Monday, July 25, 2011

Have You Ever Been Accused of Writing Porn?

I write erotic romance, and quite frankly I don't make any bones about the fact. I'm not ashamed of it. I don't necessarily advertise it at work, but if someone asks me, I have no problem telling them what I write.

Now that being said, I occasionally run into people, co-workers, beta-readers, and others who have accused me of just writing "porn" or "smut." Sometimes trying to explain that there is a difference between writing erotic romance which has a plot, and dialogue, as well as, relationships, and porn which usually has none of the above is difficult.

I had a difficult experience not long ago where I had sent one of my beta-readers a copy of A Gift From Home, which was my first F/F romance, so I was already nervous about how it would be received. I don't believe this person read more than a chapter or two before they wrote me saying they couldn't finish it because it was porn and just nothing but sex. Since there are only four sex scenes in an almost 100 page story, you can imagine my surprise at having it labeled, "porn." To say I was upset, and even a bit angry would be the truth. I now have a clause in my beta-reader's contract saying they must read the entire book before giving any feedback. There is also a clause saying that the reader accepts that there will be different kinds of books including ones with m/m, f/f and menage scenes, or scenarios. This is so potential beta-readers know what they are getting themselves into and so I don't have this happen again.

Have you ever been accused of writing porn? What did you do? I ended up simply responding kindly to the beta-reader but deciding that I needed to re-write my beta-reader contract. Honestly, I'm reluctant to send this person any other books, because quite frankly it stung having something I worked so hard on described this way.

I'd love to hear from other authors about how they've handled it when someone called what they write pornography.


Lelani Black said...

Regina I'm so sorry you received this kind of feedback!! It sounds like it was not a good reader-to-book fit, and that happens sometimes.

Even as writers, we'll get seasoned readers that just don't "get" it, but I wish she put aside her personal issues, read the book and been more constructive in helping you, especially since she knew it was f/f and erotic even before she read the story.

You are so good to try to combat ignorance, but it might take longer than you thought :) Some people just think they know what they know and that's that.

One person did describe my work as a "trashy novel" (without ever reading any of my pieces.) I just smiled at her and said "Would you like a copy?" I did send her a copy the next day, but as yet there has been no feedback. Not that I need any feedback, only because it's obvious...she's not a reader of the genre, and probably never will be. And while I tried to change her mind by sharing my work, it's obvious I was up against a brick wall.

So it doesn't matter how hard you've worked on a book if the reader is a wrong fit...just don't be hard on yourself, Regina. It happens. We get that one person that makes comments that turn our world upside down :)

I avoid too much reaction to negative comments, and try not to take it personally. You'll win readers over with the passion you put in your work, just remember that. There is an audience for your work, it just might not be this person at that particular time. Hugs :)