Thursday, June 14, 2007

So You're An Erotica Writer (Hi, Anne Rice!)

So, again, posts are slow and I'm just personally responding instead of posting because it's faster. And could that person who emailed me about wanting to share summer publishing experiences re-email me? I think I accidentally deleted it in a haze and I did mean to respond.

Hello Rejecter,

Suppose you are trying to get an agent or publisher interested in a literary fiction novel. You haven't any previous credits along those lines, but you have written (under a pseudonym) erotica. I don't mean on fly-by-night websites or in books that are delivered in a plain brown envelope, but in major magazines you would find in a good magazine shop or in anthologies you would find in major bookstore chains. Would this help even if your literary fiction novel isn't erotic? Or would such a background be the kiss of death?

Absolutely not. Literary agents and other people in the publishing world have a general respect for all types of writing that is quality, and don't have any qualms about erotica existing, even if they don't read it themselves. And it's not all Harlequin romance stuff either. There is now a healthy amount of independent presses who publish quality erotica, either for general interest or gay/lesbian. The target audience is almost exclusively women or gay men, mainly the former. Studies have shown that women in general don't like visual pornography and prefer it in prose form, which is why Playgirl failed. But let me stop talking about what we were learning in the magazine class I'm in and get back on topic.

Mention your serious publications. The only time I would leave them out is if you are submitting to an agent who mainly handles religious fiction and non-fiction. That might upset some sensibilities, but most agents do not fall into this category.


Anonymous said...

and don't use the term "fiction novel" because its redundant.

Dave Kuzminski said...

And if you should manage to submit your query or manuscript to an agent whose sensitivities don't cater to erotica and don't want to even hear about it, don't worry. There are plenty of other agents who will want work from a published author.

ORION said...

I think this is a good question. I had no pub credits and still was able to get an agent that sold my novel but I would have put ANYTHING in my bio that was a publishing credit. I did find however that listing attended conferences and retreats and the authors I worked with was valuable to add. My agent told me that indicated to her that I was serious.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said not to use "fiction novel". That's true, but "literary fiction" isn't helpful either. If you can't put a regular genre on your work, let the publisher decide what it is.

Anonymous said...

Would this advice still apply if you had published at some of the aforementioned independent presses and were querying a children's or YA book?

In general, is there a division in publishing between what the industry wants to know and what the audience wants to know? Most parents would be leery of buying a children's book written by a known erotica author, but do agents and editors not care as long as the author keeps her erotica under wraps?

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

Erotica is a RED HOT genre right now. I write it myself----under a pseudonym. What a lot of people don't realize is erotica is a serious literary form. The US market has been slwoer to embrace it as such (a lot of US erotica is still poorly written), but in Europe, it's HUGE. I am working with a UK-based publisher (Virgin Books) for my erotica, which is a lot more highbrow in style than what you see most of the US-based erotica publishers putting out (which is mostly porn with vampires these days). Most of the U.S.-based erotica publishers rejected my writing as being too "intellectual" for the market. (??) The nice thing about it is, Virgin Books has worldwide (including US) distribution while having a European penchant for well-written erotica.

Bottom line: if you've managed to sell your erotica in any market, agents will usually take notice. Erotica is a hot seller right now, and it's getting hotter (pun intended).

Anonymous said...

Dear Rejecter, I'm an unpublished author, spending more time writing and editing than trying to market. I've read some of your blog with great enjoyment. I suck at writing cover letters, query letters and most anything that ends in letters so my marketing time is slip-shod. I was interested in your erotica comments, is it feasible to attempt selling a serial story? I took a break from a sci-fi story I was working on to do a character study, which at the time was a reason in itself, but I fell in love with the character and kept playing with it, creating a World. While it leans to B/D it is still a character study, with many interesting players, at times it is purely fantasy lesbian but the evolution of the characters keeps me engrossed. I've got about fourteen hundred pages covering almost half of the story I have in my head. Since I've been attempting to sell my non-erotica I've been tempted to market this... but that leads me back to cover letters and that whole mess... I know the world revolves on such things but blah... Anyway, the character study helped with my sci-fi books and has led me to another World I can't reach the end of. Some things are better not ended. Yes, writing for enjoyment is great but sharing is nice, too, being paid would be better and give me more time to write.
I do appreciate your blog, thanks.