My "career" as a writer of dirty stories has been one mistake after another.
It all starts with my first release, Autumn Fire. When I wrote that novel, which is an M/M erotic romance, I was thinking, "How hard could it be?" I'm an experienced writer (though to that point rarely published), having worked on my writing in different genres for more than a decade. I figured if I could write a grand sci-fi epic, I could write a short novel about two dudes who fall in love and fuck often.
Wow, was I ever mistaken.
I had done some research, read a number of M/M titles, and even had a chat with an agent who represents the genre -- so, really, I should have had a great head-start. I wrote the novel and while I acknowledge it is heavy with passive voice (which is something I have finally managed to excise from my writing), the story holds together. Two guys fall in love and fuck.
But what I missed in my research was the difference between erotica and erotic romance. What I had written was erotica disguised as erotic romance, marketed to erotic romance readers. The main character is far too promiscuous for romance readers and some of the sex acts described appeal more to gay men rather than straight women (who tend to be the majority of readers of M/M erotic romance).
Despite these flaws, my publisher liked the book and it was released a couple years ago. So, after making those mistakes, what did I do? I did it all over again, of course. Silent Hearts came out a year later -- it focussed a bit more on the romance than Autumn Fire, but the main protagonist was still too promiscuous and the sex acts still weren't that appealing to female readers.
Silent Hearts was also published by my publisher.
Autumn Fire and Silent Hearts continue to sell well and have decent ratings, but I never really did grab on to the M/M readership.
After all that, I finally learned my lesson. I'm naturally more of an erotica writer than an erotic romance writer. I launched into a number of short stories to flesh out my erotica voice and have really developed that aspect of my writing. I find romance still enters my stories, though. They are not "romance stories," but rather "erotica stories with a bit of romance." I've finally found my niche in the marketplace.
Though my dad and I disagree on a number of things, there is one maxim he often repeats that I think is generally good advice. "There are no mistakes. You made the best decision at the time with the information you had."
Writing Autumn Fire and Silent Hearts were not mistakes. In hindsight, some of my approach was a "mistake," but I'd much rather look at it as a learning experience. If I didn't embark on those projects, I would never have learned all I now know about the industry. As well, writing smut has hugely increased my skill level for writing in general.
While continuing on with my smut, I have recently returned to my first love of science fiction and have completed the first draft of what I hope will be an epic series. Even in my first draft, my novel is magnitudes better than anything I wrote before exploring smut. I have learned so much these past few years about publishing, writing, and editing that I would never had learned if I hadn't made these "mistakes."
There are no mistakes, there are only learning opportunities.
Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Go-Go Boys of Club 21: The Complete Series. He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.