What interests me is that the best selling stories are consistently the ones with lesbian BDSM themes, and the harder-edged ones that involve a significant amount of string-em-up-and-flog-em - and go light on some of the more real-life issues of consent, limits, negotiation and so on.
What also interests me is that given who I'm publishing with, I'd assume my purchasing public is primarily female.
I'm not complaining about this in any way, shape or form. I have many lesbian and bi friends and I'm more than capable of writing stuff they enjoy. And I'm ready, able and willing to write nasty and cruel sex scenes.
I do, though, suspect I've been guilty of making an unwarranted assumption that writing primarily for a female audience implies holding back on the levels of implied coercion and the amount of pain inflicted on my characters.
I suspect since the Black Lace books started coming out well over a decade ago, a lot of women have become used to erotica that isn't just strong in a sexual way, but heavy-handed with the whips and floggers and multiple partners and domination/submission as well. Maybe those fantasies were always there, given that forced sex is reported in academic, psychological/psychoanalytic papers to be a common fantasy theme among women.
After all, even mainstream literature now has scenes of multiple partners, sexual slavery and repeated anal intercourse (yes, I'm reading Pynchon's Against the Day at the moment, and Gravity's Rainbow has several bondage scenes, not to mention a bit of coprophilia).
I've been striving in some of what I've written to explore a few of my more experimental literary aspirations... and I'm not going to stop doing that, but the sales figures are a useful reminder that I should remember the basics and make sure there's lots of good, vicious sex in there.