Erotica Readers & Writers Association
Home | Erotic Books | Authors Resources | Inside The Erotic Mind | Erotica Gallery
Adult Movies | Sex Toys | Erotic Music | Email Discussion List | Links

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

The Erotic Book Doctor
by Susie Bright

submissions concerns & how to make a living writing smut

Dear Susie: What should I do when an editor doesn't acknowledge my original submission and doesn't respond to my follow-up inquiries about the status of my submission?

Why are murderous schemes the first to cross my mind? I assume you want only sensible recommendations, calm and reasoned- but be assured that this is not really a normal response.  It' s humiliating to be ignored, and cruel to be put on hold indefinitely.

Editors can tell you that they are overworked, underpaid, and that all may be true-- but the bottom line is, they must have a system for handling acquisitions-including unsolicited manuscripts-and if they don't, they're failing the publisher as well as the authors who are querying them.

Some editors do have an unspoken acquisition system , and it's called, "Ignore Everyone I Don't Know Already." Or, it's "If You Don't Hear from Me Immediately, It's Because I Couldn't' Care Less.

The latest model of this theme, popular among dot-commers, is "I 'm 12 Years Old and No One Has Bothered to Train Me." I suspect you've already met a couple of these types.  Don't get obsessed with making them reply to you.  Take a hint, and move on.  Remember their name when you're famous and they come begging for a crumb.

You deserve a letter acknowledging your submission, and then a timely decision.  Maybe some editors think that's a quaint way of operating, but I don't think rudeness and indifference should be the hallmark of contemporary publishing.  This business ultimately works on a quid pro quo basis, and if you screw everyone beneath you, ultimately one of those "underlings" is going to be someone YOU need to ask a favor from someday.  Courtesy now means reciprocation later.  I've worked on everything from dailies to yearly anthologies, and it is possible in every case to have a professional acquisition and correspondence system.

Okay, we've talked about what you deserve, but let's be blunt about what you might get.  Send your story to the right address, and the right name.  Make certain your story fits their stated requirements.  Put your email address on your manuscript, along with your snail mail and phone .  Email is the easiest way for 99% of editors to reply to you.  SASEs are OVER.  In the 21st century of endless duplication, it seems rather strange if you're sending editors your only copy of a manuscript.

If you don't' hear anything back in a reasonable amount of time, email the editor a polite request for acknowledgment.  If you get no reply, this means they have rejected you-- don't' waste another moment with them.

There's someone out there who wants your material, who's desperate for a good story; and they would be replying to you lickety-split.  You need to put most of you time into finding that right match, rather than waiting to be asked to dance by the most aloof.  If you're hot, and you get published and read anywhere, you'll be in more demand next time.

Dear Susie: How long is reasonable for me to wait for a response to a submission? Making me wait six months is like taking money out of my pocket.

Get off the cross, we need the wood.  I hope you can appreciate my bluntness, for I, too, have been ridiculously masochistic waiting for publishers to decide whether I exist or not.

Your credo as a writer must be "Seize the Time", not "Stuck Inside Easy-Bake Oven."

Your patience for a reply will depend on the frequency of the publication, and the nature of your story.  If you've got hot news, obviously someone should be back on the phone to you in minutes.  If it's an evergreen feature, or a story that could be timely all year, it won't be on the front burner.

Forget the numbers and calendar-counting for a minute.  Every publisher will give you a different line, and when they change their minds, they won't be sending you a memo about it.

Why ARE you waiting for six months if you have other options? Make a deal with someone else, call back the first guy, and say, "I'm ready to sign a contract with Publisher B.  Any second thoughts?" There's nothing that lights a fire under them like competition.  If they like your story, and can't move on it at the present, they'll want you back another time.

I find that writers that ask this question are often missing their cues.  Editors who put you off are the Marcia Brady's of the world.  They'll always tell you that "Something came up," and that' why they can't date you/ publish you/ answer your calls.  They are avoiding you because you are a low priority to them, and the only way to change that is to say, 'Marcia, I think there's cum in your hair," - then walk away while they wonder what happened.

Dear Susie: I don't like it when editors won't accept simultaneous submissions and then sit on my work for six months.  Can you help me understand the editor's viewpoint?

No, I won't help you understand nonsense.  Send submissions to whoever you please, without explanation.  If no one holds an option on your work, you don't owe anyone an exclusive peek.  Think of this is a poker game—your only advantage is to keep your cards to yourself.

You may want to be strategic about who you send your story to, and certainly you should be discriminating.  It's insulting to editors to surmise that you just wallpapered the town with a story that barely fits their parameters.

But I doubt this is your problem.  You are trying to be deferential in a situation where it isn't called for, let alone advised.

If you get an offer to one of your queries, fine.  You can use that as leverage to get other editors to make up their minds, or, you can just accept the original offer.  If some Johnny-Come-Lately calls a year later to say they want it, tell them what rights are available.

Dear Susie: I've been wondering just how difficult it is to make a living—even a subsistence living—working only as an erotica author.  It seems to me that this isn't a realistic goal, given the size of the market and what I've seen other "successful" authors doing, such as producing anthologies, self-publishing, etc.  Is this a foolish dream, to think I can write and make a go of it?

Honestly, I think being an artist in America is a foolish dream, and yet look how avidly I've pursued it! There's a tremendous amount of luck and timing involved in commercial success, and yet even that will come to naught without ambition, persistence, advocacy—and dare we say it—talent.

I wrote a chapter, MONEY MONEY MONEY, about this very topic in my book How to Read/Write a Dirty Story.  I know it's on a lot of people's minds.  I advise you to figure out exactly what you want to get out of the writing experience—even if that's a bit embarrassing to admit—and then pinpoint how that determines what you'll need to do to achieve your dream.

You're discouraged, I don't' blame you, this is a tough gig.  Writing erotica is nothing one would go into for financial reasons alone.  But I don't think it' unreasonable to imagine you can make money as a erotica writer.

I have personally published hundreds of newcomers, who a year later, can say, "I make some income from writing about sex. " All I did was publish them once—they capitalized on their accomplishments.  Every day that I hear from a writer who says " I give up!" I hear from some new publisher who says, " I need sex writers, STAT!" If only there was an AOL chatroom I could hook them all up in.

Seriously, though, today I got one of those calls, and I told him to post a notice on ERA...  he never even heard of it, and he works for something called SEXDOTCOM.  Go figure.

© 2002 Susie Bright.  All rights reserved.

Susie Bright is the author/editor of 18 books of sex, sexual politics and erotica, including How to Write a Dirty Story [Available at  &  Amazon UK], Full Exposure, and The Best American Erotica series.

  E-mail this page

Search ERWA Website:

Copyright 1996 and on, Erotica Readers Association, Inc.
All Rights Reserved World Wide. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or
medium without express written permission is prohibited.

> 2006 Book Reviews

4 Erotic Ass-ets
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bad Girls & More...
Reviews by Ashley Lister

The Best of Both Worlds
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Black Masque
Review by M. Ellis

Blood Surrender
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bound to Love
Review by Ashley Lister

Double Dare
Review by Ashley Lister

Filthy: Outrageous Gay...
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Gary Russell

Forbidden Reading
Review by M. Ellis

Leather, Lace and Lust
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Mr. Stone & Lessons
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Nina Hartley's Sex Guide
Review by Adrienne

Oedipus & Rode Hard
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Orgasms & More
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Passion of Isis
Review by Ashley Lister

Sex in Uniform
Review by Ashley Lister

Six Top Picks
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Stirring up a Storm
Review by M. Ellis

Sunshine and Shadow
Reviews by Lisabet Sarai

Surrender & Dying for It
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Wicked: Sexy Tales...
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Writing Naked
Review by Lisabet Sarai


America’s War on Sex
Review by Rob Hardy

Review by Rob Hardy

Covent Garden Ladies
Review by Rob Hardy

The Commitment
Review by Rob Hardy

Eroticism and Art
Review by Rob Hardy

Expletive Deleted...
Review by Rob Hardy

Female Orgasms
Review by Rob Hardy

Government Vs. Erotica
Review by Rob Hardy

Heloise & Abelard ...
Review by Rob Hardy

International Exposure
Review by Rob Hardy

A Profane Wit
Review by Rob Hardy

Secret Life of Oscar Wilde
Review by Rob Hardy

Sex Collectors
Review by Rob Hardy

Sex Machines
Review by Rob Hardy