What makes a man write erotic ebooks under a female pseudonym? ANDREW DONALDSON gives us a peek into the nude world of erotic literature
WHEN I FIRST told a friend that penury had driven me to write pornography, he reassured me I was treading a wellworn literary path; many authors had exploited the baser instincts of their readers in order to survive. It was a small consolation. Mark Twain, Alexander Pushkin, Anaïs Nin, Henry Miller and Anne Rice had indeed churned out smut, but only when they were starving at the beginning of their careers. I, on the other hand, was still struggling after 33 years as a journalist.
So, here’s the thing: we tend to think of porn users as men, but women consume vast quantities of the stuff, mainly in text on tablets and digital readers. More than 80% of readers of erotica are women. Men like to watch, but movies, it’s said, turn women off; they’re freak shows, they’re exploitative and degrading, they leave too little to the imagination, the sex is too cartoonish, the sheets too grubby. So they Women’s erotica went mainstream with the megaselling Fifty Shades trilogy. EL James’s BDSM potboiler was a groundbreaker, according to publisher Peter Ferris, whose Xcite imprint is the UK’s largest printer of erotica. ‘Erotica is an ideal genre for ebooks,’ he said at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair. ‘Print sales were starting to decline. Getting into the major bookshops them and the buyers were very hard to reach.’
Discretion is also a factor. With no cover on display on devices like a Kindle or an iPad, the literature is anonymous. As publisher Giada Armani said at the same book fair, ‘I think that women have always wanted to read erotic literature. But what woman brandishes an erotic book [on public transport], or at work, whose cover displays the silhouette of a naked man?’ The other thing about ebooks is that, for better or worse, anyone can publish them. And they