Two Kinds of M/M Love: Buyer Beware! William Maltese Tells Us Why

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William Maltese has posted an opinion piece about writing M/M romance for different audiences – male and female. In my opinion some M/M books that are written by women and those written by men are different, with female writers including more emotional content in their books. However, I have read books by female M/M writers who got down and dirty and took me through backrooms, public restrooms, and parks in their one hand reads®  which are no different to similar stories written by male writers for a mostly male audience. William does have a point about the majority of  M/M books being tailored to meet the expectations of female readers, after all, they represent the main target group of publishers and writers of these books.  Here’s William’s take on the whole writing for women and writing for men business.

I have been noticing something, over the last few years, which causes me, at this time, to make comment upon an aberration of gay fiction which has occurred since Iwilliam photo first began writing it. (See Drewey Wayne Gunn’s THE GOLDEN AGE OF GAY FICTION
http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=GOLDAGE1

or my web-site at
http://www.williammaltese.com
for insight into my literary beginnings).

Namely, many new writers and readers of the genre — namely of the female persuasion — seem to have entered the market place with the preconceived notion, incorrect, that real m/m love and romance and real m/f love and romance proceed basically along the same lines, and that any m/m book that portrays otherwise is somehow lacking, off the mark, and has an author who has somehow gotten “it” all wrong — when, actually, quite the opposite is probably closer to the truth.

A quick aside here by way of assurance that this isn’t a tirade delivered by me to bemoan the entry of women into the m/m marketplace, as readers, as writers, and as reviewers. I have many close friends in the m/m publishing business who are women and whom I love dearly and who I’ve come to appreciate as being stellar contributors to the genre. I’m of the belief that anything that expands a genre’s popularity and its fan base is a good thing, not a bad, for all involved; and, I’ve always been a true believer that, if only given the chance, and/or if only giving themselves the chance, women would be just as turned on by man-on-man sex as men have for so long been turned on by gals going at it.

BeachboyWhat I merely want to point out, here, is that women writing m/m for the enjoyment of women readers … in fact, men writing m/m for the enjoyment of women readers … will likely be required to write differently than those same authors would write m/m for the enjoyment of male readers. This is not a bad thing, any more than it’s necessarily a good thing; it just is what it is. The truth of the matter is that the female libido is wired differently than that of the male; what turns a woman on, by way of love and romance, isn’t necessarily the equivalent of what does it for a man. We would all, writers and readers and reviewers, alike, be far more content,  happy, and understanding if we recognized that fact from the get-go and didn’t try to pretend, wish, or actually believe that it’s otherwise.

Frankly, I’m getting rather weary of just how many women reviewers (and there does seem to be a plethora of them popping up, these days), are criticizing and bemoaning some male authors of m/m books for not providing them with “m/m romances” but, rather with just “plain old fashioned m/m sex-for-sex’s sake” — as if many a male reader’s ideal of m/m romance and love isn’t sex-for-sex’s sake rather than the romance and love loaded down with all of the accumulated emotional baggage that women are more apt to attach to it.

Ladies, most guys, although there are exceptions to any rule, do not need a long lead-in, let alone emotional attachment, to think themselves in love, or believe themselves actually romantically involved, especially if it’s just for a brief moment in the back room of some bar, or hurried sex with some stranger in a dark park. All of the early m/m books, written entirely for an initially total male audience, were wham-bam-thank-you-man dissertations, and not long-and-lengthy courtships a la Harlequin that only saw sexual consummation realized at book’s end. So, the next time you find yourself with a book in hand that takes that seemingly sex- for-sex’s sake viewpoint, as regards m/m love and romance, do, please, try to remember that while it might not be playing to your specific interpretation of m/m love and romance, it is likely playing to the interpretation of some guy. So rather than you moaning and groaning and complaining that the author, rather than you, doesn’t know about what he’s talking, you should really just move on to a book more geared to your own way of thinking — of which there are more and more out there — and quit trying to label only your interpretation of m/m romance and love as the only interpretation of m/m love and romance.

I mean, if my book CONSPIRACY OF RAVENS is sub-titled, “A One-Hand Read®”, what is there about one-hand read® that would have some reader convinced that Iconspiracy of ravens should be providing her with something other than the male-desired short-on-emotional-involvement m/m love and romance that I’ve blatantly advertised?

I’m thoroughly convinced that more readers and reviewers would be satisfied with what they’ve read if there wasn’t a tendency in the market place for women writers of m/m love and romance books to have pseudonyms that are masculine in nature and, thereby, confuse the reader; guys who think they’re getting a wham-bam-thank-you-man book, written by a real man, for a man, end up with an m/m Harlequin-type romance written by a woman; women readers, who would best appreciate an m/m Harlequin-type romance, pick up a book by a real man, for a man, and find themselves dragged through back rooms, parks, truck stops, and funky alleys, for seemingly quick and meaningless sex which is actually sufficiently loving and meaningful mainly only for the men for whom the book was really intended.

I could understand this penchant for female authors assuming male pseudonyms, if this was a time wherein women were seeking to enter a genre entirely dominated by male readers and, thereby risked being shunned by readers for not being male-specific.  Willingly, I was  published as Anna Lambert and Willa Lambert in my halcyon days of writing m/f romances for the likes of Harlequin, because, it was genuinely believed, even advertised, that such books were for women written by women. Even today, most m/f romance readers being women, a man might feel himself at a disadvantage in trying to write a book appealing to that audience. But in m/m love and romance fiction, wherein the majority of readers have become women, not gay men, not being gender-specific, by way of authorship of a book, is downright confusing to the reader, and actually often disallows readers the ability to find the kind of novel that best appeals to his or her interpretation of m/m love and romance. As a man, I would likely be more drawn to LOVING BROTHERS written by Chad Stuart than to LOVING STUDS written by Suzy Cue, if what I wanted was just to read a quick sexual romp. Likewise, a woman reader,  less appreciative of random sex, would likely be more drawn to the latter. However, if Suzy Cue is writing LOVING BROTHERS as Chad 6a00d83451cc7469e2011168ce1935970c-500wiStuart, I’d possibly be as disappointed, in my reading of that book, as any woman reader wanting a Harlequin-type m/m romance would find herself if she ended up reading a book written by a real man for a man.

So, in summation … if you are a man or a woman and want to read a plot-lead m/m novel, wherein emotional interaction takes precedence … if you are a man or a woman and want to read a sex-lead m/m novel, wherein emotional interaction is at a minimum … do a little research on whom (man or woman) wrote the book you’re tempted to buy and what the available blurbs have to say about the book in question. You might still end up disappointed, on occasion, but I guarantee you’ll be less so, as an informed reader, than you’ll ever be if you pay less attention.

158 thoughts on “Two Kinds of M/M Love: Buyer Beware! William Maltese Tells Us Why

  1. Sharvie

    Late to the party as well and if William makes it all the way down to this post, then he’s a saint. I know how time consuming checking on posts can be.
    *
    The stars must have aligned or something because I was just eyeing the Conspiracy of Ravens last night on Amazon. And boy did I ever love the sub-title. I’m one of those girls that does enjoy a one hand read or boner book as some are labeled. I can’t get a boner but I sure have mastered the art of one hand reading. :D So I definitely don’t fit into those stereotypes very well.
    *
    What really fascinated me about this post was that with all the talk about women writing m/m in never crossed my mind that men, gay men especially, would write m/f romance and erotica. I know straight men write m/f romance, like for instance, Nicholas Sparks, though I don’t know enough of his work to know if he is considered a ‘romance author’ or ‘an author who writes romance’. Or even what genre he considers himself. And I figured straight men would write m/f erotica for straight men but on the whole I just didn’t even think about it. Most, if not all, of my m/f romance and erotica collection is written by women. So the notion that a gay man wrote m/f completely took me by surprise even though it shouldn’t have. If straight women can read and write gay erotica, why can’t gay men write, and even read, straight erotica? And then add on to the fact that while women have felt the need to use gender natural pen names for their m/m work, it makes a sad kind of sense that men would feel the need to use female pen names for their m/f work. I’m not sure what it all means but that part of the post really struck me and opened my eyes to something I’d been blind to.
    *
    I agree with most everyone that better labeling all around would help immensely. The last book I was disappointed with was labeled a m/m romance, right on the cover too, and the blurb even made it sound as if romance would be forthcoming. But the two leads spent all of 3 chapters together and had more sex with other people than each other, coming together in only the last chapter. This was a rather large book too, not a short. If I’d known what I was getting, I might not have been so disappointed.
    *
    But I can’t even fathom getting in touch with the author and telling them that! It’s wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t my thing. I don’t hold the author responsible for my likes and dislikes. I might want to take the advertising department to task, but that’s as far as I’d go and only if they asked me, which they won’t.
    *
    I’ve also been crap at trying to figure out of if an author is male or female. I would think I have it figured out and then blam! It turns out they are the other. I used to think men wrote more ‘wetter’ sex scenes. That’s just a phrase I use for myself. It always felt like the men got more dirty or juicy or something like that. Kinda like how in gay porn, some guys spit on each other in various places…stuff like that you just won’t see in m/f fiction. Not that you see it a ton in m/m either but…that’s where my mind was at when I came up with the term. Then I found out my more ‘wet’ stories were told by women. After that I just gave up. Now I find it to be a pleasant surprise when author’s gender is revealed to me, but it really has no bearing on whether I’ll buy something or not. But then again, I’m a boner book buyer as well. It just depends on what I’m in the mood for.
    *
    As for researching the author…I don’t know that I’d go that far. I started my m/m reading in fanfiction and unfortunately there was more than a few times that I found out an author whose work I’d loved, wasn’t such a great person. It ended up ‘tainting’ the stories for me. No longer could I enjoy just the work, with my memory of unpleasant conversations and experiences. What is that saying, about meeting our heroes? So after that I tended to stay clear. Which is why it’s still so mind-boggling to me that through this blog I’m able to talk to some of my fav authors. It’s a little terrifying, I gotta admit. I’m star-struck and afraid at the same time. But I’m loving it as well.
    *
    Now I’m off to plunk some money down on a one hand read…at least this time I know what I’m getting into since it says it right there in the title. Thanks, William!

    1. Wave Post author

      Sharvie

      I hope William sees and responds to your comment. Poor man, his hand must be cramped from all the work he did responding to all the comments yesterday.

       
      Great post. We all agree that better labelling is what the publishing industry should aim for – it’s getting better, but a lot more work needs to be done if they don’t want unhappy readers moving on to another publisher.

       

      Re male authors writing Harlequin-type romances – Victor J. Banis, one of my favourite authors, also wrote a lot of M/F romances before he gave it up to concentrate on M/M exclusively.

    2. William Maltese

      Well, okay, Sharvie, I accept the designate of Saint for having not only scrolled as far as your better-late-than never comment but having enjoyed it thoroughly. It could actually have been a guest blog in and of itself it’s so chockablock with interesting comments. –There’s another of my “official” one-hand reads® out there, CircuSex, and although the book I’ve just turned in for publication, I, DEBAUCHEE, isn’t officially labeled as such, it might well be (although it actually just gets the designate “Book #1 of the William Maltese ‘I’ series). –You probably already read, somewhere above, that I’ve had all of my early m/f Willa Lambert Harlequins re-issued, by Wildside/Brogo, under my William Maltese name, and my latest m/f mainstream romantic/adventure, DARE TO LOVE IN OZ, just out ( https://www.createspace.com/3407866 ), is a William Maltese, too (more enlightened publishers, these days — and, of course, I got tired of being called so many name, having had 29 pseudos, there, at one time). –Anyway, thanks ever so much for stopping by. Hope to run across you (not literally of course) somewhere else along the line. –Hugs, William.

  2. Lee Rowan

    This is kind of funny, considering that just last week I was having a conversation with a genuine, card-carrying gay male writer who thought there was too much explicit sex in m/m fiction.

    There’s so much variation in human beings, from the Delicate-Minded Ladies who Protect the Purity of “Real” Romance from Any Hint of (ick!) SEX to the gentlemen who don’t think sex is appropriate to serious fiction, to the gals writing yaoi fantasy that appeals to probably a very few willowy young men, to the women writing two-fisted (or perhaps one-fisted) ass-plugging male porn to the gay authors writing fictionalized memoirs….

    I’m somewhere in that mix, and, as others have said, what I read depends on my mood. It doesn’t necessarily depend on what I have in my pants. This is an interesting theory, but like so many declarations that say “There are TWO KINDS of (fill in the blank), it sells human variation pretty far short. There aren’t two kinds of m/m love — or f/f, or m/f. There are thousands.

  3. TC Blue

    I think– and this is me speaking as a woman who writes gay romances– that the problem isn’t about what authors are writing, but how their stories are being billed, so to speak.

    **

    Maybe women generally write more emotionally laden stories, and maybe men write more sexually-driven ones. Or not. My contention is that it doesn’t matter because this post, as stated in the subject line, is intended to point out that BUYERS need to BEWARE, or be aware, more like.

    **

    Now, I’m not going to get into who writes what and how. It’s irrelevant, in my opinion. I don’t CARE if someone is male or female, straight or gay. I care that they offer a good story. That’s it. And some days I might want something angsty and emo, while other days I’m more interested in no-holds-barred (or holes) sex. I just want it to be GOOD.

    **

    Romance is a really relative term, changing from person to person. Ask 10, any mix of men and women, straight and gay, and you’ll likely get 10 different answers about what is ‘romantic.’ That said… what we’re talking about in this particular instance is not perception. It’s definition, meaning the way ‘romance’ is described by the publishing industry. Now, perhaps the definition– emotional connection, HEA (or HFN)– needs to be updated because it was mostly set in place ages ago, and was meant to describe the ‘unrealistic drivel’ women chose to read. But that’s another thing I’m not going to get into because it’s a whole other topic.

    **

    The problem, as far as I’m able to tell, is that some readers become rather distressed when they buy something that’s purported to be a romance which turns out to be anything but. And yes, in some cases they’ve just made a poor choice or didn’t bother to look farther than the cover, but… in many, many cases books are mislabeled. Meaning something that’s a stroker is listed as ‘romance.’

    **

    I know several other people commenting here have already said this (I don’t recall names and I didn’t actually read ALL the MANY replies to this topic), but the real issue here is– again in my opinion which doesn’t mean I’m right…? Publishers. Even in the case of authors who have written books that they believe to be romances but don’t fall within the accepted current guidelines of what a ‘romance’ is expected to be, it comes down to the publishers.

    **

    This is not an attempt to pass the buck or to divert attention from the books that are being written, whether by men or women. It’s simply a statement that I personally believe that publishers should KNOW the difference. And on the heels of that knowing, should label books as what they are, rather than listing a ‘one hand read’ (and I do love that description, by the way) as a ‘romance.’

    **

    Yes, the author has some responsibility to tell their publisher(s) what kind of story they’re submitting, but in the end, it’s the publisher(s) who list things as ‘romance’ or ‘erotica’ or some combination of the two.

    **

    I do understand that readers can and do get upset when something isn’t as advertised. Hell, I’m a reader myself and I’ve been blindsided by porny-goodness when I was in the mood for sappy-sweet (just an example; I know there are many degrees between the two). HOWEVER… the only time I feel comfortable with holding an author responsible for the disparity between expectation and reality is when an author promotes such-and-such-book as an epic romance and it turns out to be a 300 page shifter-vampire-ghoul gang-bang on a space-yacht or whatever. (Again, just an example.)

    **

    Okay… much longer than I planned on this post being. Still, there it is. People write what people write. I think it’s down to the publishers to categorise books better. Until that actually happens, I expect authors will be hearing about it from readers.

    **

    Sucks, yes, but there it is.

    1. Wave Post author

      TC
      You’re quite correct in what you said. However, here is one point I would like to make which I did in my comments earlier in the post – the authors do bear some responsibility because in most cases they write the blurbs. I know that some publishers like to ‘polish’ or actually write the blurbs but not always.
      **
      This site has one additional concern. We only review M/M and I mean that in the truest sense of the word: No females having sex with the protagonists. Yet time and time again we’re faced with women in bed with the guys halfway through the book, with no warning. If the authors could add three little words “some M/F sex” in the blurbs we wouldn’t request or buy the books.

      *
      Amber Allure does an excellent job at labelling and most of the time Samhain Publishing and Loose Id do a good job as well, but the others, not so much, even though I have requested that they do so to help the unwary readers and reviewers.

      1. TC Blue

        Hiya, Wave. :)

        I completely get what you’re saying. I do. And in many instances I suppose authors ARE responsible for the blurbs.
        **
        Speaking solely for myself (can you tell my Dad was a lawyer? It’s why I rarely make definitive statements. LOL)… my publishers ask me to give them a two-to-three paragraph synopsis of each story for marketing purposes.
        **

        Now, the sad fact is that I SUCK GIANT HAIRY SWEATY DONKEY BALLS at writing synopses, so I’ve yet to see even one of my offerings appear anywhere but in my initial email. This may not be normal, which means my experience is possibly unique.
        **
        That said, if it’s truly the authors who are leaving out details like “this is a huge fuck-fest” or “there’s a chick in this book that’s getting boned on-page” then it definitely is their fault when people get upset.
        **
        On the other hand, even my craptastic attempts at synopses go to my publisher before they’re… well, published. I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to expect that someone– publisher, editor, whomever– might actually read the blurb and say “wait a minute… so-and-so left out the menage gang-bang; maybe it should be mentioned.”
        **
        Now, maybe an author will sometimes leave that sort of thing out, but it’s rarely due to any desire to fool people or trick them into buying a book (I think). After all, I’d rather sell 50 copies to people who know what they’re getting than 100 to people who are going to be angry and possibly so disappointed that they’ll put me on their ‘never buy’ lists.

        I’m not saying the publisher is always at fault. But as they’re the ones who are likely to make the most money from a book, I think they should at the very least pay a bit more attention to what they’re saying about the products, whether the author writes the blurb or not. I mean, if they can assign someone to edit an entire novel, how much more time could it possibly take to look at the blurb–all three paragraphs, most times–and make a few changes?

        1. Wave Post author

          Thanks T.C.

          *
          I’m glad you understand our problem, as readers and reviewers. Just a “buyer beware” sticker to say “this book contains M/F sex”, OR “this book contains hardcore BDSM” OR “this book contains non/con” or “this book is about twincest” and we would get the picture clearly and quickly. That’s not hard for authors AND publishers to include in their blurbs, no matter how poorly written they are.
          *
          On this site we try to educate the unwary reader about what’s in a book and the authors and publishers could help us do our jobs by including brief but pertinent information in their blurbs, especially for those readers who do not have the time to read excerpts.

          1. TC Blue

            Wave~

            I’m a huge fan of ‘warnings’ for my own books and other peoples’.

            **

            For instance, I once sent a submission in that basically said “Warnings: Alternate historical M/M/M menage, anal sex involving a tail, with mention of whoring, incest, non-con, evil priests and not-on-page, non-graphic M/F sex.”

            **

            For the record, this list did not appear with the blurb, though there was mention of one of the three MCs having numerous mistresses.

            **

            Luckily, nobody who read it seemed put off, or if they did, I haven’t heard about it. Even so, I do think there meeds to be some sort of industry-wide agreement regarding warnings.

            **

            Then again, I also think there should be industry-wide standards for submissions, but that’s a whole other story. LOL

  4. Victor J. Banis

    I do understand where readers and especially reviewers are coming from on this subject of putting warnings on covers, but as an author, I have to say I’m against it. Just the idea of putting HEA or HFN signs seems to me to give away the ending of the story. I want a reader to suffer through the plot complications with my characters, fretting over whether and how they will work out. I wouldn’t even begin to know how I would list the ending to Angel Land, e.g. And I’m no more convinced on alerting folks to the possibility of some heterosexual content, in part because, of course, one is giving away some of the plot but, more importantly, there’s no way to describe how it fits into a story. I would have had to put such warnings on at least 2 of the Deadly mystery series, which could well have kept some readers from the books who might otherwise have enjoyed them. In Longhorns, Les and Buck visit a whorehouse. In Lola Dances, both Bryan and Joshua have relations with women. The seduction of the straight or quasi-straight male is a big part of gay fiction, and that is often best demonstrated by showing (or at least talking about) that het sex. The truth is, if I had to put such warnings on my book covers, I would be turning away a great many readers who, they assure me, enjoy my books. Now, I do realize that there are differences in how such material is handled, but there’s no way that could be made clear by putting some kind of label on a book cover. I’d feel better thinking readers trusted me to do right by them.

    Just my thoughts.

    Victor

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Victor
      I think you misunderstood part of what I was trying to say.

      *
      I never want or expect an author to indicate whether a book is HEA or HFN. That’s not what I’m asking. What I’m concerned about is I have read books that fully 1/3 of the story is het sex yet they bill themselves as M/M “romance”. Oft times one of the protags is not even in the picture for a good deal of the book while the other one is with a woman, but miraculously the two guys end up together at the end and have a wonderful HEA ???

      **

      I have been around long enough to know and trust a number of authors and I have a fairly good idea of what they write. I have reviewed books on the site with brief M/F sex and I state that clearly in the review, and whether or not it’s on page sex. M/M readers don’t want to be surprised by het sex in their books and they request that we include this information in the books we review where this occurs.

      *

      I do the same if the book is PWP so that those readers who like this sub genre would get out their cheque books.

      *

      What the reviewers and the readers (and there are a lot of them) don’t want is a book that’s pretending to be M/M when it’s mainly a het romance with a couple of guys thrown in to give it the flavour of M/M. Because M/M has become so popular, a number of authors who normally write het are now adding separate pairings (het and two guys together) to entice the M/M buyers. This is similar to what publishers do with menage “romances” (M/M/F or M/F/M) which most M/M readers hate, and I’m including myself in that group.

      *

      In terms of the Deadly books, Tom started off as straight and became bi or gay when he met Stanley. I indicate in the reviews of the books where he falls off the wagon (if appropriate) and gets together with a woman briefly, so that any reader would know what to expect. On this site I read and review the majority of your books and I indicate the type of content if I think that the readers should be aware of anything they may find not to their taste, before they buy. This is in no way an attempt to give away any of the major plot points or include spoilers. I would do the same if a book included rape or if a murder was particularly brutal or gory or if there was hardcore BDSM.

      *

      Most authors are honest and don’t attempt to fool the readers. Part of the problem is that publishers do not provide basic information so that the readers have an idea of what the book is about. Amber Allure has the best information on its site in describing the content of its books, and here’s what it had to say about a recent release –

      >>Genres: Gay / Erotic Horror / Dark Fantasy / BDSM / Contains Some Secondary Heterosexual (M/F) And Lesbian (F/F) Content
      Heat Level: 3
      Advisory: This book contains graphic violence, hardcore bondage and punishment, torture and blood play. May not be suitable for the more sensitive reader. < <

      Since I don’t like most of the content I will not request this book for review and any reader would also know by going to their website what the book is about. On the other hand those readers who love the content would buy the book knowing in advance what they are getting.

      *
      >>This is what Loose Id has in terms of warnings
      Publisher’s Note: This title …. contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, male/male sexual situations, masturbation, ménage (m/f/m, m/m/f/m/m).< <

      **

      Samhain has similar warnings. However the rest of the publishers are hit and miss, mostly miss.

  5. Ruth

    As an avid reader, my biggest complaint is that in the “blurb” of most titles you find anywhere but Loose ID and Samhain you actually find little to nothing about what is truly inside the pages of a book. I do enjoy the writings of people such as D.J. Manly, Anah Crow (who still inputs a bit more romance into hers,but hey) and Erastes, Alex Beecroft,etc. I’ve not read any of the other authors mentioned here,but have no problem with reading about what men are sometimes (or mostly) looking for, but have to say that I agree that if it’s a female author,I’d like to know up front.

    I’m going to step out on a limb here and be accused of stereotyping, but have found in the course of 40 years of marriage and talking to the men who I’ve come into contact with in this time frame that most men think of sex in an entirely different perspective than most women do. It always amazed me that they could separate sex from marriage so that when they were “busted” cheating on their S O’s or spouses the “cheatee” couldn’t comprehend it was simply “sex” and in most cases had nothing to do with any type of lack from the person cheated on. The biggest problem I had with that was if the cheatee became the cheater it was a whole nother kettle of fish.

    Basic ending here is that I want to know at least the possibility of what is truly within those pages so that if I’m not in the mood for down and dirty I can at least note it for another time. A book is a terrible thing to waste, but misleading the readers is a good way to stop being read.

  6. pir

    Victor -
    ~
    if an author is new to me, i don’t trust them yet. trust is earned. and the way an author earns mine is by not surprising me with certain things that go counter to genre expectations. if you write genre romance, you don’t have to advertise HFN or HEA — it is a requirement. if you go against that, don’t publish it as genre romance, please.
    ~
    because i pick up different books for different moods, for different purposes, what i expect from them can differ hugely. labels are not the be-all and end-all, of course, but they help me decide whether a specific book might fit my purpose at the time. the better a fit we achieve, the more likely that i enjoy a book and recommend it to my friends, and buy the next book from that author, and maybe even their entire backlist.
    ~
    when i pick up porn/erotica, i want to get turned on and (hopefully) get off. HFRN (happy for right now) is good enough. no strings attached is fine. i might enjoy it more if there is an emotional connection between the characters, but i don’t expect (and in fact am probably suspicious of) instant love proclamations from strangers.
    ~
    when i pick up romance, i want to feel comforted by the thought that whatever obstacles the characters have to overcome are indeed overcome, and don’t smack them down for good. there better not be a break-up at the end! or, oh ghods, character death. i’ll never touch the author’s books again if that happens. when i read romance i don’t want real-life endings. i get cold water over the head from real life in sufficient quantity that i want to escape from that.
    ~
    when i pick up m/m i don’t want m/f or f/f or m/f/m sex in it without warning. heck, i really don’t want any non m/m sex in it at all, though it can happen behind the scenes. if i am warned, i might read it anyway, if i am in the mood for that. if i am not warned and come across it, i’ll be ticked off at the author. girl parts turn me off! since greedy buggers in publishing who think about their gain more than they think about the reader violate that, i am now extraordinarily careful whom i buy — if it’s a previously m/f author who seems to have suddenly discovered m/m, i steer clear unless the book comes recommended from a trusted source.
    ~
    and in fact some people’s warnings are also other people’s “buy now!” enticements. IMO it works in an author’s and publisher’s favour if they list the biggies after the blurb: character death, rape, noncon, which sexes get it on, BDSM (+detail), violence.
    ~
    Jesse mentioned Amber Allure — great example. i like Amber Allure and its authors, because they do all that. i trust them. they give nothing important away with their content descriptions, because knowing that X happens in a book isn’t a spoiler in genre, and my enjoyment of a book doesn’t lie so much in what the author does, but more in HOW it is done.

  7. Victor J. Banis

    Sorry, Pir, but I don’t write romance genre books, I write Victor J. Banis books, and the only requirements I recognize are those imposed by my stories and or my characters, and of course, by my own standards. My computer is chock full of stories that have never been published because I did not consider them good enough for my readers (and none, I might say, for lack of happy ending.) I have turned down offers from publishers who wanted me to make what I regarded as fundamental changes in manuscripts. So long as it is to be published with my name on it, my own integrity requires that it be my story as I want it told.

    As to earning a reader’s trust, it may surprise some to know that I consider that a two way street. I trust my readers to have sufficient discernment to appreciate what I have to say. In return, they have a right to expect me to say it well, in some new and interesting way. When I pray for my writing, as I have said elsewhere, I do not pray for the words, I pray for the courage to make them new and fresh. I have no illusions of greatness. I think my talent is a modest one indeed; but I have been doing this for many years and I almost certainly wouldn’t still be doing it if I didn’t make one or two people happy along the way. My books and stories are reviewed regularly (and nicely) on many sites, including this one; if a reader doesn’t feel she can trust me then, as a regular here, she ought to know whether she can trust these reviewers. If not, what’s the point? I can supply links to other review sites as well. Additionally, I write blog essays here and elsewhere, and from time to time post excerpts from my books on various sites, including my own website. If a reader has doubts, he or she has ample opportunity to see if she finds my writing and her reading tastes compatible. Many, apparently, do. Not all, of course. I am unlikely to satisfy those looking for cookie cutter entertainment. I have no quarrel with them. Cookie cutters are useful utensils. It is worth noting, however, that I don’t have any in my kitchen. People seem to like my cookies nonetheless. I am glad when they do, totally unconcerned if they do not. I feel quite the same about my writing.

  8. Angelia Sparrow

    Wave,
    since that’s MY new release, let me add a bit.
    ~
    The book in question is erotic horror, in the vein of the HOT BLOOD series. It’s not really a romance. It has 17% sex by word count. And yes, our lead male is omni-sexual. He bears a faint resemblence to Errol Flynn and lives by Flynn’s motto: “If it moves, I fuck it.” I knew it would be completely unacceptable for this site.
    ~
    I’ve also been informed the warning is inadequate to the content of the book, by a reader.
    ~
    HEA doesn’t really give it away. I just finished a book with an HEA where the hero lost EVERYTHING in pursuit of it. He got true love, but he’s not sure the cost was worth it.

    1. Wave Post author

      Angelia
      As I said here -

      >>On the other hand those readers who love the content would buy the book knowing in advance what they are getting.< <

      The objective is to let the readers know what to expect so that they are not surprised and I applaud AA for doing such a good job on its warnings for all books, not just yours.

      **

      >>I’ve also been informed the warning is inadequate to the content of the book, by a reader.<<
      I can’t imagine what the reader thought was omitted – I think the warning said it all. :-D

      **

      I have reviewed a few horrors, mainly by Rick R. Reed who also is published by AA, and I make sure that the reviews contain the appropriate warnings. I must say though that none of Rick’s books rise to the level of this one. :-D

  9. Dusk Peterson

    M. L. Rhodes said, “I think the real difference here isn’t about the gender of the author, but about the genre in which the author is writing. There is a difference, a big difference in my opinion, between stroke fiction (gay erotica) and gay erotic romance. . . .
    ~
    “I don’t write with a specific gender of audience in mind. I don’t think, as I write, ‘I’d better stick to this type of thing because that’s what the guy readers want,’ or ‘I’d better include this because it’s what the women readers want.’ Quite frankly, my *characters* in each story, their personalities, dictate what happens, how physical they get with one another, how much emotion they share.”
    ~
    Yes, exactly. Mr. Maltese, I’ve read your follow-up comments, which are a helpful clarification. Perhaps next time you write an article like this, you could say “many men like” and “many women like” rather than simply “men like” and “women like”? Because when you said that women aren’t interested in stories set in “back rooms, parks, truck stops, and funky alleys,” all I could think was: Mr. Maltese needs to spend a bit more time with leatherdykes. :)
    ~
    My porn stories are on the soft end of gay porn (think John Preston in his romantic moments) and on the hard end of m/m. My readership for those stories seems to be equally divided in terms of gender. I’ve got slash sites linking to me, and I’ve got leathermen’s sites linking to me. A few years back, the largest number of people following links to my Website were people who had (1) read the recommendations of my stories at slash sites or (2) read my stories at Nifty. So I’m really not convinced that there’s a hard-and-fast divide between stories suitable for gay-porn readers and stories suitable for m/m readers, the way you’ve described it in your original article.
    ~
    That being said, I’m in complete sympathy with you about it being wrong for readers to project their own tastes onto stories intended for an audience with different tastes. This unfortunately happens all the time: readers of m/m fiction condemn writers of jerk-off stories for not writing romance, readers of gay porn condemn writers of m/m romance for not writing porn, hard SF readers condemn writers of soft SF for not writing hard SF . . . Really, I wish that the readers of this world would understand that there is variety in literary tastes.
    ~
    (*Heading off to discuss with my leatherboy what m/m romances he’s reading this week.*)

    1. pir

      Dusk:
      “That being said, I’m in complete sympathy with you about it being wrong for readers to project their own tastes onto stories intended for an audience with different tastes. This unfortunately happens all the time”

      yes, it does. i am currently arguing with some people in a book review group that rating all PWP with 0 is entirely unfair — if it is advertised as a hot, sexy romp, it should be judged that way, and not blamed because the reader expected tender emotion and loving romance. because even among PWPs there’s fabulous writing and execrable writing, and _that_ is what i’d like to see judged, not the mere fact that there’s little plot. sometimes PWP is just what i want.

      and btw, thanks for speaking up — i hadn’t heard of you before, and now you’re on my “to read” list because you sound eminently sensible, and your words don’t make me anticipate throwing your books against the wall because of cardboard gender stereotyping.

  10. Wave Post author

    Dusk
    >>That being said, I’m in complete sympathy with you about it being wrong for readers to project their own tastes onto stories intended for an audience with different tastes. This unfortunately happens all the time: readers of m/m fiction condemn writers of jerk-off stories for not writing romance, readers of gay porn condemn writers of m/m romance for not writing porn, hard SF readers condemn writers of soft SF for not writing hard SF . . . Really, I wish that the readers of this world would understand that there is variety in literary tastes.<<
    *
    Thank you for making this point. As has been said here and elsewhere, we all look for different things when we open a book but readers can’t lay their expectations on the backs of the writers. If the book is well written and doesn’t contain too many editorial and spelling errors and stereotypes, and the genre is what I’m in the mood for that day, that’s what I’m looking for. There is no specific type of book for females or men, especially today with the internet playing such a huge part in book purchases. I read a range of genres and I would defy anyone to put me in any particular category of reader.

    *
    I appreciate your comments and thanks again for taking the time.

  11. Dusk Peterson

    @pir wrote:
    ~
    “because even among PWPs there’s fabulous writing and execrable writing”
    ~
    In certain literary communities I’ve never seen a PWP *without* a plot. It was simply that the plot centered on a sexual encounter. That seems to me to be as legitimate a topic for literary consideration as any other aspect of human life.
    ~
    “you’re on my ‘to read’ list”
    ~
    Oh, how nice. :) In that case, I should clarify that most of what I write doesn’t fall into the porn category. I mainly write friendship fiction, gay fiction, and gay erotic love stories, with an occasional heterosexual love story. But honestly, I find the dividing line between all those genres to be extremely thin. My porn stories are also friendship stories.
    ~
    @Wave wrote:
    ~
    “There is no specific type of book for females or men, especially today with the internet playing such a huge part in book purchases.”
    ~
    This is a good point – Internet access has changed the way many people read. I know that I wouldn’t be writing gay historical fantasy today if I hadn’t run across a bunch of slash authors writing SF/F and historical fiction. Until then, I’d assumed (despite the example of Mary Renault) that gay fiction = contemporary fiction, so I’d kept all my gay fantasy stories in my head, thinking that they wouldn’t find an audience.

  12. Shell

    So basically you are saying please ladies, don’t call my books unromantic, they are–for men although not for you.

    And ‘oh, don’t moan that my romantic stories aren’t romantic, I didn’t write them for you anyway’.

    Hmm…

    I’m no where near rich and only buy M/M stories from few authors whose previous works I’ve already read (what are friends for if not for lending us books) and loved, whose stories I regard as romantic (which details is really a personal concept), and I don’t bother moaning at authors, I just don’t buy their works if I think they suck (and, in this case, unromantic). My fav M/M author happens to be a man but I’d still love his works if he were a woman or a hermaphrodite or a werewolf.

    So probably that’s why you didn’t get many complaints from men who read your works expecting romance, it might not be because they can very much appreciate you label of for-men-only-romance, perhaps they just didn’t bother, like me. Just a thought.

    This ‘article’ is somewhat unpleasant, to be honest. Gender generalisation ahoy. However there’s still a point to it, can’t be denied there are differences between women and men in taste of ‘romance’ (though I don’t think it to be that many or that huge, outside from social stigma), and I agree readers should be more careful when buying, and shouldn’t expect what was not offered in the first place. However, I do find some ‘warnings’ or blurps to be carrying too much information, I rarely read them because for me they’re spoilers which spoil the story.

  13. Monroe Carlin

    Nice one! If I could write like this I would be well happpy. The more I see articles of such quality as this (which is rare), the more I think there might be a future for the Net. Keep it up, as it were.

  14. Arlene

    FINALLY This is what I have been harping at for the longest time re: males writing m/m books. I like that there is not a long lead in I never believed that men needed(most men) a deep emotional attachment to begin relations. That’s why I tired of m/f books. I hated the pretense of a long lead in.Now that being said,I still like romance,that’s why I read historicals.

  15. William Maltese

    Well, here it is, a year after I first wrote this article, and, little did I realize that it would cause quite the stir that it did. As a matter of fact, I figured that it would be of interest for only a few days in December 2009, after I wrote it, so I only really checked in to comment on comments for that minimum amount of time I incorrectly assumed it would be of any interest to anyone. Seems I should have stuck around a little while longer and kept the conversation going.

    As it is, I’m back only now, to revisit my piece, although I’ve been to the JesseWave site on and off (as I’m sure have all of you). I needed to get the article’s specific URL for my files, and, in case, I ever figure out out how to get an entry on Wikipedia. While I was here, I decided to check in again, and found all sorts of wonderful comments that I hadn’t seen before. Slap me in the face with a wet noodle…or, considering the subject matter, with a…

    Anyway, folks, while I’m here, I want to apologize to all of you who took the bother to comment and whom it would seem, albeit unintentionally, I ignored. It wasn’t because I didn’t find all of what you said as valid, it’s just that I didn’t dream, as I said, that my little piece, would cause quite the reaction that it did.

    And, of course, I want to thank all of you who did take the time and make the effort to check in and comment.

    Next time, of course, I do something, here, I’ll pay particular attention to the entire potential life-span of a particular piece. Although as soon as I do that, you can bet that no one will even bother reading it, let alone comment on it.

    Do hope you all had a great holiday season. And don’t forget to pick up a copy of the Borgo Press reference book just out, DRAQUALIAN SILK: A COLLECTOR’S AND BIBLIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE BOOKS OF WILLIAM MALTESE 1969-2010, which should leave no doubts to anyone as to what any of MY 180-books are all about, as regards who’s fucking whom, with what, when and where (plus the first three paragraphs from all of my so-far books).

    William Maltese
    26 December 2010

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