Wednesday, August 09, 2006

We All Scream for Ice Cream

There’s been a lot of discussion on the web lately about the different sub-genres of romance and who likes or dislikes which genres and why. It goes far beyond, “I like historicals!” or “I never read chick lit!” It’s come down to worries, real or imagined, spoken or only considered, that one genre will eventually push another off the shelves.

While it’s true that erotica is hot, hot HOT right now, and writers of sweet romance sometimes find it harder to sell their work, especially to the small press and e-pubs that in some cases are making comfortable careers for E-rom authors, I find it sad that there is hostility against those writers. Yes, I’ve seen publishers who strictly state they only publish a very limited number of sweet romances per year and guess what – they’re booked until doomsday. That’s discouraging for authors who don’t write spicy, sizzling or scorching romance.

Yes, it’s true most e-rom writers will tell you, their erotica titles sell ten times better than their sweet or sensual titles if they have both flavors in their repertoire. They will also tell you their edgy sci-fi and dark fantasy stories sell way better than their contemporaries or historicals. It’s the way the market works right now. It doesn’t mean it will always be this way.

The whole debate reminds me of ice cream. [I’ve mentioned before, food plays a big role in my life.] There are hundreds – maybe thousands of flavors of ice cream available today. Last night I had something called Strawberry Skydive [strawberry ice cream, walnuts and Oreo cookies – YUM!] My husband had Twizzler flavored ice cream. Yes, it tasted exactly like the red licorice candy. The place we had dessert sold coconut ice cream, banana pudding flavored ice cream and tons of others. I recently tried Green Tea flavored ice cream and it wasn’t half bad. Guess what? They still sold vanilla.

Vanilla remains the most popular flavor of ice cream. [At least in the US at last poll.] Chocolate comes in second, believe it or not.

Just because someone invented Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or Phish Food, or Pumpkin Spice ice cream doesn’t mean you can’t still get vanilla at just about any ice cream shoppe you go to. The exotic flavors aren’t pushing the old standbys off the shelves.

Granted ice cream sales aren’t perfectly synonymous with book sales, but you get my drift. There’s always room for everyone’s taste and no one should blame erotica writers for taking away space from traditional romance writers. And though vanilla is often used as a euphemism for plain or tasteless, that’s really very far from the truth. I love vanilla, and I love black raspberry, and I sort of love Strawberry Skydive now, too. The trick to vanilla’s popularity I think is that it’s consistent, it’s reliable and it can form the basis for a lot of other flavors. It won’t go out of style and neither will sweet romance or inspirationals or historicals or any of the flavors of romance that are experiencing a down-turn right now.

The key is to write what you love no matter what flavor it is.


Shelli Stevens said...

What a great comparison. And you're right. It does bug me when people trash the hotter side of the writing industry. I had a local chapter mate tell me 'i'm glad you're writing erotic romance, someone has to do it' and i'm thinking... dude, everyone's doing it right now!

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Hey Shelli!
With so many readers out there who all have different tastes, it's hard to imagine that there will ever be a new 'standard heat level' that some people are afraid of.

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