I am continually dumbfounded at the hostility that the RWA shows to erotic romance authors. On the one hand, they’ll give official recognition to Ellora’s Cave, but on the other we have their new “graphical standards” for covers and “bad” words that are now unacceptable.
“With respect to all RWA programs and services, the following shall not be depicted or represented: exposed male and female genitalia, exposed female nipples, cunnilingus and fellatio, hands or mouth covering naked female breasts, naked or g-string-clad buttocks, and beastiality. The following words: cock, cocksucker, cunt, fuck, motherfucker, shit, and tit, will not be displayed.” (Lauren here – I’d like to point out that they’ve violated their own policy by using these words themselves)
By way of “clarification” the President of the RWA said this means ” . .if we wish to retain our charter with RWA, we will no longer be able to show jacket covers that don’t meet the standard and we can’t even link to the websites of those authors who might show their own covers, have excerpts that include certain language, or lead to the publisher’s website.”
Sigh. (okay, a bit of snark, it’s “bestiality” and please show me that cover because I’ve never seen one, you might as well throw out “dining on human flesh” or “people taking a crap on the thanksgiving turkey” to the list).
At BEA last weekend, an author whose work I love and respect, Ann Jacobs, was refused a place at the RWA booth to sign her book, A Mutual Favor due to these new standards. The cover can be seen here. Now I’d like to also say here that Triad is more graphic than this cover which means that I wouldn’t be able to sign Triad at any RWA booths or the National Convention. Ann was able to sign the book at the EC booth without any problem and she details the exact story here at PBW’s blog.
Folks, this is censorship. Not official censorship under the constitution. RWA is not the government. No, it’s worse. Because this is an organization for writers. Writers who say things that make people think, that make people uncomfortable, make people laugh and cry and yes, turn them on. That an organization for authors, who should be advocating for them is instead trying to gag them is responsible for this silly, shortsighted and outright hostile piece of “standards” is offensive to the extreme.
Yes, my heroine has sex with the hero and yes, I write about it in detail. However, if readers like closed door scenes, they have the right and the ability to choose something else. But the fact of the matter is that tens of thousands of readers choose erotic romance. This is freedom of choice and this is what writers do – they create a universe that appeals to readers. If readers don’t like it, they choose the worlds they do like.
Moreover, how is this “standard” going to be enforced? Because big publishers have risque covers too. Is Harlequin going to be censored by RWA now?
As if it weren’t bad enough that erotic romance authors have to beg for recognition, they are now being pushed out with stuff like this. I have to shrug my shoulders and say that as an author, I don’t feel very welcome and I’ll take my dues elsewhere. As an author and someone who loves the first amendment, I am ashamed by the RWA.