top of page
  • Writer's pictureCelise Downs

The 2 Main Downsides to Writing Erotic Romance

When I first started thinking about writing adult romance, I knew I was going to need a little help because I had never written in this genre. When I was writing YA, there were elements of romance, but it was pretty tame compared to what I was planning on diving into.

I still may do so in the future.

I’d read Alison Kent’s The Complete Idiot's Guide To Writing Erotic Romance and in the back, Appendix E, was an Author Roundtable. She’d conducted a Q&A session with 18 authors published in erotic romance and the answers to some of the questions were very interesting. One of the author responses to a question was the inspiration for this post:

What do you enjoy least about writing erotic romance?

Not all 18 authors responded, but two of them had nearly the same response. Author Sylvia Day had stated:

“Reviewers who concentrate on sexual content and heat level and don’t spend enough time talking about the story and characters.”


I admit that I was one of those reviewers. Several years ago, when I had my book blog, my Wet Panty Rating was based on an 80/20 scale: 80% sexual content, 20% story/character.

I’m a little ashamed that I was a contributing factor for why some erotic romance authors don’t enjoy writing erotic romance.

BUT, in my defense, there was a method to my madness.

I feel that the story and the character development drive the sexual content. I’m reading erotic romance for the romance. When the story and the characters are melding, and I’m enjoying everything about both, I’m expecting some pretty h-a-w-t-Sweet-Hole-dripping-change-my-underwear-love scenes. If something’s missing from either one of those—or I can’t get past the typos—then the love scenes aren’t going to pop, and it was going to show in my rating.

That’s quite the pressure for me as a reader to put on an author.

I can definitely see where Miz Day is coming from.

Personally, if someone asked me “what do you enjoy the least about writing erotic romance?” My answer would be the fact that people unfamiliar with the genre think that romance in general is porn.

Before I got my eReader, when I was carting around 2-3 books at a time, I was reader-shamed for my choice in reading material.

From my own father.

From friends.

From co-workers.

In the article “Writing Romance”, Sarah Wendell (founder and owner of website Smart Bitches, Trashy Books) stated:

“In many ways, romance narratives are a subversive threat to patriarchal white supremacist power structures, so of course there’s going to be derision and dismissal.” {Blush Magazine, January 2021 issue}

I would have to agree with this. And after hearing a comment made by a romance author during a panel discussion I attended during the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Literary Fair at ASU in February 2019, it makes sense. One of the authors (it might’ve been HelenKay Dimon) stated:

“The romance genre allows women to get to be the heroes of their own story. The genre makes it okay for a woman to ask for what she wants and to demand the kind of relationship she wants.”

Like. Whoa.

Women asking for what they want and demanding the kind of relationship they want. What a concept, right? Especially when women are expected to cater to the men—and maintain home life—while suppressing their own needs within a relationship.

So, when it comes to the business of writing romance—especially when it involves sex scenes—here are the two main downsides I think an indie author can expect:

1) Awkward reactions - That may range from “Oh, that’s nice” to “Oh, you write mommy-porn?” Compared to Europeans, Americans are extreme prudes when it comes to the subject of sex. It’s a taboo topic. It’s talked about in hushed and/or appalled undertones. We are not comfortable with nudity. Be prepared to have a thick skin.

2) Genre misconception - Unfortunately, after the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, the public’s perception of the romance genre is that it’s all like 50 Shades. We know that’s not true, so be prepared to defend and educate. And have a thick skin. And possibly write under a pseudonym.

For all the negatives attached to writing erotic romance—and romance, in general—there are plenty of positives: the worlds your stories will create, the loyal readers, and the fact that there’s enough room for all aspiring writers within a billion-dollar industry.

“There is no right way or wrong way to write romance (as long as there is a happily ever after at the end) and that’s what I love about it.” {Author Susan Stoker, “Writing Romance,” Blush Magazine, Jan 2021}

Yeah. That’s what I love about it, too, Susan.


Erotic romance is one of five subgenres I edit. So, if you’re ready to hit publish and need someone to eye-bang your material, hit the button below to request a quote.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page