Guest post by Briana Cole

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase, sex sells! And it seems to ring true across mediums, whether it’s movies or TV shows, magazines, and yes even books. I remember reading my first erotic novel by the NYT bestselling author and proclaimed ‘Queen of Erotica’ Zane, and I was stunned (in a good way). For as long as I could remember, erotica had been one of those taboo genres that people had to sneak to read in the privacy of their own homes for fear of being judged. It was pleasantly surprising to see it had become, not only more popular, but more culturally acceptable. It garnered a cult-like following, and thus begin to pave roads for subgenres, such as Erotic Romance and Erotic Thrillers.

There was an increasing demand for more of these juicy stories and slowly but surely, a niche was being carved for authors who gravitated to the genre, such as Noire, E.L. James, and even myself.

What first attracted me to the erotic romance genre was the ability to exercise my creative freedom. For a while, it seemed like authors were either afraid or ashamed to write what they wanted to write and instead, wrote what was perceived as acceptable. Of course, there are markets for those stories as well. However, writing is a creative outlet, often therapeutic and the last thing we should feel is stifled in our own creativity. Or worse, having to conform to some kind of censorship “box.” Let’s be honest, people have sex. It’s a completely normal occurrence, just like eating and bathing. Why should there be a ceiling on what can and can’t be discussed among grown, consenting adults? I pride myself on educating as well as entertaining. Therefore, the erotic romance genre was an opportunity to explore the various aspects of a relationship; the emotional, mental, and physical. This is what distinguishes the subgenre of erotic romance, from just erotica.

While erotica may focus on just the sexual aspects, erotic romance tells a love story that encompasses all of the dynamics.

For a while before erotic romance began to increase in popularity, there was certainly a stigma in the reader community. Connotations such as ‘book porn’ and ‘smut’ circulated, breeding the criticism and judgement I spoke about earlier. Readers, nor authors, wanted to admit their interest in the subject matter. Now that the culture has changed, authors are more willing to step outside of their comfort zones and thus, are providing new, engaging stories that keep readers wanting more and more, for the entertainment value but also the knowledge.

For example, I have tapped into more of the unconventional erotic romance, which has opened the door for an even wider range of narratives, such as non-monogamous relationships (polyamory, swingers, etc). It is more common now for me to walk down an aisle at the store and pick up a book about a lesbian couple, or a throuple, or a trans woman, as compared to years ago. Not only is this coaxing more authors to take advantage of the market, but it is also attracting more readers, generating an even bigger demand.

People love to read about themselves and to see their own voices and narratives represented.

So, what is the future of the erotic romance genre? I anticipate it’s only going to continue to flourish. As I mentioned before, authors are establishing themselves as brand experts and publishing good, quality content that is changing the entire perception. There are more layers to these stories now and authors are taking more liberties because we are now comfortable doing so. We have realized that there, indeed, is an audience for this body of work, and readers can’t get enough. It also helps that erotic romance authors are being publicly recognized for their content on national platforms; bestselling lists, interviews, accolades, and book-to-screen adaptations. This is why I feel there is no slowing down from the success.

We have certainly come a long way from 20, 10, and even five years ago and the movement in erotic romance category is on a positive trajectory.

Not only that, it’s rewarding to know there are readers who get it. It’s not always easy to find that perfect balance between writing what you want and writing what sells. So, when you find that audience that appreciates your particular brand of talent, it makes it that much easier pour your passion on the page.

Briana Cole is an acclaimed author, motivational speaker, sex educator and actress. Her novels are known for exploring unconventional relationships and making readers question all expectations about love, lust, and monogamy. An Atlanta native, she graduated cum laude from Georgia Southern University and is a proud member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Her motto and ultimate drive toward success is a famous quote from Mae West: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Connect with Briana online at BrianaCole.com, and on Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter @BColeAuthor.

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