Sex in Publishing

Wreadinglady4_1
From Pat Rice:

Sharon asks: >> …I occasionally will be reading a book by an author I really like, only to come across a love scene with some things that I’m not particularly comfortable with. In the past when this has happened I have reluctantly cut that author from my automatic TBR list…<snip> …if this is happening because of pressure from the publisher, I hate to "take it out on" the author by swearing off her books. Is there any way to express my views to the publisher if that’s where it’s coming from (not that they’d probably pay much attention)? Or do I just have to bite the bullet and skip over the parts I don’t care for?<<

Ah, Sharon, you’ll be sorry you asked, because it gives me an excuse to ramble on about marketingLibrariangraphic
and the publishing and entertainment industries today!  I can hear my fellow wenches groaning already.

First off, I understand where you’re coming from.  In the wild and woolly early days of romance, we could do almost anything with our characters, and the sex in some books could be really raunchy, as long as it was politely encased in euphemisms. Or purple prose, as we so creatively call it now.  The days of gratuitous rape, multiple partners, and purple prose fell out of favor as the competition for the topselling spots increased and authors found a wider audience  with pure romance, sensuality, and stronger writing. Those are the books you read, Sharon, and the wenches like to write.

Now, it seems, the pendulum is swinging the other direction again. The business has always been cyclical, although the cycles develop in a slightly different sector each time. This time, erotica is Pendulum
pushing the pendulum.  As I understand it (and I’m known to be wrong, so anyone feel free to correct me), erotica developed “underground” in the e-book publishing world and quickly caught on.  Big publishers took notice and began picking up the more popular authors, eventually developing entire lines of erotica.  If people buy it, they’ll sell it. That’s what the free market is all about.

But because these erotica authors are doing so well, publishers and authors alike assume sexier books sell better. And looking at the bestseller lists, they can very well be right.  I suspect it’s a fifty-fifty case of authors wanting to sell better and writing hotter, and publishers/editors encouraging authors who don’t normally write hot to try it.  The carrot of bigger sales is hard to resist.  I’ve known perfectly good authors who couldn’t sell a book in the current market until they agreed to write hotter scenes. They didn’t HAVE to write hotter scenes, but they like to eat, too, and if sex scenes put food on the table, they certainly know how to write them.

All of this becomes a snowball rolling downhill.  Authors and editors read.  A lot.  We unconsciously absorb the faster pacing, the hotter scenes, the witty dialogue, all the things currently selling, and they can’t help but influence the ideas fermenting in the back of our minds.  Imaginations are dangerous animals.  Never underestimate them!  If we’re writing a quirky scene that appeals to us and suddenly remember we’ve read something similar elsewhere, then we go out of our way to embellish that scene so it’s exclusively ours.  So what may have been a relatively tame scene in one book suddenly becomes hot enough to scorch elsewhere.  The collective unconscious almost guarantees that similar ideas will circulate throughout the literary community, morphing and growing and becoming something else as time goes on.

See, aren’t you sorry you asked?  <G>  I’ll try to refrain from comparing book publishing to theImages
entertainment industry, but we’re rapidly developing many of the same qualities.  The book has to entertain a reading public who has already seen the Titannic sink and space aliens invade the White House.  The constant demand for new and different and more violent and sexier drives the market.

In other words, you can blame publishers for part of what you dislike, but you also have to blame authors for trying to put food on the table, and other readers for buying the sexier books in such amounts that we have to meet their demand.

When this cycle first came into play, I continued reading authors who could give me a great story and great characters. If the sex bores me, I skim over it to the wonderful dialogue. But if I’m skimming more pages than I’m reading, I reluctantly set the book aside and do my research the next time that author has a book out.  Eventually, a good author will figure out how to make the latest fad work for her, so I keep my confidence that author will eventually return to her roots. In the meantime, I’ll explore all the new avenues and authors springing up everywhere, along with many old favorites who are moving in wonderful new directions.  Keep an eye on the wenches because we’ll tell you about our favorites, and chances are you’ll find lots of strong stories among the authors we introduce here.

Personally, I’d save my time and effort and not waste time writing the publishers, but I could be wrong. Has anyone else written to publishers complaining about all the things readers complain about, anything from bad copyediting, bad history, to bad sex?  Have you received any response? Admittedly, I’ve had editors send letters questioning some of my research <G>, so they do read them.  But has anyone felt their letter had any result?

68 thoughts on “Sex in Publishing”

  1. Pat–
    Thanks for a thoughtful essay on a complex topic. Publishing (and entertainment in general) are constantly moving targets. It takes fast footwork to keep up. I’m not wild about the ever-rising bars on sex and violence. Where does it end–snuff scenes? Luckily, most readers still want great, romantic stories. The rest is negotiable.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  2. Pat–
    Thanks for a thoughtful essay on a complex topic. Publishing (and entertainment in general) are constantly moving targets. It takes fast footwork to keep up. I’m not wild about the ever-rising bars on sex and violence. Where does it end–snuff scenes? Luckily, most readers still want great, romantic stories. The rest is negotiable.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  3. Pat–
    Thanks for a thoughtful essay on a complex topic. Publishing (and entertainment in general) are constantly moving targets. It takes fast footwork to keep up. I’m not wild about the ever-rising bars on sex and violence. Where does it end–snuff scenes? Luckily, most readers still want great, romantic stories. The rest is negotiable.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  4. Pat–
    Thanks for a thoughtful essay on a complex topic. Publishing (and entertainment in general) are constantly moving targets. It takes fast footwork to keep up. I’m not wild about the ever-rising bars on sex and violence. Where does it end–snuff scenes? Luckily, most readers still want great, romantic stories. The rest is negotiable.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  5. You know, I go to a lot of movies where I have to close my eyes during key scenes. Can’t stand the gore. Sorry. Wuss. In many romances, I skim through the 10-page sex scene to see what the hero says in the afterglow. That’s what’s really important to me.
    Since publishing is $ driven, we’ll be stuck with what seems to sell—vampires and explicit sex! I’m not sure we’ll ever get back to sweet regencies, but everything is cyclical, as you said. Good writing trumps all, according to Miss Snark…but then she doesn’t care for romance. I bet she has her eyes wide open at the movies!

    Reply
  6. You know, I go to a lot of movies where I have to close my eyes during key scenes. Can’t stand the gore. Sorry. Wuss. In many romances, I skim through the 10-page sex scene to see what the hero says in the afterglow. That’s what’s really important to me.
    Since publishing is $ driven, we’ll be stuck with what seems to sell—vampires and explicit sex! I’m not sure we’ll ever get back to sweet regencies, but everything is cyclical, as you said. Good writing trumps all, according to Miss Snark…but then she doesn’t care for romance. I bet she has her eyes wide open at the movies!

    Reply
  7. You know, I go to a lot of movies where I have to close my eyes during key scenes. Can’t stand the gore. Sorry. Wuss. In many romances, I skim through the 10-page sex scene to see what the hero says in the afterglow. That’s what’s really important to me.
    Since publishing is $ driven, we’ll be stuck with what seems to sell—vampires and explicit sex! I’m not sure we’ll ever get back to sweet regencies, but everything is cyclical, as you said. Good writing trumps all, according to Miss Snark…but then she doesn’t care for romance. I bet she has her eyes wide open at the movies!

    Reply
  8. You know, I go to a lot of movies where I have to close my eyes during key scenes. Can’t stand the gore. Sorry. Wuss. In many romances, I skim through the 10-page sex scene to see what the hero says in the afterglow. That’s what’s really important to me.
    Since publishing is $ driven, we’ll be stuck with what seems to sell—vampires and explicit sex! I’m not sure we’ll ever get back to sweet regencies, but everything is cyclical, as you said. Good writing trumps all, according to Miss Snark…but then she doesn’t care for romance. I bet she has her eyes wide open at the movies!

    Reply
  9. You nailed it, Pat! The writer has to keep up with the market, but then again, it’s the writers who eventually set the market by their sales.
    If anything is certain in the publishing game, it’s that it is sure to have changed by the time you write about it.

    Reply
  10. You nailed it, Pat! The writer has to keep up with the market, but then again, it’s the writers who eventually set the market by their sales.
    If anything is certain in the publishing game, it’s that it is sure to have changed by the time you write about it.

    Reply
  11. You nailed it, Pat! The writer has to keep up with the market, but then again, it’s the writers who eventually set the market by their sales.
    If anything is certain in the publishing game, it’s that it is sure to have changed by the time you write about it.

    Reply
  12. You nailed it, Pat! The writer has to keep up with the market, but then again, it’s the writers who eventually set the market by their sales.
    If anything is certain in the publishing game, it’s that it is sure to have changed by the time you write about it.

    Reply
  13. Maggie, sister of my soul! I’ve about given up watching films in theaters because I’m such a wuss, and when they catch me unsuspecting with violence on that huge screen, I have nightmares for weeks. We rent DVDs now and if it gets ugly, I can fast forward with only minor impairment from our flat screen TV.
    Looks like readers haven’t been writing publishers in droves, or they’re not owning up to it. How about, what would you LIKE to write publishers about and haven’t?

    Reply
  14. Maggie, sister of my soul! I’ve about given up watching films in theaters because I’m such a wuss, and when they catch me unsuspecting with violence on that huge screen, I have nightmares for weeks. We rent DVDs now and if it gets ugly, I can fast forward with only minor impairment from our flat screen TV.
    Looks like readers haven’t been writing publishers in droves, or they’re not owning up to it. How about, what would you LIKE to write publishers about and haven’t?

    Reply
  15. Maggie, sister of my soul! I’ve about given up watching films in theaters because I’m such a wuss, and when they catch me unsuspecting with violence on that huge screen, I have nightmares for weeks. We rent DVDs now and if it gets ugly, I can fast forward with only minor impairment from our flat screen TV.
    Looks like readers haven’t been writing publishers in droves, or they’re not owning up to it. How about, what would you LIKE to write publishers about and haven’t?

    Reply
  16. Maggie, sister of my soul! I’ve about given up watching films in theaters because I’m such a wuss, and when they catch me unsuspecting with violence on that huge screen, I have nightmares for weeks. We rent DVDs now and if it gets ugly, I can fast forward with only minor impairment from our flat screen TV.
    Looks like readers haven’t been writing publishers in droves, or they’re not owning up to it. How about, what would you LIKE to write publishers about and haven’t?

    Reply
  17. Heck. I’ll own up and I’ll even name names. When the craze to rewrite & retitle earlier novels (instead of just repackaging them) started up I bought 3 not-new novels in a row. I got on a high horse and wrote signet that I really didn’t think it was that hard to tag these in some fashion as rewrites on the back cover. Other authors were doing it, why can’t you kinda thing. Not only did they ignore me, they sent the letter to the author, which made me TWICE as mad (If I wanted to talk marketing with the author, I would have, right? But the author doesn’t control marketing. Duh.)
    Said author offered to send me a book and I was all, thanks, but the point is I HAVE all your books and therefore I’d like to know upfront if buying a new title by you is a new book or not and make the choice about if I want to do that BEFORE the copyright page. And then said author and i talked at cross purposes a bit.
    It didn’t go well on sooooo many levels.
    About ten years prior to that I had written silhoutte – it might have been about the Lass Small (I think?) book where she turns the abusive (down to tying down the woman and leaving her in a house) guy from one book into the hero of a new book via the new heroine’s unconditional love. While I support authors following their muse I thought that was kinda f’ed up, especially as I knew tons of girls in abusive situations who were learning how relationships work via romance novels, myself included. And while it’s easy to seperate the reality from the fiction generally, the dynamic of “If I just love him enough he’s be a good man, despite his ex wife having the police arrest him for abuse” really didn’t click. and I wasn’t sure if I was even complaining, but y’know, it was odd.
    They were very responsive – actually called me to say they’d had those same discussions in house and were still debating if they should have gone with it. Asked to do some market research on me, which we did.

    Reply
  18. Heck. I’ll own up and I’ll even name names. When the craze to rewrite & retitle earlier novels (instead of just repackaging them) started up I bought 3 not-new novels in a row. I got on a high horse and wrote signet that I really didn’t think it was that hard to tag these in some fashion as rewrites on the back cover. Other authors were doing it, why can’t you kinda thing. Not only did they ignore me, they sent the letter to the author, which made me TWICE as mad (If I wanted to talk marketing with the author, I would have, right? But the author doesn’t control marketing. Duh.)
    Said author offered to send me a book and I was all, thanks, but the point is I HAVE all your books and therefore I’d like to know upfront if buying a new title by you is a new book or not and make the choice about if I want to do that BEFORE the copyright page. And then said author and i talked at cross purposes a bit.
    It didn’t go well on sooooo many levels.
    About ten years prior to that I had written silhoutte – it might have been about the Lass Small (I think?) book where she turns the abusive (down to tying down the woman and leaving her in a house) guy from one book into the hero of a new book via the new heroine’s unconditional love. While I support authors following their muse I thought that was kinda f’ed up, especially as I knew tons of girls in abusive situations who were learning how relationships work via romance novels, myself included. And while it’s easy to seperate the reality from the fiction generally, the dynamic of “If I just love him enough he’s be a good man, despite his ex wife having the police arrest him for abuse” really didn’t click. and I wasn’t sure if I was even complaining, but y’know, it was odd.
    They were very responsive – actually called me to say they’d had those same discussions in house and were still debating if they should have gone with it. Asked to do some market research on me, which we did.

    Reply
  19. Heck. I’ll own up and I’ll even name names. When the craze to rewrite & retitle earlier novels (instead of just repackaging them) started up I bought 3 not-new novels in a row. I got on a high horse and wrote signet that I really didn’t think it was that hard to tag these in some fashion as rewrites on the back cover. Other authors were doing it, why can’t you kinda thing. Not only did they ignore me, they sent the letter to the author, which made me TWICE as mad (If I wanted to talk marketing with the author, I would have, right? But the author doesn’t control marketing. Duh.)
    Said author offered to send me a book and I was all, thanks, but the point is I HAVE all your books and therefore I’d like to know upfront if buying a new title by you is a new book or not and make the choice about if I want to do that BEFORE the copyright page. And then said author and i talked at cross purposes a bit.
    It didn’t go well on sooooo many levels.
    About ten years prior to that I had written silhoutte – it might have been about the Lass Small (I think?) book where she turns the abusive (down to tying down the woman and leaving her in a house) guy from one book into the hero of a new book via the new heroine’s unconditional love. While I support authors following their muse I thought that was kinda f’ed up, especially as I knew tons of girls in abusive situations who were learning how relationships work via romance novels, myself included. And while it’s easy to seperate the reality from the fiction generally, the dynamic of “If I just love him enough he’s be a good man, despite his ex wife having the police arrest him for abuse” really didn’t click. and I wasn’t sure if I was even complaining, but y’know, it was odd.
    They were very responsive – actually called me to say they’d had those same discussions in house and were still debating if they should have gone with it. Asked to do some market research on me, which we did.

    Reply
  20. Heck. I’ll own up and I’ll even name names. When the craze to rewrite & retitle earlier novels (instead of just repackaging them) started up I bought 3 not-new novels in a row. I got on a high horse and wrote signet that I really didn’t think it was that hard to tag these in some fashion as rewrites on the back cover. Other authors were doing it, why can’t you kinda thing. Not only did they ignore me, they sent the letter to the author, which made me TWICE as mad (If I wanted to talk marketing with the author, I would have, right? But the author doesn’t control marketing. Duh.)
    Said author offered to send me a book and I was all, thanks, but the point is I HAVE all your books and therefore I’d like to know upfront if buying a new title by you is a new book or not and make the choice about if I want to do that BEFORE the copyright page. And then said author and i talked at cross purposes a bit.
    It didn’t go well on sooooo many levels.
    About ten years prior to that I had written silhoutte – it might have been about the Lass Small (I think?) book where she turns the abusive (down to tying down the woman and leaving her in a house) guy from one book into the hero of a new book via the new heroine’s unconditional love. While I support authors following their muse I thought that was kinda f’ed up, especially as I knew tons of girls in abusive situations who were learning how relationships work via romance novels, myself included. And while it’s easy to seperate the reality from the fiction generally, the dynamic of “If I just love him enough he’s be a good man, despite his ex wife having the police arrest him for abuse” really didn’t click. and I wasn’t sure if I was even complaining, but y’know, it was odd.
    They were very responsive – actually called me to say they’d had those same discussions in house and were still debating if they should have gone with it. Asked to do some market research on me, which we did.

    Reply
  21. Thanks for answering my question, Pat. I have to say that your answer was pretty much what I had guessed it might be — $$ make the publishing world go around — but I appreciate getting the confirmation. I have never actually written to a publisher, although I have been tempted to do so on this topic as well as writing on all of the mistakes in copy editing (“he” that should have been “she”, wrong character’s name, all those little things that make me do a mental double take and go “WHat?!”). I’ve also been tempted to tell them what I think of the “trashy” covers on a lot of things, but figured that would fall to the $$ answer, too. Maybe I should write and note that I’m a librarian with a budget for paperbacks that I have total control over. Think that would get me anywhere?

    Reply
  22. Thanks for answering my question, Pat. I have to say that your answer was pretty much what I had guessed it might be — $$ make the publishing world go around — but I appreciate getting the confirmation. I have never actually written to a publisher, although I have been tempted to do so on this topic as well as writing on all of the mistakes in copy editing (“he” that should have been “she”, wrong character’s name, all those little things that make me do a mental double take and go “WHat?!”). I’ve also been tempted to tell them what I think of the “trashy” covers on a lot of things, but figured that would fall to the $$ answer, too. Maybe I should write and note that I’m a librarian with a budget for paperbacks that I have total control over. Think that would get me anywhere?

    Reply
  23. Thanks for answering my question, Pat. I have to say that your answer was pretty much what I had guessed it might be — $$ make the publishing world go around — but I appreciate getting the confirmation. I have never actually written to a publisher, although I have been tempted to do so on this topic as well as writing on all of the mistakes in copy editing (“he” that should have been “she”, wrong character’s name, all those little things that make me do a mental double take and go “WHat?!”). I’ve also been tempted to tell them what I think of the “trashy” covers on a lot of things, but figured that would fall to the $$ answer, too. Maybe I should write and note that I’m a librarian with a budget for paperbacks that I have total control over. Think that would get me anywhere?

    Reply
  24. Thanks for answering my question, Pat. I have to say that your answer was pretty much what I had guessed it might be — $$ make the publishing world go around — but I appreciate getting the confirmation. I have never actually written to a publisher, although I have been tempted to do so on this topic as well as writing on all of the mistakes in copy editing (“he” that should have been “she”, wrong character’s name, all those little things that make me do a mental double take and go “WHat?!”). I’ve also been tempted to tell them what I think of the “trashy” covers on a lot of things, but figured that would fall to the $$ answer, too. Maybe I should write and note that I’m a librarian with a budget for paperbacks that I have total control over. Think that would get me anywhere?

    Reply
  25. Thank you, Pat, for tackling a tough question and hitting the main points exactly. I do think readers can make a difference if they write to the publishers–but it would take an awful lot of readers, since, as you said, this is a business and it’s all about numbers. So yes, I do think Sharon, with money and ordering power, would get a hearing. *g*

    Reply
  26. Thank you, Pat, for tackling a tough question and hitting the main points exactly. I do think readers can make a difference if they write to the publishers–but it would take an awful lot of readers, since, as you said, this is a business and it’s all about numbers. So yes, I do think Sharon, with money and ordering power, would get a hearing. *g*

    Reply
  27. Thank you, Pat, for tackling a tough question and hitting the main points exactly. I do think readers can make a difference if they write to the publishers–but it would take an awful lot of readers, since, as you said, this is a business and it’s all about numbers. So yes, I do think Sharon, with money and ordering power, would get a hearing. *g*

    Reply
  28. Thank you, Pat, for tackling a tough question and hitting the main points exactly. I do think readers can make a difference if they write to the publishers–but it would take an awful lot of readers, since, as you said, this is a business and it’s all about numbers. So yes, I do think Sharon, with money and ordering power, would get a hearing. *g*

    Reply
  29. It has never occurred to me to write to publishers. I’m more inclined to toss a book and never buy from that author again. Perhaps I should be more proactive, but I kind of assume that someone out there likes that kind of work, so the issue is with me.

    Reply
  30. It has never occurred to me to write to publishers. I’m more inclined to toss a book and never buy from that author again. Perhaps I should be more proactive, but I kind of assume that someone out there likes that kind of work, so the issue is with me.

    Reply
  31. It has never occurred to me to write to publishers. I’m more inclined to toss a book and never buy from that author again. Perhaps I should be more proactive, but I kind of assume that someone out there likes that kind of work, so the issue is with me.

    Reply
  32. It has never occurred to me to write to publishers. I’m more inclined to toss a book and never buy from that author again. Perhaps I should be more proactive, but I kind of assume that someone out there likes that kind of work, so the issue is with me.

    Reply
  33. In the interest of mercury retrograde, aol chose to send most of the above comments to my spam folder, including my own. Cute.
    Liz, I’m glad to hear at least one publisher acted on your complaint. I do know they read letters, but it’s hard to say when they act on them. I can remember a lot of authors having discussions with their publishers about reissues with new covers, me included. Whenever we could, we pushed for Dear Reader letters explaining the reissue. Didn’t always happen though.
    And yes, Sharon, I think you ought to point out that you and other librarians have certain problems with their marketing techniques. I’ve been in on discussions of whether or not books ought to be labeled “erotica,” as a warning, but who would be the judge? I do think that most publishers are attempting to show the level of sexuality through their covers, but in many cases, they’re sending mixed messages.
    And Piper, you’re right. The books wouldn’t be on the shelf if someone didn’t like them. The problem is in how they’re presented, which is something you could say to the publisher. If it’s labeled “romance” with a sweet cover, then it shouldn’t contain hot erotica. Or if it’s a sweet romance, it shouldn’t have a hot cover, etc.
    Deception is likely to drive away readers of all sorts because they’re confused over the selection. That’s a perfectly legitimate complaint.

    Reply
  34. In the interest of mercury retrograde, aol chose to send most of the above comments to my spam folder, including my own. Cute.
    Liz, I’m glad to hear at least one publisher acted on your complaint. I do know they read letters, but it’s hard to say when they act on them. I can remember a lot of authors having discussions with their publishers about reissues with new covers, me included. Whenever we could, we pushed for Dear Reader letters explaining the reissue. Didn’t always happen though.
    And yes, Sharon, I think you ought to point out that you and other librarians have certain problems with their marketing techniques. I’ve been in on discussions of whether or not books ought to be labeled “erotica,” as a warning, but who would be the judge? I do think that most publishers are attempting to show the level of sexuality through their covers, but in many cases, they’re sending mixed messages.
    And Piper, you’re right. The books wouldn’t be on the shelf if someone didn’t like them. The problem is in how they’re presented, which is something you could say to the publisher. If it’s labeled “romance” with a sweet cover, then it shouldn’t contain hot erotica. Or if it’s a sweet romance, it shouldn’t have a hot cover, etc.
    Deception is likely to drive away readers of all sorts because they’re confused over the selection. That’s a perfectly legitimate complaint.

    Reply
  35. In the interest of mercury retrograde, aol chose to send most of the above comments to my spam folder, including my own. Cute.
    Liz, I’m glad to hear at least one publisher acted on your complaint. I do know they read letters, but it’s hard to say when they act on them. I can remember a lot of authors having discussions with their publishers about reissues with new covers, me included. Whenever we could, we pushed for Dear Reader letters explaining the reissue. Didn’t always happen though.
    And yes, Sharon, I think you ought to point out that you and other librarians have certain problems with their marketing techniques. I’ve been in on discussions of whether or not books ought to be labeled “erotica,” as a warning, but who would be the judge? I do think that most publishers are attempting to show the level of sexuality through their covers, but in many cases, they’re sending mixed messages.
    And Piper, you’re right. The books wouldn’t be on the shelf if someone didn’t like them. The problem is in how they’re presented, which is something you could say to the publisher. If it’s labeled “romance” with a sweet cover, then it shouldn’t contain hot erotica. Or if it’s a sweet romance, it shouldn’t have a hot cover, etc.
    Deception is likely to drive away readers of all sorts because they’re confused over the selection. That’s a perfectly legitimate complaint.

    Reply
  36. In the interest of mercury retrograde, aol chose to send most of the above comments to my spam folder, including my own. Cute.
    Liz, I’m glad to hear at least one publisher acted on your complaint. I do know they read letters, but it’s hard to say when they act on them. I can remember a lot of authors having discussions with their publishers about reissues with new covers, me included. Whenever we could, we pushed for Dear Reader letters explaining the reissue. Didn’t always happen though.
    And yes, Sharon, I think you ought to point out that you and other librarians have certain problems with their marketing techniques. I’ve been in on discussions of whether or not books ought to be labeled “erotica,” as a warning, but who would be the judge? I do think that most publishers are attempting to show the level of sexuality through their covers, but in many cases, they’re sending mixed messages.
    And Piper, you’re right. The books wouldn’t be on the shelf if someone didn’t like them. The problem is in how they’re presented, which is something you could say to the publisher. If it’s labeled “romance” with a sweet cover, then it shouldn’t contain hot erotica. Or if it’s a sweet romance, it shouldn’t have a hot cover, etc.
    Deception is likely to drive away readers of all sorts because they’re confused over the selection. That’s a perfectly legitimate complaint.

    Reply
  37. Great post, Pat. This topic brings to mind a story I heard on NPR this past week about the rise of “torture” scenes in TV and movies (“24” being one of the cited examples) and the exploration of why those kinds of scenes might be popular–the war, processing 9/11, and lots of pseudo-psychological theories were offered.
    This set up an interesting dissonance in my head–wasn’t it just last week that Loretta blogged about Maureen Dowd snarking at women’s fiction? And didn’t the New Republic Editor advise fiction-reading women that (paraphrase) “it’s wartime, you should read THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE”? So which is it–violence is Bad, or violence is Important and Meaningful? And what is it about the Search for Romance and HEA that’s trivial and shallow?
    As for me, I like sex and I hate violence. At a low point in my life I started reading Stephanie Laurens and I honestly think the sensuality in her books might have changed my perspective on my own attractiveness and helped my marriage undergo a renaissance of sorts. Besides which I started to read romance novels again which has become a great delight.
    I have been wanting to ask all of you Wenches what you think about violence and how you choose to include it as a plot element in your books. But that (I hope) might be a blog for another day.

    Reply
  38. Great post, Pat. This topic brings to mind a story I heard on NPR this past week about the rise of “torture” scenes in TV and movies (“24” being one of the cited examples) and the exploration of why those kinds of scenes might be popular–the war, processing 9/11, and lots of pseudo-psychological theories were offered.
    This set up an interesting dissonance in my head–wasn’t it just last week that Loretta blogged about Maureen Dowd snarking at women’s fiction? And didn’t the New Republic Editor advise fiction-reading women that (paraphrase) “it’s wartime, you should read THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE”? So which is it–violence is Bad, or violence is Important and Meaningful? And what is it about the Search for Romance and HEA that’s trivial and shallow?
    As for me, I like sex and I hate violence. At a low point in my life I started reading Stephanie Laurens and I honestly think the sensuality in her books might have changed my perspective on my own attractiveness and helped my marriage undergo a renaissance of sorts. Besides which I started to read romance novels again which has become a great delight.
    I have been wanting to ask all of you Wenches what you think about violence and how you choose to include it as a plot element in your books. But that (I hope) might be a blog for another day.

    Reply
  39. Great post, Pat. This topic brings to mind a story I heard on NPR this past week about the rise of “torture” scenes in TV and movies (“24” being one of the cited examples) and the exploration of why those kinds of scenes might be popular–the war, processing 9/11, and lots of pseudo-psychological theories were offered.
    This set up an interesting dissonance in my head–wasn’t it just last week that Loretta blogged about Maureen Dowd snarking at women’s fiction? And didn’t the New Republic Editor advise fiction-reading women that (paraphrase) “it’s wartime, you should read THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE”? So which is it–violence is Bad, or violence is Important and Meaningful? And what is it about the Search for Romance and HEA that’s trivial and shallow?
    As for me, I like sex and I hate violence. At a low point in my life I started reading Stephanie Laurens and I honestly think the sensuality in her books might have changed my perspective on my own attractiveness and helped my marriage undergo a renaissance of sorts. Besides which I started to read romance novels again which has become a great delight.
    I have been wanting to ask all of you Wenches what you think about violence and how you choose to include it as a plot element in your books. But that (I hope) might be a blog for another day.

    Reply
  40. Great post, Pat. This topic brings to mind a story I heard on NPR this past week about the rise of “torture” scenes in TV and movies (“24” being one of the cited examples) and the exploration of why those kinds of scenes might be popular–the war, processing 9/11, and lots of pseudo-psychological theories were offered.
    This set up an interesting dissonance in my head–wasn’t it just last week that Loretta blogged about Maureen Dowd snarking at women’s fiction? And didn’t the New Republic Editor advise fiction-reading women that (paraphrase) “it’s wartime, you should read THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE”? So which is it–violence is Bad, or violence is Important and Meaningful? And what is it about the Search for Romance and HEA that’s trivial and shallow?
    As for me, I like sex and I hate violence. At a low point in my life I started reading Stephanie Laurens and I honestly think the sensuality in her books might have changed my perspective on my own attractiveness and helped my marriage undergo a renaissance of sorts. Besides which I started to read romance novels again which has become a great delight.
    I have been wanting to ask all of you Wenches what you think about violence and how you choose to include it as a plot element in your books. But that (I hope) might be a blog for another day.

    Reply
  41. Good point, I like to read for escapism. there is a lot of bad things happening in the world and in my life. If I wanted to be more depressed perhaps I’d read the less romantic books, but quite honestly I don’t want to be that way. i want to escape my troubles. Also I do find the sex scenes (implied or otherwise) have only improved my own sex life.

    Reply
  42. Good point, I like to read for escapism. there is a lot of bad things happening in the world and in my life. If I wanted to be more depressed perhaps I’d read the less romantic books, but quite honestly I don’t want to be that way. i want to escape my troubles. Also I do find the sex scenes (implied or otherwise) have only improved my own sex life.

    Reply
  43. Good point, I like to read for escapism. there is a lot of bad things happening in the world and in my life. If I wanted to be more depressed perhaps I’d read the less romantic books, but quite honestly I don’t want to be that way. i want to escape my troubles. Also I do find the sex scenes (implied or otherwise) have only improved my own sex life.

    Reply
  44. Good point, I like to read for escapism. there is a lot of bad things happening in the world and in my life. If I wanted to be more depressed perhaps I’d read the less romantic books, but quite honestly I don’t want to be that way. i want to escape my troubles. Also I do find the sex scenes (implied or otherwise) have only improved my own sex life.

    Reply
  45. You guys already said some of the things that I was thinking, and I’ll just put that in the end pendulums always move back and forth, so you’ll probably see the return of some more sweeter stuff, but like from my experience with growing up in the 80s and only really figuing out after I got into high school why everyone was so upset with Madonna (LOL), the bar will still remain high. So it’s both.
    But when I saw I think it’s Patricia’s post with the covers (I always get confused as to what posted by goes with what post on certain blogs LOL), that’s something I’ve been noticing for a while — I really don’t get the hotter stuff, so the books I get quite a few not so hot books with really hot covers. Guess they simply figure like all of you have been saying, sex sells, so someone will buy it even if there isn’t as much sex inside as on the outside of it. 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  46. You guys already said some of the things that I was thinking, and I’ll just put that in the end pendulums always move back and forth, so you’ll probably see the return of some more sweeter stuff, but like from my experience with growing up in the 80s and only really figuing out after I got into high school why everyone was so upset with Madonna (LOL), the bar will still remain high. So it’s both.
    But when I saw I think it’s Patricia’s post with the covers (I always get confused as to what posted by goes with what post on certain blogs LOL), that’s something I’ve been noticing for a while — I really don’t get the hotter stuff, so the books I get quite a few not so hot books with really hot covers. Guess they simply figure like all of you have been saying, sex sells, so someone will buy it even if there isn’t as much sex inside as on the outside of it. 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  47. You guys already said some of the things that I was thinking, and I’ll just put that in the end pendulums always move back and forth, so you’ll probably see the return of some more sweeter stuff, but like from my experience with growing up in the 80s and only really figuing out after I got into high school why everyone was so upset with Madonna (LOL), the bar will still remain high. So it’s both.
    But when I saw I think it’s Patricia’s post with the covers (I always get confused as to what posted by goes with what post on certain blogs LOL), that’s something I’ve been noticing for a while — I really don’t get the hotter stuff, so the books I get quite a few not so hot books with really hot covers. Guess they simply figure like all of you have been saying, sex sells, so someone will buy it even if there isn’t as much sex inside as on the outside of it. 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  48. You guys already said some of the things that I was thinking, and I’ll just put that in the end pendulums always move back and forth, so you’ll probably see the return of some more sweeter stuff, but like from my experience with growing up in the 80s and only really figuing out after I got into high school why everyone was so upset with Madonna (LOL), the bar will still remain high. So it’s both.
    But when I saw I think it’s Patricia’s post with the covers (I always get confused as to what posted by goes with what post on certain blogs LOL), that’s something I’ve been noticing for a while — I really don’t get the hotter stuff, so the books I get quite a few not so hot books with really hot covers. Guess they simply figure like all of you have been saying, sex sells, so someone will buy it even if there isn’t as much sex inside as on the outside of it. 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  49. MJP wrote *Where does it end–snuff scenes?*
    Apparently not, given the fairly universal shut-down of OJ Simpson’s book.
    As a viewer or as a reader, whether or not I find the use of violence acceptable depends upon the context, the skill level of the director/author, and the honesty and sincerity of the *intention.*
    For example, I applaud the Kill Bill films. It’s hard to think of a finer example of conceptual film taken to the edge of its own limits.
    But there is much that falls way short of that and ends up being purely exploitive.
    Same goes for sex. I read anything from sweet to hardcore if it is well written and meaningful.
    Like the NPR story RevMelinda mentioned, I too think there’s more going on here than an isolated relationship between market and artists.

    Reply
  50. MJP wrote *Where does it end–snuff scenes?*
    Apparently not, given the fairly universal shut-down of OJ Simpson’s book.
    As a viewer or as a reader, whether or not I find the use of violence acceptable depends upon the context, the skill level of the director/author, and the honesty and sincerity of the *intention.*
    For example, I applaud the Kill Bill films. It’s hard to think of a finer example of conceptual film taken to the edge of its own limits.
    But there is much that falls way short of that and ends up being purely exploitive.
    Same goes for sex. I read anything from sweet to hardcore if it is well written and meaningful.
    Like the NPR story RevMelinda mentioned, I too think there’s more going on here than an isolated relationship between market and artists.

    Reply
  51. MJP wrote *Where does it end–snuff scenes?*
    Apparently not, given the fairly universal shut-down of OJ Simpson’s book.
    As a viewer or as a reader, whether or not I find the use of violence acceptable depends upon the context, the skill level of the director/author, and the honesty and sincerity of the *intention.*
    For example, I applaud the Kill Bill films. It’s hard to think of a finer example of conceptual film taken to the edge of its own limits.
    But there is much that falls way short of that and ends up being purely exploitive.
    Same goes for sex. I read anything from sweet to hardcore if it is well written and meaningful.
    Like the NPR story RevMelinda mentioned, I too think there’s more going on here than an isolated relationship between market and artists.

    Reply
  52. MJP wrote *Where does it end–snuff scenes?*
    Apparently not, given the fairly universal shut-down of OJ Simpson’s book.
    As a viewer or as a reader, whether or not I find the use of violence acceptable depends upon the context, the skill level of the director/author, and the honesty and sincerity of the *intention.*
    For example, I applaud the Kill Bill films. It’s hard to think of a finer example of conceptual film taken to the edge of its own limits.
    But there is much that falls way short of that and ends up being purely exploitive.
    Same goes for sex. I read anything from sweet to hardcore if it is well written and meaningful.
    Like the NPR story RevMelinda mentioned, I too think there’s more going on here than an isolated relationship between market and artists.

    Reply
  53. Thank you, Anne, although I’m certain you can explain it wonderfully without my help. “G”
    The “market” for books is all readers, so yes, there probably is something else happening out there, but I’m not a sociologist or even a psychologist, so I can’t pinpoint what it is. Readers are demanding increased sex, dark angsty vampires, as well as chicklitty vampires, but the reason behind it eludes me.

    Reply
  54. Thank you, Anne, although I’m certain you can explain it wonderfully without my help. “G”
    The “market” for books is all readers, so yes, there probably is something else happening out there, but I’m not a sociologist or even a psychologist, so I can’t pinpoint what it is. Readers are demanding increased sex, dark angsty vampires, as well as chicklitty vampires, but the reason behind it eludes me.

    Reply
  55. Thank you, Anne, although I’m certain you can explain it wonderfully without my help. “G”
    The “market” for books is all readers, so yes, there probably is something else happening out there, but I’m not a sociologist or even a psychologist, so I can’t pinpoint what it is. Readers are demanding increased sex, dark angsty vampires, as well as chicklitty vampires, but the reason behind it eludes me.

    Reply
  56. Thank you, Anne, although I’m certain you can explain it wonderfully without my help. “G”
    The “market” for books is all readers, so yes, there probably is something else happening out there, but I’m not a sociologist or even a psychologist, so I can’t pinpoint what it is. Readers are demanding increased sex, dark angsty vampires, as well as chicklitty vampires, but the reason behind it eludes me.

    Reply
  57. The only thing I can say is that it is a sad commentary that in order to have a book sell that it has to have explicit sex in it. Whatever happened to a good story/good writing? Of course the same critisicm of movies these days, all special effects and very little plot story.

    Reply
  58. The only thing I can say is that it is a sad commentary that in order to have a book sell that it has to have explicit sex in it. Whatever happened to a good story/good writing? Of course the same critisicm of movies these days, all special effects and very little plot story.

    Reply
  59. The only thing I can say is that it is a sad commentary that in order to have a book sell that it has to have explicit sex in it. Whatever happened to a good story/good writing? Of course the same critisicm of movies these days, all special effects and very little plot story.

    Reply
  60. The only thing I can say is that it is a sad commentary that in order to have a book sell that it has to have explicit sex in it. Whatever happened to a good story/good writing? Of course the same critisicm of movies these days, all special effects and very little plot story.

    Reply
  61. While publishers are out to sell books at any cost, my line in the sand is one I have kept for many years: I am so distressed when violence is combined with sex that I won’t read a book by that author again. It’s a personal preference that I hope publishers won’t force too many authors to cross.

    Reply
  62. While publishers are out to sell books at any cost, my line in the sand is one I have kept for many years: I am so distressed when violence is combined with sex that I won’t read a book by that author again. It’s a personal preference that I hope publishers won’t force too many authors to cross.

    Reply
  63. While publishers are out to sell books at any cost, my line in the sand is one I have kept for many years: I am so distressed when violence is combined with sex that I won’t read a book by that author again. It’s a personal preference that I hope publishers won’t force too many authors to cross.

    Reply
  64. While publishers are out to sell books at any cost, my line in the sand is one I have kept for many years: I am so distressed when violence is combined with sex that I won’t read a book by that author again. It’s a personal preference that I hope publishers won’t force too many authors to cross.

    Reply

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