Many professional freelancers will make it through their
entire career without ever once writing a story about sex.
Oh, they may craft a racy scene or two in the course of
writing the next Great American Novel, or they might
someday write an article about the latest in sexual
research, but that's about as far as many writers will
ever take the concept.
Then there are those freelancers who, for a variety of
different reasons, have actually chosen to write (and
publish) in the sex genre. Societal notions of perversity
aside, these writers are of the same ilk as those who
write about horses or gardening or education, it's just
that their subject matter is often more controversial.
Still, the act of writing as a profession is the same no
matter what the genre, although sex writing does require
more of an open mind and is not, as a rule, for the more
prudish among us.
But the basics - a bit of skill, a professional attitude,
plenty of perseverance and a whole lot of research - are
the same as for any genre.
Sex markets offer great opportunities for writers at all
different levels of experience. For the fledgling writer
there are many digest magazines that buy a lot of fairly
well-written (but rather formulaic) stories. The pay for
these pieces is, of course, lower than for other, higher
quality, markets but they do give the beginner a chance
to earn money while honing his or her craft.
On the higher end of the scale are markets that demand
excellence in plot structure and characterization. These
magazines usually pay fairly well and are for writers who
are experienced at more advanced techniques like
dialogue, subtle humor and deftly nuanced characters.
In addition, the sub-classifications of the genre -
letters, articles, stories and personal accounts - offer
plenty of wiggle room when it comes to a writer's ability
and/or experience. Letters and essays are more of a train-of-thought
process, and thus much easier for the beginner to write (and
sell) than full-length stories or non-fiction.
This means that in sex markets, as in no other genre, a
writer really can earn as she learns, starting at the
lower paying markets and working her way up to the higher
(and higher quality) fiction and non-fiction articles.
But don't make the mistake of thinking that, because the
level of "quality" varies, you can be more lax
in presentation and attitude when submitting to sex
Most of these editors appreciate professionalism just as
much as their mainstream counterparts. Writers wanting to
break into this market need to make sure that manuscripts
are presented professionally and that phone calls (or
emails) are returned promptly.
There are, however, some markets that operate in a more
"casual" fashion. While this can occasionally
work in your favor - a query for an article, for example,
can be as simple as a one-sentence email - it can also be
You'll have to get used to the idea that not all of your
submissions, queries and requests for guidelines will be
acknowledged. Perseverance, so useful when writing in any
genre, is even more of a requirement when writing for sex
Another requirement is an exhaustive knowledge of your
market and your audience. Sex markets tend to be even
more specialized than mainstream markets; each magazine
often targets a very specific personality as well as
What this means is that in order to sell you have to do
your research; you'll need to study the magazine cover to
cover and yes, that means the pictures, too. (Of course,
writers look at that as a perk of their profession rather
than a hardship, but that's another story.) It's also
imperative to request guidelines when possible because
sex markets often are very specific as to style, point of
view and word count; it's important that you know exactly
what they're looking for before you submit.
Of course, the most important requirement when it comes
to sex writing is that you enjoy doing it. It's an
excellent choice for those writers who relish a challenge
as well as
those who enjoy stretching their imagination. Yes, it's a
job, as is writing for mainstream markets, and it
requires the utmost in professionalism and commitment.
But writing about sex is also a whole lot of fun. Getting
paid to do it, well, that's even better.
Katy Terrega edits a free newsletter for sex writers (http://www.katyterrega.com/newsletter.html ) as well as a
paid subscriber site for same, Sex-Writer.com ( http://www.sex-writer.com ). Both feature
articles, market listings, reviews, calls for submission
and more, all geared toward fledgling as well as
professional sex-writers. She is also a successful sex
writer and her credits include Gallery, Swank, Playgirl,
Penthouse Forum and many others.