By M. Christian
1. Fame? Fortune? Forget it.
Okay, that might appear a bit harsh, but it’s remarkable the number of people who first begin to write—anything, let alone erotica—thinking that Stephen King’s mansion or J. K. Rowling’s castle or [insert lavish lifestyle of famous and/or rich author here] is right around the corner. The fact is that, even with the fast-as-light modern world of writing and publishing, it can take quite a bit of time to, first, build an audience for your work, and second, make some cash.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try … far from it: writing—erotica or any genre—is an amazing, special, and brave thing to do … let alone sending it out into an often harsh and/or uncaring world. The trick is not to think about the applause, the awards, or the cold hard cash but instead focus on just having fun. If you enjoy writing, take care of yourself emotionally, and keep working then—maybe—that mansion and that fortune will arrive … but if it doesn’t, you’ll still have a great time telling wonderful stories. There’s an old joke in ‘the biz’ about a writer who achieves incredible success: that they were an overnight sensation after working for ten years. Stick with it, yes, but try to do it because of the pleasure in writing—not with dollar signs or fancy (door) knockers dancing in your head.
2. Publishers Aren’t Evil
Okay, a few of them might be … but then, there are nasty people in every industry. It seems like everywhere a writer looks these days there’s someone heralding the idea of self-publishing. True, when you put out your own book you keep every dime as well as having total and complete control over the final product. But the problem with doing it yourself is that you have to learn everything about publishing from scratch. You’ll have to operate pretty much in the dark about what, for instance, makes a good cover, a good marketing plan, a good description, etc.—all of which a good publisher already knows. In the end, the time you’ll spend banging your head against trying to be a master of publishing, marketing, advertising, and every other nook and cranny of getting your book out into the world is time away from writing your next book. Sure, you keep all the money your book earns, but the cost in time/effort/energy means that you’ll be making less than if you’d just signed your book to someone who knows what you don’t.
Besides, if you don’t like your publisher, you can always find another.
3. Erotica is What Turns the Reader On
Many newbie writers think that writing good erotica means writing about what turns them on—but even though your enjoyment of the writing process is essential, sticking to stories or books that hit your particular libido will seriously diminish your audience and short-shift your writing career. Think of it this way: if you only ever write, say, foot fetish stories or M/M romance or books about cougars or whatever specifically floats your boat, the only people who will be interested in your work are people with the same sexual inclinations. On the other hand, if you write about all kinds of erotic interests and escapades then your readership explodes outward in those directions as well. There are also your creative “muscles” to consider: if you only write the same kind of erotica you’ll eventually get bored, disengaged and a little bit lazy. If you had your favorite kind of pizza for lunch every single day, would you keep enjoying it just as keenly or look forward to lunchtime with the same vigor after a year? Try new and different sexual flavors; if you don’t like one—or if you don’t feel comfortable writing it—then try another. Who knows? You may very well be the best [insert sexual activity] writer out there … but you won’t know until you try. So, try! Your writing will thank you and, more than likely, your expanded audience will as well.
M. CHRISTIAN is the author of How to Write and Sell Erotica.