I’ve joined with some of my fellow indie erotica authors to launch a brand new website featuring quality erotica targeted at (thought by all means not exclusively for) male readers.
It’s called Erotica for Men, and along with yours truly, you’ll find the work of Kirsten McCurran, Kenny Wright and Ben Boswell featured there.
It’s not intended to be a website that is only for men, in the same way that none of our erotic fiction is intended only for male readers. The website name might be a little contentious in terms of its gender statement, but really it’s intended only to show that plenty of men like quality erotica as well as women – written by both male and female authors.
I guess you could say we want to challenge the perceptions and prejudices about the kind of erotic fiction that men want to read. Men aren’t thugs who want to read about hot busty blondes with no self-respect, though there may be a few out there. In fact, Erotica for Men tends to be skewed towards stories featuring empowered, independent and even dominant female characters. One of us is even a female author.
Plenty of female erotica authors I’ve discussed this with still perceive some kind of male dominance of erotica on the Internet – though there could be a certain amount of fuzzy definitions here, including the world of pornography in what they term erotica.
I think there’s more of a balance, but if you look at Amazon and other ‘mainstream’ outlets of paid-for erotica, you can’t fail to notice that female authors are very well represented these days. Whether or not 50 Shades of Grey helped with this, revealing the market for erotica written by women for women, it’s significant.
Certainly in some of the reader reviews on my own books I’ve even seen surprise expressed that I’m a male author of erotica.
There’s been some recognition of the male erotica market in the publishing world, though some of it I believe has been misguided. I’ve written before about my irritation for those who would guide their writers, when writing erotica for men, to pander to certain prejudices about what men are and what they like to read.
There may be popular characteristics of erotica for some (many, even) male readers like female characters wearing lingerie, or dressing as cheerleaders or nurses or what have you, in the same way that vampires and billionaires seem to be popular among female readers (and in the old days maybe professors and doctors) — but these aspects are not necessarily required, or exclusively favored by any one gender.
I think there may be a few general trends in terms of the writing itself – perhaps men are a little more visual in what excites them, women might be a little more interested in the emotional side of things, but both genders want to read about attractive, beautiful sex and the emotional journey of relationships. Many men may want to read stories written from a male point of view (male narrator, or male central character in third person POV). But even then, it’s not a firm rule, plenty of men would rather read erotica written from the female perspective since it offers insight into how women think and what they fantasize about. I enjoy both perspectives, and find that some stories are better told from the view of the male protagonist, while others work more effectively with the female protagonist central. As a writer it’s particularly important where one of the characters is driving the suspense and the other is experiencing the suspense.
As a male or female reader, you naturally tend to want to read about a central character that you can identify with, so while female readers might want their male protagonists to be mysterious and handsome and athletic and gorgeous, male readers might prefer their male protagonists to be slightly up against it when it comes to attracting the women – as they are in real life – perhaps a little nerdy, a little less-than-popular, a little unconfident about their looks. And vice versa, of course. Female readers often seem to like to read about women who are self-deprecating and unconfident of their looks, and yet who somehow make gorgeous billionaires helplessly drawn to them and get in touch with their inner swans. Ana from 50 Shades being a good example, as is Bella Swan (check out that surname) from its inspiration, Twilight.
The point is, though, there’s no hard and fast rules for what men and women want to read.
But there are prejudices about what men want to see in erotica, and that does those of us who want to read erotica no good. I’ve seen publishers’ guidance suggesting that men want to read only about strong, handsome alpha males who just go out there and take the women they want, and throw caution to the wind, not thinking about things like emotion and relationships. Seriously. Of course, there must be gorgeous alpha males out there who read erotica and perhaps do want to read about characters like them doing brutish things with two dimensional women. Maybe I’m not being fair to them, but the point is you can’t tar an entire gender with a broad brush when it comes to taste.
You will find that Erotica for Men does cater toward a certain section of readership – as writers, the group of us have certain themes and kinks that we all enjoy, which won’t be to the taste of all male readers, or even most male readers necessarily. We all write different kinds of erotica, so there’s some spread there, but we’re heterosexual so you won’t find the gay male readership represented since it’s not in our repertoire. However, the point is that this site isn’t saying what male erotica is, what all men want to read in erotica, or that this is just for men. It’s trying to be a positive thing, stating that men like quality erotica too, and at the end of the day we’re looking for similar things in our erotica to women.
See it more like a women’s magazine – it might be aimed at women on the surface, but there’s some interest in there for men too, depending on the articles.
It’s early days for the site, and I’m sure it will evolve, hopefully becoming a nice little resource. If you’re interested and care to send in your thoughts, you can comment here, or even better send your feedback into the Eroticaformen.com site itself via the feedback button.