For what it's worth, my handout from the ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) Conference on Saturday, for our sex writing panel. I was asked to talk about submitting and publishing erotica. If I have time soon I'd love to post about the stories that have stood out for me, but I'm wrapping up Best Bondage Erotica 2013 and Best Sex Writing 2013 this week (deadline is tomorrow!) and doing some writing of my own. Definitely, as per below, "Chemistry" by Velvet Moore from Orgasmic is one I talk about all the time, and "Runner's Calves" by Sommer Marsden in Curvy Girls was also a standout amidst a sea of submissions that took "curvy" to mean one thing and one thing only. Creativity is the thing I look for most especially with a themed anthology, and you'll get lots of examples in December when Best Bondage Erotica 2013 is out. And obviously take it all with a grain of salt; I'm just one person with one opinion, so what works with me might not work with other editors, though I think it's pretty sound advice.
Getting Your Erotic Stories Published
Tips from Rachel Kramer Bussel
1. Know your markets. There's erotic romance, BDSM erotica, paranormal erotica, GLBT erotica, longer stories (4,000+ words), shorter stories (1,200 words or less).
2. Follow the guidelines. My most important advice is to follow the guidelines exactly. If you have a question, ask before submitting. Don't assume an editor will make an exception for you. Every editor has different needs (snail mail vs. email, formatting, word count).
3. Use language you're comfortable with. Don't try to sound "porny" or like what you think erotica should sound like. Use the words for body parts and sex acts that sound natural to you, or that your characters would genuinely use.
4. Erotica needs a beginning, middle and end. An erotica story is first and foremost a story. It needs a beginning, middle and end, plus who, what, when, where and why, so your story isn’t simply "people having sex." Make the reader care about your characters from the first sentence.
5. Use your unique knowledge. Here I don't mean sexual experience, but knowledge of the world. Do you play golf, chess, knit, ski? Have you traveled the world? Do you know the ins and outs of a courtroom or a gym or a startup? Set stories in locations other authors probably won't. Try to eroticize a setting most people wouldn't normally think of as "sexy." (See "Chemistry" by Velvet Moore in Orgasmic).
6. Research. The Internet is your friend. Research everything from wardrobe to sex toys to places you've never been (I once incorporated fire eating into a story and I will never eat fire). Often simply browsing images online may spark ideas.
7. Think like an editor. Picture an editor receiving 100 stories on the same theme. What will make yours stand out? Maybe it's setting, location, type of character, POV, tense, prop, etc.
Resource: Erotic Writers & Readers Association, http://www.erotica-readers.com - lists numerous public calls for submissions, hosts mailing lists, offers galleries you can submit to