“It’s just erotica. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation (GSP) don’t matter, right?”
One of my erotica-writing friends, Bucky Duckman, told me that when he first started writing erotica, this was his attitude. He learned quickly that not only are erotica readers pretty smart people, they are also, in many cases, the self-appointed Grammar Police. They will find every last typo, even reporting them where they don’t exist.
If you have thick skin and don’t care about low ratings and nasty comments or reviews, you can publish your work in any condition you like. You can skip proofreading and start writing your next story with no delay. Especially if you are writing for a free site like Literotica.com.
Most of us are sensitive to criticism. Our stories are our babies. A reader pointing out flaws in our carefully crafted smut hurts as much as a stranger telling us our newborn baby is ugly. While there’s not much you can do as a parent to ensure beautiful offspring (unless selecting your mate is still an option), editing and proofreading can protect your well-told story from some of the criticism readers hurl at writers. Of course, if your story sucks, even perfect GSP can’t help you, but that’s a blog for someone else to write.
If you’re writing with the intention of selling your stories or books on Amazon or other platforms, the need for excellent mechanics is even greater because the goal is to make money. When I pay money for a poorly edited book, it’s like the time the air fryer I ordered was damaged when it arrived. Sure, it still heated the Pizza Rolls, but I had to hold it closed while they cooked. Not satisfying at all.
In this first post in my new editing blog, I’ll show you an example of a story which readers love for the storytelling, but they criticize harshly for the GSP.
“A Short Story” by M.S. Tarot
My very good friend, M.S. Tarot, wrote this story. He is one of the absolute best storytellers I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, but he struggles. He has dyslexia, and the education system in Alabama did him no favors, so the Grammar Police are not kind to him or his stories. The story is called “A Short Story,” which is a play on words, not a lazy title. It’s a mother/son incest story in which the mother is a little person. Not my cuppa, but there is a HUGE audience for incest on Literotica, and many authors there make their names writing in the Incest/Taboo category. The story’s score on Lit is 4.56/5 stars, a good score, but not as high as MST’s others. Read it on Lit, if you like. (8,800 words) He wrote it in 2012, about a year before he and I met. I started editing for him on some stories in 2013. (He writes way too many stories for me to do them all and still live my own life!) I’ll edit this story soon and use some of the errors to create some smutty grammar lessons.
Here are some of the positive comments from readers. (Copied and pasted, for better or worse.)
Normally I don’t award the highest rating possible, in this case being **5 Stars** on Literotica’s Website, I have awarded this story with 5 Stars. As a principle I hold my highest ratings, top-notch, grandest of the grand awards, for blood-related relative’s incestual consummations where pregnancy occurs! This time, though no pregnancy has been announced to possibly occur, I felt compelled to give this story 5 Stars because of its earth shattering love between this mother and son. They both deserve the highest accolades possible–the characters, their devotion, their committment, their compassion, their life-forever vow to never leave the other–all culminated to enjoin my heart’s warm and passionate wrath to their dedicated life-forever love.
Good erotic story. Nice twist on a slightly taboo subject i.e. little people sex. I enjoyed the hell out of it.
See? The readers loved the story. They felt the genuine love between mother and son because the story was more than just the sex. As I said, MST is an amazing storyteller. He makes people feel things that have nothing to do with their genitals. For many readers (and I imagine the education system also failed many readers in the Incest/Taboo category, so they might not notice anything other than their own arousal), what they feel in their hearts or their privates is enough to make them love the story, award it five stars, and leave a glowing comment.
These comments from Literotica highlight the importance of proper GSP to readers (in a “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do sort of way).
Maybe have some one read your story before you post it? . . .Literotica Reader and Self-Appointed Grammar Police Officer
And the difference between too and to. Missing punctuation. Etc etc . . . I hope your other stories are better written because the above distracted me from the story itself
I’ve always wanted to do a midget for the novelty of it. But, also it is an erotic thought. I haven’t seen any other story on Lit. that has broached this subject, so thanks for the fun read.(BTW, the story was critical of people doing “a midget for the novelty of it.”)
4**** because you had some spelling errors, some grammatical errors.
Really liked the story line and construction. Lack of proof-reading detracted from an otherwise engaging tale. Thanks for sharing.
Here is my point.
Some readers can’t see past the GSP. It’s unfortunate for those people because they miss out on some excellent stories because of their indignation over a couple swapped homophones.
Readers on Literotica are hypersensitive to such issues. I don’t know what makes someone think that because they are reading a free story, they have a right (duty!) to correct the grammar of the author. I’ve noticed this kind of criticism in comments on Literotica more than reviews on Amazon. It puzzles me.
Bottom Line: Have someone proofread before you release your baby into the world.
If you have a network of erotica-writing friends, see if you can swap proofreading duties. There are social network groups you can join for such swaps as well. If you have a friend with a Grammar Police badge, and you know s/he is comfortable reading smut, you could ask him or her. Your proofreader doesn’t have to be a professional. A reader with a good eye can do the trick.
It’s a time-consuming job, though. My days of swapping reviews came to an end when I spent so much time proofreading, I no longer had free time to write. My friends were also super prolific, and I worked full-time then, so my time was a rare and special commodity. You may find that to be the case with your friends as well. Hiring a professional may be your only option.
The decision to spend money to hire a proofreader is like any other business decision. You have to spend money to make money. Your book will make more money with flawless GSP. Nothing hurts sales harder than reviews starting with “Great story, but . . .” You need a skilled proofreader to ensure your readers see only the story, not errors standing in the way.
Patient Lee Editing can make your book more satisfying for your readers. With introductory rates based on how clean your original proof is, professional editing or proofreading are now in your budget, and the results will pay you back with better reviews to enhance your sales. Take the plunge. Give your book a final polish and send it to Patient Lee Editing. Your satisfied readers will thank you.