A few definitions first
For the purposes of this article and the accompanying research, I used Sylvia Day’s definition of erotic romance: stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction.
This is distinct from Erotica.
I keep hearing from authors who write a type of romance they call ‘clean’.
Friends pointed out the problem with the term ‘clean romance’. I could see that they were right; it implies that romance containing sex is dirty. It sounds a bit like another way romance fiction and women’s writing generally is denigrated. I’m not judging ‘clean romance’, but I think the term is awkward and doesn’t communicate to everyone the same thing.
Someone mentioned that ‘clean and sweet’ is an Amazon category. And that set me thinking. Has the creation of this category been instigated by Amazon itself, and authors are now writing specifically to that category? It made me wonder whether Amazon’s family friendly mantra wants to encourage a demand for romance without sex or swearing. Who knows.
For the purposes of this research, I’ll use sweet romance rather than ‘clean’.
If there were a dip in the demand for erotic romance, this would be evident across the board, regardless of the author or publishing firm.
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I spoke to erotic romance authors I’m friends with and asked them whether they’ve seen a decline in sales that might indicate that erotic romance is trending down and sweet romance is trending up.
I messaged 18 indie and/or traditionally published erotic romance authors. That is a drop in the ocean, but it was all I could handle time-wise.
Many of these authors said that their sales haven’t declined. Two authors said that they’ve seen sales increase in recent times. Many said that their sales have remained consistent.
Erotic romance authors whose sales have declined cited these reasons:
- ineffective marketing
- long gaps between publishing titles
- sales decline across genres generally
- Amazon interference with buyer behavior through hiding categories
A few erotic romance authors also publish sweet romance, and at least one commented that sales volume of sweet romance is not as great as erotic romance.
If readers are moving toward sweet romance, then logically sales of sweet romances might increase.
Obviously, nothing is as simple as a linear increase/decrease, but for the sake of investigating whether there is a trend there, I also sought some insight from sweet romance authors. I also note that sweet romance might be more likely to be purchased in paperback rather than digital form.
I don’t know as many sweet romance authors. But I contacted and communicated with 19 of them.
Not all of them responded to my inquiries. I struggled for insight from sweet romance authors.
However, the authors who spoke to me said that they couldn’t see an upward trend toward sweet romance or an increase in sales. Some said that they had seen a dip.
Those that said that they’d seen a decline said that it was due to a drop in distribution and a lack of shelf space, but not necessarily a drop in demand.
What do you think?
Do you think sales have been down across the board?