Monday, February 23, 2009

Sex Sells

Before I get down to the part that actually made you stop and read this, let me update you all on the agent quest.

The first agent I sent a sampling of my manuscript to has declined. Her exact words were, "I didn't connect enough with the material to feel the passion I would need to go out and sell this book in this difficult market."

Am I disappointed? Yes, but this is what I've dealt with for the last eight years, and it's nothing new.

So now I await the second agent who seemed to say all the right things to me on the phone. Keeping a sense of humor, this should be a fun career, and ah, yes, "I don't know if I contain myself waiting for your book to arrive." Music to my ears!

With that said, on to the nitty gritty...


All one has to to is place that three-letter word in any media and people will flock to it. A bit like the traffic accident you can't help but look at as you drive past.

But does it make for better reading?

All right, I'll admit to enjoying the romance genre very much. And there are some writers whose sex scenes make you want a cigarette afterwards. Even if you don't smoke!

It's the inappropriate, gratuitous sex that goes into graphic detail that I don't care for.

It's porn, plain and simple. And women do it better than men because we prefer our imagination to actually seeing it, the way men need to do. When a man writes a sex scene, it's not as intense emotionally. It's more about the act. Women writers go for the heart, the feelings, details. The whole package.

When Eyes of Garnet came out, I would tell people there was no sex in it. That was welcomed by many, but I noticed older women were disappointed. "But you said it was similar to Diana Gabaldon's books," they'd whine. I was amused. When I began writing Sightless and Catrìona was actually old enough to have sex, I still couldn't write about it.

During an interview with the newspaper I work for, the gentleman who was conducting the interview was himself a writer. When I told him there was no blatant sex, just lots of innuendo, he said, "Yeah, I can't write about it either. I'd feel like everyone would be saying, 'Oh, he likes that kind of stuff, huh?'" It's just too personal.

Aside from that, I also have to ask myself if it actually adds to the story. In some instances, just a hint will convey my message. There are other times when I've actually written a sweaty scene, giggled, then pressed the delete button. I just can't do it. The imagination should have all the details it needs, and probably be better than what I could write anyway.

As for the steamy covers of some of the books of that nature, well, who doesn't want to look at the broad bare chest of a fine physique, (I talking man's, here). It certainly catches your eyes while you're in line at the grocery store. Impulse buy! Book marketers know it'll fly off the shelf. But then, when you actually read the story, most of the time there's nothing in it to warrant the picture on the cover. It's just to sell books. And it works, sadly.

Does this mean I'm going to start putting hunky, bare-chested kilted men on my covers so I, too, can sell more books? Hmmmm. Doubt it. Although....

Just teasing. But what if I wasn't...


TerriRainer said...

HOLY CRAP! I have no idea what your post said. I took one look at that kilted dude and that's all she wrote.

But seriously, sorry to hear about agent #1, hopefully #2 will have better news for you.

I also agree about the sex scenes in a book. Gratuitous sex pisses me off if the story is really flowing. Nora Roberts does that a lot. Having said that, look how many books she's sold. Sex certainly does sell, no doubt about it.

:) Terri

PS My fingers are still crossed!

Mary Duncan said...

Hard to beat that picture, I'll have to admit.

I have everything crossed for the second agent pulling through for me. If for nothing else than keeping my publisher on his toes. I'm still hoping for an April release of Double Vision.

Dawn Forney Gray said...

I too hope you have better luck with agent #2! A passionless agent wouldn't be worth much.

Sex scenes that interrupt the story line are annoying and I skim over and skip them. A kiss and the door shutting is enough for any healthy imagination.

I ordered your first two books from Amazon last week and I can't wait for them to get here so I can dig in!

Mary Duncan said...

Passion is the key with agents. If one doesn't feel it or share the emotion the stories convey, the Garnet series would be a hard sell. It's just that different from other books in the paranormal historical field.

Looking forward to hear what you think of the Garnet saga!

Catherine said...

Dr. Seuss' first book "To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" went to 27 publishers before it was actually published so NEVER give up hope!
I agree with you and Dawn and the others. Some stories are written as a conduit to put forth explicit sex and I have no problem with that. I'm a former romance novel junkie but I just don't have the time any more, I'm too busy reading good stuff ha haa! There's a place for it but not in every story; it can be a nuisance and distracting and doesn't always add to the story. HOWEVER, that picture sure makes me want to read whatever book it shows up on!!!

Mary Duncan said...

I think for sex junkies, there is always erotica. Explicit because that's the entire reason for the genre.

And yes, my choice of drool factor has apparently hit the mark. Many choose not to comment here, but I've been receiving lots of emails with panting phrases of rapture.

Perhaps I'll rethink the cover options...