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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

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker
by M. Christian

"Imagination is intelligence with an erection" —Victor Hugo

Courtesy and Professionalism
Ground Rules for the Newbie Writer

The fantastic (no hyperbole) Adrienne informs me that there's been some debate going on about how aspiring writers should conduct themselves. As someone on the receiving end of 'clumsy virgin syndrome' as well having been a novice myself oh-so-many moons ago, I think I'm qualified to wax a bit on this and so, without further ado, here's a quickie guide for those who want to make some good first impressions.

Right off the bat it's important for a newbie writer to understand some basic rules about editors. I've said it again, but it bears repeating: editors have absolutely no legal responsibility to respond quickly, fairly, or compassionately. It sucks, but that's the way it is. They do not have to answer your emails, they do not have to give criticism or praise, they do not have to even let you know if your story's been rejected. This is why when you come across a good, kind, generous, supportive, editor (like myself—ahem) you should treat that person as the gift from above that they are. The only thing—again 'legally'—an editor has to do is contact you if your story's going to be published (and even that's a bit hazy) and pay you if you have money coming.

If you understand these harsh-but-true rules it makes dealing with the world of professional writing that much easier. Unless you have a real good relationship with an editor, simply don't expect anything beyond the least amount of contact. In defense of editors, I do have to say that editing is a very tough gig: YOU try going through hundreds of manuscripts, copyediting, sending out contracts and rejection notices, dealing with distribution and publicity headaches, and then have time for any kind of a social life. I try to do the best job I can but even I have been known to be slow answering emails or answering questions. Editors also have one of the worst jobs on the planet—being someone who has to break hearts and shatter dreams all the damned time. It is not easy having to send out rejection slips but it's part of the job.

On the writers side, there's a lot that can be done to help the editor out . Why should you help an editor? Because in many cases, you make a friend rather than someone who dreads getting one of your submissions.

The first step is: exercise patience. When you send something out, one of the first things you should do is start working on something else. This tactic makes it easier for you to deal with the sometimes VERY long wait between submission and hearing the good (rare) or bad (often) news about your story.

Step two is: practice compassion. Editors have lives (at least some of the time). Things happen to derail even the most professional and compassionate editor. The fact that you haven't heard back from someone for a few months does not mean they are sitting on the beach drinking Mai Tais without a care about your story. The same goes for questions you might ask an editor. If you were an editor, you, too, might get testy and annoyed having to answer the same question over and over again. That doesn't mean an editor has the right to be rude, but if an answer does come and it's a bit short or abrupt, it's understandable. Don't take it personally.

Make the editor's job as easy as possible, is step three. I cannot emphasize this enough. Read and obey the guidelines. If the book (or magazines or website) says 'NO' that means 'NO.' Exceptions do happen, but never count on them. If they say no email submissions, do not send one. If they say no horror, no S/M, no straight sex, no gay sex, no whatever then that means what it says. Though some rules are fairly flexible (word length by a hundred words and so forth), always observe the Calls for Submission as Absolute Law.

When you do send stories in, always put your name, address and email on the manuscript—that goes for paper as well as email submissions. A story without any of this is rejected—period. And for heaven's sake, if you submit something by email, sign the damned email—it's simple courtesy and allows the editor to easily respond to your submission without having to look at your submission to figure out what the heck your name is. Please do not ask for anyone to write or send a postcard (even if it's provided) to acknowledge receipt of the manuscript. Most editors won't comply or, like me, they don't even open the envelopes or start to read stories for months after the call for submission is sent out. On the manuscript itself, you don't need a social security number, but you do need information on how to contact you by phone number, mail and/or email. Put it on your cover letter, put it on your manuscript, put it on your Self Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE), tattoo it on your butt—just make sure it's there for the editor to find.

Step four would have to be arguing, or bargaining, with an editor. Unless you get a personal note asking for a rewrite, or suggesting some changes, a rejection note is just that. Sometimes an editor will be flexible if you want to send along something else for consideration but, once again, that's the exception and not the rule. From my own experience as an editor, rejections are the last thing I send out—so even if you have something perfect waiting in the wings, it's useless once the book's already been put together. If it's a paper rejection, simply take your bumps and get on with life. If it's email, it's nice to send a little note, if anything because that way the editor knows the message actually got to you. All you need to say is something like "Thanks for letting me know. Best of luck with the project!" is fine. I do have to say that understanding on the part of a writer can score MAJOR points with an editor. I've personally invited folks I've rejected from one project to submit to another because I appreciated their courtesy and professionalism. As always, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar—not to compare editors like myself to flies, you understand.

Lastly, try and learn as much as possible about the business so you don't make silly, dumb mistakes like arguing with the editor about rights, payment, scheduling, covers, and so forth. There are lots of places to learn about the biz— including right here on ERWA. Nothing sours an editor towards a new writer faster than having to give him or her the basic run-down on what can or cannot be done. Keep in mind there are a lot of writers out there, and all an editor needs is any excuse to consider you or your stuff as 'too much trouble to deal with' before he or she is out looking for someone else—just as good—to take for their project.

So there you go, the quick and simple ground rules for the newbie writer. If I had to sum all of this up in a simple sentiment, it would have to be that it's important for beginning writers to understand that submitting should be a smooth and seamless process for both the editor, as well as the writer. The editor gets a trouble-free story to read, and you—because you know the score—don't have to worry about making silly mistakes.

"Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker" © 2003 M. Christian. All rights reserved.

About the author: M. Christian is the celebrated and renowned master of contemporary erotica, with stories appearing in over 150 anthologies, magazines and websites. He's the editor of over 18 anthologies, and several up-coming novels.
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Passion of Isis
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Secret Life of Oscar Wilde
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