Who am I? I've been working as a full-time smut-slinger, word-pimp and prosestitute for about six years now, first in short-form erotica and more recently in romance novels. I get asked fairly regularly on Reddit for advice on how best to get started, so I figure an AMA is as good an opportunity to clear up as many misconceptions as possible and collect all the advice I've got to give in one place for anyone who thinks it might be something they're interested in -- either as a potential career, or just as a hobby.

On account of it being my cakeday -- and because would it really be an AMA if I wasn't shilling something? -- I've released three of my books for free for the next five days:

  • Reckless is a novel about a Texas diner owner whose ex-boyfriend rolls back into town after a decade away -- now a famous musician, and eager to rekindle their romance.

  • Smooth is a novel about an uptight Chicago lawyer who, newly single after a break up with her fiancé, finds herself in New Orleans for her best friend's wedding -- only to find herself repeatedly crossing paths with a freewheeling jazz musician.

  • Love at Christmas is a collection of novellas about four single sisters who find a little Christmas romance waiting for them under the tree. (Not with each other, you perverts. With other people.) It's a soft little slice of festive romance.

You can also check out my website, HazelRedgate.com, where I release short erotica and romance for free, twice a week. (I also have a Patreon, if that's your bag, or you can find me at my subreddit.)

If there's anything you want to know about writing for a living, writing smut for a living, how to make your dialogue -- or your dirty talk -- really pop, what the deal is with airline food, how to go about getting your stuff noticed, what Star Wars has to do with structuring romantic fiction, or literally anything else, fire away!

Proof.

Comments: 372 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

barandor386 karma

Have you ever had to delete a euphemism because it was too absurd or funny?

Portarossa707 karma

Oh, so many times. It happens less with euphemisms and more with the flirty foreplay dialogue. I'm a bit of a goof in real life, so there have been situations where I've written a page of what I think is flirty back-and-forth, looked it over a couple of days later, and realised that absolutely no one would be seduced by it.

You can get away with so much more stupid shit in real life than you can in fiction.

barandor387 karma

True, my favorite line that was supposed to sound sexy is: "My member moved in her mouth like a showerhead in an empty bathtub."

I get the image he's trying to create, but it doesn't work at all.

Portarossa344 karma

Well, fuck. How am I supposed to top that?

Zer0Summoner262 karma

Do you find it difficult to write about kinks you don't personally share?

Portarossa369 karma

It honestly varies. There are some kinks or acts where I don't personally find them enticing or enjoyable from my past experiences -- threesomes, for example -- where even though I don't get it, I can see why it works for other people. Those are pretty easy to write, and I do those freely with no trouble whatsoever.

There are others that I've done commissions for where I just don't get why people find it sexy, and so I tend not to take on jobs like that; there are plenty of stories that I know I can write sexily, and so it's better if someone who actually knows the appeal takes on those jobs. (You won't find any, say, ABDL stuff in my back catalogue; I don't think it does any harm if that's what you're into, but I wouldn't have the first idea how to go about making that sexy.)

Then there are kinks that I actively refuse to write, like rape fantasy material, race play, and underage stuff. It would be too difficult to put aside my personal objections, even in fiction and even if I were inclined to do so, so I don't touch them.

reillyqyote227 karma

How does it feel to know that "prosestitute" is your life's greatest work, and to surpass it would require a herculean effort?

Portarossa274 karma

Truly, we never know when the muse will rub his sweaty taint upon us mere mortals.

At least I can die happy and fulfilled now.

LeakyLycanthrope58 karma

Please!

Everyone knows the Muses are female.

Portarossa233 karma

Then who the fuck was that guy?

IrishWithoutPotatoes62 karma

Probably Dirty Mike

Portarossa121 karma

It didn't taste like Dirty Mike.

Clixyia201 karma

Did writing erotica hurt or help your own personal sex life? As in, did your expectations get too high after writing a lot of smut? Or did it help you know what to expect?

Portarossa213 karma

It helped, probably. I wasn't exactly a shrinking violet beforehand, but it did make me a lot more sex-positive and opened me up to trying new things. Most of them I didn't enjoy but don't regret, but a couple of them have become firm favourites.

That said, it made porn a lot more difficult to enjoy, and dirty talk can sometimes feel a lot like another day at the office, so... swings and roundabouts, I guess?

Lukavian88 karma

it made porn a lot more difficult to enjoy

Could you expand on this? Just because you view it professionally rather than personally?

Portarossa173 karma

Basically yeah -- there's the sense of thinking 'Oh, that's a really good idea!' rather than 'Fuck me, that's hot' -- but also just because you kind of lose the taste for it. I mean, if you work as a chocolate taster, you're probably not going to want to grab a Mars Bar on your way home from the office; if you spend your working life thinking about other people fucking, watching other people rather loses some of its appeal.

That said, in-person intimacy is still great, and I have no moral objection to porn; I'm just a bit porned-out.

mugenhunt130 karma

Huh. Figured you would have been a journalist IRL, but this also works.

Okay, what markets are best for the up and coming erotica writer who has yet to be published?

Portarossa212 karma

It honestly depends on what it is you're writing, which sounds kind of glib, but it's true.

Online, markets shift a lot, so it's always good to check out the Top 100 on Amazon to see what's selling and see if you think there's a niche there you can tap. The good thing about romance novels is that they tend not to take very long to write, so you can adapt fairly quickly when there's a new well that opens up; a couple of years ago, for example, step-siblings were a big thing, so a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon. On the other hand, it meant that the market got flooded very quickly and it became hard to get noticed.

If there was one thing I'd say, though, it's that diversity is increasingly popular -- but you have to do it right. It's a lot harder to get away with the idea of the sheik who comes along and steals the heroine away in the night (which is still a massive seller in certain fields, but it's starting to be criticised a lot more) without people starting to be a bit more skeptical; this is also true for historical fiction, which might have some troubling tropes. Supernatural romance is still pretty popular -- because who doesn't want to bone down with a vampire or a werewolf, am I right, ladies? -- and so are books about your traditional alpha male types. Generally speaking, though, I'd say that the best way to do it is to get an idea, then look to see if books similar to the one you've got the seed for are selling. You want to make sure that it's something you think will be interesting to write, because otherwise it can be a real slog.

If books similar to your idea are selling, great; if they're not, it's more likely that the market doesn't support them than it is that you'll start off a whole new wave. Don't let that put you off if it's a story you really want to tell... just don't get your hopes up.

terrortrinket36 karma

bangs head on desk. The newest big thing lately has been reverse harems and I hate to say but I don’t love it.

Come back alpha werewolf vs old-young vampire creeper!

Portarossa73 karma

Man, I remember when I started out and the advice was ABSOLUTELY NO MULTIPLE LOVE INTERESTS WHATSOEVER.

How the turn tables.

Horrorito17 karma

That surprises me. Isn't there usually the 'perfect' guy that turns out not to be so perfect, and the 'bad' boy that turns out not to be so bad?

Portarossa29 karma

The golden rule for romance when I started out was that any implication of cheating was a turn-off. (I suspect that's still largely the case, but that these books represent a specific niche that has got larger; I figure most people who were opposed to any sort of cheating still wouldn't be happy, but they're also probably not the ones reading Adult Contemporary Fantasy.)

But yeah, that's not entirely uncommon; there's traditionally a gap between them, and once she picks one, she doesn't switch back and forth. (Shit, that's literally the plot of my novel Smooth, so I can't really complain too much.)

periodicsheep11 karma

i never got into the stepsiblings books, but i love that someone writes them under the name stephanie brother, lol. it’s just so on the nose, no mystery. and it cracks me up.

veive103 karma

In general how many words are your novels?

Portarossa160 karma

I aim for about 75,000. Reckless came in at about 96,000, but the others have been shorter.

That's longer than it needs to be -- you can get away with 60,000 -- but I'd rather do what the story needs. One of the big advantages of doing shortform fiction is that you can get that 'Right, I'm finished! Gold star, on to the next one!' feeling a lot more regularly, but the story takes as long as it takes.

KrisBkh97 karma

Do you self publish on Amazon? And how much have you earned writing this stuff?

I have so many questions!

Portarossa133 karma

I do! I don't give out exact figures, but I can say that it varies; I've had short stories that have sold upwards of £1,000 for six thousand words, and I've had stories that have sold literally about three copies in the same timeframe. I'll also say that, while I'm not buying a yacht any time soon, I'm also not worried about keeping the rent paid and the fridge full.

It's very difficult to give out specific information because there's just so much variety in the industry: it depends a lot on how much you produce, a lot on reading the market, and a lot on luck too. (This year, for example, has been a slow one; I was dealing with some personal issues for a large part of the first half of 2019, so it kind of took a bite out of my productivity.) I don't want people thinking that any one person's experience is representative of the variety you might see. That said, /r/eroticauthors has a regular set of posts -- Dataporn -- where people discuss their earnings and sales figures. You can get a sense for how it works as a general spread over there.

KraZe-Ace82 karma

What’s your opinion on fanfics? I know that the perception is split depending on who you ask (J. k. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, etc.). Some think it’s legit and others not so much.

Portarossa161 karma

Personally, I never got into it; for me, the fun part of writing is coming up with my own stuff, so fanfiction just feels a little like playing with someone else's toys.

I don't have any great issues with it -- but I will say that it's the entry point for a lot of people who want to work on their own writing abilities as teenagers, but who aren't quite as confident with the worldbuilding or characterisation aspects of it. I don't think it's necessarily as valuable to a writer as coming up with your own shit (even if what you come up with is shit), but I'm not going to complain too much about anything that gets people excited about writing.

jamesgelliott80 karma

I'm not being sarcastic...

What turns you on/off?

Have you had any turn on's that changed negatively because of your job?

Cooks often hate to cook when they're off work. Paramedics become immune to gore. Some of the messiest people I've known have been housekeepers...etc

Portarossa141 karma

It's a fair point: I definitely watch a lot less porn than I did before I started writing erotica for a living, and it's only with the switch back from pure romance that it's started to seem really enticing again. Similarly, as far as turn ons go, dirty talk sometimes feels a lot like work. There's sometimes that moment when you're really into it and you're whispering breathlessly into a lover's ear, and you have to stop yourself from thinking, Fuck, that's a good line... I'll keep that for later.

In general, though, I'd say it's mostly been a plus. Smutwriting has made me a lot more sex-positive -- not that I was ever really opposed to sex before -- so on balance I think it's opened me up to more new experiences than it's closed off.

someone-elsewhere69 karma

I'm a recently widowed Ice Hockey Star with one leg and cauliflower ears, desperately in need of compassion and romance can you write some smut about me?

Portarossa109 karma

I could.

Genuinely, though... 'recently widowed ice hockey star learns to love again' or 'ice hockey star coming to grips with the fact that he lost a leg' would both probably make decent romance novels. I'm not saying I'd write them... but someone might.

sabbyATL18 karma

These have already been written, lol

Portarossa60 karma

Oh, everything's been written, especially in romance. It's less about finding an original story and more about finding characters you want to spend time with.

Sometimes, the seed like that is all you need.

chalks77717 karma

the seed like that is all you need

okay, now I'm SURE you're putting innuendo into your answers on purpose.

Portarossa45 karma

Pssh. Inyourendo.

pieman1983delux56 karma

Have you ever written anything that was too smutty and kinda grossed yourself out?

Portarossa62 karma

In terms of grossness... not really? I mean, I'm fairly openminded, sexually speaking; unless something's really quite extreme, it's probably not going to gross me out. (That's not to say it does anything for me, necessarily, but grossing me out is different.) I also tend not to work on commission or by request, so I'm never really in the position of having to write a certain thing I don't enjoy. If I find it uncomfortable, I just write something else.

In terms of too smutty, I have definitely had moments where I've had to take five while writing -- but I think that's probably a good sign.

K_O_T_Z42 karma

On the subject of writing (not necessarily your genre), but what are some suggestions on publishing? Finding your voice?

Portarossa80 karma

Give yourself permission to be bad. The only way to find your voice is to acknowledge that, at the start, you're not going to be all that good at it; after all, LeBron wasn't writing symphonies and Beethoven wasn't dunking right out of the gate. The best thing you can do is write (and read) as much as you can, to figure out what works for you. When you've got something you don't think entirely sucks, show it to people and see what they (honestly) think. Eventually you'll come out with something that you're happy with, and that sounds authentically you. It's just time and persistence, that's all.

Until you figure that out, don't worry too much about publishing. It's kind of a case of the tail wagging the dog to be overly concerned with whether your work is publishable while you're still looking for your own voice.

PuppetShowJustice41 karma

I'm not quite sure how to frame this but how important do you think the scene and setting and build up are versus the actual sexy times?

Portarossa112 karma

For erotica? You probably want to get to the action fairly quickly; if you've been setting up for two thousand or three thousand words and things are still PG-13, you're probably not giving the readers what they want -- that is, something they can masturbate to.

That's not to say you can't have periods of characterisation later on in the book (and in fact, some of the best erotic stories are the ones that draw you into the characters and their desires beyond, you know, just coming), but if you're writing short-form erotica then the nature of the beast is that people are mostly looking to get off. That's not always the case, but it's enough that it should be at the forefront of your mind.

The sex is a crucial part of erotica, so it's important not to get too bogged down in your worldbuilding. Very few people are going to care about the historical lineage of House Cockthruster; they just want to see pretty knights and elf maidens doin' it.

(Romance, of course, is a different beast. In that case, what you're more interested in is building characters that people want to a) spend time with and b) will root for when it comes to them getting their happy ever after. The sex is much more incidental, usually; even a novel like Fifty Shades of Grey isn't that sex-heavy, when you think about it.)

PM_me_your_fantasyz121 karma

Very few people are going to care about the historical lineage of House Cockthruster

I don't know. Now I want to know about the tax policies of House Cockthruster.

Portarossa214 karma

Something, something, inflation.

Robert_Cannelin51 karma

House Cockthruster

Not hard to imagine their family crest.

GibberingGibberish53 karma

Rooster in a trebuchet?

Portarossa18 karma

I know, I know, it's serious...

GizmoEFG39 karma

I like to write romance/smut and sometimes when I re-read love scenes they feel rushed...Then other times, on the opposite side of the coin, I feel like if I drone on too long it will get boring and lose that 'fire' of the moment.

Do you have any advice on pacing with love scenes?

Portarossa51 karma

A second draft is your best friend. Pacing is one of the biggest things I see people struggle with when it comes to writing, but it's much easier to fix pacing issues inside single scenes than it is to fix them where multiple scenes are involved (for example, where you build up to this MASSIVE CLIFFHANGER... and then immediately deflate it two lines into the next chapter, because you haven't got anything to put in the gap).

If in doubt, put your story aside for a couple of weeks and come back to it. If the love scenes feel rushed, rewrite them and add a little more description, a little more sensuality -- something that your readers can anchor themselves to. If they feel bloated and overlong, trim them down. (Don't be afraid to ask someone else you trust to cast a critical eye over them, either; as much as we like to pretend that writing is a solitary pursuit, we do write for an audience, and sometimes you're just too close to the story to be able to be objective about it.) After a while, you'll start to get a little better at judging just how much to give and how it all fits together, but in the meantime it's fine to just let it percolate for a little while. You might find that when you're not staring at it every day it starts to seem a lot better, and if you do find problems that need fixing, at least you'll be able to get a bit of distance to figure out what you need.

GizmoEFG13 karma

Thank you so much for this. Sometimes I forget to put stories down and think because I want to make progress or "get it done".
I'm glad that taking a break is actually a good thing and not procrastinating.

Portarossa17 karma

Some people argue for working on one story at a time, and they have a point -- but there's value in having something else you can turn your mind to and still feel as though you're progressing. You just need to be careful you don't end up with a file folder full of half-finished novels.

 

Like I have...

DPK35435 karma

Hey! I’ve seen you on a couple r/AskReddit threads.

Two questions, what do you do outside of writing erotica, and what gives you inspiration?

Portarossa43 karma

I'm glad I'm memorable!

I play D&D, I read a lot, I try and squeeze in as many movies as I can... nothing too crazy. I'm making a concerted effort to take up baking next year; it's a weak point in my cooking, so I'm pretty much spending all of my free time idly browsing recipes at the moment to see what's good.

As for inspiration, the best thing is non-smut. I read a lot of general fiction, and every now and then a line will pop out at me. The line leads to an image, an image leads to a character, a character leads to a plot, and there you have it: a whole new idea. Then all I have to do is write the fuckin' thing, which is where it all falls apart.

Gajahbiru29 karma

Can you give us a rough idea about how much one can make from writing erotica and how long it usually takes to start earning?

Portarossa19 karma

It's extremely variable. It took me about six months before I stopped taking other work on. (I was freelance at the time, so I didn't have a firm 'OK, I write smut and that is my job now' date.) That said, earnings and sales is very up in the air, and I wouldn't necessarily follow what any one person says about it. It depends on everything from your niche, to your productivity, to how good you are at marketing -- and yes, to a good ol' slice of luck.

/r/eroticauthors have a series called Dataporn where multiple people discuss their earnings over weeks and months, usually at the start of their careers, so you can get an idea of how variable it is.

burywmore29 karma

I will phrase this as a question. Did you know this is your cake day?

Portarossa53 karma

I did! That's why I chose today, in fact; I did another AMA last year, and it went down pretty well.

zerophase26 karma

How do you roleplay without giggling, like a school girl?

Portarossa61 karma

Personally, I don't; I am terrible at roleplay, and it's one of the things I absolutely refuse to do in the bedroom. The whole 'You be the nurse, I'll be the Matador' thing is absolutely mindboggling to me from a sexual sense. I can see why it would work for other people, but it's a no from me, dawg.

However, the best advice I'd give to anyone who's looking to roleplay -- whether it's character-driven or in a BDSM sense -- is that it's largely about understanding power. Most roleplay has an element of powerplay behind it: the sexy nurse is in a position of authority; the sexy policewoman is coming to arrest you for being too damn arousing (and so you have to do as you're told); any teacher/student play might be based on the idea that you have the power and they will do anything to get the grades they need. In that sense, it's less about the specific archetype and more about the role you're fulfilling. If you can get it settled in your mind that one person has the power, it's a lot easier to slip into the right mindset.

Although that said, there are definitely some roleplays where giggling like a schoolgirl would all be part of it, so... have at it, I guess?

kinkyplaything25 karma

I've been writing smut for a good while, made cash from some commissions a while ago, and probably will get back into that.

This year I wrote an erotic advent calendar with a BDSM theme, and quite a few people have been suggesting I ought to publish. I just feel like I'm not worthy, and wouldn't know what on earth to do about it anyhow. I'm coming round to the opinion that maybe it's worth a shot; but how difficult and how much work is it really to get it out there and make some sales?

Also, a professional opinion on the work itself would be fantastic if you ever had time for it. (In my post history).

Portarossa49 karma

OK, so, full disclosure: I actually saw your stuff a couple of days ago and I remember liking it. (Hi, by the way :p)

If you wanted to start writing smut on Amazon, there's good news and bad news. Good news: you've got a good eye for what's sexy, and you've got the capacity to put out a lot of material, which is how you make a name for yourself. Bad news: short smut isn't as profitable as it once was, and you'd need to up your game when it comes to editing and grammar. (There are places where you're dropping apostrophes, where you're not using commas right in reported speech, that sort of thing; it makes a difference when you're charging people for it.)

I'd say go for it, though. Pick a pen name, pick a niche that looks popular and that you're comfortable writing, and throw out a couple of six-to-eight thousand word stories. You'll make beer money at the very least, as long as you can get some half-decent covers together. (If you haven't got access to PhotoShop, GIMP or PhotoPea will do in a pinch, and you can get stock photos for a reasonable price.)

Write under a pen name, and don't be afraid to fail; even if you bomb out completely, you can just pull the books off Amazon and put them on Reddit, or use them as portfolio pieces for your commission work. You'll definitely make more money on Amazon than you will giving it away for free, put it that way -- so what have you got to lose, if it's something you enjoy?

kinkyplaything23 karma

Wow, thank you so much for that 😁 really means a lot!

Yes, I'm painfully aware of the grammar mistakes. I'm generally pretty particular, but I was badly prepared and ended up trying to literally pump one of those out every day, and attempt to get slightly ahead. So things slipped and none of them really made it even to a second draft. They are presented as they flowed out of my head. Going back and putting it right now is straightforward enough.

Photoshop was one of my biggest concerns as my aesthetic design skills are none existent. Even if I could imagine a good cover, I would be incapable of creating it. So that's going to be a hurdle to get over.

Some stuff to think about, thank you 😊

Portarossa27 karma

You'd be surprised. I mean, you genuinely don't need much -- just a decent stock photo and a crisp, clear font, especially for short erotica -- and there are plenty of tutorials online.

Good luck!

mypoorbrain18 karma

[deleted]

Portarossa37 karma

Glad you enjoyed it!

Drop me a PM with a link and I'll take a look. I'll say in advance that if it's sold really, really few copies it's probably either a) too niche a market, b) a shitty cover, or c) a shitty blurb. That's about 90% of reasons why books don't sell at all.

reallteall14 karma

What are some of your all-time favorite erotica and romance novels?

Portarossa51 karma

My favourite romance novel (my favourite novel of all time, actually) is The Time Traveller's Wife; it's weird in that it's both not a traditional romance novel and very much a traditional romance novel all at once, plus it's astonishingly well-written. There are few characters I root for more than Henry and Clare. Other favourites in romance include Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell, and -- my most recent discovery -- This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. It's a gloriously literary time-travel sci-fi lesbian war epistolary whatever-the-fuck, but it's so beautifully done that I read it twice in a row and then genuinely reconsidered my choice of career for a hot minute.

RyanTaylorGirl13 karma

What do you do about writers' block?

Portarossa20 karma

Cry, mostly.

But (slightly) more seriously: writer's block happens. Some days you're going to feel absolutely incapable of putting out anything of value, or putting out anything at all. Sometimes the solution is to power through and write garbage, and either throw it out the next day or edit it into something decent. (Even the garbagiest garbage is very rarely as bad as you think it is a day or two later.) Sometimes the solution is to take a day to look after yourself, fight off the burnout, and regroup tomorrow with a fresh slate. You get a taste for which one works better in any given situation the more you experience it.

I will say that most of my writer's block comes before I even get started for the day. It's very easy to talk yourself out of it and convince yourself that it's all going to be trash and you have no idea what you're even doing pretending to be a writer. Once I've got my ass in my chair and I'm writing something -- anything -- it all starts to seem a lot easier.

But that first step, man... it's a doozy.

Othello13 karma

I misread your summary of Reckless as involving a magician, and now I'm wondering: is magician too unsexy of a profession to include in a romance novel? Is this a challenge you would ever tackle?

Portarossa29 karma

Firstly, kudos on the username.

Secondly, no, I don't think it is. I definitely think you could make it work, but I'd question exactly why you'd choose that when you had the option to do, you know, anything else. As a writing exercise I think it would be possible -- maybe even fun -- but as something I wanted to throw ninety thousand words at? Not so much.

If I wanted to do it, I'd either a) find a way to mae it a supernatural romance, or b) use a couple of magic tricks as a way to make an otherwise intimidatingly attractive dude seem charming and self-effacing. You know, it turns out he was into magic when he was kind of a loner as a kid, he does a card trick for her at her request, she notices how nimble his hands are, and then she's thinking about his fingers all along her...

Well, yes.

captainhowdy2713 karma

What were you doing as a career before you found smutwriting? Did you study? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Portarossa26 karma

I was a copywriter and an editor, and I didn't enjoy it at all. It was extremely frustrating to be writing stuff that I felt like no one was ever going to look twice at. (I still take on the very, very occasional book editing job -- about one or two a year, usually when one of my freelance friends overpromises -- but I wouldn't want to do that fulltime again for all the money in the world.)

I studied English up to MA level. In both cases, there was a lot of annoyance that I was surrounded by books but wasn't doing the thing I actually wanted to do, which was writing them. Smutwriting isn't quite how I imagined my literary career progressing at the time, but I'm enjoying it fairly well for now :p

SereneScientist10 karma

Wow, I've been following you for a while because you're one of the better-researched commenters around here and it's a pleasure to read your stuff.

I imagine your actual day job takes up more time, but how much of your day-to-day do you spend on detailed responses for Reddit?

Portarossa13 karma

Weirdly, not all that much; it's my way of procrastinating, so it's only time I'd spend dicking around on Reddit anyway. A comment on OOTL usually takes about an hour or so to write. If it stretches to two or three comments, you're probably looking at two or three hours -- maybe longer, if I get distracted and go down the rabbithole.

I'm glad you like them!

rawsoulprophet9 karma

Do you have a thing for musicians?

Portarossa18 karma

I mean, I don't not have a thing for musicians...

I was actually going to write a third story about a sexy (but very standoffish) Russian violinist who got caught up with a lifestyle journalist who was supposed to be writing about him -- the idea being that the three stories would be a sort of loose trilogy of books -- but I couldn't quite find a way to make it work, so the story ended up on the back burner at around ten thousand words.

It was going to be called Intense. I'll finish it one day. Maybe.

FallenCypher258 karma

I’ve written a 127,000 word novel, edited it and rewrote it twice. When do you know it’s ready? When do I send it to the world? Where do I get an editor? I want to send this to the world because I do think it’s got a shot, I just don’t know where to go from here. It’s smut free science fiction action adventure if that helps.

Portarossa14 karma

If you think it's the best you can possibly make it -- and I do mean that; don't half-ass it -- then it's time to start looking for an agent. You'll want to get hold of an agents' directory -- in the UK at least, the book you want is the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook; in the US I believe the book is called Writer’s Market, but either way, your local library will probably have a copy -- and pick out a couple who specialise in your niche, or who represent similar authors. Research them thoroughly and see if they have any specific requirements, then send them a personalised query letter. There are plenty of guides to writing a good query letter online, so use them.

If they like your letter (and the synopsis of your story), they might ask to see a couple of chapters. If they like the chapters, they might ask to see the whole thing. If they like the whole thing, they might offer to represent you -- and then they'll start shopping your book to publishers. (This is what they get paid for, and the general consensus is that it is absolutely worth it; there's a reason agents always get thanked in the acknowledgements sections of novels.) This can fall apart at any time, and probably will, so try not to get discouraged. Try not to carpet-bomb agents with your manuscript en masse. It's a slow process, but it's worth it if it works.

Alternatively, you can hire an editor freelance, hire a cover designer, and self-publish your book. Some people make good money this way. A majority of people don't.

thefirecrest8 karma

How often do you read your own smut? I write occasionally for fanfiction but honestly I can only stand to edit so much before I’m cringing at my work unlike my non-smut works.

Portarossa15 karma

Very rarely, bordering on never. Once it's up, I generally forget about it. It's not that I cringe, particularly, but I've just got so many other books I want to read -- besides which, romance and erotica isn't a genre I particularly go in for in my free time.

I'm content with it, and when I do have to reread it (to check continuity, for example), I'm generally pretty happy, but it's not something I seek out.

drew1053017 karma

What is your professional opinion on Herbert Garrison’s seminal work, “The Valley of Penises”?

Portarossa8 karma

Heh. Seminal.

Weirdly? I've read worse. (I also had no idea that Mr. Garrison's name was Herbert, so... TIL.)

ian_stagib5 karma

How would we know if we have the skills / traits to be successful in this field? Are there traits that would be a good indication of that success (aside from decent language ability) and probably more related towards the smut field?

Portarossa16 karma

Persistence. It's a numbers game more than anything; it's not about putting out one book that sells a billion copies, but about putting out work consistently and constantly tweaking how you approach the marketplace. Better to have ten shorts earning a hundred dollars than one short earning eight hundred, you know?

Other than that -- and, you know, actually writing well -- PhotoShop is probably going to be your biggest help. No matter how good your story is, no one's going to buy it if the cover looks shitty and amateurish. Remember, if you're self-publishing then you have to do all the stuff that a publishing house would usually do for you: editing, marketing, cover design, whatever. Being able to manage the different sides of it is just as important as actually writing.

FabST4 karma

[deleted]

Portarossa7 karma

Possibly! Just not one of the ones I've currently got up for sale under this pen name, if your goal is to introduce some new kinks; my novels are all fairly sedate and romancey (although I've got a BDSM-themed novel in the works for 2020!).

If you wanted to use me as a sexy gateway, you might be better with my website, where I touch on a bunch more kinks. Plus, you know, it's free. Free's always good, right?

hudgepudge4 karma

What do you think of Chuck Tingle's work?

Portarossa11 karma

It's... fine? I mean, it's humour more than erotica, and part of me is a little annoyed that 'Hurr hurr Chuck Tingle' has been following me and every other smutwriter around for six fuckin' years -- especially as good smut is pretty hard to write -- but ultimately it's a different beast.

That said, whoever does his covers is on point. They're some serious business.

BonerJams17033 karma

If you could write any genre and know it would do well, what genre would you write and why is it you favorite?

Portarossa6 karma

I've actually carved out some time in the new year to work on a historical/literary fiction book I've been mulling over for a while, so probably that.

That said, my guilty pleasure reading is 100% awful thriller and crime novels. If I could really go hog-wild and up the ridiculousness as far as possible and still know it would sell, there's a very real chance I'd just go as balls-to-the-wall as I could with it.

Nelgorgo882 karma

What do you think of the words ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’? is there any time that they can be said and still be sexy/arousing? Or do you always have to code that shit up with ‘flesh flute’ or something.

Portarossa2 karma

Penis and vagina are too clinical. I'm a cock and cunt girl, personally; either that, or I go vague and just use terms like 'entered her' or 'felt him grow hard under her touch', or similar.

I'm not big on the THROBBING MEMBER descriptions.