Women, Sex, and Plotlines

I had this idea for writing a post about mothers and their children, but then I’ve decided that I’m too close to that subject at the moment and moved on to writing about sex. Sex sells, right? So here it goes: women, sex, and plotlines.

Per statistica.com, 84% of romance readers are women. Obviously, that’s not a big surprise. I remember listening to a woman who was rhapsodizing about ebooks because she no longer needed to make covers to hide the fact she was reading romances on her subway rides to work. Ebooks hide lots of unique reading preferences behind their bland consumer electronics facades. And what people say they read and what they actually buy is quite revealing. The most popular answer to what genre you like to read is mystery/crime/thriller. And yet romance/erotica is by far the most profitable category at $1.44 billion, while crime/mystery came a distant second at $728.2 million. You’d be shocked, shocked to learn that people lie about what they love to read (or do).

And while we are focusing a bit on statistics, here’s an interesting tidbit: engineers did research on what kinds of search relating to sex do women do as opposed to men. No surprise, most men search for graphical sexually explicit images. But not so women. Women are searching for literary examples of sex — they want detailed descriptions of what happened, images alone are not so interesting. For women, sex needs to be put into context to be interesting. There’s gotta be a story!

So what do women look for in a romance? There are obviously many things, but here’s a list boiled down to 5 “occupations” that are the most seductive in a romantic partner in a Romance written for women (translation: this shit sells). I’ve added a few book covers by searching “romance goodreads pirate” and ect.:

  1. Pirate
  2. Pirate Romances on Goodreads

  3. Surgeon
  4. Surgeons Goodreads Romance

  5. Vampire
  6. Vampire Romances on Goodreads

  7. Werewolf
  8. Werewolf Romances on Goodreads

  9. Billionaire (inflation, bebe!)
  10. Billionaire Romances on Goodreads

Note any similarities in cover design?

So what do all these have in common? Power! It’s either physical or economic power, and preferably the combination of both. These are all alpha males as culturally and evolutionary defined. Don’t believe me? Well, what was the most talked about “romance” in the last decade? Well, there were actually two — “Fifty Shades of Gray” and “Twilight.” “Fifty Shades of Gray” is obvious — the guy is a billionaire AND he likes to dominate women physically.

So let’s move on to “Twilight”. That saga has: vampires (obviously), werewolves, all vampires seem to be billionaires, the main love interest is also a doctor (has a medical degree), and piracy is just one of the ways vampires got rich. “Twilight” hit all of the categories — ding, ding, ding! No wonder it sold. No wonder they made a movie based on that story that made a ton of money. Emotionally, the Twilight vampires also hit all of the psychological needs: the guy was rich (good protector/provider), handsome, physically powerful (good protector), and he would NEVER stop loving you! In “Twilight” the main love interest’s emotions were “set in stone” — he would feel love for his woman until the day he would die (and he would never die). This is a tale of everlasting love where the resources would never run out and personal safety was assured. Yes, there were a few glitches here and there, but did anyone doubt that Bella would end up with her vampire in the end? Of course not — romances are written to please their audience of readers. If there is no satisfying end, it is not a romance! It is some other genre — a tragedy perhaps, or women fiction. But the point is that women read in this genre precisely because it all turns out in the end. Romances are escapist fiction of the highest kind. That’s why they sell.

Now, I don’t write romances. I don’t read romances either — I’m more of an apocalyptic reader. This really narrows down my potential audience of readers. Here’s the breakdown for the most competitive Kindle rankings:

  1. Romance -> Contemporary
  2. Literature & Fiction -> Contemporary Fiction -> Women
  3. Romance -> New Adult & College
  4. Literature & Fiction -> Contemporary Fiction -> Romance
  5. Literature & Fiction -> Women -> Romance
  6. Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Coming of Age
  7. Romance -> Mystery & Suspense -> Suspense
  8. Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Paranormal & Urban
  9. Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Erotica
  10. Literature & Fiction -> Women -> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Women Sleuths

Arguably at least six of the above are romances of various kinds (some are more softcore, some are more explicit). So if you are an inspiring writer, write romances.

This brings me to those of us who are not. Well, some in the group below obviously integrate a lot of romance into their plotline (just look at the covers), my stories do not. At most, a possible love interest is very tangential to the main events of my books. But readers do have a huge amount of choice. So please pick a few indie writers from the group below. These books are all on sale on Amazon. Yes, one of mine is carefully sneaked into this Epic Fantasy group! Happy reading!

2021-08 Epic Sale