But I think I’ve already stated my opinion on marketing Erotica as Romance. :P

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  10. Sasha
    May 26, 2006 @ 12:57:05

    Wow, so much furor. And ofcourse I have an opinion. Even though I am also an Aphrodisia author, I have to agree with the false advertising thing. I think part of the problem is that when Kensington started looking for books to start an Erotica line, they found that there really are not a lot of erotica writers out there. There are a lot of erotic romance authors though. So they talked abotuit all, and the marketing, and shelving, adn decided to call it Erotic Romance. even though they had already baught some erotica stories

    This concernes me, because while I can write both, I prefer the freedom of erotica, and letting the characters tell their story. The first novella I sold to them is Erotica, no doubt about it. Like women’s fiction it has a heroin’s journey and a happy ending for her but not a romantic one. Now, I’m not saying all this to promote it, but to explain what I THINK has happened. (just my opinion) That novella is in an anthology, and it’s the only one out of the three stories that doesn’t have a HEA. This bothers me because I think it will bother readers, and I don’t want to piss them off. However, when I sold the story to Aphrodisia, they were calling fro erotica, not erotic romance. Plus, I do love that story as it is, and plan to continue the series.

    All of my other stories for them have HEA, because Aprhodisia changed the line from Erotica to Erotic Romance.

    All in all, I think readers should by authors and stories that they think will appeal to them, no matter what line they are for. This is a not Harlequin with it’s Blaze and Intrigue lines that have clear definitions. It’s more general..I think this is a temporary thing. I think that the line will firm up and things will get clearer for everyone. (for us and for readers) Unfortunately it is a new line, and there was some confusion when they started building their stable of stories for it.

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  11. Jane
    May 26, 2006 @ 12:58:26

    You guys are right. The entire line isn’t modeled after Quinn. It just seems like alot the books published by Avon have the same feel to them.

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  12. Sasha
    May 26, 2006 @ 13:03:20

    Just wanted to add tothe discussion. I read AVON books, but not the historicals. LOL I enjoy the light romantic comedy thypes of Sue Civil Brown and Susan Anderson. And I do associatte the Avon name with those types of stories.

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  13. Jami
    May 26, 2006 @ 13:05:07

    Duly chastened. My comments were made in jest, not in promo, but I understand the issue and apologize. Anyway, Nonny, I kind of agree with you about marketing HEA vs. non HEA in separate lines. I think publishers might have painted themselves into a corner by saying they want to be different by not requiring HEA, giving readers “real” erotica vs. erotic romance, but then realized that that big, wide world of romance readers and their deep pockets really likes the guarantee of HEA along with all that hot sex. But to echo Sasha’s point, editors at Avon, Kensington, and HQN were calling for “erotica” when they were acquiring for these lines, but I’m betting they will start encouraging authors to include HEA if they want to continue appealing to romance readers.

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  14. Sasha
    May 26, 2006 @ 13:16:16

    Jami, They’ve already changed it. Not that they say it HAS to have a HEA now, but IMO changing the genre from erotica to erotic romance says it all. They are two different genres. I honestly think part of the problem is that a lot of new authors also don’t realize the difference between erotic and erotic romance. It’s more than the ending. The stories are different in tone and feel. (IMO)

    I do have faith that things will clear up, but I also think it’ll take a bit of time. Until then, readers…please have patience and don’t scrub a whole line because of one or two stories you’ve read. Judge the author and the story, not the line.

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  15. Nonny
    May 26, 2006 @ 13:26:30

    Sasha said: I do have faith that things will clear up, but I also think it’ll take a bit of time. Until then, readers-please have patience and don’t scrub a whole line because of one or two stories you’ve read. Judge the author and the story, not the line.

    I hope you’re right, Sasha. Personally, I’ll likely just wait and read reviews before picking up books — because I really don’t mind a non-romance HEA, as long as I know about it ahead of time. Kinda like a friend recommended Lynn Viehl’s If Angels Burn but warned that it read more like a dark fantasy novel instead of a romance.

    I really hope the line develops a clear vision of itself over time, but I’m afraid that far too many readers who don’t keep up via the Net will pick up an erotica novel and pitch the whole line cause of it.

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  16. Tara Marie
    May 26, 2006 @ 13:35:28

    I think we need to let this line find it’s feet.

    Bottom line the publishers want to make money, if the marketing strategy doesn’t work they’ll make adjustments.

    Personally, I’ll try the line, my first preference would be books with HEA endings, but I read some erotica (not a lot) and I’m going into it with my eyes open, knowing some of the books aren’t really romances.

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  17. Tara Marie
    May 26, 2006 @ 13:42:52

    One more thing…

    This may seem like a stupid question, but why can’t the publisher simply put “erotic romance” or “erotica” on the spine? That way even if it’s sold in the romance section of a bookstore the reader knows what they are purchasing.

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  18. Bev (BB)
    May 26, 2006 @ 13:57:27

    Well, huh. I just backtracked a couple of links to the Kensington site and found out the books in question appear to all be trade-size, so the “label” is a non-issue as far as I’m concerned. I don’t buy trades in the first place if I can avoid it. Meaning I have picked up a couple of classics or specialty books in trade that one can’t find in other sizes.

    Honestly, though, the readers I’d worry about aren’t the online ones but the impulse buyers in the stores. We’re an opinionated bunch in the first place online and rather quick to squawk and complain. ;p The others might buy one but will they buy the next if it doesn’t meet expectations in a big way? That’s the real question.

    And I’m sorry gals but the HEA is a very big issue with most romance readers, online and off. I got turned off by some of the initial futuristic romances a long time before I got online by some of their dicey endings (and plots for that matter) and it took hooking up with other sources of information both online and off before I let go of that reservation and tried them again.

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  19. Sasha White » Reviews
    May 26, 2006 @ 15:00:46

    [...] Reviews for The Crib and PURE SEX are starting to trickle in…and it’s good timing I think too because there’s a discussion going on over at Dear Author about marketing and HEA and how Aphrodisia is categorized as Erotic Romance but not all it’s stories have Happily Ever Afters. [...]

  20. Cece
    May 27, 2006 @ 08:52:50

    Tara erotica usually isn’t shelved with romance, that’s why. Most of it is found either a) at the back of the fiction section or b) with the sex manuals–for whatever that’s worth.

    I remember a huge dust-up a year or so ago when Cheek (Black Lace Books) re-released some old EH titles with cartoony chick lit covers and they were put in the romance section–but they were erotica!

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  21. Cora Zane
    Jun 25, 2006 @ 10:35:23

    At Books a Million in my area, the Aphrodisia line is in the general fiction section. I don’t understand why they can’t just create a small Erotica section in the store and let people know what it is. It would help them more than they realize. People become repeat shoppers when they know what they’re getting and know where to find it. Too, they have “sex technique books” in the self-help section at bookstores. Why not Erotica? But I’m going out on a tangent here. The point is, I don’t think erotica belongs in the romance section if there’s no romance in it. It’s deceptive to the reader. While I do like a hot, sexy story I absolutely expect a HEA at the end if it says romance on it. I have nothing against straight-up erotica, but honestly, if I want something that’s just hot, fly-by-night sex, I’m probably going to save myself about $7.00 and buy an issue of Hustler Fantasies and be done with it. At least with that, pictures are included.

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  22. Nicole
    Jun 25, 2006 @ 15:50:57

    Cora, most stores DO have an erotica section. At least Barnes and Noble and Waldenbooks do. It’s just usually off in some odd section of the store.

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  23. Nonny
    Jun 25, 2006 @ 16:02:52

    Nicole said: Cora, most stores DO have an erotica section. At least Barnes and Noble and Waldenbooks do. It’s just usually off in some odd section of the store.

    Usually, I’ve seen it tucked away with the nonfiction sex books or by the GBLT section. Very rarely have I ever seen it anywhere else. That being said, I’ve seen the Ellora’s Cave and other e-to-print books shelved with the trade romances instead of with the erotica.

    Finding anything romance these days is a pain in the arse. I find romances with mainstream, fantasy, or erotica — or if they’re vampire romances, even with the horror! It’s ridiculous. (Not to mention very annoying.)

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  24. Cora Zane
    Jun 26, 2006 @ 10:43:46

    Gah! They did away with Waldenbooks in my area. We do have a BaM, though, but it doesn’t have an erotica section. I don’t know if it’s a local thing, or if all BaM stores are like that. I found Sexy Beast (Aphrodesia) last week quite by chance. It was tucked away in the General Fiction section, between some entirely unrelated kind of books on motorcycle adventures. *_*

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  25. Jane
    Jun 26, 2006 @ 22:26:25

    That’s pretty funny, Cora. And I agree with you, Nonny, that finding romance is a challenge. I am not sure I trust the shelvings within the romance section and have found romances outside the romance section. Don’t publishers and bookstore owners understand we are lazy?

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  26. Nonny
    Jun 26, 2006 @ 22:32:00

    Jane said: Don’t publishers and bookstore owners understand we are lazy?

    I wouldn’t say lazy, but I object to having to search five different sections of the bookstore — six, if you count the new fiction shelves up front — because they can’t be bothered to read the genre categorisation on the spine.

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  27. Jane
    Jun 26, 2006 @ 22:48:12

    I am lazy. I want to be able to go to the romance section and browse all of the books that are labeled romance. Then, I would like the erotica section to be right next to it so that I can browse that. But I don’t like intermingling of them. I don’t want to have to read the last two chapters of every book – just the ones that are not romance. :)

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