While I admit to some planning once the manuscripts started hitting my inbox, October turned out to be an all M/M month at Pink Petal Books. Can't say I'm disappointed. We have the next installment of Lex Valentine's Tales of the Darkworld Series, a steampunk story by Angelia Sparrow, and the second installment of Jaime Samms' Ageless series. And while gay male romances continue to be large sellers for us, the truth is a recent review of our top ten lifetime bestsellers shows one thing: some genres may be considered "sure things", but a good book is a good book.
Since Pink Petal Books publishes romances of all heat levels, I can tell you that really there isn't separate critera for what makes a "good" erotic romance versus a "good" sweet or sensual romance. The storytelling has to be there along with the emotion. Obviously in an erotic romance the heat level has to be cranked to scorching, and any sexual content must be considered as part of the overall story. Take out the sex; is there still a story there? If so, then an author might want to make sure the sexual content advances the story, rather than simply fills up words.
Career-minded authors are always looking at the trends and sales numbers to see how to boost the bottom line and provide a wider readership. That's just good business sense. I'd also like to encourage authors to write the stories that speak to them; the ones they want to write. Don't write to hit the "hot" genres because you want to. Write them because you love the stories. Looking at all three of our authors for August, there's skill, talent, and a history of writing in those genres. It's the something extra editors and agents want to see, the passion that lies beneath the story, the passion an author has for her story.
It's that passion that can't be faked, and it makes for a really good story. For us, I'll admit that paranormal, cowboys, ménages, and yes, gay male romances are our top sellers. It seems to be that way across a large proportion of publishers, and right now that's what the reading public wants. I know I enjoy a hot cowboy and sexy paranormal creatures to read about. And, I suspect, especially since for so many of us reading is an "escapist" activity, that this is the case.
However readers are almost universal in that they say a good book is a good book, regardless of genre, and we've all picked up books outside our reading comfort zone, only to say "hey, this is a really great book." So I don't think authors need to think only about the bottom line. The truth is that if authors write a good book, there are more ways than ever to reach audiences. So yes, while sometimes coincidences happen and there is a theme for our releases, really, we're just looking to put out great books with one thing in common. The belief that love (and of course a good book) are beautiful things!