I recently got a question about writing custom erotica stories, and I thought it might be useful to post my response here, since others might be curious.
I write for Custom Erotica Source (CustomEroticaSource.com) under the name Kendra Wayne.
First, some practicalities. This is a work-for-hire gig, which means you don’t own your work. With Custom Erotica Source, I’m a contract writer—I have a contract with them and they own what I produce for them. I can’t re-sell the work anywhere; I don’t get royalties.
I’m lucky that I have a mentor who’s done a lot of ghostwriting and has given me advice, because in many ways, that’s what this job is. Someone gives you their ideas, and you write the story. As a ghostwriter, you also have to tone down your personal writing voice and adapt to the parameters of the assignment. If you can’t write outside your distinct voice, this isn’t the job for you. (I sometimes do slip a little into my voice, but I can keep it neutral enough that it still fits the assignment. So far, so good, anyway!)
It’s also a job in which you can’t judge. If a particular request is truly distasteful to you, you can turn it down—but if you want to get the work and make money, you have to put aside your personal tastes and write a character who thinks the whatever-it-is is sexy.
I do use a pen name, although as with my other pen names thus far, I don’t keep it a secret. (I’ve even written some non-CES work under that name, when an editor has requested I use something other than my usual pen name.) Remember, it’s Kendra Wayne—ask for me by name! :-)
So how does it work? I get an assignment one of two ways.
1. The editor may send out the call to all of the contracted writers, says s/he has an assignment that’s X words long, due in Y amount of time, and is about topic Z. Sometimes the topics are very specific—for example, an obscure TV show, or snorkeling off the Great Barrier Reef—so the writer who things s/he has the right background/knowledge will raise his/her hand.
2. If the editor knows a story falls in line with one of our strengths then s/he e-mails me directly and offers me the story.
The payment is agreed on in our contract (and per that contract, I can’t talk about it), although if there’s any extra work involved, more money can be negotiated.
If I agree to do the job in the time scheduled, the editor sends me the parameters. The client has filled out a form with the basic information—length of story, graphic level, character names and descriptions, scenario/setting, that sort of thing. If I want any additional clarification, I ask the author and s/he talks to the client. I never get any client information, so everything’s kept private. But I’m also pledged not to reveal anything anyway.
Once I’m done, the editor reviews the story and asks for any revisions. He/she may do some internal editing, and that’s fine with me—this is work-for-hire, so I don’t have a strong attachment to the story. What’s important is that it fits with what the client wants.
A few things did surprise me when I got started:
- Clients go into a lot more detail than I expected. I guess I thought I’d get the character names and descriptions, a basic scenario, and length, and go from there. Instead, I’ve received a lot of specifics. Sometimes it’s practically the blow-by-blow action. Other times it’s been a list of props, or a detailed plot. In some ways, this makes it more of a challenge!
- I didn’t expect—although in retrospect I shouldn’t have been surprised—that many clients would request celebrities, whether the actor/singer/whomever or, if an actor, the character they play. I suppose the reason it surprised me is because whenever I’ve wanted to read about that, I’ve just gone ahead and written my own fan-fic!
- Clients don’t always have a sense of length vs. detail. I accepted a 500-word assignment that had so much requested to be included, I wasn’t sure how I was going to shoehorn it all in. Normally 500 words takes me 15–20 minutes to write. This story took me a couple hours in the end.
- And best of all: Clients are very appreciative. The majority of people I’ve written stories for have sent back glowing praise and thanks. I really appreciate the editor forwarding those on to me. :-)