If there’s one thing publishers love more than using the phrase “our in-house readers are raving about this book”, it’s a publishing phenomenon. And no doubt the zeitgeist of mid-2012 is the slap and/or tickle of E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. The book that started as a piece of Twilight fan-fiction called Master of the Universe written under the name Snowqueens Icedragon (no, really) before evolving into the erotic trilogy that has become arguably the most profitable self-published book of modern times. The book has gone into reprint several times in Australia, and many bookshops have reported selling hundreds of copies every day.

And luckily for lovers of what is cynically called Mommy Porn (a term whose offensive taxonomy ignores the fact that women buy the majority of any type of book), publishers have listened to what you’re telling them through the cash registers. They’ve got some exciting new releases for you! And by new releases, of course I mean books that have met sexy, brooding publishers who entered their lives like lightning in the darkness of a dark night, freeing them from the drudgery of everyday unpublished life until they craved the publisher’s presence like a drug, an addictive drug, the type of drug that you just had to have or you would get withdrawals because it was so addictive. The publishers and the books inexorably become part of each others’ lives, the dangerous partners in a sexy, explosive tango.

Much like a publisher, Christian Grey, the main character in Fifty Shades of Grey, requires his new protege Anastasia Steele to sign a contract allowing him complete control over his life, along with a non-disclosure agreement. At least that’s my experience with publishers. Here is the cover that you’ve no doubt seen everywhere, released through Random House in Australia in March this year:

Here is Destiny to Play (HarperCollins, July). “Forget Fifty Shades of Grey, this daring debut will leave you breathless for more …”

Here is The Secret Lives of Emma (Random House, July).”The first in a series of erotic novels that tap into our deepest, sexiest fantasies.”

And finally, Bared to You (Penguin, mid-July), whose tantalising blurb promises the reader: “This is not repackaged backlist erotica but a brand-new sizzling series.”

And maybe that’s my overly snarky point. There is, and always has been backlist erotica. You could do no better than to read Chris Flynn’s excellent piece on the Meanjin blog about the much better erotic novels that are already out there. I can’t fault people for doing well out of an opportunity, but we all know this is but the latest in a long series of publishing trends that quickly flood the market with a glut of copycat titles. But fair play to these writers, who are making hay while the mainstream sun shines on their a genre, one that is nearly always poo-pooed (but I think E L James holds the poo-poo until book three). That being said, the romance market nearly always turns a profit, but that is another blog post for another time.

Until then, it’s back to my BDSM cave for a severe caning from my publisher. My in-house whippers are raving about my next book.



  1. She holds the poo-poo until book three? Does that mean the rest is restrained, or constipated? 😉 Thanks for the giggle.

    And as to the serious point? You’re right. Yes, it’s big. No, it’s not that good, but a lot of people like it. Good luck to those making money off it and to those who think it’s the end times of writing – relax. This too, shall pass (like the poo-poo).

  2. Just a quick note on Sylvia Day. She’s fairly well known in romance genre circles (and where romance crosses to erotica), so the blurb may well just be a heads up to her regular readers that the stories are new. Similarly, Nora Roberts’s new releases are usually tagged as original works to prevent the kind of backlist rerelease confusion that send readers into angry rants.

    Erotica/porn may be a trend in traditional publishing, but it’s been trending in romance (and crossover genres) for many years now, particular in epublishing.

  3. Thanks for the head-up on Sylvia Day. I think the note was there for booksellers, and I must admit I played it up for comic effect. I agree it’s interesting that erotica is getting its “dues” in mainstream bookshops, despite being one of the most profitable publishing sectors for many decades.

  4. Interesting that the Australian cover for Bared to You has a shoe. The US one has cufflinks. Wonder why? (More idle curiosity than anything else).

  5. I read and enjoyed Bared To You quite a bit – I’ve read a couple of her historicals before and liked them too.

    Interesting that the Australian Bared To You cover has a shoe on it but the US one has a pair of cufflinks. Wonder why? (Idle curiosity only) 🙂

  6. Destined To Play was SHITE. Sorry Indigo but I have NO idea how you managed to get published but then again after reading 50 Shades, perhaps I do, either way it was a struggle to get through your relatively short book.

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