Over the past week or two, I’ve met some new friends over social media, and met a few more at a local venue over drinks. We had some nice conversations about what we did for work, and what we do for fun. When I revealed(after a few drinks) I write erotica, I’m always met with a weird look. Normally, this doesn’t bother me, I’m used to it. What continues to bother me, however, is the common response everyone seems to agree upon: “You don’t see too many guys writing erotica.”
Yes, I’m well aware of this. You wouldn’t believe how many erotica authors I know on facebook, and how many of them are women with multiple books on display in their cover photo. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, at all, I’m just making the point most erotica writers are female. Ever since the release of that god-awful “50 Shades of Grey”, the erotica genre has exploded with even more women wanting to share their fantasies with eager readers. Which is good, and bad, for the erotica genre overall, depending on who you ask.
Now, there’s been this misconception going around saying, ‘women write erotica, men write porn’. The basis for this concept is, as you can imagine, when women write, they do so using emotions, romance, and seduction. Whereas men are more literal, only writing slutty women performing sex acts from start to finish, just as you might see in porn. While this may be true for a lot of erotica writers, it’s the wrong state of mind to have when choosing the next author to read. But the concept doesn’t end there either.
If you enjoy the TV show, “Family Guy”, you probably remember a particular episode where the portly lead character, Peter Griffin, decides he would take up writing erotica, calling it ‘Peterotica’.
“Oh god, you should have seen this one hot chick. She was totally Italian. Or some kind of Spanish…”
I’m well aware it’s just comedy, and I still laugh at it all the same. But you can still see how most people generally view male erotica writers, wondering if they simply tell the same stories they would tell their friends over beers, only putting it on paper instead. With a goal to be taken more seriously, male writers have had to come up with some creative ways to hide their identity, or rather, their gender. Some have taken the route of many literary wonders like J.K. Rowling, and used initials instead of their first name. Others, like John Purcell, have gone so far as to hide behind the pseudonym, Natasha Walker. But he’s not alone either! Many male writers have taken to posing as women, in the hopes their work will attract more readers.
The reason for this? Well, it’s simple demographics! Among the majority of erotica readers, roughly 95% of them are women. This is further broken down by age, where 1/3 of them are over the age of 45, and a close second place at 28% being young adults between the ages of 17-27. To put it in simpler terms, male writers have to be able to market their work to women, so they have to know what women will want to read.
There are a few exceptions to this, and they are pretty extreme exceptions. The first one is erotica written by gay men, about other gay men. If you’re a guy, and you’re not gay, you may have a difficult time marketing your work. Funny enough, even though you would think gay erotica would obviously be marketed for other gay men, it’s actually extremely popular among women, straight or otherwise. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never been one to judge a person’s personal preferences.
The second exception is pure talent. These male writers are able to expertly write from both the male and female perspectives, and appeal to both without turning off the other. This may sound like a skill you ‘either have it or you don’t’, but it’s not. Getting a lot of practice in can help you reach this level, but be sure to take the time to understand the thoughts and desires of men and women alike. I would suggest taking some time to write from different perspectives, and getting some constructive feedback.
I’ve learned a few things, myself, about how to write from a female perspective, but I’ll save that for another post. If you’re a straight man who wants to write erotica, I say you should go for it, and let your sexy imaginations fly. Just know that you’re going to face an uphill battle when it comes to getting people interested in what you write. But if you keep at it, your story quality will improve, and readers will take notice. If you decide to conceal your identity to better your chances of being read, then I wish you luck. But for those of you who choose the path of Mael D’Armor, and never try to be anything other than what you are, I commend you, and wish you all the best on your steep climb.