Books, Feedback, Fiction, Marketing, My Books, Novel, Promotion, Reader, Writing

Should I have turned up the heat in my novel?

Recently, I had a discussion with a hairstylist who read my novel, The Brevity of Roses, and recommended it to many of his clients. His opinion, shared by some of his clients, is that I should have written more explicit love scenes. “Sex sells,” he said.

I don’t deny that’s true. In the advertising world, sex sells everything from toothpaste to tennis shoes. It also sells certain genres of fiction. In my lifetime, I’ve read (and written) fiction rated from XXX to lily white chaste. I’ve concluded I prefer reading books that allow me to imagine the love scenes—designed precisely to my tastes, not the author’s.

Cathy Yardley of the Rock Your Writing blog, recently used my novel as an example when she wrote a 3-part series on how to profile your target reader and create a 10-step novel promotion strategy. She admitted mine was a difficult case because Brevity is a cross-genre novel. Cathy described it as a “women’s fiction/commercial lit fic novel”.

I appreciated her effort and expertise, and I’m implementing as many of her suggestions as I can. However, her next post after my case study spoke about the difficulty of marketing genre blends. Hmmm.

I’m not sure that Brevity qualifies as a true genre blend, but if so, I’ve certainly got a hard task ahead of me in marketing a “broccoli brownie”. As literary fiction, I don’t think readers necessarily expect explicit sex. As women’s fiction or commercial fiction, I’m not sure.

Now, I’m curious. If you’ve read The Brevity of Roses, would you have liked a little more steam in the love scenes? If you haven’t read the book, but have read the description, would you expect R-rated scenes?

35 thoughts on “Should I have turned up the heat in my novel?”

  1. I never wish for anything than what’s in a novel because, well, if I didn’t like I should go read something else. That said, I’m pretty careful about love scenes in books. You’ll find this if you read my fiction because although Monarch has a lot of sex in it – none of it is described. It’s all tension or pulling the curtain because for my writing, I don’t feel it’s appropriate or necessary to show more than I do. If people want descriptive sex, they can go read erotica. In the end, write what you are comfortable writing and sharing with your audience. I would hate to put something out there that I’m ashamed of later or something.


    1. I feel the same, Michelle. I certainly don’t ignore the physical attraction, but I want to keep the focus on the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual attractions and interactions between my characters. I might be able to sell more books with steamy sex scenes, but they wouldn’t be the books I want to write.


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