F&M Week Days 3+4: Making $ While-U-Wait

Lately, INTERN's landlord has been approaching INTERN at funny times of day to talk about his elderly mother's collection of short stories, journal entries, and drawings, which he wants to get published so he can use the subsequent windfall to send his mother on a tropical vacation. "I figure maybe Hawai'i? Bermuda? Somewhere she can sit on the beach for a couple weeks? D'you think I'll get enough to send her on a cruise? I figure it's time to get them published now, so she can go this winter."

*Smile and nod, while heart breaks into neon tongues of compassion and sorrow*

If you really want to make money writing fiction—fast money, not long, drawn-out, hypothetical advance money or the lime green, money-esque "money" cash-strapped literary journals have taken to sending instead of cheques—there are two options INTERN can recommend. Option A is for the bold. Option B is for the polyglottal.

Here's how it goes:

Step 1: Get a paying job that involves lots of downtime, like night shift at a hotel switchboard or tropical fish-sitting. This is crucial, because you will obviously spend this time writing but you will already be getting paid $15/hour to do it, which will bump up your hourly "writing salary" to $45-60/hour.

Step 2: (Option A) Write erotica. Shazam! Erotica pays faster and better than any other fiction market INTERN has ever dabbled in, and it's great writing practice to boot. Erotica websites pay $30-50 for a 1,500-2,000 word story which, if you're good and caffeinated, you can bust out in a little over an hour. OK, maybe two hours. Websites pay within days, not six months later when you've changed addresses and have completely forgotten that the Bumbleprick Cove Extremely Selective Review of Linear-Only Literature even exists. Plus, they publish on a daily, not quarterly basis, so you can submit as many times as you want. INTERN hits up a certain for-women-only website whenever the electricity bill is due (under a hott pseudonym of course) and has never been let down yet.

This is not to say that writing erotica is easy or should be treated lightly—it's a very intelligent, respectable genre, and you can't get away with sloppy writing. The fact that it's a well-paying market indicates that it's also a competitive one, and like any other genre, you need to bring the goods. Erotica forces you to become a master of the "show, don't tell" rule, and a wizard of suspense. And if your writing has become at all cowardly or shallow, writing erotica forces you to take risks: if your heart isn't pounding as you write it, you haven't gone far enough. Plus, there's no feeling more bad-ass than getting $$ on paypal from an editor called "Tina McNaughty" and feeling like some kind of wicked star.

Check out the Erotica Readers and Writers Association for writing resources and calls for submissions. They're da bomb.

P.S. If anyone thinks the short story form is dead, go attend an erotica reading in New York or San Francisco. Standing. Room. Only.

Option B: Do literary translation.

Another great way to make $ writing while you're waiting for that book deal to come through involves foreign tongues (ha!) of another sort. If you're fluent in a second language, translation pays extremely well, is fun and interesting, and can be done from home (or preferably, work). Plus, if your brain is fried from writing your novel, it's a nice break to work with somebody else's words for a change while still using your creativity. Translation clients are always absurdly thankful for your work, as if deciphering their novel/poems/memoir/letters was a great miracle. And, like writing erotica, doing translation benefits you in more ways than $$. It makes you more attuned to the subtle beauties lurking in individual sentences, and more conscious of the hundreds of tiny choices writers make with every word. Then when you go back and work on your own novel or memoir, you'll be more conscious of those things in your writing. Ba-da-bing!

**

INTERN can hardly tell her bearded, U-S-American, Christian rock-loving landlord to go write a porno or translate a porno or whatever, if he really wants to make cruisin' $$ in time for x-mas. But there you go.

Comments

  1. I can't write erotica. Dang.
    But the second...oh, wait, I just started doing that!

    Thanks for the post!

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  2. Delurking to say, the thing that most surprises me about your post is that there are people who like Christian Rock where you live. I thought those people only lived where I am from (the Mid West).

    Thanks for the tips...and I love your blog!

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  3. Which for-women-only website is this? And how can I find it without hiring a P.I., which I cannot afford because I'm a writer who doesn't know which website this is?

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  4. But can you really bust out in little over an hour?

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  5. Wow. Had no idea erotica paid so well! Wish I cuold write it.

    And, I am totally kicking myself for not paying attention in Spanish class.

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  6. :o) Good to know that someone out there gets paid in a hurry.

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  7. Anon: Depends how much caffeine is involved, and what your goal is. If you're aiming for a masterpiece as opposed to something merely publishable, writing erotica can take as long as any other fine work of art :)

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  8. "Websites pay within days, not six months later when you've changed addresses and have completely forgotten that the Bumbleprick Cove Extremely Selective Review of Linear-Only Literature even exists." --- Bahahahaah. Love it, Intern! :)

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  9. Erotica should take as long as it does to write in any other genre and you should be treating your audience with the same amount of respect. If a writer turns to erotica thinking only of the quick buck, then they tend to be cliché and very non-arousing.

    If you want to get paid good money for erotica, then put in the time and effort. It's like anything to do with sex - do it right and others will come back for more time and time again.

    What I'd like to know, is if an author lists writing credits in a query letter that include well known magz and zines and in among them is one or two erotica publications - what do the publishers/agents think?

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  10. BT: You are COMPLETELY right about quality. INTERN is merely trying to point out that as a paying market erotica is much kinder to its writers than, say, experimental short stories—it's a healthy, vibrant genre where readers actually care passionately about the stories, and writers get rewarded accordingly.

    And, INTERN thinks, you should definitely list your erotica credz if they're relevant. Maybe not if you're trying to sell a book about antique trucks. Use your judgement.

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  11. I have a neighbor who is fluent in French, Spanish and German just ask me about this the other day. How does one go about breaking into the literary translation biz?

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  12. If you write Erotica... when you go to heaven, God makes you erase every word with your nose!

    Haste yee back ;-)

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  13. I agree about writing erotica. I have to be in the mood to write it, but pretty much every erotica piece I've ever written has sold.

    Regarding translations, while literary translation may be more enjoyable, I'd go with technical or business translations, if it's the money you're after, because those pay a lot better. Of course, the specification for a modified tipping truck or the report about the progress of ship repair work are probably dead boring, but they're also really good money. If you're lucky, you may also get the client who only wants a few emails translated, which takes maybe ten minutes but you can charge for the full hour or half hour. Besides, if you do quality work on time, you'll likely get repeat business. Companies are always hungry for translators who can turn in good work on short notice.

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  14. Bah, forget erotica. Just join Sir Slush and the Order of the Slush.

    http://sirslush.blogspot.com/

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  15. Do you know of any good sites for people seeking translation services? Because I have never thought of doing that, but wouldn't know where to start looking for clients. And yes, I know I can google it, but there are a zillion sites, and I always think it's best to work by referral if possible...

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  16. Wow. Well, let's spread the word! The good ones will be fun to read, and the not-so-good ones will probably correlate with a drop in the number of Picture Book ms being subbed *and* be good for a laugh.

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  17. But but but... How do you find translation work? I'm finding it hard without previous credits!

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  18. That's actually a good idea, the translation not the exrotica, lol.

    I'll keep that in mind.

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  19. To dip your toes into translation work: post a nice ad on craiglist, preferably in a big city. You don't need to be a former diplomat or simultaneous-translator for the UN. Just state your degree (if any) and fluency in whatever language. You should hear from individuals (grad students, authors...). When you have a few credits from individuals, you'll have something to put on your resume if you want to target publishers or companies.

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  20. In addition to craigslist, what you can also do is ask friends and family members whether the company they work for needs translations. Offer to translate broshures, websites and other publicity material. There's almost always need for translated publicity material and if you do that well, the company will remember you for other jobs.

    If you are in a bigger city, it's also useful to hook up with other translators and maybe organize a regular meet-up. Don't think of those other translators as your competitors. Most of them have different specialties and translate different languages anyway. But the other translators might know of job opportunities that you don't know. Besides, if you translate say English-Spanish and one of your customers needs a French translation, you can recommend someone to them. And in turn, the French translator may one day recommend you, if one of his clients needs a Spanish translation.

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  21. This post was hilarious and very helpful, actually. Thanks for the advice (and the laughs!). INTERN, you rock!

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  22. While I love your humor and light-hearted take on all these issues, I have to wonder if INTERN is not taking things a little *too* lightly...

    Dealing with payment online is often a sketchy arena, and I wouldn't want any of the readers here to get roped into some unsightly scam as they try to pay their own rent with erotica writing.

    Also, translation as a whole is an important industry right now, and I think more people require credentials than you might think. I guess my main concern is that people use common sense and don't get caught up in Craigslist dealings that are more trouble than they're worth. Taking some classes in translation at a nearby college/university couldn't hurt either.

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  23. If you are serious about becoming a translator, join the American Translators Association and its Literary Division and use that as a jumping-off point for your networking efforts. Non-literary translation pays a great deal more than literary translation and is generally easier, so you might want to bone up on medical or legal terminology instead. Also, make sure your language skills are actually up to the task. Your rusty old high school Spanish or whatever is NOT going to cut it. Your foreign language needs to be almost as good as your native language to do well.

    (Yes, I am a professional translator. I started learning my B (foreign) language at age 12. I married someone from that country 15 years ago, got a graduate degree in translation, and have been a translator for 12 years. But I would really like to spend more of my time writing my own stuff.)

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  24. Great blog, INTERN! Can you please recommend any paying erotica sites that are UK based?

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  25. Erotica websites pay $30-50 for a 1,500-2,000 word story which, if you're good and caffeinated, you can bust out in a little over an hour. OK, maybe two hours.

    The listings on ERWA seems to be offering $10-$25 for a short story, unless I missed something obvious.

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  26. Total E-Bound is UK based.
    :)

    Thanks for this post, Intern.
    I've go opt 1 & 2 going on now.
    :)
    G.

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  27. sylvia: INTERN suspects you missed a few things: forthegirls.com = $30/story, H&C = $100/story, etc. etc.

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  28. Intern, you're REALLY funny. I see a book deal based on our posts in the not-to-distant future. Keep up the great writing!

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