There’s no big secret (sorry to disappoint you). But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do that will set your work above 85% of other writer’s submissions to anthologies and magazines.
Here’s the quick and dirty run-down:
- Find a good source for “Calls for Submissions” (when a publisher asks writers to submit their work for consideration), so you don't waste time hunting for current calls. My favorite is the Erotica Readers and Writers Association lists. You can get on their list here. They’ll email you current calls for submission and guidelines. And that brings me to the next tip . . .
- Read and follow calls for submissions like a boss. Every editor will tell you exactly what they’re looking for in a story and how to format and submit your work. Follow the rules. This is not the time to step outside the box. Editors tell me 85% of submissions are tossed in the trash simply because the writer didn’t follow the submission guidelines.
- If you have a story that’s perfect for a call, submit it (follow the specs and reformat it if necessary). If you’re way off on word count, trim the story. If you can’t cut your story, but you still think it’s perfect for the call, read on to #4.
- If you have a story that’s almost perfect, but you have a question, write the editor and tell them your issue. Let them invite you to submit or tell you no up front. Trust me; they appreciate being asked (especially when you’re in doubt because of content or word count). Even if the answer is no, you’ll look like a professional.
- If you are writing a story from scratch, make a list of storylines you expect other writers to submit. For one of these ideas to be accepted, it had better be AMAZING. You have a much better shot at selling a story that’s unexpected. Throw your first list away, and make another list. This time, come up with ideas that fit the call but come at the editor’s wish-list from a different angle. Surprise them. Be unique.
- Have readers (not your mom or friends) critique your work. You can join a critiquing group online (the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, linked above in #1, has an excellent on-line group specializing in erotica), or join a group like the one I started on Facebook, The Slush Pile where readers, writers, and editors are happy to offer suggestions and help you fix boo-boos before you submit your work.
- Edit like a pro or hire an editor. Spell-check doesn’t cut it when you’re submitting professionally. Try Grammarly’s free software or pay for the pro version. Read The Chicago Manual of Style. Educate yourself on proofreading and editing, or hire a professional to handle editing and proofreading for you. It’s worth the money. Nothing turns off a story editor more than work full of mistakes.
I hope this helps you in your quest to write and sell your erotica (or erotic short stories or whatever you want to call it).
If you have a specific question, don’t hesitate to ask me. Besides reading and writing, there’s nothing I like more than helping other writers and talking about the art of writing.
NOTE: I am not affiliated in any way with the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, Grammarly, or The Chicago Manual of Style and, I receive no compensation for steering people their way.