A fellow writer friend has a new release out this week, a kinky Viking erotic romance called Norseman’s Revenge. As any good author does, she’s promoting the heck out of it with Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc. She monitors the times of day for when she gets the most bang for her promotional buck and plans accordingly. She tells absolutely everyone she knows about the books. She watches her sales like a hawk. All this in an effort to eek out some sort of living from writing and being able to continue doing what she loves.
I’d be ecstatic if I could ditch my day job and write full time. Turns out, I like writing a million times better than corporate drudgery. Who knew! But corporate drudgery is what pays my bills and writing is what feeds my soul. So when I came across a link recently for the “very best free online erotica” I was trounced with a bevy of mixed emotions. Of course I know there’s plenty of free stuff out there. The internet assures us of that, and on one hand I’m happy about it. Writers need places to get recognized. Case in point, Lady Smut! On the other, who wants to pay for something when they don’t have to? People flock to the free, and we writers trying to make a living get left behind in the dust. However, instead of merely grumbling about it, I decided to gamely check out some of these free story sites and see what they have to offer.
What I found most interesting as I embarked on my journey was how widely the quality varied. Some stories were pure dreck. Character development, motivation, conflict … nada. The writer wouldn’t know proper punctuation if he tripped over it and spell check seems to have been on vacation. Those stories definitely support the “you get what you pay for” adage. But others, damn. There were others out there that were actually pretty good. The prose held up. The stories were interesting. The sex was hot. Shoot, peeps. Why are you giving this away??
A lot of the stories on the free sites had no bylines attached. Writers out there are giving away their work and not even crediting themselves. Strange. Probably the best site (among my very unscientific and narrow exploration) was literotica.com. Stories have to be accepted on that site so there’s no self-uploading. Now, to be fair, I don’t know who’s on the editorial acceptance panel or what their backgrounds are. But at least there’s someone out there reviewing what they get and weeding out some of the really bad stuff. In addition, the site has volunteer editors to help out writers and a truckload of links ranging from help with plotlines to short story techniques to dialogue. Honestly, the writers’ resources links there are vast and helpful. I like that a lot. Lastly, literotica.com does give authors their bylines and links to contact them. All good.
At the end of the day, I’m still not sure what I think. If there was nothing for free out there would it help us increase our sales since if readers wanted stories they’d have to pay at least something? Or does the opportunity for exposure and gaining recognition you get from the free sites outweigh the downside of giving it away?
What do you think? To be free or not to be free? That is the question. We’d love to hear your thoughts.