Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Erotic Romance

I've written in many genres, including mystery, thriller, horror, science fiction, humor, YA, chick lit (is it still called chick lit?), and erotica.

But I've never written a romance.

Until now.

Co-written with my frequent collaborator, Ann Voss Peterson, WANT IT BAD is a departure from the smut we've penned in the past.

Not to say there isn't sex in this book. There's loads of sex. Heaps of sex. Kinky sex.

But this is the first time I've ever attempted to actually make sex essential to the arcs of the two main characters. Where 'girl meets boy' is the point of the plot.

Ann is an expert when it comes to writing romance, having done twenty-five romantic suspense books for Harlequin.

However, while I've had relationships as components of my plot before, I've never had them been the linchpin the story hangs upon. With WANT IT BAD the point of the book is the relationship, and if it will work out or not.

Here's the description:

Carla thought she had it all together.

Then Jake moved in next door.

She never expected to fall for someone half her age. Especially Jake, an escort who specialized in very kinky sex.

But Carla was curious. And rich. And when Jake accepts her as a client, they each may have gotten more than they'd bargained for...

Want It Bad mixes erotic romance with laugh-out-loud humor. Sexy, funny, and outrageous, this is the book you've always wanted to read. A smart, older woman goes on a journey of sexual discovery, and somewhere along the way finds love. Or at least something equally as tasty.

WANT IT BAD
It begins where 50 Shades of Grey left off...

Want It Bad is a 64,000 word contemporary romance by bestselling author Melinda DuChamp. It's hot. It's playful. It's more fun than the last ten books you've read.

Try Want It Bad. You won't be disappointed.

So listen to the nice book description and try Want It Bad, for just $3.99 on Kindle.

So why am I writing kinky romance?

Lots of reasons.

First, because I can.

We live during the greatest time in history to be a fiction writer. Anything you can dream up, you can publish. Maybe it will find an audience. Maybe it won't.

But at least it has the chance to.

It always amuses me when the status quo preaches about how the gatekeepers of New York, in their valiant efforts to curtail the so-called Tsunami of Crap, boast how they're responsible for safeguarding literature and culture and are solely responsible for bringing books to the masses.

The opposite is the truth. The Big 5 are censors. For decades, their paper book distribution oligopoly limited what was available to readers. Their "curation", which they've touted as a feature, has actually been a gigantic bug. A censorship bug, which prevented readers from deciding for themselves what's worthy and what isn't.

It's so liberating, so intoxicating, to be able to write the kind of book I want to, without being subjected to the whims of the gatekeepers. Imagine if the Internet only allowed certain websites to be published based on what a select handful of people deemed appropriate. We'd have a far smaller, much less interesting World Wide Web.

Yet, even with the number of websites surpassing 1 billion, we can all still find worthy URLs that interest us.

Self-publishing doesn't lead to a Tsunami of Crap. It leads to freedom, more choices, better prices, and the opportunity for more writers and readers to indulge in their whims and passions.

Our male protagonist is a sex worker. An escort. A prostitute. I'm pretty sure Harlequin didn't allow that back when Ann was publishing her romance continuities. I also believe Harlequin had a guideline that once the hero met the heroine, neither were allowed to philander. Strike two. Finally, the sex in Want It Bad makes Fifty Shades of Grey look like a Disney picturebook. Harlequin may have had some racy titles, but I doubt they ever got this racy.

Which brings me to the second reason I wrote this book:

I enjoy the challenge.

Writing in a new genre is like dating someone new. It's exciting. It's fun. It's uncomfortable. It forces you to try new things, tests your limits, teaches you how to overcome obstacles, and is an opportunity for growth.

When there are no guidelines, no boundaries, no deadlines, the only limit is your own imagination.

Having the chance to write outside of your comfort zone is reason enough to try it.

What's the third reason I tried a new genre?

Diversification.

Want it Bad is my 34th novel. My largest success has been in mystery/thriller, followed by horror. Both genres continue to do well.

I made a buttload of money during the erotica boom that E.L. James created.

I made a pittance with sc-fi, even though that was crazy fun to write and I still get emails from those waiting for me to finish the Timecaster trilogy. (Which I will, someday).

Romance is the largest genre. It's the one with the most voracious readers.

I'd like those readers to discover me. There are hundreds of millions of people who aren't interested in Jack Daniels, or horror, or fairy tale erotica. But I believe my writing can entertain these people, if given the opportunity.

So here is my first try at what might be many tries, to find an audience that my previous work doesn't tempt.

Maybe it'll work. Maybe it won't. But I'm lucky that I have some breathing room to be able to experiment.

So check out Want It Bad. It has romance. It has female-buddy banter. It has humor. It has insanely kinky sex. It's a feminist, empowering, 21st century love story that couldn't have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist.

Also, I rarely ask to be tweeted, or linked to on Facebook or Google+, but as an experiment I'd like everyone reading this to do one or all of those. I'll be watching the results.

199 comments:

Douglas J. Bornemann said...

Duly tweeted. Good luck!

tonyl said...

Tweeted, since I dont do FB or G+.

And I love, love, love your unreadable captchas.

Joe Konrath said...

I HATE captchas! Dunno how that showed up.

Fixing now.

Anonymous said...

As a fellow horror/thriller writer who moved to writing romance to pay the bills (which it has and then some), I am glad to see you continuing to try new stuff along these lines.

I do think you sacrifice some opportunities at hugely striking big when you ignore some typical erotica and romance conventions by using so much humor, as well as strange male/female pairings, etc.

I personally play it pretty straight (no pun) when writing my romance books.

PS I tweeted the link. Best of luck!!

Anonymous said...

Also, by strange pairings, I'm referring to having a young male love interest with an older female love interest. Usually, it's the other way around.

Also, my readers typically get upset about infidelity between the partners and so on…

Again, I get that you're experimenting, I'm merely pointing out that I've managed to appeal to quite a large audience by keeping the formula pretty tight and then tweaking some things here and there where I can, to suit my own interests.

But I don't push the envelope too far most of the time.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Yes, but where's the link to buy? I want it bad! (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Tweeted.

You still have a capcha.

Joe Konrath said...

You still have a capcha.

It's a Blogger glitch. I'm sure Google is working to fix it.

Joe Konrath said...

But I don't push the envelope too far most of the time

We didn't push the envelope.

We blew up the envelope.

Quotidianlight said...

I think this will do really well. The older women I talk to get really excited about older woman/younger male pairings and as long at the kink isn't off base enough to turn off people that know better *cough* fifty shades *cough* I think this could be huge.

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

Woohoo! Can't wait to read this!

Sheri Savill said...

Dude.

I "FB'd" this mo-fo, even though I despise FB with the white-hot fires of a thousand angry solar flares erupting from somewhere really, uh, angry. Not only that, but someone else over on FaceHole already "re-shared" it. Viral. So there. Showin' you the luv. Holidays and all. Group hug.

Yours,

Sheri Savill, Invisible "Author" Who Does Not Fit In A "Genre" And Is Thus Doomed To Everlasting Anonymity & Poverty But Who Is Nonetheless a "Giver"


PS: Yes your captcha is on. But it was easy to read, IMO. Now THIS is a muhfukkn CRAPCHA

(aheh)

adan said...

Glad you also have the book in Kindle Unlimited, Joe. Recently finished Stirred, so swapped them out :-)

Alan Spade said...

Kudos for stepping out of your comfort zone and experimenting new things, Joe. I guess that if you keep humor in your books, whatever the genre, it's because you want to keep the writing fun for both you and the reader.

Jude Hardin said...

I've been thinking about doing something like this, only I'm leaning more toward romantic suspense. Best of luck with it.

Are you still trying to keep a fairly low profile as far as this pen name is concerned? I realize it's no big secret anymore, since it has been posted here on the blog, but I would imagine that the demographic for this genre is largely different from the traffic you get here. Also, I noticed on the detail page that your names aren't listed as authors alongside Melinda DuChamp's (the way Joe does with his Kilborn books).

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, in erotica the woman in an older woman fetish is call a cougar.

T. M. Bilderback said...

Sounds interesting, Joe. I've Tweeted, and posted on both my Facebook Author Page, and my personal Facebook page. I hope it helps sell a copy or two!

Avril Sabine said...

I've been told so many times over the years to stick with one genre. I'm obviously not very good at listening to all that advice since I certainly haven't stuck with one genre. I enjoying seeing other writers who also like to step outside the box and experiment with different genres. Although I have to say you don't just step outside the box. You trample all over it and I think that's great.

Anonymous said...

I usually don't read romance or erotica, but I read the sample (first 10%) of your book and liked it enough to purchase the whole thing. I'm already halfway through it and it's sexy, fun, AND very well written. (One of the reasons I never had any desire to read "50 Shades" was because I heard it was horribly written.) The fact that the protagonist was a 40-year-old woman was, to this 40-something, extremely appealing. I hope some of your regular blog readers will give it a chance!

Anonymous said...

OMG Joe, I laughed out loud at least three times in the excerpt alone. If the rest of the book is this good, I know I'll enjoy it. Just pressed one-click. :)

Anon Author

P.S. I write Romance, some of it with a bit of humour to go with the sex and angst, so welcome to the group!

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

You got me, Joe. I wasn't going to buy it, but I clicked out of curiosity and read the sample. Funny, true, and full of promise... you really got the female voice just right so far. I presume that there will be some sex? Nice that you based the hot young stud on yourself. ;-)

Alan Spade said...

A question to Ann: why isn't your name appearing in the book? I also noticed you didn't talk about the book on your website or your Facebook, so it did make me scratch my head.

Terri Herman-Ponce said...

I love the idea of stretching wings when it comes to storytelling. I've often toyed with the idea of trying a new genre but always held back out of one thing: fear. Silly, really, because as a self-published writer what do I have to lose? Your post gives me a little more incentive that maybe I should reconsider and give it a go.

Joe Konrath said...

A question to Ann: why isn't your name appearing in the book? I also noticed you didn't talk about the book on your website or your Facebook, so it did make me scratch my head.

She's ashamed to work with me.

Alan Spade said...

She has not been by the past. So, I guess that's because of the genre of the book, because it's rather counterintuitive for an author doing a collaborative work not to criss-cross promotion in order to cross-polinisate fans.

Of course, the freedom of self-publishing also allows us to cencentrate our forces on some projects and not others, and to have some super-secret projects, and I totally respect that.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

"She's ashamed to work with me."

Who ARE you, anyway?????

;)

Hi, Alan!
My name isn't on the book for the same reason Joe's name isn't on the book. The Melinda books are very different from the books we do under our own names.

Romance is a very large and diverse genre. My other romance novels are romantic suspense, heavy on the suspense. They have much more in common with my Val Ryker thrillers (Pushed Too Far, Burned Too Hot) and the Codename: Chandler books Joe and I write together than they do with the Melinda books. Melinda is a totally different brand--erotic romantic comedy--and readers like to know what they're getting.

As for Facebook, Melinda has her own Facebook page, and I post on that. Even so, I will put notice of the book on my other pages (and make it clear these are totally different types of books) I just haven't done it yet.

Alan Spade said...

Hi, Ann.

Thanks for your response! :) This Melinda DuChamp is an intriguing concept, because, if I remember well, there have been at least one another writer than you and Joe writing under this name in a past book.

Patricia Preston said...

Great post. Made a quote meme of your remark about it being the greatest time to be a writer because it is. Writers today are so lucky. One of my dearest friends wrote several books in an effort to sell to the inspirational market many years ago. At that time, it was almost impossible for a new author to break in that market. She died in 2007 from cancer so she never had a chance to share her stories with readers.

Jill James said...

Love this time we are living in. We can try new things. Open our horizons. Yay!!

Bernadette Walsh said...

Best of luck Joe and Ann. If you'd ever like to appear on my radio interview show NICE GILRS READING NAUGHTY BOOKS please shoot me an email bernadettewalsh.author@gmail.com

John Ellsworth said...

Love the cover. Kudos to the artist.

Hope you sell a million.

Or would that be a negative for you two?

Sue-Ellen Welfonder also w/a Allie Mackay said...

Love this! FB'ed and tweeted, hope my (romance) readers snap it up. I will grab my own copy as soon as I post this. Love your work (books and your info posts), can't wait to read this new venture. Thank you so much for all you do for indies. I'm a longtime trad romance author, now indie and loving every minute. You are an inspiration! Good luck!

Megan said...

"Harlequin may have had some racy titles, but I doubt they ever got this racy."

This came as quite a surprise to me. *eyes backlist*

Good luck with your book! Sounds super funny. I know I laughed reading this blog entry.

Joe Konrath said...

This came as quite a surprise to me. *eyes backlist*

Mira has some kinky stuff, your books included.

I should have been more specific, because I was focusing on HQ continuities and series.

Em Taylor said...

I think where you went wrong with the sci fi is that you never put enough sex in it. I am testing my theory with an alien vampire romance coming out in early 2015. Watch out Amazon, here I come--again. (Mind out the gutter, please)

In the meantime I shall download your book on Amazon Unlimited and have a peruse.

Joe Konrath said...

I think where you went wrong with the sci fi is that you never put enough sex in it.

Is there ever enough sex? :)

Joe Konrath said...

Twitter is all a'twitter with writers who are taking exception to this post. The gist is that there have been HD continuities with male escorts who specialize in kinky bondage.

And yet none show up here to make any points.

Newsflash: you can't fisk someone, or even properly respond to their points, in 140 characters.

If you disagree with something I've said, this is the place to discuss it. Can someone show me an HQ series featuring a sex worker who sleeps with a woman after meeting the heroine? Or a HQ continuity with candle wax, pillory spanking, and a sex machine?

I like it when people disagree with me. It makes things more interesting. But why snipe on Twitter when there's room here to engage and reply in detail?

Joe Konrath said...

Courtney Milan, who by all accounts is a good writer and a person I respect even if I don't agree with her on everything, mentioned this on Twitter.

Which is why you said the "genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist"?

I said that because it didn't exist.

Has there always been erotic romance? Sure.

Has it always been mainstream?

No. Fifty Shades of Grey sold 100 million copies and opened the genre up to huge numbers of readers who never tried the genre before.

Harlequin is evil. Besides their terribly one-sided contracts and awful royalty rates, they had rules that limited what could and couldn't be done in series romance and continuities.

I'm focusing on series because that's what my co-writer did for twenty years.

Now we've both ventured into the ER genre, which, thanks to EL James, has become mainstream, not niche.

For some bizarro reason, some ER writers think I'm disrespecting them by not acknowledging them, and that I have no business writing in this genre.

Seriously? You sound like whiny fans who are mad that the band they discovered in high school now sells out arenas.

EL James blew the genre up. Ten years ago, Want It Bad wouldn't have been able to find a wide audience. Pillories and candle wax and man whore weren't in HQ series that were sold in Walmart. But today we can publish without restrictions.

That's the sum total of my point.

Joe Konrath said...

And for the record, since one of my best friends wrote for Harlequin, and since I've been to several RWA conferences, I think romance writers are the most unfairly maligned, persecuted group of genre writers, and they've been treated horribly by the industry, and by other writers.

I'm writing in this genre because I like this genre. My wife likes this genre. It's a great genre that doesn't get the respect it deserves.

Courtney also said: 37 minutes ago: And for what it's worth—for all the good you do, you can't say "Wow, that post is a little hyperbolic, I'll tone it down?

I'm supposed to tone down the hype and hyperbole in promotion? How am I supposed to market a title, clandestinely while whispering?

That said, I knew this post was very much 70s exploitation grindhouse trailer. That was intentional, and meant to amuse, not offend.

"If you see only one movie this year, see Last House on the Left! And keep repeating, It's only a movie, it's only a movie..."

I write a blog post vilifying Harlequin for screwing authors out of ebook rights, and I get a few retweets.

I write a blog post saying I wrote an erotic romance that breaks boundaries, and I get scolded dozens of times.

Someone unplug the Internet. It failed again.

KT Grant said...

JA, I noticed your exchanged with Courtney I twitter, and I'm all for a discussion about your book, and even you defending it, (I was even interested in reading it) but you lost when you tweeted this to Courtney:

@jakonrath @courtneymilan My co-author has written more than you have and sold more than you have.

That is very insulting, saying because an author hasn't met a number of sales or hasn't published a certain amount of books, their opinion doesn't matter.

Just because Fifty Shades sold 100 million copies doesn't mean it's a great book. Some of my all time favorite books have failed to make a blip anywhere. Someone can use the same argument that if you make the NYT or USA Today, you're better than an author who hasn't hit a list. If so, then Snooki from the Jersey Shore is 100 times better then the majority of authors publishing today.

Maybe we should discuss great erotic romance authors and their books than influenced you and Ann to write your erotic romance. I can name so many authors that made their mark way before Fifty Shades and were very much in the mainstream in the mid 90's and early 2000's.

Victoria Dahl said...

If your point is that Harlequin is evil, then just write "p.s. Harlequin is evil" at the bottom of your post. But if you say "couldn't have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist," and someone challenges that, you may just want to admit that you don't actually know much about the genre and you weren't reading it ten years ago.

Harlequin is not a genre. Harlequin series is not a genre. And Harlequin "continuities" are definitely not anything close to a genre.

Was erotic romance mainstream ten years ago? I don't know, was that the point you made that was challenged? No. Just say "I don't know the genre, I said this incorrectly, and I can admit it because words matter and I didn't use them well."

FYI: I've published 26 books in the romance genre. One of those was an erotic romance with spanking and ropes and jizz published by HQN before 50 Shades. I'm a big girl now.

Jill Sorenson said...

You keep using the word continuity. Do you mean category romance? Harlequin publishes both. Series and category are sometimes used interchangeably to describe a shorter length romance novel. Harlequin Presents, Harlequin Desire etc. Continuity is a different thing.

Of course Harlequin has published plenty of erotic material and boundary-pushing stuff. I see Megan Hart commented--her novel Stranger by Harlequin Spice has an escort hero, I believe. Tiffany Reisz is another example of a boundary pushing author. The category lines aren't known for edgy erotic content, but the Blaze line publishes some and it's been around for years. Before that there was Temptation.

You're probably right that Harlequin wouldn't have published this work as a sweet category romance. That's fair to say. Claiming that you have blown the doors off the erotic romance genre is insulting to the many women who came before you, however. That is why you've seen a negative reaction on twitter.

T. M. Hunter said...

I think where you went wrong with the sci fi is that you never put enough sex in it.

I'm fairly certain that's where I've gone wrong with all of my sci-fi too...

FB'd the post...good luck!

Michelle Smart said...

There was so much I was going to write but I see some other authors have spoken up making some of the points I was going to make. However...

Courtney Milan said on Twitter that she could easily name three HQ books that had pushed and broken boundaries in erotic romance before EL James came along and asked you, three times that I counted, whether or not Spice could be included. As I could see no response from you, I will answer with this: Harlequin Spice was HQ’s erotic line and is now published under the HQN imprint. I’ve included the link here http://www.harlequin.com/store.html?cid=3636&mpv=childItemsDTO&fld=i_pubdate%2Ci_itemid&direc=ASC&mpvp=1 – as you’ll see, they were publishing these books in 2007, a good four years before Fifty Shades of Grey released. To echo Victoria Dahl, Harlequin is not a genre. Harlequin series is not a genre. And Harlequin "continuities" are definitely not anything close to a genre. Continuities make up a tiny proportion of the series books output.

As for male prostitutes and infidelity after the hero and heroine meet, Maisey Yates has written a book about a former male prostitute for the Presents line; Lynne Graham wrote a linked-duet story where the hero had sex and impregnated another woman AFTER meeting the heroine. Which, incidentally, was published in 2011.

And one last thing. Can you please tone down the 'Harlequin is evil thing' and the implication that anyone who writes for HQ (or any other publisher) is stupid? There are plenty of us who actually enjoy writing for them and are treated very well. We don't deserve to be castigated for the choices we make just because they differ from your own choices.

Victoria Dahl said...

"Claiming that you have blown the doors off the erotic romance genre is insulting to the many women who came before you, however. That is why you've seen a negative reaction on twitter."

Perfectly said, Jill. Thank you.

And I *think* by continuity he means a very specific and unusual type of series book. ??? Yes, those authors are told what to write and how to write it, because their stories take place in a universe created by the original author who started the continuity series. It's hardly a surprise to the author, though. She knows she's writing a continuity. Anyway, it's a strangely specific term to use and probably not known to anyone outside the genre.

Joe Konrath said...

That is very insulting,

Courtney insulted me a lot in that Twitter exchange, and I was polite.

Then she insulted my co-authors, saying Ann didn't know what she was talking about.

Taking potshots at me is fine. Potshots at my co-authors? I don't play that.

Courtney has NO BUSINESS telling Ann Voss Peterson that she doesn't knwo what she's talking about. Ann has forgotten more about writing than Courtney knows, and she's a better writer than damn ear anyone I've ever met.

Next time you get insulted, read it in context.

Some of my all time favorite books have failed to make a blip anywhere.

I agree 100%. But I wouldn't be writing erotica without FSoG, and neither would dozens of author authors.

Were there great romantic erotica authors before EL James? Of course! No one is saying otherwise.

But James made it mainstream. She opened up doors.

Harlequin opened up doors the way a company store opens up doors; you load 15 tons and what do you get, another day older and deeper in dept.

I can name so many authors that made their mark way before Fifty Shades and were very much in the mainstream in the mid 90's and early 2000's.

Which is great. But I'm pretty sure that isn't what this blog post is about.

I can't thank you enough for posting here. Very cool of you, and thanks for contributing to the discourse. It's much easy to make point than it is on Twitter, and I appreciate you taking the time.

Joe Konrath said...

If your point is that Harlequin is evil, then just write "p.s. Harlequin is evil" at the bottom of your post.

I've said that many, many times. They're evil.

They also have restricted content and censored the market. I'll elucidate shorty.

But if you say "couldn't have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist," and someone challenges that, you may just want to admit that you don't actually know much about the genre and you weren't reading it ten years ago.

So you're telling me that FSoG could have gotten into Walmart years ago, as part of a HQ series or continuity?

You're saying that HQ Blaze was not only mainstream, but the hero and heroine could sleep with others after they met, used sex machines, dripped hot wax on each other, etc, and were still for sale in Target or Sam's Club?

If so, then I'm wrong. But if FSoG opened up this genre to worldwide acceptance, then my points stand.

Thanks for commenting. I appreciate hearing consenting viewpoints. It helps everybody.

Joe Konrath said...

see Megan Hart commented--her novel Stranger by Harlequin Spice has an escort hero, I believe.

That was Mira, not an HQ series. Has Mira not always been less restrictive? And that was 2013---after FSoG.

Would HQ have published Stranger in 2001 under its Spice line? Would it have been sold in Walmart?

Claiming that you have blown the doors off the erotic romance genre is insulting to the many women who came before you, however

As I said to Courtney on Twitter, if you wrote a horror novel and claimed it was terrifying, I wouldn't be insulted that you didn't acknowledge Dean Koontz. That's just silly.

I have no control over what insults people. But I did write a very funny, very sexy romance, which I'm excited about, and want to tell the world about, so I'm very amused by the reaction it is getting.

There's no zero sum in writing. One author's sale don't come at the expense of another. I encourage writers, I don't take offense when someone enters my genre. I wasn't aware I needed to get a union card to write ER. :)

Thank you for coming here and clarifying some things. I appreciate it.

Victoria Dahl said...

"So you're telling me that FSoG could have gotten into Walmart years ago, as part of a HQ series or continuity?"

That's not what you said. "Couldn't have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist." It's simply not true. It's NOT TRUE. "Genre, opportunity, and mindset" does not equal "Walmart, Harlequin series, and Fifty Shades."
Those words do not mean the same things. Why are you not addressing your own words? It's like you don't want to admit that you're wrong.

If you actually want to know more about what was being published in paper form and sold at big box stores (more than) ten years ago, please listen to what people are saying to you on Twitter. There was also a ton of erotic romance being published & sold online ten years ago. Truly filthy, lovely stuff. You can start here:
http://wendythesuperlibrarian.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-quick-and-dirty-history-of-erotic.html?m=1

Thank you.

KT Grant said...

I'm always open for a discussion, especially if it's about books. I also always read your blog although I don't always comment.

Anne Rice in the early 80's opened the door for erotic romance (although some may argue it's erotica) with her Sleeping Beauty trilogy. I believe that was 1983, and those books have been read worldwide.

Also, In the Cut by Susanna Moore in 1995 was a run away best seller and made into a movie with Meg Ryan. At the time that book made some waves and did very well.

I don't think 50 Shades opened that many doors, by that's my opinion. I really do think those who started publishing erotic romance after 50 Shades would have done well regardless. Publishing, and the readers, were hungry for something new, much like the movie, TV and music industry. If Sylvia Day published Bared To You 6 months before 50 Shades, Day would have been the trendsetter. But Day already made her mark in many ways, being published for many years prior, which includes erotic romance.

Joe Konrath said...

Courtney Milan said on Twitter that she could easily name three HQ books that had pushed and broken boundaries in erotic romance before EL James came along

We're talking past each other.

Justine by DeSade pushed boundries 200 years ago. Story of O pushed them 60 years ago. Nine and a half weeks is 30 years old.

But after Desade, O, McNeill and thousands of romance titles of vaious kinks, you still couldn't buy bondage books at Walmart. Until FSoG.

James broke the glass ceiling and made it mainstream. That's why Want it Bad couldn't have been written ten years ago; because there was no mainstream market for it. And HQ helped reduce what every mainstream market might have existed with their many restrictions.

Am I wrong?

Joe Konrath said...

Anne Rice in the early 80's opened the door for erotic romance (although some may argue it's erotica) with her Sleeping Beauty trilogy.

Read it back in college. I'd classify it as erotica, though it was more a creepy look into Rice's mind. The last two book were beatings, more beatings, and no orgasms.

Exit to Eden was more mainstream, and even had an awful movie made from it.

But Rice, and Moore, didn't lead an erotic romance revolution. I'd wager there were more ERs published since FSoG than prior to it. And I'd wager that the average reader knows FSoG, bu not Claiming of Sleeping Beauty.

Joe Konrath said...

I'm really enjoying this back and forth, and thanks for participating. I have to run to the Chicago Beer Fest now and own't be back until later.

So if you comment, I'm not igoring you. I'm just filthy drunk.

Victoria Dahl said...

Also, you're acting as if people are upset because you said "I wrote a great book, come read it!" That's disingenuous, at BEST. People are insulted that you claim to be doing something new and edgy in a genre you don't know much -if anything- about. That's not about anyone being fangirls of a band. It's about you walking into a jazz hall after a few months of piano lessons and saying "Don't worry, folks, we can finally make some real music now." But keep pretending that's not obnoxious and insulting.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Series romance has guidelines for each line, in order to give readers a specific type of story, depending on the line they choose. Joe should have said series lines instead of continuities, although I did write 5 continuities out of the 25 books I wrote for Harlequin Intrigue.

I understand the derision romance authors have experienced, because I lived it. But I have to admit, I didn't expect to receive it from my fellow romance authors (not from Victoria and Michelle, but on Twitter).

I was treated to the old standby what-have-you-read question followed by the it's-not-good-enough answer followed by refusing to give names of authors considered "good enough". I got a lot of sniping behind my back and refusal to engage in direct discussion. And when I pressed for a definition of erotic romance, no one could come up with one but me.

Not only that, but our book was called crap by someone who hadn't even bothered to read it. Now that happens all the time to romance authors. All the time. The shameful thing was that this time it was a romance author who did it. Actually more than one.

I am not angry about all this. I am very disappointed in the romance community. I thought we were better than this, but I was obviously wrong.

Anyone can write in any genre they want. Everyone who writes a story builds on the stories that have come before. This idea that we haven't paid our dues is silly, especially since my first romance was published in 2000, and I've been a member of RWA for 20 years. But no one needs to pay dues. We can all write what we want, and it's up to readers to decide if it's what they want to read.

This stuff is really high school, and if people are offended that Joe Konrath has written a romance, and that he things it's pretty darn good (and it is), they need to grow a thicker skin. In fact, I really wonder how they've made is this far in the writing business.

And on a slightly different topic: I think Harlequin undervalues its authors, particularly its series authors, and I will continue to speak out against Harlequin whenever they give me reason. I know many fabulous authors who write for Harlequin. It is very difficult to write stories within tight guidelines. Akin to performing Swan Lake in a phone booth, to paraphrase Jennifer Greene. To say that thinking they deserve better contract terms is disrespecting them is ridiculous.

Victoria Dahl said...

Hi, Ann.
As a romance writer you know that Harlequin is not the *genre." It's not the genre of romance and it's certainly not the genre of erotic romance. It's one publisher among many.

Joe was simply incorrect. I believe instead of "This couldn't have been written 10 years ago," what he meant was "I, Joe Konrath, would not have written this 10 years ago because there wasn't enough money to be made in erotic romance before 50 Shades." Because there were plenty of women writing AND PUBLISHING dirty, edgy, pushing-the-envelope romances 10 years ago. There were sex toys and escorts and multiple relationships and jokes about blow jobs. It just wasn't him writing it. That's it.

Hyperbole? Fine. But we don't have to treat hyperbole as something honest or defensible or worthy of respect.

And again: Harlequin is not a genre and words have meaning.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

And what is ignoring that Joe's co-author has written 27 romances called? Am I also not worthy to play in that particular piano hall because it's a new sub genre for me? Because that's essentially what I was told on Twitter.

Not only that, but everyone had a different definition of that sub genre even among the authors who were judging me. Hell, RWA has a hard time defining what a romance is. I've been a member for 20 years, in PAN since 2000. I know the history.

A lot of people don't like Joe, because they find him arrogant. Well, he is arrogant at times. :) But getting this angry about it (again, not saying you're angry, Victoria, at least I don't think that's the case), but getting so angry and feeling so offended says more about where the person who is angry is coming from than anything else.

Victoria Dahl said...

But you weren't the one to say that, Ann, and I seriously doubt you would have. Because that's the issue here. Not that you and Joe wrote and erotic romance and that you want people to read it. The issue is the words HE used. The words he won't admit are incorrect. Why can't he just say "Okay, I don't actually know what was being written in erotic romance 10 years ago. My bad."?

It may be a tiny insult to you, but it's an insult you're both choosing to take a stand on, and I can't fathom why. If Joe is wrong, then he's wrong.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

It wasn't mainstream 10 years ago. Erotic romance was mainly available from small, digital presses. I was not writing ER then, but I had about 10 books out at that time.

I also remember when Blaze started and how WalMart demanded changes to the books or they wouldn't stock them.

The hyperbole that seemed to anger people was the line in the copy. "It's more fun than the last ten books you've read." And I have to admit, I find that funny. How could anyone possibly know the last ten books you've read? How could that not be a joke?

And the other was Joe's comment about blowing up the envelope. Also so over-the-top that it is funny.

Now I follow you on Twitter and read your books, Victoria, because you play with just that kind of humor. And I know some people take offense. And the whole thing says a lot more about them then it says about what you've written.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

I was talking to Lauren Dane on Twitter, and she estimated that Erotic Romance really solidified into a sub genre in 2005 or 2006, which is how I remember it, too. So that was in the past ten years.

Spice started in 2006, I believe.

And when Joe was talking about Harlequin, he was very clearly referencing my publishing history. He did get the terminology wrong.

I suspect the jump from his using the wrong terminology to he doesn't deserve to write in this genre is more about the derision romance authors have always been treated to (I've lived it, too) than it is about anything Joe actually said.

I also have to say, some people actually did want to talk yesterday, and that was very interesting. As is our discussion here.

But life is too damn short for the mean girl games. I didn't play in high school, and I'm not playing now.

Jill Sorenson said...

"That was Mira, not an HQ series. Has Mira not always been less restrictive? And that was 2013---after FSoG.

Would HQ have published Stranger in 2001 under its Spice line? Would it have been sold in Walmart?"

Mira re-released Stranger in 2013. It was originally published by Spice in 2008. Spice didn't exist in 2001. I have no idea about Walmart.

I don't have an issue with your claim that 50 Shades changed the game. It did. I'm just letting you know that you sound uniformed about the genre overall and that your boasts have rubbed female authors the wrong way. It's very hard to out-dirty us. ;) But good luck with that.





Victoria Dahl said...

I don't really know much about mean girl stuff. IMHO, it's always directed at the other side, and never at friends who exhibit the same behavior. For example, Joe said to Courtney on Twitter "That self-righteous feeling you have? Beware it. When you feel this good slapping some guy down, it isn't about the guy." Pretty laughable considering how gleefully Joe enjoys slapping down people he doesn't agree with in publishing. So much glee.

OTOH, people who hate Joe talk shit about him all the time, but when Joe talks shit, it's the worst thing ever!

So my focus here is on facts, and Joe got the facts wrong. He didn't say it wasn't mainstream 10 years ago. He didn't say Harlequin Presents wouldn't have published it. He said it couldn't have been written in the genre, and in doing so, he erased hundreds of women who were publishing with great skill and LOVE for the genre long before he decided to dip his wick into it.

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

Whew! Reading Want it Bad and it is hot! Fantastic! So much fun to read. Recommending it to all my friends. Thanks, Joe and Ann! So well done!

Ann Voss Peterson said...

I wasn't talking about people complaining about Joe. They can do that all they want. Joe doesn't care.

I'm talking about the way they were treating me. I've been part of the romance community for a long time. Yesterday I wanted to hear what they thought. I tried to have a conversation with them. I used to have respect for some of those women (the ones I've met personally and/or virtually).

Not anymore. I'm done with them. Life is too short to waste time on toxic people.

And like I said above, some authors were not happy with this post, and yet they managed to behave professionally, so I'm not lumping them into this. Or you.

JulieLeto said...

Okay, I've written 45 books. About 35 for Harlequin Temptation Blaze and I was a launch author for Harlequin Blaze and I also was part of the 10th anniversary, though I no longer write for the line and haven't since 2011. I'm not going to claim to be a better writer than anyone, but I do know my lines better than most, especially in the earliest days as I was a part of the launches of both Temptation Blaze and Harlequin Blaze.

So...what have I or my colleagues written? Spanking? Done. Hot candle wax? Done, done, and done. Nipple clamps, glass dildos? Done. Menage? Done...twice. Three times, actually, but probably more, since I haven't read them all. Hero or heroine sleeping with someone other than the hero/heroine? Done. Male escort? I can't remember that one...but that doesn't mean it wasn't done. I didn't read or write everything.

The point is...there's nothing that new here. I hope your book is a success because people like it, but don't try and market it as something groundbreaking when it's really not. Sure, they didn't do any of that at Intrigue or in most of the continuities...but was that censorship as you claim or was it Harlequin being hyper aware of their market. Intrigue was a line that always skewed older, demographic wise, as did continuities. Blaze skewed younger...much younger. The whole focus was to grab that group that is now called "New Adult." When Blaze launched, they did big giveaways at clubs in major cities like New York, Chicago and Miami. That was in 2001.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Thanks, Tracy! Glad you're enjoying it. :)

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Hi, Julie!

Do you remember what year it was that the (reportedly Wal Mart driven) editorial changes were made in Blaze?

I also received directives that reportedly originated from Wal Mart focusing on the violence content in my Intrigues.

I agree with you that Harlequin is hyper aware of their market, and that is the reasoning behind the guidelines. I stated that in my first comment here. And I don't think the sexual content in our book is groundbreaking.

I do think erotic romance has really solidified into a genre in the past ten years. And that is because of the women who wrote it when it was under appreciated, and the commercial success of the digital small presses who published it then. THAT is why Harlequin started moving in that direction. They and a few other bigger publishers wanted part of that success. After FSOG, all the publishers wanted part of that success.

It is a different world now.

As for Want It Bad:
My favorite part of the book is the mix of elements (and that's what made it fun to write). It is a bawdy romantic comedy with BDSM. Bridesmaids with bondage.

Anonymous said...

" It is a bawdy romantic comedy with BDSM. Bridesmaids with bondage."

Maybe THAT should have been a better tag line to lead with?

The book would make more sense, IMO with that bit of info.

*shrugs*

JulieLeto said...

Honestly? Most of us simply ignored those Walmart directives. :-) Editors may have shifted the way they wrote the back cover copy and the titles lost their double entendres and the covers might have changed...but content? Not much changed. Walmart never actually read the books and the women who read Blaze really weren't going to complain. Those "directives" came and went several times over the years...they never really bothered us much.

I have to be honest...I was shaking my head when FSOG came out and went gangbusters and Harlequin did nothing to capitalize on this new readership. They could have taken the first five years of Blaze, changed the covers and made a MINT. Many, many of those books were just as hot, but had much stronger female leads and were infinitely better written. But they didn't. I wasn't really that surprised...I don't even know that TPTB at HQ really knew was was in the Blazes either!

JulieLeto said...

Harlequin is a business. I may not always agree with their business practices (or ever agree with them) but I do respect their ability to hone in on their market--at least in the beginning. Temptation Blaze was born out of the success of Mallory Rush and Tiffany White, two ground-breaking Temptation writers who truly pushed the envelope of category romance by writing about white slavery and strippers, respectively. That made them go looking for authors who were writing super-hot (which was already being done in historical romance by authors like Susan Johnson, Bertrice Small & Robin Schone) but could do it in category romance. That's how they found Lori Foster, who was the launch author for the Temptation Blaze line. When those ultra-spicy books (with touches of kink) became bestsellers within the line, they decided to turn them into a line of their own.

When this happened, though, they asked us (the launch authors) to also include more plot and to tie the plot to the sex. Many were suspensy. There was a historical Blaze and a futuristic one. There were humorous Blazes, too. Light ones. Dark ones. Some really, really dark. We explored a very wide spectrum...but as the line was Harlequin, we kept that one man/one woman/one happy ending always in sight. Were we pushing envelopes that other small press publishers or digital publishers hadn't already touched? Probably not. But we were breaking ground for Harlequin.

I had the advantage of writing for Blaze for ten years, so I saw a lot of shifts, ebbs and flows toward and away from edgy and kinky to romantic and back again. The earliest books, IMO, were the edgiest, but they also sold the best...at least, for me. But I don't blame the content for the downward trends in sales. A lot of that had to do with marketing, or lack thereof.

V. M. Black said...

I had a romance in 2005 IN WALMART featuring a prostitute under my old name. In 2008, I had one featuring S&M. Also in Walmart.

Are you saying that everything published on Kindle is by definition as mainstream as a Walmart placement? Really?

V. M. Black said...

And, sorry, since when does what Harlequin does define the romance genre? "Harlequin Presents would never have a historic story, and therefore historical romances are new! Harlequin lines are all short-ish, and so therefore all long romances are new!"

Sorry, guys, but MOST of the romance money was outside of Harlequin by the 2000s. And they never owned the entire genre.

Leslie Kelly said...

Julie! How could you forget my gigolo book? You helped me plot it! :-)

*Waving hands as someone who had a male prostitute hero in a Harlequin series book sold in Wal Mart in 2008*

PS: Same hero also had a threesome with another couple in another Blaze.

PSS: Bondage, blindfolds, sex toys, food sex, role-playing, exhibitionism, stripper heroines, filthy-mouthed best friends...done, done, done, done, done, done, done. Long before FSOG.

And those are just MY books. That doesn't count the hundreds more by other authors who blurred all sorts of lines.

My recollection is that Wal Mart never gave a damn about content, as long as the covers or titles didn't cause their customers to complain.

Leslie Kelly

JulieLeto said...

Leslie! I knew there was one! I was thinking of your threesome...I just forgot that he got his own book. Mea culpa, my friend!

Anonymous said...

Why does Joe give a damn what's in Walmart -- then or now? Isn't he all about digital books being the go to and be all and "paper" is only good for wiping butts?

Small digital first publishers set the bar and women writers rose to the challenge and kept pushing it higher, giving READERS the hot stories, kinky scenes and true romance and they did it way before FSOG. Fucking machines? Yep. Sex clubs? Yep. Wax play? Yep. Bondage? Yep. Weird billionaires? Yep. BEEN DONE by hundreds--yes hundreds of authors. Hell, Blaze even did an anal scene early on :)

I've proudly been a published erotic author since 2006 -- I didn't write erotic to jump on some bandwagon, in fact, it's probably been as much a detriment to my career to tell people I write erotic than if I just wrote sexy contemporary.

I'm happy to see all the bright, successful, eloquent women writers, who know ROMANCE who've tried to get their point across--though I fear the man who needs to hear it the most, has turned a deaf ear because he's too damn busy shouting...

Joy Daniels said...

Smart, sexy, and laugh-out-loud funny. Read it in one sitting and loved it. And unapologetic about female desire and agency in a way that most erotic romance written solely by women isn't. Interesting.

Joe Konrath said...

There was also a ton of erotic romance being published & sold online ten years ago

Thanks for continuing to engage, Victoria.

There was no Kindle ten years ago.

FSoG is only half the reason for the erotica and erotic romance boom we're currently seeing. Being able to self-pub, specifically on Amazon since it accounts for most sales, has enabled a renaissance.

Your definition of "ton" and mine are apparently different. Every title ever sold via Ellora's Cave hasn't sold as much as FSoG.

James made it mainstream. Amazon made it profitable for all authors, because they could reach all readers. (At least they could until Amazon began to censor some erotica).

Ann and I made over $100k on a erotica novella that we wrote in a week. Seven days of work (if you could call it work) and a giant paycheck, and this was directly because of FSoG and Amazon.

If you actually want to know more about what was being published in paper form and sold at big box stores (more than) ten years ago, please listen to what people are saying to you on Twitter.

LOL. Sure, once you teach me how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Twitter isn't conducive to discussion. After reading a few dozen ladies high five each other for taking cheap shots at me and misquoting me, I realized I had better things to do. Like Trivia Crack.

I didn't understand why it was called Trivia Crack, until I tried putting it down.

Several authors, yourself included, have presented your points civilly here, where there is room for discourse and detail. Thank you for that.

Joe Konrath said...

It's about you walking into a jazz hall after a few months of piano lessons and saying "Don't worry, folks, we can finally make some real music now."

I understand your analogy. But it doesn't fit.

I didn't walk into your jazz hall, Victoria. You walked into my house and didn't like the things I was saying.

The things I said, BTW, were both promotional and motivational.

Promo is supposed to be provocative. Or do you believe quiet, passive marketing works best? :)

The motivational aspect was to show how much the market has opened up.

Why has it opened up? FSoG and Amazon.

I despise Harlequin. I think they're truly the worst publisher in history. Above and beyond the "Swan Lake in a Phone Booth" that Ann so eloquently described, they've exploited women as disposable, cheap labor, and their unconscionable contracts have made it near impossible to get rights reverted.

There are thousands of titles languishing with tiny sales that HQ isn't properly marketing, and they aren't returning those rights. The shit they pulled in the recent court case is a cherry on top of the shit sundae.

One of my points of this post was to say, "Look what we can do now." Because we couldn't do it ten years ago. Not this way, to this degree.

Raising your hand and saying, "But I did it ten years ago!" doesn't refute my main points.

Good on you, and the many women who have written pre-FSoG and pre-Kindle erotic romance.

You weren't the audience for my blog. I didn't go into a romance forum and yell, "Look at me! I'm better than you losers!"

Acting like I did is silly. Being insulted is silly. As I said upthread, if you wrote on your blog, "My name is Victoria Dahl and I just wrote the scariest inbred redneck horror novel of all time" my impression would be, "Cool. I should check it out." Not "Hey! I was writing inbred redneck horror ten years before you! Your book isn't scary (even though I didn't read it) Do you even know who Jack Ketchum is? How about Richard Laymon? They invented the genre! Have you ever even read Ed Lee?!?!"

Of course, I wouldn't do that. I feel no ownership of redneck horror, even though I've sold hundreds of thousands of books. I'm not so protective of it I care if someone else enters the genre and makes grandiose publicity claims.

But I must say it has been fascinating watching some authors in the community react to this blog post (some who obviously haven't even read the blog post).

However, I think it's awesome that you and others have brought your points up here. You have my utmost respect. As does Courtney Milan. I think she's a hero, an innovator, and the world is lucky to have her.

Joe Konrath said...

I don't think 50 Shades opened that many doors, by that's my opinion.

We stand where we sit. If you predated FSoG, you wouldn't find it revolutionary. You'd know that it had been done better by many authors, many years earlier.

When I read #SuperWendy's excellent post: http://wendythesuperlibrarian.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-quick-and-dirty-history-of-erotic.html

something leaped out at me.

What most of us found increasingly frustrating was the idea that somehow EL James had "invented" erotic romance and putting BDSM into a romance novel.

Ok, why? I asked her why, and got condensation, derision, snickers, and insults.

The question is valid. Why the hell would any author care about what another author did? Or about who gets credit for what?

I think knowing the history of genres and sub-genres is helpful, but I'd never take it personally. I'd never be angry, or frustrated.

Who was first doesn't matter unless you're a history student. The average reader doesn't care. And the average writer shouldn't care what their peers are doing.

I have over ten thousand thank yous in my email, from authors who have self-pubbed because they find my blog. I didn't do it for the thanks. And someday, when someone writes a book about the self-publishing revolution, I don't care if I'm mentioned in it.

Thanks for continuing to engage, KT.

Joe Konrath said...

Joe should have said series lines instead of continuities

Apparently I should have said a lot of things. :)

Joe Konrath said...

"Okay, I don't actually know what was being written in erotic romance 10 years ago. My bad."?

This isn't about what was being written in erotic romance 10 years ago.

It's about the ability for anyone to publish anything right now. Because the opportunities and market and cultural mindscape didn't exist ten years ago.

I've mentioned FSoG and Amazon. I'll also mention the movie BRIDESMAIDS.

Men have had vulgar comedies based around their sex lives for decades. BRIDESMAIDS, and THE HEAT, are part of a new wave of comedies that feature funny women as the leads. The outrageous humor, much of it profane and sexual, is a very recent phenomenon in this culture.

WANT IT BAD is a female buddy comedy, with bdsm.

Show me another one.

It couldn't have been written ten years ago, because there was no Amazon, FSoG, or Melissa McCarthy notoriety.

I also mentioned it is feminist and empowering. Anastasia in FSoG was a virgin, and she was abused by Christain for much of the trilogy. I don't find crying after being beaten to be empowering unless it is discussed and expected during pre-session negotiations.

In WANT IT BAD our heroine has all the power, beginning to end. The entire relationship is on her terms. She's never a victim. She doesn't need the hero to "win" or "save" her.

There have been strong women in romances for as long as the genre has existed. In WANT IT BAD, Jake is the damsel in distress.

Has that been done before? Sure.

But let's put it all together.

Could an ultra-kinky, feminist, girl-buddy, outrageous comedy have been published pre-Amazon, pre-FSoG, pre-Bridesmaids, and had a shot at finding a mainstream audience?

No.

And you can disagree. Feel free to.

You can even take to twitter and bash me for my audacity.

Or you can try to convince me I'm incorrect. So far I haven't been swayed by any arguments. Especially when people aren't arguing against my words or my intentions, but instead arguing at what they "think" my intentions are.

How many of my echo-chamber of critics have read the book?

Does anyone else find this whole topic as fascinating, from a social standpoint, as I do?

Joe Konrath said...

I also remember when Blaze started and how WalMart demanded changes to the books or they wouldn't stock them.

Did Walmart ever carry the Spice line? Anyone know?

Joe Konrath said...

I'm just letting you know that you sound uniformed about the genre overall and that your boasts have rubbed female authors the wrong way. It's very hard to out-dirty us. ;) But good luck with that.

That was very well put, succinct and civil. Thanks for posting.

As for out-dirtying you, remember my co-author is a woman. She's pretty dirty. :)

Joe Konrath said...

Many, many of those books were just as hot, but had much stronger female leads and were infinitely better written.

Not only could HQ have capitalized on FSoG, any of those earlier bdsm romances they published could have been a phenomenon like FSoG if given the proper push.

But HQ considered it a niche, and didn't properly exploit it.

Ellora's Cave did. But it took the widespread adoption of ebooks to reach the audience that had already existed, but no one could properly reach.

FSoG expanded that audience. I don't consider it groundbreaking in content, but it certainly was in sales and in making mommy porn acceptable to the mainstream.

BTW, I never said WANT IT BAD was groundbreaking. Yet that has been attributed to me on Twitter a whole lot.

Joe Konrath said...

"I, Joe Konrath, would not have written this 10 years ago because there wasn't enough money to be made in erotic romance before 50 Shades."

Victoria, if you can find another character like Janet anywhere in erotic romance, I'll get a T-shirt of your quote made and wear it as my Facebook profile pic.

Here's what I said:

It has romance. It has female-buddy banter. It has humor. It has insanely kinky sex. It's a feminist, empowering, 21st century love story that couldn't have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist.

Genre: Erotic Romance Feminist Outrageous Female Buddy Comedy with fucking machines, dildo shopping, St. Andrews Cross, pillories, spanking, whipping, male prostitutes, candle wax, tickling, butt plugs, and squirting.

Show me that kind of book from ten years ago.

No doubt all of those things have been around. But all together, as a comedy? Pre-Amazon, FSoG, and Bridesmaids?

I don't think do.

But you'd have had to have read the book to know that.

I'll even let you pick the T shirt color. :)

Joe Konrath said...

That self-righteous feeling you have? Beware it. When you feel this good slapping some guy down, it isn't about the guy." Pretty laughable considering how gleefully Joe enjoys slapping down people he doesn't agree with in publishing. So much glee.

I slap down people who say shit that harms authors. And I don't slap them down on Twitter. I fisk them, taking what they said line by line, and using logic and data to destroy their argument.

Being gleeful about it makes an 8000 word fisk more entertaining, and easier to get through. My online persona is deliberate and cultivated.

But no, you won't find me sniping on Twitter. Ever. When I take someone to task, I do it correctly and completely. And besides a small number of exceptions, I focus on those in power who get media attention, who say things that propagate disinformation and cause damage.

As a romance writer you know that Harlequin is not the *genre."

I conflated HQ and genre because I was specifically talking about Ann's previous books, which were continuities and series, and Want It Bad would have never been accepted by the lines she wrote for. I'd bet it wouldn't have been accepted by any HQ line, including Blaze and Spice. Janet is too rude.

He said it couldn't have been written in the genre, and in doing so, he erased hundreds of women who were publishing with great skill and LOVE for the genre long before he decided to dip his wick into it.

Holy shit! They're gone!??!?

WHAT HAVE I DONE! HOW CAN I UN-ERASE THEM!?!? HOW CAN WE BRING THEM BACK?!?!

Victoria, I didn't erase anyone. I touted a new novel. In a genre that I've never tried before, and am very excited to write in.

Be honest. If this wasn't me. If this same blog had been written by a woman who isn't hated by hundreds of peers, would anyone have been offended? Bothered?

I don't have the power to erase anyone, Victoria.

Nor did I signal anyone out with this blog.

Nor did I post this on a romance forum.

It's a promo piece, praising a new wave of publishing. One that didn't exist ten years ago. :)

But if making a sincere apology would salve some hurt feelings, then I...

Oh, wait. I erased everyone. There's no one left to apologize to.

Well, darn it. I guess I'll somehow have to live with angering a few of my peers.

Dunno how I'll manage. But don't feel sorry for me. I'll get by somehow.

Thanks again for contributing to the conversation. You've made some excellent points, and have been a true pro.

I'm going to buy a book from everyone who posted in this thread. Can you guys give me some recommendations? Of either your books, or others you think are good?

Joe Konrath said...

Not anymore. I'm done with them. Life is too short to waste time on toxic people.

But toxic people are interesting. Sometimes, beneath the venom, there are good points.

My complaint is with circle-jerks. I like being criticized. But when it becomes an echo chamber that only shows ignorance, I bow out.

Case and point, Cortney Milan Tweeted:
@jakonrath You don't have a right to my engagement. You don't have a right to tell me what battles should matter to me.

It has gotten multiple retweets.

Apparently, a lot of women agree that its okay to criticize a book you didn't read, criticize its author, and then refuse to have a discussion. Courtney does a tremendous job bringing important issues to public attention.

This wasn't one of those times. And rather than discuss it, she somehow made it look like my wanting to defend myself was infringing on her rights.

Huh?

So criticize who you want on Twitter, don't back up your words, don't engage the object of your derision, and then be proud that you refuse to? And this got retweeted and favorited?

That leaves me shaking my head. I'd walk across broken glass to engage some of the people I've fisked. I want to be able to discuss these issues.

Twitter: Konrath is an idiot!

Konrath: Can you back up that with some quotes, data, and logic? Discourse is tough with just 140 characters. How about my blog?

Twitter: I won't go to your blog, and you have no right to tell me what to do!

Ecccch. Apparently wanting to engage my accuser and defend myself was me infringing on women's rights.

I'm a feminist. My gender sucks. Women should rule the world. I'm serious about that, and anyone who knows me, knows that.

I don't mansplain. I don't hate women. I don't think I'm superior.

But reading the Twitter silliness said about me, you wouldn't know that.

Joe Konrath said...

Are you saying that everything published on Kindle is by definition as mainstream as a Walmart placement? Really?

No.

I'm saying that a book that appeared in Walmart is a good indicator that it is mainstream.

Also, I'll admit my wording in the blog post wasn't specific enough. I was focusing on the types of books my co-writer did. Ann couldn't have published Want It Bad under any of the lines she wrote for, and I still don't think it would have been published in any HQ line.

But what I think doesn't mean it's fact, or that I'm right.

And if you had a series HQ romance in Walmart with 30,000 words of explicit S&M, or a male lead who is a prostitute and has a session with another woman after falling in love with the heroine, then I'm wrong.

Did someone hear the Internet just snap in half? :)

Joe Konrath said...

Why does Joe give a damn what's in Walmart -- then or now? Isn't he all about digital books being the go to and be all and "paper" is only good for wiping butts?

I'm using Walmart as an indicator of a genre's mainstream success. If Walmart sells it, it's vanilla enough for America.

BTW, every one of my novels is available in paper. I own 5000 paper books.

Digital opened up the market for authors and readers. It's why we can enjoy Cum For Bigfoot--a title Walmart will probably never carry.

I'm happy to see all the bright, successful, eloquent women writers, who know ROMANCE who've tried to get their point across--though I fear the man who needs to hear it the most, has turned a deaf ear because he's too damn busy shouting...

I'm also happy to see all the bright, successful, eloquent women writers, who know ROMANCE who've tried to get their point across. And I'm pleased by their success. And I thank them for inventing this genre.

Have I been doing a lot of shouting? Is defending myself automatically considered shouting?

WELL, IS IT?!?!?

;)

Joe Konrath said...

Did I miss anyone's points or questions?

Again, thanks all for your comments.

Joe Konrath said...

Smart, sexy, and laugh-out-loud funny. Read it in one sitting and loved it. And unapologetic about female desire and agency in a way that most erotic romance written solely by women isn't. Interesting.

Thanks, Joy. That's what we were aiming for.

Victoria Dahl said...

Let me see if I've been correctly instructed on what qualifies as correct communication:
1) Does not occur on Twitter.
2) Definitely occurs on Joe's blog.
3) Only gleefully slap down people Joe doesn't like.
4) Do not gleefully slap down Joe.
5) Definitely do not gleefully slap down Joe on Twitter, an unworthy medium.
5) Use a carefully cultivated personality while you do it.
6) Again, make sure it's on Joe's blog because that's where meaningful conversations take place.
7) Don't think this has anything to do with Joe's self-promotion. Everyone agrees that Twitter conversations aren't real conversations. Because Joe's blog.
8) No one talk about Joe on Twitter, unless promoting Joe's books, then it's fine, thanks.
9) Be provocative!
10) Then complain that people are responding to provocation as if they've been provoked.

Does that cover it? Thanks for letting me know that we've all been conversatin' incorrectly. I'll spread the word on Twitter. <= JUST KIDDING! I'd never do that. Twitter is not the place for worthwhile conversations.

There is no romance writing hall. The jazz hall example was a metaphor for the genre. And here you are standing in it. Figuratively. I'm sorry if you misunderstood. Happy to clarify.

"Erasing women" was also figurative language. It's the opposite of literal. Some writers use figurative language. Most readers understand it. For example, no one has ever written me to ask how someone's heart can LITERALLY drop, when the character is just standing right there and isn't even physically damaged! But I'm glad you enjoyed cracking jokes about taking it literally. On your blog. I learned a lot. It was meaningful and correct.

Also, I read erotic romance, so I assume, in fact, you were talking to me with your promo post. Not literally, of course. Figuratively. You couldn't be talking to me when you're just typing. And I'm not even there! I meant I was figuratively part of your audience.

Joe Konrath said...

Hi Victoria. I make about a dozen points, but these are the ones you're focusing on:

Let me see if I've been correctly instructed on what qualifies as correct communication:
1) Does not occur on Twitter.
2) Definitely occurs on Joe's blog.


Uh, when we're talking about something I wrote on my blog, that's probably where we'll get the most mileage from discussing it.

For example, this recent comment of yours would have taken 20 Tweets to post. Is that good communication?

3) Only gleefully slap down people Joe doesn't like.
4) Do not gleefully slap down Joe.


Heh, what does "like" have to do with anything?

I slap down people who spread harm. And I'm all for people slapping me down. But back it up with quotes, facts, and logic.

5) Definitely do not gleefully slap down Joe on Twitter, an unworthy medium.
5) Use a carefully cultivated personality while you do it.


Here's a hint: When you say someone is wrong, you back it up and explain why.

Are you saying Twitter is conducive to debate? It's complicated to even follow a chronological thread. It's temporary unless you spend a long time creating individual links or searching for past quotes. And you have yet to convince me that you can make a compelling argument in 140 characters. You've used a lot more than 140, and still aren't convincing me.

What you think of my tone is your business, but it doesn't negate my points. It's also deliberate, not hastily dished out.

Twitter is an interesting way to communicate, but if you believe it's deep, relevant, or permanent, we'll have to agree to disagree.

This exchange we're having right now will last forever. Good luck finding a Twitter thread six months from now.

6) Again, make sure it's on Joe's blog because that's where meaningful conversations take place.

There are also other blogs and forums. But this topic began with this blog.

If you disagree with a NYT article, do you think it's effective to jump on Twitter to spout, "The NYT sucks!"

Perhaps more beneficial is to comment on the NYT website. Or to write a fisk of the article explaining, point by point, why it's wrong.

7) Don't think this has anything to do with Joe's self-promotion. Everyone agrees that Twitter conversations aren't real conversations. Because Joe's blog.

Readers don't care much about my blog. Writers do. On the rare times I use this blog for promotion, I try to do something more than promote. Like educate.

For example, did you know that FSoG and Amazon have opened up more opportunities for Erotic Romance writers than ever before?

There is no romance writing hall. The jazz hall example was a metaphor for the genre. And here you are standing in it. Figuratively. I'm sorry if you misunderstood. Happy to clarify.

I didn't know the Erotic Romance genre was anthropomorphic and had feelings.

What does the genre eat, by the way? Where does it sleep? What color is its hair?

Sorry, it's still a bad analogy. You came into my house. This blog is physical. There is no physical Erotic Romance genre, and I didn't walk into it.

"Erasing women" was also figurative language

It was a bad example. No one was erased, marginalized, attacked, prevented from pursuing personal freedoms, or hurt in any way.

If there are romance authors who get offended over the things I said in this blog, I can't help that. It's not my business what offends you.

Certainly I've shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, why I wrote what I wrote, and that is wasn't directed at anyone.

you were talking to me with your promo post.

So you were offended as a reader? Then why were your points based on your being a writer?

You couldn't be talking to me when you're just typing. And I'm not even there!

That made me snort.

And because you said it here, not on Twitter, people will be able to read it and laugh at it in the year 2075.

:)

Anonymous said...

I didn't read through the comments nor do I plan to. However, I have to say: I'd just told my husband that I had found my new favorite author while reading a Courtney Milan book. But... nope.

I don't CARE if Harlequin is terrible. I don't care if you've written something edgy and new. I DO care that an author such as Ms. Milan is as rude and unprofessional as she was to you on Twitter. Quite frankly, I'm not a big romance reader, and I've never even heard of you or Anne (no offense), but I would have read Courtney Milan.

Would have.

It would have hurt her not at all to keep her mouth shut and just let you promote your book. Every freaking author out there claims they are doing something new and different. Who cares? It's something called marketing. For her to start a twitter squabble over it is childish and hurts her image, in my mind.

She lost a customer. I sincerely think you are owed an apology.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. And, as a woman, can we please stop using feminism as an excuse to bash any male who dares to disagree with us? It gives us REAL feminists a bad name and, frankly, it waters down the issue of true suppression which IS STILL HAPPENING ALL OVER THE WORLD. I am a feminist. I do not take issues of femism lightly. It seriously pisses me off when women cry misogynistic behavior simply when they have a petty disagreement.

That's bullshit and it does NOT help our case, ladies. Misogynism is real and, as far as I can see, is not happening here.

Joe Konrath said...

However, I have to say: I'd just told my husband that I had found my new favorite author while reading a Courtney Milan book. But... nope.

I'm completely cool with Courtney, and I hope you read her. I certainly haven't stopped reading her just because we we playing Twitter tennis. Which, incidentally, I found interesting.

I get a lot of people who agree with me. I like it when people don't.

I sincerely think you are owed an apology.

Naw. We're adults, and its water under the bridge. She's one of the few well-known female activists in the writing community, and I wish we could clone her.

I grew up a privileged white male. I have no way to understand what women have gone through, in this profession, this country, and this world.

I much prefer a world where I piss someone off and they take me to task than one where no one says anything, even if they're angry.

Joe Konrath said...

Misogynism is real and, as far as I can see, is not happening here.

Men suck.

I'm a man.

I suck sometimes. I won't deny it.

I do try to be aware of it, and I don't mind being called out on it.

IMHO, this was not an example of me sucking. This was much to do about nothing.

Others have equally valid opinions. And this did turn out to be an interesting discussion.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but as a woman I get really tired of men being called sexist simply for now agreeing with women. I have suffered from plenty of discrimination as a minority and woman. Arguing isn't discrimination. That's what has made me mad. Because as much as you are a privledged white male, most of the women attacking you for "mansplaining" and being sexist are priveledged white females.

I can tell you a million times over that American women have no idea what it really means to not be able to speak your mind. No idea. And there is a huge difference between being polite and holding your tongue and living in a society where you could get beaten and perhaps killed for speaking your mind.

I have lived in a society as such and it frustrates me when I hear women downplay true sexism by calling something this petty sexist.

Just my opinion. J

Joe Konrath said...

I can tell you a million times over that American women have no idea what it really means to not be able to speak your mind.

And we have men to thank for that.

There's a show on Netflix right now called Stress Portrait of a Killer. http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/National-Geographic-Stress-Portrait-of-a-Killer/70107420

A researcher followed around a group of monkeys. All the alpha males were bullies. Abused the small and weak. Abused the women.

The group contracted TB. All the alpha males died.

Guess what happened?

The meek males in the group took over. But they treated all the others with kindness and respect. And that was passed on to their offspring. And when some alpha male from another group joined them, he was shown that was the way to behave. Kindness and respect.

I think if we just kill all the assholes, life for humanity will improve. It's about 20% of men who are the biggest offenders.

But there are probably some laws against doing that...

Victoria Dahl said...

"There are also other blogs and forums. But this topic began with this blog."

Yes, it began here. And you asked it to be shared on Facebook, Google, Twitter, so now it's discussed on Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Even if you hadn't requested it, people discuss things where they want to discuss things even when it's not your preferred forum.

I have very meaningful discussions on twitter. Long, deep, hard conversations. Are they as easy to track and revisit as a blog comment? Nope, but that's your measure of worth, not mine.

This is the forum you prefer, but I have no idea why you'd try to tell me what form of social media is best for MY public discourse. It's weird. If I'm talking to someone, I'm not performing, I'm talking to them. (Figuratively.) My number one concern isn't how easily an audience can follow. I am not you. Don't explain it to me as if my feelings about it must logically be yours.

"I didn't know the Erotic Romance genre was anthropomorphic and had feelings.

What does the genre eat, by the way? Where does it sleep? What color is its hair?"

My analogy is perfectly sound. I'm sorry you're still having trouble understanding it. A jazz hall doesn't have feelings. Neither does a genre. But there are performers in a jazz hall. Artists. And there are writers in a genre. Those are the people. They have feelings and they eat and they sleep and some of them have hair. Do you get what I'm saying now? You've offended some of the people in the genre who are like people in a jazz hall. Figuratively.

After all of this, I'll concede that you did not, in fact, publish this sexy, feminist, funny book ten years ago. But since you keep asking people to PROVE that books like it were published ten years ago or could have been, I ask you to PROVE that it could not have been published ten years ago. If you can't prove it, then I'll use your own logic to say that your statement simply wasn't true. And maybe you could concede that you have absolutely no idea what was being published in the genre ten years ago because you weren't reading it. *shrug* Seems like an easy truth to me.

Zoe Archer said...

"IMHO, this was not an example of me sucking. This was much to do about nothing."

This is the equivalent of you grabbing someone's fist, hitting them in the face with it, then demanding, "Why are you punching yourself?"

You don't get to determine whether or not your comments are belittling and self-aggrandizing. That's not your role.

Joe Konrath said...

Are they as easy to track and revisit as a blog comment? Nope, but that's your measure of worth, not mine.

If you believe words, and opinions, are meant to be brief and disposable, that's an opinion I don't share.

Twitter, and Facebook, and Google+ are billboards. They point to content, but they aren't very good at being the content. They certainly aren't conducive to discussion or debate.

I get to debate Scott Turow in January. We each have seven minutes to state our case, then we have a back-and-forth, audience questions, and a summation.

That could be done on a blog. It would be ludicrous on Twitter.

If your goal is a pithy "You suck" without feeling the need to back it up, Twitter fits the bill.

Personally, I find that cowardly, and it lacks thought.

For you and I to have had this exchange on Twitter would have taken two months, been broken up in to bits, would have made it impossible to quote each other, and wouldn't have given readers any clue to either of our points. The parable of five blind men each describing an elephant comes to mind.

I bet it's possible to write a novel on Twitter as well. Because it can be done doesn't mean it's the best vehicle for it.

I have no idea why you'd try to tell me what form of social media is best for MY public discourse

I don't know how I could explain it any more than I already have. You don't have to agree, but you haven't made any compelling arguments how Twitter is better to engage in discourse.

You've offended some of the people in the genre who are like people in a jazz hall. Figuratively.

So I walked into a genre and offended people?

The analogy just doesn't work, Victoria. Poking my head into a place where people are performing music and claiming I know better isn't even remotely comparable to me writing this blog post. If you want to keep with the musical analogy, what I did was write music in my house, then send out fliers to announce my latest opus.

I did not go to where you play music and confront you specifically, saying I'm better than you. Not even close. I didn't even specifically send you an invitation. I put flyers on cars, and you happened to see one. Some that saw the flyer were offended, which I contend is ridiculous. You haven't disabused me of that notion, and I'm listening closely.

I understand your points. I don't agree with them, and don't find them compelling.

You've yet to respond directly to my points. Or Ann's.

But you have my sincerest respect, and admiration.

Someone on Twitter said she was "fucking disgusted".

I replied that I'm fucking disgusted by the torture report, drone strikes, and hunger. This, not so much.

It's easy, and very self-gratifying, to let loose on Twitter. Especially with your circle of friends to back you up (and I say this having a circle of friends who back me up.)

But it's not substantive. It's masturbation. Fun, but it doesn't lead anywhere.

I don't blog for money, for fun, or for thanks. I rarely blog to promote. But this situation is compelling, worth discussing, and others can learn from it. I've certainly learned a lot. And much of that is because writers like you can share their thoughts, at length.

It didn't have to be here. Certainly writers who took offense would do well to blog about it. I'd happily do a back and forth with someone who disagreed with me, on their blog.

Twitter? Anyone following my exchange with Courtney (if they could--it was all over the place) can see how useless that was for both of us, and for anyone else reading.

Cont...

Joe Konrath said...

I ask you to PROVE that it could not have been published ten years ago.

I can't prove something didn't happen, Victoria. Those who claim experience are the ones who must produce proof. If you say something exists, it's your job to prove it, because you have knowledge that I don't.

If you said you owned a leprechaun, it isn't my job to prove you don't. If you say there are erotic romance novels with characters like Janet, it's on you to show me one.


Can I name contemporary ten erotic fiction writers? Yes.

And maybe you could concede that you have absolutely no idea what was being published in the genre ten years ago because you weren't reading it.

I have a pretty good idea what was being published in the genre. Besides Rice's four works, DeSade, Sacher-Masoch, O, 9 1/2 Weeks, Nin, James, I read a lot of smut. From reports by Hite, Kinsey, Masters & Johnson, to books I'd picked up by authors I met at RWA, I read hundreds of sex scenes before I ever wrote one.

But you've failed to prove to me why it matters, or shown me how I've hurt them.

Explain how these writers, their books, their careers, their lives, were damaged by my blog.

I can explain, in great detail, how I've intentionally tried to make a fool of Douglas Preston, James Patterson, and many others.

I didn't do that with anyone here. And if I wasn't JA Konrath, I doubt anyone would have cared.

But Kudos to you for discussing this, and thank you for doing so in a forum where others can follow it, and where I don't have to break my thoughts up into 400 tweets.

And even though I think Harlequin is the devil, I just bought your latest, Looking For Trouble. And I'll read it.

Thanks again.

Joe Konrath said...

You don't get to determine whether or not your comments are belittling and self-aggrandizing. That's not your role.

Intent and motive are so essential to actions they are required as proof in courts of law.

JulieLeto said...

What perplexes me, Joe, is your complete inability to acknowledge that points you made in this blog are simply factually incorrect.

Our male protagonist is a sex worker. An escort. A prostitute. I'm pretty sure Harlequin didn't allow that back when Ann was publishing her romance continuities.

This is untrue, as proved by Leslie Kelly's post about her sex worker hero. As a Blaze author--and therefore a Harlequin author--I can tell you that we were never told we couldn't write about sex workers. A book I published with Temptation in 1999 had a stripper as a heroine. And I wasn't the first.

I also believe Harlequin had a guideline that once the hero met the heroine, neither were allowed to philander. Strike two.

Just because you believe it doesn't make it true. There was no guideline that I ever read about this in Blaze and I know there was at least one Blaze (a Tori Carrington title, I believe) where the heroine had two lovers throughout the whole book.

Finally, the sex in Want It Bad makes Fifty Shades of Grey look like a Disney picturebook. Harlequin may have had some racy titles, but I doubt they ever got this racy.

Again, you can doubt it all you want...but Blaze authors have come on here and told you that this is not true. They got very racy. Not to belabor a point, but there is very little in terms of sex play that wasn't used in a Blaze at some point or another...and in the first five years of the launch.

You cannot compare Harlequin Intrigue to Blaze or Temptation or Spice or any of the other lines that focused on the sexual component of the relationship (whereas Intrigue focused on the mystery.) The target audiences are on opposite sides of the spectrum.

The point is, you made claims that turned out to not be true. I'm not sure why you can't just say, "Yea, I was wrong. Buy my book anyway because it's raunchy and fun." Instead, you've chosen to ignore the canon of romance, Harlequin in particular, and I don't see why that's necessary.

Why is it so important to get the facts right? It's our genre. We love it. We protect it. Those of us who were pushing boundaries--either within Harlequin or without, before or after Red Sage's Secrets (which was pre-Ellora's Cave) and FSOG--are proud of what we accomplished. For you to not acknowledge what those authors accomplished in changing the genre's attitudes toward sexuality is, at the very least, ill-informed. At worst, it's disrespectful. I think that's the point the some of us are trying to get across.

Joe Konrath said...

Thanks for chiming in again, Julie.

In the quote of mine you repeated, I was comparing Want It Bad Ann's experience with continuities and series, which is the context I made the statements in.

Then upthread, in reply to V.M. Black, I said I was wrong about my presuming HQ didn't allow the hero to be a sex worker, since she wrote one. I'm unclear if this was a series romance in HQ's regular line, or a Mira or Blaze or Spice title, and if that sex worker hero cheated once meeting the main romantic interest, or if half of a 60k word book was explicit kinky sex (all of which my quote wand comments here have been referencing).

If we're getting down to semantics (and all debates eventually do come down to semantics) it would be beneficial to have titles, years published, the imprints they were pubbed under, availability, etc.

I want to be proven wrong. And I'm happy to admit when I'm wrong. If books were published that meet the criteria I've stated in the blog, and clarified in the comments, then I'm wrong.

But if we're getting down to semantics, note my words. I'm not being mealy-mouthed. I chose those words carefully. I said I was pretty sure HQ didn't have any sex workers in their series. I didn't say Want It Bad was the first book to ever do that. In fact, Want It Bad was pitched to my various agents as a reverse Pretty Woman. There is a long precedent for whore heroes in romantic comedies.

Just because you believe it doesn't make it true

I know. That's why I said "believe." :)

They got very racy.

Recommend a title to me from HQ that's ten years old. I'd be happy to read it, and happy to compare the sex scenes in terms of length, frequency, kinkiness, and explicitness.

Again, if I'm wrong, I'm happy to admit it.

And again, as I said upthread, the elements of Want It Bad that make it impossible to have been published a decade ago (besides what I just said above) are also the publication of FSoG, the self-pub revolution, and the acceptance of comedies like Bridesmaids. These weren't around in 2004.

And again, as I said above, I appreciate you and others coming here to share these facts with me.

Having not read Want It Bad, how are you able to know if it is or isn't racier than titles pubbed a decade ago? If I'm guilty of talking without knowing, isn't everyone who hasn't read the book also guilty of the same?

CONT...

Joe Konrath said...

The target audiences are on opposite sides of the spectrum.

You are correct. And I'm still unclear if I'm incorrect. I'd really like someone to point out a book to me that I can compare WIB with.

The point is, you made claims that turned out to not be true.

I want you to show me. Tell me what to read.

I'm not sure why you can't just say, "Yea, I was wrong. Buy my book anyway because it's raunchy and fun."

Well, lots of reasons. First of all, I feel as if I've been backed into a corner, and my default mode is to defend myself. I haven't been proven wrong to my satisfaction. People keep saying I'm wrong, saying there were other books, but no one is pointing them out.

Second of all, this was said as a promo. When you see a 1970s movie trailer for some grindhouse flick that claims "This is the most shocking film you'll ever see!" do you take that with a grain of salt? Do you get angry because you know there were films that were more shocking made a decade earlier?

I still fail to see where I harmed anyone, or why they feel slighted. Can you tell me how my blog post hurt you? It's a serious question.

Instead, you've chosen to ignore the canon of romance, Harlequin in particular, and I don't see why that's necessary.

I've ignored a whole canon? So there were thousands of bdsm books available in Walmart in 2004? Erotic Romance was a huge mainstream subgenre with dozens of bestselling authors selling like FSoG did?

In these comments, three have been mentioned, none by title. That's me shitting on an entire genre?

I used hyperbole. You're using it now with "whole canon".

I've spent a lot of time in these comments trying to explain my intent with this post, and have really delved into the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_and_spirit_of_the_law

What exactly did I write? What did I mean when I wrote it?

I think I've been pretty clear on that. And I'm not getting direct responses to my questions and statements.

are proud of what we accomplished. For you to not acknowledge what those authors accomplished in changing the genre's attitudes toward sexuality is, at the very least, ill-informed. At worst, it's disrespectful. I think that's the point the some of us are trying to get across.

You should be proud.

But why do you feel disrespected? Because I'm writing an Erotic Romance, it's required for me to acknowledge every author who ever did an erotic romance? Does that makes sense?

When I promoed my spy thriller FLEE I wrote "This one is loaded with actions, suspense, twists, sex, and a body count that makes a Jason Bourne book look like a Disney film." I also call her a female James Bond.

The Fleming and Ludlam estates didn't blow up Twitter demanding I pay them tribute, even though I mentioned them by name. And I didn't mention any authors in this blog post.

Is my Y chromosome the reason why any ER writers even cared? Or is it because this was a chance to put know it all Konrath in his place?

I didn't blog about the history of Erotic Romance. I compared Want It Bad to the romances Ann wrote for Harlequin in a promo blog.

Now I'm asking you, and everyone reading this, give me some titles to read that fit the above criteria.

Will you be the one who finally proves me wrong and gives me some titles?

William Ockham said...

Our male protagonist is a sex worker. An escort. A prostitute. I'm pretty sure Harlequin didn't allow that back when Ann was publishing her romance continuities. I also believe Harlequin had a guideline that once the hero met the heroine, neither were allowed to philander. Strike two. Finally, the sex in Want It Bad makes Fifty Shades of Grey look like a Disney picturebook. Harlequin may have had some racy titles, but I doubt they ever got this racy.

Take a look at the words I emphasized. We have a phrase for those words. We call them weasel words. If you aren't familiar with the term, go look it up. Here's a pro tip for the folks arguing with Joe. You can't win against someone who uses words like this. Only Joe knows what he believes, doubts, or is sure of or how he came to those beliefs, doubts, and confident opinions. If I say I'm pretty sure that the world is flat, you can't judge whether that statement is true or false. Sure, you can prove the world ain't flat, but you can't prove what I am sure of.

Do you think I just accused Joe of deliberately using weasel words to provide himself cover for these controversial statements? I didn't. Do you think I'm making a pedantic case to provide cover for Joe because he's a friend of mine. I'm not, although it might look like that.

Look carefully at what I wrote. I just observed what he actually wrote. We all fall into a trap of filling in the context for other people's statements. But we don't ever know what the other person's context is. I don't know why Joe used those words. Was he being sloppy or precise? I can't say because I'm not inside his head.

Here's some advice that I have found useful (with the caveat that free advice is usually worth what you pay for it). The only way to personally benefit from an internet argument is to lose fairly. If you win, you have learned nothing. If you lose fairly, you have learned something new and admitted that you were wrong when you were actually wrong. I'm not saying you should try to lose. I'm saying you should look for opportunities to learn. And spend less time speculating on the motives of your opponents. Many times, they don't even know why they react they way they do. The chances that your idea is correct are somewhat limited.

JulieLeto said...

I don't memorize titles of books. It's been a decade, after all...more, actually. Most of the authors who wrote for Blaze are hugely prolific, so going through their backlists to find the specific titles...well, I'd rather be writing than delving into the archives of a line I no longer write for. I'm not saying that because it's not possible to do it...just that I don't feel the need.

Anyway, I think I've said what I wanted to say, you responded and that's probably the end of it. I can accept the hyperbolic nature of promotional posts...I just wish you could accept that those claims can ruffle feathers in a genre where the writers are constantly disrespected by outsiders who consistently claim that they can do what we do better and with more success. And yes, a lot of times those outsiders have Y chromosomes. It rankles.

Best of luck on your book sales.

Anonymous said...

The thing that might have rankled a lot of those erotica/romance writers is that for so many years their work has been the subject of derision and marginalization by many many people (and especially men in the publishing industry).

Now that its become profitable, so many people have gotten involved and there is a sense that its just opportunism, with no real regard for everything that came beforehand.

But I think that's kind of a common thing, whether with an indie band that goes mainstream, a kind of music like hip hop suddenly becoming a product for suburban white kids, etc.

The people who were originally part of that grassroots growth are kind of offended by the casual stupidity and arrogance of the Johnny Come Lately types...

Joe Konrath said...

If you win, you have learned nothing.

For over twenty years I've been saying that you don't learn anything by talking, because you already know what you're going to say. You learn by listening.

But there is an addendum to that. I do my best to be deliberate, especially online, because the Internet is forever. However, no matter how deliberate a person is, it's impossible to predict every potential counter-argument.

I've had many discussions, since I've been blogging, about how important the comments section is. It gives me the ability to learn, to hone my arguments, to think up new arguments, and to test and pressure check my stances.

I just wish you could accept that those claims can ruffle feathers in a genre where the writers are constantly disrespected by outsiders who consistently claim that they can do what we do better and with more success.

I understand this deeply. My writing journey has been anything but easy. I've been screwed, used, taken advantage of, brushed off, and disrespected for twenty years.

I cannot ever know what it is like to be a female author, but my dislike of Harlequin began listening to stories by my co-author, who explained what you just have, Julie. I've had it rough, but I haven't been disrespected as much as Ann has been.

Which is one of the reasons both Ann and I were surprised by the reaction this blog post received.

Romance authors being pissed at me is no biggie. At any given moment there are hundreds of authors pissed at me for one thing or another.

To watch romance authors disrespect Ann--one of their own--was sad.

So yes, Julie, I know what you mean. But rather than outsiders being jerks, I watched peers and insiders acting like jerks toward her, for the egregious offense of being my collaborator.

I appreciate you, and Victoria, and others coming on this blog to state your case, and I have learned from it. You were civil and smart and added to the discussion.

But you should take a look at Twitter, and follow Ann's tweets and my tweets. Read them, and the responses we received.

Ann pegged it. Mean girl games, straight out of high school.

For a group as unfairly maligned and persecuted as romance writers have been, it was sure eye opening to see them engage in behavior worse than what I was being accused of, against a fellow female romance author.

Joe Konrath said...

The people who were originally part of that grassroots growth are kind of offended by the casual stupidity and arrogance of the Johnny Come Lately types...

I get that.

I also gave up being offended back when I was a kid.

I encourage all authors who were offended by my blog to check out this comedian on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHMoDt3nSHs

Fave line: You were offended. So what? Deal with it. You're an adult. It isn't like, after you get offended, you wake up in the morning with leprosy.

I didn't signal anyone out to attack. I didn't name names. The same isn't true of many on Twitter.

Do I care? No. Neither does Ann. We're both used to it. But the "pot calling the kettle black" irony wasn't lost on me.

It's almost worth my time to do some Twitter screen captures, cutting and pasting just so I can do a new blog post and make examples of Authors Behaving Badly.

But these writers aren't my enemy. They feel disrespected, and felt like they were standing up for themselves, and I'm fine with that.

What I'd like to see, and what could make a difference and be a battle worth fighting, is these writers banding together to take Harlequin to task for their shitty contracts. And I'd be proud to lend my support to that effort, even if every single author with that opinion hated my guts.

One of the greatest journeys in life is overcoming insecurity and learning to truly not give a shit.

I didn't give a shit. But I did find it interesting enough to attempt to engage my critics, because I think writers can learn from this.

The final takeaway, though, probably won't be what my detractors hoped for.

Ken Lindsey said...

Victoria Dahl said: "I have very meaningful discussions on twitter. Long, deep, hard conversations."

I've got to know if she did that on purpose, seeing as the argument is about Erotic Romance. Guess I better go grab a couple of her books.

This whole argument has been very interesting for me, even though I'm not a romance author. I'm learning, and that makes the time it took to read through these comments worth it.

Thanks to Joe, Victoria, Ann, and everyone else who has taken the time to chime in.

Victoria Dahl said...

"But it's not substantive. It's masturbation. Fun, but it doesn't lead anywhere."

Now there's an analogy that doesn't work.

1) Masturbation leads to amazing places, often the same places as sex with other people.

2) Twitter isn't masturbation at all. Unless your definition of masturbation involves an audience watching you rub tips and take turns diddling each other. It's a conversation. An interaction with lots of people involved. People you know, people you don't know. Usually you have no control over what happens among the other people. It's more of an orgy really. Don't watch if you don't like it.

"Recommend a title to me from HQ that's ten years old."
And that's why I haven't answered most of your questions. You have no idea what the genre is. It's not Harlequin. Harlequin is fucking NOT THE GENRE. And it's not de Sade. It's not Rice. Those aren't romance.

The genre is a whole world of books that many of us have already pointed you to. Go read the post I linked to. Read some 10-year-old Emma Holly. Read some 10-year-old Robin Schone. Read twenty other authors who were publishing filthy romance long ago.

Educate yourself and then we can have a conversation about what was going on in erotic romance 10 years ago. You don't get to define words to fit your pride. The erotic romance GENRE is not "Harlequin series and continuities" and it never was. You're being ridiculous and your goalposts have jetpacks attached to them.

Victoria Dahl said...

"I've got to know if she did that on purpose, seeing as the argument is about Erotic Romance."

I definitely did. ;-) I write romance. Things like that tend to slip in.

Frank Sergeant said...

I don't Want It That Bad, but I love the cover and tweeted about that.

Frank

Anonymous said...

WANT IT BAD
Genre: Erotic Romance Feminist Outrageous Female Buddy Comedy with fucking machines, dildo shopping, St. Andrews Cross, pillories, spanking, whipping, male prostitutes, candle wax, tickling, butt plugs, and squirting.

You're taking this mainstream, Joe and Ann? Will it sell more than pickles and nose hair clippers? Will there be trash cans for left over wax, used leather, and, uh, fluids?

I have learned more on this thread than I have in all the years (many!) that I have lived on this crazed planet, and finally, it's been confirmed: there is a hand basket... :-)

Good luck with the book.

EC Sheedy

Anonymous said...

"You're being ridiculous and your goalposts have jetpacks attached to them."

Love this line.

Joe Konrath said...

Masturbation leads to amazing places

Masturbation is about self-gratification. Like Twitter sniping. And like Twitter sniping, it doesn't birth anything fruitful. My analogy is fine.

Harlequin is fucking NOT THE GENRE.

But is the genre of fucking Harlequin?

I don't know how much clearer I can be.

1. My blog was comparing Want It Bad with HQ series romance.

2. HQ series romance wouldn't have published Want It Bad ten years ago because the genre didn't exist.

3. No one, you included, has given me the title of an HQ series romance--or ANY romance--from ten years ago that's an Erotic Romance Comedy with a strong female friendship thread, a whore hero who cheats, the large percentage of the novel spent on kinks, among other poitns I've repeated, several times, upthread.

4. Give me a title. Any title. At this point I don't care who pubbed it. Not only has anyone failed to prove how Erotic Romance was a viable, thriving, mainstream genre in 2004, I haven't even been given ONE TITLE to prove the points of many authors who insist it existed.

I'm not going to parse through dozens of Holly or Schone titles. Tell me which to read that meets the criteria I set in this blog, and thread. Then I'll be happy to compare that to Want It Bad--something you haven't done because you haven't mentioned a title, or as far as I know, read Want It Bad to make any comparisons.

You don't find that a bit silly?

Here's something just as silly. I learned a new term. "Hate-read". It's one of those Twitter masturbatory terms that means "read with the intent to hate."

People apparently actually do that. I can only shake my head and marvel at the pettiness of it all.

BTW, if masturbation leads to sex, it's called something specific: sex. And if it leads to voyeurism, that is not an orgy. That's a circle-jerk. If you get off on a public forum because people watch you self-gratify, knock yourself out. Personally, I think a positive communal experience should involve give and take and mutual respect, not back slapping for hurling insults.

For example, the civil exchange we're having here is a far cry from:

"Konrath is wrong and he sucks!"

"Yeah! Go girl!"

If you think the facts, nuance, detail, and arguments you've skillfully brought up in these comments could have been done with the same aplomb as on Twitter, I look forward to your next novel, which I expect will be roughly 103 words in length.

But if you believe the complexity of novels involves something 60,000 words or longer, certainly you can entertain the idea that the complexity of a debate needs more than 140 characters, parsed out over time and unable to be easily followed.

Or not. Your opinions are valid.

Now give me a titled from 2004 or earlier that meets the criteria I've laid out, and then I can hate-read it and tell you you're wrong.

Hey... maybe Twitter did teach me something. :)

Thanks for continuing to comment.

KT Grant said...

How about Zane? She pushed the envelope with erotic romance way back in the mid 90's and 2000's and was big time mainstream. You mentioned erotic romance in the early 2000's and everyone knew Zane.

Addicted came out in 1998 and Nervous in 2004 by Atria.

She even had her own Cinemax series http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zane%27s_Sex_Chronicles

Joe Konrath said...

How about Zane?

Did she write comedy?

I've been making a debate error in this thread. I've been arguing against points made, defending myself, rather than arguing for what I'd originally said.

In my post, to describe Want It Bad, I used the words "funny, laugh out loud, outrageous, fun, playful".

Want it bad is a comedy.

Comedy is a genre. Or, at the least, a sub genre. Blazing Saddles is a western comedy. Kindergarden Cop is an action comedy. Evil Dead II is a horror comedy.

Want It Bad is a Erotic Romance Comedy.

Did that exist in 2004?

I can understand why many romance writers focused on the sex, romance, and erotica points I made. But ignoring the other points I made is only targeting some of my words--the ones that offended--while ignoring those that didn't.

But those that didn't are part of what make Want It Bad unique.

Joe Konrath said...

Forgot the bdsm. A erotic romance bdsm comedy.

Joe Konrath said...

forgot the female buddy part.

An erotic bdsm romantic comedy with female buddy elements.

As I add these modifiers--ones I used in the blog post--does it seem more like this genre didn't exists a decade ago?

Joe: I just invented a telephone that can translate words into different languages.

Inventor: Telephones were already invented, dummy. Translators have been around for a long time, too.

Joe: Can anyone point me to a telephone that translates?

Inventor: Graham Bell made the first call in 1876.

Joe: So can you show me a translating telephone?

Inventor: Ever hear of Babelfish? Or Rosetta? They've been around a lot longer than you have.

Joe: Can someone show me--

Inventor: You've just offended everyone who came before you.

Joe: Uh, how many times can I ask for a specific example of--

Inventor: You're fat. I hope you die. Your translating telephone sucks, even though I never tried it.

Joe: You know, the history of the telephone is rather interesting. Though Bell got credit for it, and got the patent, and is recognized as the inventor, his work was built on the work of many others.

Inventor: So why didn't you personally thank every one of them before making your grandiose marketing claims?

Joe: Why can't you show me a translating telephone?

Karen Stivali said...

I'm one of those crazy romance authors who prefers to exchange ideas on Twitter but this conversation has gotten so out of hand I'm going to weigh in, here, in your preferred location for "intelligent" exchange.

Two things about me: I'm a published author of both contemporary and erotic romances so I know a bit about the romance genre and I've read Want It Bad in its entirety.

I think it's really important to note that no one (or at least no one I've seen) is accusing you of plaigarism or of writing fan fiction. No one has said "your story is EXACTLY like so-and-so's story", so demanding a book with exactly the same plot and characters of your book is really a bit silly. I think you know that's not what people mean. What they mean is that female buddies, male escort heroes, explicit sex (including BDSM), etc have all been done in various combinations, some serious, some comedic, some romances, some erotica, some crossovers for a very long time and by a wide variety of authors.

If you're saying that in your initial post all you meant to say/imply was that this is the first time someone has written a book exactly 100% like yours with exactly this combination of characters, plot and plot devices, then you're right. You invented that specific wheel.

If you think this is the first time someone has combined those things in some way or another, you're wrong.

Having read your book I'm going to say that in my opinion calling this a romance is playing a bit fast and loose with the well-defined rules of this genre. Are there romantic overtones in your story? Yes. Some. Does the romance between these characters really drive the plot? No. The plot is driven more by the female main character's journey---a defining feature of women's fiction or "chick lit" but not romance. Does the male main character change in the course of the story? Yes, but as not much is known about the male character for the first 80% of the story, the reader doesn't get to emotionally connect to him or go on this journey with him. We don't know how he's thinking or what he's feeling or why he's making the choices he makes. In a romance, even one written in first person, the reader usually feels as if they've gotten to know the hero as well as they know the heroine, regardless of which of them is the pov character.
(continued)

Karen Stivali said...

As for this being a "comedy", romantic comedy is a term more often associated with films than with literature. In regard to books it often means a humorous book with romantic themes rather than meaning a literal romance novel that is also a comedy. Humor is actually a huge part of a significant number of romance novels. Witty banter between the hero and heroine is the hallmark of many, many romance authors and the sassy sidekick is quite common as a secondary character.

The films you compared your book to (Bridesmaids and The Heat) are interesting choices. I enjoyed both movies but I don't consider either to be romances---Bridesmaids had some romance in it, The Heat was just a buddy movie. If you want to talk about female buddy stories that involve wise-cracking women, extreme amounts of sexual content, cheating, bdsm, monogamy, polygamy, etc all with romance as a theme but not a true one-guy-for-one-girl romance arc, all you have to do is look to Sex And The City---a book, a series and a bunch of movies that predate 2004.

Women have been obsessed with sex, had filthy minds and mouths, written about it and enjoyed reading about it for a good long time. All you did was write another book combining elements that have been used in combination, successfully, by many other authors before you. I'm glad you think your book is unique. Every author should love his/her book. And no one is saying you ripped off someone else's story. What we're saying is know the genre you're writing and the books that came before you prior to making grand statements about how special or different your own work is---or don't do that---it's your choice. But don't expect the writing community to sit quietly while you say things we feel are wrong. I don't need to tell you that writers use their words to express themselves. Don't be surprised when they're used to tell you if they don't agree with what you're saying.

Joe Konrath said...

Thanks for chiming in, Karen.

I'm one of those crazy romance authors

Self-described? Because I didn't call anyone crazy.

who prefers to exchange ideas on Twitter

I prefer cheddar over blue cheese. But preference doesn't make one better or worse.

For discourse and an open exchange of ideas, I think I did pretty well explaining how a forum is better, along with preferable. But you didn't reply to that, so we'll move on.

but this conversation has gotten so out of hand

I tried to call in a referee, but they feared for their lives because it was so out of hand.

i'm a published author of both contemporary and erotic romances so I know a bit about the romance genre and I've read Want It Bad in its entirety.

Thank you for reading. :)

What they mean is that female buddies, male escort heroes, explicit sex (including BDSM), etc have all been done in various combinations, some serious, some comedic, some romances, some erotica, some crossovers for a very long time and by a wide variety of authors.

Time for me to be a broken record again: Tell me a book I should read that will prove you're correct.

calling this a romance is playing a bit fast and loose with the well-defined rules of this genre.

I'm smiling now, because I can image my co-author's response to this. You know, the one who sold 3 million romance novels. And the one who, AFAIK, was the only one who made an effort to define "erotic romance" on Twitter when no one else did.

Ann have been co-writing erotica for a few years. That wasn't romance.

Carla's journey doesn't prevent it from being a romance. That's like saying Rocky's journey prevents it from being a boxing film.

But I bet Ann will chime in with more details.

Karen Stivali said...

For the record, I'm quite sure your co-author knows the definition of a romance novel and I'm equally certain her Harlequin novels fit that description to a T. But thanks for pointing out that you wrote with an experienced romance writer in case I'd missed that the two dozen times it was mentioned.

What I said was that this particular book you co-wrote does not IN MY OPINION fit the romance genre. I was very careful to state that it was my opinion, because that's what it is. That opinion, however, is based on facts and knowledge of the genre. Carla's journey doesn't prevent it from being a romance. That's true. But the lack of exploration of the romance between the two characters does. The lack of getting to know the hero does.

"Romance" being a component of a book does not make it a romance novel. The most romantic book I've ever written cannot accurately be labeled a "romance novel" because the hero and heroine were married to other people when they met and, although there is no cheating in the book, they remain married to their spouses for the first 2/3 of the story. This breaks a rule of romance novels. I didn't write that rule, but I can't pretend it doesn't exist. I didn't write the rules for Women's Fiction either but that label also didn't fit my book because WF is about the woman's journey and is generally a book by women, about a woman. My book was told 60% from the male character's pov so it didn't fit the WF genre either. I didn't try to force people to think it was either genre when it was really cross-genre---I just tried to accurately describe the book---as a love story with strong romantic elements, fully explored sex scenes, no cheating and a happily ever after ending. My calling it a romance novel wouldn't have made it one. And would have pissed off people who try very hard to follow the well-defined rules of the genre. Your book has romantic elements, it does not IN MY OPINION fit into the standard guidelines as a romance. But obviously you're free to label it however you wish. It's your book.

As for the recommended reading list you've requested, there are multiple posts in these comments that direct you to numerous authors and titles. I hope you scroll through and write down some of the suggestions. I'm sure you'll find some entertaining reads.

Joe Konrath said...

As for this being a "comedy", romantic comedy is a term more often associated with films than with literature.

I agree. You're making good points, but you have to tie them to what I've been saying.

Can you name an erotic romance bdsm comedy? Or if you don't want to use the category "comedy" then substitute "humorous" or "funny".

Having read Want It Bad, can you name an erotic romance that went for as many jokes as we did? It doesn't matter if you found them funny or not; humor is subjective. But how many bondage novels have a hundred one-liners in them?

You brought up a great point when you said "You invented that specific wheel." Every book is a specific wheel.

But most westerns aren't comedies. Mel Brooks did something different with Blazing Saddles.

Yet Blazing Saddles didn't make comedy westerns mainstream. There weren't thousands of imitators, like there were with FSoG.

That speaks to my point. WIB couldn't have been written in 2004, because bdsm romance wasn't mainstream and Kindle hadn't been invented. We have James and Bezos to thank for that.

And no one yet has mentioned the title of a bsdm comedy.

all you have to do is look to Sex And The City

I've read it. I missed the scene where Carrie had candle wax poured on her while strapped to a sex machine.

There were sci fi movies before Star Wars, and we could argue that every cliche, trope, plot device, and character from Star Wars had been used before. Lucas himself has quoted Campbell. But Star Wars, like FSoG, opened up the genre to mainstream audiences.

In saying WIB couldn't have been written ten years ago (pre FSoG and Amazon) is like saying Battlestar Galactica couldn't have been made before Star Wars. The market just didn't exist. That's been my point all along.

All you did was write another book combining elements that have been used in combination, successfully, by many other authors before you.

Just like in that book... (please please please name a title).
What we're saying is know the genre you're writing and the books that came before you prior to making grand statements about how special or different your own work is


Karen, I really appreciate you posting, and you're adding to the conversation, but you need to quote me. I didn't use the words "special" or "different" in my blog post. Nor was it my intent to say that.

The words I used were carefully chosen. Those are the words you need to hold me accountable for, and a quote is the best way to do that.

Joe Konrath said...

But don't expect the writing community to sit quietly while you say things we feel are wrong.

I never expect writers to sit quietly. I'm do the opposite of that, and I encourage the opposite of that.

But I don't have to sit quietly, either, when writers decide they want to challenge what I've said.

One of the many things I've found interesting is how some writers say whatever they want to, then refuse to defend their points of view.

You're not like that at all. Niether have many who chimed in here. You ably defend the points you make, and you back up your opinions. That's commendable.

There hasn't been a lack of understanding on my part, or "getting it" on this topic. I fully understand what writers are saying.

But I don't agree.

If you told me I was a jerk, that's a valid opinion. But if you want to convince me I'm a jerk, you need to define it and show the words I've used to explain why your position makes more sense, and is more correct, than mine.

Let's say you find a female buddy erotic romance with bondage written in 1997, and tell me the title. That still won't prove I'm wrong. It's FSoG and self-pub that maid bdsm mainstream.

Are there any bdsm writers in history that have had the cultural impact 50 Shades has had?

I'd argue DeSade and Sacher-Masoch, and in more recent times, Desclos. But none of them made it mainstream. DeSade was banned and imprisoned. James was sold on a giant discount table in Target.

But I have a feeling--and it's only a feeling--that EL James isn't thought much of in the romance community.

Am I wrong? And if she's derided, why is that?

Joe Konrath said...

This breaks a rule of romance novels.

Is there a list of rules somewhere on the Internet you can point to?

My calling it a romance novel wouldn't have made it one. And would have pissed off people who try very hard to follow the well-defined rules of the genre.

And you don't think that's silly?

Okay, I'll try to rephrase that so I don't sound condescending.

I was just playing Trivia Crack, and one of the questions was about a country. It had four possible answers, and one of those answers was the state of Florida.

Florida isn't a country. And I got so pissed off I immediately took to Twitter and complained that Trivia Crack is crap and besides the board game Trivial Pursuit came first.

Or not. Because that would be overreaction and self-gratification at best, crazy at worst.

Are you saying that readers would be angry if you labeled your book as a romance when the main couple is married to other people?

I can understand that. But it sounds like your book would appeal to the vast majority of romance readers, except for a group who would be disappointed that it lacked certain traditional elements.

But you can't please all the people all the time.

there are multiple posts in these comments that direct you to numerous authors and titles.

I've yet to see a title mentioned, unless I missed it. Please name one.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Thanks for reading the book, Karen!

I strongly disagree with your comment that this book is not a romance, and here's why:

1. Single pov: There is a long history of romance novels that only include the heroine's point-of-view.

2. Personal Journey: Romance novels are about the personal journeys of the main characters. And in Want It Bad, the heroine's relationship with the hero is THE element that forces both her and the hero to change.

3. The plot: Romance novels can have plots outside of the relationship that force the characters together and exert pressure on them. Want It Bad is even more purely romance than that. In Want It Bad, the way the hero and heroine's relationship unfolds and the erotic activities they explore is the entire plot.

4. Subplots: The fact that there is a female friendship subplot does not mean this is not a romance. Romance novels contain subplots all the time (especially at this length). And yes, the friendship is a subplot. It has its own story arc, as subplots do, but it is not even close to being the majority of the book nor the reason the heroine changes. The relationship with the hero is both the vast majority of the story by word count and the reason for character change.

5. Want It Bad more than fits the definition of romance given by Romance Writers of America. "All romances have a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending. Beyond that, however, romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot."

And why should anyone believe I might know what I'm talking about?

-I have been a member of RWA for 20 years.
-My first romance novel was published in 2000.
-Want It Bad is my 27th romance.
-I am a RITA nominee, as well as a winner and finalist for other romance genre awards.

I know it's more convenient to these arguments to pretend Joe wrote this romance himself. But the fact is, we co-authored the book. Romance is not just a component of this story, it's the whole story.

Karen Stivali said...

If you're looking for BDSM with characters who are equally adept at weilding a whip and a one-liner I suggest you read the books in Tiffany Reisz's Original Sinners series. The first book (The Siren) was written (and contracted by MIRA) before the 50SOG phenomenon and a prequel novella to the series was published by Harlequin's Spice Briefs (originally as Seven Day Loan and now as The Gift) at roughly the same time as the 50S craze began.

My Sex And The City comparison was made more in regard to Janet (a Samantha-esque character with a shock-value vocabulary), not to compare your main character to Carrie. It was also an example of a sex-based female buddy story with strong romance themes and a lot of humor. The TV and film versions did explore some BDSM themes as well.

Karen Stivali said...

"Are you saying that readers would be angry if you labeled your book as a romance when the main couple is married to other people?"

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. Romance readers like to know exactly what they're getting when they read a book that has been labeled a romance.

Did my book appeal to a lot of romance readers? Yes, it did. But it still couldn't be labeled as such by strict defintion. I should note, however, that my books are not self-published and publishers have to (or at very least choose to) adhere to definitions and labels more strictly than self-published authors need to.

Karen Stivali said...

Ann,

If you'd read my other post you'll see that I specified (prior to your response) that I'm in no way calling into question your experience as a romance author or your knowledge of the genre. What I said was that in MY opinion, as a reader and a writer or the genre, that this book did not TO ME seem to focus on the romance. I understand that was what you intended, but I'm saying that my experience as a reader was not in keeping with that. If my comments made you feel that I was attacking you, I apologize. That was not the purpose of my comments. This discussion thread is largely about your co-author not understanding why the romance community has been frothing at the mouth since his initial post. All I was trying to do was clarify that from my point of view.

Joe Konrath said...

If you're looking for BDSM with characters who are equally adept at weilding a whip and a one-liner I suggest you read the books in Tiffany Reisz's Original Sinners series.

Thanks for the recommendation.

Remember that my blog said my book couldn't have been written ten years ago.

Was Reisz's written ten years ago? If not, my blog could apply to her as well. According to Amazon it was 2012, when FSoG was 2011.

Megan Hart's novel The Stranger was from 2008. It was re-released by Mira in 2013.

Why was it re-released in 2013? I'm sure it's a great book, but very few books get a re-release five years later. I can assume it was to capitalize on FSoG.

Which is my point. These books wouldn't have been mainstream a decade ago. Now they are.

Again, thank you for your contributions. I bought The Siren, as well as The Stranger and Leave the Lights On. Awesome title.

Ken Lindsey said...

Stepping in as an outsider here, and totally ready to get reamed for it, but I'm seeing a pattern. Now, I'm not paying attention to whatever is happening with them ol' tweety boxes, but I have been reading these comments pretty steadily.

I'll admit to having very little knowledge of the genre we're talking about, and even less of the history of Erotic Romance. Some of these comments are teaching me things, others are just... well, not.

I feel like like Ann Voss Peterson keeps getting pushed aside, just for the sake of argument.

(horrible paraphrasing coming at you)
Joe: "My partner on this project, AVP, has years of history in the romance genre, so I think we've made some solid points here."

Author who feels patronized and possibly trivialized: "Yeah, well she's great and all, but you piss me off. So let's talk about that."

I guess I just don't understand the anger. I feel like Joe and Ann came out and said they wrote a new book and it's better than sliced bread (which clearly, it is not- sliced bread is the shit) and some folks got upset at the clear upsale just for the sake of being upset.

It's marketing. The point of talking about your latest product is to get people excited about it. If you come out and say "Yeah, I have a new book. But let's face it, there's nothing new under the sun" nobody is going to want to read what you have to say.

But the debate is awesome when someone is saying something new and informative, so thanks to those folks who are doing that.

Joe Konrath said...

This discussion thread is largely about your co-author not understanding why the romance community has been frothing at the mouth since his initial post.

And I still don't understand.

I'll attack Patterson when he spouts bullshit about publishers being necessary for American culture. It's untrue, it's potentially harmful, it's propaganda, and it's meant to further his own extreme wealth.

And I don't froth at the mouth while doing it.

I completely understand why some in the romance community are angry.

But I don't agree with any of them to the point where my opinion has changed, or to the point where I feel my blog post is inaccurate.

I do appreciate everyone who has explained the reasons for their opinions. I simply don't find them persuasive. Because they aren't. I say this as someone who has been persuaded. Once upon a time I was anti self-publishing, and pro-legacy.

My mind can be changed. At this point, it hasn't been.

As a corollary, as someone born and raised Catholic, I am extraordinarily familiar with the bible, Christianity, and all of the arguments that support the existence of God.

I understand Christians. But that doesn't mean they're right.

Joe Konrath said...

"Yeah, I have a new book. But let's face it, there's nothing new under the sun"

I just spit beer.

Joe Konrath said...

And I still don't understand.

I used two different meanings for "understand"

I get why some writers are mad. But I don't agree.

Like I understand why people believe in God, but I'm unpersuaded.

Tiffany said...

THE SIREN was written in 2003 (first draft), sold in 2010, and published in 2012.

It contains BDSM, a female dominant, kinky sex with an underage boy, and a sadist sexually active Catholic priest. I wouldn't call it ground-breaking or edgy, however, as Anne Rice had nearly all of those elements in her books (Belinda, Cry to Heaven, and The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy) in the 80s and 90s.

Tiffany Reisz

PS Thank you, Karen, for the comment.

Ken Lindsey said...

"I just spit beer."

If only someone had caught it on film, you'd be a meme in minutes.

Joe Konrath said...

a reader and a writer or the genre, that this book did not TO ME seem to focus on the romance

That's an opinion.

But now that Ann has defined romance, can you still support your opinion according to the criteria she laid out? Is it still valid?

Ann brought up some points. To best understand and defend your own opinion, it should be tested against those points.

If I said the Tesla isn't an automobile because it has no combustion engine, and you listed properties that define cars beyond their gas guzzling trait, I would have to rethink my statement.

Joe Konrath said...

I wouldn't call it ground-breaking or edgy,

Nor did I ever say Want It Bad was ground-breaking or edgy. But I did just buy The Siren. Looking forward.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Hi again, Karen.

You are definitely entitled to your opinion, and I appreciate that you took time to read the book!

Victoria Dahl said...

I'm going to try this one more time.

Original post: "It's a feminist, empowering, 21st century love story that couldn't have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist."

Now: "1. My blog was comparing Want It Bad with HQ series romance.
2. HQ series romance wouldn't have published Want It Bad ten years ago because the genre didn't exist."

What do those two statements have to do with each other? What is that? Backtracking? You never once -ONCE- mentioned Harlequin Series in the original post. Go back and read it. I just did. What you did talk about was the genre of romance and sub genre of erotic romance.

So now you're saying that HQ series wouldn't have published this book ten years ago. Guess what? Those SAME lines wouldn't publish it now. They don't do erotic romance.

SO WHAT IS YOUR POINT? That self-publishing has revolutionized things so much that...HQ series STILL WON'T PUBLISH THIS?

Great point.

Or you could just admit that you used the wrong language to say a very wrong thing.

Read NATURAL LAW by Joey Hill. Anyone *familiar* with erotic romance knows this book. Lots of kink, lots of sex toys, female domme. Maybe not as much humor as yours, but I can't imagine why the humor is the key to being revolutionary. It's humor, not a giant strap on.

And by the way, you didn't mention mainstream in your post either. You said "It's so liberating, so intoxicating, to be able to write the kind of book I want to, without being subjected to the whims of the gatekeepers."

"To be able to..." "couldn't have been written..." Again those have nothing at all to do with your acrobatics now. Now you say "It's FSoG and self-pub that maid bdsm mainstream." Congratulations!!!! You've made a totally separate point!

And I'm not angry at all. I'm just calling you out for being wrong, wrong, wrong, and refusing to admit it. You know...the way you do with others.

Words matter and you used the wrong ones.

Victoria Dahl said...

p.s. Natural Law was originally published in 2004. Hey! Ten years ago! A woman owning her man's ass! Butt plugs! Pain and punishment! Public sex with others! How did the gatekeepers miss it?

Anonymous said...

I'm speaking only of this blog post, not the book because from the excerpt and snippets I've seen, it's not to my taste, but let's face it, if you (Konrath) knew the erotic romance genre, you would absolutely not need anyone to provide you proof of which books existed when and with what elements. You wouldn't need people to list these books-- which you're ignoring in the comments. Frankly, if you knew the genre, you'd never have written the blog post in this way.

Why is it important that you know the genre? It's not really. Except for this: "It's a feminist, empowering, 21st century love story that couldn't have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist."

You keep asking for proof, I don't see the proof that your statement is true. No proof at all.

Anonymous said...

I'm finding the reaction to this blog post bizarre. Who cares what Joe says on his blog? It's his blog. I also find the tone in some of the comments downright snooty.

The herd mentality being demonstrated here is sociologically intriguing. I'm trying to find the golden nuggets of wisdom in the sarcasm and frothing but instead I'm just seeing a lot of nitpicking and insistence that Joe "admits he's wrong."

It seems disguised as love and protectiveness of romance, but I really think that beneath that claim festers pettiness and bitter jealousy.

I think Joe is experiencing some reverse sexism here. The idea that he couldn't possibly write a good romance, even with an experienced and talented co-author, because he has a dick.

I see nitpicking and bullying going on here. And yes, mean girl games.

Joe can say what he likes. He's been extremely patient and kind here, which cannot be said about everyone commenting here. I think a more respectful tone when engaging him would be nice.

Victoria Dahl said...

Nitpicking. Gosh. It's terrible when people do that. Unless they call it fisking. Then it's a duty.

Joe can say what he likes. We can say what we like. We can say it on Twitter! And then we were told to say it here, so here we are. I thought we were being gracious by engaging him where he asked to be engaged.

And not one person has said he couldn't possibly write a good erotic romance because he has a dick. We're saying lots of people without dicks were doing just this 10 years ago, despite his claims. It's frankly not that big a deal; it's just the truth standing there without a dick.

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

I'm reminded of when erotic romance was the ghetto of the romance world. There were some heated battles then, as well. Erotic romance wasn't even recognized by RWA for a while.

Everyone's opinion is important. It is important that differing opinions are offered.

I don't understand where the anger comes from now. It seems like a such strong reaction to one person's promotional blog entry.

The tone of the marketing blurbs seem playful and deliberately over the top to me, which is classic Konrath, if you look at blurbs for his other books.

Victoria Dahl said...

What I don't understand is how Joe can talk about being Mr. Provocative all the time and then pull fake confusion about why people are provoked. Is he being provocative or not? It's so cool to be provocative! It's so profitable to draw attention! But not cool for others to notice it?

Karen Stivali said...

"But I have a feeling--and it's only a feeling--that EL James isn't thought much of in the romance community.

Am I wrong? And if she's derided, why is that?"

Joe posed these questions earlier and I'm replying with my opinion on this issue.

There is no question that EL James made erotic romance and, specifically, BDSM more mainstream than it previously was. It's impossible to deny this. Her books sold like crazy, not just compared to other erotic books, compared to all books. This was, in some ways, wonderful. It got a lot of people talking about books and reading books for the first time in a long time, it made some previously closeted readers realize that they had friends who also liked reading "dirty books" and, yes, it opened doors for a lot of new writers.

BUT (and that's a big but) there are mixed feelings in the romance community for a multitude of reasons.

EL James initially wrote her books as fan fiction of the uber-popular series Twilight. This is a fact. Twilight fan fiction was (and to some degree still is) hugely popular with countless writers and readers on numerous sites. The vast majority of this fan fiction is extremely sexy/explicit in content. Although fan fiction has been around for a very long time, the fan fiction of the Twilight series was particularly popular (and abundant) because the Twilight books themselves had a heavily romantic theme but, as they were YA, they had very little sex in them. The readers, many of whom were adults, craved what was missing in the books---the sex---so they wrote it themselves.

I have nothing at all against fan fiction. It's fun to write. It's fun to read. And I'll go as far as to say that some fan fiction changes so much of the story/characters/world/etc that it's hard to even draw a comparison with the original work. BUT (there's that but again), when your story gains fans/popularity on a fan fiction site and then you publish it on your own and don't openly acknowledge that it got its start as fan fiction you're bound to piss some people off. James often doesn't acknowledge her fan fiction start. (continued)

Karen Stivali said...

There have been lots of pulled to publish fan fics, many of which have enjoyed tremendous success. Writers who thank the author of the work being "fic-ed" tend to be looked upon far more kindly than those who don't.

Why? Courtesy. Respect. Giving credit where credit is due. These may sound petty, but in my opinion and the opinion of many in the romance community (and it is a community---a group of people with common interests who interact regularly) it's not petty at all. Acknowledging that you spring boarded directly off someone else's story/characters/popularity/career is, if you'll excuse the phrase, "the right thing to do."

The other reason James is at the receiving end of a lot of balking is that she is far from the first writer to ever write an erotic romance or to write BDSM-based stories, yet she is now often talked about as if she was the first person to ever pen a sexy story. That concept is offensive and aggravating to all the scores of people who have been writing romance and erotic novels for, well, forever.

For as much as she did for erotic romance in terms of making it more mainstream there's a flip side to that coin. People who hate romance, particularly erotic romance, have written countless articles about what "not to do" in your romance novel or "how not to write sex" (or whatever other negative list you can come up with)---and it's clear that they're deriding an entire genre and group of writers based on the fact that they read (or in some cases just heard about) 50 Shades Of Grey and thought it wasn't good writing therefore the entire genre and all its writers must suck.

That's like someone saying they ate at Dominos once, decided they thought it tasted awful and then publicly declared all pizza, everywhere, to be bad and all those who enjoy pizza to be tasteless idiots. It's ridiculous.

These are some of the reasons EL James isn't a favorite among some members of the romance writing community.

And to the anonymous poster (from 5:30 today) I'd like to point out that EL James isn't a dude---it's not reverse sexisim that gets writers annoyed with her, it's attitude and actions. And there are some similar "triggers" here in regard to what sets off romance writers---that idea that someone has come along and done it newer/better when in reality they don't even really know what's already been done.

Do writers have to be polite to one another? No. Of course not. But it's a lot more pleasant when they are.

Anonymous said...

"But I have a feeling--and it's only a feeling--that EL James isn't thought much of in the romance community.

Am I wrong? And if she's derided, why is that?"


I am not a romance author, just a reader but I do count myself as part of the romance community.

Regarding EL James, I'll concede that she did bring ER mainstream, more or less. But in my opinion, it wasn't because she wrote something revolutionary or different in her content. There were a lot of women who came before her who did that and did it even better. I feel -- again, this is just my opinion as a reader -- that she was in the right place and the right time with the massive adoption of e-readers. It made her books more accessible to a wider market. Her I'll give her that. But I take issue with giving her credit for making BDSM in romance mainstream. Sorry but 50 Shades of Grey doesn't give a very good representation of BDSM.

If you want provocative BDSM books, read The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz as well as Joey Hill's Ice Queen and Mirror of my Soul.

Elizabeth Ann West said...

You never stole your mother's Harlequins and kept them under you mattress to learn about sex.

As a kid, I read about bondage, harems, and less than consensual sex all the time in those thin, white paperbacks.

They weren't sold in Walmart because there weren't Walmarts where I lived yet. But they were sold on the spinny wire rack at the grocery store!

Anonymous said...

"But I have a feeling--and it's only a feeling--that EL James isn't thought much of in the romance community.

Am I wrong? And if she's derided, why is that?"


I think it's worth noting that many, many people consider EL James to be glorifying abusive relationships in Fifty Shades, as well as portraying a horribly unrealistic, unhealthy, and ultimately dangerous BDSM "relationship" in which kinky sex is seen as something the hero needs to be cured of, rather than a legitimate lifestyle.

Labelling your book as "picking up where Fifty Shades of Grey" left off leaves me with a great big sinking feeling - I don't think you or your co-author quite get how that sounds to the switched-on romance reader.

DTL said...

The idea that no other romance or erotic romance novel has starred a gigolo or a male prostitute is too hilarious for words.

I mean, a cursory glance on Goodreads will tell you otherwise:

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/male-prostitute

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/gigolo

But I'm sure Joe has excellent exsuses - I mean reasons - as to why these stories aren't blowing up the envelope of the romance genre. Also, how is his effort any different from that of any other selfpublished authors? How does one define mainstream?

Either way, I would like to thank Joe for providing everyone with an excellent example of mansplaining in action. Seriously, I'll be keeping a bookmark of this post.

Anonymous said...

Man, I don't like that cover. I much prefer pursed lips than seeing all those teeth. Other than the teeth it's good.

adan said...

Just dropping in to say I caught up (for now) the comment thread; tons of good info.

I'm about 1/5 of the way into WIB, and am finding I'm reading it like your (Joe's) prev book I just finished, Stirred: in portions, absorbing the technical and stylistic nuances. Being surprised and pleased at moments of character complexity. Issues of being human.

I hadn't read much of either horror or erotica, and am finding the story lines as involving as the main thrust of each book, whether it be serrated knives or separated thighs.

And I hadn't expected to find any other similarity, other than both books being by Joe and a co-writer.

But there is: humor.

It rounds out, in one, Stirred, and makes possible, the horror of the acts of violence; then is rounding out, in the other, Want it Bad, the equally stark sex. And both books embed the characters' psychological involvement with that humor. Sometimes quite suddenly and unexpected, like a wake up twist in the wind.

It's interesting.

Anyway, that's all for now. Am enjoying this in bits and pieces, catching moments to nibble. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Dude, I wouldn't cross Courtney Milan. For someone who writes housewife wish fulfillment fantasies about Prince Charming, with girls in pretty dresses on her book covers, she is one pissed off lady. I once saw her dive into Hugh Howey on Kboards for something he said that she didn't agree with. Christ. I think poor Hugh is still feeling that one.

Joe Konrath said...

What do those two statements have to do with each other?

They have everything to do with each other. That's the context it was written in.

You never once -ONCE- mentioned Harlequin Series in the original post.

I'll quote myself: I'm pretty sure Harlequin didn't allow that back when Ann was publishing her romance continuities.

How could you not think I was talking about the books Ann wrote for HQ? That's the context, and it seems pretty obvious.

So now you're saying that HQ series wouldn't have published this book ten years ago. Guess what? Those SAME lines wouldn't publish it now. They don't do erotic romance.

But now erotic romance does have mainstream appeal, and widespread distribution. It didn't ten years ago. It was niche then. It isn't now.

That's been my point the whole time. And why is it mainstream now? FSoG and ebook self-pubbing.

Or you could just admit that you used the wrong language to say a very wrong thing.

Give me a break. If you call this a "very wrong thing" you've either lived an extremely sheltered life, or you're severely overreacting.

You said "It's so liberating, so intoxicating, to be able to write the kind of book I want to, without being subjected to the whims of the gatekeepers."

And that makes complete sense. Prior to FSoG, WIB would have been very tough to sell. EVERYTHING was tough to sell back when legacy publishing was the only game in town.

Post FSoG, we know have a market that's much bigger than Ellora's Cave. Post Kindle, we no longer need gatekeepers.

Congratulations!!!! You've made a totally separate point!

No. I elaborated on my original point, since some folks don't seem to understand it. And still don't seem to understand it, or accept it, even though I've made it pretty clear in these comments.

Natural Law was originally published in 2004. Hey! Ten years ago!

Congrats. You finally found a title. No doubt that title was only one of tens of thousands, indicative of the thriving, billion dollar erotic romance market.

Or not. Because the market didn't boom until FSoG and Amazon.

Joe Konrath said...

Why is it important that you know the genre? It's not really. Except for this: "It's a feminist, empowering, 21st century love story that couldn't have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist."

You keep asking for proof, I don't see the proof that your statement is true. No proof at all.


Genre: Erotic romance. It was a tiny niche of the romance market. According to Wikipedia, erotic romance branched out from niche in 2005 when large publishers began to put it out. But FSoG was what made it mainstream.

Opportunity: Pre-FSoG and before self-pubbing, WIB wouldn't have been published. Since we don't have a time machine and can't do experiments in parallel universes, I can't prove this. But I do have a lot of experience with what wouldn't have been published back in 2005, since about half of my self-pub novels were rejected by publishers.

Mindset: I'd point to two reasons erotica, and FSoG, has sold so well on Kindle. First, you can buy risque books in the privacy of your own home. Second, you can read them without anyone knowing what you're reading.

Joe Konrath said...

Nitpicking. Gosh. It's terrible when people do that. Unless they call it fisking

You didn't fisk me, Victoria. Fisking is taking a post, line by line, and ripping it apart.

If my original post was unclear, I've certainly clarified things in the comments. But you seem determined to make me apologize, or take back what I wrote, or admit I was wrong.

I was wrong in that I wasn't clear enough to show my intent and better explain my position. This was a fluff promo piece, throwing in some rah-rah about how now is the greatest time to be a writer, and how we can all write whatever we want to without any rules.

If you're convinced that the opportunities we have today were the same ten years ago, and that the readership is the same size, you couldn't be more wrong.

Tali said...

I'm not a longtime author, like many of the folks writing thoughtful comments. I'm just someone who's been reading extremely kinky erotic romance since the 90's -- someone who spends rather a lot on Kindle erotica these days. I'd like to think that makes me your potential audience.

Which is why you may want to know that this entire post -- your original statement, and especially your responses to others' critiques -- has made me actively avoid buying this book. All that these women want is an acknowledgement of "people have been doing this for a while; now that I saw the potential for profit, I entered the arena, and I think I did well." By denying the work and achievements of people who came before, you demonstrate an ignorance of the genre and a chauvinistic attitude toward its largely female authors and readers. A simple apology would have done wonders, but instead, you doubled down. If you're so concerned about this book's success, you may want to consider your comments' impact.

(And for the record? Hot wax and spanking do not "extreme boundary-shattering kink" make.)

Joe Konrath said...

What I don't understand is how Joe can talk about being Mr. Provocative all the time and then pull fake confusion about why people are provoked.

The romance writers I've met and known--and there have been many--have been smart, self-confident, generous, and kind, even though they've been looked down upon by other kinds of authors, and horribly mistreated by their publishers.

They were not provoked by my post here.

Those that have been provoked... I have a favorite quote for that.

What Peter says about Paul says less about Paul than it does about Peter.

Joe Konrath said...

The other reason James is at the receiving end of a lot of balking is that she is far from the first writer to ever write an erotic romance or to write BDSM-based stories, yet she is now often talked about as if she was the first person to ever pen a sexy story. That concept is offensive and aggravating to all the scores of people who have been writing romance and erotic novels for, well, forever.

That sounds like a pretty good definition of envy.

Who cares? I'm serious.

The reaction I've gotten to this blog post is both fascinating, and sad. Lots of heat, very little light.

If you think another writer's success, or another writer's promo blog, has anything to do with you, that's pretty egocentric.

Douglas Preston wants to break up Amazon. That would harm tens of thousands of authors, and is worth speaking out against.

If I said something harmful, I'd hope someone would speak out against me.

"This book couldn't have been written ten years ago" isn't harmful. It doesn't hurt you, or your livelihood. And I've clarified and explained myself, ad nauseum, in the comments.

I didn't even attach a subject to that sentence. Did anyone stop and think that perhaps I was talking about myself, and my worldview? Why did everyone leap to the conclusion that I was somehow denigrating romance authors with that statement.

That's not what I do, and not who I am.


Joe Konrath said...

Sorry but 50 Shades of Grey doesn't give a very good representation of BDSM.

It sure doesn't.

Joe Konrath said...

The herd mentality being demonstrated here is sociologically intriguing.

Indeed.

Isabel Allende stirred up a shit storm when she wrote a mystery and said she didn't like mysteries.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/23/isabel-allende-s-controversial-new-thriller.html

Many mystery writers, and bookstores, were offended by this.

I didn't care.

I can't stir up much sympathy here, either.

But it is interesting.

Joe Konrath said...

You never stole your mother's Harlequins and kept them under you mattress to learn about sex.

She read Agatha Christie. I stole those.

I couldn't steal my father's Playboys either--Dad was gay.

But I did read Wifey by Judy Blume back when it was published--I think I was 9. And I remember the sex scene in Eye of the Needle, which I think is one of the best written sex scenes ever.

Joe Konrath said...

The idea that no other romance or erotic romance novel has starred a gigolo or a male prostitute is too hilarious for words.

I agree.

But that isn't what I wrote. Nor is it what I meant.

Joe Konrath said...

I don't think you or your co-author quite get how that sounds to the switched-on romance reader.

I didn't enjoy FSoG. But one of my rules is I don't criticize another author's writing or book. I don't review books I didn't like.

However. FSoG has become a cultural phenomenon, and some readers did enjoy it. And I believe many readers who didn't enjoy it did decide to try more books in the genre, and hopefully found something to like.

Joe Konrath said...

Either way, I would like to thank Joe for providing everyone with an excellent example of mansplaining in action. Seriously, I'll be keeping a bookmark of this post.

I'm truly curious, do you accuse any man who disagrees with you of mansplaining? Defending myself--in a polite and civil tone--is mansplaining?

Don't you think you should reserve that word for when it's truly warranted?

I'm a privileged white male. My life has no doubt been easier than any woman's life, because of the gender inequality in our society, and in the world.

I'm a feminist. I don't particularly like members of my gender, especially how men treat women. I think its disgusting that women have to live in a world where nail polish that tests for rohypnal in a drink is considered a much-needed invention. When I was following #yesallwomen on Twitter, is was heartbreaking to see thousands of women share stories of disrespect, inequality, and abuse. One that stoof out, because it was so often repeated, was how many women have been called a bitch because they said no to a man's advances.

It seems that when the assholes of my gender don't get what they want to from women, they automatically use the b-word.

Don't let mansplaining become a catchall phrase for every guy you don't like, because it comes off as ignorant, and sexist.

And it's a big fail to accuse someone of something without backing it up with their own words. You won't be able to do that, because I didn't talk down or condescend or name-call or be rude to you, or to anyone else. Nor was I sexist in the slightest.

You don't like me. I don't care. But one of us is being more civil than the other, and it's glaringly obvious who that is. Hint: it's that anonymous coward who stares back at you when you look into the mirror.

Bookmark that.

Joe Konrath said...

has made me actively avoid buying this book.

As opposed to passively avoiding buying the book? :)

By denying the work and achievements of people who came before

If that's your takeaway from this thread, there's nothing I'll be able to do to change your mind.

Beth Revis said...

If I said something harmful, I'd hope someone would speak out against me.

What do you think all these people have been doing in the comments here?

Tali said...

As opposed to passively avoiding buying the book? :)

Well, yeah. I suspect that if I encountered the book "in the world," I would've hit the FSoG reference, rolled my eyes, and moved on. But that's a minor snootiness that good buzz can easily overcome; I totally understand that book blurbs are about marketing, not content.

(Incidentally, I thought of pointing out the mansplaining too. But I feared exactly what ended up happening: you'd leap on the term and shoot back an accusation of sexism. [Because reverse sexism is totally a thing that exists! Or, y'know, not.])

Joe Konrath said...

What do you think all these people have been doing in the comments here?

Honestly?

I think women in this genre have been disrespected for years, by their peers and their publishers, and they leapt at the chance to stand up for themselves.

The problem is that I deeply respect romance writers, and anyone who knows me or reads my blog regularly knows that. I meant no offense, and I really can't care much about those who took offense when none is intended.

I'm not going to apologize because people don't like me. If I did, I'd be apologizing constantly.

Nor am I upset that people obviously misunderstood my intent and meaning. It happens. The internet isn't the best way to communicate.

But if you think I harmed anyone with this post, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Joe Konrath said...

Incidentally, I thought of pointing out the mansplaining too.

Where do you think I was mansplaining? Saying that, and not pointing to it, isn't helpful.

And I really like the idea of you actively not buying my book. I have a funny image in my head of the book walking down the street, and you shooting it as it runs away screaming.

Karen Stivali said...

"That sounds like a pretty good definition of envy.

Who cares? I'm serious."

If that's what you took from my explanation of the reaction of a large chunk of the romance community, you're mistaken. Perhaps I communicated poorly when answering your question about why EL James isn't at the top of some romance authors' favorites list.

Are people envious of her enormous success? In terms of most people wishing they'd write a hugely successful novel or series, yes, of course there's some envy. But that's not what I was referring to at all when I said that romance writers find it annoying that she's regarded by some as having been the first writer to ever venture into this genre or even topic.

It's annoying that when you tell anyone from your neighbor to your local bookstore owner to your dentist that you write romance, there's a good chance the first words out of their mouth will be "like 50 Shades?" And that's annoying (to me personally) because, no, I don't write BDSM, I don't write billionaire heroes (or even alpha heroes for that matter) or naive heroines, and my book didn't start as fan fiction. It's annoying because even writers like Danielle Steele or Nora Roberts or any other uber-famous mega seller are not the first names on people's tongues when they ask "Oh, romance, like..." There have been scores of famous, successful writers of romance ranging from sweet sex-free stuff to things so dirty they make 50Shades look like a scholastic easy-reader book---that's the point---there have been writers before (and since) her. She's not the only one. There's no envy involved in that. Just annoyance that some people seem to regard her as having invented something she didn't invent. If you want to be technical about it, she didn't even invent her characters, Meyers did that.

Again, this was just me answering the question you chose to raise about community sentiment toward James, and this is just my take on why some in that community don't list her as their favorite author. It doesn't have much to do with your original post other than the fact that you used the name of her runaway success series as part of your promo. And that doing that helps to further the myth that she's the first person in history to write a dirty book.

Joe Konrath said...

It's annoying that when you tell anyone from your neighbor to your local bookstore owner to your dentist that you write romance, there's a good chance the first words out of their mouth will be "like 50 Shades?"

I just don't understand why that's annoying. At all. Why would you blame them, or EL James, for that? Why do you care?

And that doing that helps to further the myth that she's the first person in history to write a dirty book.

She's the first person in history to write a dirty book that sold 100 million copies.

I think this is a good thing. Which was the point of my blog.

Thanks for your thoughts, and for answering my question.

Karen Stivali said...

"I just don't understand why that's annoying. At all. Why would you blame them, or EL James, for that? Why do you care?"

I don't blame them. It annoys me due to its limited frame of reference and this isn't something I find bothersome solely in regard to writing. I have spent most of my life honing my baking skills. When I spend all day baking a chocolate cake from scratch and grating chocolate for ganache and I tell someone I baked a cake I don't want their first response to be "Like Betty Crocker?" either.

Regardless, neither of these things (people thinking James invented dirty books or people thinking cake mixes are as good as scratch) keeps me up at night---again, I was just answering your question.


"She's the first person in history to write a dirty book that sold 100 million copies."

A lightbulb went off in my head when you made this comment---here's the disconnect. You're talking about quantity, I'm talking about quality. I think James is a much better businesswoman than I think she is a writer. These are totally separate issues and accomplishments in my opinion.

"I think this is a good thing. Which was the point of my blog."

The point of your blog was to sell your book, which is what the point of your blog should be. The point of my responses was to help shed some light on why other people have had a reaction to that which you may (or may not) have anticipated. Either way, it's your blog and you can say whatever you want on it to promote your books however you'd like. And you specifically asked for people to Tweet about it, then you asked on Twitter for comments to be brought here instead, so that's what happened. Mission accomplished.

Thanks for your thoughts, and for answering my question.

You're welcome.

Victoria Dahl said...

"Congrats. You finally found a title."

Yeah, it didn't take me that long to find a title. I included Natural Law on a list of ten erotic romances that I wrote for Publishers Weekly a year ago. It took me that long to give in to your demands to be spoon fed titles for a genre you don't know anything about and couldn't care less about. Several of us mentioned other authors and lists, but you couldn't be bothered with even picking out your own title.

"No doubt that title was only one of tens of thousands, indicative of the thriving, billion dollar erotic romance market.

Or not. Because the market didn't boom until FSoG and Amazon."

Ah, there's the truth! It's a billion dollar boom, and here you are taking advantage of it. Good for you. Enjoy the ride.

But that's nothing to do with what could have been written and published 10 years ago. It has nothing to do with what actually WAS written and published 10 years ago. Your only concern is how much money you couldn't have made 10 years ago. That's a mindset, all right, and it's got fuck-all to do with erotic romance.

Frankly, I don't have any problem with your money-making mindset. Make your money. But I don't have to find your promotional strategy honest or charming. You don't get to change the history of this genre to promote yourself or your cause.

And for the record, I think you'd happily do the same to any profitable genre. I don't think your attitude is about romance or women...but our response definitely is.

Anonymous said...

So you don't think the BDSM in 50SoG was any good and you didn't enjoy the book, but you're still willing to invoke the title to sell your Melinda DuChamp books. Okay. I guess as long as you don't actually criticise EL James (because of your rule), that's not shady at all.

Joe Konrath said...

So you don't think the BDSM in 50SoG was any good and you didn't enjoy the book, but you're still willing to invoke the title to sell your Melinda DuChamp books.

You mean why would I being willing to invoke the one title that everyone on the planet knows, because it instantly tells readers the kind of book it is?

Are you serious?

Years ago I wrote a blog post about how to do booksignings. One of the truisms then remains a truism today; the simplest way to describe a book to a reader who has no idea who you are or what you write is to compare it to something the reader knows.

Having handsold over 10,000 books (handselling is when you meet a reader face to face and talk to them), I know a little bit about this topic.

You... not so much.

Quotidianlight said...

I grew up sneaking those 1980's and older HQ books from my mom's shelf. They were way more... Steamy than the modern titles. There was sh*t in those books that they would never be traditionally published now days lmao. BDSM before we knew that what is was called. No pretence that it was all mutual consent. Memories. I wish I could have rescued a few when mom died.

Joe Konrath said...

You don't get to change the history of this genre to promote yourself or your cause.

I no more have the power to change the history of a genre than I do to erase anyone, Victoria.

Promote my cause? What does that even mean?

This isn't a real concern of yours. You're not really worried that the work of thousands of authors will disappear because of something written on a blog.

But you're offended, and you feel the need to show me how my words are harmful. Words that I've defended in these comments, with no response from you on many of my points.

I have no control over how people react, or overreact, to things I say. That's on you, not me.

But let's pretend that I'm truly an uncaring, sexist jerk who set out to piss off every romance writer I could.

Why do you care?

As Stephen Hughes said: "You were offended? Who cares? Since when did sticks and stones stop applying?"

For the record, I stopped caring about the opinions of strangers when I was in Junior High--something I encourage you to try.

Thanks again for your thoughts and comments.

Joe Konrath said...

I wish I could have rescued a few when mom died.

Try www.abebooks.com. I've found a lot of long lost books there.

Anonymous said...

Having handsold over 10,000 books (handselling is when you meet a reader face to face and talk to them), I know a little bit about this topic.

You... not so much


I know what handselling means, thanks. I do it a lot, and very successfully, with my own product (which isn't books), and I've never had to compare my product to something I consider inferior in order to explain what it is.

Joe Konrath said...

I've never had to compare my product to something I consider inferior in order to explain what it is.

So you don't compare your product to inferior products?

Isn't that pretty much standard when it comes to selling?

Selling involves knowing what the buyer likes and doesn't like. It isn't about forcing a product on them that they won't want. It's about letting them know about something that they do want.

The fastest way to do this is to compare what you're selling with something the buyer already knows--good and bad.

If you don't do this, I'm curious to hear your sales pitch. Here's mine. It's almost ten years old, but still relevant for face-to-face sales.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2006/06/booksignings-everything-you-need-to.html

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Less than ten years ago RWA itself was struggling with accepting erotic romance. To say that nothing has changed in those ten years is ridiculous. Of course Kindle changed things. Of course FSoG changed things. Of course the authors who wrote in this sub genre over those last ten years changed things. But most of all the READERS changed things. The sub genres they buy flourish. The ones they don't fade, at least for a while.

The entire romance genre has changed in that time, not just ER. I know. I lived through those years. I published through those years. I was an RWA member through those years. It seems to me that if Joe was a female romance author, the romance community would have noticed this blog post about as much as they're now noting that he has a female co-author.

Joe and I also co-write the Codename: Chandler series of over-the-top spy thrillers. If you read through the reviews for the books, you'll find he's often given sole credit for writing them, as if I didn't exist. Since he is well-established in the mystery/thriller genre and I've only published two solo thrillers, I suppose that's to be expected.

But it sure is ironic that the romance community, which is so concerned about female authors being erased and where I have published 27 books (and Joe only one), is also acting as if I don't exist.

Anonymous said...

If you don't do this, I'm curious to hear your sales pitch.

My sales pitch is "here's a thing I did. Try it!"

People try it, they like it, and they spread the word. That's pretty much it and it's working very nicely.

Thank you for you comments and thoughts. We've all learnt a lot, I think.

Victoria Dahl said...

"For the record, I stopped caring about the opinions of strangers when I was in Junior High--something I encourage you to try."

This is utterly weird. Because someone pretending to be you sought out people on Twitter who were talking about your post, engaged them, and then invited/shamed people to come over here and talk to you about it. Then you engaged us for a bunch of days before telling us that none of this mattered at all to you and you didn't care about our opinions and we should try not caring about all of this, too.

So odd. You should check into that.

Evie Love said...

I can’t believe I just took the time to read this 200 comment long discussion, but it speaks to the intelligence and wit of both sides that it kept me interested for that long. Now, because this is the internet, I feel I must form an opinion and blather about it.

First I guess I should say that I didn’t find the marketing promo particularly offensive. Sure, I rolled my eyes at its exaggerated, over-the-topness. But then I read the book, so it must have done something right. Entertaining book. Got so into it I didn’t want to put it down.

Then I discovered there was a crazy discussion going on over here and I was all like, whoa!

It’s accurate to say that this book couldn’t have been written ten years ago because this book is a direct response to the FSoG driven billionaire erotic romance genre. It takes the tropes and flips them upside down for kicks and giggles. Nothing that hasn’t been done before, but good fun, all the same. If FSoG didn’t exist, this book couldn’t have responded to FSoG and therefore wouldn’t exist, which would be a shame.

But I think this discussion is way more convoluted than that so I’m going to roll my sleeves up and try my hands at arguing! Okie dokies, so the main phrase being argued about is the “couldn't have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist” bit. I’m going to do one better than breaking it down by line and break it down by word!

Genre
Did the genre for this book exist in 2004? Depends how you label the genre. Erotic romance seems to be the main genre it fits into, and my research shows that genre went mainstream-ish in 2005. (My research being Wikipedia because I’m super lazy, okay?) Since genre is a way of classifying books so that readers can easily find them, I think it’s safe to argue that even if books that would’ve fit this genre existed before this time, the classification itself wasn’t being used in marketing material. So. Point one, Konrath!

Opportunity
Could you have reached a worldwide audience with an erotic romance in 2004? You could’ve published it with an e-publisher, but there weren’t any e-reading devices really embraced by the public until 2007, so your audience would’ve been pretty niche. The big publishers didn’t have imprints specifically for this sort of book, but it could have been published under a different genre. I looked into Zane’s Addicted and discovered it was a self-publishing erotica success story from 1998, so yeah, it would’ve been possible. Tough, but possible. Call this one a tie?

Mindset
Okay, this might be too hazy to analyze. What mindset is necessary to write this book? Feminism? Obviously much older than 2004. Enjoying sex? Same thing. The mindset to put it all together and collaborate on a cool project with your friend? Could’a done that in other times, too. Honestly, I have no idea what to conclude on this one. Need more data!

There you go, my really long opinion. I guess I just don’t see how Konrath said anything bad enough to get angry about. I mean, he wasn’t trampling over the genre screaming “Me Man! Me do writing better than you!” And he had a female co-writer, anyway, so that would’ve been a difficult claim to support. Unless he was dragging her along by her hair? …I should probably end this metaphor now.

Now I’m going to hide because I think everyone else posting in this comment section is super awesome and I fear retribution. (It is known that Victoria Dahl can shoot lightening bolts from her eyeballs. Probably.)

(I didn't just mansplain, did I? I looked up what it meant and realized I make that mistake all the time! I'm so slow, I'm always like, This is what I think! and other people are like, That is obvious and dumb. Go away. We're trying to have an actual discussion here, geeze.)

Joe Konrath said...

Because someone pretending to be you sought out people on Twitter who were talking about your post, engaged them, and then invited/shamed people to come over here and talk to you about it.

I care about facts and logic, and debate and discourse are ways for people to learn.

I don't care about your delicate little feelings, or whom I offend.

I didn't call you a name at recess that hurt you so badly you had to run crying to your third grade teacher. In fact, I didn't call you any names at all.

I wrote a blog post. A bunch of thin-skinned romance writers, with serious inferiority complexes, overreacted, and then tried to "correct" me and did a really poor job at it.

You stated your case, and failed to persuade. But thank you for giving it a shot. It was fascinating to witness. And to think you were still able to respond after I erased you and your peers. It must be some sort of Christmas miracle. :)

Harlequin recently signed a deal with Scribd, to put titles--possibly some of yours--into their subscription service.

If you'd like a platform to voice your displeasure about this situation, my blog is yours. That's a battle that interests me; big publisher screws writers who have no choice and can't fight back.

Harlequin is evil. They've consistently offered lower royalties than the industry average. They created a dummy company so they could cut ebook royalties to 2%. They string writers along, shitty contract to shitty contract, giving them barely enough money to live on but not enough time to write something for themselves; something that would free them from the company store.

I know your opinion of me. My opinion of you, and your petty, poorly structured arguments, over sensitivity, overreacting, and failure to engage any of the salient points I made, hasn't changed a bit.

I like you. I think you're smart, and brave. I bought one of your books, and look forward to reading it. I wish you continued success, and hope you make more money than you'll ever be able to spend.

I don't take anything on the Internet personally. Cheers, and happy holidays.

And if you ever do want to lambaste Harlequin, you have my fullest support.

Joe Konrath said...

But it sure is ironic that the romance community, which is so concerned about female authors being erased and where I have published 27 books (and Joe only one), is also acting as if I don't exist.

*crickets chirping*

You may have a point, Ann.

Victoria Dahl said...

This cricket says the point wasn't salient.

No one is objecting to Joe and Ann writing a book together. We're not talking about Ann writing an erotic romance. We're not talking about the work she put into a book. We're talking about Joe's words on Joe's blog, so unless Ann put work into this post, no one is erasing her.

Now I'm taking this conversation back to Twitter if you want to continue. That's my preferred medium and it's where the people are who started the discussion. Thanks for the interaction here.

Anonymous said...

So, I’m not an author. I don’t feel disrespected by what was said. I really have no horse in this race. I’m just an avid reader that has been addicted to books since middle school, eons ago. I happen to read the romance genre. And I thought WTH, why not comment.

I found out about this after reading about it on an author’s twitter. I read all the tweets catching up on what they were protesting about. Saw the tweets with Ann, your co-writer, and your tweets with Courtney Milan. Then I came on here and read the comments.

At first, while I understood why they were mad, I thought you weren’t as bad as they were saying. I had never heard of you or Ann for that matter. I thought maybe there were prior incidents that have made up their minds about you and this just made things worse. You were asking genuine questions about the genre. Maybe you just didn’t know what was written 10 years ago. I sure didn’t. You seemed like you truly wanted these authors to tell you about the other authors writing in this genre you had just joined.

But as your responses came in and I saw more and more dismissal of what you were being told, I thought “oh, now I understand the fuss being made.”

You’re original post included: “It has romance. It has female-buddy banter. It has humor. It has insanely kinky sex. It's a feminist, empowering, 21st century love story that couldn't have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist.”

In your first comment addressing the hoopla, you stated: “EL James blew the genre up. Ten years ago, Want It Bad wouldn't have been able to find a wide audience. Pillories and candle wax and man whore weren't in HQ series that were sold in Walmart. But today we can publish without restrictions. That's the sum total of my point.”

On your next comment, you wrote: “I write a blog post saying I wrote an erotic romance that breaks boundaries, and I get scolded dozens of times.”

You were also asking for titles of erotic romances that were breaking boundaries. You got all kinds of responses:

Victoria Dahl: “I've published 26 books in the romance genre. One of those was an erotic romance with spanking and ropes and jizz published by HQN before 50 Shades.”

Jill Sorenson: “Of course Harlequin has published plenty of erotic material and boundary-pushing stuff. I see Megan Hart commented--her novel Stranger by Harlequin Spice has an escort hero, I believe. Tiffany Reisz is another example of a boundary pushing author.”

Michelle Smart: “I will answer with this: Harlequin Spice was HQ’s erotic line and is now published under the HQN imprint. … As for male prostitutes and infidelity after the hero and heroine meet, Maisey Yates has written a book about a former male prostitute for the Presents line; Lynne Graham wrote a linked-duet story where the hero had sex and impregnated another woman AFTER meeting the heroine. Which, incidentally, was published in 2011.”

Victoria Dahl: “There was also a ton of erotic romance being published & sold online ten years ago. Truly filthy, lovely stuff. You can start here: http://wendythesuperlibrarian.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-quick-and-dirty-history-of-erotic.html?m=1”

KT Grant: “Also, In the Cut by Susanna Moore in 1995 was a run away best seller and made into a movie with Meg Ryan. At the time that book made some waves and did very well.”

V.M. Black: “I had a romance in 2005 IN WALMART featuring a prostitute under my old name. In 2008, I had one featuring S&M. Also in Walmart.”

Leslie Kelly: “Waving hands as someone who had a male prostitute hero in a Harlequin series book sold in Wal Mart in 2008*
PS: Same hero also had a threesome with another couple in another Blaze.
PSS: Bondage, blindfolds, sex toys, food sex, role-playing, exhibitionism, stripper heroines, filthy-mouthed best friends...done, done, done, done, done, done, done. Long before FSOG. And those are just MY books.”


Continued...

Anonymous said...

KT Grant: “How about Zane? She pushed the envelope with erotic romance way back in the mid 90's and 2000's and was big time mainstream. You mentioned erotic romance in the early 2000's and everyone knew Zane. Addicted came out in 1998 and Nervous in 2004 by Atria. She even had her own Cinemax series”

All of those answers prove that: “couldn't have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist” and “I wrote an erotic romance that breaks boundaries” is wrong. It did exist. It was written ten years ago and between then and 2011 when FSOG was published.

You’re just choosing to dismiss all of these comments. You ignored the information given to you and tried to get more and more specific with what you were asking. To the point that Karen Stivali commented: “I think it's really important to note that no one (or at least no one I've seen) is accusing you of plaigarism or of writing fan fiction. No one has said "your story is EXACTLY like so-and-so's story", so demanding a book with exactly the same plot and characters of your book is really a bit silly. I think you know that's not what people mean. What they mean is that female buddies, male escort heroes, explicit sex (including BDSM), etc have all been done in various combinations, some serious, some comedic, some romances, some erotica, some crossovers for a very long time and by a wide variety of authors.”

And you continue to dismiss all this information. That is where you lost me. Where I went from “oh he’s not so bad” to “now I understand”. You’ve asked “Am I wrong” a couple of times but when you’ve been proven wrong, you don’t even think that’s possible. As someone who didn’t know much about the history of erotic romances to know if you were right or wrong at the beginning of all this, by the evidence presented I agree with the other side. You are wrong.

It’s like you moving into this old neighborhood. All the neighbors like throwing parties. They take their turns and invite a bunch of people from other neighborhoods to come party. Then you come into the neighborhood, throw a party and tell everyone it’s the best party ever thrown on the block and no other party has done the things you’ve done. While the ideas might be new to you, all the other neighbors know they’ve already been done and are rightfully upset that you think you’re hot shit. They’re not saying you shouldn’t have thrown the party, they’re just saying you shouldn’t have said you’d done things first when you didn’t. You might not care your new neighbors are mad at you, but don’t get mad when they get together by the curve and talk bad about you.

You also mentioned this: “I'm writing in this genre because I like this genre. My wife likes this genre. It's a great genre that doesn't get the respect it deserves.”

You might want to realize that you’re not giving it the respect it deserves. You’re not giving the authors in that genre the respect they deserve by being dismissive of the work they did. You are doing the same thing you claim others have done.

One good thing about the romance genre is it has many loyal readers. We make sure to tell everyone about this great book we just read and OMG you have to read it right now. We’re loyal to the authors we’ve read and liked. The authors themselves are usually readers who are just as loyal and just as quick to recommend. Pissing most of them off by being dismissive to the authors so many are loyal to in a genre you have just started writing in is not very good PR, imo.

Continued…

Anonymous said...

To Ann: You might feel as though people are treating you as if you don’t exist but I personally don’t see that here. It’s just that your co-writer is much more vocal and saying more controversial stuff garnering more attention. I saw that both Victoria Dahl and Karen Stivali responded to your comments here. I think Victoria said it best when she commented: “But you weren't the one to say that, Ann, and I seriously doubt you would have. Because that's the issue here. Not that you and Joe wrote and erotic romance and that you want people to read it. The issue is the words HE used. The words he won't admit are incorrect.”

It’s not that you’re not being acknowledged as a writer, it’s just that your co-writer is screaming louder than you are. And the words he's using aren't very liked.

Good luck to your book. I won’t be reading it, it’s just not my cup of tea since I prefer my heroes to stay with only the heroine after they get together otherwise I don’t consider it a romance. But I do wish you well.

PS: Any book that compares itself to Fifty Shades is an immediate don’t buy from me. I didn’t consider it to be a good romance since I don’t consider abusive relationships with a stalker, crazy boyfriend to be a romance. And I won’t go into all the bad writing it had. I also don’t consider it to be BDSM since it basically acted like it was an affliction that needed to be treated and cured. Therefore any book that compares itself to something that was badly written is not to my liking.

Fifty Shades was at the right place and right time, nothing more. Twilight left all the above tween women who read it salivating for more after the fade to black in Breaking Dawn. They went looking for it in fanfiction. James took advantage of that. She wrote chapter by chapter while getting immediate feedback from readers. She gave them what they wanted. As soon as it was published it was those same Twilight readers that bought and recommended it. Word of mouth is a glorious thing. So are those loyal romance readers I mentioned above. But while some readers went on to continue reading BDSM, some did not. Not one of my friends that read FSOG (there were a few) went on to read another BDSM book even if they did continue reading romance. Keep that in mind the next time you want to reference it.

Anonymous said...

"But it sure is ironic that the romance community, which is so concerned about female authors being erased and where I have published 27 books (and Joe only one), is also acting as if I don't exist.

*crickets chirping*"

Mr. Konrath & Ms. Peterson, I'm just guessing, but from what I've observed it seems most people aren't acting like you (Ms. Peterson) doesn't exist, they are just trying to leave you out of the ruckus.

People don't have a problem with the book you both wrote, the premise of the book or anything like that, they just have a problem with this one statement which appeared on Mr. Konrath's blog:

"It's a feminist, empowering, 21st century love story that couldn't have been written ten years ago because the genre, opportunity, and mindset didn't exist."

Since this statement appears on Mr. Konrath's blog, it is assumed it is his statement, so they are disagreeing with him on it. I just assume people think Ms. Peterson did not make this statement, so they see no need to argue with her about it.

Ms. Peterson I have been reading romances since I was 8 years old, and have enjoyed many of yours. I read everything from Intrigue, Temptation, to Blaze, to the most explicit hardcore books you can imagine, and I'd have to say most people would be amazed at what racy romance books were found in grocery stores in the late 90's. Erotica has been mainstream for a lot longer than the masses (once a year/decade readers) have known it was there, which is why everybody who has been reading erotica for decades had such a problem with that one sentence on this blog.

Nicola Lane said...

Well I can't say about America - but in the UK we have had a mainstream erotic romance publisher since 1993. Black Lace books (Originally owned by Virgin - so at one time the biggest publisher of sexy books in the Uk was Virgin - still makes me smile!).

So this book could have been published in the UK 20 years ago.