Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Question!

Okay, first, you all still have to congratulate me on finishing my book, still, and go read my FAR interview linked in the below post. Because I'm afraid I sound like an idiot. So stroke, stroke, stroke my little ego please. (You don't really have to, of course.)

I ripped out one scene and rewrote it last night, and I think it works much better--it advances the plot now, yay! And I'm about 1k words into the big 6k section replacement, so that's good too. I don't know if it will end up being as many words, but the book is long enough, I know I'll add in editing, and less is sometimes more.


I was wondering, how has erotica as a genre treated you, DQ? Do authors find it difficult to get out, once they're in? Or are you happy enough that you never want to break out into the "respectable" (society's opinion, not mine) genres?

It's actually so funny this question came up now, because my just-finished book is NOT an erotic romance. Oh, there's some sexy bits, of course. There's a sex scene I'm immensely proud of and a hero who I think is pretty damn hot. But the book isn't exactly a romance--there's a sort of "happy for now" ending which, if the book goes somewhere (pleasepleasepleaseplease) will continue on in the sequels--I have the whole arc of the relationship planned, and it'll get pretty interesting, believe me.

Anyway, the book is an urban fantasy. It's the first book I've ever written with a Happy Enough ending. It's the first book I've ever written entirely from the heroine's POV (with a couple of exceptions, but no major character in the book gets a POV except Heroine.) (It's still 3rd person, though, not first. I don't think I could write a sex scene in first.)

And now, I'm dreaming of writing an erotic romance again. My CP and I have been working on ideas--we're eager to collaborate again, just like the French (oh come on, it's a joke I couldn't resist)--and I can't wait to get going on it. I love writing romance, especially erotic romance. I love the total emotional satisfaction of writing two different people who find love and happiness together. I also love writing them doing wonderfully nasty things to each other. It's fun.

It isn't all I ever want to write, though. As much as I love erotic romance, and I do, I admit I get a little bored after writing three or four in a row. I want to branch out. I want to write more action, less sex. It's really the sex. I find after writing a few books in a row my sex scenes get very flowery or very stark. Either I shy away from the physical description, or it sounds like something old men in porno theatres whisper while the movie plays.

Ideally, I'd love to do both. I don't think it's difficult, necessarily, for a writer to "break out" of erotic romance--if they want to. Most of the ones I know don't seem to. They love what they do, and want to stay there. Me, I like to move around a little. My medieval (releasing tomorrow) isn't an erotic romance, although there's definitely some hot scenes in there--I never close the bedroom door on my readers. My January book is erotic, and intensely so. I love writing paranormals, but I can't wait to do another historical too.

My ideal career, in my wildest dreams, is to produce one or two mass-markets a year in the series whose first book I just finished (pleasepleasepleaseplease). Then one or two erotic romances per year as well, possibly staying with ebooks and small press for those. There's no advances, but the idea of decent monthly paychecks for those is very appealing (although most of them pay quarterly as well, EC doesn't.)

Because the new series (pleasepleaseplease) is sexy, and contains sex, but I don't want it to go down the road a certain author went down when she turned her books into nothing but sex, I want to keep writing erotic romance to get it out of my system. Because I get burned out writing nothing but sex, I want to have something else I do. The readership will hopefully cross over, but if they don't, they don't--I figure probably 60% or so will. Because I can write an erotic faster than the book I just wrote--it took me 4 months, basically, but my eroroms average about 2--and because I get antsy if I'm not working on anything for more than a couple of weeks at the most, I think I can build up a good list in a few years. (I hope, anyway. keep in mind this is all my fantasy career.)

It's not, emphatically not, a matter of "respectability". I've never bought that "romance is crap" stuff and I've never felt the need to justify what I write to anyone. If they don't like it, or want to look down on me for it, I don't give a shit. Romance is just as good as any other genre, or anything non-genre. I love it, and I love writing it. My desire to do something else is just because I like other stuff just as much as I like romance, and nothing more. If people don't think I'm any good because my work is "just" romance, that's their small-minded problem, not mine, and they can, as we said in childhood, go jump in a lake.

I think the trick to breaking out of a genre is pen names. Seriously. If the series sells, it won't come out under DQ (unless the publisher [pleasepleaseplease] wants it too, of course). I'd come up with a new name for it, but not hide it either. So people know my DQ books are erotic romance, but my Other Name books are urban fantasy.

Did that answer your question, or did I just blather on?

Basically, I think the only thing holding writers back from "breaking out" of a genre is themselves--either because they don't want to, or because they aren't willing to do the work it would take in order to. Which isn't to say any one genre is worse than any other, it just means they don't take the time to explore their writing and the conventions of where they are and where they want to go. And I hope that doesn't sound shitty, because I don't mean it to at all. I just mean it's hard to unlearn things. I had to struggle on a few occasions with this book to keep some emotional things ambiguous. I had to struggle to make sure my characters didn't suddenly start behaving the way they would in a romance--big "I love you"s etc., because they really weren't ready. It was me who wanted that, automatically, because that's what my endings usually are.

Will it work? let's cross our fingers. But I think we can do whatever we want, if we work hard enough.


Bernita said...

Go, Girl!
Is there really a downside to this plan?
I think not.

Anonymous said...

". . . it sounds like something old men in porno theatres whisper while the movie plays."

So, that's where you go in your spare time. ;~) Also, "theatres"? You've already been out of country too long.

I read the interview and it was great (and I'm not stroking you -besides, that's Mister December's job).

Seriously, I think you are a better writer than a lot of the crap I find on the shelves from other published authors and I think your style will appeal to a lot of people (I checked 3 books out of the library the other day and I couldn't even get past the 3rd chapter in 2 of them). It's just going to take the right editor at the right time and with the right marketing scheme. Just keep doing what you do. -JTC

December Quinn said...

No downside, Bernita, just a big, big "if". (Pleasepleaseplease!)

Lol, JTC, you caught me! And: Also, "theatres"? You've already been out of country too long.

Actually, that's a holdover from my teen years working for Wehrenburg (large movie theater/re chain in the midwest). They spelled it "Theatres", so it stuck.

And thanks! You make me feel so good (not in a stroke-y way, tee hee.) What a lovely compliment.

kis said...

Thanks so much for your answer, DQ. It does help a lot, enough that I think I will continue writing the related projects I've begun as erotica, and may convert my big WIP.

But I've also wondered how ebooks earn compared to mass market ppb. What kind of sales does a good author get? The difference in the average royalty rate for ebooks (35-40%) and mass market ppb (something like 8-10% if you're lucky) is quite glaring. Does that mean ebooks don't sell well? I'm actually all for not having an advance--I'd always feel a little guilty if I didn't earn it out, and woe betide the author who doesn't and ever wants to be published again. I guess what I'm asking is what constitutes, in your words, decent monthly paychecks?

Probably really jumping the gun, but I am curious. Not about your numbers specifically, but just a general idea. Also, have you found that agents are at all interested in selling to epublishers? Are the earnings high enough to make it worth their while, especially with no advance?

Sorry to hijack you're blog here, but it's one of the few places I try to visit regularly, and I do trust your opinion. If I'm being a nuisance, just let me know. :)

Robyn said...

Congratumalations! I think the interview sounded fine. GREAT answer in your main post. I think most authors get stuck and bored in one genre, don't they?

I like the pen name idea. I tend to follow authors who have different names for different genres (Jayne Ann Krentz=Amanda Quick=Jayne Castle, Nora Roberts=J.D. Robb) but that's mostly because they still write the genres I like! I wanted to get my Angry Mob Supplies when some of my faves stopped the genre I loved to jump on the 'what's hot' bandwagon. I would probably read more of the huge crop of romantic suspense authors if they still wrote historicals, too.

December Quinn said...

Thanks, Robyn. And I've been saying for some time that hsitoricals are coming back. Now I'm hearing it everywhere, which makes me anxious to get my next medieval going!

After, of course, I finish the edits on this, a short, the project my CP and I are brainstorming now, and another erotic which is the planned sequel to my vamperotic on sub now...sigh.

December Quinn said...

Geez, kis, yu keep making me want to do a whole new post! Do you mind?

Short answer is, ebook sales are not as good as print, and most agents don't sell to epubs. But I'd love to go into it more, (although I'm no expert) in the next couple of days. Tomorrow, hopefully, my book will be released, and I have a contest and stuff to post about for that plus I'm chatting all day at FAR...but Sunday or Monday?