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Commissions: The Write-Up

A year ago I wrote about three of my pie-in-the-sky hopes for writer jobs I would like to do. Well, I sorta achieved one of my dreams–I started a commission gig specializing in weird erotica.

Don’t bother looking for me. I’m under a false name, one that I use for… ahem… “alternative” self-published stories. If I ever become a famous writer I don’t want to have my reputation ruined by stuff I wrote for money. It’d be like if someone found out J.K. Rowling was writing crime drama under a pseudonym.

I got the idea after I came upon an article about how to make quick money. There were the usual tidbits–win the lottery, go dumpster diving, sell on Etsy, become an Instagram influencer. Then the last entry said something like “If you have any writing talent at all, people will pay you to write about their Furry personas or fan fiction or other weird stuff.”

And I thought “Hey, I have any writing talent.”

So I made a selling profile on a popular gig site. I put up some samples of my previous work, a Twitter account (also under my pseudonym), and kinda created this whole “persona” of an erotica writer looking to make your ideas come true, no matter how sick. I also priced a little lower than others in the same realm because A) I was new so I had no customer reviews to boost me B) I wasn’t in this to get rich but to try something new. I’d finished some stories that just didn’t zing with me and was frustrated about not getting published. I wanted to write for an audience. Better to get gigs under my belt and establish my rep than get money. Besides, this was a way of fulfilling my dreams.

I personally love it. I thought it would be easy–just fill 25%-35% of the word count with sex scenes gleaned from sites like literotica.com (not plagiarized, just inspired by). But it also means I can get some feedback on my stuff. Whether it’s monetarily or a message saying “hey, this was great” or repeat business. I still have the gig opened, but I have it priced high enough to cut demand off at the knees. What I found was I got so many orders that I had no time for my own writing. I can write about 1,200 words a session, plus or minus 200. So it takes about a week to fufill one story. I’ve done about 16 orders at this point, so that’s three months of not writing my own stuff.

What I learned was that surprisingly few people wanted dirty sex stories. My first commission was about a celebrity actress as a detective who got tied up after breaking into a home. Another was about a princess who swallowed a dragon and got really fat and gassy. These are fetishes to be sure, but they’re not tied to sexual gratification or lust. At least not directly. I don’t know what people are using these stories for.

When I got into this, I thought I was going to be writing essentially porno scripts. But mostly people want peculiar content, but without sexual content. I also expected more people to ask about fan fiction — wanting a story about their One True Pairing doing nasty stuff — but only a few people asked about what fandoms I write in.

Several people approached me wanting to write text for a video game. I assumed it would be like Visual Novel stuff, like Katawa Shoujo. An intriguing proposition. But these guys didn’t have much of a plan for their game. While my pseudonym doesn’t have the advantage of also being a software engineer, I do. And I know that software with no plan or design document behind it was a recipe for failure. One guy sent me a flowchart that looked like it was made in MS Paint.

The nice thing is I can always lower my rates if I want to return to commissions. I’m done with commissions for now. But it’s nice to know that if someone’s willing to pay the right price, I can take a break from my novel and write a quick story about a tiny man at a corporate work party. Like I said, I’m not in this for the money, I’m in it for the prestige. Commissions are nice, and bring in a tidy sum, but it’s not the same rake-in as getting published and I still want to get published.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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