Erotica Writing 101

About Me

I’m a full time freelance writer, editor and writing instructor. I’ve been writing erotica since 1999, during which I’ve been published in over 100 anthologies, including the Best American Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica and Best Gay Erotica series. I’ve edited over 60 erotica anthologies on a range of topics, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica and The Big Book of Orgasms. For the past 8 years, I’ve been teaching in person and online erotica writing workshops across the United States at colleges, conferences and sex toy stores and online at LitReactor.com.

The extended version:

When I started writing erotica in 1999, I was in law school. I wasn’t planning to become an erotic author and editor; I didn’t even know the first thing about the genre. What I did know, however, was that I had an idea, a timely one pegged to a news story (the Monica Lewinsky scandal) and, even more importantly, one I was genuinely passionate about. That first foray into erotica became my story “Monica and Me,” which wound up being published in celebrity erotica anthology Starf*cker and picked up for reprint in Best Lesbian Erotica 2001. I’ve been writing erotica ever since.

I had no blueprint, no map, and no formal guidance when I started writing down my dirty stories. I was winging it. Over the last 17 years, I’ve avidly studied the genre, published over 60 erotic anthologies, ran an erotic reading series where I hosted everyone from Susie Bright to Zane, and have honed my own craft, publishing stories spanning heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay male and transgender erotica. I’ve edited anthologies about everything from spanking to bondage to sex toys, as well as 69 stories all about orgasms (yes, there are plenty of ways to describe the act of climax).

For the past seven years, I’ve been taking what I’ve learned from my various endeavors and teaching erotica writing to students everywhere from conferences like CatalystCon and SHE to colleges, including Northwestern, SUNY Purchase and the University of Pennsylvania, the 92nd Street Y downtown to sex toy stores across the country. I’ve taught these classes in Austin, New York, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Portland, Maine, Portland, Oregon, Washington, DC and beyond. I’ve also taught online at the wonderful literary website LitReactor. In total, I’ve taught hundreds of students to tap into the erotic potential all around them and get over their fears to get their sexy stories on the page—and in many cases, those stories begun in my classes have gotten published. Whereas I entered the erotica industry fumbling my way from story to story, you now have the opportunity to map out exactly what you want to achieve and go for it, no holds (or holes) barred.

What can I offer you? Well, the bad news is, I cannot tell you exactly what to write about, or guarantee that you’ll become the next hotshot erotic author. I can’t dictate to you how to write your erotica. The good news is, I can take you from a vague idea of what makes a sexy story into a fully fleshed out piece of erotica with a beginning, middle and end. I can get you thinking about everything you see on a daily basis as erotic writing fodder. I can offer you exercises to get you out of a writing rut and into writing characters who explore the wide range of sexual orientations, fetishes and sexual interests. I can help you amp up the sexual tension in your stories and keep the reader eager to find out exactly what will happen next.

In addition to my 17 years’ worth of knowledge based on my work as an erotica writer and editor, I also have my fingers on the pulse of what’s happening with erotic publishing and what editors, publishers and literary agents are looking for, based on my interviews with those at the top of the field.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what my students have had to say:

“”I have no doubt that I am a better writer for taking Rachel’s class—not just a better writer of erotica, but a better writer overall. I initially enrolled primarily for information about the erotica publishing industry. And she provided lots of that, including interviews with publishers and more established writers. But it was the writing experience itself that was the most beneficial. The lessons themselves were informative and very helpful, and perhaps the most useful thing of all was the discipline of having to conceive, write, and revise a story each week based on those lessons. The assignments forced me to focus—and fast, and I am all the better for it.” – LN Bey, former LitReactor student

“If you are looking to explore the world of erotica, Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Between the Sheets class is worth your time and money. I learned about how to shape my characters, about how to create both tension and heat within my work, and about where I could submit my work. Rachel encourages her students to really dig deep into themselves on character development, POV, and the emotions of the characters.” – Laura J. Hickman, former LitReactor student

“Rachel Kramer Bussel provides excellent instruction in the art of writing erotica. Her class, Between the Sheets, is hands on and invites you to widen your senses, emotions, and your perceptions of the erotica genre. In addition to the writing that I did, my favorite part of the class was the question & answer sessions that Rachel coordinated between students and published authors. Many of the questions that I had regarding publishing in the erotica field (traditional vs. self-publishing, agent vs. no agent, etc) were addressed through this mechanism of interaction with successful authors.” – Jessica Taylor, former LitReactor student

“Rachel’s workshop at Self Serve provided a really excellent opportunity for writers interested in erotica to talk to and ask questions of a leader in the industry, who is incredibly friendly and accessible. Rachel shared with participants tips and tricks to find ways to keep erotica topics and writing interesting and new, which is a very valuable skill for writers.” – former workshop student

Have you already written an erotic novel or short story, or started one but don’t know where to go next? I also offer one-on-one consultations to help you get to the heart of your erotic storytelling, master the marketplace and stand out. I can work with you on everything from a plot consultation to line editing to helping you target specific publishers to creating your author brand and claiming your social media presence. Here’s what a recent client had to say:

“Rachel’s critiques provided me a better understanding of how to write erotica and where my own work was falling short. Her critiques on my first several stories enabled me to move within a matter of just weeks from a complete novice to a writer whose stories were accepted by two publishers. Her suggestions were just what I needed to make the transition. I found her extremely easy to work with and her observations to be right on target. If you are looking to move from unpublished to published, you can’t do yourself a better favor than submitting your work to Rachel before approaching a publisher. Her skills as an editor are the best. I couldn’t have made a better investment in myself and my writing than to hire her as my personal editor.” – CeCe Marsh

Have questions? I can be reached at rachelkramerbussel@gmail.com or using this form: