When Ruby first asked me if I’d like to write a monthly column for Write Sex Right, I was excited at the prospect of having an audience. Because that’s all that any writer wants – for people to read what they put out there, (mostly) regardless of whether those people agree with them.
And then I had a cup of tea and thought about it a while. And I got scared. Who would want to listen to what I had to say? After all, I’m merely a jobbing freelance whose main talent is for procrastination and who scrapes together a living from many different aspects of writing (my random combination of writing/blogging/tech services is pretty much the definition of ‘patchwork career’).
So why am I writing this column? Mostly, I think, because I am a good example of a (relatively) normal writer who moved into erotica out of professional curiosity. When I first started out I wasn’t sure that I could even write about sex in a way that wasn’t cringeworthy. So many people can’t (and usual they’re the ones who are convinced that they can).
When I was approached by a small publisher who wanted to branch from their niche market ‘bricks and mortar’ imprint into erotica for the ebook market, I was excited about the possibilities. After all, everyone loves smut these days, don’t they? It would be like shooting fish in a barrel and I should probably start looking at second homes in the Caribbean right now.
Except it – obviously – didn’t turn out like that. And it never does, not for anyone. E.L. James was a one off that happened almost by accident, and Sylvia Day’s success is a direct result of a work ethic that quite frankly terrifies me. No, I’m within the realms of the normal people. And there are a lot of us around.
In fact there are now so many authors in the erotica market that a good proportion of them appear to be writing to and for each other, with little or no professional ambition. Does this devalue the rest of us, for whom such writing constitutes a good part of their potential income? Quite possibly. The over-saturation of a market devalues everyone in it, regardless of its genre.
So in future articles I’ll be looking at the life of a small-time self employed writer in general, and the trials of erotic writing in particular. How people judge you when you tell them what you do even though they promised they wouldn’t, how there really should be a thesaurus purely for sexual terminology, and whether it’s ever acceptable to buy dinosaur porn for research.
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