So let me tell you a tale…
One day a romance writer who was making a decent living, a better living than she ever dreamed she could by working from home in pajamas each day, read an article. There were vast riches to be made in that land called Self-published Erotica eBooks. Huge riches to be made in the provinces of Nook and Kindle and it was no tall tale. Alas there was proof. Authors who this romance writer actually knew were panning the gold from the erotica waters and coming up with mind-boggling profits. (Seriously folks, I’m talking a million dollars a year or more in their pockets not accounting for Uncle Sam and his evil tax collectors, of course.)
So this author read the million dollar author’s book and declared–I can do that! I will do that! I’ll do it right now! And she came up with a brilliant idea. Why not be who she was now, writing romance, AND be that other writer too, the one who was making a million dollars a year by selling what some critics have called “porn on the page”.
So she took this story she had already written, a story that had been rejected by 3 or was it 4 publishers. A nice little story she really liked about 2 cowboys and a rich girl from Connecticut, and she decided to sex it up. There’d be boys doing boys. Girls doing girls. Boys and girls doing each other, in public, in private, in the barn, in the pool, day and night. Hell, it was already written, and rewritten, and rewritten again, according to the suggestions by the very nice rejection letters she’d gotten so many of. After all, how hard could it be to sex it up? Then she too would have the millions in gold. THEN after that, she’d write more stories. Filthy, dirty stories that would bring even more gold.
And it worked, kind of, for a little bit. Not exactly, and not at all as she’d planned. In fact, not so much according to the plan at all.
Yes, the nice little story sold like mad, crazy sales, but it never really reached the level of filth the author intended, nor the million dollars said filth would have yielded. There was still safe sex. There was still character motivation and reasons for the sex. The characters, once they met each other, still wanted to be monogamous, even though there were 3 of them. There was still a happily ever after ending.
And then the second story wasn’t the filthy dirty one it was meant to be at all. That too ended up being kind of tame to be called erotica. And the happy ending, and the monogamous relationship and the safe sex tried to sneak in again, and the author had to beat them down as best she could, but alas they were stronger than she was.
She had tried…that is I had tried. I really did, but it comes down to this–we are who we are, and no amount of determination or inspiration to change will change who and what we are.
My vow to be the raunchiest writer I could be for my RED line of “erotica” books did not end up exactly as I planned. I put “erotica” in quotation marks because I hesitate to even call it that. As much as I tried to write erotica, it’s still more erotic romance, which is what I have always written, and probably always will write.
I’d made up this long warning label for my RED books, to make sure the readers of my erotic romance wouldn’t be horribly shocked by my new erotica line. It turns out, I needn’t have, because no matter what, I still am who I am as a writer.
Oh don’t get me wrong, the RED stories are hot. Very hot. But there’s still a happy ending, no matter how convinced I was I’d be writing pure erotica without one. There’s plenty of sex, even experimenting with other partners, and same sex, but the characters always seem to end up in a happy committed relationship in the end.
So what am I going to do? Hell if I know. I still have plenty of ideas for some raunchy adulterous erotica stories about a bored cheating housewife who does everyone from the carpenters, to the waiter, to the UPS man while her husband is at work. It was these story ideas that I created the RED line for–and then chickened out miserably. Will these ever see the light of day? I have no clue. If they do I suppose I’ll have to make a sub-line–the REALLY RED line for stories that really are erotica this time, I swear…
Maybe having written for publishers and editors who drilled the HEA (Happy Ever After) into my head, along with the concepts of safe sex and monogamous relationships has influenced me irreparably. Kind of like the lessons beaten into students with a wooden ruler by nuns in Catholic school–you can be sure you’ll never forget them and if you ever do bring yourself to break those rules, you’re going to be twitching while doing it.
So there you go, my tale. I’m happy I wrote Educating Ansley. I’m thrilled with the sales. I’m happy I wrote The EX-Files. Compared to Ansley I’m not as happy with those sales but that’s what I get for hitting it out of the park on the first at bat–it’s a hard record to live up to. I’m iffy on the creation of the RED line. I could probably just as easily have published those stories just as Cat Johnson titles and no one would have been offended or disappointed. And if I ever have a lobotomy or start taking hard core drugs to overcome my romance indoctrination and actually get myself to write the pure erotica I’d planned–well then we’ll have to figure out how to market those alongside the others in the RED line. We’ll see.
And so the author’s coffers are far from empty, but the biggest heaps of gold still belong to the others who dare to stretch beyond, and for now, that’s okay.