While this post is about the business of erotica, or at least how I got involved in it, the post is perfectly safe for work. That fact might be confusing, but the truth of the matter is that you can talk about the economics and business of erotica without any actual erotica being involved. If that disappoints you, just leave a comment in the comment section...and I will pretend to be shocked that you were disappointed that the raciest word in this post is the word "erotica" itself.
As for the rest of us--prepare to be bored by how dull the writing of erotica is.
I started writing in junior high--this is when there was junior high schools (now they are middle schools, or at least they are in my neighborhood)--and I continued to do it in high school. And no, I wasn't writing erotica in high school--thanks for asking.
It was while in high school that one of my friends decided to declare that I was going to be a writer when I grew up. I think that she got tired of me shrugging my shoulders and saying," I dunno" whenever anyone asked me what I was going to do for a living after high school.
(Honestly, I thought that I was going to be in the military for several years...I was kinda overlooking the fact that I am not exactly the ideal material to be a soldier.)
The truth be told, I never realized that it was possible to be a writer and actually do it for a living. I thought writing was something you did for entertainment purposes, and that you felt lucky to get published. (Again, no, I wasn't writing erotica yet.) And no one around me informed me otherwise.
The fact that you could get paid to write is something that I stumbled upon all on my own. After all, given how poorly the profession pays (on average), you could hardly have a booth set up on career day advising students that they too could make more money flipping burgers than they could as a writer.
(Yes, your average writer would be better off flipping burgers for a living--appalling, isn't it?!)
It was actually at a truck stop in Kansas (or was it Nebraska?) that I realized that someone had to be getting a paycheck to write stuff. I was on my way home (riding the Greyhound Bus) from being asked politely to leave the army...it might have been the fact that my father got killed in a truck accident a week before, or it may simply be that I am not good at marching and doing pushups (I be a white boy; I have no rhythm and no upper body strength). Anyway, I was looking over the magazines in the rack when I saw it.
The vital clue that someone was getting paid money to write something. Yes, it was an erotica magazine, one of those magazines filled with sexy stories...that are supposedly written by readers of the magazine. And I realized that the writing was too good to be written by amateurs--hey, I saw the writing skill of my class mates in high school, and mine wasn't much better--no, this stuff had to be written by people getting paid.
Why did I assume that money was involved? Well, you would never write this stuff and admit to it.
(Yes, I found one of the stranger types of erotica...in Kansas...at a truck stop...and no, I am not telling you what type of erotica it was. Just say imagine the worst, say Ewww! and read on.)
Or at least, I wouldn't admit to it. And still don't. I do it under a pen-name...and my pen-name is a secret...one that my wife doesn't even know. (Yes, she knows what my bread and butter writing is...but I am too ashamed to let her read any of it.)
And the moral of this story is: If you don't want people writing trash, don't let them know that they can make money doing so. Or at least, I think that is the moral; I could be wrong--and if I am, feel free to say so in the comment section.