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I have written a novel that has A) a lot of graphic Male/Female sex and B) a plot involving a mystery that takes place, and is solved, in the Czech Republic.

My questions are really about the category in which this would fall since I cannot find anything out there like it with a point-of-view of an American male that is basically experiencing a world where suddenly he engages successfully, in many realistic sexual experiences. The problem, one which worries me greatly, is that the character might come across a too much of a mysogynist. The main character is bumbling at the beginning, please note, and perhaps not a nice guy any longer at the end.

Also, it seems that erotica is mostly read by women, so I wonder how to target a male audience (In the USA, UK, Australia).

Thanks for any advice. Lee Relt American/Czech in Prague

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    Hi, and welcome to Writers. two questions: 1) What's the context of "category"? Are you self-publishing? Looking for an agent? 2) How does "what category" relate to your concern about the character being a misogynist? If they are unrelated, you should separate this into two questions so that the community can help you with each one. – Lauren-Reinstate-Monica-Ipsum Jan 23 '17 at 18:31
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    If you can't find a category, that generally means there is no market. And I think that is probably the case. Men prefer pictures. This answer is somewhat related: writers.stackexchange.com/a/25929/16226 – user16226 Jan 23 '17 at 19:59
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    Romance mystery is very much a thing; I found nearly 2000 titles on Goodreads without even trying. – Neil Fein Feb 9 '17 at 22:57
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    "The problem, one which worries me greatly, is that the character might come across a too much of a misogynist" So what? Protagonists don't need to have perfectly flawless personalities. The only thing you need to worry about is making negative character traits appear in a good light by not calling them out as bad in your narration. – Philipp Mar 20 '17 at 14:36
  • @user16226 Men generally prefer pictures. There are certainly exceptions to that rule, and there is certainly an audience for something of this sort. – Weckar E. yesterday
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First, you need to write about experiences and people who will never appear in R-rated and porn films. Most people -- men and women -- can get titillation from those places. You need to provide an experience you can't get from movies.

I wouldn't worry about the misogyny accusation. Erotic fiction tends to be more naked and frank; most readers get that you can have insulting/demeaning characters and sex acts, and that does not make the novel itself misogynistic. That reading audience is a lot more forgiving than most.

Just worry about creating interesting and sympathetic characters and providing enough suspense and curiosity for the reader to keep reading.

If you want to attract/target a male audience, I would 1)focus on the comic aspects, 2)keep the chapters short, 3)focus on the exotic aspects of the characters and settings, 4)try to make it more episodic than about a unified, complex plot.

BTW, Czech author Milan Kundera is the master of the genre-bending erotica-themed novel. Check out his stuff, especially Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Joke, Book of Laughter and Forgetting. All great stuff.

  • 1,2, and 4 there seem to imply that male readers are not as intelligent? – Weckar E. yesterday
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Are you looking for a genre?

If the plot focuses on a mystery, then it would probably find a good place in the Mystery genre. As far as mainstream genres in the American market, Romance is probably the closest to erotica, but, as you note, that is mainly focused towards women.

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Actually your set up is not unique and is hella common in written works... it's just that you're not going to find it under erotica. But your character sounds a lot like some very popular characters in fiction and tends to traverse genres, but some are iconic in genres. My first read of this was "Oh, so you want James Bond" (genre: Martini Spy fiction) or Han Solo (Sci-fi), but then I realized there's a guy just like Solo, but more bumbling, and fits the general feel: Indiana Jones (Pulp).

Pulp is generally characterized by a manly man in an exotic local with his pick of attractive women. Most pulp was written in the early half of the 20th Century, so there's a lot of unfortunate implications associated with the genre, especially timely classics. That doesn't mean that the genre should be written off as Tarzan and King Kong both have pulp elements and are still genre staples to this day and Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider both show that the genre can be flourish with a modern audience. The other problem is that Pulp tends to rely on heroes going to exotic locals that the reader might not have ever heard about or have an association with fantastic local customs that are poorly understood at the time, which doesn't work these days, which is why modern pulp is often period piece.

One of the important factor in any romance geared at men is that... well, men aren't reading the story for the romance, but for the plot and men are far less likely to read then women in general (entirely different issue stemming from a different problem). It's been my experience that men tend to like the leads female love interest to be as intellectually interesting as the man, but have her competencies in domains that the male hero is supposed to be dominant in. For example, consider Han Solo and Princess Leia... Leia will never fly a ship like Han and she's not as connected to the criminal underworld... But she's a much more competent rebel leader than Han and is quite capable in infiltration and subtle missions. Consider in "A New Hope" when Luke and Han bumble through the Rescue mission so badly that they barely get her out of the cell... and Leia takes over and starts leading the mission much to Han's chagrin. Or conversely, compare fan critiques of Indiana Jone's squeezes in "Ark of the Covenant" vs. "Temple of Doom". Fans love Marianne and even though she does cause Indy some trouble, she's not some damsel in distress and she isn't throwing herself at Indy's feet. Willie, however, is considered comic relief at best and annoying at worst, and fans rightly point out that she's the cause of many of Indy's problems, but is rarely the solution to them (and the few times she is, it isn't because of skill on her part so much as an accident). And the love interest in Grail is secretly a bad guy so fans were happy to be rid of her. Most male oriented stories usually have a competent female love interest who is an intellectual equal to the guy, if in other areas. Guys also see "getting the girl" as a prize for completing the story, not a story in and of itself. And in cases where the story starts with him "having the girl", the conclusion usually gives an upgrade in their relationship. While it wasn't going to contain a sex scene at all, much of Bernard's arch in "Rescuers Down Under" is about going from Ms. Bianca's boyfriend to "fiance" and he only achieves this in the final scene after almost single-handedly saving the day. Similarly with Aladdin (the only movie in Disney+'s Princess collection with a male protagonist), Jasmine only accepts him (both romantically and legally... the film starts with them unable to be married due to class differences) after he's beaten the odds and proved himself.

If you subscribe to evolutionary reasoning for the difference in mindsets between men and women, men are driven by a need to protect the group, while women are driven by matters related to group cohesion. This is why Leia is able to organize Luke and Han's efforts to save her, as she's concerned about the whole group getting back, while Luke and Han were concerned about getting her out without thought to getting themselves out. Men will identify to the need to prove they are worthy to be with a woman, while women will be interested in stories that focus on forming a reliable group. Romance's ultimate goal is typically forming a family or a couple between the two leads... which is preferable to women but boring to men, who feel escapist fiction when the character they identify with proves himself capable of being a protector of others.

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Just "Erotica" is enough. No subcategory is necessary.

The genre you assign is shorthand for who you expect will read the book. In your case, this is not women: I believe most erotic fiction written for women is about a female MC with whom the female reader can "identify", at least in the sense of wanting to share vicariously in the MC's sexual adventures and explorations.

With a male MC, presumably written from a male point of view, this novel would appeal to men. Men are a much smaller audience for written erotica; they are typically not as language-oriented as women and have an unlimited supply of visual erotica to sample on the Internet. However, that does not mean you can't successfully sell it.

Genre is about your audience, not the mix of styles in your work or anything else. The agent/publisher wants to know where or how to sell the work, who the typical buyers are going to be. The only genre that really matters is the main reason people buy your story: Is it for the sex scenes, or is it for the mystery? Only one can be the primary reason.

For example, I write sci-fi and fantasy. Both of those contain erotic scenes and references, because I think those are part of adult life, and I write for an adult audience.

Sci-Fi is when the story revolves around scientific accomplishment, disaster, etc, the invented science is why people are reading. They can skim or skip my erotic scenes, and not be disappointed in the ending. Typically I think those erotic scenes make the characters feel more real, and deepen the relationships they have, so I don't think the story is as powerful without them. But it's still a good story if the reader wants to skip to the end of the scene after reading about the opening kiss.

But it sounds like in your story, the erotic adventure is what the reader is really reading for, and if it was missing, you'd have a short mystery. I think your readership has to be Erotica. Most erotic novels have some excuse for moving characters around and meeting new people, that's kind of essential to having lots of sexual encounters.

I suspect your mystery is of secondary importance and you don't want to include that in your genre label at all. I suspect you aren't going to get any more readers of this book because you wrote a great mystery. Mystery readers probably are not going to enjoy a book that is heavily focused on erotic scenes. Not because they are prudes, they like it fine if their favorite detective has a romantic interest and gets laid, but they are looking for something that immerses them in a mental puzzle, not a masturbation aid.

But if you classify it as just "Erotica," you aren't going to get any returns of your book because it also had a murder mystery in it, or a heist, or legal drama or whatever. Erotica readers expect there to be some plot like that to carry the MC into various situations. If anything, a cover blurb would tell the story: "John's search for his brother's killer leads him into a subculture of sexual clubs, fetishists and new experiences he'd never imagined."

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This kind of novel absolutely falls into erotic novels! "Also, it seems that erotica is mostly read by women, so I wonder how to target a male audience (In the USA, UK, Australia)." I think it`s difficult, you just said "mostly read by women" and that is true, and I always wondered what it could to force men to read such novels?!

  • Welcome to Writers. We're looking for longer answers that explain why and how, not one-liners and personal opinions. You can edit to expand this. Please check out our short tour for more about how the site works. – Monica Cellio Mar 17 '17 at 22:59
  • Ok, I am new, so dont know better, but for first answer I think I said the essence. – lucky Mar 17 '17 at 23:35

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