This is a question for writers. And, I guess, for readers, who are after all, the consumers of the writing. Here's the question: What should the pricing structure be for erotica?
As I said below in my "Welcome" post, when I read erotica, particularly hard core erotica that is intended to sexually arouse--which is what I both enjoy reading and writing, I value it based on what I'd call an orgasm scale. As I'm reading, how often do I get excited enough by what is written, and what it spurs in my imagination, to jerk myself off to climax? Or, perhaps even better for those lucky enough to have a partner who will play with them, how often does the party who is reading have their mind aroused to a state that enhances or helps cause an orgasm that is physically delivered by their partner? A third thing that could fit in this metric is how much a particular scene causes a state of arousal which causes the partner who has read the scene to fuck the brains out of the other partner? For simplicity's sake, let's just assume everyone is reading one handed and diddling themselves with the other.
To me (and I've read a few of these free or 99 cent gems), if I've read the whole thing, or even read a sex scene, and it hasn't contained enough eroticism to provoke me to climax, I think there has been very little, if any, value. Keep in mind that I don't expect a scene that is specifically written to build arousal that will pay off in another scene to be something it isn't (I don't expect a lead-in to be an orgasm inducer, though it's cool if it is). The other side of the coin is a book that takes me several days to read because every sex scene is an orgasm inducer. THOSE provide great value, in my opinion. Particularly if I find some scenes so stimulating that I carry them with me... they end up on my personal highlight real even though they're not my personal experience.
The other factor is length (ladies, don't start thinking about girth as well). I noticed that on Smashwords there are people selling ebooks that are around, and even under, 5,000 words. That surprised me. My 99 cent ebooks are all at least 15,000 words.
Do these people provide a hell of a payoff in those 5,000 words? To me, to provide real value in something that short, it would have to rate high on the orgasm scale. The converse of this is an erotic book that contains a lot of words, but no payoff. Who wants to read 20,000 words and have only one or two sections that cause them to masturbate furiously, or have a desire to screw furiously? (Again, I'm talking about harder core erotica, not soft-core romance stories).
So my question is about value, and having that value reflected in pricing. What do you think, as writers and readers of erotica? What should the metric be? 20,000 words containing enough sexy material to cause the reader to orgasm five times is worth what amount of money to a reader? How do you price your work (or value others' work if you are a reader)?
As a writer, one of the joys is thinking about the man or woman reading my book with one hand on their Kindle and the other rubbing themselves until they climax. I want to provide many scenes within each book that provoke that reaction, and perhaps a longer scene or two that cause them to bring themselves off a couple of times before it ends. That makes me feel like I'm providing value to my reader (along with an overall story arch that keeps them interested from sex scene to sex scene, plus I always like to have some humor mixed in).
Please, tell me what you think. How should we value our work, and look for value as readers? How much do we use pricing to build an audience (give it to 'em cheap so they'll try it out), or do we send a negative signal if we price it too low ("this is only 99 cents, how good could it be?")? I'd love to know what people think about this issue.