Here’s the problem. I’m having a really hard time finding indie authors I’m willing to review. Not only is there a ton of variation, prices, lengths, serials, etc…there’s a lot of, um, shall we say tastes…
I’ve noticed if the indie book is a paranormal romance, there’s a good chance it’s a freaky-deaky romance. Understand, my first book, FEVER CLAIM, has basically an orgy in it and I debated whether to put it in or not because I do not want to be labeled that type of author. But the scene portrays what The Den is like in the books, both physically and emotionally - as in emotionally cold and empty, making the finding of mates all the more fulfilling. It also served to set up PRIMAL CLAIM and for that reason, I left it in. My goal is write like JR Ward’s later novels in the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Her work is gritty, the characters aren’t clean, and the background has some erotic stuff going on, but the main romance is left preserved. She doesn’t shy away from bad stuff happening to good characters, but it isn’t something she dwells on. Meaning, I don’t feel like she’s writing it to get me off, if that makes any sense.
And that brings me to another issue. Freaky-deaky has its niche because we all have some unusual interests. People like reading about threesomes with their characters, but I don’t want my two love interests to have a third person hanging out in bed. Save it for the supporting characters. I don’t mind erotica in my books, but the main romance needs to be clean. I don’t care to read about toys, restraints, whatever, but if it works in the book and the story’s interesting, I’ll still read it. It’s just really, really hard to find indie romance that has a compelling story and clean love. And the disturbing thing I’m finding are the rape scenes. Like, detailed rape scenes meant to entice arousal. That bothers me. I’ve read plenty of stories with rape interwoven in the plot (cough, Outlander, cough, cough), but not detailed in a way that makes me want a shower. Bad things happen in real life and readers don’t want their characters’ life white-washed in a sea of happiness. In much of our literature, we want to read about bad stuff happening and the bad guys getting their comeuppance and the good guys getting their happily-ever-after despite all the tragedy and loss they’ve experienced. That’s one reason why we read a form of fantasy.
I wish detailed rape scenes were the only unsettling thing I’ve found in books. Reading the descriptions of many books on Smashwords, I found out about fetishes I never knew existed and several descriptions that were outright incestuous. Not being a prude, like Gail on CBS This Morning says, “Let your freak flag fly,” I read a lot of books I hope to keep blocked from my kids for decades. But I’ve downloaded some only to find out that holy moly, I think my Nook needs a shower after I delete this!
Why this rant all of a sudden? Well, I downloaded an indie author I saw advertised on Facebook. The cover art was superb and the description promised decent writing so I gave it a shot. The description didn’t lie, the writing was good. But the story was some f*cked up sh!t, man. F*cked up sh!t. My first thought before the first chapter was done was how can I wipe this book off my Nook with no lingering trace it was ever there? My second thought was that I’m glad the book was free. My third thought was that there’s no way I can review this.
What bothers me about all these books is that I find it hard for my little paranormal romance series to find legs because it needs to swim with other books labeled “paranormal romance” but that differ so severely from traditionally published paranormal romance. They may have the same paranormal characteristic but differ greatly in writing style and quality, story strength, romantic interests and fetishes, to name a few. I’m extremely worried that scene I wrote into FEVER CLAIM will label the entire series as erotica and readers will drop it because they think the rest of the series will fall in line. While I write detailed sex scenes that are admittedly still clunky, they fall more under the label romantica.
(As a side note, I try hard to not use “c*ck” or “p*ssy” in sex scenes. Nothing bothers me more than reading a promising romance with solid, even eloquent, writing and then I get to a sex scene and it degrades to “I want your c*ck in my p*ssy.” Some readers may like that but it makes me cringe.)
With traditionally published authors, readers learn what authors are similar, what series they will like, and how writing styles vary. From there, we have our authors we follow and are loyal to. But it’s so much harder with indie authors and that worries me about my writing career. I plan to keep persisting, though. The more I write, the better I will get (theoretically). I’ll catch more editing errors (even after the professionals have combed through it), soften and strengthen my love scenes, write more thrilling action, and write like the authors I admire so someday I can be that author for other readers.