I quite often get questions from authors who would like to embark on writing in a more professional context, so I decided to write a quick and dirty advice article to point people to along the way. This is obviously just my opinion, based on my experiences being published over the years. How much you take from it is up to you.
How do I get published ?
Publishing is actually the easy part. There are a myriad of guides to self publishing, and every publisher has their submission guidelines on their website, so I won’t go into the mechanics as they can easily be discovered through five minutes on Google.
So that’s my first tip: do your research.
Writing something that is actually ready for publication is a different matter. Here are my tips for that:
You need to write. A lot.
If you only write once every few months, and haven’t written anything new for a year or so, you’re probably not ready for serious publication simply because you haven’t put the hours in. Writers write. Every day if possible, but several times a week at a minimum. It’s okay to take a break every now and then, but if your break turns into six months or a year without having created anything new, then that’s an issue. This is especially true if you are at the beginning of your writing journey. If you don’t push through the first few absolutely rubbish attempts at writing a book, you’ll never get to the good stuff. I wrote some horrific stuff in my early twenties. It was rejected left right and center, and for good reason. Your early stuff is probably awful too. It’s okay to be awful. You only get not awful by writing more, so write more.
It needs a plot.
The great thing when you’re writing for fun is that you can just write the bits you want to write. What that translates to in a lot of what one finds online is that the story is essentially a single scene, or maybe two or three, but there’s no plot, or rather the plot can be summed up in: Here is a top, here is a bottom, the bottom was naughty. Now the top is spanking the bottom. The end.
That’s fine for a fun, free story, it’s not okay for a published book.
Plot is achieved by, well, having things actually happen outside the generic cause and effect for the spanking. In other words: ‘Susie got fired from Burger King for eating all the fries and now she’s getting spanked’, is not really a plot.
‘Susie was eating all the fries and hoping she wouldn’t get caught when someone stole all the cash out of the register and now not only is Susie getting spanked, but she has to prove she was only eating fries and not ripping off the joint – so who was really responsible for the theft?’ That’s a plot. Or the beginning of one, at least.
It needs character development.
It’s also easy when one starts writing and wants to get to the good bits as quickly as possible to have one’s characters only exist for the purpose of getting to the part where the kink starts. Unfortunately, this results in very flat, unremarkable characters who could be substituted for planks of two by four without anyone being any the wiser.
You can achieve character development by taking a step back from the primary focus of your work, and getting to know your characters. Who are they really? What do they want? What do they hate? Where are they from? And how will they react to events that take place in the story? (Events outside of merely sexing one another up all day long.)
Though this means it takes longer to get to the saucy parts, it makes it much more satisfying when the characters do get there. And it makes them feel more real to the reader, who is not left with the text equivalent of watching two cardboard cut outs rub up against one another.
It needs polish.
Aside from basic grammar and such like (obviously, you should try to spell all the words correctly,) there needs to be some quality about your work which elevates it above the content one could find for free on Literotica or other online sites (although I will say, Literotica has some damn fine talent.) And actually, posting on Literotica is a good way to get honest feedback. It’s also a good way to practice for people hating your face for no apparent reason. And they will. Especially if you publish kink in a smaller genre like the Lesbian genre. People will hate your face for that, because issues.
Be ready for negativity.
This is a major. You will get negative feedback. Some of it will be useful. Anything a professional editor or author you respect tells you is probably worth listening to. If you manage to get published, and your book gains traction and popularity outside the cosy echo chamber of online kinkdom, you will probably attract negative attention from people who either weren’t paying attention when they bought your book and are shocked by the content, or people who like to be outraged. (Being outraged truly is its own reward for some people, the sheer rushing indignation is better than any orgasm.) These people can be safely ignored. Only pay attention to people who love what you do, and always do what you love, but do it to the highest quality you can manage. And do it always with the reader in mind.
It’s not about you.
This is the biggest piece of advice I can give. When you write for fun, it’s all about you. You can write and post whatever makes you feel good and who gives a damn what anyone else thinks. As soon as you start writing professionally and selling books, it stops being about you so much and starts being about the reader. Although you will never please everyone, you should do your best to please the people you’re writing the book for.
It will be hard. It will take longer than you want it to. It will be work. Serious work, which will, if you’re doing it correctly, leave you feeling somewhat drained.
In the end, however, it will be worth it when the people you wrote it for find it and love it as much as you do. There are no short cuts. There are no easy ways in. It’s just about putting the time in, doing your best, and always trying to be better.