Last Thursday, the RNA hosted an Erotica Panel at the New Cavendish Club, near Marble Arch. Facing the audience were three people well qualified to answer questions about the current trends in erotic fiction. They were: Hazel Cushion (Accent Press/Xcite); Donna Condon (Harlequin Mills & Boon); Gillian Green (Ebury).
By the end of a really entertaining, informative, and very amusing at times, afternoon, we’d learnt that:
* the massive boom post 50 Shades of Grey is over, but the genre is still going strong. 50 Shades of Grey created a new readership for erotic novels.
* that the difference between a sexy, romantic novel and an erotic novel is that the sexy, romantic novel is relationship-led. Erotic fiction is more explicit and more about the sexual action than the development of a relationship, and there doesn’t have to be a happy ever after.
* 60% of male action books are sold to women. The best-selling men-on-men novels are written by women, who are good at portraying emotion. The top fantasy of women is to watch men on men.
* erotica has its own terminology, which includes potentially confusing letter combinations, and authors new to erotica should research the terminology as they would any other genre. They should also find out first of all what isn’t acceptable.
* the first page should draw the author in. Readers read erotic fiction to get turned on, and they need a hint and a promise from the outset.
* publishers would like to attract silver surfers to the genre, but are finding it difficult to do so in a non-patronising way. 60% of women are size 16 and above, and there’s a line called Rubenesque erotica.
* as with any novel, an aspiring author of erotica should read a lot of similar novels, find their own erotic voice, and write what they feel passionate about. If they don’t, they won’t draw the readers in.
Gillian Green (Ebury) is looking for erotic romance; perhaps trilogies. Good stories. Interesting characters. New adult (15+) at 90-100,000 words.
Donna Condon (HMB) is looking for originality. Great writing and an original spin on everything else out there.
Hazel Cushion (Accent Press/Xcite) is looking for novellas, 15-to 20,000 words. Relationship led. Conflict. Hot sex at the start. Climactic ending.
And now a few glimpses of before and after the event …
Over and out for today!