I am a fairly published . . . author. I still have trouble calling myself that, there’s so much expectation with that word but I have a book coming out with one of the oldest publishers in the U.S. and a stack of anthologies that I write for regularly.
Writer = maybe a few publications that you didn’t see much money for, if at all and Author = you saw some money for the work but if you are standing where I’m standing, it’s more a “I bought a bunch of new bras!” level which is nothing to sneer at when you are me and a 36K which is not size that’s inexpensive to shop for versus “Fuck you, day job! I’m out!” level.
The thing is, the smutty anthology market is currently drying out (another thing we can thank 50 Shades for) but it’s not like there’s suddenly all of this opportunity to write full smutty books either per se.
Sure, there’s some indie publishers. I recommend the indie experience for a few reasons:
1. If you are willing to devote a lot of time, energy and effort into building an audience through social media and really willing to hit the campaign trail so to speak. You’ll probably do fairly decently there.
2. The editors tend to be really, really good. The artists will put together really, really nice cover work for you. Those services are v. valuable.
However, if you haven’t completely devoted yourself to 1.? if we’re talking actual compensation? If we’re talking getting actual traction? In terms of actual readership and money, in my personal experience, I think I had maybe twenty readers (being generous) and made about 2 boxes of Twining tea in money going the indie route.
The thing is, I miss writing erotica. I’ve been published in it for anthologies and my pay rate was a good exchange rate for my work. I was very satisfied with the exchange. Because the thing is, I know at this point my work is polished enough, sexy enough and liked enough through how much it’s been picked up by editors from established publishers (Cleis and eXcite to name a couple off the top of my head).
But now . . .the field has dried up. So now what?
For a long time, I wrote nothing. Not erotica at least. I was consumed with my day job, my book that’s being published and trying to have some semblance of a life. But now that the book is coming out next month, I feel the delicate steel toe booted kick to my bruised ribs from my muse. She’s insistent and persistent. Dissatisfied as always with my performance of simply waiting for the book to come out. She inflames me with her wretched fever, reminding me that I’m just a tiny moth who likes to dance by the flames. Soon my time will be up. Soon I’ll be dead. Soon I’ll be forgotten. Is that what I want? Will I sink into the earth with a half assed effort to be this author I claim I am or am I going to keep pushing and shoving to mark as many people as I can before I burn up/out?
I’ve been pausing here, sick and desolate. I didn’t ask to serve her, this horrible creature who never lets me sleep. Who never lets me rest. Who never lets me be at peace. I am only to be constantly feverish, constantly performing, constantly starving.
It’s been too much, her constant whisper in my ear. I can never stay paused for long. It’s not my path, it’s not my fortune/doom.
I could simply write here with zero expectation except for people occasionally liking it and commenting on it. Let’s not be dismissive of that. Authors/writers (and most artists) are hungry, needy, desperate, insecure creatures who flourish under the light of praise, validation, pressing the like/heart button and having their work recommended. That is the beginning of the revolution for a writer/author (and most artists).
It’s why many authors and writers still blog, facebook, insta, and tweet. We need this piece to survive. It’s what keeps us from feeling like we’re shouting into a void. It’s what keeps us from withering under all the crummy comments, rejections and invalidation from loved ones and strangers alike. It’s really critical. If you’re ever thinking, Should I tell Artist that I really liked her piece? or wondering if you should bother hitting the like/heart button, do it. I promise you, no artist ever feels sad about being validated.
But what do you do if you want to create something that there isn’t a market for currently and you can’t completely devote yourself to the process of marketing that art due to day job/paid art obligations? Do you just . . .give up?
I say, you figure out a way to make it work for you. For me, that’s going to work for me by giving myself a chance to write all of these stories I have in my head and offer it to a Certain Part of the Internet. And then do the hard part, the part that makes me cringe inside just thinking about it. I’m going to offer my readers of my erotica pieces a chance to give a gift for a gift. I told two friends who have done work in the smut industry. They haven’t met but both had the same reaction of sucking in their respective breath and then saying, Oh, that’s brave.
It’s still in that very new territory that is still only sometimes proven and usually by people with really impressive track records, mostly New York Times Bestseller authors and really scene famous musicians. Generally not for small time authors who want to write smut.
But I really believe in this model, it’s where my squishiest bits of my heart are. That Hold on when you get love/Let go when you give it trust fall place. That part of me that believes in the communities I haunt, that part of me that wants to believe in art, in love, in kindness.
This is a big, scary step for me to take. To offer my art, to offer how my brain works, to offer what I think is sexy, to offer how I see love and sex. I’m stepping away from the protective shield of thinking that no one I know actually reads my work. This is me, vulnerable.
Are you? How will you revolutionize your art?