(The following is from the introduction to my handy little guide to writing smut.)

Get out the lube and start writing

People will tell you that writing is a grueling, miserable occupation, that should only be undertaken by the strong of heart and the bulletproof. They’ll inform you that you have to born a writer, and if you lack that certain something (they never know what it is), you’ll be mediocre at best. They’ll also tell you that the earth is 4,000 years old and racism is a myth, so don’t believe a fucking word they say.

Every single one of you can make people come using just your words. Okay, you can’t force them, but you can inspire, excite, and entice them. You can seduce them, arouse them, and make them fall off their chairs laughing. And if you want, you can probably get them to come and laugh at the same time.

Writing is a skill like any other, and you can learn it. You can learn to tell stories, you can learn to form incredible sentences, and you can learn to turn people on. It may take courage, and it will take work, but if you want to write dirty things you’re in good company. Some of the greatest people in the world have sex, and many of them write about it as well.

So, without further ado, here are my ten easy steps to becoming a moderately successful author of erotica:

Step one: have lots and lots of great sex.

Step two: write about it.

Step three: have sex with someone other than yourself

Step four: move out of your mother’s basement

Step five: go to Paris with a girl who says she loves you but then hooks up with an Italian street artist instead and breaks your heart

Step six: write a bunch of dirty letters, finish college, have a few threesomes, explore your bi side, and make a shitload of mistakes

Step seven: find a super kinky girlfriend who will encourage you to do stuff that makes you uncomfortable

Step eight: go to therapy

Step nine: read what you wrote about sex in step two

Step ten: write the truth

These steps won’t work for everyone, and you might even argue that they didn’t work for me. My forty-seven fans might disagree, though. You might also think that step ten is the most important and that I could have cut out all the others, but truth is relative and often it’s not very sexy. What I should have said was write enough of the truth and fake the rest.

When I first started writing erotica, my motto was “write till you’re hard.” If it turned me on, I would write it down. And it’s still often a good judge of how something will be received, but it’s not the end all and be all of writing hot sex, because there’s no accounting for taste, mine included. Some people like things I don’t and some people find words sublime that I find trite and vice versa.

But it’s a place to start. When you sit down to write some hot sex, “what turns me on right now,” is as good a place as any to find inspiration. The next step is honesty. And I don’t mean you have to be honest with your readers. In fact, I think that’s probably never true. You can lie to your readers all day long if you want. It’s called fiction. I mean you have to be honest with yourself. You have to look at your current fantasy and figure out what’s turning you on about it. What part of the fantasy can you not get out of your head? What’s the one thing in the story that makes you want to tear someone’s clothes off and do squelchy things with them?

For many of you, this may be a creepy thing.

Let’s face it; our turn-ons are rarely politically correct.

Just think of the names that we call each other in bed: baby, slut, (baby-slut?), piglet, whore, daddy, little girl, bitch, lying-cheating-bastard, chubby, Mandingo, Chloe Moretz, uncle, honey, cum-dumpster, and everyone’s favorite Game of Thrones inspired name, Hey Little Sister.

Now, if you want to write a story using all of those words at once, I salute you and pass the fucking torch. You don’t need me anymore. But in all seriousness, our kinks and our turn-ons are not always what we like to think they are. We don’t all get turned on by love (although that can work too) and sweetness. We push boundaries, find places that make us and our lovers uncomfortable, and sometimes we even fuck up and go over the line. And that’s the entire point of fantasy. That’s what we’re supposed to do, and that’s the place we dirty writers live. Because we’re not idiots, we can distinguish between fantasy and reality. And I think most readers can do that as well. We all understand that the idea of being kidnapped by five sexy men and the reality of it are not the same thing. And that’s a good thing.

If you want to make a lot of money, it helps if you love money. I don’t mean love having money, or even spending it. I mean it helps if you love everything about money. If you’re interested in how it’s made, where it comes from, how it’s valued, and everything in between, you’re far more likely to have a lot of it. You have to pay so much attention to money that it’s almost all you think about. Once you understand it, focus on it, and adore it then you can set your mind to making as much of it as possible.

And the same goes for writing about sex. So before you decide that you’re going to dig out those crusty copies of Penthouse Forum, the old typewriter, a bottle of scotch, and then sit down to write the great American Erotic Novel, you have to be sure that you sincerely like sex. Sure you got laid last week, and it was like totally awesome, but that’s not the same thing. What kind of sex was it? What did it feel like to your partner? What was so good about it and what was just mediocre? Why did you like it? What was your favorite part? How did you decide to have sex, and how much did you talk about it before and after?

I’m not saying you have to be a sex god to write great sex. In fact, I don’t think it’s all that important. What is important is that sex interests you. Have you ever read an article, or even a book, where it was clear that the author didn’t like their subject? If they hate it, that’s one thing, but nothing is less enjoyable to read than disinterest. If you can tell the author just doesn’t care about stamps, then there’s no reason you should either.

So think about it. Many of us think about sex frequently, but it takes more effort to think about thinking about sex. When does it most often come to mind? What’s going on in my life when it does? Is it in the morning? Is it while I’m in the shower? As soon as the girl in the next office walks in with a skirt so short I have to resist bending her over my desk? And then, of course, there are my hangups, my fears, my turn-ons, my shame, guilt, and joys. When was the last time sex made me laugh? When was the last time I cried? Why is it that sometimes I come within seconds and others it’s all I can do to fake it?

This book starts by examining own personal experiences because no matter how real or made up a story may be, our lives are some of the best fodder we have. I then move into short stories–which is mostly about narrative arch–and how to build tension in small ways. We’ll talk about full-length novels, character development, fetishes, dialog, blogging, and we’ll even touch on publishing.

There are a million books on formatting, self-publishing, marketing, and promotion, but this isn’t one of them. At the end of the day, the most important thing for any writer to do is to keep writing. So, with that in mind, I hope to give you some tools to do just that. Every chapter has a short exercise at the end, with a hashtag in case you want to share your work on Social Media. And some of the chapters also have thought experiments in the middle. Feel free to share those as well.

So after you’ve had your heart broken in Paris, after you’ve gone to therapy, and after you’ve listened to your own truth with as little self-judgment as possible, you’re ready to pick up the pen (fine, your laptop) and get started. The rest of this book will tell you–and show you–how to get the words down. It will show you how to keep at it, how to get better, how to make your readers come so hard they go blind, and then if you’re interested, how to earn money with your filthy little monkey mind. So, sit down, get comfortable, and don’t forget that lube. It’s going to be a slippery ride.