As a relatively new author, I've been doing a lot of research on platform building, social networking, and the like. In addition to self-publishing three works this year so far, with all of that I've done some thinking, and it seems the BDSM genre has shifted.
What are you talking about Ms. Samuels?!?
Simply this - because of certain novels being touted as BDSM - the real BDSM has shifted to the newer classifications of "Dark Erotica" or even "Horror Erotica" and I am sure there are a dozen others as well. Today, BDSM has become the catch phrase. Today, if you have a pair of handcuffs or a paddle, the book is instantly categorized as BDSM. But as a reader, I am here to tell you - a pair of handcuffs does not make a BDSM novel.
Back in the day that was just a kink.
BDSM explored something darker, more mysterious, more French-door-closing-girl-you-are-fucked kind of trouble. There was as much psychological build-up in the prose as there was in the actual choreographing of the scene. The mindfuck was real. And we, as readers fell down into those dungeons time and again because of that element. Our minds are the greatest sex toy we have and they seem to be frequently forgotten about.
When I look back to all the great works from 1990 to early 2000's such as "Doc and Fluff", "The Marketplace" series, even the "Sleeping Beauty" trilogy, the world viewed those and the books that came before them differently. Not because they became cult-like, but because there was truth in the act. When Carrie in "Safe Word" is crawling around with the cane between her teeth - the reader felt it - they were there, completely present in the room with Jonathan and Carrie.
Now, I also understand that all the world wants to get off. I got it. I know sex sells. But at some point, the words matter, the art matters, the act matters. The diluting of what was a sacred tradition among a group of like-minded individuals is drowning in the sea of BDSM novels that are indeed not BDSM novels.
What is a girl to do?
Well, in an effort to not get lumped into the "handcuff" crowd, I have very hastily relabeled all of my work to include the "Dark Erotica" tag. The simple fact is I want readers who want to read what I write. If you aren't into the midnight in the chateau kind of thing, I don't want to put you through my book. It could scar you, send you spiraling off a trigger. And honestly, it's not worth it to me.
Ultimately, I write for me. I write the kind of book I want to read. If I tout it as BDSM today - well that in itself opens the umbrella free-for-all from those aforementioned handcuffs to gangbangs to menage to all kinds of fascinating other-worldly creature sex. I should mention, I do not have that. Sal is a human. At least, for now.
I am not asking for change, nor am I going to lead the band to bring the change. All I can do is roll with it. There are a good number of BDSM novels out there, and finding them is sometimes a challenge. There are true storytellers who still embrace the idea of the mind, the build-up, the fear, and the excitement that comes when the flogger wisps against the flesh and the lips caress a shoulder. The tremble, the terror, the release, and the euphoria.
I implore you, Dear Reader, to demand more. Demand better.
With the recent changes to the *cough* KDP system a vast number of erotica authors pulled-out, no pun intended. Now, they have all swarmed Smashwords like it's the latest hive of honey. I make no notion of judging those authors or their books. I'm saddened by some who left, there was a fair amount of talented writers who bolted. Though I understand why they did leave. But I also understand Amazon wanting to whittle out some of the crap, for which there is plenty in this market. The bad part is that those few bad bananas were spoiling the whole bunch.
So, now we must go in search of those authors who were genuine in their words and masters within the story they told. And, I have no fear that we readers will continue to follow those authors whom we adore.
Find true BDSM and its subcategories with all those shadowy hues and spread the words, spread the love. Share your experiences. So that maybe we can begin to re-establish what it means to write erotic literature.
And remember, it's more than just handcuffs.