Are labels good?  Bad?

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Well, IMO, they are kind of necessary.

I’ve got a food allergy.  I read ingredients on food labels to make sure I don’t end up eating something I shouldn’t.

I don’t like messing with dry cleaning, so I check clothing tags to make sure it’s not labeled as DRY CLEAN ONLY.

I don’t really care for straight erotica, so if I see something tagged as straight erotica, I’m not very likely to read it.  Nothing against straight erotica, it just doesn’t work for me, so I like it when erotica books are labeled as such.

Likewise, if I read a book labeled erotic romance, and it’s more straight erotica (ie: the plot is more on a sexual exploration, there is no HEA at the end, etc) I’m going to be irritated.  I wanted a romance, I wasn’t given one, this is a problem.

I don’t much like westerns, so if I buy a book that has a romantic-suspense looking cover, blurb, etc and once I get into the book, I discover it’s actually a western, I’m going to be irritated.

I tend to write fairly steamy material, so if  a reader who doesn’t like explicit language picks up one of my books, I want my books labeled as erotic romance/steamy/whatever, so people know what they are buying.

People like to know what they are getting.  Especially when they shell out money.

Now I can understand why labels bug people.  I don’t want to be known just for paranormal romance.  Or just erotic romance.  That’s too confining and I get bored, and I don’t want readers thinking everything I turn out is paranormal.  One-those that don’t like paranormal may not pick my contemp stuff up, thinking it’s paranormal.  Two-I don’t want somebody who prefers paranormal picking up a contemp and being disappointed.

Labels aren’t a bad thing.  Constrictive labels can be.

But the labels are there for a reason.  People aren’t going to be as inclined to buy your books in the future if they were looking for a X-subgenre of romance, bought a book that seemed to fit, and when they get into it, it’s actual Y-subgenre of romance.  People like to know what they are buying.  That’s why we have labels.