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Writing Erotica: A Little Steam May Be Just What You Need
Written by
How She Does It
September 2010
Written by
How She Does It
September 2010

Karen T., owner of, explores how a little erotica could be just the thing for your career.

This summer I launched a website,, which features a monthly short story erotica contest with a bit of a twist. In short, every month I present three Story Inspirations, which are adult novelty products from my store. One of these Inspirations has to be used in the story. What a great way to experiment with writing erotica! You get a specific assignment and a low (5,000) maximum word count. And if you win, you receive all three Story Inspirations in a fun prize box, delivered right to your door. Plus, when you submit, you’re allowed to link to your website, your blog, your Twitter, Facebook, books for sale…everything, to help you build your audience. And in the meantime, you may use your blog et al to solicit votes for your story.

But I don’t write erotica, you say, and true, it’s not for everyone. But if your goal is to be published, you may want to reconsider.

Don’t discount erotica as being just one physical encounter after another. It’s a story with a beginning, middle and end, just a story that contains explicit sex scenes. These scenes can range from mild to intense. Keep in mind too that erotica encompasses many other genres of writing—romance, of course, but also sci fi, fantasy, steam punk, mystery, etc. And there’s a wide selection of themes within erotica—vanilla (one man, one woman), lesbian, gay, multi-partners, multicultural, large-size women, first time, husband/wife, etc.

You may find that adding some steaminess to your current work-in-progress opens up a whole new market. There are many online publishers of erotica, and their submissions doors are pretty much always open. These epublishers sell a LOT of downloadable books, some of which also end up in print. The epublishers not only pay royalties on downloaded sales, they also assign editors to help polish your piece, publish theme-based anthologies, and design sexy covers for your books.

You don’t need an agent to submit, and you get a response fairly quickly. Of course, not everyone finds it easy to write about sex. If you miss, if you use the wrong word, or suggest a gymnastic bedroom maneuver that is in reality a physical impossibility, your reader is thrown right out of your fantasy. And writing erotica is personal. Intensely personal, even if the scenes you create have nothing to do with your own experiences, or your own fantasies.

If I write a murder mystery, and my main character likes to slice and dice and hack innocent victims with a hatchet every Saturday night, is my reader going to think that’s how I spend my weekends? Probably not. But erotica…well, that’s a different story. And it IS a different story. It’s a story that’s designed to elicit a physical response, which is a totally different animal than an emotional response, the goal of most other types of writing. (Not to say, of course, that erotica can’t also play on your emotions; it certainly can.)

Good erotica makes your pulse race. It makes you sweat a bit, and makes you wet a bit, too. It makes you breathe a little faster, squirm in your seat, blush if someone looks over your shoulder while you read, and, when you finally put the book down, it might send you straight to your partner with an indecent proposal. (By the way, your partner likes it when you read erotica. But take my word for it, they love when you write it.)

Writing erotica is not for everyone. It takes a lot of practice, and in some cases, a definite bias overhaul. But if you think it’s something you can handle, erotica may very well offer the best chance of becoming a published writer. So make your story steamy! You could discover an unexpected talent.

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  • Karen T.

    I hope you do!  We've got a brand new contest starting 1/1/11, with three really fun prizes!

  • Karen T.

    Thank you for your kind comments. I hope you will check out our site and see what we have to offer.

    Our October contest is rather slow, but I attribute that to the fact that our September contest was extra exciting--the winner of our contest, in addition to the toy prizes, will be included in a toy-themed anthology which will be published within a couple of weeks by Ravenous Romance, an epublisher of erotica. The anthology will feature some of RR's many published authors.

    I hope those of you who have never tried your hand at erotica, or who want more practice, will choose one of our story prompts and write. would love to be your place to post your practice pieces! (Don't you just love alliteration?)

  • Christina Brandon

    This does sound hot! Thanks for this post!

  • Lacey N. Dunham

    Thank you, Karen, for your post. As the editor of an online literary 'zine, I wrestled with the decision of whether to include erotica or not; I finally decided that erotica is, like you stated, "a story with a beginning, middle and end, just a story that contains explicit sex scenes." I also think there's a huge assumption in the literary community that erotica can't be well-written, that it is, because of its sexual nature, less literary (and therefore, less important) than other genres -- never mind that there are a lot of explicit sex scenes in some very well received literary novels! Approaching erotica as just another story, albeit, a steamier, sexier story, is what finally tipped my decision toward publishing it in our 'zine.

  • Janel Gradowski

    I have written short stories in many different genres, but I've never tried erotica. I'll take a look at your site. I've always loved writing from prompts! :-O

  • Lorraine Berry

    Okay. A confession. While my work has not been associated too much with the writing of erotica, when I was first divorced and looking to make a living, I wrote "private erotica" under a pen name. I was contacted by folks who asked me to write private stories for them, based on a few details that they would give me, and I charged them by the word.
    I'm going to check out your contest and see if I can get those old juices flowing.
    But erotica, if done well, should be a recognized, legitimate genre in which women can work. There's a lot more to it than "porn," and I appreciate your efforts to bring it to folks' attention.

  • Deborah Siegel Writing

    Karen, this is HOT! Thank you for sharing your savvy with SW -- and I love how you get at all the various, so to speak :)