By Claire Siemaszkiewicz, CEO, Totally Bound Publishing
Many people often mistakenly believe that the erotic romance craze began with Fifty Shades of Grey but the trend started well before that, particularly in the USA.
Small publishers specializing in erotic romance have been around for more than fifteen years, and major New York publishing houses have recognized the market and have started their own erotic romance lines in the past decade, such as Heat (Berkley), Aphrodisia (Kensington) and Spice (Harlequin).
Here in the UK, Totally Bound Publishing has been flying the flag for well written erotic romance, quality and publishing excellence since 2007. Based in Lincoln, we are Europe’s largest ebook publisher of erotic romance, releasing up to eleven books a week and trading internationally to a worldwide customer base.
The uptake in ereaders, smart phone and tablets in the US and more recently in the UK, has played a large part in the popularity of erotic romance fiction, as they offer the chance to download and read any book with full anonymity. As a technology driven company we strive to provide an excellent service for our customers. We recognized early on that our business is all about customers — both readers and authors — and providing an excellent service with an easy to navigate shop, unique features and the best books in the market were essential. When we came into this business the norm was one download of only one format. If you wanted a different format or you had a computer crash and lost your books, you would have had to buy them all over again. We championed and pioneered the ability for customers to download as many times and in as many formats as they liked and to send their books straight to any device — such as the Amazon Kindle. Our model changed the way that customers received their books, and very soon after others were following our lead.
Turned on by Sales
Industry statistics from the Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2013 show that the romance genre as a whole generated $1.438 billion in sales in 2012 and estimated at $1.350 billion for 2013. Romance buyers are buying ebooks to a greater extent when compared with other major fiction subgenres and ebook sales of romance books have proportionally doubled in one year, from 22% in Q1 2011 to 44% in Q1 2012.
Erotic Romance, as a genre, has been popular for a very long time but has had a stigma attached to it. In recent years, this stigma has begun to fade—mainly because women are not so embarrassed to read it and the genre is becoming more acceptable, especially for mainstream audiences.
As I said before, the market for erotic romance was long established well before the publishing steamroller driven by E.L. James. But we give her some credit for catapulting the genre into the mainstream and opening the door more firmly in the UK, where the genre has still not been able to make a sustained breakthrough on the same level as the US but is growing rapidly. Whether that is simply because of the differing size of countries, and the fact that ebooks have been available for far longer across the water and therefore genres like erotic romance have been more acceptable for longer or whether it’s a difference in culture still remains to be seen. Our demographic is the same in both countries, mainly women between 35 – 60, although we do have all ages of women who like to buy and read our books (and some men too!)
Voracious and Catholic American Appetites
Everyone who reads erotic romance is looking for an escape from their everyday lives, that little bit of ‘me time,’ but American women have a voracious appetite for our books. A great number of our regular customers come back week after week to our store and check regularly when their favourite authors have a new release upcoming. They are an emotional audience and enjoy exploring male on male (M/M), fantasy, paranormal and shifter stories. Their British counterpart appears to be more inclined to reach out for contemporary, chick lit and BDSM titles. This is all according to our market research of course, which explored the different culture and psychology of women in the US and UK. British women are still looking for more mainstream stories, based on the alpha male role and BDSM.
It’s not just different tastes and lower sales numbers in the UK. There’s also a real lack of well-written erotic romance in the industry. Whilst the genre has been hitting the headlines over the past 18 months, according to our research, many of the books failed to really push readers’ buttons or recruit them as long term fans of the genre. The single biggest turn-off UK readers cited was poorly-written prose, but the scale of the untapped market for erotic romance is still huge for well-written, engaging erotic romance—and that’s where we come in.
We’ve set out to challenge the poor quality stereotype associated with the genre by commissioning some of our authors to push the boundaries, and create scintillating sexy stories to engage our audiences with pulse-racing plotlines, providing quality erotic romance.
Escape from the Mundane
Our new What’s Her Secret? imprint is designed for every woman to indulge in that little bit of ‘me time’ I mentioned and to bring erotic romance to the masses. Our infamous Clandestine Classics bring some of the world’s best loved classic stories to the modern reader introducing new erotic content into the mix.
These two imprints are just a taster of what we have to offer here at Totally Bound Publishing. We have close to 300 authors from around the world who have written nearly 2,000 titles between them in seven years. You can read stories in every genre from historical, where you can take a break from the here-and-now and be transported to love and attraction in times-gone-by, to contemporary stories of love, power and passion. If paranormal is your thing you can find anything from sexy psychics to ghostly encounters. You can conquer your cravings and sink your teeth into dark and dramatic tales with our vampire stories. We also invite you to take a walk on the wild side and indulge your animal instincts with stories of werewolves and shifters, and when it comes to Domination and submission, we know the rules. So, you can submit to our stories of safe, sane and consensual love. If you like a man in uniform and authority figures and strong men turn you weak at the knees, you’re in safe hands with Totally Bound! You can find all this and much, much more at our book boutique: www.totallybound.com