This writing erotic romance thing is not for the weak.
It's not for the overly sensitive.
And it's not for the easily discouraged.
I am approaching the four year anniversary of publishing my first erotic romance novel, Mountains Wanted. By the way, it's free through 10.14 on Amazon right now, so pick it up if you haven't read it already. What have you got to lose?
Whoops, didn't mean to turn this into a promo opportunity, but on the other hand...what have I got to lose?
I try to judge my writing career on how far I've come rather than how far I have to go. In 2012, when I published Mountains Wanted, I had zero followers on social media (because I didn't have social media for Phoebe, my erotic romance-writing alterego); I had zero newsletter subscribers; I had been to zero signings; and I had zero reviews. And I had made zero sales. All I had was one book about to be published and a dream.
Now I can say in 2016, I've published six erotic romance books and two women's fiction books (under the name K.L. Montgomery), and I have thousands of social media followers and newsletter subscribers. I've been to a few signings and have some on the books for 2017 and 2018. But most importantly, I have made sales. Thousands of sales, actually.
But I'm still looking for that breakthrough moment, that moment where I become "known." Not famous; I don't actually think that's going to happen. But I'm still waiting for my audience to rise up, for me to find my people, my tribe of like-minded readers.
See, I write sex-positive, body-positive erotic romance, and I believe that gives me a bit of a distinction from what else is out there in the vast sea of erotic romance. My characters are real, relatable, everyday men and women, not rock stars, models, billionaires or the likes. They have average bodies; they are people you would meet in the course of regular life. The biggest thing that sets them apart from other ordinary people is that they learn to embrace their sexuality. They don't make apologies for being sexual creatures, nor do they abide by slut shaming.
Which is interesting, really, because lately there has been some talk about how romance writers and readers are essentially slut-shamed. Check out this article from Bustle.com, for example. As you can imagine, I'm not okay with that.
After four years, I wonder if there's actually a market for the type of literature I write. Maybe not. Maybe not YET. But as a fellow author told me recently, even if I'm not getting the sales I want or the best reviews, I am still sending a message, and it's an important message: the message that it's okay for women of all sizes to embrace and celebrate their sexuality.
I may be taking a break from writing erotic romance, at least until my next women's fiction project is done, but I will be back. You know why? Because I know I have more sex-positive, body-positive stories inside me, waiting to come out. And if just a few readers enjoy my books and have their minds opened because of them.... well, then, I've done my job.