(Update to post: Please read Julie’s comment on the thread. I can’t thank her enough for pointing this out. The Grandma caricature is obsolete now, and this post was more about prudes than today’s Grandmas. Thanks, Julie!)
This is one of those touchy topics I usually stay away from. One, because life’s just too damn short. And two, because in the grand scheme of any writer’s career it’s not all that important.
But whenever I read a negative review on a book review site or blog that isn’t typically geared toward reading erotica or erotic romance, I’m always floored by the way the reviewer didn’t seem to get it. And I’m not talking about my own books. I’m talking about all erotica and erotic romance written by other authors just like me. Although it has happened to me, I’ve seen it happen to so many authors of erotica and erotic romance I wanted to post something about it, especially for the self-published authors out there wondering what the hell they did wrong.
First, if you receive a bad review (or a snarky, sarcastic review) from a book reviewer who typically loves pg-rated, Grandma romances (formula romance with very little sex), please don’t take it seriously. Why these book reviewers even bother reading erotica or erotic romance passes me by. I think one reason they do it is to have a little sadistic, snarky fun at someone else’s expense. And I think the other reason they do it is because they have their own personal agendas about what they’d like to see in erotica or erotic romance and they want to push that agenda to as many readers as possible. I also think the problem could be they just don’t know any better because they haven’t been exposed to much. I’ve been around a lot longer than most of them and I can see through the flaws and mistakes where most people can’t. Some on the Internet fake it better than others. But I can always spot them.
Now, I have nothing against Grandma romances. I love them; I can’t get enough of them. I’m talking about chests heaving and pants getting tighter, without getting into anything that’s truly erotic. I also like books that focus on love and emotion more than sex sometimes, if that’s what they are supposed to be doing. I’ve even written a few myself with pen names. But erotica and erotic romance are supposed to be concentrating on sex as much as love and emotion. This is why people read erotica and erotic romance. In many cases, it’s more about the erotica than anything else. And this is why people buy them.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of the readership for erotica and erotic romance read with great discretion, especially when it comes to m/m erotic romance. Many gay men are still in the closet: this is a fact. Many women who read m/m erotic romance don’t want anyone to know they are reading it. Even grandmas read erotic romance, but very discreetly. I receive e-mails from people all over the world, all the time, giving me wonderful comments. And yet these people would never leave a review for an erotic romance in public. And I fully understand this, and appreciate them all for buying the books. I even like the personal contact better.
I’ve talked with other authors who write m/m erotic romance, and they all tell me the same thing…that they get tons of e-mails from readers, their sales are great, but they don’t get tons of good reviews anywhere on the Internet.
So this leaves us with the snarky reviewers who don’t typically read erotica or erotic romance. They do it once in a while, usually whenever they see a freebie or a .99 e-book on amazon. And they never like the books…never. What sparked this post was a book review I read the other day, where the reviewer slammed a woman author who had written a hetero erotic romance. But while I read the review, I noticed that the reviewer wasn’t actually reviewing an erotic romance at all. I had to wonder why on earth Grandma was even reading an erotic romance! (I’m not a huge fan of historicals and I stay away from them.) But this reviewer was reviewing the book in question, and knocking the book, for not being a Grandma romance. And the same qualities found in a good Grandma romance are not going to be found in a good erotic romance. And the difference is the amount of sexual content, which this particular reviewer despised in the book I’m talking about.
So I hopped over to amazon and bought the book myself; just to see what the reviewer was talking about. Maybe she was right? What do I know? And sure enough, the reviewer who typically loves Grandma romances was dead wrong once again. This erotic romance was excellent, and I left an amazon review, with my name, letting the author know how much I enjoyed it. As far as erotic romance goes, the author nailed it in every respect, and I wanted her to know it.
This author writes very well, too. I mentioned that in my review as well. But there was no mention of this writing ability by the reviewer who loves Grandma romance. She basically laughed in the author’s face, which I thought was extremely unfair. Though we can all learn from negative reviews (I have), there’s no way an author can learn anything from a snarky review based on the reviewer’s dislike for erotica and erotic romance.
There’s no way this is ever going to stop. There will always be reviewers, and haters of erotica and erotic romance, who love Grandma romance and live to knock and laugh at erotica and erotic romance. I have my own theories about this, with regard to how these reviewers relate to sex in general, on a psychological level, but that’s for another post. In this post, I’d like to ask all authors who write erotica and erotic romance to support each other. In other words, when you see a snarky, nasty book review about an erotic romance that’s been written by someone who normally reads and reviews Grandma romances, please check the book out yourselves. If you like it, and nine times out of ten you will, leave the author a good review on the site where you bought it. I’m making this a goal from now on, and I hope others start to follow.