Bracer left another comment - thanks! - and thinks fetishists might be a target audience for my books. Since I started publishing these books I have become more aware that a lot of people have this sort of greater interest in braces, and I have wondered how what I'm doing fits in that.
I think what I do in the books is try to convey the intensity of the experience, of what having braces means. I can see how a lot of that would appeal to fetishists. But is it enough? I think there's also stuff that is missing. Especially the sex. I'm not really sure what fetishists expect. If they want a lot of descriptions of braces and getting them and people's reactions to them I guess the books do have that. But there's almost no sex, and even in the book with adults with braces, Love and Braces, the braces don't have that much to do with the little sex there is. I mean, they're always there in all the situations that I describe, and Sylvia always thinks about them. But are the braces sexualized enough (if that's the word)? I mean, they take on all this importance, but does that make them fetish objects?
Maybe the intensity I'm trying to recreate is a lot like what fetishists feel. Maybe it's the same thing, except that I don't think of it sexually so much. But I don't know if it's right to say that fetishists are my target audience, because I think they'd probably feel let down by the lack of sex, or at least by the way the romance or sex is described. Of course all my characters are worried about how braces affect their love-lives, but since most of them are teenagers the main worries are just exaggerated adolescent concerns that almost every girl has. Except for in L&B they're almost all just trying to begin to come to terms with the feelings they have for boys. The braces are just an added complication. For a lot of them dealing with the braces is just a different way of dealing with all the confusing growing-up issues they are facing (and even Sylvia in L&B is sort of like a bigger teenager, I think, still dealing with a lot of the same issues). That's why I thought older teenage girls or college students who had a hard time going through all that were the likely target audience for my books.
Another part of the books that might appeal to fetishists is the way the braces and the treatment are exaggerated. There's not too much of that, at least of things that are completely unrealistic, but a few things are different from "real" braces. The one element I thought about hardest was how Dr.Wrighting straps her patients down in the examination chairs. I don't think any orthodontist does that anymore. But I think it's really effective in getting across that feeling one has in the examination chair, so that's why I decided to do that. Plus I wanted the Dr.Wrighting experience to be different from a normal orthodontist visit. But I always try to make it as harmless as possible. No one gets tied down against there will or anything like that. Dr.Wrighting always makes sure everyone is comfortable. The way I like to think of it is like the way young kids are strapped in car safety seats.
The other exaggerations, especially how the devices look and how uncomfortable or embarrassing they are, are also more to make the experience seem more intense. For most people having braces maybe doesn't seem that bad, especially in retrospect, but I think there are moments when everyone feels it really, really is. And I think in my books I try to focus on those moments.
So I'm glad Bracer likes L&B but now I'm worried that I don't have any target audience at all because the books are too inoffensive for fetishists and too weird for "regular" readers! I hope that's not right, but I don't know. It's so weird, because I know they're exactly the books I would have loved to read, or would still love to read if someone else wrote them. And I would have thought that with the millions of kids who get and had braces there would be some who felt just like I did!
(I'm not sure how I would feel if the only ones who liked the books were "fetish" readers. As long as the readers get something out of it I guess it is sort of satisfying, even if this isn't really what I had in mind. But I guess I would be a bit disappointed if I wasn't reaching those readers who I think would get the most out of the books - readers like me!)
I'll probably write more about this too, once I've thought about it more. The next book also raises some issues of who the target readers are, so I'll have to deal with it then too.
It's also cool getting some feedback, especially since I hope that helps other readers decide whether or not they want to read the books. Now I hope some readers leave reviews at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Lulu or wherever they bought the books! I think it would be great if those who might be interested in the books could see what others thought of them, since even with all the information I put up at the Intraoral Press site maybe I'm not able to convey exactly who might like the books best, and for what reasons.