Sunday, May 12, 2013

Erotica or Erotic Romance? What's the Difference? #TBSU

Like many books these days, my first three novels are listed on Amazon as both erotica and erotic romance. I've been wondering lately what the two labels mean. Are they synonymous? Is every erotic romance automatically erotica, and vice versa? I think not.

Erotic Romance

As the words plainly state, the main focus of an erotic romance novel is the romance. Romance is the noun; erotic is the modifying adjective. Storyline: Two people fall in love. What makes the romance 'erotic' is the explicit use of body parts, without euphemisms and without fading away from the action. It's handy terminology that tells readers what to expect.


Erotica is a very different beast. Though love may figure into the story, erotica is about the person's exploration of his or her sexuality. In an erotic romance, the sex, though steamy and explosive, may be somewhat incidental, almost like punctuation to the story. In erotica the sex IS the story.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing erotica is its versatility. As long as the focus is the sexuality, the erotica author has free rein. Want to write a political satire? Center it on the sexuality of a politician. Twelve Nights is a fun bawdy riff on a Shakespeare comedy. Who Is Candid? is a picaresque novel in the tradition of Don Quixote and Voltaire's Candide. Beauty of the Beast is an updated SM version of the fairy tale. Want to write a sci fi novel? Absolutely! Alien sex!

So are my first three novels truly both erotic romance and erotica? All three are clearly erotic romances, with strong love stories and LOTS of hot explicit sex. But are they erotica? Twelve Nights centers on a sexual contract, a classic plot device in erotica. Check. Who Is Candid? is a sexual odyssey from innocence to ecstasy. Check. Beauty of the Beast takes place in an SM house, with a sexual encounter in virtually very scene. Check.

Why Does This Matter to Me Now?

I'm about to switch genres, at least a little. My next novel on Amazon Kindle is ready to launch. The file has been converted and proofread and proofread and proofread. The blurb is ready. The novel already has a fabulous editorial review. I love the cover! And... the novel is NOT a Sexy Fun Erotic Romance.

This novel is pure, straight up, totally focused on sexuality EROTICA!

Rather than slide the cover photo into the bottom of a post, I'm holding onto it until tomorrow. Yeah, I'm a tease. Anticipation!! Tune in tomorrow for the full reveal.

What do you expect when you pick up an erotic romance? What are your expectations from erotica? Have you written in both genres? Do you prefer one or the other? Join me for a lively discussion of all things erotic and romantic in the comments!

Two fantastic blogs, presented in the grand tradition of The Blog Scratchers' Union! #TBSU 


  1. Hi Carole, interesting post! The two genres are closely linked but the marked difference is, like you've stated, the main focus: sex as addition to the romance or sex as centre of the plot. I loved the three novels I've read and I'm looking forward to the next! Have a fabulous Monday! Xx

    1. Hi Molly,

      Thanks for stopping by! I think the distinction has gotten a bit muddied, as many erotic romances are now also marketed as erotica. It's become almost automatic, rather than a conscious choice.

      Thanks for the compliments and well-wishes! Hope you have a wonderful Monday too!