HOW TO WRITE SMUT FOR A LIVING: Part 2!

So you’ve had a look at the sites. You’ve decided whether to go all-in on Amazon, or upload everywhere and see how money-making goes. (remember, too, you can try a split of the two, or start with every site and then take stuff down if you decide to go Amazon-exclusive. You just can’t suddenly change the other way, since Amazon-exclusivity locks you in for 3 months.)

Now you want to turn your books from “words on your screen” to “available for purchase on everyone’s sites.”

There’s a lot of different ways you can do it. I use Scrivener, which I can’t recommend strongly enough – if you can afford it/ever want to do any kind of writing ever, get Scrivener. It’s incredible for many reasons.

(In a future update, I’ll do a step-by-step guide showing how my books go from “existing in Scrivener” to being exported, using a system I got from someone else on the erotica forums. The vast majority of this knowledge is garnered from people on one of the 3 or 4 erotica forums I’ve been on.)

The specific formatting required to make stuff look good on e-readers is very dull – FORTUNATELY, one of the sites I was talking about yesterday has an extensive guide, which most people use for every site:https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52 (free to download)

As well as that, Draft2Digital offer a free conversion tool – you can convert your book on their site, and then download the file to use everywhere else.

As a rule, you want to upload in .doc format, and your files should contain (in order)

-A small copyright notice (I use “Copyright 2015 Pandora Box”)

-Which site it’s uploading to (i.e. “Kindle edition”, “Kobo edition”, etc. Smashwords requires a huge chunk here if you want Premium Distribution – it’s in their style guide.)

-OPTIONAL: A small piece saying “All characters in this story are 18 and over.” This has become the standard, and I’d recommend it…at the very least, so that you don’t have to awkwardly insert it into the narrative somewhere.

-The title of the story (“Gay Cowboys Cheat With Firefighters 2: Hosing Each Other Off”)

-A small excerpt of one of the sexiest scenes that leaves you wanting more (this is for Amazon’s “look inside” feature, which offers the first few pages of your book – people will quite often click through to see the quality of your writing, and if they’re hit with a page of set-up, they’re less likely to buy it. I’ll post an example in the comments.)

-Your story

-Three hashes (or something) to indicate the story has finished (I don’t think there’s a standard, I just like the look of three centered hashes.)

-A small “About the Author” piece.

-A link to the rest of your catalogue on the platform you’re publishing this book on (so Smashwords for Smashwords, Amazon for Amazon etc).

-Aas your catalogue gets larger, this should just go to pieces that are similar. (Your werewolf gangbang should link to other werewolf gangbangs, your incest breeding should link to other incest breeding.)

-“BONUS MATERIAL” – a (decent-sized) excerpt from another book, again ending just when it’s getting good. (will include one in the comments)

-Again, if your catalogue is sizable enough, link to a book that’s similar, and always to the first book in a series (which should be $0.99…more on that in a future update!)

-A link to where people can buy that other book on the same platform.

Whew! What a lot of information. Here’s an example for you, which covers all of the above – this is my favourite book to link to people, because I think it’s genuinely amusing (it’s also the one I’ve read out in public a few times now) – it’s called ‘Bred by the Billionaire Tentacle’, and I wrote it as a joke (as well as porn and how-to-write-smut pieces, I write comedy) when the three huge trends were breeding, billionaires and tentacles.

(NOTE: It’s an old story, most of the links within are dead. More on THAT another day!)

https://db.tt/LaTE0aYU for the .doc, and here it is on Amazon, if you have an e-reader (or Kindle app) and want to see what it looks like in its final form: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00935ZHGA/ref=as_li_tl…

I was going to talk about the difference between the sites today, but these keep getting longer than I expect, so I’m going to leave it there. More tomorrow!

Here’s an excerpt from one of my books, either called “Pleasures at Home” or “Breeding My Sister”, depending on what site you’re on.

WARNING WARNING EROTICA WARNING

WARNING INCEST

WARNING JUST GENERAL WARNINGS THIS IS A POST ABOUT EROTICA IF YOU CLICK “See more” AND ARE SHOCKED TO SEE PORN THEN SERIOUSLY IT’S ON YOU:

Continue reading HOW TO WRITE SMUT FOR A LIVING: Part 2!

MAKING A LIVING FROM SMUT: Part 1!

Making money off erotica comes in two parts:
1) Actually sitting down and doing the writing.
2) Making the money.

The second part is easy. If I sent you my catalogue of work and the below instructions, you’d be able to make a living off it in a few weeks (I do!). But it’s the part that most people obsess about.

Here’s the fact: if you set out to do this and fail, in 99% of cases, it’ll be due to step two, not step one. But step 2 is what people want to hear about, so let’s start there.

There are four main outlets for publishing erotica online:
Amazon.com
Smashwords.com
-Barnes and Noble
-Apple

If you live in Australia (as I, and most of my readers do) you can only publish directly to the first two. If you live in America, then you’ll have direct access to all four. I don’t know about other countries, so I can’t help you there.

HOWEVER, if you’re not in the US, then you can publish to Barnes and Noble and Apple via a site called “Draft2Digital” – you upload your books there, and they’ll distribute them to B&N, Apple, and a handful of other sites that I never learned the names of because I make a negligible amount of money from them.

(There’s also Kobo, which I make about $9/month from. If you are desperate to get your works available everywhere possible, then sure, sign up there. I very much doubt it’ll be worth your time, but hey! Gotta procrastinate from actually sitting down and doing the writing somehow.)

If you missed it, yesterday I posted a direct link to my profit spreadsheet (which I obsessively updated for about 22 months) – that’ll give you a pretty good indicator of where most I made my money for a long time*, but it predates draft2digital.

*until what was referred to as the Pornocalypse. Not even making that up.

On a slow month, Smashwords and Amazon would be fairly even. On a good month, Smashwords would be a tiny fraction of Amazon’s earnings. Smashwords has been a reliable income for me for years now – I’ve made something like $20k there – but Amazon is where the potential for breakout success lies.

draft2digital, meanwhile, was a game-changer: I now make anywhere between $1-1.5k there, each and every month. That’s the largest portion of my income (followed by Patreon, Smashwords and Amazon.)

HOWEVER: the common wisdom these days is to publish your stuff exclusively at Amazon. They recommend disregarding the other sites entirely (at least at first), and signing up for Amazon’s “Kindle Select” program, which requires exclusivity. The reasons are simple:

1) Kindle Select books get a huge boost in the search algorithm. Go search the Kindle store (not Amazon as a whole, just the kindle store) for whatever you like – “Gay Cowboys”, or “Cheating firefighter”. If you see anything with this at the side:

Borrow for free from your Kindle device. Join Amazon Prime

Then it means it’s on Kindle Select.
2) Amazon don’t allow free books. Also, anything priced below $2.99 or above $9.99 (more on this tomorrow, but general rule: always price everything at $2.99) will only earn you 35% royalties, instead of the standard 70%.

(That’s right. You get 70% of your book’s sale price. This is why it’s possible to make a living from writing smut.)

The exception to these two rules? If the book is in Kindle Select.
3) This is the big one – that “borrow for free” thing? It costs Amazon Prime members nothing to borrow a book or two (I don’t know the exact numbers), but you still get money from it. It’s not the $2 you’d get from a sale, it’s a portion of the monthly “fund” (generally $2-5 million, IIRC) but it generally comes out to $1.50 or so – no matter what your book is priced at.

And people will borrow your book for free in the *thousands*.

The downsides are, obviously: you don’t get money from anywhere else, and once you sign a book up for Kindle Select, you’re locked in for 3 months. If they find your book anywhere else, you’ll get a warning, and if it’s not corrected – permanent account ban.

From my point of view, that’s never been worth it. I’d have to not only sacrifice my income from all the other sites (which, these days, make more for me than Amazon does) but I’d also have to take my stuff down from the free sites. BUT if you’re coming into this fresh, and you’re serious about making money from it – Kindle Select is the place to be.

There’s so much information, and I hate to stretch it out like this, but I’ve got a life outside of Facebook (hard as that may be to believe) so I’m going to come back tomorrow with information on Smashwords, d2d and formatting your work. Then, next week: actually sitting down and doing the writing.

Here’s some homework while you wait – visit AmazonSmashwords, and Draft2Digital and sign up! Have a poke around, and see if it all makes sense.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions (about stuff I’ve talked about so far, not content that I’m saving for future posts).

HOW TO MAKE A LIVING FROM SMUT: Part 0!

Before I start going into the nuts and bolts of erotica-based income, I’m going to tell you my story – not (only) because I’m a raging egomaniac, but because the path I’ve gone down means I’m relatively out of the loop, and I think it’s only fair to let you know that before I start doling out advice.

I’ve been reading erotica since I was 15, and started writing it for fun and posting it online when I was 24 – I’m not the world’s greatest writer, but the standard of quality for free online smut is fairly low, and so I quickly built myself a bit of a fanbase. I started taking commissions (for which I woefully undercharged) but I never planned it to be anything but a hobby until June 2012 when I quit my job and was trying to find a way to live creatively.

SJ (my girlfriend at the time) found an AMA from someone who was making a few thousand dollars a month, with tips on how to get started. (Basically what I’m writing now!) The market was pretty different back then, but the fundamentals are the same. There was a link to a forum where everyone discussed it – I spent about a week or two reading through the collective wisdom of everyone involved, and then launched into it, writing new stories + taking my old stories and extending the sex scenes, paying SJ to make covers for me and publishing a bunch of stuff.

For the next year, I kept on publishing. I used to keep super detailed stats, so here is my exact income for my first 18 months of publishing erotica. In brackets are how many books I had published, followed by how many of them were bundles (collections of books rather than original content):

July 2012: $93.21 (7)
August 2012: $471.51 (14, 2)
September 2012: $493.90 (24, 4)
October 2012: $932.32 (31, 4)
November 2012: $1,479.07 (34, 5)
December 2012: $2,459.51 (48, 13)
January 2013: $3,234.78 (52, 14)
February 2013: $1,839.90 (57, 16)
March 2013: $4,308.40 (65, 16)
April 2013: $2,759.16 (70, 16)
May 2013: $3,011.06 (82, 16)
June 2013: $2,903.02 (91, 16)
July 2013: $5,711.41 (100, 19) –I remembered this being a $7k month. It was not!–
August 2013: $4,732.35 (115, 28)
September 2013: $3,002.24
November 2013: $1,391.18
December 2013: $1,133.83

So what happened in September 2013? Amazon started banning my books.

Heads-up: this is where it firmly enters TMI territory. See, I make the vast, vast majority of my money from incest erotica. Specifically, brother/sister incest mind control erotica. I’m the world’s best brother/sister incest mind control erotica writer, which is weird, but it’s also sort of fun to be the best in the world at something.

My family know about this and they don’t care, but it’s something I’ve never announced on facebook before (for obvious reasons). I have zero interest in real life sisters, mind control OR incest, but for some reason it’s the kink that works for me and – as a result – it’s what sells best for me*.

*I’m actually lucky in that regard. Some people find that their best writing is in a kink that they have NO interest in. That’s when it truly becomes a job – they have to spend each and every day writing about gay cowboys, despite being straight and more of a pirate guy.

Amazon are extremely reactive, and so when the religious right found out about people making a bunch of money from incest erotica, they kicked up a fuss and Amazon (with no warning) started banning incest from appearing in their stores.

Emphasis on APPEARING. You can still publish – and read – the exact same books on Amazon, but you can no longer mention incest or family members anywhere on the cover, in the blurb, or anywhere like that*.

*as a result, little hinty keywords have appeared – “taboo” is the biggest one, or “man of the house” meaning father/daughter stuff.

I spent a few months scared to upload anything (if Amazon have to tell you twice, they permanently and irrevocably ban your account) until the money from my $5.7k month ran out, and I started rewriting blurbs and re-titling books. “Brainwashing my Sister” became “Brainwashing the Cheerleader”. “Blowing My Big Brother” became “My First Blow-job”.

I’ll go into all this in more detail in future parts, but Amazon is one of a few different marketplaces. It’s by far the biggest, but it’s also the most fickle. My sales income was pretty low in 2014, and I learned to live on less money (and started taking more commissions to make up the difference):

Jan 2014: $1,328.26
Feb 2014: $1,282.22
Mar 2014: $1,382.70
Apr 2014: $1,889.48
May 2014: $1,319.88
(I stopped keeping track at this point, so I genuinely can’t give you any numbers from here.)

By August 2014, I had my entire catalogue back up…at which point, Amazon decided that mind control wasn’t okay, and took my catalogue down again.

So that was fun.

Now, I could have switched gears and stopped writing brother/sister mind control. And a more sensible man would have done that (my friend who makes $100-200k/month did). But I had gotten pretty used to:
a) Writing what I wanted to write (NOTE: Do not count on this! If you want to make a living from this, you gotta write what sells)
b) The regular feedback/fan-mail/commissions I get from posting my stuff online for free, which I was continuing to do the entire time I was selling my work on Amazon. I have received exactly one piece of fan-mail for my sold books, and close to a thousand pieces of fanmail for my stuff that’s online for free.

People who buy your stuff on Amazon are a whole different audience to those who read it online for free. (as a rule, the first category are mostly women while the second category are mostly men. Men don’t pay for erotica, women don’t pay for porn.)

And so to make up the difference, I started a Patreon (like an ongoing kickstarter, or an online tip jar) which you can find here.

Like I said, I had a fan-base, and I thought I might get a couple of hundred dollars from them each month in exchange for some little perks and rewards. To my surprise, after 6 months it’s hit $800/month and continued to grow. Add that to my fairly regular $1200 from Amazon/Barnes and Noble, and the extra thousand I get from Smashwords every three months (more on payment schedules in a future update) and I make a bit over $2k/month US, which is more than enough for me to live on (especially since I still take commissions, which I charge through the nose for).

So while I’m more than happy to talk everyone through the path of online publishing, I wanted you all to know mine is a VERY unusual tale. Firstly, I put almost no effort into Amazon, which is indisputably where the big, big bucks are. (the $363k month I talked about last time was from someone who exclusively publishes on Amazon, which is probably I’d recommend you do as well. Do as I say, not as I do.)

Secondly, I make my money off crowdfunding, which no one else in written erotica does (especially since Kickstarter doesn’t allow it). Thirdly, the majority of my writing is available online for free (now that you know the taboo topic and fairly dark nature of what I write, I’ll happily point you to it) and fourthly, I’m both stubborn and lazy, so I haven’t turned my writing to more profitable pastures.

TOMORROW: The stuff you really want to hear: how to get started! (spoiler: the first step is to read some successful erotica. Again, not mine. Mine is not successful, I just happen to write a particular niche quite well. Try the Amazon Top Hundred )

Any questions before we continue?

EROTICA FACTS: Part 2!

Anyone can make money from erotica. If you write and upload a “book” (which is not the same as a novel – erotica books are generally 5-12k words) it’ll get at least half a dozen sales. If you can write fast enough to get a few books up each month, by the end of the year you’ll be making enough money to notice.

They call it the “dirty thirty” – once you have thirty books up, you should be making at least a thousand US dollars per month. If you’re a particularly good writer, or you strike lucky, or capitalise on a trend fast enough, you’ll generally reach (and exceed) that figure way faster.

I got 7 books up in my first month, and made $93 (I’m a fast writer). I published another 7 in month #2, and made $471 (all figures in US dollars). By the end of my fifth month, I had 35 books up (and 13 bundles*) and was making about $2.5k/month.

*bundles = collections of already-published stories.

I’m not really motivated by money (I like my job because I set my own hours and can spend most of my time on creative projects of my choice) but I have friends in the erotica-writing community who didn’t slow down like I did* and they make upwards of $100k/month.

That’s one hundred grand. Per month. All year long.

(I think the current record is $363k in a single month.)

*(I’ve been doing this for just under 3 years – around 33 months – and I have 140 books out + 33 bundles)

Talent definitely helps, but literally anyone who can finish a short erotic story can make some money from it. To make an income from it, you only need a few traits:
1) The ability to write quickly. (NOTE: The ability to write well helps, but it’s not vital.)
2) Self-motivation. (there’s no one breathing down your neck – you need to be able to sit down and put pen to paper (or hands to keyboard) without any external forces pushing you along.)
3) Basic, basic photoshop skills.
4) A willingness to not just write what you want to write, but follow sales.

Currently I make around $2k/month (U.S. dollars), but that’s because I only work on erotica about one day a fortnight. For a while I was making $7k/month, but I realized that I’d rather live a bit more cheaply and spend more time on quiz shows, board games, sitcoms, and just generally having a good time.

(There were also other factors in play, but those will be the subject of tomorrow’s post.)

EROTICA FACTS: Part 1!

Posted onCategorieserotica1 Comment

Sometimes I remember that other people don’t work professionally in the field of erotica. I’ve decided to start posting some fun erotica facts that you are probably not aware of (these are all true), because I just flat-out find it interesting.

GENERAL TRIGGER WARNING: These stories rarely prioritise consent. They’re not stories of violent rape, but a lot of the appeal for many will come from reluctance, people being forced into situations they’re not totally onboard with, and even minds being altered.

FACT #1: A common thing in free online erotica (i.e. people who write for fun, not money) is this idea of a “concept” that dozens (or sometimes hundreds) of people do their own take on. There are a few of these, but two big ones spring to mind:

1) “Naked in School”: The US government legalises public nudity, and to encourage people to be more comfortable with their body, institute a program where a small portion of the student population is forced to be totally nude for a week (or a month or whatever). If they refuse, they’re force-stripped, and as part of the program they MUST allow anyone access to their body. It’s such a weird idea but it was hugely popular for aaages. The protagonists invariably end up sexually fulfilled and happy that they were chosen to be in the program, and many of them become much more comfortable with their bodies as a result.

2) “Master PC”: Someone opens a file that they find on a floppy disk/download from a sketchy site, and it’s a program called “Master PC” that controls reality. You look anyone within 100 miles up and a 3D model of them rotates on your screen; you have sliders to adjust anything you can imagine (from “bladder size” to “toe hair denseness”) and you can type direct instructions in (“Sal now only speaks Chinese”). It’s basically a god machine – some people just use it for flat-out wish fulfillment, some people add enemies who also have access to the program so there’s at least some kind of conflict.

Here are some excerpts from the first chapter of the original “Naked in School”, to give you an idea of the tone:


This brochure explains a new program we have, where we will select a few students each week to attend school in the nude. You will not be permitted to wear any clothing this week during school hours, except shoes and socks if you wish. Could you please undress now?“

I blushed very hard. “You want me to… to take off my clothes…right here?”

“It’s a mandatory program for you, Miss Wagner. I can have a couple of gentlemen assist you if necessary to ensure your cooperation.” He glanced behind himself. There were a couple of burly men waiting there. “You have 2 minutes as of now.”


“We might as well use you at the front, since everyone is looking at you anyway. Face the class, please.”

I did so. God, it was humiliating!

“Does anyone have any suggestions of an algebra problem involving Miss Wagner?” he asked.

Half the class raised their hands, and Mr. Dennison had me write all of their suggestions on the white board.

Calculate the volume of my breasts, and percentage of my total body mass
Determine total mass of breasts among students in the school
Number of hands which could feel my breasts, buttocks and inner thighs at once
Coefficient of friction of my vagina
Equations calculating how long it would take me to have sex with every boy in my grade, and in the school, based on different assumptions to be entered as variables
Calculate distance from my lips to my throat, then based on statistics about penis sizes, determine how many boys in the school I could “deep throat”.


I found out there were 3 girls from each grade who were required to spend the week naked. The following week, a new group would be selected.

A couple of the girls were enjoying the attention quite a bit. One freshman girl, though, was even more freaked out than most of us, and had to be taken to the hospital. The word I head was that she’d have to complete the week like the rest of us, then serve another whole week later on. Wow…

(Later stories had guys participating as well.)

Kindle: The Update

So a while ago I spoke about getting a Kindle. Well, since then my birthday has come and gone, and a Kindle Paperwhite mysteriously arrived in the mail one day…and boy oh boy do I like it.

For the last six months, I’ve been heavily into the John Green-inspired “T-shirt and blazer” look, and the Paperwhite is the perfect size to fit into the interior pocket of all my blazers. So now everywhere I go, my Kindle comes with me.

Turns out that when you have every book you own in your pocket all the time, you start reading a lot more. And when you start reading a lot more, you start thinking about books a lot more, which results in more reading. Since I got it, I’ve read three or four books, which is (embarrassingly) more than the rest of the year put together.

If you have a Kindle, I strongly recommend checking out ManyBooks – they’ve put together a huge collection of public domain books in easy-to-download (and extremely presentable) formats. Gutenberg ain’t got nothin’ on ManyBooks. It took me a while to work out how to find the books I was after, but once I did, I downloaded well over 100.

I’ve also picked up a few of my favourites (Night Watch by TPrattz is, it turns out, so much better than I remember it. It’s a genuinely great book, and makes me want to start working on my fantasy world once more.) and have been plowing through those.

The only downside is that the interface makes it a bit awkward to organise my books – over the months I’ve been writing erotica, I’ve picked up a few, and every time I hand the Kindle to someone to have a look, it seems to resurface. I’m playing with calibre to try to fix this, but no luck so far.

In conclusion, if you read (or want to read more) pick up a Kindle! I can only speak for the Paperwhite, which I’m crazy about, but I’m sure the others are good too.

THE END.

Why I don’t secret.

There’s a big discussion in the erotica forum that I frequent (to follow trends, get opinions on covers, and be inspired by how well other people are doing) about keeping your choice of career a secret.

I’ve never been much for secrets. I had to keep a secret from SJ for about 3 months (more on that later) and it was horrible. I almost spilled the beans a number of times, and any time she was talking to someone who knew, I was on edge.

Never again, says I. It’s not fun, and I’m not good at it.

Pretty much as soon as I started making money from erotica, I started telling people. I didn’t broadcast it, or introduce myself to people by saying “me Peter, me write smut”, but if someone I knew asked what I was doing for money, I’d tell them.

A few people in my line of work just tell everyone in that they write romance; I do that on occasion, but mostly people I won’t interact with regularly – other extras on set, bored wait-staff, or my dentist.

Since I’ve told my family (who were all cool with it; all of them but my Dad asked if they could read a story or two) I’ve “come out” about smut-writing everywhere but Facebook. I didn’t want the wider world to know before my family did, simply because that would be a pretty crap way for (say) my sister to learn about it.

(Facebook is an interesting bag – I feel like I’m forcing it into people’s faces if I post about it on there. My extended family read my Facebook closely, and as most of them are religious, I suspect that they don’t really want to know about it.)

(If I ever start making serious dollars, I’ll post about it there, but until then I’m happy to keep it under wraps.)

I’m a big fan of Kevin Smith – I think he’s a great writer and an even better speaker. I’m actually a bigger fan of Kevin Smith the man than I am of his films – I’ve seen all his stuff except for Red State, and while I love Clerks, Clerks II and Dogma, the rest I can pretty much take or leave.

One thing that he heavily promotes is “owning your shit” (I can’t remember if that’s his exact words or not.) – the logic is that if you own your weaknesses (being fat or having a small dick or whatever) then no one can “dig it up” and try to use it against you.

I write porn. For years, it was just for fun – in the last few months, I’ve started making money from it. (about a year ago, I started writing for commission, but that was only ever spare change, and I’ve only recently begun trying to make a living from it.)

My best-sellers are what’s called “PI”, or Pseudo-Incest: step-fathers, step-siblings, adopted cousins etc. Consensual, fully-grown adult incest, I should specify. They sell well and I’m good at writing them – I have absolutely no attraction toward my own family, but I’ve always enjoyed the fiction of it – so that’s where most of my writing energy goes. They make up something like 70% of my income, with two books alone being about 25% of that.

I also have no shame about my body (except perhaps that I’m a little chubbier than I’d like) and so I’ve done a little bit of online porn. Nothing hardcore (though I don’t honestly have any objections to doing that either) – there are a few alternative erotica sites that pay you to do stuff like masturbate on-camera. I’ve done two videos so far, and they’ll be released in the next month or two.

But as well as all that, I’m also a kids’ puppeteer. For a while, I wondered if I should keep all the above under wraps (or even decide not to do it at all) – if I were to create the next Sesame Street, would it all come tumbling down when a video of me jerking off surfaced, or if people found the story “Backseat Fisting” amongst my catalogue?

If it does, so be it. Morally, I have no issue with the people behind “Play School” also being porn stars. I realise that I’m particularly liberal when it comes to these things, but as far as I know, there’s no connection between being filmed having sex and being dangerous to kids. If others disagree, that’s their problem, and if it means that they won’t buy my products (or the network refuses to air my shows, etc) then so be it. I’m not the kind of person who lives their life by the standards of others, and I don’t want to be.

You only get one chance at life, and it doesn’t make sense to me to make decisions based on what other people might think. If this attitude of mine results in bad things happening to me, then I’ll learn that lesson at the time.

Until then, I’m going to live my life as well as I know how to. And right now, that means writing chapter four of my latest commission (in which the adopted daughter seduces her mother to get her step-father’s attention) and then go home and redraft the story of the wizard who helps his owl work out how to best be an owl.

If it all goes up in flames, I’ll have this to hold on to: while it was happening, I had fun.

Have an interesting life.

 

Two things:

Two things today. Firstly, my morning sucked.

I had a dream that my father and two of my closest friends died, and had no idea it was a dream. Quite often I’m a bit self-aware while I’m sleeping; I can tell that it’s not reality, and sometimes I can even control the dream.

Not last night. I was there with my family as we dealt with my father’s death. I was uncontrollably sobbing at the waste of my two friends’ lives. I was raw and trying to work out what it meant and blaming myself and not coping.

And then I woke up, and for the first time in years, it took almost a minute for me to work out that it wasn’t a dream.

I lay there for the next hour, trying to work out what I wanted to do with this second chance at hanging out with my father, of getting to see my friends. That dream changed me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

And then our security system inexplicably went off.

I got up and turned the power off (the only way to disable the security system for reasons too long to list here) and was going to go hang out washing and other fascinating household tasks, but Sarah Jane wanted cuddles, and so I returned to bed and went back to sleep.

Until 12:30.

It’s been a hell of a morning.

Thing 2: I don’t know how common this is, but I have to remember to be good at something.

When I lived in Brisbane, I was taking an improvised theatre class, and we were learning how to improvise songs. I got up, and had a below-average attempt.

I sat down, and thought “Wait a second…I’m good at this!” – I’d been improvising songs for several years at that point, as part of an old stand-up comedy routine I used to do.

But with all the rules and the lessons and the general mentality of “you are new and won’t be good at this to begin with” I’d forgotten that I actually had skills in that area. Toward the end of the class, I volunteered to go again, and sang a country song about my dog.

It was, in all modesty, excellent.

The power was in me all along, I just had to believe remember.

I’ve been writing erotica for fun for a few years now, and publishing on Kindle for just over 3 months.

In all that time, not once have I remembered that I’m a good writer.

The erotica thread that I frequent is quite playful at times, and today two of the best writers on there tag-teamed a piece about letting go. It’s magnificent, really draws you in, and is not at all erotic. (unless you have extremely unusual proclivities when it comes to erotica)

Reading it, I thought “Wow.” Then I thought “I wish I could write like that.”

Then I thought “Wait a second, I can write like that.”

I’m possibly not as good as those two, but I’m actually quite a good writer. I’ve been honing my skills for well over 10 years, and been officially recognised as “quite good”. But my brain has been going “erotica? That doesn’t deserve your A-game. You are new at this. Just get words on paper, publish, and repeat.”

There may be a very good reason I’m not selling as well as I want to. That reason may be that I’m an idiot.

So here’s my public vow: as of today, I’m going to start writing better. I’m going to start writing well. I’m going to give my erotic writings my A-game, and see if that affects sales.

I suspect that even if it doesn’t, I’ll suddenly start enjoying it a lot more, and work will suddenly stop feeling quite so much like work. I’ll be writing something of quality, and isn’t that reward enough*?

*the answer is no. I need money if I want to keep doing this.

My Reddit Adventure

As I’ve spoken about before, I really like reddit. I treat it like a personalised newspaper-with-comments, and I enjoy a lot of the discussion over there – especially since it strongly rewards/leans toward humour. It’s rare for me to spend more than a few minutes on reddit without laughing.

I don’t submit a lot of content, but when I do it’s either because I’m curious to see how high on the ranks I can rise.

This is not only a fun little game, but it’s a useful skill to have, especially as a creative professional. People don’t see your stuff unless they’ve heard of it, and learning to get people’s attention on reddit is a transferable skill.

Currently as my day-job, I professionally write erotica. I self-publish over at Amazon.com (and other places) as “Pandora Box“. (this is the confession that I alluded to last week)

I’m making about $20/day with around 30 titles out. This is okay, but not great – there are people with less titles who make more, and a few with more titles who make less.

It’s not the best writing I’ve ever done, but it’s erotica that…serves its purpose, let’s say that. (you are absolutely welcome to buy some and see for yourself)

Self-pubbing erotica is all about rising the ranks – the correct combination of keywords, title, cover and content can turn into quite a bit of money. There are writers over at the forum I frequent who make $80 000/month.

Per month.

I’m sitting at a bit over $500/month, hoping to double that in the next month or so, and then hopefully double it again until I’m a millionaire. I’m confident in my writing abilities, and the more stuff I have out there, the higher my chances of hitting it big.

So rank-rising is something that’s extremely relevant to me at the moment. The ability to market cleverly and provide quality content is, I believe, the trick to success.

And so reddit is fascinating to me because you have to have content, and you have to headline it well. Thus far I’ve made it on the front page twice – once through /r/atheism, by posting an average picture with a clever title and just yesterday on a smaller subreddit by posting a collection of advice I’d saved to my hard-drive a while back. (with a purely descriptive title)

The first time I made it to the front-page, I didn’t even notice until a few days later. I’d posted it, forgot about it, and then came back a few days later to notice my “karma” (reddit’s measure of how popular your posts are) had gone from a few hundred to a few thousand.

This time, however, I was there for the full ride. I watched it creep from a few hundred to the front page, I watched people be rude in the comments and posted some snarky replies (my “no arguing on the internet” meant that I probably shouldn’t have replied at all, but I couldn’t help myself. One guy was just being so rude.)

Some day, I’ll make it to the front page with actual original content of my own. But right now, I’m happy enough to use other people’s work to gain imaginary internet points.