This article contains mature themes.
Content is key, but what if you don’t have a handle on how to gauge content? This big issue I’ve been faced with as of late is how people interpret my promotional policy. My policy was static for about two years, but now it seems I have to update it every other month. On one hand, I’m not one to shy away from expressing my opinions, but I also don’t set out to offend people. On the other hand, I refuse to be made to feel guilty for not wanting to promote something that I’m just not interested in reading and or promoting.
As for what I read, I choose to read fiction that’s within my comfort zone, most of the time. How can I be expected to find an escape if I’m uncomfortable and frustrated with the content? And to be perfectly honest, I’m more open-minded about what I read, than many of the people I associate with. I have come across so many blogs and groups who refuse to review spiritual fiction, especially not anything religious or tied to a religious affiliation, and I have no problem with that. I don’t think these bloggers should be made to feel bad simply because they
choose not read something that makes them uncomfortable. However, when the tables are turned against any topic related to sex and or violence, people get mad and offended.
So here’s the big issue: what is erotica?
Heck if I know. I don’t read it, but I’ve read a few things I feel might be pretty close it and that’s one comfort zone I’d like to stay within. As an adult, I have no problem with anyone who reads or writes erotic stories. I even think some stories could use a little spicing up, but that doesn’t mean I want to be immersed in erotic language and images nor do I want to promote it. So all that’s left now is for me to decide how much is too much.
This would all be so much easier if there were some kind of industry standard, but there isn’t. Many will argue that some works are clearly Erotica, but what about all those that are “borderline.” I was recently faced with the challenge of trying to clarify my promotional policy by having someone compare the works, Fifty Shades of Grey and A Discovery of Witches. Taking into consideration that not everyone reads the same genres no matter how popular a book may be this comparison didn’t work; the author hadn’t read either of the books and hadn’t even heard of the latter. For me personally, I can scan the reviews of a book to get a feel for the content within, but we were in a bit of a crunch at that moment.
So now I’m felt looking back at my reading history and wondering where each book falls into my promotional policy. Have I read books that I actually wouldn’t promote?…Yes, and to be honest, I’ve never promoted those books. Some of them I didn’t finish and the few I did, I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed… Maybe I should.
Now it becomes a matter of what I think Erotica is.
I’ve never read Fifty Shades of Grey, but I’m pretty confident it’s too extreme for me, along with other such titles as: Insufferable Proximity and His Possession (books recommended if you like 50 Shades). I guess if the major selling point of the book is sex, that’s a pretty clear indicator. What about all those books that actually have a well-developed story along with a lot of detailed sex?
Take the book Outlander for instance. To me this book is borderline Erotica, but I have a feeling the Showtime series is pushing the limits of that (I’ve never watched it). I read this book because it was recommended to fans of time-travel and historical fiction; both accurate descriptions. However, this book contains a lot of sex and some of it is what you might consider “kinky”. This book was very uncomfortable to finish, but the beginning was so good and the actual story and characters so compelling, that I plowed forward and tried to skip over the parts I didn’t like. It was truly an incredible story, but it’s not a series I will ever continue simply because of the intense and graphic content I choose not to read.
Now consider the All Souls Series, specifically A Discovery of Witches. There is no way I would let anyone under 18 read this, but I’m not a parent and it’s really not that bad. It’s quite simply very mature and meant for adult consumption. This is an 18+ read, but I don’t consider it borderline and definitely not Erotica… I am way off and suffering from a delusion? I don’t know, but this is how I see this. I don’t exactly write children’s books myself (yet 😉 ), but I must draw the line somewhere.
I often try to compare book content to movie content, but even that’s not so easy to do. I often ask people that if a book was a movie would it be rated R or NC-17, but that’s not always a good indicator. Many R-rated movies are released only after a 2 or 3 minute clip is either edited or cut to bring it down from the NC-17 rating, and many PG-13 movies seem like they could be rated higher. There’s simply no way to determine where exactly to draw the line. In writing it goes even further. As much time as I may spend trying to define “What is Erotica?” others are arguing over what’s the difference and limitations between Erotica and Pornographic Lit. I can’t even imagine where it goes from there.
So in conclusion, I guess I’ll continue to update and tweak my promotional policy and continue to please some while I offend others.
This is an unoffical Author Insights post.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords