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'09 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Digital Publishing & Print
Common Myths of Epublishing
Ebook Formats and Devices

by Louisa Burton
Compelling Characters
Point of View, Part I
Point of View, Part II
Learning to Love Conflict
Story Structure
Keep ‘em Guessing
Keep it Simple
Keep Your Writing Real
The Importance of Pacing

Literary Streetwalker
by M. Christian
New World of Publishing
To Blog Or Not To Blog
Meeting & Making Friends
Thinking Beyond Sex
Selling Books
Walking the Line
e-book, e-publisher, e-fun
Still More E-book Fun

Shameless Self-Promotion
by Donna George Storey
Our Journey Begins
Pitches and Bios
Websites, Blogs & Readers
Publicists, Press Kits and...
Viva the Internet
Adventures in Cyberspace
Promoting In the Flesh
Make Your Own Movie
Bigger is Better
Looking Back, Planning Ahead

Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Questions to Ask Yourself...
Tough All Over

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Practice Makes Prefect
5 Books for Fiction Authors
Poetry In Motions
Six Serving Men
Ashley Lister is Anal
Stealing Ideas
Celebrating Poetry

2009 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
A Year of Living Shamelessly
Adultery, Exhibitionism ...
John Updike Made Me Do It ...
Story Soup: Forbidden ...
Lessons from Amazon
Naked Lunches ...
Erotic Alchemy
Secrets of Seduction
Are You a “Real” Writer?
Don’t Fondle My Sentence

Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
The Passionate Taphophile
Havens on Earth
A Knight Without Armor
Magic Carpet Rides
Getting Hammered
Keep It Quiet
Hang Around for a Spell

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Worked Up About Why
Worked Up About Why, Part II
All Worked Up About Porn
The Catholic Church
Purity Movement
The National Crisis
The Future
About Homosexuality
Public Indiscretions

Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Premature Ejaculation
Auctioning Off What?

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Who's Who Around the Table
Ritual Sex
Mixed Legacy
The Spectrum of Consent
Drawing the Line
Marriage without the Hype
The Distracting Smirk
Innocent Guns
Gardens of Earthly Delights

Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Anneke Jacob
D L King
Kristina Lloyd
Lisabet Sarai
Mitzi Szereto
Portia Da Costa
Shanna Germain
Sommer Marsden
Susan DiPlacido

Guest Appearances

Marketing a Self-Published Novel
by Jeanne Ainslie

The Write Stuff

by Ashley Lister

Five Books for Erotic Fiction Authors


Several of my creative writing students have asked me to recommend the titles of books that might help them with their craft.  I’m not a great one for recommending books on writing.  Personally, I feel the best way to learn about writing is to write.  However, I concede that there are times when there is no other recourse than to open the pages of a competently written “How to…” title. 

A lot of the information a writer needs nowadays can be found on the net.  Googling for almost any piece of information will, eventually, lead to a successful result.  However, there are times when life can be made so much easier by having the information in book form—especially when it’s within easy reach of one’s fingertips.

So, with that said, I’ve chosen five titles that sit on my desk and are used on a regular basis.  That is not to say that anyone has to rush out to buy these if they want to have any success as an author of erotic fiction.  These are simply the books that I find useful enough to merit the purchase price.

1) The Erotic Writer's Market Guide compiled by The Circlet Press Collective.

There are websites, such as the inestimable Erotic Readers and Writers Association, where authors can find lists of publishers requiring erotic fiction.  But The Erotic Writer’s Market Guide is more than a list of publishers, websites and content requirements. 

I pick up my copy of The Erotic Writer’s Market Guide on a regular basis.  The peripheral information—articles on the care and feeding of pseudonyms, the basics of submission and how to write about something you haven’t done (yet)—are entertaining, informative and pertinent to my writing.  Some of the information in the market listings section of the book is now redundant.  But the information that is there allows authors to make a more refined search on the internet to find exactly what they’re looking for.

For any author interested in writing and publishing erotica it’s vital to have information about relevant markets.  Whilst regular writing bibles (such as The Writer’s Handbook or The Writer’s and Artists Yearbook) can be very useful, it’s not uncommon for these mainstream tomes to eschew erotic fiction.  Consequently, The Erotic Writer’s Market Guide has to take first place on my list for being relevant, reasonable and what this erotic fiction author needs. 

2) The Elements of Style, Strunk & White.

Obviously every publishing imprint has its own house style.  But every author should also have their own “house” style.  There are many style guides out there: CMS, APS, MLA etc, and they each have their own foibles.  On top of this every publishing house will claim to subscribe to one or another of these writing styles—and yet they modify it with their own subtle “improvements.” 

The golden rule with house styles is—whatever the editor says should be obeyed.  Adopting the rules laid out in Strunk & White’s efficient little guidebook is a good place for any writer to start adopting a consistent style that can be easily adapted to suit the requirements of an interested publisher.  Strunk and White advocate a simplicity of writing that is accessible and designed to make life simple for the writer and the reader.  There book is nothing short of a necessity for any author.

3) 20 Master Plots, Ronald B Tobias.

In many ways this book shouldn’t be on this list.  It can be argued that Tobias suggests a formulaic approach to plot construction and there is no reference made specifically to erotic fiction in his book.  However, as an overview of generic plot construction—which can then be used to provide a robust story framework, this book is accessible, interesting and invaluable to anyone intent on producing publishable commercial fiction.

4) Any erotic fiction title that you have thoroughly enjoyed.

I’ve not named names here because this title should be the one you personally rank as THE BEST EROTIC FICTION STORY EVER.  My list would undoubtedly be different from the one you create.  This title could be a short story or a novel.  The medium doesn’t really matter.  But it should be a story that you have read and enjoyed repeatedly.  It should be a story you have contemplated and thought: I wish I’d been able to write that story

Keep that story close to hand.  Return to it when you want to be inspired.  Analyse it to find out why it works so well for you.  And use the results of that analysis as a yardstick by which to compare your own writing. 

5) Any erotic fiction title that you have thoroughly despised.

By the same principle as keeping a favourite story close to hand, you should also keep an example of the worst piece of puerile trash you’ve ever had the misfortune to read.  These books can often be as inspirational and edifying as our favourite titles.

Find a book you despise and read small portions of it on a regular basis.  It’s equally effective to analyse stories that don’t work for us because we can ask how these stories fail and how we can avoid such trappings in our writing.  Admittedly, it’s not always as easy to return to despised novels and stories as it is to return to favourite stories.  But no one ever said writing was easy.

There are other books I could have suggested.  Dictionaries are useful: although broadband access and an online dictionary are now equally effective.  Thesauruses can be useful, although again, a good internet connection and the use of an online facility can be equally efficient. 

This is not to say that there aren’t some perfect books out there from which we could all benefit.  This is only to say that, if I was recommending five books for a budding erotic fiction author to keep close to hand—these are the five I would suggest.

Ashley Lister
April 2009

If you have any comments or insights to share about this column, please send an email to Ashley Lister

Find more of Ashley's Write Stuff in ERWA 2009 Archive.

"The Write Stuff" © 2009 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

About the Author:  Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms. His most recent work, Swingers: True Confessions from Today's Modern Swinging Scene (Virgin Books), a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his first title published under his own name.
Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica.  Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto.  He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.
Email:  Ashley Lister

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'09 Movie Reviews

Blame It On Savanna
Review by Byrdman

Cry Wolf
Review by Spooky

Review by Spooky

Heaven or Hell
Review by Oranje

House of Wicked
Review by Diesel

The Office: An XXX Parody
Review by Spooky

This Ain't The Partridge Family
Review by Spooky

'09 Book Reviews


A Slip of the Lip (ebook)
Review by Jean Roberta

Best Women's Erotica '09
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bottoms Up
Review by Ashley Lister

Enchanted Again
Review by Victoria Blisse

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Girls on Top
Review by Ashley Lister

In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed
Review by Ashley Lister

Libidacoria (Poetry)
Review by Ashley Lister

Licks & Promises
Review by Ashley Lister

Like a Thorn (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Mile High Club
Review by Ashley Lister

Nexus Confessions: Vol 5
Review by Victoria Blisse

Nexus Confessions 6
Review by Victoria Blisse

Oysters & Chocolate
Review by Kristina Wright

Playing with Fire
Review by Ashley Lister

Sexy Little Numbers Vol 1
Review by Ashley Lister

Up for Grabs
Review by Lisabet Sarai


A 21st Century Courtesan
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Ages of Lulu
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Amanda’s Young Men
Review by Kristina Wright

As She's Told
Review by Ashley Lister

Bedding Down
Review by Victoria Blisse

Review by Ashley Lister

Brushes & Painted Dolls
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Cassandras Chateau
Review by Ashley Lister

The Edge of Impropriety
Review by Kristina Wright

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Free Pass
Review by Ashley Lister

The Gift of Shame
Review by Victoria Blisse

Kiss It Better
Review by Ashley Lister

The Melinoe Project
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Mortal Engines & The ...
Review by Ashley Lister

The New Rakes
Review by Ashley Lister

Ninety Days of Genevieve
Review by Victoria Blisse

Obsession: An Erotic Tale
Review by Kristina Wright

Sarah's Education
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduce Me
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Lesbian Erotica

Lesbian Cowboys
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Night's Kiss
Review by Jean Roberta

Where the Girls Are
Review by Jean Roberta

Gay Erotica

Animal Attraction 2
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Boys in Heat
Review by Vincent Diamond

Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Low Road
Review by Jean Roberta

Personal Demons
Review by Jean Roberta

Ready to Serve
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Secret Tunnel
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Review by Vincent Diamond


Best Sex Writing '09
Review by Kristina Wright

The Big Penis Book
Review by Rob Hardy

Erotic Encounters
Review by Rob Hardy

The Forbidden Apple
Review by Rob Hardy

Hollywood’s Censor
Review by Rob Hardy

Lady in Red
Review by Rob Hardy

Licentious Gotham: Erotic...
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Elf
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Girl
Review by Rob Hardy

The Other Side of Desire
Review by Rob Hardy

Scripts 4 Play
Review by Ashley Lister