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Eroticon 2015: rambling highlights from the sex writers’ conference

Edited to add: the next Eroticon is in March 2017. If you’re thinking of coming, subscribe to the newsletter so you’ll be alerted when tickets are available. 

I never go to events. I am shy, which is a euphemism for ‘I shit myself about anonymity, get so anxious that I have to drink to calm down, and end up making some kind of fuck-up that’ll lead to a post-event meltdown two days later.’ So: I never go to events.

Except this one.

Last year, the awesome Ruby Kiddell, who runs Eroticon, told me to come along as a test. “If you’re not comfortable with it, that’s cool. But if you are then you have to speak at it next year. Deal?” And last year it was so amazing that I couldn’t possibly not go this year.

I’m going to do a run-down below, and a much fuller write-up in next month’s ETO magazine, but first here’s a thing: if you’re a sex writer, blogger, or in any way involved in sex writing, start saving now for next year’s. Honestly, truly, madly, deeply, etc. I met so many amazing people last year and this year, and I would love to meet more amazing people in 2016. What’s more, if you want to write for money, your first offers of work will most likely begin over coffee at Eroticon. Need more reasons? Click the relevant section below.

If you’re a company (sex toys, erotic publishers, literally any company who could benefit from working with sex writers) then put Eroticon sponsorship in your 2016 budget. Now. Put it in. Go on – I’ll wait here until you’ve done it. Why? Because there are people at Eroticon who you won’t meet anywhere else. And there are ideas being kicked around that other companies will pick up if you aren’t around to grab them. And because this year the boss of Doxy was greeted in the pub as if he were a cross between a celebrity and a national hero, and that’s the kind of relationship that you can’t buy with a banner ad. Need more reasons? Click the relevant section below.

Onto Eroticon… feel free to jump to the relevant section because this is a loooong post.

As I mentioned, I have a more detailed write-up of Eroticon in ETO mag, which I’m polishing off as we speak. So this is a space for all the bits that I can’t put there, and for something that I should be doing far fucking more of.

Other people’s write-ups of Eroticon

My greatest flaw as a blogger, by a long chalk, is that I am rubbish at linking to other people. It’s a combination of scattiness and a kind of terrible, hulking fear that if I link to one person and not someone else then they’ll be offended. So. I’ll add links to other people’s Eroticon write ups here as and when they go live (send me yours if it’s not on here yet!), add lots of links below which you should definitely check out, and resolve (again) to get better at this. Then I’ll have a panic because I’ll inevitably have missed someone fantastic off the list.

Things I learned at Eroticon

When I came home from Eroticon, excitedly warbling to a friend of mine about all the awesome things I’d seen and heard there, he turned to me and said “was there, like, a word of the day or something?” Turns out, I had used the word ‘transgressive’ about fifty times in a minute.

This is because of two people: @StellaOttewill, who ran an amazing session about transgressive erotica, and @RemittanceGirl, with whom I had some really interesting conversations about desires and morality and the way they’re presented/policed. RG also read her short story ‘Natalie’s Tailor’ on the Sunday afternoon, which was so darkly beautiful that it made the back of my neck go funny.

Things I need to read now: Tampa, by Alissa Nutting and loads more of Remittance Girl‘s work.

Web-wise, I haven’t a clue how he does it but every time I see/speak to @DomSigns he has yet another interesting tip or piece of advice, whether it’s how to make my website better or new things I need to be angry about in terms of online privacy. I also took some excellent advice from Ruby Kiddell about newsletters (I’ve wanted to do one for a while and might start one later in the year when I have more time. Meantime use the box at the end of posts to subscribe!).

Writing-wise: OMG so much I can’t list it all. Whether it’s ideas for sexy adventures from people’s Sunday readings (I’m looking at you, Zak Jane Keir), or editing some poetry I had a go at writing a while ago (thanks for the chat, lovely Ashley Lister!), looking into doing some audio stuff (thanks Earotica!) or possibly printing things with words in (thank you MK Elliott!), I’ve come away with a million ideas. And that’s before I even get started on all the things I want to do on the blog.

Other-things-wise: I learned that not only is it possible to get your name engraved on a sex toy, but that I am apparently sort of famous, because mine was one of the names engraved on one of the samples. Blush, etc. And thank you!

People I met at Eroticon

I also need to point out that one of the best things about Eroticon is meeting people. I suck at it, and I will almost certainly fail to mention everyone I met, but here goes. Go check out their stuff and follow them on Twitter, because they’re all brilliant.

Horny Geek Girl, who is lovely, and who very kindly invited me to breakfast. Charlie J Forrest, from whom I have a guest blog to put up at some point. Jonathan Keith, who has a sexy voice and is not afraid to use it. Abbi Rode, who is (maybe?) the only sex blogger in Ireland. Anna Sky, whose brains I totally want to pick on some interesting things for a project. Brilliant Emily Rose, super-friendly F. Leonora Solomon, lovely EuclideanPoint who was so nice to me, Ashley Lister, Cressida Downing, MK Elliot, Janine Ashbless, the lovely Charlie Hale who won my ticket comp and came along, the wonderful, brilliant people from Hot Octopuss (who make this sex toy). The Boss of Doxy (makes this sex toy) who I probably bored rigid with my enthusiastic fangirling.

And finally – OMG FUCK YEAH – I got to meet the wonderful @sexblogofsorts, who is one of my heroes because she writes so. Fucking. Beautifully. She did a guest blog for me once and I heart her so much. 

I also got to catch up with some people who I met last year, and couldn’t wait to talk to again:

Molly, who is queen of sex blogging and kink and is so kind and welcoming to everyone. And DomSigns, who is equally kind and welcoming and also scares me (in a good and motivating way) about online privacy. And who also gave me a well-timed and thoroughly deserved kick up the arse. Well, more like a nudge, but still. Zak Jane Keir, who is inspirationally angry as well as a brilliant writer. She read an amazingly hot story that involved nerdy dice and a blow job dare. Innocent Loverboy, without whom I probably wouldn’t even have come to Eroticon this year – he was so welcoming and lovely last year, and introduced me to people so that I wouldn’t be scared.  Jillian Boyd, who I was delighted to get to meet after having watched her brilliant five-stroke contribution to Pandora’s sponsored caning protest project. She read a gorgeous story at the reading as well, and it made me all kinds of melty and nostalgically emo. The lovely ExhibitUnadorned, who is everywhere, and who is always far nicer to me than I deserve, given how drunk I inevitably am when I hang out with him.

AND OBVIOUSLY: Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby. She is the Queen of Eroticon and she puts so much hard work and energy into organising the conference. What’s more, she’s a bloody decent human being and she’s warm and lovely and understanding. She has managed to put together a conference that even I, a shy (shit-scared) anonymous writer, am happy to turn up at. Through a system of coloured lanyards, strict rules on respect and consent for photos, she managed to give me the confidence to not only attend but to even do a talk. She is basically magic.

Which leads me onto:

My Eroticon talk (some links for people who came)

If you came to my Eroticon talk (thank you so much!) then you’ll have listened to me drone on for ages about how to make money from writing. I’m happy to help out if you have any questions or what have you. I get a lot of email, so I can’t always reply quickly, but I will do my absolute best! And if you let me know you’re looking for work, then when I get offered things I can’t take up, I can point people in your direction.

Here are some places that might be of use:

  • Cara Sutra’s excellent copywriting course
  • Between My Sheets (Rori, who runs this site, is fantastic – sign up to her newsletter)
  • Alexa and 1PageRank (to give you an idea of traffic numbers for other sites, there are lots of sites like this and I won’t list them all) and moz.com – the blog there is an excellent source of advice on web marketing and traffic building if that’s what you’re after right now.
  • As I mentioned with my shit graph: measuring your own value is really bloody handy, and affiliate schemes can help you do this. If you’re looking to do affiliation, both my UK sponsor SexToys and my US sponsor SheVibe run them (those links take you directly to them). Others are available too, of course.

Some of the things I mentioned in my talk:

  • If you’re looking to build your portfolio, then paid guest blogs can be a good way to do it. SexToys will pay for guest blogs (see an example here from Horny Geek Girl and ask her if you want to know how it was). Ask me for details on guest blogging for them and I can hook you up. Another recommendation was Kinkly, who also pay for good sex content.
  • If you’d like to guest blog for me (please please do!) I’ll pay you a tenner for every guest blog. I’m also interested in potential ‘series’ – if you have an idea that might run across a few blog posts, that could be fun to try, and if you pitch me and it sounds good I’ll find the money to make it happen. I will never ask you to write purely for ‘exposure’ but I will try and give you as much exposure as possible alongside money. You can include whatever links you like in your guest blog – to your books, blogs, Twitter, whatever.

Other people you should check out, who I mentioned in my talk:

  • Pandora Blake’s Dreams of Spanking (currently being censored by the UK Govt). Please write about it if you can and help the fight.
  • Petra Joy. She makes hot, alternative porn and it’s beautiful stuff – keep an eye out for her next film which includes the amazing genderfuck scene I watched being filmed. If you’d like me to put you in touch with her for things like blog giveaways or access to films and scenes, let me know (or contact her through her site!).
  • Stuart F Taylor – my illustrator. He’s so fantastic I sort of want to keep him all for myself, but he’s so amazing I would be mean if I did that, and it would ruin the Ultimate Goal of having Stuart be the most celebrated illustrator in the world. He’d love to do more sexy drawing, so get in touch with him!

Anything else? Oh yeah, a few people asked me to post the multiple income streams gang bang, which I drew myself, and which is the perfect explanation of why I ask Stuart to draw my images.

gratuitously explicit picture of a gang bang

Should I come to Eroticon next year?

Yes. 100%. Sign up to the WriteSexRight newsletter, follow @writesexright on Twitter, and make plans to come along to the event in future. The above section explains why, on a personal level, it’s a phenomenally creative and inspiring thing to do. If you need more persuasion then I am more than happy to be the mercenary bastard who talks to you about money.

Here are some facts: this week I am swamped with post-Eroticon tasks. Whether it’s writing paid pieces about the event, or contacting people who I am going to pay to do work for me, paying for books by people whose work I loved, or replying to people who have asked me to do paid work for them. As I said in my talk: money isn’t dirty. If you come to Eroticon you can make money and friends at the same time. If you’re still not convinced, here’s a chart that wasn’t in my talk: in 2014 I came to Eroticon, and some people there offered me work, or started relationships with me that led to them offering work in the future. This pie chart represents my total income for the tax year 2014-2015, with the green section being income that’s directly attributable to last year’s Eroticon. That’s not including the referrals I got from people I met at Eroticon who recommended me to others, the things I managed to do with advice I got from other writers, or any of that other stuff. This year, the slice will be bigger. Come if you can.

an Eroticon ticket is an investment as well as a treat

Should I, a company, sponsor Eroticon next year?

Fuck yes. I know some things which I am not allowed to tell you (commercially sensitive), about how much product you can sell if you get the right links from the right people at Eroticon. I also know that the combined total reach of writers who attend is well into the millions. We’re a small gang but we have many followers.

What’s more, most of us get dozens, if not hundreds, of PR/launch/marketing/join-our-affiliate-scheme emails every month. Most of them will languish, unread or unreplied, at the bottom of our bursting inboxes. I’m a mega-nerd when it comes to stats, so I understand some people’s reluctance to do outreach that isn’t as measurable as online. How much ROI did you get for the glass of wine you bought me on Saturday? Hard to tell. But there are ways of measuring this, if you’re so inclined (and if you talk to Ruby about how you’d like to do things).

Decent Eroticon sponsorship can mean the difference between a PR email that gets lost at the bottom of someone’s inbox, and a product evangelist who writes a review that borders on fan mail. That post’s had 40,000ish pageviews so far. It is one of many posts written about Eroticon 2014.

Thank you and a teeny request

If you came to my talk or spoke to me at Eroticon – thank you so much. I was overwhelmed by everyone’s kind words: I feel like when I speak in front of people my entire body is trying to drown me in adrenalin, and it’s nice to know that you could still make out the gist of what I was saying.

There’s no way to say this that isn’t going to make me sound like an insular twat, but if you see me in the street please don’t say hello: I may well be with people who know me by another name. I trust you all, because you’re all amazing, and I’d massively appreciate it if you could help keep my secret (including not telling anyone the name I was going by this weekend, if at all possible). A combination of nerves and fear of being outed means I probably won’t be at any other events except next year’s Eroticon, but I look forward to seeing you all then, and chatting on Twitter in the meantime (or Facebook if you have it).

16 Comments

  • Molly says:

    I love this post. The whole tone of it is so utterly you and it makes me giggle. Thank you for the big shout out too. I am so glad that you had such a great time and just in case in didn’t tell you (enough times) already, your session was fucking awesome!

    Mollyxxx

  • This is such a great write-up; I completely and utterly nodded along all the way. I’m so glad you’re now an Eroticon convert and I feel lucky that we get to see you at least once a year.

    Oh, and although I don’t regret my decision – because Ashley’s talk was also amazing – I wish SO much that I’d been able to come to your talk!

    xxx

    • Girl on the net says:

      Haha, well Ashley and I chatted after our respective talks and both of us said we’d have liked to have seen the other one. I LOVE his style and I would have happily cloned myself and gone to all of the talks if I could! xxx

  • Anna Sky says:

    I’m sooooo pleased you came to Eroticon. Your talk was amazing and gave me great ideas and a kick up the bum. AND more importantly I managed to speak to you without sounding like the mad fan-girl that I am x

  • Jillian Boyd says:

    For about a week beforehand, I had continued nightmares (actual ones, not even kidding) about oversleeping and missing your talk. I’m genuinely glad I didn’t, because your talk was fucking amazing. Your energy just pumped me the hell up, and I am very, very happy I met you and that you came and that you’re in my life now.

  • I loved your talk. It was so brilliantly delivered by you. You have the perfect style to get us all excited and not just because of the gang bang. I wish I had been brazen enough to come and talk to you. Hopefully I will get a chance sometime.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thank you so much! Really kind of you to say! I thought I’d met nearly everyone at Eroticon, so if you’re around next year please do say hi – maybe I can beat my record and say hello to everyone! =)

  • Hyacinth says:

    I’m sad I missed it, but I now have an entire year to plan, plot, and save to cross the pond. This write up is everything I’d expect to find at Eroticon (and from you) and it positively lights me up.

    Also, major kudos to you for doing all the scary things. xx Hy

  • It was a pleasure meeting you. Gutted I couldn’t get to see your session, but I’ve heard it was really good. :-)

  • Douglas says:

    This post genuinely makes me want to start my own blog so I can go next year!

  • you write and present like a demon! fantastic post, and what a pleasure to meet you!

  • I think I’m even more paranoid about losing my anonymity than you. I would dearly love to come to this event, but if I were recognised I’d be mortified. Perhaps they could provide content by Skype?

    You are braver than I.

  • Faith says:

    unggghh tampa. do read it now.

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