What It Really Takes To Self-Publish

What It Really Takes To Self-Publish

www.sadiesins.com

So you want to self-publish

I’m going to assume you can write a story. Maybe you had an experience where you read a story, was so disappointed with the execution and thought, ha! I could so do that better. Then you sat your ass down, and you did. It’s awesome, it’s better than anything else out there, and you deserve millions. Now what? Just what does it take to self-publish a book and make a living from it?

Here’s a rundown of all the things I do to self-publish. When looking at this list, remember this is all on me. Being self-published means you’re doing all the work—wearing all the different hats. Sometimes you’re going to purchase one of these services from another person in a hat that does it better. But if you’re low on funds, or want the challenge, you’re doing it yourself.

So what old school reference are we talking about when I bring up hats? Too old for me to know. Totally. >_> But here are the jobs you can expect to do if you want to self-publish successfully.

Researcher: This is something you’re going to be constantly doing. Even when you know it all, you’ll return to this hat because things change and you need to stay with the trends. It involves reading and asking questions from people that know more than you. Taking classes, courses, and observing what works so you can replicate it. Reading this article is researching.

Writer: Author of books. Rinse, repeat indefinitely.

Editor: Fixer of books. Eyes may bleed.

Formatter: From text to ebook. Html might be involved. From text to print book, again html, templates, etc.

Marketer: Packages books into a polished product that’s prime for sales. Coming up with catchy blurbs and quick one-liners that draw a reader in. Having an eye for what works and brutally cutting what doesn’t. Creating a brand, not just a bunch of books.

Manager: Makes sure you’re organized and all the things that need to get done get done on time without fuckups. The writer of schedules, guider of energy and snapper of whips. Rewarder of lollipops. <3

Artist: Book cover artist, website designer, banner and advertising designer. This is practical art and mostly involves graphic design than anything else. It involves an eye for trends and an understanding of how book marketing requires certain visual cues depending on the genre.

Promoter: Selling your product and you. Putting your books out there in front of people. Creating newsletters and sending them out. Seeking out other authors in your genre to cross-promote. Coming up with deals, looking for the next big thing and jumping a ride on the train (trains are these things that used to exist… Nevermind.) Advertising. Going to local book stores. Getting ARCs and reviews. Utilizing social media, giveaways, and any new shit you can to get your name heard. Blogger and tweeter of interesting things.

Networker: Communicating with other people in hats, usually of the creative and promoting kind. There is information to be had, support to give and gain, and it’s nice to know you’re not the only one working your ass off trying to whore your creative babies out in the big world.

Accountant: Money in, money out, taxes, financial goals, advertising bills, minor freakouts, etc.

Public Figure: Yeah, this too. Answerer of emails, talker of your books, blogger of realness but not too real, because hearing about the ear infection you had full of puss doesn’t really draw the people in. Being personable and thick skinned and not having anyone to hide behind because this is part of your job. Being seen.

Website Manager: Running that website you need to have for your readers to find your books. Html, coding, bandwith, SEO, ping and trackbacks, etc.

Mailing List Manager: Pretty self-explanatory but should be listed as its own thing. Why? Because a mailing list is the most important tool you’re ever going to have as an author. It’s more important than all those books you haven’t written yet.

That must seem like a lot of work. I do it every day. I started self-publishing November, 2015 and I’ve written and self-published 38 books already. Did you know I’m disabled? Did you know I was bed bound through most of that time? I only recently moved out of a moldy apartment that was crippling not only my body but limiting my brain capacity. So yes, that might look like a lot of work but a disabled chick without a college degree did it while suffering from mold toxicity and Lyme disease. I think you can handle it.

Every job of a self-publisher can be outsourced

Okay, so the nice thing about these many hats is if you have the money, you could hire a team of people to do this shit. Look at them all. It’s like a damn publishing house all in one exhausted little self-publisher. Every job you do could be hired out to people that are more experienced and more confident than you are. But the reality is, if you had the money you probably wouldn’t be that driven to self-publish in the first place. You could just hang around with heart in throat every time you submit to a publisher while picking away at your next masterpiece novel. Getting published could be easier than all the work that goes into this, but it might not have the same results—be that good or bad depending on your abilities.

When you’re published, the end results are not in your control. You’re completely dependent on the ability and experience of the people you’re working with. For someone inexperienced that doesn’t want to go into all the work above, that might sound like a great deal. But if your book doesn’t sell, or you don’t understand what your book could make in the first place because you’re ignorant, you don’t really know if you’re in a good deal or what to do to change things. If you self-publish for long enough and then choose to be published, you’ll be going into a situation with a lot more understanding than someone who’s on the outside looking in.

If you’re already a self-published writer, congratulations on making it this far because this is a shit ton of work and there is no one but you to keep you on course. There is no A+B = Guaranteed Success Forever. No advanced payout, not promise of anything. No one is rushing to take your kids to daycare and do your laundry and clean your house so you can run a business. Every book is a new launch, every moment in between launches is writing, promoting, and list building, and every experience is working towards the next experience. And my god, I love it all.

Do you know what an adrenaline junkie is? O_o Let’s go with masochist; I might seek the pain a bit. XD There are certain things, particular hats that I loathe but I’m of this horrible mindset that when I recognize I’m not good at something, I have to study and work until I can kick its ass. It’s this messed up thing in my head and I am not happy sitting still. Ever. No matter how tired I get. No matter how much I’d rather live happily under a rock. I want to grow, I want to live, and I want to mess it up along the way. Curiosity is my BFF, and if someone says I can’t do something, I immediately go ‘like fuck I can’t.’

If I self-published for the money alone, I wouldn’t. The money starting out wasn’t enough; the money now is enough and moving towards more than I know what to do with, and even though my eye keeps drifting that way to see cause and effects of actions in dollar signs, it is not why I self-publish. It goes back to that adrenaline junkie of a masochist that needs to feel like I’m doing something valuable in my life. I created a job that makes me feel good about myself, and I feel like my books offer the world something that we need more of—shameless, sexy fun that accepts our darkest fantasies. I also enjoy using my brain and solving problems and the biggest problem in my life at the time was how do I make money while not having to leave my sick bed when I had no college degree or cash to spare and was living off of disability.

Problem solved in the form of self-publishing.

If you’re doing this for the money alone, there is going to come the point where you’ll need to reconsider everything. You’re either not going to be able to break the threshold and you’ll need a new strategy for profit, or you’re going to surpass all your expectations and be left wondering what the hell is next. See all the work above? You should probably figure out just why you’re ready to put yourself through all that. It’s not just work, it’s boundaries you push every day with yourself. Creative boundaries, social boundaries, questioning and push back to every fear and doubt you have about your skills and your self-worth and if you should be allowed to make a living doing what you love. This is not just a job, this is a growth of you in every step. Are you ready for it?

The Cage of Can’t

I always think it’s such bullshit when someone tries to sell you a system. Just do 1, 2, and 3 and have perseverance, and you’ll be a millionaire! They absolutely disregard the reality that it doesn’t matter how much someone wants something, or how capable they are to follow guidelines or adapt. Most people aren’t held back by a lack of ability or knowledge—google is everywhere. One web search can tell you everything you ever needed to know about self-publishing. No, we’re held back by ourselves.

For me, it was the challenge of being a battered child that grew up with PTSD. Inescapable trauma that twisted my thoughts, my actions, my perspective of self, hopes and dreams. An invisible cage that kept me from doing the things I wanted to do by ‘deciding’ I can’t. Lyme disease and mold toxicity, the things killing me for the last four years? Wake up call. They allowed me to stop running and face my shit with therapy. Near death was my rock bottom of I’m done living like this. My cage was able to be identified and stepped out of but don’t think for a moment that I’m still not fighting old ideas of self and world. Every day is a reimagining as I prove that I can write a fantasy and sell a book. And most days, it’s that battle of self that is more emotionally exhausting than the jobs above.

You don’t have to have lived my past to have your own cage of can’t. Maybe your mother told you that you were book smart, not street smart and you don’t think you’ll ever be able to promote yourself. Maybe your fifth-grade teacher said your story telling was unimaginative and every time you go to write, you wonder why you even bother. Maybe you keep hearing people insist that work is for making money, not doing things you like and you think you’re an asshole for wanting different.

I mean, really, who the hell do you think you are wanting to do something you love every day when other people you know and love settle, compromise, work themselves sick doing things they hate just to feed their family? What a selfish ass you are for wanting a different path when it’s good enough for them. That has to hurt someone, right? There is no way you can be happy without destroying someone somewhere. If you make more money, someone else will obviously have to have less. That’s just the law of the universe, so you better stop dreaming because getting ahead is the most hurtful thing you can do to everyone around you.

Yeah, so that might seem like the most unlogical thing ever to a rational person but people have these emotional hidden ‘truths’ ingrained inside from past experiences that keep them from moving forward, and they are rarely rational. Nope, they just might appear rational because the human in charge of these twisted ideas puts a lot of work into convincing themselves that these emotional truths are literally true. They get covered in bullshit to keep the owner of these thoughts safe in a familiar, unhappy world. It might as well be some ordained voice on high telling them that they better not try because the possibility of change is terrifying.

My answer to that? So be terrified and do it anyways. You are the only one holding yourself back. Not your job, not your family, not your friends and neighbors, not your financial situation or the world around you. You are choosing to not go for it and you can make a different choice. Add the hat.

Grower of self: It’s the number one job you have and taking it on is something only the rare person does. This is what defines if you will make it as a self-publisher. It requires bravery, a no bullshit attitude, a willingness to feel like shit, cripplingly vulnerable, and then get over it and be ready to feel like shit again. It’s a goal of eventual self-worth enough to realize you deserve the things you want and more. It requires you to trust yourself, be able to listen to advice that matters from experts, be criticized and not take it as a personal attack. This is the bridge past holding yourself back—and we all do it. Even a little, we stop ourselves from being more.

Do you want to feel unstoppable? This is the hat. Do you want to start a task and grow a career, help people, come up with new ideas and never hit a wall you can’t surpass? Right here. This is what allows you to fail, repeatedly, because this gives you the power to get back up each time and try. It’s the difference of a pause where you reassess the path compared to a dead stop where you tell yourself you’re not good enough and never will be. This is the hardest, most rewarding job you’re ever going to have no matter what you decide to do out in the world.

This is what it takes to do all the stuff above, and no amount of lying to yourself will change it. And no, I won’t lie to you either. I can tell you how to do everything and you can understand it perfectly, but that doesn’t mean you’ll ever even try. No matter how much you want it. People that hold themselves back won’t make it until they allow themselves to succeed. Get a therapist if you are in an invisible cage you can’t get out of. It’s your tool to being free to live life on your terms.

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Growing, Not Grown: The Process Of Being A Creator

Growing, Not Grown: The Process Of Being A Creator

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There is something rather confusing and profound about writing a story that not everyone gets to experience. It was something I didn’t actually even realize until recently. I was having one of those personal reflection moments—exhausting, don’t get me started on self examination!—and was thinking how I really don’t think of myself as funny. At all. Then I read over a part of a book I’m currently writing and burst out laughing.

Because it was funny.

This did not, for whatever reason, alter my previous thought about my ability to be funny. I still don’t really think I’m a funny person. My characters, on the other hand, they can be funny. Either I am completely disassociated from the reality of my ability to be funny, or I just can’t comprehend my own humor from the seat of my brain, or maybe, just maybe, writing allows for another option. To create something more than you.

Getting Stuck

Part of the difficulty of sharing your art—let’s be honest, like the biggest damn problem—is the feelings of vulnerability you experience before, during, and sometimes long after. Your creation is a part of you. It was built from your experiences, data that you took in then worked your hands, imagination, and soul around, and then put out into the world. And when you understand that (or even when you don’t) there can be this internal pressure to keep it all inside and not dare let your creation free for fear that it will be judged, torn apart, and with it so will you.

The ego can be so very fragile—or at least, we can perceive it to be. Because for some people, when their ego is hit, they just stop. The feeling is too uncomfortable and they would rather not feel that way than put themselves out there again. Other people, they can do it for a little bit but then reach a point where they can’t go any further.

Maybe they tell themselves the first few creations are practice and with that, they allow themselves to fail, to not be perfect, to accept that criticism is to be expected and it’s not a judgment of them but a sign of where they are in their craft. From this vantage, these people create and they grow. Then comes the point where, for whatever reason, they decide they’re no longer practicing. They’re a professional, or worse, they should be a professional by this point.

Well, if they ‘should be,’ then in their mind they’ve already failed by not being. And if they’re a professional now, they’re not allowed to make mistakes. Criticism is now death; they need to be perfect and everyone should be able to see it. Maybe they struggle through, adapting by losing the love and joy they put into their art. They’re professionals; it’s not about them, it’s about creating a ‘product.’ It’s not a piece of them, it’s a smart pattern repeated to make sales. In this way, they protect themselves from that sting of vulnerability but even though they’re producing, they’re not creating anymore. They stopped, it’s just harder to see. Continue reading

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Reward Your Readers

Reward Your Erotica Readers

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Make a habit with your readers, an unspoken agreement. That way every time you put out a new story, they know they’re going to be rewarded for reading. Here are a few of my rewards I like to give my readers.

Peak their curiosity

Give them a story, a relationship, something beyond just sex. Oh, don’t get me wrong, in erotic writing, sex is damn important. But consider a serial reader, someone that’s consuming a dozen erotic shorts when they have some free time. Everything starts blurring together in a swirl of limbs and sweat and the same old hookup. Give them something that’s going to make them stop and smile, or remember you the next time. Hook them with a plot point or a really amazing character. Give them a new world that can be seen in the background of all that grinding.

Just because there are a million erotic shorts out there that all seem to look the same, doesn’t mean you need to bow to the masses. That stuff is already written. Contribute something new and be remembered because of it. Just because you’re writing smut doesn’t mean you’re not creating something of value. Write something that you’ll value and you’ll find the readers that will as well.

Emotional attachment

When your characters are invested, your reader is as well. It might surprise to hear I do this given I don’t indulge in a lot of sickly sweet romance bullshit writing. But I still try to write an attachment to my characters even if they manage to be able to breathe without their lover holding their hand twenty-four seven. (I may have issues with a lot of unrealistic romance XD) I feel this helps fuel the passion in a story and gives the reader more investment when they see the characters are invested. My erotic relationships may not be normal, or really healthy by any means in a lot of stories, but when a character still craves the affection and feels satisfied by it, the reader picks up on it and mirrors it as well.

This is why I don’t write sex scenes where the characters are actually disinterested in the sex. I’ve read a few straight to gay novels where the ‘straight’ character has a sexual encounter and doesn’t feel a thing. And hey, maybe it’s ‘realistic’ or some shit, but it was also boring as fuck to have them go through the motions and not want to be there. It made me not want to be there reading. It’s like reading about someone going to work, doing work things without any emotional interest at all. Why would I pay to read that, like, ever? I don’t want to go through that. I’d rather read about them bitching then being bored.

Keep the tension going

Keep your reader engaged. This can be done easily with either the tension in the plot (yes, there can be a plot in erotica) or the emotional tension between characters. When stories are too easy, people get bored. They already know the answer to if the characters are going to end up together—it’s usually expected that it’s going to happen in erotica—so what’s going to keep them reading after they just read the same setup and fuck in ten other short erotic fics?

Don’t make it easy for your characters. Put some very good walls up when it comes to them getting together, be it from physical conflicts to emotional ones. Make your reader wonder if even though those characters might have just had great sex, they still don’t know if they’re going to want to actually move in together. Give them a reason to keep reading to the end of the story.

Go big, bold, dramatic

Give them something epic that they can’t get in their own bedroom. This goes for what the sex consists of to the emotions and circumstances that go with it. There’s a reason alpha male and billionaire are big buzz words for many of these stories. Big sexual drives and big money. It’s like Cinderella but with hardcore sex. This is about creating a fantasy of sex, something that gets people beyond hot, not just lukewarm. So don’t be afraid to exaggerate beyond what normal hot blooded horny people can reach. It’s not a commentary on the idea that everyday, normal sex is boring and dull. It’s delving into a fantasy where your reader is allowed to indulge in what they’re probably never going to get in real life (unless there are werewolves and vamps out there I’ve yet to discover >_> )

Tie up the ending with relationship and plot conclusions

This not only satisfies your reader on a completely different level but it also just helps you end your story with ease. The question of if that sexual interaction is going to end, begin, cement a relationship should be answered, or at least insinuated at. Is your character scarred for life after their hypnosis and screwing? Did the planet survive the alien invasion? Your readers might be interested to know that life goes on beyond the peek into the scene. You don’t need to spell out all the details but you could if you’re floundering for a way to end your story.

I’m a fan of a happy ending—Yup, even with all the dubcon I write. I can read some really dark erotica just so long as I know the characters care about each other on some level. Some readers may not be so picky but they might still be curious. Satisfy their curiosity.

Fuel their fire

Sex it up. Why skimp? Make a habit of giving your reader plenty to indulge in when it comes to sweaty moments. If you’re not comfortable in writing elaborate sex scenes, I suggest doing the next best thing, which is building that sexual tension through the story. Foreplay—for the love of fuck, use it! XD Literal foreplay can build your reader up to your big scene so that once your characters are screwing, it feels a lot more epic than just another smut fic. The push and pull of the characters ‘should they,’ ‘shouldn’t they,’ can do a lot for a simple little story.

End it with sex

Give your reader a reason to read it all. If you really want people to read to the end of your story, let them know you’re going to follow through with something steamy and satisfying. I love sex at the end of a story. Even a taste is better than reading to the end and then feeling let down. It’s erotica. It’s a sexy story. There’s an unspoken expectation that a happy ending in this type of story is a bit more happier than other books if you get my drift. *eyebrow waggle* So give it up already. Don’t end with the loving couple driving off into the sunset, go a little further till they hit that honeymoon suite and start getting it on.

Now if you’re putting all your stories in the KDP program that doesn’t allow you to publish anywhere else while it’s enrolled, and where as a writer you just found out that one page of your book equates to less than ½ a penny, your 300 page book it took you how many months to write is only going to get you $1.50 if someone bothers to read it—and they have to read the whole thing. What better way to get someone to the end of your book than with something sexy lying in wait? This is the same for your short 50-page story you’re lucky to get 25 cents for even though you were so damn brilliant and had the best dialogue and took a week of your life to spend on. Give your reader a reason to want to read to the end.

Longer isn’t always better

How do you keep a reader interested; short refreshing bites or a long meal? Sometimes your reader is busy. Most of the time I am so freaking busy that even though I would love to indulge in some reading, I won’t even look at a novel no matter how good someone tells me it is because I don’t have the time to invest. I will give a short story a shot if it looks interesting and sexy enough, but if I’m ten pages in and nothing of curiosity or steam has occurred, I’m out. I was actually recently trying to get through a great sci-fi—no sex involved—the plot just seemed so damn amazing but the writing was so dry I couldn’t do it. I was genuinely upset that I couldn’t push through, but the author was writing through the eyes of a sixteen-year-old boy and sounded like he was fifty and boring as fuck. I couldn’t get to the plot because the style wasn’t engaging enough.

I won’t watch a video of a news article because I can read the damn thing faster. People are in a hurry. What the hell are you going to do to get them to stop and pay attention to you?

Sometimes you need to keep it short. I refuse to publish anything under 10,000 words—it’s just something I stick to. I feel like I need to give my reader a promise of substance even in my short stories. Still, I make sure those 10,000 words are jammed full of sexy and plot without dragging things out. We’re living in the world of television programs and web shorts. Most tv shows are designed so that people can get up or do chores while listening to them instead of giving them their full attention. I’ll be honest, I dumped the tv years ago. I watch Netflix on occasion, and I’m usually typing through the shows unless it’s something actually worth my time—Aka, British. And yes, I am at the point in my life when I feel like my time has actual value and I won’t waste it on half-assed plots and flat characters in a sitcom. I will make time to masturbate before wasting it on tv. My brain is important and I will rot it on some quality tv or nothing at all. My readers’ brains are just as important.

Now, you’ll get the occasional reader that will tell you that such a low word count isn’t worth the price. They’re probably used to reading long ass romance novels or for some reason they think what it takes to write something is the same as what it takes to read. It’s not, otherwise they would be writing that story they were looking for instead of quantifying a book by the number of pages instead of its content. $2.99 for a short story isn’t asking a lot—and as the writer, I don’t even get that, looking at more of $1-$2 after Amazon takes their cut. When you see a book for $0.99 you’re looking at someone that is either having a sale to gain viewers, someone that thinks they’re a terrible writer, or someone that doesn’t actually value their work. I don’t think you get over 30 cents when you sell your book that low. That would take 100 people buying your book just to make $30 bucks. Talk about crazy. Imagine getting 100 people interested enough to buy your book, only to make 30 bucks? Tragic.

Don’t undervalue your work just because some people can’t fathom 3 bucks for a short smutty story. Most people know that’s the normal price, and they’re more than happy to pay it, especially if you’re the type of writer that rewards their readers. (See what I did there? I went on a tangent and then brought you back to the title of the post… Oh, you got it… I wasn’t subtle… XD)

Love what you do!

Every story you put out there is, whether you realize it or not, is creating a relationship with your readers. That’s a huge thing because people are damn busy and we live in a world where it’s normal to jump from craze to craze without looking back. Being good to your readers gets you good things in return. If you’ve ever gotten a difficult critical review you’ll understand just how gratifying it is to have a loyal reader come along and dare to say how much they actually like your book. People may love to read about sex, but there are still a million shy people that can’t actually speak up about it. So in return, don’t half-ass your work.

If you want that awesome feeling of having a reader take the time to tell you how they really appreciate your different view on a smutty story, you need to put the work into it. I know there are plenty of people that are selling writing erotica as some quick fix get rich scheme, but I can’t imagine anyone writing every day while not loving what they’re doing. And really, as a reader myself, I can tell the difference. Authors that love what they’re doing have those really cool plot twists, they give their reader plenty of sex (because they freaking love sex!) and you can tell that their characters are more than just pawns in a scene, they’re living breathing people that are having experiences.

I’m drawn to authors that love what they’re doing and I think these are the writers that have the staying power to keep going. Because when shit gets tough, they still have that love for their craft, for the story they need to share and get out there. Don’t be afraid to love what you’re doing when you’re writing erotica. Don’t curb yourself for some market when you really want to write it differently. Being different in a sea of the same is a beautiful thing. Be beautiful.

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Exploring Kinks: #4 Incest

Exploring Kinks: #4 Incest

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So today’s kink of choice to discuss is incest. There are a dozen different varieties of this but I’m going to be focusing on the immediate parent/child and child/child pairings, be it by blood relation or just role relation (step, adopted, etc.) Which is actually important to realize with this topic. What makes incest such a hot topic for a lot of readers—and believe me, this has a huge fanbase—isn’t necessarily the genetic taboo. A lot of the times it has more to do with the perversions of the family roles represented in incest. Some of those roles and people’s natural reactions can be used in other fictional pairings, such as long time friends, or child with a friend of the parents to get the same triggering that attracts people to incest.

Let me say when I use the word ‘child’ in this topic, it’s to denote son/daughter/brother/sister, not anyone under age or a minor. Also, I should probably say that I’m not encouraging incest or anything in real life. This is all fiction. If you are in an incestual relationship, I have no judgments, just covering my ass here.

Again, I will stress the importance of understanding what you’re writing and why your audience responds to it. It helps you be a better writer, for one—always important. Don’t become stagnant; it’s boring. But maybe even more important, an audience that responds is a happy audience. It doesn’t even have to be a good response—People don’t go to watch horror movies because watching people get cut up into bloody bits makes them feel good. But they do crave the chemicals that are pumped into their system from the feelings they do get. No matter what you’re writing, as long as your audience feels it, trust that you’re doing something right.

Okay, diving in… Continue reading

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Exploring Kinks: #3 Animal Characteristics

Exploring Kinks: #3 Animal Characteristics

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Hey guys, so this topic is another favorite of mine in erotica. It actually has a couple of layers going on, which I’m going to show you. It’s not just about animal characteristics, but also what you’re trying to achieve with those behaviors. You’re not just imitating an animal. Sometimes you’re actually trying to talk to the animal inside your reader.

This topic actually fits really well with the first two. Why? Because dubcon and noncon feed your inner animal. Don’t believe me? Well let me try to prove it to you.

So to start, what do I mean by ‘animal characteristics’ in writing? This is about people acting animalistic in their lives where prim, proper behavior is disregarded as boring and dull and you instead get a more raw, primal experience going on. Growling, biting, clawing, ignoring appropriate settings and mating behaviors instead for blunt sexual release, embracing pain, nudity, dirt, blood, battle, and death—Think of anything some highly religious person would consider ‘godless’ and I’m pretty sure it has animal characteristics in it. The stuffy religions are fucking terrified of the primal human animal.

What do these characters look like? They can vary depending on intensity but some shining examples would be werewolves, shifters, vampires, demons, monsters and aliens, usually with humanoid features. You could also have outright animals but I prefer the extra duality that comes with humans acting animalistic. Continue reading

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Exploring Kinks: #2 Noncon

Exploring Kinks: #2 Noncon

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This is post is about noncon aka non-consensual aka rape in fantasy, and let’s throw a bit of dubcon in there just to cover all our bases with this topic. I’ve already written a post on just dubious consent, but for this one I really want to focus on that really controversial topic, noncon.

For starters, setting the parameters. This is fantasy. More specifically, this is erotic fantasy where the intent is to create a sexually stimulating experience for the reader by having your characters go through an experience of noncon. I will not automatically refer to this as rape because I feel rape is not a fantasy term. I don’t think there is anything arousing about rape in real life. When writing noncon fiction, I do not write it with the intent for people to go out and force someone into sex. I am well aware that many fantasies can only be enjoyable because of the safety that fantasy allows—basically, the disconnect from reality.

So, how can the fantasy of noncon, which is emulating rape, be considered arousing to a person that doesn’t find actual rape arousing in the slightest? Honestly, I’m not a hundred percent certain. I can’t tell you why, all I can do is illustrate that it happens, a lot of people experience it, and it’s perfectly natural. I intend to dissect this topic to help people understand why this is a very common fantasy, and to help pull back the shame, anger, and confusion around it. I can’t explain arousal, just show the mechanism for it. Understanding is the first step to accepting, and believe me, we all fit better in our own bodies and lives when we learn to accept the weird shit in our heads. Fantasies shouldn’t be judged, no matter how freaky they may seem to some. Continue reading

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Exploring Kinks: #1 Dubious Consent

Exploring Kinks: #1 Dubious Consent

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Introduction

This is all about exploring dubious consent. I’ve been wanting to go into some of the different kinks/genres out there for a while now and really get into the why of what makes them so satisfying. I love the human mind, especially the fucked up ones. I come from a background of, to put it simply, life. I’m drawn to other people that have lived their lives as well and I just find them so damn interesting. The same way certain people are drawn to each other because of shared archetypes in their past, so too are similar people drawn to certain sexual genres. There’s a reason there are popular genres out there: people are wired similarly. And no, not all people like the same thing but there are usually plenty of people that do share a love for one specific topic to make them feel comfortable enough to realize they’re not alone in the world.

This particular topic I am certain has a large following but at the same time, I feel like it’s also one deeply entrenched in the closet, so to speak. There’s a reason for this. Many reasons. The easiest one to point out is that most people, for whatever reason, think dubious consent is the same as rape. I’m here to very loudly tell you that it’s not.

So to start off, let me say that I’m going to be focusing on dubcon/dubious consent in this post but you may see some slipping into noncon/non-consensual/rape in fantasy a bit as well. I personally think that these topics are two very different genres and noncon deserves its own post, but at the same time, if a noncon scene meets certain criteria it can just feel like a slightly racier form of dubious consent.

Also, to be completely clear, this is all in fiction. These are erotic fantasies. They are not created with the intent to send people off into the world to pressure people into having sex, or to force them into it. In real life, I feel consent is 100% necessary for sex, especially for enjoyable sex. I think a big push back against dubcon is for, whatever reason, people cannot differentiate between reality and fantasy for this topic. I also think people freak out about this one a lot because they have some deep-seated attraction to it they can’t face, so they overreact.

Yeah, I said it. By the time I’m done with this post, you might even agree with me. Continue reading

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Perfection: The #1 Creativity Killer

Perfection: The #1 Creativity Killer

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Perfection = Procrastination

Give it up, or at least, reach for something more enjoyable in life. Because you can have those other things and they can be a lot more satisfying once you let go of the idea of being a perfectionist.

This isn’t an excuse to not edit and do your best to put out the best final product you can, more just an understanding of what happens when you focus so much on being perfect that you don’t do anything. I stress that. Many writers starting out focus so hard on making something absolutely perfect, they never get the fucking thing done.

I have obsessive tendencies, more neurotic than anything. I can spend hours staring at a computer screen drawing small perfect little lines to make fur look realistic, then go in and add small dots for the shadows and highlights of every single strand I just drew. I know what it’s like to get sucked into the micro and lose sight of the large, and although there are some beautiful meditative moments mixed in there, I tend to become a raving bitch after a few hours of it. If I did that with my writing, I wouldn’t write. It would destroy my happiness when I write to be happy.

The other part of this is just about accepting the reality that no matter how damn amazing and perfect you made your last story, it’s done and it’s time to write another one. This is commercial writing. There’s no point wasting an extra month on one story when you could have been cranking out a short series to put beside it. You’re only hurting yourself, and, may I be so bold, letting your creative skills go stale by not exercising new plots, new ideas, and concepts because you were once again hyper-focused on making the perfect story. There comes a point in this type of writing when it’s about learning how to conceive, outline, produce and publish a story, not just creating a masterpiece.

I’m pretty upfront—I’m relaxed with my writing. I like relationship drama, I like sexual tension, I like a lot of sex in a fic, and some interesting plot points, but I’m not writing the next hard-hitting social-political commentary. I’m writing a distraction for myself and for a lucky reader that may stumble across my story and be glad to have found it. This allows me to stay alive and enjoy what I’m doing—because so help me, if I stressed out on making art when it came to writing, not only would I be miserable trying to live up to some crazed internal pressure of perfection, the external critics would be even worse.

Bad enough to run across the grammar police while writing what I do—Imagine if I started selling myself as making hard-hitting, heartfelt, LGBT coming of age stories with gritty real life consequences? Fuck, just take all the fun out of it now. I already have those types of readers stumbling across my books flaming me for it not reaching their weird expectations even though I’m pretty clear in my summaries what my stories are about (sex and not much else.)

If I tried to write at that level, I’m pretty sure I’d be so bored I’d never finish writing a damn story, never mind want to read it. Because that shit bores me. I don’t want to read it and I don’t want to write it. Snooze fest. Add in some shit about balancing a BDSM lifestyle with a full, satisfying family life and perfect, amazing career and I’ll be standing on a ledge looking to jump before I have to read something so mundane. And yeah, I don’t care if other people do want to read that and people think I should write for my audience or what not—because all those people aren’t my audience. I wouldn’t have written anything if I was writing to fit that niche no matter how popular it may be.

Don’t let other people’s expectations define you and your choices. People hate themselves and they hate on other people with almost as intense a fervor as they direct inwards. But damn, if they put that energy towards just loving their life—Wow, what a world it would be. If you waste your time trying to please other people with your writing, the only guarantee you have is that you’re going to be unhappy in this journey you’ve chosen. And seriously, why the hell are you doing it if you’re not going to be happy? There are so many things in life we compromise on, why should our creative outlet be one of them?

I am not a perfectionist, but I still manage to write and publish books that I genuinely enjoy writing and some other people genuinely enjoy reading. You can’t write for everyone, don’t even try. You can’t make everyone happy, ever. But you can make one person happy this very damn instant. Yourself. Write something you want to write. Love it. Express the things you want to express and share it with the world, and my god, be shameless about it. Every time.

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Don’t Give Up

Don’t Give Up!

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A pep talk for those just getting started in writing Erotica

So you found the nerve to write something that really speaks to you on a sexual level. You broke down your emotional barriers, faced those uncomfortable fears and sensations, and finally wrote that fantasy that you’re always thinking about that just does it for you. Your stomach twisting in anxiety, you finally get the nerve to post it out into the cold, cruel world of the internet, knowing that someone, somewhere, is going to love your fantasy as much as you do. They might even pay a couple of bucks for it.

I’m going to tell you now, it’s going to hurt. Either the silence as you watch your story get read nearly 8,000 pages a day while no one has the guts, care, interest in actually pressing some stars. Or worse, when someone finally does speak up, but they’re actually really dickish and want to tell you how you suck. And let’s be clear, the person opening their mouth has never written a story and put it out on the internet. This is a fact because if they had they wouldn’t be such a douchebag to another author. They would understand how vulnerable and painful it can be to write erotica and they would press a few stars, maybe give some helpful advice or words of encouragement and be on their way.

So I have never read Twilight, or 50 Shades of Gray (Grey?) or pretty much any damn popular book out there in ages because for one, straight relationship. And two, I used to live with a bunch of cynical twenty-somethings that spent our days tearing people apart because they were there. In front of us. Having the gall to exist. Heaven help if they were happy at the time too. I was good at it; I have an amazingly sharp tongue and could go bitch so fast your head would spin. Then I grew the fuck up around the same time my parents died and I was homeless (funny that.) Now add the anonymous nature of the internet into the mix.

Bitch, please.

You’re a writer. You know how powerful words can be, and damn, they just don’t go away when they’re on the internet next to something you wrote. What that person might be tearing apart saying is juvenile, poorly written, full of mistakes, crap plot, creepy and wrong, whatever, you still poured all your hopes and dreams into. And yeah, maybe it’s not Falkner, but really, were they expecting Falkner when they read your description of two people fucking. Seriously?

Don’t give up. Don’t. Just don’t fucking do it. Continue reading

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Accuracy vs Titillation

Accuracy vs Titillation

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When I started writing Bullying Teacher 3 I came across a problem, one I’ve had in other medias but hadn’t quite identified quite so completely. Here I am, with no experience in the BDSM lifestyle, trying to write a story that is introducing someone to that lifestyle. Accuracy would seem to be the way to go, right? Wouldn’t as realistic a scenario as possible be as titillating as possible? I’m here to say no.

Not even a little.

Alright, so let’s jump out of it for a second and come at this sideways. What is a ‘scene’ in BDSM? It’s roleplay, a make believe where the players (ideally) are all informed about the rules to begin with. Let’s simplify it more. It’s Magic the Gathering, or Dungeons and Dragons, or so help me, Pokemon because that has cards too. People sit their butts down, write out a fantasy world they’re playing in, have one person be the mediator or head honcho running the show and remind them of the rules while everyone else gets to submerge into the game. But, when you look at fiction for these games, it’s not about them sitting around playing the game, establishing the rules, etc. It’s about a fantasy world with characters in it. No rules, no restrictions, no safe words or boundaries because that doesn’t exist in real life. In the real-life fantasy where it can be anything you write, safety is also an illusion.

Another more visual example. You’re drawing a dragon but the only thing you have for reference is a picture of a lizard. Yes, that lizard is as realistic, real world as possible, but it doesn’t matter how much you emulate it, it’s never going to look like a dragon without exaggeration. And yeah, it might end up looking like an amazing drawing of a lizard, but if you had pushed to make that dragon, it would have been damn kickass. But the only way to do it is to pull out of the rules of reality to exaggerate it enough to get the results you want in fantasy.

So why did this come up for this particular story? I remember hearing a lot of backlash in the BDSM community when 50 Shades of Gray came out—either movie or book (sorry, I haven’t had contact with either) saying how unsafe and dangerous the bondage had been portrayed. That stuck with me. I don’t want to write something for a specific community that will then turn around and go, hey, that’s not realistic or safe! That should be important, right?

Again, I’m now leaning towards no. Continue reading

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