(Guest Post) Author Interview with Annabelle Hawthorne

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Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

I appreciate a good sandwich

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

My story is unique, because I dove into writing erotica head first.

I submitted my first story to Literotica on the same day that I started my Patreon page. This wasn’t an act of confidence, but one of necessity. I had never actually written a dirty story on my computer, but I had written plenty on paper and in my head. It was embarrassing to see the words so starkly embedded on the glaring white background of Microsoft Word.

So why necessity? I had a couple of days off from work and put together a Patreon page and finished writing the dirty bits of that first chapter. I didn’t think this plan would actually work, and was nervous, and needed to just click Submit and then walk away.

My first chapter posted to Lit on August 31st, 2017. I was floored to see that almost fifty people had rated my story already, and my first Patron signed up that very night.

In the weeks that followed, I was a wreck. I was writing as fast as I could and constantly checking messages and reviews on Lit while using my phone as a hotspot so that my employer couldn’t see my browsing history. I was getting some amazing feedback from people who demanded more, and when I finished the novel in December of that year, I felt so accomplished. Not only had I written a story to completion, but I actually had readers who still wanted more. Seeing comments and happy freakouts on Literotica that I actually finished my tale was an amazing feeling for me, and definitely when I felt like a real writer.

Do you see writing as a career?

I am actually in the very rare position right now of making writing my full time career.

Now, if you can imagine, this is something I have dreamt of ever since I was little. I often imagined the freedom to travel as I please, visit old castles, travel on cruise ships, and just write, write, write on my laptop. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

However, any writer doing this as a career will warn you that a solid chunk of your time gets spent on marketing, editing, crying in the dark, and missing family events as you try to squeeze a thousand more words onto your screen while you are in the zone.

I think writing as a career gets a lot of hype because many people don’t see the hard work and long hours that are required for it. Short of writing a one-hit wonder and living off the proceeds of that forever, it will always take a level of dedication that I think is mandatory for any viable career. You will have days you want to quit, and you will burn out from time to time.

Still, a career you love is worth its weight in gold, and as long as you can take it seriously and put in the hours, I see it as a very viable way to make a living.

What do you think about the current publishing market?

This is an interesting question for an erotica author, so I will speak to the industry as a whole for now.

In terms of traditional publishing, I see the system as a self-sustaining machine. Once you get in, you have the weight of an entire industry behind you, and if your story resonates with readers, it is far easier to maintain momentum and find opportunities. The wrought-iron gates that keep the majority of writers out can be climbed with plenty of hard work and more than a little luck, but it can be so hard to navigate the industry as an outsider.

Indie publishing has come a long way, but it’s definitely in its Wild West days, in my opinion. The boundary for publishing a book is so exceedingly low that authors have to work much harder to accomplish anything of note. For every person who publishes a well-written novel, there are a thousand more who are tossing up first drafts with naught but visions of giant paychecks in their heads. This would bother me much less if it didn’t create the image that indie authors aren’t legitimate writers.

This has also created a dearth of vanity publishers and other industry “professionals” who will play on your hopes and dreams of being a real writer, but at a price. If you travel in indie circles like I do, you will find many cautionary tales of writers who spent some big bucks only to make nothing back on their investment, and now a company owns their intellectual property. Now I’m not necessarily talking about editors or cover artists here (who you should still vet for quality), but people who will tell you that they will do all the work for a low fee of hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Anyway, in terms of erotica, traditional publishers have far more latitude when it comes to erotica. Fifty Shades of Gray is traditionally published and has a wonderful PR machine behind it. Word of mouth can be combined with advertising to make it self sustaining. As an indie, this isn’t possible. I can’t even advertise my books on Amazon because they are “erotic in nature.” Indie erotica is even worse in terms of quality, because people have been convinced that a quick buck can be made writing smut (which it can be if done properly) and the waters are super infested with niche kinks of every design. For me, this means more time doing keyword research just to keep up with the constant stream of uploaded content, which is something a traditional publisher can afford to outsource.

In short, traditional publishing can afford to take some serious hits, and I don’t see it going anywhere soon. Indie publishing can be just as effective, but it all relies on word of mouth and requires a ton of work just to stay relevant and active in a field where hundreds of new authors are throwing their hats into the ring every week.

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