Writing Erotica: My Midlife Side Hustle

I started writing erotica in the late 1990s when it became clear to me that law school, the career path I’d chosen, wasn’t working out. I was too enamored of all that New York City had to offer and, along with my sexual adventures in the city that never sleeps, I was exploring equally provocative literary ventures, from writing and reading erotica to later running an erotic reading series, where any kind of sex was easily pursued and enjoyed.

I jumped right into the fray, even though I’d never written fiction before, dashing off a short story titled “Monica and Me,” a very loosely-veiled fantasy about Monica Lewinsky, for an anthology titled Starf*cker. From that first publication in 2000, I was enthralled by seeing my name in print, a rush as exciting, in its own way, as my first forays into sex parties.

Since then, I’ve penned dozens of short stories and edited more than 70 anthologies of my own, with titles such as The Big Book of Orgasms: 69 Sexy Stories and Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica. I’ve worked with almost 800 authors from around the world to bring forth their most delightfully dirty tales. Today, I teach erotica writing classes and I have a new writing guide out called How to Write Erotica.

For me, erotica was an opening into a world I couldn’t have envisioned when I got started. In the beginning, I was exploring my own personal fantasies and chronicling my erotic adventures and misadventures. Over the last two decades, I’ve expanded that work to craft stories about characters who aren’t like me at all, and to help others translate the naughty images in their minds onto the page.

Erotica isn’t for everyone, but for those with a smidge of sexual curiosity and/or a desire to make a little extra money on the side, writing smut can create a new income stream while simultaneously opening your mind to new ways of looking at sex.

Sometimes people ask me: Is there a quick way to make a lot of money with erotica? Alas, if I knew the answer, I would probably be on permanent vacation at a glamorous resort right now.

I don’t earn a full-time living from my erotica anthologies or related work, but I do know plenty of authors, both traditionally published and self-published, who’ve managed to quit their day jobs simply by writing smut.

If that’s your goal, I would pick three to four authors in a relatively small subgenre of erotica and closely follow what they do with their careers—both in the writing and in how they promote themselves. Since there’s a glut of titles being released today, part of marketing yourself as a modern erotica author is to stand out in some way.

Chuck Tingle does that by being hilarious, and by penning erotic books with ripped-from-the-headlines titles. Erotic romance author Katee Robert has found her niche with retellings of Greek mythology. Guy New York posts on several platforms, releasing his erotica work on Amazon as well as publishing on Medium. There are authors who specialize in alien erotica, BDSM erotica, fetish erotica, lesbian erotica, dinosaur erotica—you name it and there’s probably an erotica niche about that topic.

You can go that route or be a generalist, writing about whatever comes to mind and building a following based around you or your pseudonym.

The first thing I’d recommend doing is setting aside an hour (or more if you can spare it) when you’re completely alone and nobody is likely to bother you. You need to be in the right headspace to write erotica—and for most of us, that’s not going to be when our children are liable to tiptoe over and glance at our screen, or someone is trying to have a conversation with us.

Then you’ll need to tap into your deepest sexual fantasies, the ones buried deep beneath your to-do list worries, menopausal body issues, family/life/work drama and whatever else is going on in your life. Start by writing down a celebrity fantasy—and your version of “celebrity” could be anyone from a world-famous figure to a hyper-local star. What would you do if you encountered them in real life? Are stars really “just like us” in bed?

You can start anywhere, but give yourself a solid 20 minutes to just explore in your writing. Don’t worry about grammar or editing or happy endings; just see where the smut takes you. From there, you can go in countless different directions. You can decide to keep your smut to yourself, share it with a partner, or try to publish it, either through a publisher, Amazon, or on a site like MyErotica.com. But I feel confident in saying that once you put some dirty words down on the page, you’ll feel a change in your perspective, and your everyday encounters will take on at least a hint of erotic tension—even if it’s only in your mind.

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One Response

  1. eDJ

    My first foray into writing erotica came shortly after I got on the internet in the later 90’s. I soon learned of Katy Terrague and her book “It’s a Dirty Job” and joined in with her Yahoo group to continue to learn more.

    It must be something about the part of the country I live in as I live about 50 miles north east of where Larry Flynt grew up and a little further west Andrew Offutt a prolific writer of erotica. His son’s book, “My Father the Pornographer” explains growing up in a log cabin Taylorsville, KY as his dad was writing erotica all day. Appalachia holds many wonders that are free to it’s inhabitants and story telling is one of it’s chief forms of entertainment. These stories derive from people availing themselves of the opportunities provided by a beautiful natural environment and nearly unlimited privacy to engage in the number one free pleasure of sex. Here being without your clothing whether alone or in numbers has come to be conjugated as: Nude, Naked, and Nekkid. Nekkid most often the term applied to erotic sex. Country girl meets: big city traveling salesman, or out of town hunter or fisherman, the virgin and boyfriend in the Barn Loft on a stormy summer night,, Preacher Man meets Widder Woman, or the handsome Bus Driver who would take her to see the big city during the day and porn district by night while on his two day layover before returning home.

    Sex is one of life’s few free pleasures and will always be a source of literature and income made from telling good stories about it. eDJ


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