Today I heard about a rapey incest book that was so rapey and incestuous that Amazon pulled it from sale. It’s still available on CreateSpace, and its Goodreads page has had a lot of traffic lately. In fact, the last time I checked, the book had 400+ reviews and it was only published a few days ago.
This prompted some…feelings, on my part. Bitter, bilious feelings. Imagine that scene from The Exorcist, but instead of Regan, Scarlett. Instead of demonic puke, we have…well, okay, demonic puke is good. Lots of demonic puke.
I tweeted about ten times and said ‘end thread’…then felt the second wave rise up within me and ended up tweeting a bajillion-tweet thread about how angry and upset and jealous and annoyed and bitter I felt.
What follows is the blog version of what I said regarding the aforementioned rapey incest book, and in general, the state of erotic romance publishing and my place in it:
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I honestly don’t know what I’m supposed to do to get reviews and make sales on my books when a novel featuring rape and incest as romance sells like gangbusters. If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. I know authors aren’t supposed to be. We’re supposed to be all sweetness and light.
Well I’m not. I’m bitter.
I’ve spent an age on some of my books – an age by my standards, that is. I remember By the Book took me four months to write and at the time, that felt so damn slow. But anyway, I want to make my books as good as possible, and on the rare occasions I do get reviews, I get ripped for the stupidest of things.
One review for Burn accused ‘the author’ (O HAI, IT ME!) of trying too hard to sound Scottish.
That’s weird, because…I am Scottish.
Someone who reviewed Plus One didn’t like it because of something Spencer did. Well, what was strange about that review was…I have no idea what book she was talking about but it wasn’t one I wrote. She accused my main male character of doing something I absolutely did not write.
And yet authors are supposed to just sit back in the face of such reviews and do nothing, because if you respond the terrorists win, or something. I dunno.
So when I see a book featuring father/daughter incest do so well that it takes off despite Amazon deeming it too offensive to sell on its website, yeah, you’re damn right I get bitter. Write what you want, read what you want, but don’t fucking call incest/rape romance, then praise the author’s talent. Maybe they are talented, but they’re shit at marketing, to call this romance.
But even so, it sells…and that’s the depressing thing. It sells to the romance-reading crowd.
Now, I know there are other authors who feel the same way as I do, but they’re too scared of a backlash to say anything. I, however, am beyond caring. This can’t ruin my career because I have no fucking career to begin with. Even after being published for seven years, I’m still struggling to become ‘known’ in the erotic romance world.
So either I’m the world’s unluckiest writer, or the world’s shittiest one, right? I just believe that romance should be aspirational, that is, you as a reader should either want to be part of the main couple, or should want to see them succeed.
I can’t read a pseudo-romance (fauxmance? rapemance?) about a man fucking his own daughter and think, “Yeah, that’s what I want!” and get all hearteyes about it.
I can’t say this loud enough – I’ve read books about Fred West, Josef Fritzl – and they’re true fucking crime, not romance. They raped their daughters and books about them are categorised as true crime. Their ‘happy endings’ involved suicide in jail for West, and a prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole for Fritzl.
So yeah, I’m resentful of the fact books I worked hard to write sink without a trace while Fritzlmance sells like hot cakes.
Now, I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had my work published without credit earlier in my career. There are books out there to which I contributed, but the author refused to credit me. Full story in my blog post here. That was a bad experience but you get over it, move on and try to do better. But publishing throws up drama after drama.
We’re told to work hard and we’ll eventually make it.
What. A. Crock.
It makes me think, I can’t be a bad writer can I? I must be able to string a few words together if my pages are out there being read…but my name isn’t on the covers as a contributor so it doesn’t mean a thing. And the books that do have my name on? Nah. Not so grand.
It’s like sending your children to school in someone else’s clothes. They’re mistaken for royalty and praised, but once their real identity is revealed, no-one wants to play with them any more.
Honestly, these days, I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall. I try to write romantic books, but incest sells more, apparently. You can’t predict when or why a book will ‘take off’, but I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do any more. Is it even worth trying to write? Something in me wants to hope I can make a go of this, but let’s face it – I’m in my forties and have been published since 2010. If I were going to be able to support myself through writing, wouldn’t it have happened by now?
To be melodramatic about it, I’m beginning to think my name and my books are cursed, like I’m destined never to have any success. No, I’m not owed success. I just don’t get why authors who use others’ work for their books are credited with genius and lauded like the second coming of Hemingway and the same goes for authors of incestuous rapemance.
And me? I’m just kicking my heels. I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong.
You may suggest just writing for the love of it, for myself. Not for money. To be blunt? I call bullshit. I’ve got bills to pay, just like you. I grew up certain I’d make it, absolutely sure I’d be able to support myself (eventually) through writing but if what I write doesn’t sell? It’s hard not to be bitter.
So, as I also said over on Twitter, I’m going to sit over here, being bitter in my bitterness. Eating cake. And fed the fuck up with erotic romance right now.