Steve asked me a question, and I thought I’d share it with all of you:
“I’ve considered writing erotica, but I don’t really know where to turn for… guidelines, I guess you could say? Where should I submit work for sale? How long should something be? Are there certain subjects that are off-limits?”
It’s actually more than one question, a few pieces of the puzzle every budding writer needs to put in the right place.
The thing is, there are a plethora of answers to these questions, or not a single answer at all.
Becoming a writer is often a very personal path and the way to go about it is subject to everyone’s personal style, their frame of reference and opinion. Most importantly to become a writer, of course, it to write. You have to put the pen to the paper and let the magic flow. We all have ideas, prompts, inspirations…so whatever works for you, just go with it.
The most beautiful thing about being a writer is that, when you’re alone with your pen and paper (or word processor), you can do anything you want. You can undertake any voyage your mind can fathom, be any person you want to be. Villain or hero, it doesn’t matter. Writing a story really isn’t the issue
Every story deserves to be told, and every story deserves an audience.
Is there anything that’s off-limits? Like I said, inside your mind, and between you and your manuscript, literally anything is allowed. There are no taboos. Nothing is too vulgar, too sacred that it can’t become the plot of your story. Matching your story to the right audience, now this might be a little trickier.
If you want to write on a blog, which is the way I started, you shouldn’t worry too much about that. Especially in the case of erotica it is my experience, both as a reader and a writer, that no matter how vulgar or depraved, it’s always someone’s fetish.
As a rule, especially with erotica, anything relating to sexuality that’s forbidden in real life, is not acceptable for publishers. Child molestation is the most obvious example, but also bestiality, rape, kidnapping, and torture will be at least frowned upon, if not outright rejected. It can be a thin line sometimes. Rape fantasies, sibling incest, BDSM, are just a few examples of very popular erotic themes that will in many cases find their way to print, if certain boundary conditions are met.
What’s completely acceptable mainstream to one person, may be morally repugnant to another. My advice is to carefully read the publisher’s guidelines concerning content and to ask when in doubt.
As for the quality of your writing, well…some have talent. Some don’t. But writing is like a muscle that you can train. And your piece of paper is the gym, your pen the halter bars. There are also tons of online and offline resources, workshops, courses and writing blogs that can help you to learn the ropes and improve your skills.
You can have thousand of loyal followers on your blog who hang on your every word. You can have dozens of novel-length stories written with hundreds of positive reviews and people recommending you on every forum imaginable…on your blog.
Important to remember, your blog is not where a potential publisher will come to scout your talent. And your story, however critically acclaimed by your social media followers, will most probably not meet a publisher’s standards. Not right away at least.
If you send your manuscript to an editor or publisher for consideration, be prepared for bad news. Or at least for lots and lots of feedback, constructive or otherwise.
There is a shortcut of course, and that’s self-publication. I am not going to have the discussion here whether self-pub is to be preferred over conventional publication, this matter is far from settled. The fact is that self-publication, especially for e-books, has been on the rise for quite a few years and still has a huge potential for growth. Step-by-step platforms such as Smashwords or Amazon allow you to publish your book with a few mouse clicks and share your talent with the world, more or less on your own terms. Once your ebook is available for download, it’s just a matter of convincing those thousands of fans you had on your blog to actually go out and buy your book. Success rates vary and none are guaranteed.
Regardless of how many copies you sell, being a writer should be a reward in itself. It would be nice if my writing could pay a few bills every now and then, but mostly I enjoy being creative, the hours of solitude, the gratification of seeing your characters come to life and having them interact with you in the story you created just for that purpose.
So I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice: If you want to be a writer, WRITE! And READ!
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