Monday, September 04, 2006

Researching erotica markets

You’ve completed, revised, proofed and had your story beta’ed by the best. Now you want to get your story out to the world and get paid for it. What’s the next step? Research!

Step 1: Research the markets:

For erotica, I think the most complete and up-to-date market listings is Erotica Readers and Writers Association. ( They have calls for subs for print books and anthologies, magazines, e-publishers, and online sites. Another is Duotrope, a search engine that can pull up markets for a piece within certain specifications such as pro rates, genre, word count, etc. ( Story Pilot is another. (

You can also check genre-specific sites and forums. Romancedivas specializes in male/female romance genres. ( The Erotica Writer’s Forum is a good source of information; most writers there specialize in erotic romantic, especially gay male fiction. ( The Fishtank at is an online erotica critique group and they also have a calls for subs thread on the forums. ( Niche markets like BDSM, kink and other fetishes have their own market listings; you can find them through the websites that specialize in that type of fiction.

Research specific publishers such as Alyson, Cleis, Ellora’s Cave, Penthouse, etc to see their active calls for subs. They’ll often post these on their own sites before they send it out to other sites. Some publishers have an email service for current calls for subs.

Step 2: Analyze the calls for submissions

Erotica publications have a clear vibe because they are often very specialized. Freshmen, the gay men’s magazine, focuses on stories about young men. Penthouse Forum publishes heterosexual stories with the occasional kink involved. Check the publication itself and get a sense of what sells. Many have free online content which is especially helpful for the more esoteric markets. Analyze them! Do all the first sentences have a great hook? Is first-person POV common? Is the main character introduced within 100 words, 50 words, in the first sentence? Do all the stories involve strangers meeting and having sex? Check word count—Ruthie’s Club will take short stories up to 7500 words and serialize longer works. Freshmen won’t look at anything longer than 3000 words.

If you’re subbing to an anthology, pay attention to theme. (Note: an anthology is a group of stories written by different authors. A collection is a group of short stories written by one author). If the call for subs asks for stories about leprechauns then don’t send them a unicorn story. If they want bondage stories about big-busted blondes, don’t send them your tender male/male romance. Editors are often quite specific in their sub calls.

To get more granular about your research, check out the editor him/herself as much as possible. Many of them have their own websites or blogs where story preferences and recent sales are discussed. Check the editor’s previous sales; what kind of stories do they like to write? Chances are they like to read it, too. See if they have a presence on Amazon; there may be info and clues about their preferences there as well. Some post on writer’s forums and message boards, too.

The key to researching a market is more than just reading the publication. By checking out the editors you’ll be subbing to, you may have a better chance of a sale.


Kis Lee said...

Great article!

Another resource is Naughty Words:

Anonymous said...

And, just to emphasize one aspect of what you said, because too many people skip this step: READ SOME BOOKS/STORIES by the publisher you're targeting. MORE THAN ONE!

Even among publishers who, on the surface, appear to be looking for the same thing, if you read their actual stories, you'll notice distinct but sometimes subtle differences that will make one publisher a better choice for you than another publisher.

Stacia said...

Absolutely, jd. Reading widely is important.

Adrienne said...

Please note that the URL for the Erotica Readers & Writers Association submissions pages is incorrect. It should be: