Mar 132014

By P.M. White

Often, a quick scan on Amazon’s selection of erotica reveals one very hard-to-miss fact: there are a lot of women writing in the genre these days. You’ll also notice dozens of author names which obscure or mask the author’s gender. It’s always refreshing to see a new name—be it male, female or tbd—enter the erotic fray, and many of my favorites write from the female perspective—which they do, mostly, because they’re female writers.

There are, of course, the popular male writers: authors like the incredible Maxim Jakubowski, the awesome M. Christian, Terrance Aldon Shaw and others, not to mention age-old standbys like Vladimir Nabokov and Marquis de Sade, each providing their own unique voice to the genre.

And, few in number though they may appear to be, there are also contemporary and emerging male erotica writers out there. I’m one of them. And whether I want to admit it or not (and I must, since I’m writing this piece), I do occasionally pay attention to gender when it comes to my peers in the field. Having written erotica since 2008, my attention to others in the industry led to a number of conclusions.

For one, the illustrious golden goose is a shy little thing for writers seeking a payday in sexy literature, no matter one’s gender. For another, we male writers might almost be an endangered species when it comes to an apples-to-apples head count. This isn’t to say there isn’t a good sampling of male blood in the field. In fact, there may be more male writers than some might think.

According to author Gregory Allen, some male writers actually pen under a female pseudonym due to their fear that a masculine name might alienate readers.

“I’ve heard people say they prefer the way men write and I’ve heard people say they prefer the way women write,” he said. “I’m surprised when I hear people voice a preference like that. Short of reading every book ever written, a person can’t really say they don’t like the way women write men or the way men write women without making unfair judgments about a lot of authors. I know there are male writers who use female pen names for fear of alienating readers who prefer female authors. I don’t begrudge any writer trying to gain readers. Readers are gold. Writing is a lonely life. I used to hear that and think it was because writers are alone when they write, but now I think it’s because writers communicate intimately with a blank page.”

Allen, who specializes in female domination erotica, wrote in other genres for a number of years before turning to stories that focus on romantic, monogamous, female-led relationships.

Allen said. “When I started, I realized I had already sculpted my ideal mistress from my own fantasies in Kimberly, from Courting Her and Serving Her.”

Allen makes it a point to shut out gender stereotypes when he’s writing.

“I avoid considering my characters as male or female. I think of them as individuals, who obviously are male or female, but that subtle shift in how I think of them enables me, I think, to keep gender stereotypes out of my writing. I’m not obligated to keep my female characters ‘like’ other women, or my male characters ‘like’ other men. That frees me to focus on creating characters who feel authentic and unique, at least to me, and then I can hope readers find them to be, as well,” he said.

Author Willsin Rowe, meanwhile, got his start in erotica after he joined a project designed to mass-produce books and graphic novels. He was brought on board to produce horror stories with an edge of black comedy, but soon learned of another group on board the project tasked with producing erotic romance.

“Then, a matter of months later, I found out about a contest to write an erotic romance story. I submitted mine, and was lucky enough to win. That scored me a contract with a small publisher, and I’ve grown upward and outward from there,” Rowe said.

He describes his own work as “gritty romance.”

“It doesn’t always fit into the capital-R Romance category, but I strive to make the connections intense and rewarding,” he added.

A big difference between male and female writers of erotica, Rowe said, are descriptive terms.

“Being lateral and literal creatures, we males often write erotic scenes from a sequential, and even geographical point of view, I think. So, we’ll often spend time describing what appeals to us, which may not be the same as what appeals to a female writer,” Rowe said. “For example, a male writer may focus on the sweet way that fulsome breasts wiggle when we make a woman laugh, whereas a female writer may take that same moment and describe the twinkle in his eye as he delivered the witticism.”

Rowe said there are likely more female readers than male readers interested in erotic fiction at the moment.

He said, “All the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen tells me there’s a far higher contingent of female readers than male. And where one perspective is chosen, it’s more commonly the female. I believe that, for the most part, men are more interested in reading female POV (point of view) than women are in reading male POV. At least as far as erotica and erotic romance are concerned.”

No matter what, Allen said, writers need that human-to-human contact to grow in their craft.

“So many of us are aching for that, or asking for more of that, because a gap always exists in communication, but especially when the communication is so delayed as it is between writer and reader. But, for me, the opportunity to reach someone who thinks only female authors can be romantic or can create authentic-seeming female characters is too tempting. It’s bigger than me or my books, and if someone whose mind isn’t made up about male authors—which must be the case if they’re giving me a chance—feels differently about them after reading me, then that may be worth sacrificing a wider audience.”

Is it harder these days to be a male author these days? Rowe offered a resounding yes.

“I do think it’s harder, but it’s probably one of the softest kinds of hard you’d ever find,” he said. “We’re basically facing an automatically reticent general buying public by remaining male (as opposed to taking on a female pen name). I’ve had more than one woman tell me (without having read my work) that they don’t enjoy male-penned erotica. But as I say, it’s a pillow-like hardness. We’re not fighting for emancipation or civil rights, here.”

There are benefits as well, he added.

“It’s easier to stand out in people’s minds when you’re part of a subculture,” Rowe said. “First, there’s the physicality. I’m 6’ tall, 200 lbs, shaven-headed; I play in a band and ride a motorbike. I don’t look like most erotica/romance authors. But more than that, there’s the rather low bar that has been set by some members of the male gender. In real life and online, I’m polite, respectful and complimentary. Adding a Y-chromosome to those characteristics seems to make a world of difference.”


About Willsin Rowe
Willsin Rowe is the author of Submission Therapy, as well as a number of other titles co-authored with author Katie Salidas, including Occupational Therapy, Immersion Therapy and others. For more information, visit his website at or find him on Facebook and Twitter.


About Gregory Allen
Author Gregory Allen can be found on Facebook and FetLife, as well as on Twitter @GregoryAllenPF. He’s the author of Courting Her, Protege Mistress, and Serving Her ­– all published by Pink Flamingo. He’s also the author of Bottoms in Love, published by 1001 Nights Press.


About P.M. White
Writer P.M. White has toiled on a number of sexy stories over the years, including his newest novella Volksie: A Tale of Sex, Americana and Cars from 1001 Nights Press. His previous publications include the Horror Manor trilogy from Sizzler Editions: Eyeball Man, Desire Under the Eaves, and You are a Woman. White’s short stories have appeared in Sex in San Francisco, The Love That Never Dies, Bound for Love, Pirate Booty and many others.
For more information, visit him on Tumblr at, at his Amazon author page, on Twitter @authorpmwhite and on Facebook.

Jan 272014

By P.M. White

Writers aren’t social, are they? Aren’t writers at their keyboards, head lowered, with their fingers moving furiously for hours on end? Don’t they hear dialogue in their minds and not out loud?

That’s how it used to be, if we’re to believe historians.

Writers these days, however, have to be both social and prolific if they want to make enough from their stories to stave off a day job. And most writers have day jobs, often two jobs, to support their writing habit. But whether or not one needs a day job, it’s still it’s a full time job just being social—by which I mean the current primary definition of this term: marketing yourself and your writing with social media. Like it or not, most believe it’s a vital part of the literary world these days. In erotica, authors are online chatting it up on a regular basis. If they want to sell more than five books, they have to be.

But often, all the socializing in the world won’t help. So what are the tips and tricks to getting noticed? How do authors market both their work and themselves?

Author Hunter S. Jones recommends loads of reading and loads of research:

As an artist you should have the capacity to read trends. Find out what works for your genre and what feels good for your work. That seems to be the most important thing, really.

Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, offers both advantages and shortfalls, she added.

You can gain scores via some sites, gain followers on all sites, but maybe the important thing to remember is not to lose sight of your own publishing goals. What do you want and how can you obtain it?

Author Kay Jaybee recommends setting aside time each and every day to promote your work. The easiest and most obvious marketing tools, she said, are Facebook and Twitter:

By setting up an author page on Facebook, as well as a Twitter account, you can quickly post buy links, cover reveals, and writing news to help build up an audience of readers. If you haven’t the time to dive into these social media networks more than once a day, you can use Hootsuite to schedule as many posts as you like in advance—that way your work has an online presence on and off all day.

Keeping and updating a blog or a website is equally important, she added. Jaybee herself gets more than a thousand visitors a week on her blog.

Another recommendation I’d make is to go on a blog tour whenever you have a new, full length, novel or novella to market. Ask blog-owners who specialize in your genre to feature your work for a day. You can pay for professional agencies to set up such tours for you, or you could offer to swap blogs with other writers, featuring their work in return for them featuring yours. Blog tours are a great way of introducing your work to a wider number of potential new readers.

Author Giulia Napoli suggests staying active in one to two social media sites at a time when pushing your erotic writing:

You can lose hours per day—hours better spent writing—by getting sucked into long discussions or writing dozens of notes that aren’t directly applicable to marketing your books. For example, a friend of mine who writes sci-fi started to get involved in a discussion of whether or not sci-fi authors should use faster-than-light travel in their stories. He was strongly opinionated on that topic, but there was no return on the time he spent debating it.

Napoli herself can often be found on Goodreads, her preferred choice, due to the author communities found there.

Become known in the communities of readers and authors within your genre. All social sites have ‘interest groups’ of some sort. For writers, Goodreads may be the best site for this—for example, if you write fem-fem erotica, there is a Goodreads group for that. Participate in a handful of groups directly about, or related to, your genre—within reason. Toss out your ideas, but avoid arguments. Above all, be courteous, and observe the group rules!

Street teams, fans who advertise your writing on social media, also work for some authors, said Jones—but what works for some doesn’t always work for others—

What works for me is a pair of black Louboutins, black dress, pearls, small Chanel bag, Chanel lipstick and Bardot hair. And a pair of red leather gloves. This may not work for others. If you write, you live it and surely you love it. Whatever your vocation, you are selling something to someone else. Why not your book or books? If you do not believe in yourself, how can you expect someone else to? Why deny the world your greatness? Get out there and let them know about your work.

Jaybee cited the importance of an author page on Amazon as well, as a majority of book sales in both the United Kingdom and in the USA begin with the online giant. Sprinkle that with a helping of Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest, sometimes LinkedIn—whatever will reach your readers. But no matter which social media strategies and venues you choose, you remain quiet and off-radar at your peril:

LinkedIn works for some people, but not for others, as it is very business based. It is no good writing a book and expecting people to magically have heard of it. If you don’t shout about your work it will be lost in the swamp of the hundreds of thousands of other publications out there. Each and every time you put a book or even a blog post out—tell everyone! Tweet it, Facebook post it—spread the word! Otherwise, you are simply wasting your time. I know I’m repeating myself, but I can’t stress that enough.

In a world where publishers do less and less marketing, promotion has become as much a part of an author’s job as the creation of plot twists and placing of commas. I resent the time I spend marketing my work. It takes up a good two hours of my day—time I could spend writing—but sadly, it is essential. I did an experiment last year to see if my daily round of tweeting, posting and blogging made any difference, and did nothing marketing-wise for a month. My sales disappeared! Needless to say, I am back to marketing my work every day!

Offline, getting a mention in a magazine or newspaper, reading your work at an event, or doing a radio interview is also something Jaybee strongly recommends.

Reviews are another important piece to the marketing puzzle, Napoli said:

Get reviews of your work. Get them on review sites, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Smashwords, etc. Follow everyone’s rules in submitting or offering your work for review, but get reviews from pros and regular readers of your book. Assuming most of your reviews are good, an occasional two-star review is better than no review at all. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

That said, Napoli cautioned,

An author should never, ever resort to arguing with critics.

This can destroy your reputation faster than anything. If your book gets read, as you want it to, there will be some people who’ll feel they’ve wasted their money on you and want you to ‘pay’ in return. The way they make you pay is by giving you a poor rating. Suck it up. Ignore it and go on, no matter how unfair it is. You cannot win that battle.

Book giveaways, Napoli added, are another way to generate buzz:

I’m not a big fan of giving books away over a long period, unless you’re trying to channel readers into your sequel. I think targeted giveaways, e.g., in Goodreads contests, are the way to go. When you’re getting started, contact readers who show an interest in your book(s). For example, for my erotic novel, Oh Claire!, I sent a friend request with a short note to every reader who put it on their ‘to read’ list. In addition, if a reader writes a particularly well-done review, contact that person, and tell her/him what you liked about the review. But never argue.

Despite all the tricks of marketing and promotion, Napoli said writers shouldn’t lose track of two important points: finding the right publisher and having a polished finished product.

Find a publisher if you can, even if it’s one that only publishes online. For a [rather small] percentage of the online fees, they will help with editing, publishing, distribution, and marketing. Note that online publishing fees range from 65 to 70 percent, if the book is priced between U.S. $2.99 and $9.99. Online-only publishers forward most of that to the author.

Editing is a very big deal. In my opinion, it can make all the difference in acceptance of your book. It takes time, but results in a high-quality product. I write erotica, and I know that erotica publications (short stories, novelettes, novels) are among the most poorly edited. When you find an author whose books are quality (e.g., Lindsey Brooks), you tend to read more of their works. Typically, more enjoyable stories go with better editing, because everybody involved is trying to do their best—quality, not quantity, is the key.

When it comes to editing, Napoli recommends working with other authors and reading one another’s work. But again, a word of caution:

Remember though, a good writer is not necessarily a good editor—at least not without practice.


About Hunter S. Jones
Hunter S. Jones is the author of September EndsFortune Calling and other works. When not writing novels and stories, she contributes to Over the years she’s published articles on music, fashion, art, travel and history. Jones, a lover of all the finer things in life, says, ”The art form I create when writing is much more interesting than anything you will ever know or learn about me. However, since you ask, I have lived in Tennessee and Georgia my entire life, except for one ‘lost summer’ spent in Los Angeles. I was always a complex kid. My first published stories were for a local underground rock publication in Nashville.”
For more information, visit Hunter S. Jones online at , Exile on Peachtree Street and Facebook.

About Kay Jaybee
Kay Jaybee is the author of numerous novels, including the Perfect Submissive Trilogies, Making Him WaitThe Voyeur, as well as the novellas Not Her Type: Erotic Adventures with a Delivery ManDigging DeepA Sticky Situation, and The Circus. She has also written the short story collections The Collector, The Best of Kay Jaybee, Tied to the Kitchen SinkEquipmentYes Ma’amQuick Kink One and Quick Kink Two. Kay has had over eighty short stories published by Cleis Press, Black Lace, Mammoth, Xcite, Penguin, Seal and Sweetmeats Press (Immoral Views).
Visit Jaybee online at, or on her Facebook page.

About Giulia Napoli
Thirty-something Giulia Napoli grew up in East Lansing, Michigan where her father was a professor at Michigan State University. She earned a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Journalism from a prestigious Great Lakes area university. While an undergraduate, Giulia studied abroad for three years—a year each in London, Florence, and Brussels. Her interest in the many forms of erotica started and grew during her time in Europe. Giulia writes romantic erotica with themes of submission, hair fetishes, body modification and some surprising, unexpected, erotic twists thrown in. Her settings are often exotic and, especially in her new novel, Oh Claire!, global in scope, reflecting her own well-traveled experiences.
For more information on Napoli, visit her Goodreads page, or send her an email at

About the columnist
Writer P.M. White has toiled on a number of sexy stories over the years, including his newest novella Volksie: A Tale of Sex, Americana and Cars from 1001 Nights Press. His previous publications include the Horror Manor trilogy from Sizzler Editions: Eyeball Man, Desire Under the Eaves, and You are a Woman. White’s short stories have appeared in Sex in San Francisco, The Love That Never Dies, Bound for Love, Pirate Booty and many others.
For more information, visit him on Tumblr at, at his Amazon author page, on Twitter @authorpmwhite and on Facebook.

Dec 202013

By P.M. White

Bram Stoker’s 1897 opus of Count Dracula grabbed readers by the jugular. Dracula followed close on the heels of books such as Varney the Vampire; or, the Feast of Blood (1845-47) and Carmilla (1872), which got readers’ blood pumping a generation or so earlier. Before too long, those charming, bloodthirsty creatures of the night known as vampires were a household name.

Today, vampires are as popular as ever, from Sookie Stackhouse to the brooding teen heartthrobs of Stephenie Meyer. Their appeal is as immortal as the vampires themselves.

Adding sex to their ongoing story just makes them more interesting.

But what makes a good vampire tale, let alone a sexy one? As an author, delving into such familiar territory can be a navigational nightmare, full of well-staked (no pun intended) territories and charted waters. Go too far one direction and readers will accuse you of hacking Anne Rice. Go too far in another and you’re writing “Buffy” fan fiction. Let’s not even discuss lawsuits. In this litigious era, everyone from Meyer to Rice gets tangled in legal disputes—and they’re as much, if not more, of a genuine concern for lesser-known writers as well.

On the plus side, writers seem to have no trouble making vampire fiction creative and bloody-fresh on a regular basis. As a test, I asked Facebook friends to name their favorite vampire, a query that revealed names from Nosferatu to The Count from Sesame Street. Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer also ranked high, as did Nadja from the 1994 film of the same name, and Zsadist, a character from the Black Dagger Brotherhood books by J.R. Ward. These remarkable, and original, characters are all firmly nestled in the annals of vampire lore.

Author Maya DeLeina has written a number of paranormal romance books over the years, including her book Flesh Fantasy: Ambrose Heights Vampires, and said she’s always been drawn to fanged romance.

For her, the best vampire books are those that offer a glimpse into the life of the undead.

“Being able to quickly absorb the vampire character is pivotal,” DeLeina says. “Understanding the world as seen through their eyes, and how mortals and the perpetual world around them are perceived, makes it much more interesting. Basking in the psyche of a vampire is a trip to remember.”

Eternal life, she adds, provides a distinct allure for readers.

“Sexy is not just skin deep,” DeLeina continues. “There are so many angles on how a vampire manages this perpetual existence—some regard it as a gift, some a curse. They can become numb to life itself, where they are cold-hearted, forgetting the value of life. But then there are those vampires that see how short a lifespan is and recognizes it as a true gift. If they never choose to ‘turn’ a mortal, the lust for life and appreciation of the being pours out to that mortal, making for one steamy and affecting love story.”

Author Dorothy F. Shaw is currently penning an erotic romance trilogy with author Pia Veleno that features both a vampire and a mythological maenad.

For Shaw, believable characters are a must for strong vampire stories.

“Make me believe that I could run into this being on the street,” Shaw suggests. “Make me feel his or her emotions. When it’s real, no matter what kind of character it is; it’s going to be good. If an author can reach inside my soul with their character and touch it, then I’m sold for life. Now, that’s good fiction.”

Those seeking to write their own tale of erotic vampire fiction, she added, should take the time to read up on vampire lore before getting started.

“Read a lot of it within the genre you want to write in, and then come up with the rules for your vampire world. And don’t be afraid to be different,” Shaw says. “The dark and broody, and sometimes evil vamps of the past are definitely something to respect and remember. That being said, I think what makes a vampire special is the very thing that makes him different from the vamps of our past. I happen to love vampires that hold on to their humanity, either rejecting what they’ve become or embracing both sides, managing to stay true to who they were when they were human. I love it when the line gets blurry. When an author makes me forget I’m reading a book about a vampire, then I’ve struck gold. That’s a story I won’t put down. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I want to forget I’m reading about vampires, not at all—I love vampires. But what I love more is the chance to see past the fangs and into the heart of the being I’m reading about.”

When it comes to advice for writing erotic, romantic vampire fiction, DeLeina recommends starting with whatever it is you love about bloodsuckers in the first place.

“Hone in on that premise to craft your fanged creature. Don’t be afraid to steer away from the conventional folklore, but always be prepared to have some explanation as to why your vampire can suddenly do things like walk in the sun, bear children, eat …you get my drift,” she says.

Shaw cites J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and Joey W. Hill’s Vampire Queen series as sources of inspiration when it comes to pulse-pounding tales of the undead. Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series is another favorite, she adds.

“To me, what makes a vampire sexy is the threat of what he or she can do to a human, the barely restrained monster within,” Shaw says. “The ability to rip out a throat or bleed someone dry. It’s intoxicating because I know the vampire must struggle to keep it together, and not take a life, especially during sex. Heart racing, pulse pounding as two bodies engage in the primal act of passion. The hunger that hides just below the surface and then strikes out for a little taste in order to take the edge off—it’s mind-blowing, raw, and erotic. The biting, the blood, and the sex are a heady and tasty mix. Simply put, it’s downright hot!”

DeLeina cites authors Anya Bast and Bianca D’Arc as personal inspirations for her writing. She said there aren’t many vampire books she doesn’t enjoy—and that includes Twilight.

“Even with the ones that I didn’t care for, there is always the ‘takeaway’ you get from it. Take Twilight for example. I absolutely loved the fact that some of the traditional folklore was in the story, [such as] the not eating part. It was interesting to see the interaction between Edward and Bella in the restaurant, using ‘allergies’ as an explanation for not eating. Now, as most people know, I just about threw the book across the room when the sparkle crap came up. But regardless of the fact that I thought it was absurd and cheesy, the author took a leap when crafting her vamps. I hate it, but I love it. Think about it. When you hear people refer to sparkling vampires, there is no mistaking which author’s vampires they are referring to.”

While erotic bookshelves seem to be overflowing with BDSM tales, and even a blast of zombie titles, she said vampire stories offer lasting appeal.

“Here’s the thing: overdone or not, vampires are creatures that conjure up many emotions for a person,” DeLeina says. “Some like the mystery and seduction of a vampire. Some admire them for their ability to live forever. And then some embrace sorrow for them because of their eternal existence. Because of all of this, that is why there will always be a market for vampires.”

Shaw adds, “If you think about it, all things have already been done. There are very few original ideas left. It’s rather sad, really. What authors are tasked with is the challenge to do it differently—whatever ‘it’ may be. A vampire, a werewolf, a witch or a maenad. Contemporary romance, horror, suspense, erotica… The question is, how will you or I take something old and make it new and exciting? Not an easy task, but one I’m personally up for.”


More on Maya DeLeina:

Maya DeLeina is a multi-published author of paranormal erotica. She delves into sexual fantasies of the blood and fang variety and leaves readers tingling in all the right places. Born and raised on the beautiful and romantic beaches of Oahu, Maya relocated to Colorado, trading her crystal blue oceans and powdery white sands for enchanting forests, mystic mountains and golden plains of promise. Living just on the outskirts of Manitou Springs, the town’s history of spiritual healing, eclectic flare, fabled underground tunnels and rumored lore of wizardry and witchcraft has rekindled Maya’s love for the paranormal, metaphysical and most of all, vampires. One bite and she was hooked.

For more information, visit her website at


More on Dorothy F. Shaw:

Dorothy F. Shaw stumbled into a career in Corporate America and has spent the last 17 years climbing the ladder. A fan of journaling, she started an online blog in 2009, and poured her emotions out for all to see. As luck would have it, the first post came out in the form of a poem. A few authors she’d met online encouraged her to write more, and in the span of 2 years she wrote over 150 poems. The poems led to short stories, which blossomed into novels. Evident from the very beginning was her voice as an author: real and packed with wit and sarcasm. Her stories will always include complex, broken people trying to figure out how to start and keep a relationship—as well as lots of hot, steamy sex. As Dorothy sees it, the journey is the best part. When she’s not writing, she’s a wife, mother, and a friend to many. She truly lives and loves in Technicolor!

Her co-written debut novella about a former pro-bowler, Spare Hearts, is published by Grand Central. Dorothy welcomes emails at: and can also be reached at on Twitter and


Writer P.M. White has toiled on a number of sexy stories over the years, including his newest novella Volksie: A Tale of Sex, Americana and Cars from 1001 Nights Press. His previous publications include the Horror Manor trilogy from Sizzler Editions: Eyeball Man, Desire Under the Eaves, and You are a Woman. White’s short stories have appeared in Sex in San Francisco, The Love That Never Dies, Bound for Love, Pirate Booty and many others.

For more information, visit him on Tumblr at, at his Amazon author page, on Twitter @authorpmwhite and on Facebook.

Nov 302013

By P.M. White

When it comes to erotic fiction, formulas rule. Even writers new to the genre can guess what they are. The most common: a rich man enchants a young, inexperienced woman, introducing her virginal life to the startling world of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM). Change it up a bit if you want. Make it about two men (M/M), one of whom has never been so attracted to another guy before in his life. Or make it about two women (F/F), one of whom is so successful that their lover is shocked she chose to bed her.

The other element? One of them, usually the lead, has to be surprised at their behavior—“Her legs followed the man with the zipper mask, while her mind reeled… Am I really going through with this? Little old introverted me?” For so many novels, this is the vehicle that drives the story and places the reader firmly into the seat of third-party exploration. There are a number of variations, but the common formula is plainly evident: take the reader to school by using a character new to whatever lifestyle.

For veteran writers, this may seem too easy, and arguably not the common formula for some. Writers draft manuscripts based on two factors: what they would read personally and what others want to read. Readers new to—and intrigued by—everything from erotica itself to various sex acts and lifestyles are to be expected, hence the fish-out-of-water formula. But what do seasoned readers want in their stories?

And what advice would book reviewers give to authors, whether new to the game or not?

Book reviewer Carol Conley, owner of the review site I’m A Voracious Reader, pores over a library of books in a month’s time—and she reviews far more than erotic titles, which makes her something of an expert on books across the board.

Writers, she said, should stick to erotic topics that turn their cranks on a personal level.

“If you feel that F/F stories are hot, write one of those, but if F/F doesn’t do anything for you personally, I think it’ll show in the story. Don’t write what everyone else is writing. Write what makes you enthusiastic. Also, don’t shoehorn in a sex scene just because you think we want it or just because there hasn’t been a hot scene in a chapter or two. It needs to fit or we’ll call you out on it. And as a personal pet peeve of mine, don’t make your characters think with their groins all the time. Especially in dangerous situations. Nothing turns me off faster than characters who are too stupid to live,” Conley said.

Terrance Aldon Shaw, writer and operator of the blog site Erotica for the Big Brain, said he wastes little time reviewing books that aren’t well written or completely edited.

“Having a compelling story is essential, but grammar, spelling, and punctuation matter in the effective telling of that story,” Shaw said. “Whether a book comes from an aspiring indie or from one of the Big-Six houses; if it’s poorly written, indifferently edited, or sloppily formatted, forget it. I have better things to do with my time, and woe to anyone who wakes my slumbering inner angry-tenth-grade-English teacher.”

He cited an example of a young author whose work could make her the next big thing, were it not for terrible editing.

“Her story was brilliant, original, and full of promise. The problem is that she seems to have relied on AutoCorrect to do her editing for her. After a few chapters dense with misplaced prepositions, confused tenses, and inscrutable word choices like “volcano larva”—I swear I’m not making this up— I simply had to chuck it in. I sent the author an e-mail, advising her to hire a professional editor. If she takes that advice, I have little doubt she could end up with the kind of success most of us only enjoy in our dreams,” said Shaw.

Both Shaw and Conley agreed that stories, even erotic ones, should never forsake plotting for gratuitous banging.

“I think to be called erotic it needs to have a plot. And no, just having sex, no matter how hot it’s written, is not a plot,” Conley said. “A story that revolves around little else than sex is written porn. There’s nothing wrong with those stories. I happen to love them. But a successful erotic story has a plot that includes hot sex. Think of it as a horse race. The horse is the plot and the jockey is the sex. A horse may cross the finish line without a jockey, but a jockey isn’t likely to cross without the horse. However, both working together have a much better chance at victory. Sex scenes don’t have to be overly graphic for me to enjoy them. Dialogue that flows smoothly and isn’t stilted or forced is also important. I also like humor and some quirky characters, but that’s just a personal preference.”

Shaw said, “First, don’t obsess about the amount of sex in the story, or whether you’re being explicit enough, going too far, or not far enough. Let the sex happen naturally in the course of the story, and allow your characters to express themselves honestly and openly about it. Whether the sex turns out to be transcendent or deeply disappointing, beautiful or disgusting, a source of bliss or of shame, the most important thing, when it comes to erotic narrative, is to narrate sympathetically, frankly, and artfully.

“Second; avoid repetition. This is a common problem in longer narratives, which careful editing can often eliminate. Repetition occurs at several levels. At the macro level, entire scenes can seem to recur again and again, as if characters (and readers) are caught in a time warp or experiencing increasingly unpleasant déjà vu. At the ‘micro’ level, writers sometimes get hooked on the same words, phrases, or syntactical structures, often without realizing it. A short story I read recently used the word ‘feral’ at least eight times, and a fairly unusual word like that loses its punch and potency rather quickly. It’s not always unusual words that are plopped down in too-close proximity, though. The best advice is to recruit good eagle-eyed beta-readers, or, again, hire a competent professional editor.”

Cliches, he believes, should be avoided whenever possible, particularly when it comes to character development.

“Beauty and sexual attractiveness are not necessarily the same things. Endow your characters with rich inner lives, not just bigger-than-average body parts. And do avoid tired phrases such as ‘it was like no pleasure she had ever known before’ or ‘it was the most amazing orgasm he’d ever had,’ that is, unless you want the most excruciatingly scathing one-star review you’ll ever read,” Shaw said. “When all’s said and done, tell a good story from the point of view of real people (fantasy characters are, essentially, real people, too); the kind of characters you and your readers can care about, and will want to spend time with.”

He stressed that writers should take their work seriously, from plotting to editing and beyond, and not simply write, throw their latest on Amazon, plug it through social media, and forget about it.

“I look for professionalism from the get-go; a sense that the people involved in creating a book care about what they’re doing, take the endeavor seriously, and put some serious effort into honing and refining the final product. I can generally tell from the first paragraph, or sometimes, even the first line, if this is the case,” said Shaw.

When vetting books to review for his site, Shaw pays special attention to intriguing characters, motivating passions, and titillating plot devices.

“As in any good story in any genre, I want to read about sympathetic, or at least relatable, characters with obstacles to overcome, and conflicts to resolve,” Shaw said. “In erotica, sex (or its lack) may be a source of conflict; getting it may itself be the obstacle to overcome. Or, sex may be the vehicle of change and growth through which a character’s dilemma is ultimately resolved. What I want, in the end, is a story that’s less about ‘plumbing,’ the clinical descriptions of what goes where and when and how much; and more about ‘wiring,’ the sensations, thoughts and emotions accompanying the act, and, most importantly, the ‘why’ of it all.

“Atmosphere is essential; a sense of erotic anticipation and expectancy that fascinates and draws us in, but also keeps interest alive over a long period,” added Shaw. “Writers like Shanna Germain and Elizabeta Brook are particularly gifted in this department. Germain’s stories are especially striking in the way the author establishes unforgettable, unique settings, evoking virtually palpable erotic atmosphere with just a few deftly chosen words. A writer doesn’t have to go into torturous detail to create a vibrant setting or mood, but without a rich, sustainable atmosphere, the story suffocates, devolves into tedious clinical description and quasi-pornographic ennui. Yuck!”

He recommends taking the time to nurture a large vocabulary, something Shaw feels is the difference between mundane story-telling and bombastic literature.

“English is so vast, flexible, and almost infinitely malleable, and yet, to read so many boring, unimaginative, repetitious, over-long erotic narratives, you’d think there were only about 6,000 words in the entire vocabulary,” he said. “The skill and the willingness to play with language, to explore its poetic possibilities, its rhythms and melodic potential is, I’ve become convinced, the difference between the writer of an ordinary piece of fiction and the author of a masterpiece. I am in awe of writers like Kathryn O’Haloran, Jeremy Edwards and, again, Shanna Germain, who seem to employ language so creatively, with such seeming effortlessness; it’s great craft, and great artistry, and truly inspiring.”


Terrance Aldon Shaw (TAS) is a writer, and the “man behind the curtain” at Erotica For The Big Brain, a site dedicated to intelligent, literary reviews of the most notable erotic fiction. Find him online at

Carol Conley is the owner of I’m A Voracious Reader – Book Review Blog, found online at

Writer P.M. White has toiled on a number of sexy stories over the years, including his newest novella Volksie: A Tale of Sex, Americana and Cars from 1001 Nights Press. His previous publications include the Horror Manor trilogy from Sizzler Editions: Eyeball Man, Desire Under the Eaves, and You are a Woman. White’s short stories have appeared in Sex in San Francisco, The Love That Never Dies, Bound for Love, Pirate Booty and many others.

For more information, visit him on Tumblr at, at his Amazon author page, on Twitter @authorpmwhite and on Facebook.

Nov 062013

By P.M. White

First came Stephanie Meyers and Twilight, a novel that sucked in not only teenage girls, but their moms as well.

Vampires, glittering or not, became hot-blooded once again. The sub-genre of “shifter” novels took flight as a result, thanks in part to Jacob and his furry brothers and sisters, as did fan fiction and sexy stories derived from said efforts, which are legion.

Say what you will about the Twilight books, and many have plenty to say on the topic; they were phenomenal hits. Grown men may not get Bella’s often-whiny, pathetic attempts at attention, and wonder why Edward and Jacob didn’t just ditch her to the wind the moment her highly underdeveloped emotional fortitude became evident. Even guys, however, will admit that something about these books (and their numerous progeny) is incredibly compelling to readers—not least of which was the vamp/shifter/helpless female love triangle, leading to the biggest and one of the most hotly debated leaps of literary escapism under the proverbial sun.

Fifty Shades of Grey was born from the smoldering embers of Twilight‘s romantic appeal. Erotica readers, and authors in the genre, are born every day thanks to E.L. James’s simple tale of Ana and Christian—and, thanks to her revamped fan fiction, erotica now holds court in mainstream media. On the downside, more than half of the new releases seem to revolve around a hapless young woman and a strapping, oh-so-wealthy businessman with a cute little streak of kink.

The combination of teen-novels-turned-erotica, thanks to the Twilight/Fifty Shades breeding, has led writers to pen both smut and teen fare.

In fact, a new genre in the fiction has been born.

Appropriately called “New Adult,” the fledgling genre stems from fans who have aged out of the Young Adult (YA) genre and need a bit more spice in their simple stories of love and passion, says author Kristina Wright.

“New Adult (NA) is a relatively new genre which encapsulates the years between young adult and adult fiction—roughly ages 18–25. These are kind of the ‘lost’ years in adult fiction and yet they’re some of the most formative years in our lives. NA fills this niche in a way that allows for a more natural transition for young adult readers, while also appealing to many of the same adults who read YA fiction, exploring more adult themes, which of course includes sex,” Wright said.

Wright said cons are in short supply when it comes to the NA genre, though there are plenty of pros.

“Honestly, I can’t see any cons to New Adult fiction, other than some YA readers will skip to NA before they’re in the demographic, and read books that might be too mature for them, according to their parents, at least,” Wright said. “I was reading adult fiction and nonfiction when I was in sixth grade—an 11-year-old kid reading glitzy sex-drenched novels by Judith Krantz and biographies of people like the Boston Strangler—so NA would’ve been more appropriate, if it had existed.”

Author branding is also an important factor, she concluded.

“For writers who write both erotica/erotic romance and YA (or New Adult) fiction, there are issues of author branding and maintaining a readership. Most authors I know who write in both genres are using different names to differentiate between the two. Of course, it’s [an author's] hope that the YA/NA readers will move on to [their] adult fiction novels, so pseudonyms aren’t well-kept secrets—some authors even mention their other names in their bios and websites, so readers who age out of the younger genre can stay with their favorite authors,” Wright said.

Up and coming author Scarlett Black writes in both the young adult and erotica genres, though she strives to keep the two separate. Much of her writing stems from her own life experiences, she said.

“Prior to wanting to write more mature adult fiction stories, I spent most of my time, within my writing craft, either writing young adult fiction or poetry,” Black said, adding that writing in two genres isn’t always an easy task.

Black has never thought to merge the two genres into a single story, as James did (in a sense) in the Fifty Shades trilogy.

“I never intended to merge the two, ever, because it could go to a place that really isn’t ever appropriate to be published,” Black said. “What comes to mind when I think of the two genres is the TV series Law and Order: SVU. The subject matter for their department revolves around ‘heinous crimes’ or ‘sex crimes.’ If I ever get to the point where these two are intertwining, I may need to have my head examined.”

Preplanning becomes a necessity, she confided, to excise the erotic from YA and vice-versa—and sticking to a single genre, when plotting a fiction project.

“The preplanning can include various focus points on what genre the project will be in, and ideas on where to draw the line, regarding theme and subject matter. I’ve personally never found it a problem of keeping a project within one genre,” Black said.
Both YA and erotica, she believes, continue to evolve.

“I think both genres will continue to grow based on how society shifts and moves forward. I really don’t want to make a comment that ends up being a PSA for sex education, but if the two genres had any business or future together… It would be for erotica to help educate youth about healthy sexual and intimate relationships, however that may look.”


Kristina Wright is a full-time writer and the editor of several anthologies for Cleis Press, including the Best Erotic Romance series. Her newest release is the cross-genre relationship and sexuality guide Bedded Bliss: A Couple’s Guide to Lust Ever After.
You can find out more about her at, or visit the Cleis Press website for a complete list of her available titles.

Author Scarlett Black’s original focus was on poetry, non-fiction, and the YA fiction genre.  Through years of soul-searching, Scarlett is ready to take the plunge into the next level of writing by battling her naughty skeletons through the Erotica genre. Scarlett has previously published poetry under another pen name, and currently hosts her website at

Writer P.M. White has toiled on a number of sexy stories over the years, including his newest novella Volksie: A Tale of Sex, Americana and Cars from 1001 Nights Press. His previous publications include the Horror Manor trilogy from Sizzler Editions: Eyeball Man, Desire Under the Eaves, and You are a Woman. White’s short stories have appeared in Sex in San Francisco, The Love That Never Dies, Bound For Love, Pirate Booty and many others. For more information, visit him on Tumblr at, at his Amazon author page, on Twitter @authorpmwhite and on Facebook.