One of the first things that I learned when I started writing professionally (not erotica, but less interesting writing), was to know your audience. Literotica, where I’ve published over 30 stories, provides a glimpse into what audiences might look like. If you’re unfamiliar with Literotica, users can optionally vote on stories and/or leave comments. The stories that have had the best response average one comment per 12 votes, but ordinarily you’re looking at 1 comment per 30 votes or more. Comments provide an insight into the reader’s likes and dislikes. It can also provide an indication of gender.
Before I started posting stories, I believed (as I think most of us would) that readers of erotica would likely be female. I should add that I distinguish between romance fiction and erotica, where the latter is more explicit. We’re talking about the explicit stuff here. I decided to test my assumption by going through all of the comments I’ve received over the years and checking the member’s profile for a gender identification. Admittedly, the Literotica member is not compelled to be honest. If they wish to do so, male readers can identify themselves as female and vice versa. I don’t know whether members deliberately mis-identify themselves, but it’s a possibility.
As I counted my results, I did not disregard comments by the same individual for multiple chapters of the same series. I figured that males and females would have the same opportunity to comment on multiple chapters of a series.
So here are the results for all types of stories (including erotic couplings, first time, group sex, anal, novels, and non-human):
It’s interesting to note that females and males were neck and neck until my review took me through a non-human series (about an incubus) that seemed to be favored by female readers and garnered a large number of repeat comments. These two factors may have skewed the results somewhat.
What did I learn?
Well, my assumption about a primarily female readership is probably wrong. It seems that men are a large and possibly largely unrecognized audience for erotica, possibly equal in size to women.
Will this change how I write?
Not really. Writing fiction that arouses women and men equally seems to me the greatest compliment.