“Similar But Different”, Or, What We Can Learn from Dinosaur Erotica

Who knew an interview with authors of dinosaur erotica could actually be quite…sensible? I’m serious, y’all. Royalty-free photos, paying someone a fiver to make you a cover, researching the markets…

But here’s the gold:

“If your niche is popular, make sure you do everything you can to stand out.”
–Alara Branwen & Christie Sims

This is brilliant advice, and it sums up my recent thoughts. I took some kind of short-course back in my teenage years, a few hours led by someone who’d worked in Allen & Unwin’s non-fiction department. (I was the only other person in the room who’d read Merridy Eastman’s There’s a Bear in There (and He Wants Swedish).) When drafting a query, you need to note how your book differs from others on the market.

You know that term, “similar but different”? That’s what you need to do. Something that can fit into a genre easily, but unique enough that people will actually want to read your book. Because if yours is just “similar”, without the “different” part, then why should people buy yours instead of someone else’s?

Okay, I’ll stop playing vague: I’m thinking of New Adult. And erotica. These genres/subgenres seem overwhelming same-ish to date, and therefore it is very farking difficult to make your book stand out. Maybe you’ll get lucky and entice “subgenre-whores”, who will read anything and everything in their chosen section. But how to seduce your average Joe Reader? You need to grab them.

You’ve heard of the term “reluctant readers”, especially when it comes to children, but also people who are reluctant to read certain genres/subgenres. They’re reluctant because they haven’t found the right books to suit them yet. Maybe they think everything in that genre is rather same-ish. This is where you come in.

Dinosaur erotica is an example of “similar but different”. You need to be similar enough to fit into the market, but different enough to stand out. It’s not the paradox it seems. Because if you don’t have the “different”, why should we buy your book? Just because you wrote it? That’s not reason enough, especially if we don’t know you. We need more, and we want you to succeed. Don’t forget the “different”.

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2 responses to ““Similar But Different”, Or, What We Can Learn from Dinosaur Erotica

  1. For me this is a case of sound theory, poor execution. However, I haven’t read the dino erotica beyond the excerpt in one article.

    You see, there are a lot of romance taboos that I’m willing to overlook in really well-written erotica. Sex with (consenting) underage characters, sex with the clergy, sex with politicians… (What do you mean that last one’s just me?) Anyway, bestiality is one that…no. Just no. And based on the excerpt I read, this isn’t a case of dino shifters that have sex in their human forms. As I recall, there was a velociraptor claw tearing off the chick’s clothes and she was finding this oddly erotic. Uh…

    I mean, I love wolves. I think they are beautiful and mysterious and haunting, but if one cornered me and started tearing off my clothes, my first thought would not be “Oh, he must be a human under all that fur.” I’d be too busy screaming and trying to beat it over the head with something so it was knocked out long enough for me to escape. Dinosaur? Oh hell no.

    So, I get the authors’ thought process, but it’s not something that would ever work for me as a reader. And presentation matters. I see dino-smut, and my brain is just done with it. But that’s just me. I’m sure there wouldn’t be more than one of these books if they didn’t have an audience.

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