Erotica writer Rachael Kramer Bussell has been writing and reading erotica books for years. She writes and edits for Harper Collins UK's new ebook website Mischief.
MORE: Rachael Kramer Bussell's website
The website helped push erotica fan fiction ebook 50 Shades of Grey into popularity, which hit the New York Times Top 10 Bestsellers List. The erotica ebooks on Mischief retail for just a couple of dollars.
MORE: Mischief books from Harper Collins UK
"I think erotica is benefiting from the rise of ebooks, both the privacy angle and that you can make an impulse purchase," Kramer said. "You can see something that strikes your fancy and the cost is not as prohibitive as with print books."
Bussell talks more about erotica ebooks and their popularity in this Q&A:
How did you get started in erotica writing?
I was in law school at the time; I was reading a lot of erotica and I thought, why not try this. My first story got published. I started with the short story and now I've edited a lot of anthologies and I still write pretty often.
Why do you think erotica ebooks are popular?
The privacy issue. You don't have to have a book with a sexy cover out for anyone to see; you don't have to bring it up to the counter. I've been told that at bookstores, sometimes, people rip out pages from erotica books, that happens because they're embarrassed to buy it maybe. So [with ebooks], you don't have that barrier, not even your spouse has to know what you're reading.
It's easy to browse and to make purchases. It's a little bit cheaper than print books so you can try different things. For a lot of people, erotica is a way to explore their own fantasies. It's not a how to manual; but, I do think, for a lot of people, a first step to trying something like bondage would be to look at stories about it, fiction.
How are romance novels different from erotica?
Romance has gotten a lot naughtier. I've been reading it since I was in high school, and it's a lot dirtier and kinkier now. So, I don't think there is that much of a huge distinction.
Why is it called "mommy porn?"
One aspect of the "mommy porn" term that is realistic is that women are sharing this with each other. "I've read this book, what do you think of it?" And to me, that has always happened with erotic or other types of books.
Are publishers looking for erotica writers/stories?
I think there are more publishers, smaller publishers and Mischief books, which is the Harper Collins UK, with ebooks imprint and I think they see a space where they can add something original to what is out there.
There is a lot of erotica, there's a lot happening individuals that are publishing online via things like Smashwords and I think publishers want to see what they can do with that. The fact that Mischief is ebook only is a way that they can test the waters a little bit and see what's popular and if something hits the way 50 Shades of Gray did, they can bring that out as a print book.
What is the advantage of using a publisher vs. self publishing and how are traditional publishers using e-books to respond to the market?
Generally with ebooks, publishers can engage more with what is popular even down to the day or the week so from the publishing side that is one thing.
For the smaller imprints or people self publishing, they can change the cover one week or change the price or some people are doing a free ebook to entice them to read a book by one author and then they'll hopefully follow them into other areas.
The rise of ereaders and ebooks means more flexibility from the end of the publishers and the readers benefit because there is more variety, you're not just stuck with the one or two books that your local bookstore stocks.
What is "fan fiction"?
They're taking characters that people already know and putting them in sexual scenarios and it's kind of a way of talking back to a beloved movie or book and playing with that and I think it makes the authors feel involved and there is a sense of community around it.
Certainly, 50 Shades of Gray stemmed from Twilight. Some people feel that people should be making their own characters, but I think it's something that been going on online for a long time and it's not going to die down.
Have ebooks made publishers obsolete?
I don't think it's made publishers obsolete at all because there is so much out there, you really have to bring your A game...you can put anything out there but if it has an ugly cover and doesn't sound unique or interesting, people are going to quickly bypass it and go on to something else.