February 22, 2014


Happens to everyone in some form or another, right? But I was thinking about how the internet has totally transformed rejection for writers. When I first began submitting my work (more than two decades ago, she said softly into her coffee), there were really only a few places to consider. I'd buy Writer's Marketplace—and any writer-friendly magazines I could find—and scan for calls for subs. I'd send stories to Libido, Yellow Silk, Playgirl...

And when I say "send," I don't mean I'd hit "send." I mean, I'd print off the story, pen a pithy cover letter, slide in an SASE, seal the lip with a kiss. And then I'd wait.

And wait.

And wait.

After being rejected by Libido and Yellow Silk (Every. Single. Time.) I'd hold my story and try to figure out what to do next. There was no real option to self-publish. Financially, the cost would have been staggering. But look now. You don't even have to be rejected! You can grab your work, format appropriately, and publish in a wide variety of ways.

Marketing was as difficult—if not more so. Obviously there was no Twitter or Facebook or blogs or websites or—yeah I am that old, and I started writing that young—internet. Connecting with like-minded people didn't come easy. For the early anthologies I edited, people subbed their stories to me via postal mail. (The horror! The horror!)

Of course, there were a few forerunners who embraced the new. I remember when I first saw Violet Blue's Tiny Nibbles and what a major effect that had on me.

Promoting has always fallen on authors—but for us erotic rebels, the choices were limited. Sure, I did (knock-kneed, red-cheeked) readings in a few select stores, but there was nothing like a "blog tour" or banners you could embrace for free. And at the time, BDSM—which I've always written—and really erotica in general, was still kept in a cage under the counter. ("You write what?) Difficult to do a reading at a bookstore that won't deign to carry your work.

Now, writers can have their own personal moving billboards—isn't that what blogs are?—for free. I love visiting my favorite ones to see what they're up to.

I don't know why this struck me so hard this morning. Maybe because I'm asked quite often how the electronic marketplace has harmed writers. (Flooding the market with too many choices, etc. etc.) But honestly, this is a brave new world. I'm excited every day by the options that await us. And hey...

Fuck rejection!


P.S. Check out this Rejection Bracelet by Literary Lovelies. Love it.


Tamsin Flowers said...

Thank you so much for the shout out - your own blog is, of course, one of the few I check daily.

And, yes, fuck rejections! And that hollow sick feeling you get in the pit of your stomach as you scan the email/letter as fast as you can to find out whether you're in or out. But, of course, it's the risk of rejection that makes the acceptances so much sweeter when they come...

Jade A. Waters said...

Great post and so true! (I don't understand the concept of how the internet has harmed the market either.) And as Madonna says, "Rejection is the greatest aphrodisiac." (AKA just write more...or whatever your interpretation may be.)

Also, I am totally buying this bracelet.

Valentine Bonnaire said...

The first erotica I ever saw in the web had to be around 2000, and it was Clean Sheets related. Susannah Indigo was the first to publish me, and that's where I saw your name first, Alison. I think William might have interviewed you. I also saw many others in our genre there.

Who knew this genre would take off as it has?

A nom de plume change later, and with many ERWA published stories in hand, it's all about looking for the right place and the right publisher in 2014.

Maybe it's been picky to self-publish on some levels. Some of us got very lucky with "the right" presses. That new antho of Maxim's has a Man Booker nominee in it. Damn! Big congrats to you on Cleis...

At the writer's Conference I like, erotica was shunned in 2005. It was "blush" when whispering "genre" in the Romance workshops. Oh my. I think 50S has altered this landscape in more ways than any of us might have imagined.


Jo said...

Totally - I so wish I'd had the internet when I was younger. I think it would have been life changing.

Also, think how many writers and bloggers you inspired! It's become so common in the past decade, but when you started, you were one of the first.

t'Sade said...

Ah, I remember those letter responses and that moment of "OMG, did they like me?" There was a lot of nos there, but they were just as varied as anything else. The rare "No, just no." and the "You have great promise, just try again."

It was a lot of fun, the anticipation of sending out that letter. There was also something more visceral about that submission. Making sure the paper looked good, the final look just before tri-folding it, and even adjusting in an envelope so the name looked right as someone opened it. It felt more real in some ways.

oliviasummersweet said...

All I can say is, I'm drunk and reading your book. And I want to read your book more than I want to finish writing the sex scene in my own story. And that's saying something. (Something. Exactly what, I'm not sure.;) (*guzzles more beer*…)(Dos Equis) (does that mean it's xx-rated beer? hmmmm….)

Erobintica said...

I ditto what Jo said. I was so outwardly shy as a young woman (even as an early middle-aged woman) that I didn't even dare write what was in my head. I didn't write at all because of that. I have though a lot about how having the internet would have changed my life. Good? Bad? Who knows?!

My very first attempt at submitting anything remotely erotic was some erotic poems I sent way back when (not looking up the date) to a Pretty Things Press call, in the mail with a SASE. :)

So glad you're still at it, Alison!

amhartnett.com said...

Alison, I can honestly say that I'm so glad you became a writer in this genre. Without you, I wouldn't have WWATD in my head to give me a smack in the ass when I have one of those days when I frustrate myself.