Trying To Decide How I Feel About Free Erotica

30 Sep

Studio shot of sexy brunette girl covering her breast.By Elizabeth Shore

A fellow writer friend has a new release out this week, a kinky Viking erotic romance called Norseman’s RevengeAs 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.

 

 

8 Responses to “Trying To Decide How I Feel About Free Erotica”

  1. Dee September 30, 2015 at 1:22 am #

    my intro to erotica, especially some of the dark stuff came from literotica and other sites linked of it – I haven’t checked back in a few years because I have so many other books but occasionally I wonder

    Like

    • Elizabeth Shore September 30, 2015 at 9:48 am #

      I think what actually impressed me the most about literotica.com was all the available resources for writers. I mean, the links went on and on. Worth checking and again – it’s free!

      Thanks for stopping by, Dee.

      Like

  2. Big Ed Magusson September 30, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    I started at StoriesOnline, which has a much better interface than Literotica and a much friendlier moderator. It’s a decent place to get some accolades while you dip your feet in the water. It can even help build a fanbase.

    However… transitioning that fanbase to a paying fanbase is not easy. Additionally, if it’s out there on the free sites it can be easily pirated. A fair number of my fellow authors have found their stories for sale on Amazon by someone who pulled it off Literotica, changed the title and the author name, and submitted it to KDP.

    At some point, I’ll throw some stories back on StoriesOnline that are introductions to paid universes (i.e., a free short story for a milieu of novels). It’s just be a low priority for a while…

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    • Madeline Iva September 30, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

      Very thoughtful reply, Ed, and something to note. There’s that whole question of whether free readers and paying readers are the same people. Maybe not so much.

      Like

    • Elizabeth Shore September 30, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

      Great comment, Ed. You’re so right about the Literotica interface. Strange how antiquated it seems. Like it was designed back in 2000 and never changed since.

      Yeah, the transition from free to paying … far harder than it should be, alas.

      Like

  3. raeynared September 30, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

    I like literotica because it can actually be utilized as a “test market.” I have a few stories posted and I put them there because I was experimenting with POV. I also wanted to see what sort of response my stories would get and in what genre. I wrote one that I classified as BDSM, but the excerpt was a lesbian scene. It was well received, but what if I’d have put it in LGBT? Using free erotica sites in this manner helps writers see who their particular stories and style appeal to most so they can strategize marketing for saleable work accordingly.

    Like

    • Madeline Iva September 30, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

      Good point! I wonder if this is the way indie authors tweak their works?

      Like

  4. giannasimone October 1, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    Thanks for the plug babe! You rock! 😀 Though I confess, I haven’t been promoting too heavily at Goodreads. To be honest, that place kind of scares me! lol There have been so many horror stories about authors and readers going at it, sometimes brutally, I tend to steer clear except for listing my books and hoping for some decent reviews. Maybe it’s time to change that up.

    I found literotica a long time ago and when I decided to switch and write erotic romance, it was helpful in that it gave me a good idea on how to do it (of course, I did buy a lot of erotic romance too, which was also immensely helpful). But literotica gave me the courage to push past a lot of the boundaries of what was found in erotic romance at the time. And I do know several people who posted stories on that site who are now published and finding some success at it. I never posted there – my trial by fire came via fanfiction, which also draws voracious readers. If you hit the right fandom, it can really get you some notice.

    There are also some very disturbing sites out there providing free what they call erotica. though I’m not sure that’s the right term for it. I don’t think porn is entirely accurate either. I’ve also found some places that I wish I could unsee – the thought of pouring Clorox into my eyes arose more times than I care to count. At those sites, not only is the content freaky scary sometimes, the writing is absolutely atrocious in most cases. Funnily enough, there is one author I know of I found on one of those sites who transitioned to publishing his works and I did buy a couple, just to see. Being published did absolutely nothing to improve the quality of the writing – his books are still poorly written. But he sells – like hundreds to thousands of books a month. So apparently, despite the poor writing and such, it does happen. I made the assumption that the folks who liked his free stuff did turn to his published stuff when he stopped posting the free stories. Clearly the content is the draw there.

    So the free sites can offer a writer the chance to make the leap to published author – but good writing and some sense of marketing definitely increases the odds. I like the idea of offering a published book for free for a short time – but I think of it as a tool to be used to increase sales, because otherwise, why bother?

    Like

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