Writing Tips: Writing for Specific Markets (Erotica)


I’m not actually a genre writer – more a general lit kinda guy – but most of the literature produced and consumed world-wide is written to be sold/provided to very specific types of consumers. A listing service like Duotrope (for example) will have around 4,500 listings or calls for the submission of fiction at any one time and a quick perusal reveals that of those 4,500 listings approximately 4,317 are for erotica – and most of those divided into very specific sub-genres.

You know the old joke about the difference between “kinky” and “perverted” being that “kinky” is using a feather and “perverted” the whole chicken? So it is with erotica and it’s various sub-genres. Kinky to perverted and all the way back again.

However – there’s gold in them thar hills, i.e paying work – if you can do it. A lot of writers – myself included, struggle with erotica. Between the search for appropriate nouns for people’s naughty bits and the endless, endless hours of “researching” the subject on the internet plus the not being able to look at myself in the mirror for a day or two after writing it … I struggle.

I think the way to work through this is to think of each and every market segment/sub-genre that you can possibly write for and come up with a “lead” sentence. The idea is that once you have that first sentence the rest will fall into place right? The sentence predicates the genre and after that it’s either feathers or chicken!


“If you we’re a booger, I’d totally pick you first”

For comedians. Virgin comedians. Because you need a good line and this one is just good enough to get you not laid so there might as well be some fiction about it. I cried writing this. I am so alone. Moving on:

“Hard on? What’s all this talk about a hard on?”

For the Sci-Fi segment – the hard core Sci-Fi segment who understand TARDIS and the phrase “alternate universe” but are blissfully unaware of the alternative universe that is actual “hard core”. And puh-leeze don’t argue with me. I am a devoted attendee of the Calgary Comic Con/Expo and I know whereof I speak.

“The pump won’t work because the vandal stole the handle”

The “we like awkward moments because it makes us feel better about ourselves” crowd. Or possibly – the old people demographic.

“Lena Olin is so hot I’d hit it even if she had been dead for three days”

For the necro crowd – and for Lena Olin fans like yours truly! Before you rush to judge me – have you seen “The Ninth Gate”?

Note that by the  “Necro” crowd I mean “Twilight” fans because what is Twilight but some “young woman’s alt-sex experience regarding the difficult decision to be made between necrophilia and bestiality?”

Think about it. I forget who I am stealing that quote from but it’s a good one so I’m stealing.

I’m gonna digress now and remind you all that as I have written before the true measure of a person’s hotness is not a scale of 1 – 10 but a scale 0 – n:  “n” being the amount of time that they could be dead before you’d (regretfully) have to pass.

Lena Olin is a 3. Minimum. Even in summer.

“He reached for mattress, but came up with ass”

For the plus-size market. It’s weird how the public prejudice against overweight people (but in who’s opinion I ask?) gets kind of turned on it’s head and fetishized in this sub genre but hey – paying work right?

“Yes but – them fellers were sheep ranchers”

For Cowboys who didn’t see “Brokeback Mountain” but knew them fellers were sheep ranchers.

“Y’all go on and get yourself ready honey, it’s almost half-time”

The “Enjoys Football and Intense Verbal Foreplay  ” crowd.

“You might as well, because you ain’t got no choice”

The growing “Prison Sex” segment.

“You knew what you were doing, walking to church in that dress, eating that ice cream cone.”

For those who wanted to know “Where do Strippers Come From?”.

“Ryan Gosling took a break from rowing his cockboat through the sea of fine ass to remind you that he doesn’t care if you think he’s gay or not”

For: The haters – but the Ladies are gonna buy it all up.

“Have you ever French kissed? Dad says I’m the best!”

For A) Europe and B) Anyone who watches National Lampoon’s “Vacation” and wonders where this line disappears to in TBS broadcasts.

“Oh yes Grommit. Oh yes! Very Nice. Verry nniiiice.  Man’s best friend indeeeeeeed!’

Pervs. Seriously. Gotta draw the line somewhere.

“I prefer the term “Lady with a handle!”

Middle aged gentlemen who holiday in Thailand.

“He draped her in all manner of the trappings of wealth and prestige, all while totally respecting the shit out of her but at the same time pulling a modest handful of her swirling raven tresses to assure her of his deeply monogamous passion!”

Harlequin romance readers. Seriously – I think I just wrote a synopsis and not a mere lead sentence.

Pro Tip: Go to a used bookstore and get the ones with the red border on the cover (usually a purple cover) – crack it open roughly 2/3 of the way through and you’ll be within a page or two of the modest hair-pulling and deeply monogamous passion.

Anyways – there’s a start. We can all start submitting this weekend. Gotta do some more research on the inter-webs first right?

Over and out



Here’s the official poster for Writing in the Works Spring 2013. (Re-blogged courtesy Lori Hahnel’s web page.). Be there! The readings will kick ass AND break hearts – guaranteed. Plus … beverages and the company will be excellent as always.

Lori Hahnel

It Might As Well Be Spring


Because here’s our poster by the lovely and talented Elaine Morin for Writing in the Works, taking place on April 11! Can’t wait!

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