Erotica 2.0

Earlier this week, Alex profiled the novel Fifty Shades of Grey, and the literary revolution the steamy smut book’s having on booksellers, agents, libraries–and yes, writers.  But what few people know (or a lot of people know, but aren’t willing to bring up, at least in public) is that erotica is a booming industry within the literary world.  According to MSNBC, what was once the domain of perverts and sexaholics has been front and center in revitalizing what is already a struggling industry. The e-book niche has been particularly profitable, helped in no small part by the thousands of erotic tables available for download–many for a pittance of the price people would pay to walk red-faced into a Barnes and Noble and ask for the latest negligee-busting tome.

Speaking of sexaholics, the latest book to make waves is Sexoholics. Written by an author known only as Pynk (writers rarely use their real name, for fairly obvious reasons).  Centering around a group of female sex addicts, the book takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to the very real (and debatable) problem of sex addiction.  Led by caring psychiatrist Dr. Rachel Cummings *cue snorts*, the Cummings shephards the foursome as they reveal their tortured-and very raunchy–pasts one by one.  Imagine if Dr. Drew sat in on an Onanists Anonymous support group.

You get the idea.

Despite it’s taboo subject matter, Sexaholics and it’s author is extremely popular among recovering sex addicts as well as people looking for a little escape from the day to day.  Several discussion groups have started online around the book and others like it, and some have branched out into writing erotic fanfiction of their own, some of it very, very good (just take my word for it, or do a Google search).

Anyone who is familiar with Charlaine Harris or Susan Sizemore can testify to the boundary-pushing impact erotica has had on the paranormal and horror genre. One of the books I reviewed not long ago contained a steamy sex scene between a female police detective and a vampire, and it proved to be among the most popular (at least, among the commenters who RTFA).

Women continue to make up the majority of erotic authors, but men like Eric Jerome Dickey have made their mark as well.  Men also make up a small but growing  segment of the market as well. What was once the province of sex-starved housewives has spun out into several niches, from stories featuring Amazon women kicking tail to vampire squids on a sexual rampage. When it comes to erotica, there’s more than 52 flavor–and everyone knows what they like.

 Social Media Coordinator (and managing editor) John Winn is Hennen’s Twitterer in Chief.  In addition to writing for Hennen’s, His work has been featured in A Twist of Noir, Lightning Flash, Racket Magazine, and plenty of other online magazines.  He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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50 Shades of Controversy

 

By Alexandra Harris

 By now, you may have heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, a book based off the doe-eyed interactions of Stephenie Meyer’s Bella and Edward in the Twilight Series. Whether listening to Ellen attempt to record an audio for it or skirting around the buzz of celebrities attached to play the main character Christian Grey in a five million dollar budget movie, this book has prompted controversy and broken ground for changes to the publishing world as we know it.

 I’m not going to attempt to give a summary of the book or rate it, because you’ve probably already heard enough about it, but I wanted to highlight some major aspects.

 
1) The concept of fan fiction. 
 
 Some argue that individuals who don’t intend to make a profit from their fan fiction are participating in a wonderful writing exercise and paying the highest compliment to an author. Others argue that it is plagiarism because the ideas and basis for the stories already came from an author. There are some authors who are flattered by fan fiction (J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer) and others who are adamantly opposed (Anne Rice, George R.R. Martin). Meyer does weigh in on Fifty Shades  but the larger question of fan fiction remains murky among literary circles.
 
2) Opinions about Erotica/Mommy Porn
 
 Everyone has their own reading preferences and this is one of the aspects which makes the literary world so diverse. Many YA books cross over and become adult favorites as well, however Fifty Shades will not have the same effect because of its explicit content. No matter how many teenagers borrow their mom’s/aunt’s/sister’s copy, Fifty Shades will not be talked about much in the YA world.
 
3) Changing tides of books + merchandise
 
 Big YA book tiles like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games market jewelry, bed sheets, and toys based off the books and now Fifty Shades is doing it as well. It will be interesting to see how much revenue this will generate and exactly how many people are going to trot into the supermarket and pick up some Fifty Shades bed sheets or shamelessly wear t-shirts promoting the book.
 
4) Success with Self-Publishing
 
 This is a huge one. The publishing world has changed so much even in the past six months and Amazon is basically considered one of the big six publishing companies. As an aspiring author, I am especially interested in this. The author E.L. James published the book on her website and then through a virtual publisher in Australia before Fifty Shades became a hit in the United States. 
 
 So whether you hated the books, were freaked out by the books, or loved them so much you immediately ordered Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed online (unless you were bold and marched into your local bookstore) E.L. James has definitely provided food for thought for the literary community.
 
Alexandria Harris is a writer and recent college graduate. When she isn’t writing, watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on repeat, or working in her father’s company, she tweets regularly on her account @_ALHarris. Alexandria lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin