AA Erotic Romance = Poor Sales?

I’m feeling a bit controversial today, so bear with me. When Lisa and I finished Given we had some concerns about how well it would sell. Oddly enough, we were concerned that an African American erotic romance wouldn’t sell well. When I looked at the books on the various e-publisher sites there simply weren’t that many African American romances. In fact, I couldn’t find any. Almost all the books were IR, primarily with black women.

Granted, I was only judging by the covers, and as we know cover art can be deceptive, still, just as matter of course, one would expect to see more AA books than IR, much as it is in the mass-market. Of course,  e-publishers are niche publishers. They appeal to the reader who doesn’t find what they are looking for in the mass-market. That makes perfectly good sense, but other than Zane there is very little AA erotica in the mass market. So why wouldn’t AA erotic romance also be a niche market for the e-pubs?

I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a market for AA Erotic Romance. After all, Zane has to be selling to somebody. Is no one writing it? Or, is it that they assume that it won’t sell? And if the assumption  is that it won’t sell, why? I’ve said before that as near as I can tell most of my readers prefer IR books, and IR books exclusively. And certainly the sales of Given have borne this out. I thought perhaps those who prefer AA books would make up the difference, but that hasn’t happened either.

Granted, the technology gap is a problem. There are a lot of readers that won’t read e-books. And I get complaints all the time from readers that like IR, but don’t like erotic romance. I’ve explained that because of market considerations, at least for the forseeable future most IR books will probably be e-books and most e-pubs do erotic romance. So, I guess the bottom line is at least for the time being, I won’t be doing anymore AA erotic romance, and that’s a shame.

Okay, and here’s even more controversy. In the IR books why are there so few with AA heroes? I assume that these books are written by white women, I haven’t had any ideas, but I did have an idea for a historical with a black man and a Native American woman. That probably won’t get written either.  Is it assumed that white women aren’t interested in stories about black men? Is there a problem with black men as romance heroes in general and why would that be?

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20 thoughts on “AA Erotic Romance = Poor Sales?

  1. “I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a market for AA Erotic Romance…. Is no one writing it? Or, is it that they assume that it won’t sell?”

    Hey Roz, I guess it’s similar to the casting choice of those big screen movies regarding the black lead and their non-black romantic interest. I find that frustrating and disappointing.

    I may have said this before, but I’m not much of a romance reader. Give me vampires, witches, ghost, and other supernatural whimsy stuff and I’m yours. But when I tap into romance books, I would prefer IRs, and only with black females, thank you very much.

    I have a cousin who only reads IRs, but they have to be white or non-black. I asked her why one day and she couldn’t give me a straight answer. From what I gathered, I suspect it’s the entire escape “something different” fantasy she’s looking for. Reading about black people might be too close for home, at least for her. I don’t know if that makes sense. Btw, someone way back once asked you for info on other black female IR books. Can you give me a couple names/books? Maybe your favorites. I would like to see if I find any available in audio format (I am into audiobooks now, girl). I’ve already done research and I have no luck, it seems hard to figure them out in the romance section, even online.

  2. Hello La, you do know that romance books are full of all that stuff these days? Werewolves, vampires and all manner of beasties that go bump in the night. If you like IR stories with ghosts you should check out Sharon Cullars. She’ll scare the all living hell outta you and make you cry too. I don’t know about audiobooks that’s tough. I can’t think of any IR romances that are available as audiobooks. I know that several of the ebook readers do text to speech, but as I understand it, it sounds nothing like audiobooks.

  3. I honestly can’t understand just reading books where the heroes or heroines are a certain color. I literally read anything and everything. When I read a book, I truly don’t care what color the main characters are. As long as the story is good and as long as the characters grab me, I read it.

    BTW, I haven’t finished Given yet but I have loved every minute I’ve spent reading it so far.

  4. I think it’s mainly the technological divide that keeps AA erotica from making strides in the e-book world. And even though my opinion was considered a trifle controversial, I can’t help but believe that AA romance readers–those readers who only read romance and women’s fiction–aren’t interested in erotica/erotic romance. I know that I’ve contrasted IR romance with AA romance and found that the sex tends to be written a bit more adventurously, as though writers of IR romance aren’t burdened with writing only positive images of black couples.

    As for black males paired with non-black women? I wouldn’t mind it, and I’ve seen a few IR romances with a black hero (Marjorie M. Liu’s The Last Twilight, Deanna Lee’s books, Loreth Anne White’s Taming the Mercenary, to name a few) but overall, the “IR genre” has been marketed to black women, so even if a non-black romance writer wrote them exclusively, I don’t think publishers (NY and e-pub) would know what to do with them.

    But as far as things stand, IR romance is still a damn taboo in real life and given the romance genre’s icky history with exoticizing non-white characters, IR romance (plus the resentment it receives from AA romance writers) has an even tougher road to prominence than AA romance novels. But I like to read them even if I don’t seek them out exclusively, because of the breathing room (I feel choked to death with reading about Cosby-ish heroes and heroines in AA romance).

  5. Yeah, that was pretty much my read as well Angela, and it’s a shame. I would like the leeway to write AA books, but I can’t afford to write books no one wants to read.

  6. I hear you!

    It’s a conundrum–stay apace with current and future trends (paranormal, ebooks, etc) but languish because that core audience (AA romance readers) have not caught up with technology, or try your luck with a difficult print market that has a narrow frame of subject matter, but have a safety net of readers (like, say, you published with Kimani Romance).

    I don’t think non-black writers know how difficult black writers have it…

  7. I think nonwhite men (along with black women, in a big way) have a tough row to hoe as far as romance.

    The man we fantasize about, want as a mate…the man with control, power, competence and portrayed as attractive consistently on TV, in movies…is a white man. Thus the popularity of IR romance since black women live in this culture too. Since black women live with the reality of men of color wanting their own fantasy figure, the adored, perfect, unattainable, on-a-pedestal white woman, who wants to read about that? Plus, there are perfect, cutesy, wonderful white heroines galore. Black ones? Not so much.

    Albeit, the traditional, conservative black woman holds the line at only black men. Conservative white women are FAR more liable to hold to their own race too.

  8. I think this is very true Monica. For some reason though this week I’m seeing more books with black male interracial. I haven’t read them, but I assume they don’t have the type of stereotypical imagery that you find in the erotica at a site like Literotica. I think that’s another issue as well. There’s a consciousness of the “big black buck” meme and presumably most writers would like to avoid that. Of course, I did see a post over at Amazon where a reader was specifically looking for erotica that featured it. To my mind that was odd because I thought most of that type erotica was written for white men. Especially the c.u.c.k.o.l.d stories. Oh well, there’s no accounting for taste.

  9. Hi Roslyn,

    I’m sorry you’re having a hard time finding an audience for your books. I would’ve thought there was a market for it, and I’m sure there is. It’s a matter of finding it.

    I’m a black woman and I’ve written IR erotic romance that sells steadily. I’m also married to a white man. We have growing and successful publishing company (LL-Publications and Logical-Lust) where we are interested in almost all genres of fiction including erotica and erotic romance. We don’t care what race the author or the characters are. In fact, we would LOVE to have MORE stories written by people of color…but where are they? I know they’re out there somewhere!

    When I first published my novel, I was concerned that no one would want an interracial erotic romance because when I first started writing it (early 1990s) there was no Zane. Times change.

    Don’t give up. If you haven’t already, you should create a network of AA erotic romance authors where you can support each other and market together. I belong to a group featuring IR authors and sometimes it’s better to draw support from others. Besides, by grouping together, you can (theorhetically) expand your audience by introducing yourselves to the fans of the people you network with.

  10. Oh no Zetta the only book I’ve had bad sales from was the one with two African American characters. The rest of my books, the IR stories are selling great.

  11. I haven’t seen your book in my area. However, I have recently bought books from Wal-Mart and depending on the store, the availability varies. I do shop in Borders and Books-a-Million. I also shop on Amazon. I read a ridiculous amount of books and erotica is one genre I enjoy. IR is okay but I prefer AA characters. I think maybe because that is my preference in a mate. I have read all types and when I found AA romances it was hard for me to go back to white characters. I now read them more than I did, but less than before. As a reader I tend to read everything by an author I enjoy. There have been times when certain books just don’t do it for me. Even though they are written by my favorite author. Maybe your readers identify with your IR storytelling moreso than your AA stories. Just a thought. I will look for your aforementioned book though and purchase it!

  12. Hi Roslyn,

    Have you thought of starting a Ning for AA erotic romance authors and readers? I really like Nings and belong to several of them because memebers are all interested in the same thing and some Nings get to be very popular. For example, one of the Nings I belong to is the African American Electronic Literacy Network to promote ebooks to the AA community while promoting AA authors.

    Since for some silly reason Ning has disabled their search facility to let people search the various Nings, I don’t know if there is an AA romance Ning, but no matter. You can create your own if you wanted.

  13. Hey… are you the Monica Jackson from Dark Thirst? You are awesome, that was my favorite story in the book and most rememberable. That’s my kind of thing. You are one of the several people (including Roslyn) I routinely search for at Audible hoping that your publishers put out audio versions. One day, one day.

    Roz, I’m still patiently waiting for the Black female/Asian male romance book. Even if you just publish a little short one in a ebook version I would be your biggest cyber flunky, LOL.

  14. I don’t think much has changed in the lack of AA erotic romance. Even when I search allromanceebooks.com,the number of AA compared to IR is really small. I really liked Given. It’s too bad that IR fans didn’t take to it. But for AA fans to not respond to the book is also strange. To me it had everything. Hot sex romance, history, suspense, sci fi, and African folklore. For me when it comes to books I really want to read about black women. Whether they are with black men or white men, Asian men, Arab men, etc.

  15. I was just thinking about Zane’s popularity amoung AA readers. I watched the movie that was based on her book Addicted. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by a movie, but I the premise of the movie was terrible. The sex seemed to be bases either in boredom or shame. I know that makes sense based on the title. A story about a sex addict. But I hated it. I resented the shame this woman had to feel and how she didn’t enjoy her life. It was like misery porn. And of course she had to go to therapy and apologize for her wanton ways. I know it’s just one of her stories, but I cant help compare the book with the authors I prefer that write erotica. The black women have no issues of shame and regret. They aren’t home wreckers or destroying their perfect marriage. They are normal women with and the stories are very romantic, but the sex scenes aren’t behind closed doors. I think for fans who respond to Zane and other writers like her have a need for that style of writing. The kind where you get to be a voyeur andba judge of a person’s behavior at the same time.

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