Getting your erotica published isn’t as hard as you might think it is. Here’s a few places to submit your work and some suggestions for how to do it.
1. Write some erotica!
This is actually one of the hardest steps. If you’re already writing all kinds of dialogue through text message (or in your head, before it comes out of your mouth), you’re a step ahead right there. If your sexting becomes elaborate settings and plots and characters and costumes, you are well on the way. If you lie awake at night thinking about the next scenes in your story, and what kind of sex toys the characters will use, and how they’ll transition from one to another … no? Just me? Okay.
Seriously though, the writing of it is a really hard part of it! Most people never do this part. If you have, congrats. Share
2. Proofread & Edit
You absolutely have to proofread and edit your work before you submit it.
3. Research where to submit it
At any given time, there are usually at least a few erotica anthologies out there with a CFS — call for submissions — open and actively looking. My personal favorite places to keep an eye on are the Erotica Readers & Writers Association and Lambda Literary Foundation, but that’s because I write queer erotica, and mostly short stories. If you want to get a full length novel published, you’ll want to look at publishers accepting submissions. One way to figure that out is to research which publishers have put out some of the favorite erotica that you’ve read. Perhaps you’ll find that two or three or seventeen titles that you adore were all put out by the same press — check out their website for their submission guidelines and keep an eye on when they accept new submissions.
The same thing goes for erotica anthology editors that you like to read — if Rachel Kramer Bussel’s books inspire you, keep an eye out for her calls for submission. (You can get on her mailing list and she’ll send updates. And the ERWA has a mailing list, too.)
PS, I am looking for lesbian (in the broadest possible sense of the word) erotica, and Mx Nillin Lore is looking for trans & nonbinary erotica right now, due in late October and early November respectively.
4. Read the CFS very carefully and follow instructions
Calls for submission are usually very carefully crafted by the press, publisher, or editor. Read it carefully — print it out, highlight the important stuff, and take notes. Make sure your project fits the guidelines. If it doesn’t, or you aren’t sure — just ask! Send a query to the editor or publisher with a short (SHORT) summary of what you’re working on, and see if it’s something they’d like to see. They might just send back something like, “I dunno, send it and we’ll see,” which is fine. Just send it, and see.
After you’re pretty sure you have all the guidelines covered, make sure you follow the instructions carefully when you send it in. Guidelines are there for a reason! And you will stand out as unprofessional and unexperienced if you don’t follow them. Look, mistakes happen — you don’t have to beat yourself up about it if you don’t follow exactly. But, do your best.
5. Send it off! And collect those rejections.
There it goes!
Say a prayer, light a candle, do a chicken dance — whatever makes you feel good. My writing group has a text thread and we text each other when we submit something, and when we get a rejection, and we all send funny gifs of support and celebration.
Early on in my writing career, I was given the advice to collect 100 rejections. Rejections mean you are trying, you are putting yourself out there, and it is brave and bold to do so. It is not your job to force the acceptance, but rather to keep offering your work to the world.
Of course, if you’re really not finding much traction with publishing, you can consider self-publishing. Even medium.com is a fine place to start building an archive of work — and maybe even fans. Places like AO3 have launched writers. Self publishing is an option; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
So, are you going to submit something?
Hope you do. We desperately need more depictions of queer desire, queer sex, queer kink, and queer lives in the world. There are still not enough examples of our sacred lives. And if you’re called to contribute to that deep sharing of body and desire truths, please do.
I can’t wait to read it.