Introducing: The Percy Award

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Last year, when I saw Alison Bechdel talk, she introduced me to Stigler’s Law of Eponymy – “No rule is named after the person who came up with it.”

Stigler did not invent that law.

In the spirit of Stigler’s Law, allow me to introduce you to the system I’ve come up with to test how feminist a film is: The Percy Award. There’s only two criteria…

1) There is at least one woman with a plot that doesn’t revolve around: a man, femininity, beauty, or being a mother.

2) There are (roughly) at least as many female speaking roles as there are male speaking roles.

If a film accomplishes both of these, it gets The Percy Award. Let’s break it down:

1) There is at least one woman with a plot that doesn’t revolve around: a man, femininity, beauty, or being a mother.

Most of the time women are given same two roles, over and over again. They’re mothers or lovers – the virgin or the slut. They exist to dispense sex or nurturing, to be lusted after and fulfil societal expectations. They can always be described in relation to a male – “the love interest”, “the sister”, “the ex”.

Women in films exist to dispense sex or nurturing, to be lusted after and fulfil societal expectations. They can be described in relation to a male – “the love interest”, “the sister”, “the ex”.

And on the rare occasion that they do more than just prop up a male character’s plot, the fact that they don’t fit the typical feminine archetype will be their plot (think Merida in Brave).

To fulfil this criteria, the woman also needs to actually be given a storyline, which is pretty important*. We’re defining a “plot” here as “A story with a beginning, middle and end (in different scenes).”  Megan stealing the dogs in Bridesmaids isn’t a “plot”, but Annie dealing with the closure of her bakery is (and while it involves a man, it certainly doesn’t revolve around one).

* Note that I’m not saying “main characters” or “central storylines” – that would eliminate every film with a single male protagonist, and a film can still be feminist while having one protagonist who is male.

2) There are (roughly) at least as many female speaking roles as there are male speaking roles.

Our population is made up of (roughly) 50% men and 50% women. You would expect representation in film to be roughly the same, but in 2013 only 30% of speaking roles were female, and only 15% of protagonists. The further back you go, the worse it gets.

As a writer, whenever I need a character to deliver a throwaway line or piece of information, my first instinct is always for that role to be filled by a man. Shop-keeper, hotel clerk, doctor – unless a character needs to be female, they’ll be a man.

This ties into the first criteria as well. If a writer sits down and asks themself “Okay, let’s put a woman in – what would a female plot be about?” then they’ll repeatedly draw from the same well. Men can have any plot in the world; women need to have a woman plot.

Male as the default is a dangerous and unhealthy attitude. You’ll see it all the time – if a character doesn’t have to be female, then they won’t be.

Also note – we’re not counting the number of lines, just whether or not they have lines at all. This is for the same reason that “roughly” is specified. You should be able to work out whether a film is deserving of the award without having to sit down and rewatch it with a pen and paper.

You’ll find that the vast majority of the time, it will quickly become obvious whether a film is going to come close.

In Bridesmaids, for example, female roles include: Annie, Lillian, Helen, Megan, Rita, Becca, Annie’s mum, and Rebel Wilson. Male roles include: the policeman, Lillian’s father, Jon Hamm, Annie’s boss, the fitness instructor, and Matt Lucas.

There are probably a few more scattered around, but Bridesmaids? Totally deserves The Percy Award.

Finding worthy films is extremely difficult. That’s why it’s not a “test” – it’s not a pass/fail system, and it’s not something that a movie can accomplish with one throwaway line (I love the Bechdel Test for looking at trends, but I just don’t think it’s the best standard for evaluating individual films).

Getting a Percy Award is an accomplishment – if a film manages to give a woman something to do outside of base gender expectations and it shows a roughly-equal representation of both genders, then that’s (sadly) a genuinely rare feat.

So let’s celebrate it. What films can you think of that deserve The Percy Award?



Originally published at You can comment here or there.

In my experience, every genuine disagreement I have with someone ends up coming down to one of three things:

  1. Differing core beliefs. “Look, when it comes down to it, I would rather someone productive and unhappy died rather than someone unproductive but happy.”
    “Oh what? I would always rather someone unproductive and happy died.”
    “Well we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”
  2. Conflicting information. “I can’t believe Julian Blanc was barred from entering Australia – sure, there are some sleazy pickup artists, but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be allowed to come here just because of his job.”
    “Actually, he had videos in which he explicitly encouraged men to choke strange women as a way of hitting on them.”
    “Oh. Yeah, okay. I now fully support his visa being revoked.”
  3. Miscommunications. “So you really think that the idea of God is impossible. There’s not even a one in a hundred hundred billion chance that he exists?”
    “A one in a hundred hundred billion chance IS impossible. That’s the same odds as guessing every password you encounter, exactly correctly, first time every time. That’s not going to happen – it’s impossible.”
    “Well no, that’s not impossible. Impossible is something that could never happen.”
    “Like what? Impossible, by that definition, doesn’t exist. There’s nothing that could never happen – only stuff that’s so unlikely that we call it impossible.”

(Those are all real arguments I’ve been a part of.)

I think of myself as an extraordinarily good communicator. I make my full-time living from writing, all of my hobbies involve communication in some way, and I used to be a great math tutor specifically because of my ability to make complicated concepts quite clear.

But I would say something like 90% of the arguments I’m a part of come down to miscommunication. Quite often, they come down to semantics – the way I’m using a word (or the way I interpreted it) is unusual. Maybe it’s just that my social circles are mostly made up of people with similar opinions and information to me. Maybe I only remember the Type 3 arguments because they go on the longest (when you’re arguing different premises, it’s amazing how much time it takes you to realize that).

“If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.”

So I’m wondering if there’s something about me that means I communicate things strangely, so tell me – think back to the last 5 or 6 arguments you had. With your spouse, your friends, your co-workers, anyone. Did they fall neatly into those 3 categories? And if so, does one stand out as being the main cause of these arguments?

I just want to check if I’m an asshole.


Mrs Pembrose’s Talent

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Originally written July 2012, rediscovered just a few minutes ago.

“Oh dear,” she tutted, shaking her head from side to side. “Oh dear oh dear oh dear.”

Everyone has a Talent. Some are more obvious than others, some find years to find, and presumably some die without ever having discovered their Talent at all. Mrs Pembrose had been 45 and a half before she’d discovered hers – she thought she’d never discover it. She’d lived her life quite happily beforehand, getting married, having two children (quite young, as was the trend these days) – a son and a daughter – and seeing them off to college and a family of their own respectively.

But then, one day when she was at home, she had dropped her address book, tutted, and said “Oh dear.”

It was crystal clear, the second the words escaped her mouth. It was odd, really, that she’d never uttered that simple phrase, those two words in conjunction before, but as soon as she did, she knew:

She’d found her Talent.

Her husband had found her in that same position when he returned home several hours later. She was just sitting there, and it appeared at first glance that she was muttering to herself. Her husband briefly wondered if she had gone insane, especially when she looked up, with that gleam of excitement in her eyes.

But then she had simply said “Oh dear”, and he understood. She’d found her Talent.

Mr Pembrose had discovered his talent quite young. It wasn’t one of the Talents that everyone hoped for – acting, dancing, stockbroking – but it was solid, and he enjoyed it. He had a Talent for middle-management, and armed with this knowledge, he’d soon found himself a lovely middle-management position, where he cheerfully worked, no ambition for advancement, no fear of demotion. His bosses appreciated his skills, his employees were glad to be working under someone who was perfectly suited for their positions, and he didn’t have to worry about playing the brown-nosing game, he just had to go to work each day, and be one of the best middle-managers in the country.

The usefulness of Mrs Pembrose’s Talent was less obvious. In those first few days, she was so excited about having found it that she simply sat at home and repeated “Oh dear” to herself over and over again. She called her family, her friends, her children, they all shared in her joy, celebrated with her. She organised a Talent party, as custom encouraged, and everyone brought her small presents. Mrs Pembrose’s father, known for his sense of humour, bought her a small figurine of a deer. Her children bought her a set of business cards with her name, number, and catch-phrase on it.

And at the end of that first week, after the initial excitement was over, Mrs Pembrose set out to see if there was any way she could use her Talent to make a living. She’d worked most of her life as a secretary – work that she enjoyed, but had never completely fulfilled her. She knew that there was a career that she was so perfectly suited towards out there, waiting for her, and so her stint as a secretary felt like a time-killer until her Talent came along.

But now, now she knew what she was capable of, what she could do best. But how to implement it?

Mrs Pembrose tried finding voiceover or acting work – anything that required the line “Oh dear” delivered, she excelled at. She could say it happily, sadly, disapprovingly, orgasmically – name the adjective, and she could say “Oh dear” perfectly. But “Oh dear” situations are few and far between – knowing what she was capable of, interested in making use of such a unique Talent, a few advertising agencies specifically wrote campaigns to utilise it, but after a month or two work dried up. “Oh dear” ads were done with, and the cyclical nature of advertisements meant that they wouldn’t become fresh again for another decade or two.

She managed to get a few interviews – the news was always interested in unusual and individual Talents, with most channels dedicating a brief segment at the end of their news slots at the less popular times to showcasing weird Talents, but once she had worked through the networks, she was again without anything to do.

And then it occurred to her – there was no job out there waiting to take advantage of her strange Talent, because it wasn’t a skill that people were expected to had. Jobs grew out of not only necessities, but also talents – if someone could do something well, they would typically try to work out how to use their talent to better society, and more importantly, earn them money.

And so it was that Mrs Pembrose got a job as a professional Disapprover.

Corporations would call her in to disapprove of ideas. They’d present her as a neutral observer, or an expert in a particular field, and once an idea was explained to her, she’d pause, tilt her head to the side, and say those two words:

“Oh dear.”

Mrs Pembrose never got sick of seeing how people reacted. Some of them were indignant, some of them were disappointed, some of them seemed to be expecting it, sighed, and packed up their presentation without another word. A few, when she was just starting out, were skeptical, but after a few weeks on the job she worked out the exact tone of “Oh dear” to give out, the tone that conveyed a lack of interest in the idea, no room for argument, a hint of disappointment, and an unwavering sense of authority.

She was a huge hit – companies were hiring her to disapprove of anything and everything, from plans for expansion to new stationery suggestions to annual performance reviews. Individuals starting hiring her, for jobs as varied as fortune-teller to divorce lawyer.

One job consisted of setting her up as a fashion guru, approving of one company’s designs but not the other. She was surprised, six months later, to see some of the garments she’d nodded at (or, on a few occasions, given an enthusiastic-and-impressed “Oh dear” to) selling for many hundreds of dollars at her local clothing store.

The work started sporadically, but became more and more consistent as word spread. Of course, as word spread, she had to be careful not to be recognised – she had awkwardly turned up as a “bee-keeping expert” to one job, only to discover that the target of her “we’re-interested-but-you’ll-have-to-lower-the-price Oh dear” was a previous client. At one job shortly afterwards, she’d felt suspicion coming from her target, but she had (rather impressively, she thought to herself at the time) quelled it with an “Oh dear” of “Your suspicion is absurd”.

It didn’t always work, of course – the best-delivered “Oh dear” can’t always change someone’s mind, but delivered in the right way to someone who already has some doubt, especially when the messenger is imbued with implied status, knowledge and power…well, an “Oh dear” can go a hell of a long way.

After a year, Mrs Pembrose was making a reliable, if not exhorbidant income. She enjoyed her job – there was something about knowing your Talent, knowing that you were one of the best at what you did (and with her extremely specific Talent, probably THE best that ever was and ever would be) and having other people appreciate it. She understood now why Talented people were always the happiest ones at Talent parties, the ones celebrating the newly-Talented the most.

As part of her job, she’d had to start putting on disguises, voices; she’d even attended one or two sessions pretending to be a rather heavily-bearded man. It added a bit of variety to what otherwise risked being an overly negative job – disapproving of things all day every day ran the risk of getting her down, but the costuming element ensured that she was never bored.



Originally published at You can comment here or there.

So you’ve had a look at the sites. You’ve decided whether to go all-in on Amazon, or upload everywhere and see how money-making goes. (remember, too, you can try a split of the two, or start with every site and then take stuff down if you decide to go Amazon-exclusive. You just can’t suddenly change the other way, since Amazon-exclusivity locks you in for 3 months.)

Now you want to turn your books from “words on your screen” to “available for purchase on everyone’s sites.”

There’s a lot of different ways you can do it. I use Scrivener, which I can’t recommend strongly enough – if you can afford it/ever want to do any kind of writing ever, get Scrivener. It’s incredible for many reasons.

(In a future update, I’ll do a step-by-step guide showing how my books go from “existing in Scrivener” to being exported, using a system I got from someone else on the erotica forums. The vast majority of this knowledge is garnered from people on one of the 3 or 4 erotica forums I’ve been on.)

The specific formatting required to make stuff look good on e-readers is very dull – FORTUNATELY, one of the sites I was talking about yesterday has an extensive guide, which most people use for every site: (free to download)

As well as that, Draft2Digital offer a free conversion tool – you can convert your book on their site, and then download the file to use everywhere else.

As a rule, you want to upload in .doc format, and your files should contain (in order)

-A small copyright notice (I use “Copyright 2015 Pandora Box”)

-Which site it’s uploading to (i.e. “Kindle edition”, “Kobo edition”, etc. Smashwords requires a huge chunk here if you want Premium Distribution – it’s in their style guide.)

-OPTIONAL: A small piece saying “All characters in this story are 18 and over.” This has become the standard, and I’d recommend it…at the very least, so that you don’t have to awkwardly insert it into the narrative somewhere.

-The title of the story (“Gay Cowboys Cheat With Firefighters 2: Hosing Each Other Off”)

-A small excerpt of one of the sexiest scenes that leaves you wanting more (this is for Amazon’s “look inside” feature, which offers the first few pages of your book – people will quite often click through to see the quality of your writing, and if they’re hit with a page of set-up, they’re less likely to buy it. I’ll post an example in the comments.)

-Your story

-Three hashes (or something) to indicate the story has finished (I don’t think there’s a standard, I just like the look of three centered hashes.)

-A small “About the Author” piece.

-A link to the rest of your catalogue on the platform you’re publishing this book on (so Smashwords for Smashwords, Amazon for Amazon etc).

-Aas your catalogue gets larger, this should just go to pieces that are similar. (Your werewolf gangbang should link to other werewolf gangbangs, your incest breeding should link to other incest breeding.)

-“BONUS MATERIAL” – a (decent-sized) excerpt from another book, again ending just when it’s getting good. (will include one in the comments)

-Again, if your catalogue is sizable enough, link to a book that’s similar, and always to the first book in a series (which should be $0.99…more on that in a future update!)

-A link to where people can buy that other book on the same platform.

Whew! What a lot of information. Here’s an example for you, which covers all of the above – this is my favourite book to link to people, because I think it’s genuinely amusing (it’s also the one I’ve read out in public a few times now) – it’s called ‘Bred by the Billionaire Tentacle’, and I wrote it as a joke (as well as porn and how-to-write-smut pieces, I write comedy) when the three huge trends were breeding, billionaires and tentacles.

(NOTE: It’s an old story, most of the links within are dead. More on THAT another day!) for the .doc, and here it is on Amazon, if you have an e-reader (or Kindle app) and want to see what it looks like in its final form:…

I was going to talk about the difference between the sites today, but these keep getting longer than I expect, so I’m going to leave it there. More tomorrow!

Here’s an excerpt from one of my books, either called “Pleasures at Home” or “Breeding My Sister”, depending on what site you’re on.




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Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Making money off erotica comes in two parts:
1) Actually sitting down and doing the writing.
2) Making the money.

The second part is easy. If I sent you my catalogue of work and the below instructions, you’d be able to make a living off it in a few weeks (I do!). But it’s the part that most people obsess about.

Here’s the fact: if you set out to do this and fail, in 99% of cases, it’ll be due to step two, not step one. But step 2 is what people want to hear about, so let’s start there.

There are four main outlets for publishing erotica online:
-Barnes and Noble

If you live in Australia (as I, and most of my readers do) you can only publish directly to the first two. If you live in America, then you’ll have direct access to all four. I don’t know about other countries, so I can’t help you there.

HOWEVER, if you’re not in the US, then you can publish to Barnes and Noble and Apple via a site called “Draft2Digital” – you upload your books there, and they’ll distribute them to B&N, Apple, and a handful of other sites that I never learned the names of because I make a negligible amount of money from them.

(There’s also Kobo, which I make about $9/month from. If you are desperate to get your works available everywhere possible, then sure, sign up there. I very much doubt it’ll be worth your time, but hey! Gotta procrastinate from actually sitting down and doing the writing somehow.)

If you missed it, yesterday I posted a direct link to my profit spreadsheet (which I obsessively updated for about 22 months) – that’ll give you a pretty good indicator of where most I made my money for a long time*, but it predates draft2digital.

*until what was referred to as the Pornocalypse. Not even making that up.

On a slow month, Smashwords and Amazon would be fairly even. On a good month, Smashwords would be a tiny fraction of Amazon’s earnings. Smashwords has been a reliable income for me for years now – I’ve made something like $20k there – but Amazon is where the potential for breakout success lies.

draft2digital, meanwhile, was a game-changer: I now make anywhere between $1-1.5k there, each and every month. That’s the largest portion of my income (followed by Patreon, Smashwords and Amazon.)

HOWEVER: the common wisdom these days is to publish your stuff exclusively at Amazon. They recommend disregarding the other sites entirely (at least at first), and signing up for Amazon’s “Kindle Select” program, which requires exclusivity. The reasons are simple:

1) Kindle Select books get a huge boost in the search algorithm. Go search the Kindle store (not Amazon as a whole, just the kindle store) for whatever you like – “Gay Cowboys”, or “Cheating firefighter”. If you see anything with this at the side:

Borrow for free from your Kindle device. Join Amazon Prime

Then it means it’s on Kindle Select.
2) Amazon don’t allow free books. Also, anything priced below $2.99 or above $9.99 (more on this tomorrow, but general rule: always price everything at $2.99) will only earn you 35% royalties, instead of the standard 70%.

(That’s right. You get 70% of your book’s sale price. This is why it’s possible to make a living from writing smut.)

The exception to these two rules? If the book is in Kindle Select.
3) This is the big one – that “borrow for free” thing? It costs Amazon Prime members nothing to borrow a book or two (I don’t know the exact numbers), but you still get money from it. It’s not the $2 you’d get from a sale, it’s a portion of the monthly “fund” (generally $2-5 million, IIRC) but it generally comes out to $1.50 or so – no matter what your book is priced at.

And people will borrow your book for free in the *thousands*.

The downsides are, obviously: you don’t get money from anywhere else, and once you sign a book up for Kindle Select, you’re locked in for 3 months. If they find your book anywhere else, you’ll get a warning, and if it’s not corrected – permanent account ban.

From my point of view, that’s never been worth it. I’d have to not only sacrifice my income from all the other sites (which, these days, make more for me than Amazon does) but I’d also have to take my stuff down from the free sites. BUT if you’re coming into this fresh, and you’re serious about making money from it – Kindle Select is the place to be.

There’s so much information, and I hate to stretch it out like this, but I’ve got a life outside of Facebook (hard as that may be to believe) so I’m going to come back tomorrow with information on Smashwords, d2d and formatting your work. Then, next week: actually sitting down and doing the writing.

Here’s some homework while you wait – visit AmazonSmashwords, and Draft2Digital and sign up! Have a poke around, and see if it all makes sense.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions (about stuff I’ve talked about so far, not content that I’m saving for future posts).



Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Before I start going into the nuts and bolts of erotica-based income, I’m going to tell you my story – not (only) because I’m a raging egomaniac, but because the path I’ve gone down means I’m relatively out of the loop, and I think it’s only fair to let you know that before I start doling out advice.

I’ve been reading erotica since I was 15, and started writing it for fun and posting it online when I was 24 – I’m not the world’s greatest writer, but the standard of quality for free online smut is fairly low, and so I quickly built myself a bit of a fanbase. I started taking commissions (for which I woefully undercharged) but I never planned it to be anything but a hobby until June 2012 when I quit my job and was trying to find a way to live creatively.

SJ (my girlfriend at the time) found an AMA from someone who was making a few thousand dollars a month, with tips on how to get started. (Basically what I’m writing now!) The market was pretty different back then, but the fundamentals are the same. There was a link to a forum where everyone discussed it – I spent about a week or two reading through the collective wisdom of everyone involved, and then launched into it, writing new stories + taking my old stories and extending the sex scenes, paying SJ to make covers for me and publishing a bunch of stuff.

For the next year, I kept on publishing. I used to keep super detailed stats, so here is my exact income for my first 18 months of publishing erotica. In brackets are how many books I had published, followed by how many of them were bundles (collections of books rather than original content):

July 2012: $93.21 (7)
August 2012: $471.51 (14, 2)
September 2012: $493.90 (24, 4)
October 2012: $932.32 (31, 4)
November 2012: $1,479.07 (34, 5)
December 2012: $2,459.51 (48, 13)
January 2013: $3,234.78 (52, 14)
February 2013: $1,839.90 (57, 16)
March 2013: $4,308.40 (65, 16)
April 2013: $2,759.16 (70, 16)
May 2013: $3,011.06 (82, 16)
June 2013: $2,903.02 (91, 16)
July 2013: $5,711.41 (100, 19) –I remembered this being a $7k month. It was not!–
August 2013: $4,732.35 (115, 28)
September 2013: $3,002.24
November 2013: $1,391.18
December 2013: $1,133.83

So what happened in September 2013? Amazon started banning my books.

Heads-up: this is where it firmly enters TMI territory. See, I make the vast, vast majority of my money from incest erotica. Specifically, brother/sister incest mind control erotica. I’m the world’s best brother/sister incest mind control erotica writer, which is weird, but it’s also sort of fun to be the best in the world at something.

My family know about this and they don’t care, but it’s something I’ve never announced on facebook before (for obvious reasons). I have zero interest in real life sisters, mind control OR incest, but for some reason it’s the kink that works for me and – as a result – it’s what sells best for me*.

*I’m actually lucky in that regard. Some people find that their best writing is in a kink that they have NO interest in. That’s when it truly becomes a job – they have to spend each and every day writing about gay cowboys, despite being straight and more of a pirate guy.

Amazon are extremely reactive, and so when the religious right found out about people making a bunch of money from incest erotica, they kicked up a fuss and Amazon (with no warning) started banning incest from appearing in their stores.

Emphasis on APPEARING. You can still publish – and read – the exact same books on Amazon, but you can no longer mention incest or family members anywhere on the cover, in the blurb, or anywhere like that*.

*as a result, little hinty keywords have appeared – “taboo” is the biggest one, or “man of the house” meaning father/daughter stuff.

I spent a few months scared to upload anything (if Amazon have to tell you twice, they permanently and irrevocably ban your account) until the money from my $5.7k month ran out, and I started rewriting blurbs and re-titling books. “Brainwashing my Sister” became “Brainwashing the Cheerleader”. “Blowing My Big Brother” became “My First Blow-job”.

I’ll go into all this in more detail in future parts, but Amazon is one of a few different marketplaces. It’s by far the biggest, but it’s also the most fickle. My sales income was pretty low in 2014, and I learned to live on less money (and started taking more commissions to make up the difference):

Jan 2014: $1,328.26
Feb 2014: $1,282.22
Mar 2014: $1,382.70
Apr 2014: $1,889.48
May 2014: $1,319.88
(I stopped keeping track at this point, so I genuinely can’t give you any numbers from here.)

By August 2014, I had my entire catalogue back up…at which point, Amazon decided that mind control wasn’t okay, and took my catalogue down again.

So that was fun.

Now, I could have switched gears and stopped writing brother/sister mind control. And a more sensible man would have done that (my friend who makes $100-200k/month did). But I had gotten pretty used to:
a) Writing what I wanted to write (NOTE: Do not count on this! If you want to make a living from this, you gotta write what sells)
b) The regular feedback/fan-mail/commissions I get from posting my stuff online for free, which I was continuing to do the entire time I was selling my work on Amazon. I have received exactly one piece of fan-mail for my sold books, and close to a thousand pieces of fanmail for my stuff that’s online for free.

People who buy your stuff on Amazon are a whole different audience to those who read it online for free. (as a rule, the first category are mostly women while the second category are mostly men. Men don’t pay for erotica, women don’t pay for porn.)

And so to make up the difference, I started a Patreon (like an ongoing kickstarter, or an online tip jar) which you can find here.

Like I said, I had a fan-base, and I thought I might get a couple of hundred dollars from them each month in exchange for some little perks and rewards. To my surprise, after 6 months it’s hit $800/month and continued to grow. Add that to my fairly regular $1200 from Amazon/Barnes and Noble, and the extra thousand I get from Smashwords every three months (more on payment schedules in a future update) and I make a bit over $2k/month US, which is more than enough for me to live on (especially since I still take commissions, which I charge through the nose for).

So while I’m more than happy to talk everyone through the path of online publishing, I wanted you all to know mine is a VERY unusual tale. Firstly, I put almost no effort into Amazon, which is indisputably where the big, big bucks are. (the $363k month I talked about last time was from someone who exclusively publishes on Amazon, which is probably I’d recommend you do as well. Do as I say, not as I do.)

Secondly, I make my money off crowdfunding, which no one else in written erotica does (especially since Kickstarter doesn’t allow it). Thirdly, the majority of my writing is available online for free (now that you know the taboo topic and fairly dark nature of what I write, I’ll happily point you to it) and fourthly, I’m both stubborn and lazy, so I haven’t turned my writing to more profitable pastures.

TOMORROW: The stuff you really want to hear: how to get started! (spoiler: the first step is to read some successful erotica. Again, not mine. Mine is not successful, I just happen to write a particular niche quite well. Try the Amazon Top Hundred )

Any questions before we continue?



Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Sometimes I remember that other people don’t work professionally in the field of erotica. I’ve decided to start posting some fun erotica facts that you are probably not aware of (these are all true), because I just flat-out find it interesting.

GENERAL TRIGGER WARNING: These stories rarely prioritise consent. They’re not stories of violent rape, but a lot of the appeal for many will come from reluctance, people being forced into situations they’re not totally onboard with, and even minds being altered.

FACT #1: A common thing in free online erotica (i.e. people who write for fun, not money) is this idea of a “concept” that dozens (or sometimes hundreds) of people do their own take on. There are a few of these, but two big ones spring to mind:

1) “Naked in School”: The US government legalises public nudity, and to encourage people to be more comfortable with their body, institute a program where a small portion of the student population is forced to be totally nude for a week (or a month or whatever). If they refuse, they’re force-stripped, and as part of the program they MUST allow anyone access to their body. It’s such a weird idea but it was hugely popular for aaages. The protagonists invariably end up sexually fulfilled and happy that they were chosen to be in the program, and many of them become much more comfortable with their bodies as a result.

2) “Master PC”: Someone opens a file that they find on a floppy disk/download from a sketchy site, and it’s a program called “Master PC” that controls reality. You look anyone within 100 miles up and a 3D model of them rotates on your screen; you have sliders to adjust anything you can imagine (from “bladder size” to “toe hair denseness”) and you can type direct instructions in (“Sal now only speaks Chinese”). It’s basically a god machine – some people just use it for flat-out wish fulfillment, some people add enemies who also have access to the program so there’s at least some kind of conflict.

Here are some excerpts from the first chapter of the original “Naked in School”, to give you an idea of the tone:

This brochure explains a new program we have, where we will select a few students each week to attend school in the nude. You will not be permitted to wear any clothing this week during school hours, except shoes and socks if you wish. Could you please undress now?“

I blushed very hard. “You want me to… to take off my clothes…right here?”

“It’s a mandatory program for you, Miss Wagner. I can have a couple of gentlemen assist you if necessary to ensure your cooperation.” He glanced behind himself. There were a couple of burly men waiting there. “You have 2 minutes as of now.”

“We might as well use you at the front, since everyone is looking at you anyway. Face the class, please.”

I did so. God, it was humiliating!

“Does anyone have any suggestions of an algebra problem involving Miss Wagner?” he asked.

Half the class raised their hands, and Mr. Dennison had me write all of their suggestions on the white board.

Calculate the volume of my breasts, and percentage of my total body mass
Determine total mass of breasts among students in the school
Number of hands which could feel my breasts, buttocks and inner thighs at once
Coefficient of friction of my vagina
Equations calculating how long it would take me to have sex with every boy in my grade, and in the school, based on different assumptions to be entered as variables
Calculate distance from my lips to my throat, then based on statistics about penis sizes, determine how many boys in the school I could “deep throat”.

I found out there were 3 girls from each grade who were required to spend the week naked. The following week, a new group would be selected.

A couple of the girls were enjoying the attention quite a bit. One freshman girl, though, was even more freaked out than most of us, and had to be taken to the hospital. The word I head was that she’d have to complete the week like the rest of us, then serve another whole week later on. Wow…

(Later stories had guys participating as well.)


Group Theory

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

everyone is wrong

Here’s the sad truth: every group, no matter how big or small or well-intentioned or yes, even hateful, is going to contain idiots. Not just idiots – truly awful human beings who want to bring everyone else down, whose identity is tied up with being a part of the group AND their membership making them better than everyone else.

If you judge the entire group by those people, you’re doing everyone a disservice and also opening your group(s) up to the same attitude*. There’s no easy solution to this – it’s really difficult to examine the group “as a whole” or even work out the group’s true core values, because they’re so often misrepresented by these angry, loud people.

*and yes, YOUR group also contains those hateful, ugly people. No exceptions.

Instead, try to find the best of the group, see where they’re coming from, and then decide whether or not it’s a point of view you can understand, even if it’s never going to be something you agree with. Again, this is not easy, but it’s the best and most fair (and frankly most interesting) way to do things, and it’ll leave you better equipped to fight evil, and with a greater understanding of the world.

And above all, strive to never be that person. Identifying a certain way might make you feel good, but it doesn’t automatically mean that everyone who doesn’t agree with you is evil, and treating the world as simplistic and black-and-white just makes you look like an idiot.

(Now here’s a game for you – try to guess which group inspired this post! I would put money on no one being able to work this out, because though it may seem to obviously be about x or y, this philosophy genuinely does apply to EVERY group and identity I’ve ever, ever encountered.)


How my favourite game is slowly driving itself into the ground.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.


My favourite game – and main hobby – is Solforge, a digital card game for the iPad and PC. For the past two years, my iPad has been almost exclusively a Solforge-playing machine, and it’s something I enjoy enough to put money aside for it each and every month.

If you haven’t ever played, here’s a basic overview: you collect (digital) cards, and put together a 30-card deck to battle against an opponent. Your cards level up and return to your deck, so you have the chance of drawing stronger versions of the creatures and spells you’ve already played. This opens up some interesting design space – a card can be extraordinarily strong at level 1, and then relatively weak at levels 2 and 3, or it can have a useless level 1/2 and a ridiculously good level 3.

The team are constantly coming up with interesting card designs for the expansions. There are a few different play modes, a bunch of brilliant mechanics, the world-building side of things is really fascinating to me,  and there are a handful of other fun features. Even though it’s only in beta, Solforge has a small-but-active community.

Unfortunately, it also seems to have a death-wish.

This is the first competitive game I’ve ever played, and so as I got deeper and deeper into the game, I learned a whole bunch of new terms. “MVP”, apparently a common sports term, means “Most Valuable Player” – in the context of Solforge, it’s used in reference to the card that did the most work to help you win a match.

And “meta” means “the competitive scene”, more specifically which decks and cards are seeing a lot of play. A healthy meta means that there are a few different top decks, and an unhealthy meta means that one particular faction or card is dominating. The more repetitive or uninteresting the competitive scene, the less healthy the meta is.

For the whole time I’ve been playing, Solforge has lurched from unhealthy meta to unhealthy meta.

(For those who play the game: when multiplayer mode was first introduced, Shapers dominated. They were nerfed in the patch that gave us the omni-present Weirwood Patriarch, which was then nerfed when set 2 came out. Yetis then dominated the meta for a few months – although that was arguably the most varied meta Solforge has ever had, with a few semi-viable alternatives – until set 2.3 was released, which brought us Ironmind Acolyte. Ironmind was then the undisputed champion of the queues until set 3 came out, which brought Broodqueen, Aetherphage and Doomrider, the combination of which has resulted in almost two months of the least interesting meta Solforge has seen so far.)

Again this is the first collectible/trading card game that I’ve ever really been passionate about. As a kid I played a tiny bit of Magic: The Gathering and the Pokemon TCG, but I never encountered genuine competitive play. My understanding is that cards can’t be perfectly balanced because it makes the game quite flat – there needs to be strong cards and weak cards, and apparently very strong cards are helpful for teaching new players how to construct a deck, but for whatever reason the Solforge team keep putting out a few cards each set that are so far above the power curve that no one plays anything else.

This seems like a fairly easy issue to avoid – don’t make a card that’s just flat-out amazing at every level. The three-level system in Solforge gives a lot of flexibility to strengthen or weaken a card (if it really needs to be stellar at level 1, give it bad stats later on), but – and this is just my personal opinion – it feels like the design team are afraid that a card they like won’t see play unless they make it exceptional at every level.

(The balance issues of some cards – such as Seal of Deepwood – are more complex than that, but the majority of offenders are simply great, all the time. Broodqueen has extremely high health, Aetherphage’s attack AND defence are incredible, and Grimgaunt Doomrider is perhaps the most egregious of all. His base stats are simply huge, AND he grows every turn.)

As a result, Solforge decks are invariably built around one or two incredibly powerful cards, and matches quite often come down to “did I draw my incredible powerful card?” – for a game with such incredible potential, it’s disappointing and frustrating seeing elegant design reduced to basic coin-flipping. Official word suggests that this is something that isn’t going to change – deck design in Solforge is always going to be “pick a card and build around it”, something I find hugely uninteresting.

But that’s just my personal preference – the issue that everyone can agree on is that Solforge‘s powerful cards are too powerful, and so the meta can consist of playing against the exact same deck for months and months on end.

Fortunately, Solforge‘s upcoming update will feature the ability to fix broken cards on-the-fly

Unfortunately, the new patch brings problems of its own.

I have a collector’s brain. It’s something that I try to limit in real life, else I’d quickly become a hoarder. Every few months, I need to make sure that I’m not filling my house with junk, just because my brain sends me pleasure signals from owning things.

It’s one of the reasons I enjoy Solforge so much – it allows me to collect without taking up physical space.

When you enter a tournament in Solforge, you win a prize pack at the end. The better you do in a match, the better the prize back. What’s more, if you win more than half your matches, you earn your entry fee back. This is called “going infinite”, and it’s a fun way of building a collection – through winning games, rather than just buying new packs.

When it was originally kickstartedSolforge was advertised as a trading card game – the functionality isn’t there at the moment, but eventually they’re planning to introduce the ability to trade your cards to other players, for cards you’re missing and (presumably) in-game currency.

Solforge is completely free to play. You can create an account and play as many games as you like, without ever spending a dollar. They’re extremely generous with daily rewards – every three days, every player can enter a tournament for free, and (as I mentioned) if you win more than half of your games, you can play again – still for free – straight away.

The incentive to put money into the game is that you can play whenever you like (instead of just once a week) and any cards you get from putting money into the game are tradeable. Free-to-play accounts won’t get to trade, paid accounts will. If you “go infinite” in a tournament that you paid money for, future tournaments are also considered paid, meaning that you can chain wins to build up a bunch of tradable cards.

Within a week or two, the new update will be out, and the developers have announced a few changes to the way tournaments are going to work. From now on, you’ll only win your entry fee back if you win all of your games, meaning that the idea of “going infinite” is effectively dead. (Solforge can have a pretty high variance, and even the top players sit at around a 70-80% win-rate.) On top of that, only your first paid game gives you tradable content – any other games you play result in account-bound rewards.

As someone with a collector’s brain, they’ve basically taken away any incentive for me to put money into the game.

I understand that their previous business model may have been too generous (although for the most part, it was roughly comparable to other games on the market) but their current business model is simply going to mean that people can’t play in tournaments nearly as much. Player numbers are already down as a result of the stale meta, and it’s the kind of problem that snowballs quickly – as fewer people play, there’s fewer people to play against, which results in people playing less…etc etc.

Perhaps I’m wrong – they presumably know their own business model better than I do – but I know that I’ll be playing a lot less (I enjoy putting money into the game for the chance to go infinite, a possibility which now seems to have been taken away) and I simply can’t see how they’ll avoid losing the majority of their player-base.

Solforge is slowly digging its own grave, and it’s tragic to watch.

There are a handful of other contributing factors – the official forums are extremely hostile, both technically (it takes way too long to log-in, and cookies expire after thirty minutes) and socially (some of the community’s most unpleasant members have been promoted into positions of power, which is a huge deterrent to community interaction) and the iPad app crashes for me at least once a game – but these are teething issues that I’m happy to overlook, at least as long as Solforge is in beta.

But the main reasons that Solforge is driving itself into the ground are deliberate, conscious choices by the developers. Hugely unbalanced card design (on a regular basis), new tournament structures that will all-but-guarantee that fewer people play the game, and – counterproductively – even less incentive for anyone to put money into the game.

I really hope that I’m wrong, and that Solforge‘s genuinely brilliant design is enough to get them through the rough patches (as it has been so far). Because right now, my favourite game is on the path to completely alienating its player-base, and I really don’t want to find a new hobby.


Why you should identify as a feminist: Deleted scenes

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Here’s a section I wrote for my last post but couldn’t actually fit in anywhere:

Another way of thinking about “why do feminists spend so much time on women’s issues”:

Imagine you need to paint a wall black. There are a few navy-blue splotches around, but the vast majority of the wall is a bright, blinding white. Where do you start painting? And once you’ve started, where do you spend the majority of your time?

Women, in literally every country in the world, have a measurably worse life than men do, in almost every aspect of their existence. That’s not to say men have a perfect life or suffer injustice – off the top of my head, I know that they’re encouraged to talk about their feelings less (resulting in a higher suicide rate), they go to jail more and have a worse time when they’re there, and they are less likely to get custody of their kids.

Women, meanwhile, are more likely to be raped (and to be blamed for it when they are), they earn ~70 cents for every dollar a man earns, they are held to an extremely strict beauty standard (and suffer direct consequences when they don’t adhere to it), they make up something like 17% of speaking characters in films and 30% (or less) of lead roles, they make up such a tiny percentage of political roles in the world, they’re sold into sex slavery around the world in ridiculous numbers (80% of the 600-800 thousand people trafficked around the world each year are women), they’re hassled on the street unless they have a man present…I could go on, but I hope we can agree that I don’t need to.

Women’s rights and women’s issues are the white part of the wall. Men’s issues are the navy-blue splotches. We need to start with the overwhelming issues facing women, and we need to spend the vast, vast majority of our time there.

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