Call for Submissions; or, a Seriously Sexy Manifesto

Review submissions are currently closed; if you’d like to be notified when they open again, you can follow me on Twitter.

Allow me to venture a couple of observations:

Fiction on the erotic-romantic spectrum struggles to be taken, well, seriously.

Legitimate criticisms can be made of the explicit or implicit politics of, say, ditsily-swooning femininity, heaving torsos and casual racial fetishisation. Similar criticisms could be levelled at any other field of literary production.

It’s absurd to draw any sweeping conclusion about the erotic-romantic fields of writing when, frankly, all they have in common is a direct engagement with love and/or sex.

This isn’t quite true; what they also have in common is a large readership among women. This is not unrelated to the critical perspective that romance and erotica are unworthy of serious consideration.

Book reviewing is, in general, in a miserable state.

Short, largely quantitative reviews predominate (‘3 stars; well-written and relatable protagonist’).

These reviews function, principally, to provide numerical data to outlets who want to sell us more of the same.

More serious reviews are out of reach of independent authors, taking place largely in the closed shops of academia, a few high-minded publications, or predatory services charging upwards of four hundred US dollars for a paragraph-length review.

So this blog is my small gesture toward rectifying the above. It’s a place for reviews of (mostly) erotic and romantic fiction, which will be careful, qualitative, detailed and personal reflections on what I’ve read. There will never be any star-ratings, marks out of ten, thumbs up or anything remotely quantitative, because neither a book nor my thoughts on that book ought to be reduced to just a number. On a related note, there will be no negative reviews here. Negative reviews are for restaurants that give you food poisoning, or consumer electronics that burn a hole in the desk. I don’t anticipate it happening often, but if a book really doesn’t work for me, I won’t review it. And, finally, I’ll lean heavily—perhaps exclusively, but we’ll see—toward independently published or self-published books.

Before we get down to brass tacks, here are a few FAQs (Frankly Anticipatable Questions):

Why don’t you give star ratings?

Star ratings are for consumer products with an easily-definable function, for the kind of restaurant that serves food in the forms of smoke, dust or gel, or for ascertaining whether your hotel is likely to have a dead rat in the minibar. A work of art takes serious creative labour, and it deserves to be met with the same; reducing that labour to a numerical score or function is nothing short of barbaric.

Relevant further reading can be found here.

Who the hell are you, anyway?

I’m a pseudonymous author of erotic fiction with literary pretensions, and literary fiction with erotic pretensions. If you want some credentials, I have a Master’s degree, have taught literary theory and writing, and have written book reviews for academic, literary and mainstream publications. But there’s no reason you should take my word for any of that, and I’ll understand if you conclude instead that I’m just some pretentious ass.

The best thing would be to read the reviews and draw your own conclusions. And since I believe all literature is criticism and all criticism is literature, you could also read one of my books if you want to get a sense of what I’m like.

What do you review?

I am particularly interested to read: gimmick-free contemporary erotic romance; narrative and/or formal experimentation of any kind; non-monogamy and polyamory in any and every permutation; anything queer; anything speculative or ecologically-minded or magical realist; anything with social commentary or an axe to grind.

I am not interested to read: abusive relationship dynamics of any kind; anything excessively violent; anything non-consensual; anything committed, for whatever bizarre reason, to the notion that billionaires are in any way attractive.

If what you write does not sit comfortably on either of these lists, you can safely assume it’ll lean heavily toward the former—I’m pretty open-minded and more than happy to consider anything I don’t find explicitly nauseating. Oh, and I strongly prefer something in the novella-novel range—that is, not a single short story or a hundred-thousand-word shag epic—but am likely willing to make allowances here and there.

What if my book isn’t romance or erotica? Will you still review it?

If it has something reasonably sustained to say about love and sex, sure, try me.

Erotica critic, huh? You must be really good at sex.

Thank you, but that’s not a question.

What do I do if I want you to review my book?

Now you’re talking.

How to submit your book:

If you think I would make a good reviewer for your work, and you have a book of yours in mind, you can send me an email: charlottenewings at gmail dot com. I do ask for a review copy (it’ll take me a few hours to read and review it, and I’m not getting paid for this, so y’know); pdf, epub, mobi, I don’t really mind. Put something in the subject line and the message body, for heaven’s sake. I am an actual human.

You can also send me an informal message if, say, you have something but you’re not sure if I’ll like it, or you have three books and can’t decide which one to send me. Email or Twitter DMs are fine for that kind of thing. If you have a more general question, feel free to drop a comment below this post.

Review submissions are currently closed; if you’d like to be notified when they open again, you can follow me on Twitter.

4 thoughts on “Call for Submissions; or, a Seriously Sexy Manifesto

  1. Agree with all your reasons. It’s why I took up the pen. As it were. It’s more of a tablet. And you don’t even have to ask as far as my books are concerned, as I am sure you knew, but just in case:
    My name is Onatopp and I consent to you writing about my book if you like.


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