Goodreads Reviews and my Erotic Romance vs. Erotica understanding
Since the whole Goodreads reviews debate keeps going with all parts speaking up on many different topics, I thought I’d pour my own views on the matter, because I just gotta put my 2 cents in it.
To begin with, I’ll let you know I’ve hit the “Like” button on many of the reviews I’ve gotten on Goodreads. Some were accomapnied by 5, 4, 3, 2 and indeed a DNF as well. I’m guessing some of you are shocked by that, I’m supposed to maybe “Like” the reviews praising me and my never-ending genius right? I don’t agree.
I don’t hit “Like” because I like the rating, and I don’t do it to show my approval or disapproval of a reader’s opinion. If I wrote something, they read it and have an opinion, whatever opinion they have is right as long as it’s based on facts (I’ll explain that point shortly).
I hit “Like” from my author account on reviews of my titles that make clear points, base them on something that they give an argument for, and have their facts right. For instance, “I didn’t like this/that character”, “I didn’t like how the romance went”, “I didn’t respond to the character/chemistry”, “I had difficulty getting into/didn’t like the writing style”, “I didn’t like the worldbuilding” – those are all very valid opinions and also valid reasons to like or dislike a book.
Some have argued the point that those are wrong reasons to give a book whatever rating, because reviews should be based on I’m guessing purely literary merit? Come on, guys, let’s get real: these are commercial reads. They weren’t written for literary critics, they were written for the general public to read and hopefully like, more or less. That’s why you put a title up for sale, you’re hoping people will read it, like it, hopefully recommend it to others. Whatever reason they have to dislike it is valid as long as it’s not based on wrong facts.
What are, in my opinion, wrong facts? I’ll explain.
If after reading a 80k words title you say it’s erotica because it has maybe a max of 5k words worth of sex scenes, this is not a matter of opinion, it’s wrong because simple reality and math proves that point. So while I’ll hit “Like” on reviews saying “I did not finish this book, it wasn’t for me because I didn’t like the character/chemistry/where the story was going” – based on personal opinion, doing whatever based on the ‘fact’ the book is something it’s not is having your facts wrong. I’m not saying a reader doesn’t have the right to say whatever they please as long as it’s not obstinate and transparent personal attack (which sucks and shouldn’t be done), let’s be clear. As a reader, you’re not only entitled but fully justified to have and share whatever opinion, for one thing because as a human being you’re entitled to your opinion and expressing it – these are human rights. This, to me, is not up for discussion, and it shouldn’t be up for discussion for anyone else either if you ask me. Even opinions based on wrong facts are fully justified because of the very same idea – you have the right to have and express your opinion, whatever it may be. Hell, I wouldn’t be writing if things stood any other way.
But I’m not going to “Like” reviews based solely on wrong facts or things stated as facts that are wrong. Because I’m not the type of person to be vague, I’ll explain what are wrong facts or confusing ways of interpreting something/reacting to something, in my opinion of course, and why I’m not going to “Like” reviews based solely on wrong facts.
1. “This is erotica” when it’s not – ( wrong fact ) – if it’s Erotic (or Spicy) Romance and it’s addressed to people 17+ , described so in the product description or blurb or whatever you’d like to call it, expect it to be what it’s described to be.
Erotic Romance is one thing, Erotica is another – if out of 80k words you have say 5k worth of sex, even 40k words worth of sex, that’s most definitely not Erotica. I’ll explain both notions lower and my understanding of them, to shed light on that. Saying something is Erotica because it includes any instances of sex is like saying something is horror because it includes any instances of vampire/werewolves/freaky things that go bump in the night – reality proves otherwise.
2. “I don’t like that it has sex in it” – ( valid personal opinion ) – if the product is described as Erotic (or Spicy) Romance for people of 17+ , not liking it because it does indeed contain sex and it’s for adult audiences (as described) is rather confusing. I’m not saying like reads with sex in them, I’m saying if you don’t like them, don’t read them expecting them to not be something they’re clearly described as. But you’re not stating any wrong facts, you’re stating your opinion and it’s a fully valid one – you don’t like something. There’s absolutely no wrong in that.
If reviews are based solely on wrong facts or confusing opinions, I’m not going to hit “Like” on them. I wouldn’t ask anyone to take them down, though, that’s a wrong way of thinking and reacting. You cannot contest a person’r right to have and express their opinion, whatever it may be. But you can disagree with it or show your appreciation of others.
I did and will “Like” reviews that are based on personal opinion, clearly stated and supported by reasons that make perfect sense. “I didn’t like something because it was this or that way” is a very valid and clear reason to dislike something, and if you’re making the point in a way I find clear and useful to whoever might feel the way you do, I will “Like” therefore appreciate the fact you’ve shared your opinion.
I might be behind sometimes on reading reviews and reacting to them, or if I get like 1000 of them all of a sudden it might get kind of difficult to keep up, but in the meantime I am keeping up with the flow 🙂
Since I’ve been asked about it or some people were confused about my Goodreads “Like” on reviews, I wanted to explain my thinking and shed light on things. Now, in the interest of shedding more light, let’s talk romance.
Romance in all its glory
I think some people have a loose-ish understanding of the difference between types of romance or hot romance or whatever you’d like to call it. But there are quite different types of romance, and all are just as good or as bad depending on your personal penchant for one thing or another.
I’ll write down my understanding of types of romance as a rabid reader and now author. Please do agree or disagree, but consider the points before doing so and I’ll highly appreciate it.
Clean Romance – describes romance, so romantic tension and resolve that doesn’t include any sexual consumption of that relationship. This is the kind of romance you’re most likely to find in any Young Adult book that does have either a main or secondary (most often, secondary) romantic arc. It’s also the kind of romance you can find in reads meant for adults, which include themes/situations & etc meant for adult audiences (whatever that means…). To me, that’s a description that doesn’t really make sense since a lot of Young Adult titles of our age and time include violence (sometimes extreme) and even more shocking themes than books actually written with adult audiences in mind. I make the distinction based on the age of the main character, to be honest. If they’re under 18, the book is Young Adult, if they’re 18 – 25 (ish) it’s New Adult and if they’re 26+ they’re adult.
Personal Opinion: to me, this is frigid romance, it feels unnatural and unrealistic which is why I don’t really enjoy Young Adult romance too often and don’t read many adult reads of the kind.
Yes, there, I’ve said it: frigid romance. I disapprove of that “clean romance” term and as a normally developed and empowered 26 yo woman I find it, in fact, kind of insulting. Because if the romance stories without sexual consumption are “clean”, then those who include it are what, dirty? Filthy maybe? If that’s how your mind processes sex and you’re an adult, let me tell you, there’s something kind of wrong going on there psychologically and I wouldn’t want to go out with you.
Erotic Romance – is romance for adults (!!!) that includes romantic & sexual tension, romantic resolve and sexual consumption of that relationship in meant-for-adults explicit terms, either as main or secondary or etc arc. It doesn’t call the female sex a daffodil and the male sex a wand (though it’s funny when you do run into that) and it doesn’t ignore the fact that both adult (!!!) partners do indeed have their own sexes and use them to have, you know, sex.
The romance in these reads can either be the main or secondary arc, and you’ll find it’s secondary a lot of the time. It’s easy to identify them after reading the titles because if you take out the erotic scenes, the title has a clear plot that makes perfect sense and is fully developed. This is, in fact, the quintessential difference between Erotic Romance and Erotica.
Erotica – read meant for adults (!!!) that has a plot based heavily or solely on the sexual tension and consumption thereof in that couple (or group, since you’ll find threesomes or moresomes as well as one on one stories).
While it can have some secondary plot, it is secondary, which means if you take the wanting to have/having sex out, the rest of it doesn’t really stand on its own – it was there to support the sexual tension and consumption thereof. Often you’ll find Erotica titles to not be as long exactly for that reason – the plot is the sexual tension and consumption, and once that consumption happens the story pretty much heads for the end. So Erotica titles tend to run more in the short story and novella length rather than novel, so they’re most often under say 50k words long.
In my opinion, they’re all good as long they’re fun. There’s no such thing as “clean” or “dirty” (if you’re an adult, I repeat; if you’re not an adult, in my opinion there’s totally such a thing as age group inappropriate!), and there are many types of romance. More and more, you’ll find a blend of elements and it can become harder to tell them apart sometimes what with all the blending and mixing and combining. But once you have clear distinctions in mind, you can find your way around and through anything.