Writing

Smuttier smut and writing for the sake of writing

I just submitted my latest erotica for review on Amazon, and I’m nervous as fuck because it’s 1) a different niche than I’d been writing so far, and 2) a lot more intense than what I’d published before.

Would I alienate my loyal readers? (Do I even have loyal readers yet??) Would Amazon bury it in the erotica dungeon, or worse, refuse to publish it at all? I wrestled with the decision to publish as Sara Bee, and not under a new pen name. The biggest fear I had was: would it sell?

I used to believe that I should write just for myself. I told myself I didn’t need to try to publish my books, or worry about what other readers wanted. It was just for my enjoyment.

But it wasn’t long before I started to dream of being an author. I’d imagine seeing my books in print, doing interviews, and making a living off of my writing.

The making a living part was the tricky part. The idealistic part of me still thought that writing wasn’t about money and that I should write for the sake of writing. But the practical part of me, the part that was tired of scrimping and saving (I didn’t grow up poor by ANY means, but money was always tight), thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could take this thing that I’m doing anyway, that I love doing, and also make money from it?

A part of me always hoped that I’d make it big. But as school took over my life, I had to put writing aside. I tried to write, don’t get me wrong. I’ve got documents and documents of first chapters and random paragraphs. I just never had the time to really commit to writing. And that was okay, because the other stuff I was doing was important too. And, the other stuff was much more likely to provide a living for me.

I’ll be honest. This lark of self-publishing erotica DID come from me searching ways to make some extra money. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t and don’t have any illusions that I’ll make thousands of dollars doing this. I don’t have any illusions that I’d even make a profit. I actually didn’t expect to sell a single book.

But for the first time in a long time, I had some free time. And since this free time will be the last free time I’ll have in a long time, I wanted to take advantage of it. I love to travel but haven’t had the budget or time to do so. Finally, I had time….but still no budget.

So yeah, I looked online for ways to make some money on the side. I thought of the obvious; Uber or Lyft. But I worried that it would take too much time and effort (driving in Boston in the winter is no joke!) and wouldn’t yield enough money to make it worth it.

I couldn’t get a part time job because my schedule changes monthly, with varying amounts of free time. January is super light, but March will be super busy, and February I’ll be out of the country on a medical mission trip. I’d tried applying to retail jobs years ago for summer breaks and I’ll tell you, it was a lot harder than people made it out to be. No one wanted to hire someone just for two months when there were plenty of other people who’d be around all year. A part time job for a month?

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All in all, I didn’t really have high hopes for actually finding a way to make some extra cash. But then I remembered a friend of a friend who had made a killing doing some sort of online sex-related writing. I didn’t remember exactly what, but this seemed perfect: something that I could do at home that involved writing? That’s perfect! And (weirdly? maybe?) the sex part seemed….fun. Fun and exciting.

I started to look into this general sort of thing, and it wasn’t long before I started finding articles and blog posts about people making real money self-publishing erotica on Amazon. And I knew instantly – THIS was it. This was the perfect job for me. Finally I could go back to writing, and maybe I’d even make a few bucks from it. And unlike driving for Uber, I wouldn’t really mind if I didn’t make a dime. That’s how much I love writing. It brings me so much satisfaction and pleasure and that would be fulfilling enough.

So now, as I wait for Amazon to approve my new book, I question whether I should even allow myself to worry about whether it’ll sell. Didn’t I know to keep my hopes very low that I’d make a profit from this venture? And anyways, don’t I write just for the sake of writing?

But here’s the thing. I put a lot of effort into my writing. It’s not just writing the story anymore; it’s also designing a cover and promoting the book. Marketing really does take up so much time and frankly I find it exhausting.

The other thing is, I have loads of student debt. Far into the six figures. I’ve paid my way through this program entirely with loans and scholarships. The savings I’d had when I was working previously have long ago disappeared. I’m lucky that my parents have been able to help out here and there, but it’s drops in a very, very large bucket. I’m living 100% on borrowed income. And despite this, I still really think I should take this opportunity to travel. And when I mention this to anyone else in my field, they agree, because they know: this is an opportunity that simply *will not happen again.* I now have months of free time and I’m young without a family. The specialty I am going to is known for being the most punishing when it comes to hours (well, maybe second – neurosurgery definitely takes top place). Forget about traveling the world – I’ll be lucky if I get to see my family more than once or twice a year. I’ll have to miss birthdays and weddings, holidays and graduations.

And all this sacrifice is worth it to me. Because I love what I do. But if I don’t take advantage of the next few months, I’ll regret it forever.

The last thing is: I’m already selling books. I’ve already made money. I’ve got a drop of success and it’s hard not to want to down the entire bottle.

So, yes. I do hope that this book will sell. And I do hope that in the next few months, I’ll make some money to offset the costs of this vacation (which, by the way, I’m trying to do as cheaply as possible — hello, Couchsurfing.com and RyanAir!). If I don’t, it’ll hurt – not my wallet so much as my pride. That’s an acceptable outcome for me.

I just hope my readers will find this all acceptable, too.

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