Erotica vs Romance

Erotica vs Romance

I’ve been struggling to figure out the difference between romance and erotica — a distinction that matters if you plan on publishing through Amazon’s KDP program. Why? Because erotica is harder to find (and I believe by default is filtered from search results). It also seems there can be consequences for misclassification. No one wants their ability to publish shut down simply because you teetered on the edge of romance and erotica and made the wrong choice. What is a girl to do? 🤷🏻‍♀️

I’ve asked around on various forums, and there is no consistent answer. One commentator suggested that if the work helps a person with a “physical act” 😉 then it’s erotica. But it seems romance can do that too, and let’s be honest, steamy scenes for adult romance are almost a requirement for a good work of fiction. The best answer that I’ve seen is that readers of “romance,” hate short works — and they demand a story arc. According to this other commentator, you can have as much sex as you want, but the story needs to be at least novella length and you need some character development. Question remains, however: how much of an arc is needed?

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment — I’d be interested to hear what people think! 😘

4 Replies to “Erotica vs Romance”

  1. Hi Stephanie! Nice blog! I like to write romance and my first work teetered on erotica. I didn’t really know the difference at the time. I just included sex scenes. Lots of them. As steamy as I wanted them. I just thought that’s what you do with romance. I guess there is quite a range of explicit sexual acts in romance and erotica. Maybe erotica can be defined as more explicit sexual acts that are woven into the story as main part of the plot, and the focus of the romance is the love story with the sex scenes only adding to that in some way. What do you think?

  2. Thanks D.A.!

    As I’ve started exploring the genre, I’ve begun reading some of the various offerings that fall clearly into the “erotica” domain, and those falling clearly into the “romance” domain. The former seems to provide a *very* quick set-up (who the characters are, where they are, and what they “want”) before delving into sex scenes, and then *bam* they’re over. The romance works have a long story arc and character development. What I find difficult is where the line is drawn.

    I am working on a novel length work that explores a relationship between husband, wife, and an escort. So you can naturally imagine that there is going to be a big mix between “erotica” style scenes and “romance” style scenes. So do we call that “erotic romance”? My ultimate goal would be to craft something that our overlords at Amazon would agree is a “romance” because I’d like to target a different audience than the pure “erotica” crowd. My works exposure will be highly dependent on what category it fits in, so that’s why this is an important question to me.

    I think I’ll collect some of my thoughts, and feedback I’ve received on writing forums, and post it on the blog at some point.

    Appreciate your thoughts!

    -Steph

  3. Hi Steph! Thanks for replying! It sounds like you are describing “erotic romance” but you can probably market that as “steamy romance” and label it in the romance genre. I am guessing Amazon is more particular about how explicit sex scenes are when they consider whether or not to reject something along those lines. I had writer friends who were upset that Amazon didn’t accept their explicitly sexual romance. Have you experienced anything like that with them? Btw, so happy to meet you! And call me Dave.

  4. Hi Dave!
    I’ve not experienced it — at least not yet — because I’ve only submitted under the “erotica” category. My works have been short so far, but I’m writing a novel length story right now and I’d like to keep it in the “steamy romance” category. Nice to meet you too!
    Best wishes,
    -Steph

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: