I’ve been mostly a ghostwriter of erotica—this is my first time trying to see how well my own name sells versus someone else’s. Going down the road of trying to self-publish this stuff has been interesting. Here are 7 observations.
I have a friend who is a professional copy editor for a small publishing company who likes to eat pie with me—on free pie nights. We like to text funny videos on grammar. I’m pretty sure she’s flirting with me the way she’ll use the Oxford comma.
One particular pie-night she asks me what I do as a writer—since obviously write is just a weird answer. I told her I was a ghostwriter, particularly of children’s book and erotica—never both at the same time.
She told me that was the only thing that was selling these days—porn. Which I thought was pretty funny because I get all my porn for free. (Hi pornhub, youporn, and woodrocket…. Please stop giving my computer herpes. Really, I can’t find the condoms.) So I get drunk, go home, and Google it.
Apparently “50 Shades of Grey” did something, and you can make money off writing porn. That’s what I got from most of the stuff I read. Along with if you write a 3,000 word short story be sure to sell it for $2.99. Which is funny, because most of the erotic works I did asked for a minimum of 2,500 words. Slowly things began to click into place, and I figured if I could do this for fast cash why not try it on my own?
I will say I think a lot of what I read isn’t entirely truthful, and what’s funny is they say being in the business people will be not entirely truthful. There are also a lot of people who I think are using this advice the wrong way. I totally could be wrong about this, and I’m open to other people’s opinions. Either way, here’s a list of things, because people like lists.
1. Cover Art Is The Most Important Thing Ever
I’m always been told never to judge a book by its cover, but I went a long time finding new books to read just because they had cover art done by Luis Royo. I found a lot of great writers that way, too.
I also buy erotica books if they have a really sexy cover work on it. Except for maybe one that interested me since it dealt with The Minotaur, and I was wondering how the author would use that mythology. (It was actually pretty good, “Dance of the Minotaur” by T.C. Calligari if you want to check it out.)
One of the biggest hurdles I’m running into with publishing is the cover. I know that drawings aren’t particular in fashion, unless I can find someone who draws like Royo and won’t burn a hole in my wallet. I don’t currently live surrounded by sexy men and women who will let me objectify their bodies for my werewolf porn so I’m having to go through long distance connections. I’d need some basic knowledge of Photoshop beyond making LiveJournal icons.
I’ve read the key is using stock photos, but again that costs money I don’t really have. Along with learning a skill I frankly have no desire to learn.
That hasn’t stopped me from writing a lot though, and as soon as I get this cover art thing pinned down I can start self-publishing. I just don’t have a lot of money to pay my friends, except with sex toys and lube. (Which I also sell.)
2. $2.99 for 3000 Words is Bull Shit
I’ve never paid $2.99 for erotica. With the exception of well-known books like “The Story of O” or “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty” have I spent $2.99. Unless I knew it was a compilation of stories from a number of different authors, and unless the reviews stated that I was getting more than 3000 words.
That’s one of the biggest downfalls I read for some these reviews, is that the story was so short it shouldn’t be seen as a novella. Granted, I think that’s where a lot of the people that are paying for people to write things that are 2.500 words are coming from.
3. Twitter Accounts that Only Advertise are Annoying as Hell Freezing Over
I like to hang out on Twitter, and I like to follow people whose profiles look interesting and they have shiny erotica cover art. But all they do is post that cover art again and again. I don’t see any interaction except for promoting their book.
The scary thing is, is it kind of works. I have found myself clicking on these books and reading what they have to say, and then I feel dirty for doing so. I just got sucked into click-bait. I don’t mind people advertising their novels, but I’m on Twitter to not be alone when I’m writing.
4. Erotica is supposed to be Hard
A lot of people say writing porn is easy, but it isn’t.
Sometimes life gets in the way and I have to go chase the ducks out of my herb garden and coming back to the computer to start that super sexy bathroom scene doesn’t seem sexy anymore. Some days I have to force my male character to cum because he’s just not doing it the right way.
I don’t think there is any easy way to write whatever it is you do write, and erotica isn’t any different. I write a lot of other stuff, I’ve got novels I’ve been working on for ages that I do a lot of in-depth research into. They’re not going to be published under this name because they’re completely different genre.
I mean the not hard thing about writing erotica is I look at a lot of sexy photos for inspiration. I still have to transfer the images and story out onto paper. There is, and should be, art when writing erotica.
One of hardest part I find is a name for the damn characters. Especially orgies.
5. There is a lot of Bad (and dangerous) Porn
To write the erotica, you must read the erotica. There’s a lot of bad erotica out there. I understand there are a lot of bad books and erotica doesn’t excuse itself from that list just because it about fucking. I’ve read it where the sex scenes were so short I didn’t know something happened, the characters were unbelievable, and the dynamics just fell away. I’m not saying my stuff is any better—it could very well be awful. I just see things that could have used a really good friend to tell them not to go down that road.
There’s the whole creepy aspect of “50 Shades” where he was a stalker and didn’t use consent or aftercare… Yeah, just because it is porn doesn’t mean consider might try it out.
I really appreciate it when erotica authors have characters slip condoms on. Condoms aren’t especially sexy but unless it is made clear in some fancy way that all parties are having safe sex then it is okay.
I write BDSM stuff and always put in there that they had training with what they did, not creepy mentoring of Mister Grey, but that they wanted the knowledge so willingly sought it out. Maybe I’m giving away to many secrets right now but I’m tired of being turned on then the feminist kicks in and tells me its rape.
Just a little author’s note of ‘don’t try this at home kids!’ might be good for some erotica. Or at least research materials if they want to do it. But what’s sexy about reading that don’t try this at home? I think it is the biggest problem I have with fetishes, because while it might turn me on it doesn’t mean I’d try it. And I’m scared of the people who will try it.
I guess that is the allure of the taboo though, going into a fantasy world. People really get off on a bunch of fantasies they would never play out, but as someone who has been fighting for sexual assault victims for the past two years or so I find all of this troubling. (I write porn, sell dildos, and am an activist for victims/survivors.)
6. Too Much Plot Not Enough Masturbation
Plot is essential when writing a long piece, and obviously in erotica their needs to be a lot of sexy scenes. Sadly, I run into the plot ones where the sex scenes are just a paragraph or two long. It makes me sad because I will admit that I masturbate to words instead of actual scenes. (Sorry YouPorn)
And sometimes the sex scenes just drag on forever, or they get repetitive. It can be hard to write the stuff just perfect and some people really pull it off. (I hope I do.)
I will admit I sometimes skim the pages where the plot is just too much to try and find the sex. Because I do use it as a masturbation tool. My husband thinks it is the weirdest thing ever.
7. It Should Turn You On
I feel like I am getting the erotica down right when the words on the screen make me want to go and masturbate. Maybe I’m to much of a feels-y writer, since I also sob my eyes out when my characters are in crisis, but I get the sense I’m doing it right when my mind is turning me on.
Hopefully readers will like my head fantasies. I always feel like that is the biggest advise missing from ‘how to write erotica’ books. If the sex is boring you, the writer, then it is probably going to bore the reader.
So if you’re wondering why you can’t Google my name and find my work it’s because I’m still fighting to get cover work done. My collection of short stories should be coming out in the next couple of weeks (hopefully sooner) as soon as I can figure out how to format all of the stuff correctly.
I think my final thoughts on all of this is writing really is the fun part, but there just seems to be a lot of crap that happens after the editing is over.