My First Time In The Barrel
My name is Larry Archer, and I’ve been asked to be a guest blogger at ERWA. Hopefully, I’ll write something that may be of interest to those who read and/or write erotica. On my first post, I’d like to tell you a little bit about my ideas on writing, myself and how I got here.
I’ve been writing smut since 2012 and have self-published 24 erotic novellas and novels to date. I write what is colloquially called stroke porn, but I’d like to think it has somewhat of a plot. My stories are generally pretty heavy on the sex side and generally get decent reviews.
While most of my stories stand on their own, the Foxy & Larry stories typically involve the same set of core characters and will often have a storyline that continues from story to story. Since my stories are always heavy on the sex part, don’t be surprised if someone gets laid on the first page. But I’m still working on how to do that on the title page.
I always have self-published my smut and personally believe in self-publishing as the best avenue for myself as a practical method of getting my stuff out there. I’m somewhat different from authors who go the print or anthology route. I’ll give you my reasons why and leave it up to the reader to make a decision for themselves if they are trying to make a choice on which way to go. There is no absolute right or wrong path to take, and so you can decide which way to take. I’ve done one 300 page print book to better understand that process, but that’s worthy of a blog post all its own.
A little background on Wifey and myself, we are swingers in real life and have been in the Lifestyle for some time. A lot of the things we’ve seen and done may very possibly show up in my stories, with the names changed to protect the guilty, of course. In fact, most of the reoccurring characters in my stories are based on real people that I know and are portrayed as closely as I can make them and still protect their privacy.
One of the reasons I do this is to add variety and a different perspective to my stories. I think authors often write using their personal beliefs and by using “real” people as a starting point, it adds a different slant on things. As an amateur psychologist, I find it fascinating to study other people and being in the Lifestyle brings me a lot of patients to lie on my couch.
Our lifestyle adds a different outlook on my writing as I approach stories from a different direction from other authors and hopefully, it’s of interest to my readers. While I realize that we’ve taken a different path than the average couple, I’m not here to convince you into doing the same.
My views on life and things, in general, may also seem a little skewed for a lot of people, so just remember there is always the off button if you don’t agree with me. I’ve been told that my sense of humor is a little strange, but I can’t do much about that either.
We are a committed couple, which may not seem to agree with our lifestyle but you’d be surprised at how few divorces or cheating occurs among our friends. We don’t consider sleeping around as cheating since we are always in the same house and never do things like end up at Motel 6 with Tom Bodett, because he always keeps the lights on.
Not trying to dwell on convincing you and your spouse to get in a pile with a bunch of naked people but simply that you may have to take my advice on life with a grain of salt.
My stories generally revolve around the swinger lifestyle as I have experience in it and have always found it to be a lot of fun. Most generally have a lot of sex in them from start to finish but very little drama. For the most part, our experiences have been positive, and for that reason, my stories don’t include cheating, fighting, or divorce which is common in a lot of swinger related stories from other authors. So typically my stories are all HEA, well except for parts with my wife and her whip!
I write some BDSM but generally no noncon, underage, or family stuff. Not that I have any objections to them, but I have enough trouble staying out of Amazon’s Adult Dungeon without trying to thread that needle. I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a pen name to write more hardcore smut under SmashWords and other more forgiving sites but right now just don’t have the free time to manage two different pen names.
I do not have any formal training in writing beyond Technical Report Writing in college and personally up until I started writing smut, hated to write. What I’ve found is that I really enjoy the process and typically write from the seat of my pants, or completely off the cuff. If you would happen to read one of my stories then treat my use of the English language with forgiveness.
My good friend and fellow writer, Lisabet Sarai is always trying to fix me, which I’m afraid may be a losing battle. She’s been trying to teach me how to write correctly, and it has been a struggle. Since I never had any formal training in writing, breaking my bad habits have been difficult. In many cases, I’m not convinced that the “correct” way is always the “right” way, but I’m always open to new things. Well, except for the time my wife got a new whip and a pair of real handcuffs from one of our cop friends. My butt hurt just from thinking about it and was glad to offer the services of a girlfriend, whose into that kind of thing, “Thanks, Gretchen.”
I’m told that I need conflict, resolution, someone to hate, and someone to love, but typically my stories have none of the above except maybe someone to love, but that’s touchy as, beyond our spouse, we shouldn’t be loving on anyone.
It probably seems strange to straights, but we have a fairly strict moral code even while we are coveting our neighbor’s wife. I’m allowed to screw someone, but I better not get caught giving a foot massage as that would put me in the dog house for sure.
Kissing is another no-no. We frown on kissing the opposite sex as kissing is personal and generally verboten. Certainly, you can kiss someone but don’t spend an hour examining their tonsils. A big percentage of the women are bisexual and kissing between women is encouraged and not considered cheating but a spectator sport.
My story is like a lot of other writers, I was reading smut on Literotica one day, and the thought hit me, “I can do this!” Fast forward five years and yet my new Range Rover is still sitting in the dealer’s showroom, but it’s been a fun trip.
Initially, I started writing about what we’ve seen and done in the Lifestyle and used Foxy and Larry as it was coming from a first-person perspective. Now some twenty plus stories later, if I’d been smart I would have picked different names for my regular main characters. This was one of my faux pas, but that’s water over the bridge.
The fictional Foxy and Larry own a strip club in Las Vegas, The Fox’s Den. Clever play on words don’t ya think? Most of my swinger stories involve the strip club as it’s a good place for everyone to take their clothes off and easier to work in than the Bridge Club.
We have several cuckold-Hotwife couples as friends in real life, and their alternate selves typically inhabit our stories or serve as a bad example of what people should not do at home. Cuckold – Hotwife couples are a study in itself and have a relationship that is surprisingly common. The common joke among swingers is that “straights” have no idea what is going on around them.
Foxy and Larry in the stories are as true to life as I can make them. Possibly a little more over the top but still true except for owning a strip club and having more money than God. They are a reasonably correct picture of a happily married couple who dabbles in the dark side.
We were lucky to fall in with a good group of people and learned the ropes from pros when we got into the Lifestyle. That’s a blog post that I keep telling myself to write and probably will one of these days.
My Thoughts on Self-Publishing
Why do I self-publish? The simple reason is cost and control. Every time you pick up a book or someone who’s written Writing for Dummies, they generally advise you to get an editor, get a cover designer, get, get, get.
It makes you wonder how they got started? Mom and Dad said, “Honey, here’s fifty thousand dollars, start writing porn stories.” I don’t think so, that’s maybe the 1% but the 99% of us, say to ourselves, “I wonder if I could write smut? But will it be okay to take my husband’s beer money to hire an editor?”
The problem with this approach is typically simple, you write a story that you may give away or at best sell for $2.99 yet you have to lay out hundreds of dollars in support help to get your story out the door. I’m an engineer by training and taught to make decisions by weighing good and bad options.
If you are a new writer, and unless you have a rich uncle you probably don’t have a bunch of money squirreled away to pay for all this help. Note that I didn’t tell you that you shouldn’t have an editor, cover designer, advertising firm, and publishing house to cover your back but that for many people and me, this is not financially viable. At some point in the game, you need to at least break even or hopefully make money.
I think most people who are reasonably intelligent can handle the job with minimal outlay until you get rich and famous. At which point, money is no object, and you can just hire everyone and retire. But until that point, you’re going to have to carry a majority of the load yourself.
The days of 4 and 5 figure monthly sales died years ago before everybody, and his brother started writing a book. I hate to burst your bubble, but 50 Shades was probably the last break out hit that made any real money, and my Frenchie could write better than that with one paw tied behind her back.
According to a recent survey, 80% of self-published authors make less than $1,000 per year or roughly $100/month. But before you hang yourself with your mouse cord, there is hope. First, go out an get a real job to keep the wolf away from the door and write in your spare time or have a generous spouse. If you’re a glass-half-full person, then you can say well what about the other 20%?
If you really want to be successful writing smut, beyond writing something other people want to read, is publishing on a regular basis. You should publish at least once a month, and before you fall down laughing, I’m telling you what I recommend and not what I do. My publishing cycle is typically every few months, and I fully realize that I don’t publish often enough but work and our social schedule eat up a lot of my keyboard pounding.
The search engines will typically throw you under the bus after about a month so don’t despair if your ratings fall off the cliff in 30 days. It’s like the old saying, “Publish or Perish.”
What I do is carry my laptop with me virtually 24 hours a day. Then when I’ve got a few minutes, I whip it out and type some. With many businesses that provide WiFi, you can get a connection most places or use the HotSpot feature on your phone. Be careful with logging into a public WiFi and disclosing personal information.
Publishing is sort of like wealth in the United States, just a handful have most of it while the rest of us have to scramble for their next meal. Sort of like your dream to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, and you’re five foot tall, while possible it will probably be a stretch.
As my Dad always tells me, “Faint heart never sold a vacuum cleaner.” Which in plain English means, be realistic with your assumptions but always try as hard as you can to achieve your goals.
Assuming that you sell your masterpiece for $2.99, typically the top price for a novel or novella, your takehome is about two bucks a copy. Out of that you have to deduct any costs you encounter such as cover design, editing, Internet porn, etc. Unless you can get your wife to strip off for the cover picture, your one fixed cost is likely to be the stock photo used. Your wordprocessing and photo editing software can be free if you use public domain software or a few hundred dollars for more professional products. One of my goals is to help you get into the game at the lowest cost.
Your first target should be to figure out if you can write or not. If writing were that easy, everyone would be Earnest Hemmingway or James Patterson. If you haven’t already joined ERWA, then do this next as you’ll have a host of other writers who can offer encouragement and advice in the craft of writing.
A lot of us started our initial publishing career at Literotica or a similar site that allows you to publish your stories for free without all of the problems of getting a cover, correct formatting, etc. You simply publish a plain text story and hope for good reviews.
I recommend this to new authors or those sticking their toe in the deep end of the pool for the first time. You get feedback and have to go through most of the process while skipping the hard parts.
As an engineer by training and not an English major, I am brutally aware of my shortcomings with the English language, and so you’ll rarely see me correct your sentence structure unless it’s so atrocious that even I recognize it. As I like to say, I always thought that when you had a dangling participle, you needed Viagra.
One of the things I hope to help people with is the mechanics of creating your masterpiece. Things like using the correct tools and getting started in a way that minimizes the grunt work required to publish. There are a number of things I’ve discovered which may be of interest to people. It’s not sexy but a job requirement.
A simple example is publishing to multiple publishers. We will typically publish to Amazon, SmashWords, Excessica, Apple iBooks, B&N, Nook, and others. The simple process of creating separate versions for each publisher can eat up a lot of time that could be better-served writing or jerking off.
Just try forgetting to delete a reference to SmashWords in your document and see what happens when Amazon catches it.
Well, I’ve killed enough electrons for now and will return control of your laptop back to you. See you next month on the 24th. Let me know your thoughts.
Larry Archer – LarryArcher.com