Thanks everyone who attended the panel at RT Booklovers in Atlanta on BDSM: What’s Next for BDSM Romance?
If you need the handout, you can grab the PDF from here: RT BDSM HANDOUT. It includes some specific sales numbers from the authors on the panel demonstrating the rise and fall of sales numbers.
I opened the panel by saying when we first started planning the panel it seemed like if we were all seeing sales drops like that, it was legitimate to ask whether the post-50-Shades “BDSM boom” was over. However, since compiling our numbers, I’ve been talking to many authors in other subgenres of romance and erotica, and to publishers as well, all of whom have seen very similar curves in rise/fall even when no BDSM is involved. So, it’s not just us.
Shelly Bell brought up that Amazon is constantly changing which keywords they have decided to suppress, and you have to be very careful not to use words like “forced” in either keywords or descriptions.
Among the factors that the panelists spoke about, which have led to each of our individual numbers dropping:
-Kindle Unlimited has cornered the market on power readers of erotica
-Amazon suppresses the search results of many erotic books
-A glutted market with many many authors leaping into publishing BDSM
Overall the demand for BDSM erotica and romance might even still be rising, but with so many books being published, each slice of the pie gets slimmer. Now that we are 6 years after 50 Shades broke huge in the book market, everyone also knows about BDSM, though. This means that kinky scenes are slipping into other genres of romance. Tiffany Reisz mentioned her latest Harlequin Blaze novel has a scene where the hero makes the heroine crawl across the floor. Six years ago that might have been seen as too much for an otherwise vanilla sex scene, but “my editor didn’t even blink!”
Annabel Joseph has taken the BDSM into historical romance with many of her self-pub titles. I would love to see more of that and I recommended a new book as a resource, Peter Tupper’s OUR LIVES, OUR HISTORY: Consensual Master/slave relationships from Ancient Times to the 21st Century.
One of the lighter moments on the panel, I asked them to describe what kink or thing in their books they’d included that they had to explain to their editors. Tara Sue Me: “Figging.” Annabel has also used figging —
which is the insertion of a ginger root where a ginger root usually doesn’t go — and she has readers telling her often about how they think of her book in the produce section of the grocery store. Tiffany Reisz: “Snowballing.” Google it. She had to take it out of the scene. (My own editor made me take out mention of the hero’s foreskin.)
All four agreed if you’re going to get into writing BDSM scenes in your romances, do your research. Get on FetLife (which is like Facebook for kinky people) where you can join discussion groups and talk to people. Go to munches (real life meetups for groups of kinky and kink-curious people in public places). The community is full of exhibitionists who love to talk about their sex lives. 🙂
Much much more wisdom was dispensed by these fine writers, but you had to be there to soak it all in!
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