The Results: Readers – How Do You Like Your M/M Romances?

Just over a month ago I invited you to vote on the level of sex you personally wished to have in your M/M romances. Of the 10 categories (and some were almost identical, which was deliberate) this is how you voted:

Of the over 1000 readers who read the post, almost 500 of you voted.

54% said –

I want a balance – I enjoy a good story but I love the hot sex too.

40% said:

I think the sex in M/M romances should advance the plot, otherwise it’s just porn by another name.

On the other side of the spectrum only 1 person wanted these books to be wall to wall sex, and 3% said they found M/M romances without lots of sex to be boring.

Which brings me to this question. If 40% of readers said they thought the sex in M/M romances should advance the plot otherwise it was just porn by another name, why are books with less than a heat level of 5 (or 3 depending on the publisher’s rating scale) not selling?

Authors and publishers complain that this genre has been ghettoized by re-sellers like Amazon and ARe because all of these books are categorized on their websites as erotic romances, regardless whether or not there’s any sex in them, so authors have a tough job from the get-go selling their books to the mainstream public. When we (M/M readers) don’t buy “sweet” romances with minimal sex it’s a double blow to the authors. Now there seems to be an expectation on the part of new M/M readers that these romances will all be erotic or even veer into erotica and PWP. Where did they get that impression, I wonder?

A few of our best authors who write books with very little sex or none at all are thinking of abandoning M/M romances altogether (see the comments on the original post) because, despite saying how much you enjoy their stories and admire their writing, you won’t buy their books in sufficient numbers to make it worth their while to stick around. 🙁  Anemic sales don’t offer much encouragement.

We all like different books and there’s nothing wrong with erotic books — I read a lot of them and love some of them — but I want to read books that tell a story without depending on the hot sex which sometimes is used to mask the fact that there is no story. In my book 🙂 the sex should advance the plot and not be the plot. According to this small poll many of you seem to agree. I hope you will continue voting (you can only vote once) so that the numbers and opinions are representative of a large enough segment of M/M readers. The votes are anonymous so you can be honest. :wave:

My personal opinion is that there’s enough room for sweet as well as sexy romances in our genre and it would be a pity if the authors who write books that are less erotic felt that they weren’t appreciated, and left. Thanks for voting guys.


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  • I don’t think the results you list above indicate the conflict you seem to think they do. To me the results imply that most of the responders want story and characterization, and also want some sex. When a romance has no sex at all I am kind of disappointed, because I want to see how the two main characters interact together. That fits right in with the predominant responses (wanting a balance and wanting the sex to advance the plot).

    My guess is that going from zero sex scenes to one sex scene would have a much bigger impact than going from three to four (or even from three to six).

    Anyway, Amazon doesn’t do those heat rating things. Neither does Audible. I usually don’t see a heat rating before I buy a book, and that must be true of many others giving Amazon’s dominance.

    • That’s a great point about Amazon not doing heat ratings and being responsible for so many sales. 🙂 I wonder how Amazon sales compare to sales elsewhere in terms of books with higher and lower heat ratings?

      If that data were available (and my impression is Amazon does not release that sort of thing) that could make for a fun correlational study that could potentially shed some very interesting light on this…

      But considering Amazon lumps all M/M books into the “erotic” category, it might not be as illuminating as I’d hope. Because readers might be buying “sweet” books there under the assumption that they’re erotic. Methinks we need a factor analysis or something. 😀

    • Hi Charming and Jess

      I’m aware that Amazon doesn’t do heat ratings since I buy a lot of books from this re-seller, but as you said, all M/M is lumped into the erotic category so anyone buying these books would do so on the assumption that there was a fairly frequent sex quotient. In addition, many reviews on amazon mention the sex, so if someone were interested they would be able to figure it out.

      Since I buy these books for the story and want to read about men in love with each other, and not for the sex, I’m not disappointed at all and can take it or leave it if there’s no sex in the M/M books I read (just as I’m not disappointed when I buy general fiction and there’s no sex). 🙂 In addition, because many of the sex scenes in these books are so badly written I usually skip them after reading the first one. Some M/M authors have told me that they are uncomfortable writing sex scenes between two (or three) gay men, and it shows. They won’t even go to a gay porn site or talk to their gay friends if they have any, to figure out what they don’t know or how to make the sex more interesting than tab A into slot B and 1, 2, 3 fingers.

  • This is a discussion my co-author and good friend, Shira Anthony have all the time. Tab ‘A’ into Slot ‘B’ sex is not what I like to write or to read no matter who it is (M/M, M/F, or F/F). The story has to be the driver of the book, unless, your story is exclusively about the sex act. Writing a sensual scene is much more satisfying than the sex act itself–in my humble opinion. I want a story that I can immerse myself in, get lost in, and get lost with the characters. It isn’t always about sex–it about the story and the relationship.

    • Hi Venona

      Writing a sensual scene is much more satisfying than the sex act itself–in my humble opinion. I want a story that I can immerse myself in, get lost in, and get lost with the characters. It isn’t always about sex–it about the story and the relationship.

      I agree with you 100% and I wish more M/M romances used this principle. 😮


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