I am not an erotica writer

No, I’m not moping. I’m not having a crisis of confidence. I had an epiphany. It’s actually been a long time coming. While writing my Twisted series, I experimented with writing a lot of different kinds of relationships like my characters experimented with sex play, and I realized that the relationships I like writing the best are the ones that end happy.

There’s a big difference between romance and erotica. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) doesn’t define erotica, doesn’t even list it as a subgenre so that should tell you something right there. (Or not. They don’t list erotic romance either. Don’t get me started on the RWA.)

My editor explained it this way: Romance = HEA, Erotica = Life. Romance readers, for the most part, don’t want realistic. They want the fantasy. Erotica readers like realism. (Generally speaking. There are always exceptions.)

But I love escape. It’s what I’m best at, and to me, erotic writing IS escape because my real life is rather dull. Not that I want the kind of excitement I inflict on my characters.

Erotica gives writers the freedom to explore controversial subjects not typically covered in romance: cheating, group sex, bondage, etc. I’ve written about all of that. Maybe I’m too kinky to write romance. I got labeled an erotica writer by people who don’t understand either genre because my romance novels have a lot of descriptive sex scenes.

I hate rules and definitions and labels. Maybe this is why I fit so well with Evolved Publishing. A romance publisher would’ve rejected Her Twisted Pleasures, but EP does all genres. They didn’t define my romance novels. I did. J

So whether you want to call it erotica, romance, romantica, or erotic romance, I’m going to call my writing trash. That covers it all.

I searched ‘erotica’ on Google images and this is the first picture it found.

How do you define erotica and romance? Are you an exception?

About ameliajamesauthor

Amelia James started reading steamy romance novels in junior high, but her mom took them away from her, so she started daydreaming instead. After she got married, she wrote some of her naughtier daydreams down and sent them to Playgirl magazine. Two of them got published. She kept daydreaming and writing stories until her dirty stories turned into trashy books. She lives in Colorado, but she’ll always be a loyal Wisconsin Cheesehead. When she’s not lusting after her next bad boy hero, she looks for inspiration in sci-fi and action movies, football players, bloodsucking lawyers, muscle cars, and kick-butt chicks.
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15 Responses to I am not an erotica writer

  1. Robert heather says:

    I still prefere the erotica ,easy ant stimulating reading,relaxing

  2. Rob says:

    Why pigeon hole and label? Write well, write convincing, write entertaining and interesting. It’s all anyone can ask of you.

  3. ginnylurcock says:

    I just called books like yours smutty, but have since learned that people find that offensive (It’s not, embrace it people!) So I’ve taken to calling them “smexy” books. Or at least books with smexual content.

  4. eden baylee says:

    I write stories…good ones, about relationships and life, but the moment there is sex or implied sex in them, or some ‘bad’ words — I feel I have to label it erotica—not for me, but for those who may mistaken my work to be romance and expect the HEA.

    Though many of my stories have HEA or the possibility for it, the sexual description automatically moves it away from romance.

    I’m like you Amelia, hate to be pigeon-holed. I can write in numerous genres and that’s what I’m doing. It’s not the genre that speaks to the quality of your work, it’s your writing.

    If people are ‘afraid’ to read your books because they are labeled erotica, and yet they’ve never read an erotic novel, chances are they’re just too uptight to try something new.


    • Does sexual description move it away from romance? I’ve always sought out detailed sex scenes, and I don’t have too much trouble finding them in romance. But I haven’t read much recently, so maybe that’s changed.

  5. I write erotic romance. When people ask, I say I write “saucy romance” because it covers the basics without the negative connotations of the word “erotica.” It’s even my tagline: “Saucy romance for sassy readers.” I actually don’t like the term “trashy,” because trashy (to me) implies low quality. I do respect your right to “reclaim” the term, though. :)

    As for the semantics, I see the difference pretty clearly. In romance, sex comes with love, and there’s an HEA. With erotic romance, there’s still an HEA, but the sex happens much earlier and is an integral component of the relationship development. In erotica, relationships can happen or not, and an HEA is not required.

    Regardless of what we call it, three cheers for HEAs with lots of hot sex!

  6. Hmmn…labels, labels. People often think I write erotica because I hang out with a pretty naughty crew on Twitter, most of whom write Erotica, and specifically BDSM. I have been known to joke that one can take pride in being not spicy enough for some and too spicy for others. Must make us “just right” for a whole other group. ;P

  7. Jemiah says:

    I AM an erotica writer. And I’m having a hell of a time trying to write romance right now because my mind just doesn’t work that way… oh well!

  8. Bullshit. Who says erotica can’t have a HEA, or a solid plot, or involve a character’s feelings of love AND lust?

    At the end of the day, readers want a good story with compelling characters. They want to be transported to the world you created and vicariously experience what the characters go through as the story progresses. Some of them even want to experience new things vicariously (safely) and maybe come away with a different perspective.

    Erotica focuses on sex, and sex is a very common way two—or more—people relate to one another. It is perhaps the most intimate form of communication known to humans. How characters experience sex says a lot about those characters and their relationship with one another .

    Yes, people love labels, almost as much as they love to judge. Hell with that. Write the story you set out to tell, then get so busy telling the next one you don’t have time to ponder all the labeling and judging. It’ll drive you nuts if you play their game.

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