Along the way, I learned a few very surprising things about how the big L works, which I figured I'd pass on for any budding erotica writers just starting out. Here we go.
#1: The posting lag. Oh my god the posting lag.
So we're in the year 2016, right? Can everyone take a moment to look at their calendars or sundials and confirm it's 2016 where you are too? Well, for most of us, in the year 2016, if you type something into a webpage and hit "Submit", you kind of expect it to process, well, instantly, right?
Comments on webpages show up right after you submit them. Posting on forums happen right when you submit them. Even posting to Youtube, there's like a 2-5 minute processing time, but that starts the moment you hit "Submit" and that's pretty fast to process a video. Everything else on the web processes from the moment you hit "Submit".
This boggles my mind, but the absolute largest free erotic library on the web, with 100% user-submitted works in every possible fetish and genre, still has a 72-hour to SEVEN DAY MANUAL APPROVAL PROCESS FOR EVERY STORY.
That was the biggest WTF when posting to Literotica, that after I did all my editing (and re-editing, and re-editing) and submitted it, some human, somewhere, had to review the entire story (to quality check the arousal factor?) MANUALLY over the next SEVEN days before the public could see it.
Who are these people? Why are they there? What are they looking for in the stories? How many boners (and lady-boners) does a story have to cause before it's "Accepted" by Literotica? Because I've read some of the stuff on that site, and it's awful.
Maybe they're checking for spam, maybe they're checking for Nigerian hackers, but that was the weirdest thing about the whole process, waiting 7 days for my work to be posted. If you submit in just text format, it takes "only" 72 hours they say (Progress! By Moore's law, in 10 years maybe it will only take 5 hours to post a story to that site!) but then you lose all italics and bold formatting, and that's a big thing.
On my blog, the second I hit Submit, it's up. Same for orgasmdenial.com. The same for literally everything else out there on web 2.0. I don't get it. Weird.
#2: The crazy number of views
So, when I post a femdom writing tip here on my blog, it maxes out at about 200 views after a few weeks. My deep thoughts on when to end a scene or how to escalate tension throughout stories only interest about 200 femdom authors in the world. (That's fine, not everybody can be at the top of the bell curve, craft-wise.)
When I post an actual fiction story like Pool Days or My Tough As Nails Marine Corps Wife and promote it through orgasmdenial.com where I've built up a lot of goodwill, then I max out at 2,000 views in a few weeks to a month. That's a huge number for me, and seeing that big spike in traffic after each piece of fiction I post is one of the rushes that keeps me writing. (That and your comments!)
But posting my two stories on Literotica got me 20,000 views in about 2 weeks (and still going up!), with absolutely no advertising from me at all. Let's review:
- 200 views for the best (and only?) femdom writing tips on the world wide web
- 2,000 views for a hot piece of short femdom fiction, after promotion on a fan-friendly site like OD where I've cultivated a lot of goodwill by being a long-time member of the community.
- 20,000 views on Literotica without any promotion at all, where I was writing in a genre I'd rarely touched, where absolutely no one knew my name.
Maybe it is worth waiting SEVEN FUCKING DAYS to get a new story up there each time.
#3: The total lockdown on any kind of self-promotion at all
So Literotica is about serving the erotic reading community, right? So if readers find an author they really love, Literotica makes it super easy to find that author's other work on Amazon or Smashwords, right?
But if authors want to be generous and post the first few chapters of their for-sale erotic books for free on a site made up entirely of eager, dedicated erotic literature fans, they can do that too, right?
But just a short link to your blog or Smashwords site at the end of a 20,000 word free story you've just posted to increase their traffic is okay, right?
Triple Nope Nope Nope.
It's crazy, but Literotica has some of the most restrictive self-promotion rules I've ever seen in any genre. No links in your stories. No posting free chapters. No real way for readers to contact you. No way to link to your ebook stores.
That's because Literotica isn't there to expand the Erotic Literature community (even though it has those two words in its Monday-to-Friday name). It's not there to serve erotic readers. It's not there to serve erotic writers. It's there to serve Literotica, and what ever money-making paradigm they use so they don't have to become Literotica.org or Literotica.net. (Or Literotica.gov. Can you imagine? Shudder.)
It's a huge marketplace with 100-1000x the customers you could ever hope to contact anywhere else, who are probably super interested in your product, but walled off so you can only do things inside there and not bring that success out to anywhere else. In that way, it's a lot like Communist China is for America businesses.
And in that way, I'm probably going to treat it a lot like Communist China. I'll always be envious of all those customers I could help if given a chance, but if they're going to wall it off so no one can profit except their overlords, I'll make products for that market only when I feel like it and when I have the time, and focus most of my efforts on writing great stuff for my blog, smashwords.com, and orgasmdenial.com. (ALL of which can link to each other BTW, if ANYONE FROM LITEROTICA IS READING THIS.)
#4: The crazy hostile reader comments if God help you, you post your story in the wrong category
This is something I noticed during reading, not posting there, but if you have a story where a loving wife gleefully cuckolds a submissive husband because that's what he's always wanted, and you post it in the "Loving Wife" category, prepare to get DESTROYED in the reader comments.
Your story has a few bi or gay elements and you don't post it in the "Gay Male" category? FLAME WAR ARMAGEDDON.
It's a crazy amount of hate for well-written stories that could legitimately go into that category but don't match up with what some "accepted" view of what that category should be.
If I had more time I'd find some examples. Watch this space for future edits. (WHICH I CAN DO WITHOUT HAVING TO WAIT SEVEN FUCKING DAYS, BECAUSE WE LIVE IN THE FUTURE, LITEROTICA, NOT 1999.)
So those are a few of the crazy surprising things I've learned from posting on Literotica for the first time. If anyone has any tips for breaking into Communist China, please leave them in the comments, and if you want to hear more about my adventures as an erotic author posting places (next stop... Wattpad?) let me know too.
Hope that helped!
***Update 8/9/16: So for part 3 of the story I chose the 'faster' method of Literotica posting, using the auto-formatter instead of a human and that 'only' took seven days and had a lot of wonderful line breaks in the middle of places they shouldn't be. So I probably won't do the auto-formatter again.
And I've already got a comment from someone who's complaining the story's in the wrong category, that they hate it, and will never read any of my work again.
And it's already got 13,000 views.
Oh, Communist Literotica China...