With a mention on Lucy V Morgan’s blog, I feel like I need to prepare for new guests, and since vacuuming and putting away the laundry wouldn’t exactly be appreciated by most readers (unless you’re my wife), I’ll just make a little post here.
I’ve been meaning to write something about the three different sites I post to (Literotica, EroticStories, and Storiesonline), and while I’m a pretty new writer (at least on the greater internets), with four stories under my belt, I at least have a feel for their nuances. All three are free to post to and free to read, although EroticStories and Storiesonline require free accounts to read, and ES eventually archives its stories (which requires a paying membership to access). This article is written primarily from the author’s perspective. Oh, and let’s be clear right now, none of these sites are perfect.
If I could only post stories to one of these sites, this would be the one. Not only is it the most polished, it’ll get you the most exposure. Like, way the most. Take my latest story, Rags to Reunions. To date, I have 14,828 views (and 224 votes). For EroticStories and Storiesonline, I have just 3,077 (32 votes) and 2,704 views (139 votes), respectively. This exposure doesn’t just end with reads, either. You’ll get the most feedback here, both through its public comment system and e-mailed feedback. This is a great way to engage with your audience (and occasionally, met some pretty interesting people).
A quick caveat: there’s a pretty big drawback to all this exposure. Your stories can easily get nabbed and plagiarized on sites like Amazon. It’s happened quite a lot. There’s a thread about it on the Lit forums. It’s a problem, but one that comes with the territory of publishing online. This is a whole other blog post, so I’ll leave it alone for now.
Additionally, Lit is the only site that accepts Word file submissions — this may seem trivial, but it’s a HUGE time-saver when it comes time to actually post. Good thing for this time-saver, however; of the three sites, Lit takes the longest to clear from the time you hit submit to the time it goes live (usually two to three days). It also has probably the least flexible set of author tools: any changes you need to make to existing stories need to be submitted to the site itself. The other two sites allow you to make these adjustments yourself.
Oh, and in terms of what’s acceptable to publish here… All characters must be over 18 (this does solve the kiddy-porn issue, which is a good thing, but also can be pretty restrictive when telling an honest coming-of-age story as even the mention of sex before 18 can get your story denied). They also allow incest stories, if that’s your thing.
I think I may have heard of this site before Lit. Not sure. In either case, as a reader, it’s not nearly as good. As an author, it’s slightly kinder. The author tools are clunky and dated, but offer pretty good flexibility. I posted a story where every single quotation mark registered as a question mark, and was able to pull and resubmit myself. If this were to happen on Lit, that process would take several days. Thing is, I’m pretty sure that would never happen on Lit.
Of all three sites, ES is the worst to actually post to. Only plain text files are allowed, although you can go through and add simple HTML (bold and italics). When posting a 15k story, know what the last thing I want to do is? Add simple HTML tags. End result, my stories posted there lose all their bolds and italics.
Like I said above, your story also disappears into the archives after a month or so, cutting off your exposure. I suppose this is good in that it protects you against would-be plagiarists. For the most part, though, readership drops after that much time on any of the sites. But it does stop people from discovering your older stories when you post a new one.
Story restrictions are pretty standard and sensible: no incest, no bestiality or under 18 stuff.
This one’s an interesting site. It has the “best” content management system behind it, but that’s not saying much. If you’re used to playing with WordPress or MovableType (or even blogger or blogspot), then it’s going to feel like you’ve stepped into the year 2003. Sadly, this goes for the reader experience, too (tables when browsing stories? really? who designed this site, Microsoft Office?). In any case, for the authors, you can easily add and update stories. It’s also the only site that doesn’t force a story to fit into neat categories (eg. what if my story involves group sex and voyeurism? on the other two sites, you have to choose, not on SO). Too bad it’s not so easy to search those stories and categories as a reader (this requires a premium account, and since I’ve never had one, I can’t speak for how good it is). Posting can be done with marked up HTML files, text files, or RTFs (I think). It’s pretty easy to output Word docs to HTML, so it’s the next best thing to actually posting the Word file. SO also has the most lax of restrictions (in fact, as far as I can tell, there are no restrictions). I’ll leave it at that, but if you’re into that stuff, then maybe my stories and my blog posts aren’t exactly the place for you.
Again, I’ll reiterate: none of these sites is perfect. In fact, when compared to modern websites, all three feel pretty dated (although Lit has been slowly updating their systems, starting with a new and more robust search engine).
For legitimacy (as much as you can get on the free world wide web), I gravitate to Literotica. In fact, I barely even check the readership levels and voter score on the other two sites (and to be perfectly honest, I don’t even understand Storiesonline). You’ll get the most exposure, the cleanest presentation, and the most feedback. The other sites are nice ways to supplement, though, and contrary to what you might think, the readerships don’t completely overlap.
Quick plug here, if you enjoy my stories and have read it somewhere else (or even on this site), a quick hop over to Lit and a five star vote is always appreciated. To help you out, here’s the link to Rags to Reunions! 😉