I've made the shift towards labeling my work as "contemporary fiction (with erotic elements)" since early 2011 (since Amazon banned some of my ince$t-themed short stories in December 2010). It took me a long while to realize that most modern "erotica" is associated with "explicitness" -- it's mostly pornographic, in other words.
I think moving away from that label allows me to better locate and reach out to the right target audience(s). I know smut novels/stories sell very, very well ("sex sells" and there'll always be a market for porn), but it's just something I've not really been spiritually/artistically/professionally inclined to do. I just need to do something more meaningful (it's personal, but how I make money and the type of work I do are important to me). If making a lot of money was my #1 aim, I'd have aimed to have been a porn-star instead, right from the start (lol).
I dabbled with writing/publishing stories in various different genres from 2009-2010 (while completing my bachelor's degree). If I had to narrow it down to two specific categories, I'd narrow it down to the following two (at the moment):
1) alternative / erotic fiction
2) mainstream / urban fantasy
I guess what appeals to me the most is the "fantasy" element (spoken just like a Pisces Moon!). I know that mainstream audiences DO want material that's not too "unfamiliar" (and therefore uncomfortable), but at the same time, I believe that it doesn't have to come at the complete expense of the creator's/writer's unique touch and vision.
I guess this is something I've been struggling with (off and on) since I was sixteen (I'll turn 25 later this year).
I'm at a point right now where I'm better able to balance the artistic/creative aspects of writing with the business aspects of publishing.
I'll be expanding my "mainstream / urban fantasy" department over 2012, and I'm not sure if one department will outsell the other in future (right now they're about equal, in terms of rate/ratio).
But I enjoy writing hard-to-categorize, original/alternative material, because that's the area where I frequently challenge myself to be a better writer/artist. The feeling of stagnation really irks me, because the feeling of commoditization sets in along with that sense of stagnation, and as an artist, that is something I never want to truly become.
I've seen several people get very defensive/rude/outspoken when there's talk of this "artistic" vision (or anything of an artistic nature). These individuals can be very vocal about how financial security is more important than satisfying an inner muse, so on and so forth. That's not entirely untrue, but perhaps different people have different goals with the written word.
As someone who's spent a long time been passionate about and dedicated to improving their craft, I continue to maintain a sense of commitment to quality with the work I do (whether it's mainstream or alternative writing).
Good stories/books/products are remembered, and stand the test of time.
That's what I want my work to be in future, even if it means a slower, less glamorous/loud beginning.
I've stopped relying on Amazon rankings and ratings, because I've seen how quickly and easily those dynamics can change according to the retailer's whims and fancies. This means I'm literally getting ahead a lot slower than I could be (if I wanted several neatly-categorized projects to always be highly ranked and "very visible"), but I think the jessINK brand will be able to organically evolve based on the strength and value of the products/books themselves (and the customer/reader testimonials to back them up, many of which are unsolicited).
I have a couple of "financial targets" to hit over the next two years. I'll do my very best to make sure I succeed (since writing is both a passion and purpose to me). And I'll continue to provide as much value to the reader/customer as I can, with both my mainstream and alternative projects.
"Rome wasn't built in a day" = a quote I appreciate more, the more mature, focused, and emotionally stable I get ^^.