Henry Hill always wanted to be a gangster.
Me, I always wanted to be a writer.
The usual inspirations of a guy my age, I guess. Comic books, Stephen King, The Hardy Boys. Imagine me plucking away at a manual typewriter as a 12 year old. Real paper and liquid paper. Hard work, man. Paper cuts and carpal tunnel.
Now, obviously anybody can write anything they want and put it on the internet, and hundreds, thousands, or millions of people will see it. (Or dozens, or none.)
It's getting paid for it that's the hard part.
MY LIFE IN PORN
I've been making money as a writer of independently-published e-books and paperbacks since 2011. I made money from my books about English teaching, but then I doubled that number with a some "erotica" short stories.
The Accidental Pornographer Part 1
The number got as high as $1500 a month a couple times in 2012, but by 2013 it had leveled off back down to about $500 a month, and by 2014 my enthusiasm for it had waned after tangling with Amazon's censors.
The Accidental Pornographer Part 2
The Accidental Pornographer Part 3
After my humiliating difficulties getting a job this spring, I decided to buckle down and get my writing money up to $2000 a month. TEFL doesn't want me? Fine. I got OPTIONS, dude!
Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program allows readers to "rent" as many books as they like, and the author get paid a percentage of the total "fund" from the number of people who paid $9.99 to join. This was since 2013 averaging out to about $1.30 per unit.
Short porn was a big moneymaker there. They people that read it, read a lot of it.
All you had to do was write about gross shit like enemas, age play, pseudo-incest, and so forth. get your keywords accurately figured, get your cover and description past Amazon's censors, and the money would generally flow in. There were stories of people making $8000 a month, and 6 figures a year.
I rented a place in Budapest in May and devoted myself to writing.
I had a three-pronged plan. I would continue to write my "dark erotica" -- basically just crime / horror novels with a lot of fucking in them -- with some actual attention to detail and content. But at the same time, I would write fast, short, keyword-based profit-spinners about whatever keywords were trending.
And then, I would, as possible, take stuff I'd already written and flip the pronouns and make it gay.
I worked, man.
LA VIE BOHEME
I'd get up at 9:00 am, usually, and check my email and deal with administrative matters and have breakfast and a lot of coffee. Then I'd exercise, and go for a long walk and enjoy the glorious city of Budapest. Often I'd have lunch outside in a park or square, and then I'd go back and write for 4 or 5 hours. I'd have another walk and then dinner, and then after dinner go back home and edit stuff I'd written and make covers, or research various issues, usually related to the fairly dark sexual fetishes that tend to be the best sellers on Amazon and the history of exploitation film and literature.
Then I'd go to bed around midnight, where my sleep was usually troubled.
After a month of that, my brain was pretty much reduced to a colorful mush.
I was masturbating constantly, and watching a lot of porn for inspiration. I tried to go out to bars or whatever occasionally in the evening, but I was usually too busy worrying about my writing to have any fun. I didn't talk to anybody -- what was I going to say? Ask them if they'd seen The Taming of Rebecca? If they knew that some people get turned on by popping balloons?
Plus, I found it hard to write when drinking or hungover. (Although I am aware that many famous writers wrote while utterly fucking plastered.)
I should say that my age -- recently turned 46 -- probably affected how I felt about all this. If I'd been 28 I probably would have thought it a fabulous life.
But the money went up, steadily. $1300. $1700. And finally, my goal - $2000.
But my brain felt wrecked. I was lonely and felt gross and alienated.
CAN'T WIN FOR LOSING
Then in July Amazon completely changed its payment system.
Authors in the Kindle Unlimited program will now be paid by the page read, not the unit rented. (Yes, Amazon knows how many pages you have read.) This change was probably made to specifically punish people writing very short and very low quality keyword based crap.
The actual amount they will pay is still unknown but it will probably be something like a half-cent per page. So whereas a twenty page story would get you $1.30 before, now it will get you 10 cents.
So I decided to re-intensify my efforts to get an English teaching job. Which I have done -- more about that soon.
I'm not done with porn novels, I don't think -- but it's better as a part time job, for the sake of one's socialization and sanity.
Soul-sucking can take many forms, after all.