Monday, September 20, 2010

Me Time - If You Don't Like It...

Editor-in-Chief Kelli Collins bitches about whatever’s bothering her this time.

I’m not embarrassed by what I do. I’ll just throw that out there right now. If I’m not afraid to tell my 82-year-old mother that I edit erotica, why would I care about anyone else’s opinion? If I was at all uncomfortable about working with erotica authors or editing erotic material, I just wouldn’t do it. End of story.

But plenty of people who abhor erotica continue to involve themselves in the genre. To say that pisses me off is putting it mildly.

I heard two horror stories last week, one from an author whose assigned editor told her she hates erotica, including said author’s story. (By the way, this was the author’s first book; nice intro to the industry, right?) The other was from an author whose erotic novel was reviewed by someone who hates the genre and had no issue sharing that fact in the review. (The review of the plot was positive, but when you start a review by telling all and sundry how much you hate the genre, it rather takes the shine off any positivity. Duh.)

I’ll keep this simple: If you don’t like erotica, DON’T EDIT, PROOF, CRITIQUE OR REVIEW IT.

Reviewers, I’m not so worried about. The plain fact these days: Anyone with enough time to register a blog page can declare themselves a reviewer. And I’ll take certain ones more seriously when they stop misspelling every other word and stop getting their jollies by passing off insults as “critique”.

Editors…you get the bulk of my ire. Why would you suffer through something you hate? You don’t eat food you don’t like. You don’t see movies you don’t like. Why would you read books you don’t like? Do you enjoy ruining an author’s publishing experience? Are you on a power trip? Or is it simply about keeping your job? After all, plenty of epubs assign books to their editors instead of letting them acquire their own…

You know what? Quit. Seriously. If your employer assigns genres you don’t like or don’t respect or are morally/religiously opposed to, or whatever, find another job. There’s a new epub starting every other day; surely one will be a better fit. When you hate what you do, you make the editing process miserable for yourself and the author; you deprive them of your best work and the chance to make their novel shine. You can’t give authors the full benefit of your talent, can’t help them develop theirs, if you don’t enjoy their work. It’s a simple no-brainer.

In the publishing industry at large, there’s a massive bias against romance authors. Literary snobs turn up their noses despite the fact romance sales account for more than half of the genre paperback bottom line. In the romance industry itself, there’s a bias against erotica authors. It’s been a struggle for authors and publishers to gain recognition from RWA, and I’ve heard more than one romance author opine that erotica isn’t a “legitimate” form of fiction, despite the fact it’s been around for centuries. Worse, some tell me they’d be “embarrassed” to write erotica. Good thing no one’s forcing you to write it then, huh?

Erotica authors face enough challenges without being additionally deflated by the person who’s supposed to believe in their talent the most—their editor.

Erotica authors are, in my opinion, bold, daring and brave, with a passion for writing that extends beyond the pages of their novels. They’re willing to try harder, revise more and suffer longer to get their break. They’re smart, savvy and, in the case of some of the earliest and biggest names in the genre, took a calculated risk on a largely unknown and untried format. Amassing fans and laughing all the way to the bank long before the big boys in New York began scrambling to catch up in the digital game.

No. I’m not embarrassed by what I do. But I’m grievously embarrassed by some of my more ignorant professional peers who think I should be.


Anonymous said...

can you hear me applauding all the way across the pond?

well said.

Anonymous said...

Even more applause from across the pond!

Francesca Hawley said...

And applause on this side of the pond too! Great post Kelli.

Kimber Li said...

I've moderated Enduring Romance for the past four years and have only stopped reviewing there myself.

I see this sort of thing in all genres, but Erotica does seem to get picked on the most. When I started my blog, it just didn't make a lick of sense to me to review books I didn't like. I can't make myself *read* a book I don't like, much less review one. My reviews are all positive, as a result. I've extended this policy to my fellow reviewers as I invited them on board. It just makes more sense to me to help readers find the books they'll love.

In retrospect, I *think* maybe those who do what you say they all do in this post have an *agenda* of their own. They either want to destroy or remake the genre/subgenre in question. Or, they just want to drive more traffic to their blog through acid wit. The thing is

Readers are Smart.

They're busy and tired, but they are smart. Anyone who doubts that does so to their own peril.

I can't speak for the other professions, but readers, in my observation, figure out pretty quickly which reviewers cover the stuff they like in a way they like. And they avoid the reviewers who crap on the books they like, such as Erotica. So, take heart, at least when it comes to reviewers, I can tell you

The Readers Got Your Back.


Lexxie Couper said...

Not just applause from Down Under, Kelli. Big bloody woops and "hell yeahs!" as well.

My eldest daughter started kindergarten this year and the word went around the mums what I did for a living. Peanut has already had one little girl tell her she can't be her friend because "your mummy writes bad naughty stuff". Peanut's answer was priceless - "But her bad naughty stuff means I get lots of cool toys and pressies."

It saddens me that the idea of passion sex and romance is still considered a disgusting, contemptuous subject. But then, perhaps there are more babies found under the cabbage patch then we realised? It's that or the nay-sayers seriously have no freaking clue what their "bits" are for.

Juniper Bell said...

Bless you for this rant/post! Thank the lord, I've been very lucky with my editors. I can't imagine what it would be like to write something as difficult and intimate as erotica and then get shut down by your editor. Crushing! It really does take courage to write in this genre. It would be great if people respected that, even if they don't like to read it themselves.

Cora Zane said...


Kristin Daniels said...

Yet another reason why I totally love you. Well said!!

Eliza Gayle said...

Reminds me of a couple of dinners I've sat through where an editor entertained the table with the "weird" BDSM books she's had to edit. For those of us sitting at the table who write BDSM romance it was not pleasant.

I will never understand why said editor works for an erotic e publisher and forces herself to edit books she finds disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, same thing happened to me with my former agent. I think she was trying to help me and be nice but when help becomes hurt, it injures the relationship permanently.

Kele Moon said...

As someone who truly believes in the absolute beauty of erotic romance, thank you for this--it needs to be said.

And how horrible, putting your art in the hands of someone who hates it! ::shudders:: Grace is never getting rid of me!

Thank you for being awesome!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for commenting everyone. I *thought* I heard some faint clapping coming from an easterly direction. :)

Lexxie and Lori, your stories make me fightin' mad (especially yours, Lex; I need to wing my way Down Under and teach those moms some parenting skills. The kind of lessons that involve my NINJA SKILLS!).

Eliza, I don't think I'd have been able to keep my mouth shut if I were at those dinner tables. :)

Kimber, great response. And yes, I'm sure reviewers have myriad agendas, actually.

Keep fighting the sexy fight, ladies. :)

Barbara Elsborg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skylar Kade said...

Ditto to all of the above. I guess I've been lucky so far. *keeps fingers crossed*

It's bad enough that romance gets flack from the public; it's worse when the same romance writers who complain about it turn around to denigrate erotica authors. But to get the same treatment from an agent or editor? Unconscionable.

Barbara J. Hancock said...

I love you. Seriously. On the level of mad crush.

Amy Ruttan said...

Well said. You freaking ROCK!

Anny Cook said...

Erotic romance by its very nature can be the most tender, intimate portrayal of love available.

A woman once read one of my love scenes and her sole comment was, "Why did you use the word cock? That's so disgusting..."

Hmmm. Perhaps no one will let her use theirs?

Judith Leger said...

Standing ovation, Kelli. Excellent post. I've just started writing erotic romance under my pen name, Jadette Paige. I love the new freedom this gives me. Snort, only on the page, mind you! But, I absolutely agree with you that some editors' attitudes and opinions of certain types of genre are very guilty of making a beautiful wonderful experience horrible for the writer. I almost gave up writing because an editor did this to me. The editor I contracted the book with fell in love with the story. Even her readers loved it. But she left the publisher because of personal reasons and they sent my unedited book to another editor from a different line of the company. First comment from the editor was and I quote 'this book should have never been contracted.' You see, she didn't read paranormal, didn't like it but she had been assigned to edit my book because of the work load and the short supplies of editors for the paranormal line. Can I say this devastated me. I cried and cried because I believe that the entire book was horrible yet I still had the beautiful comments the previous editor had sent me concerning this book. Thanks to all my dear writing buddy, I was able to realize that the book is good (it has received high reviews) and that the problem was with the editor. She just didn't like leaving her comfort zone. Still, to this day, I become very, very tense when I submit a story just because of one woman's opinion.