Monday, February 10, 2014

Do Male Erotica Authors Encounter Discrimination? YES #Erotica #Pubtalk #ASMSG

When a male erotica author comes along
You must whip him!

I originally wrote this as a guest post for Author/Blogger Elizabeth Delana Rosa:

For purposes of this post, I have revamped the discussion:

The question today is do male authors of erotica encounter discrimination? 

The short answer: YES.

Here’s the long answer:

For most of my life I have been a fan of horror, macabre, paranormal, fantasy and sci-fi escapist fiction. I have enjoyed many an author in these genres, but some of my favorites would be Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and more recently Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, JR Ward, and Sunny.

A couple years ago, I decided it was time to take my love of escapist fiction to the next level and I started writing novels. I write primarily paranormal thriller, with a splash of erotic romance (sometimes more than a splash). Genre-wise my novels can be shelved as urban-fantasy, paranormal romance, fantasy, horror, thriller, erotica, vampire romance, or just plain ole romance.

At certain points in my writing I jumped the gap from steamy romance into burning hot erotica. I never really considered the obstacles I might encounter writing this kind of material as a man. I always knew my target audience would be female readers of the paranormal-fantasy genres, but I also write for men (for me). My work is gritty, visceral, with roller-coaster thriller intensity, and yet the sensual nature of the main characters is ever-present.

In writing this style of fiction, I found it necessary to work with erotic romance authors as critique partners. I needed female authors who can write-edit scorching sex scenes, to keep me on the right track. The ladies never hesitated to give me the smack-down when my sex scenes were not hot enough. The first thing they taught me was that writing sex is all about the emotional-sexual tensions between the characters. The sex is meaningless if no one cares about these people, about their lives, their motivations, and the connection they have must be real, tangible.

I learned to write sex scenes that make it uncomfortable to sit in my chair any longer. 

My critique partners are wonderful writers and friends, and I couldn’t do it without them. Unfortunately, I also write intense scenes of graphic violence that the lovely ladies can hardly stomach.

Clueless to the problem I was facing, I encountered my first real exposure to this prejudice against male authors of erotica when the ladies of Erotic Enchants at Goodreads were bantering about me (and my books). 

The subtle undertones were unmistakable. 

Most women prefer their smut written by women, understandably. Of course, they don’t all admit that. No one likes to think they are prejudiced. But then I noticed it in my reviews. Women often didn’t know what to expect when they read my work. They had never read this kind of novel written by a man. Some used my gender as an excuse to bash me, but, other women were pleasantly surprised.

Here’s a taste of some choice review quotes from women:

“Travis Luedke writes like a woman… and I mean that in the most complimentary way! If you have followed my reviews, then you know I have historically steered clear of male erotic or romance authors, but over the past year, I have become less discriminating and given more books written by men a shot…”
 “I feel that Mr. Luedke went down a completely different path, albeit the same story background, and reached way, way down deep in his soul and became one with his ‘female side’…”
“At times I felt it was blatantly obvious that the female main character was written by a man with all her brutally honest thoughts, but it also works, after all, she’s a hooker who was sold by her Colombian father into the trade.You’d certainly have to man up a bit in that case. The male perspective also comes into the limelight during the sex scenes. If you are looking for fluffy vanilla erotica here then you’d better walk away.”
“I went into this book with trepidation due to the fact that I only and have only ever read paranormal (vampire/werewolves and so on) books written by female authors … Although well written with a good story/plot line, I still thought that all those I’ve read – written by women, provided me with just that little bit more oomph in certain story lines and explanations.”
 Writing women well does you no good if you do not remember that we are the ones who buy the majority of Urban Fiction.

“Nightlife: New York is a paranormal romance unlike I’ve ever read and it took me a little while to pinpoint why. Surprisingly, I think it is the fact that it was written by a man. It changed the feel and focus of the romance. There was a realism to the main character, Aaron’s, thoughts and actions that I can only imagine was born of the male author’s innate ability to relate to the emotions of a male character. This multidimensionalism is often lacking in other PNR. They regularly focus almost exclusively on the man’s alpha qualities, to the exclusion of all others. And while I enjoy these novels it was nice to come across a PNR hero who had a little more depth to him.”
 Most romance and erotica is written by women and for women. This has the harder edge of a mans point of view that does not apologize for its grittiness and instead revels in it.

Suffice it to say, I am now fully aware of this invisible barrier against men writing erotica. But I choose to see an opportunity to do something other men havent.  So, I am taking a running leap at that barrier. Regardless of how many times I get smacked in the face for my audacity, I am going to keep pushing past the discrimination.

I’m trail blazing.  :)


  1. I know they don't mean to be insulting but this is such b.s Could you imagine complimenting a woman by saying "she writes like a man." Eek. I had a minor love scene in my first novel and a group of women complained "It feels like a man wrote this." Good. A man did.

    1. *Scratching my head over here* I have found myself (several times) lecturing other male authors about how they write women, how they write sex scenes or romantic scenes. And, I have pointed out the very thing you mentioned: 'Dude, this reads like a dude wrote it.' I have actually tried to coach a couple of male authors to write romantic plot elements more in line with a woman's writing style. LOL.

      Why? Because my critique partners are women, and they hammer me down when I don't have enough of the right stuff in those scenes. And then, when one of my dear editors read the ending of Blood Slave, which happens to be one of the most violent books I have ever written, she said, "Travis, you are a sappy romantic."


      Erotic Romance is a woman's world, but I am carving out my own little violently perverse niche.


    2. I love sex and violence and I think that is why I tend to gravitate towards male romance writers who incorporate those elements in their work.

      I'm not sure I would classify you as a "sappy romantic," but I suppose that is a different discussion.

      I quite enjoyed Blood Slave and I agree it was very violent, but my favorite was PARIS and that was definitely the darkest of all of your books that I have read.

  2. OH Travis! I get quoted AND you call out my group! You know I've gotta post about this in The Enchants! Get ready for a boat load of hits on your post, which I know is what you are going for, you evil genius :-), so come on in and join the discussion!

    You know, I have made no secret about the fact that I tend to shy away male authors when it comes to my romance and my erotica. BUT that doesn't mean that I am against trying something new and stepping outside my comfort zone - I do that all the time! The fact of the matter is men and women think about sex differently AND they write about it differently - you are an exception ;-) Based on my vast reading experience in the romance/erotic arena, men DO write romantic and erotic scenes differently. Maybe I read the wrong male erotic authors early on and they tainted my views, I don't know. The male authors (erotic and romance) that I read early on, tended to write mostly porn without much of a plot and had very little build up to the main "event". Women erotic writers tend to write the scenes in a manner that is more appealing to my specific tastes BUT I have read my fair share of raunchy trash written by women too - stuff I would never want my mom to know I read!

    The male authors I have grown to love - and yes TRAVIS, you are included in that very exclusive group, bring a totally different vibe to the table and THAT is why I enjoy your work! You (Travis) DO write the naughty scenes very well and in a manner that brings in a lot more emotion than the "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am" that I think of when I think of men writing erotica - I am sorry, but that is the way I feel. But you also bring a lot of action and mystery to the story line AND most of your work has a dark undertone and I like that.

    That dark undertone is present in almost every male author's work that I have read and enjoyed. Check it out for yourself on my shelf on goodreads - the shelf is called "other-male-author."

    On the flip side, I did a beta read for a male author who writes under a (popular) female author name - he accidentally sent me the beta read from his personal email addy instead of the female author addy - he swore me to secrecy and I will honor that to my grave. I knew this author was a male going into the beta read and quite enjoyed the book - it was a dark book too - after reading this, I DID begin to think - WOW! It's kind of sad that he can't write as himself because he fears his work will not be well received because it's an erotic series written by a man and that was when I decided to give more erotic romance novels written by male authors a shot.

    So, although I do tend to shy away from erotic romance books written by male authors, I don't discount them altogether - I am open to giving anything a go at least once :-) In your case, Travis, I came back for 5 helpings and I have one more to go - you get an A++ and brownie points for putting up with all the lovely ladies in Erotic Enchants - but I didn't think we were hard on you, but of course, I wasn't on the receiving end either.

    I do respect you as a person and as an erotic romance writer and I hope you know that. I stand by my quote and I hope you view it as a positive, because that was the way it was intended.

    This was my quote:
    “Travis Luedke writes like a woman… and I mean that in the most complimentary way! If you have followed my reviews, then you know I have historically steered clear of male erotic or romance authors, but over the past year, I have become less discriminating and given more books written by men a shot…”

    1. Oh Bookie, I snagged that quote of yours, primarily to demonstrate that author gender is a serious consideration for ladies who read erotica.

      I know you didn't mean anything negative, were actually being complimentary, and, your review quotes are some of my favorite quotes, and I often use them in my novel descriptions!

      I know you're a fan, and I wasn't trying to pull your words out of context. And you know me, I love to shake it up over there in Erotic Enchants. Its been far too long since I went over there to play with the naughty ladies.


  3. oh no! I totally didn't think you were taking it out of context! I even said that when I posted in The Enchants. I just had to post my 2 cents so I didn't look like a total jack ass :-) Here is the Enchants post:

  4. I am fascinated by this discussion and the implications. I admit freely that I do have a bias, in so far that, if I do not know an author's work in erotica, then I am less likely to risk spending money on a male authored book then a female one.

    What fascinates me most is how worked up we get by reverse gender "accusations". In erotica being told "you write like a woman" is an praise which truly is an insult whilst a colleague of mine was recently told she should be happy that her name is gender ambiguous as no one would know that her academic book was written by a woman.

    Does anyone know of an erotic romance which was published under both a female and male name and to which the sales numbers are known?

    1. I have considered using a femail pen name. to see if my writing might be received differently by female readers. But, I'm too lazy to try to build that brand all over again. And, it would be difficult to pretend to be a woman, unless I pretended to be a lesbian... now there's a thought.


    2. Why mess with a good thing? But the lesbian angle... you might be on to something there...

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  6. Wow, it never even occurred to me that this would happen - which makes me feel pretty naive.

    I love reading romance and erotica written by men because it seems to be so uncommon, though I haven't actively gone searching, just grabbed everything that did float my way. I suppose since the audience is dominated by women that writing like those fav female authors is a good thing but personally I'm always looking to see what a male author brings to the table that might be different from what I've read before. I would never have thought to avoid it unless, I guess, the subject material didn't appeal to me, but I don't see that a male author is any more likely to write something that doesn't fall within *my* realm of interests than a female author.

    Thank you for the post, I will be tapping myself on the knuckles all day for not having really recognized this issue on my own!

  7. I never see author gender when I read. I guess I'm blind.

    I want a great story. The steamy scenes are just a bonus as long as they are not gratuitous. For me, nothing ruins a great story faster than a sex scene shoehorned in because "that's what readers want."