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2006 Authors Insider Tips

Beyond the Basics
With Tulsa Brown
The 30-Second Solution
Backstory vs. Flashback
Intimacy Begins With "I"
Hit the Ground Running
Make the Reader Leap
Meaningful Dialogue
Pulling the String
Central Image
Elegant Smut
Better Plots
Bitch Power

The Write Stuff
From Ashley Lister
Predefined Your Goals
Spell Ink Miss Takes
Plotting & Planning
Character Building
Speech Therapy
Talking Sense

Two Girls Kissing
With Amie M. Evans
Intro to Lesbian Erotica
3-Dimensional Characters
Submitting for Publication
Five Year Writing Plan
Setting Up Your Plan...
The Power of Naming
Language of Lesbian...
Sexual Description
What Can I say?

Hard Business
From Greg Herren
What Are Your Priorities?
How to Edit an Anthology
Follow the Guidelines...
A Cock is Just a Cock
But is it Still a Story?
Who Am I Fucking?
Potential Material
Rejection ...

The Business End
By Kate Dominic
Effective Cover Letters
How to Lose Contracts
Contracts: Agent Issues
Contracts: Read It!
Double Duty Bios
What's Sex?

Literary Streetwalker
By M. Christian
Ground Rules for Writers
No Muse is Good News
Effective Cover Letters
Location, Location
Say Something!
Dirty Words

The Erotic Book Docter
By Susie Bright
Marketing Your Book
Submission Concerns
Promotion Strategies

2006 Smutters Lounge

Pondering Porn
With Ann Regentin
Babes & Hunks of Erotica
Fantasy, Reality & Rape
Selling Ourselves Short
Selling Smut in Motown
The Frankenstein Bride
Frankenstein Revisited
Porn and Perfect Shoes
Porn's Passionate Pull
Instruments of Joy

Get All Worked Up
With J.T. Benjamin
Orwell's Eerie Parallels
Redefining Marriage
The Porn Menace
High-Quality Porn
About Profanity
Dirty Laundry
Big Brother


Wrong Reasons to do SM
by Midori

Hard Business: Writing Gay Erotica
with Greg Herren

So You Want to Edit an Anthology



In my career, I have edited about nine anthologies.

Last night, I finished the paperwork for what will most likely be my last anthology of erotica. I simply don’t have the time anymore to devote to them, and while I still have plenty of ideas for more anthologies, I have decided not to do anymore. It was a hard decision, but one that was necessary. So, to honor this decision, I decided to make this column advice to a first time editor; figuring this might also help writers.

STEP ONE: Coming Up With a Theme

The theme of an anthology is key to getting a contract with a publisher. It has to have a hook; something that will trigger in the publisher’s mind wow, that could have a really hot cover and sell a lot of copies because a lot of people would be interested in that. Remember, publishing is a business—and no one wants to publish something with a very limited scope and market. My first anthology was built around contact sports; I did some research and discovered that there are all kinds of on-line groups and list serves for gay men built around contact sports; obviously, if there was that much interest in them, a high percentage of the men interested in them would also probably find them interesting in an erotic way. My own experiences with wrestling came into play as well—so it was a subject there seemed to be a lot of interest in, and there was also personal interest on my part. I put together a proposal and was offered a contract.

STEP TWO: Finding Contributors

The most important decision an editor can make in the early stages of developing an anthology is how s/he wants to fill the book with stories. Do I want to do an open call (posting on websites, in magazines, and sending out an email to writers with a request to forward it to others who might be interested in contributing a story—the more places it is posted, the more stories you will get) or do I want to a closed call (only invite known and established writers)? There are advantages and disadvantages to both: doing a closed call places you much more at the mercy of your contributors—if you need 10 stories and have asked ten people, what happens when they don’t do the story and don’t tell you until the last minute—which happens. Then you have to scramble to find a replacement, and they don’t get a lot of time to write something new. The advantage is you don’t have to read through anywhere from 100-200 stories and make decisions, which can be time consuming and arduous. Regardless, when you are putting together your call for submissions, BE CLEAR AND CONCISE on everything—how you want the stories submitted, the formatting, etc, etc. etc. If someone ignores those guidelines in an open call, you are well within your rights as editor to reject the story without reading it.

STEP THREE: Deciding on a Timeline

It is critical that you give yourself enough time between the date the manuscript is due to the publisher and the due date for submissions to get everything together as needed. (This is the drawback to closed calls, as I mentioned earlier—what if someone is late? What if someone tells you the day its due "Oh, I don’t have time to do that after all"?) I always try to give myself a minimum of three months before the submissions closing date and the due date to the publisher.

STEP FOUR: Payments

This one is tricky, and varies from publisher to publisher. Some publishers will handle everything for you: getting out contracts, paying the contributors, etc. Others not only expect you to get the contracts out and signed, but also will simply give you a check and make you pay the contributors. This, obviously, can create problems for you come April 15th; the IRS doesn’t care that ABC Books gave you a check in December for $2000 to pay your contributors and the money isn’t yours; if you don’t pay the contributors until January, those scum at Infernal Revenue will view that $2000 as income for you and want their share. The vast majority of publishers will set an amount—a budget—for your contributors, and you have to work within that budget. I generally set an amount for payment for all contributors that totals less than the budget—going over budget does not make the publisher view you kindly, and could play into their decision to give you another contract—which leaves some leeway; if I have to pay a ‘bigger name’ more money than I pay everyone else, I’ve left some wiggle room in the budget.

NOTE: I do not like paying some writers more than others. It’s unfair, in my opinion, and could lead to trouble in the long run: "why did you pay so-and-so this much and ME this much?" (Shudder.) However, having said that, I have to add that some writers are worth more than others. If a particular person’s name as a contributor will drive sales of the book, and they want more than the set pay, you have to decide whether you want to be democratic or republican. But be very careful, for you are setting a precedent for yourself that could come back to bite you in the ass in the future.

STEP FIVE: Editing

As a rule, I generally only take stories that merely need to be copy edited; and your publisher will generally provide a copy edit for you. Voila! However, it is possible that the best work you get submitted might need some editorial work—which is yet another reason to build more time into the closing date for submissions and the final manuscript submission date. If a writer rejects your commentary and suggestions, you are well within your rights to say "Okay, I am not using your story." YOUR name is going on the spine of the book; the sale of the book and its reviews reflect on YOU.

The most important step of the process is determining story order in the final manuscript. The standard in publishing is that you lead off and finish with what you consider to be your strongest two stories, and then fill the others in. But it is much more important that the stories flow; this is of course incredibly subjective, but I generally try to order the stories by how they fit together; by the use of language, the setting, and the authorial voice. Yes, the opening story really has to seize the reader’s imagination (and grab him by the balls), but you also don’t want to shoot your wad right off the bat, either. You want to structure the book as a tease, to keep them reading and getting aroused over and over again. Anthologies, especially erotic ones, generally aren’t read cover to cover in one sitting or over the course of a few days. Most readers tend to read them one story at a time, or keep reading until they find one that gives them the release they are looking for. They shouldn’t have to read more than two at a time for that.

STEP SIX: Final Submission

Make sure you include everything the publisher needs in the final packet you send in: a spreadsheet or list of the contributors’ contact information; the contracts (if you have to assemble them); the manuscript including a title page, an introduction, the table of contents, the actual manuscript, the bios, and the marketing questionnaire the publisher supplies. (Some publishers don’t do this.)

STEP SEVEN: Promotion and Marketing

Okay, now the book is out, what do you do?

Spreading the word about the book is crucial. The publisher is only going to do so much for you—they aren’t going to arrange and pay for a tour for you, so get that thought out of your head­by sending out review copies, publicity releases, including it in their catalogue, etc.—so you are left to do most of it yourself. Send an email to everyone you know announcing the release of the book and ask them to forward it around. Have a book launch party for yourself. Arrange some readings with your contributors. Every little thing you do, no matter how silly or dumb you might think it is, will help push the book. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn—no one else is going to do it for you. Do some research of your own on the Internet to find websites and so forth that might be interested in reviewing or excerpting the book, and pass that information on to your publisher. Always bear in mind that you might want to do another project—and the sales of the last one plays a part in the publisher’s decision to offer another contract.

Happy editing!

Greg Herren
October 2006

"Hard Business: Writing Gay Erotica" © 2006 Greg Herren. All rights reserved.

About the Author: Greg Herren is the author of numerous novels, including his recent release, Mardi Gras Mambo (Kensington Publishing; March 2006), and the editor of seven anthologies, including the bestselling FRATSEX and Full Body Contact. He also published a collection of his erotic short fiction, Wanna Wrestle? He has published in numerous magazines and anthologies, and works as an editor for the Haworth Press, which is launching a new line of gay erotic titles. He currently lives in New Orleans with his partner, editor Paul J.Willis, and their cat.

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