Sunday, 25 June 2017

The Dirty Dozen: An Erotic Story Portals Listicle

... or, Holla @ Ya Boi for the Straight Dope on Story Sites!

I'm pretty sure the proverbial kids stopped saying "holla at yr boi" a while ago, but whatevs, as the kids surely also no longer say. The point is I come to you today, dear readers, bearing delicious listicles. Or a delicious listicle. I saw this listicle in my mind's eye and it was good. If it goes right, I will gratefully accept showers of praise, and if it goes horribly wrong I would like you all to know that It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.

As part of my recent Pocket Rocket project, I found myself shopping around for various erotic story portals at which to promote some of the component stories. In the course of doing so I noticed a little something. There were lots of reviews of this kind of site from a reader's point of view, but finding out how it was to interact with them as an author was something else again. So I thought I would offer up the benefits of my experience.

Starting out with a disclaimer: I am not in the least little bit pretending my experience is comprehensive. Where possible I have tried to benefit from the insights of other authors and for as long as this here listicle is up, I will continue trying to do so. If there are story sites I've missed, I urge folks to hit me up here, on Twitter or by e-mail so that I can update. I have the sites in a rough ranking, but the whole idea of "ranking" something this complicated is mostly tongue-in-cheek, so don't take that aspect too terribly seriously.

This is a beginning, and as the Princess Irulan once said, a beginning is a very delicate time. I'll try to do it justice. And whatever I say here, to the proprietors of these sites in general and the non-profit / non-commercial sites in particular, I would just like to say that I know keeping these resources live and dealing with the fractious, opinionated communities they attract isn't easy. Bless you all for what you do.

The main focus of this piece is the non-commercial sites. I deal with commercial sites like Amazon and Smashwords in #10-12. Right now the most detailed reviews are of the three sites I know the most about, in the top three spots.

#1. Literotica.

Literotica has been around since the late Nineties. It's the site I personally am most familiar with, so this will be the most extensive of these reviews. Generally speaking its hallmarks are a wide breadth of content categories, with Incest/Taboo stories being particularly popular, and a large well-established audience.

Action shot of a typical Literotica author in her natural habitat.


Biggest Pros: Huge readership / authorship; experienced editing; solid if dated interface
Biggest Cons: Community is a mixed bag and sometimes toxic; story posting process can be a bit slow; functionality of some site features can be uneven


Viewership & Profile: There is a huge diversity of story types, authors and readers represented, so much so that you can find almost any kind and quality of story with a little digging; with the exception that it has hard prohibitions against under-18 content and bestiality, and a few more fluid and context-dependent preferences for content in other genres. FAQs can be found on the site or the forums to answer most of the basic questions.

Viewership is sizeable. Even in relatively low-traffic categories a well-written story can generally hope to see views in the thousands, in higher-traffic categories this can rise into the tens or even hundreds of thousands. On the downside, this means Lit has a high enough profile that stories on the site have sometimes been targeted for piracy and reprinted, unauthorized, on other sites -- sometimes even on Amazon. There doesn't seem to be much the site in its current form can really do about this; authors are on their own. Mercifully this seems still to be a fairly rare occurrence.

Submitting Stories: The story submissions process is straightforward and reliably works just the way it's advertised on the tin. Technically it's more than a bit dated and posting a story--or composing it for compatibility with the site's story editor--can be a bit labour-intensive, but you'll rarely run into story rejections for weird or frivolous reasons or find yourself kneecapped by some rule or technical limitation that comes out of the blue.

It generally takes about three or four business days for a story to be posted. Some people find this agonisingly slow, but since there is basically one person running the story editing and posting process I personally don't have any complaints about the wait. Once you've posted a story the site's analytics are minimal but reasonably useful; stories come with an optional reader voting system that can attract trolling, but that also has some protection by a "sweep" system that eliminates gratuitous or suspicious patterns of low-voting.

Other Site Features: For a site that is essentially run by two people and a clutch of volunteers, Literotica is notably ambitious and the reach of its various features -- it hosts an Android app, an erotica-related news feed, a chat, cams and a VOD service, audio stories, its own personals, a volunteer editors program and a battery of regular contests -- can sometimes appear to exceed the staff's grasp. Technical updates and changes to the site happen at a glacial pace... but they do happen, and Lit is less of a time capsule than some other sites of its kind.

Search tools on the site are robust in some ways and oddly limited in others: for some reason searching by author can be particularly difficult, as I've found out when trying to look up fellow authors from the Forums who don't link their work directly, so keep this in mind.

Forums & Community: The good news is that there are some very fine people to be found on the Literotica Forums. The bad news is that on the other hand the site also suffers from a legacy of (I would argue) over-commitment to Nineties-era pieties about "free speech," which functionally means it can be a great place for creative flaming but also that some astonishingly toxic people and behaviours have been tolerated over long spans of time, to the detriment of real community building.

For example, the forums allow alts and are often infested by the atmosphere of suspicion natural to forums that allow alts. There is a great deal of bitterness, paranoia and conspiracy theory, albeit from a small but vocal minority of authors, that surrounds the regular contests with cash prizes (which admittedly could be better-handled, but what I'm talking about goes far beyond mere critique). Certain boards are heavily infested by creepy people or unlovely and violent political rhetoric. Episodes of deep vindictiveness (including doxing) have happened before, so wariness of sharing personal information is a necessity.

When I first started posting stories at Literotica, the most moderation that existed on the Forums was the "ignore" button and a minimal, not-always-enforced commitment to removing outright advocacy of crimes. They were even vocally proud of this as part of their "free speech" mandate. The site is taking steps toward more stringency (baby steps, but they're still steps) and the site owners and volunteer moderators are generally level-headed and of high quality when they do intervene, so it isn't all bad by any means and I've certainly encountered some great people through Literotica. Still, the experience is highly variable, so come prepared with a thick skin.

#2. SOL (StoriesOnline).

StoriesOnline has been around at least as long as Literotica, maybe longer... or looks like it has. (I'll get to that.) It isn't anywhere near as well known which is something of a pity, as the site hosts some good authors and some genuinely nifty features. It also, however, hosts some kinds of content that I'm not personally keen on and that moreover one might be wary of being associated with in any way as an author, even just by having work on the same site.


Biggest Pros: Good editing & posting process; some interesting story management tools; admirable no-frills focus on the basic mission
An SOL author's Canadian girlfriend -
artist rendition.
Biggest Cons: The Nineties called, they want their user interface back; some questionable content calls; smaller readership


Viewership & Profile: SOL gives the impression of having considerably less traffic than Literotica. You're doing well at a few thousand downloads and if one looks at even the site's perma-linked "all time classic" stories, entries cracking a hundred thousand downloads or more or rare no matter how long they've been posted. On the other hand, "smaller than Literotica" is by no means the same thing as "small," and my freebie posted at SOL has already considerably outstripped the download total of freebies posted at Smashwords, so there you go.

Stories can be publicly voted on using a ten-point rating scale, which to my mind is a good idea as it allows for more nuanced reader judgement than a five-star scale. SOL seems to have anti-trolling "sweeps" measures of some kind in its voting system similar to Literotica's. Authors can promote their work on the site's main page with blog posts and updates.

Content Warning: Biggest reservation about posting here is that SOL hosts a "teens" category that includes under-18 stories. This was a big source of hesitation for me in interacting with the site; such material, even just in fictional text format, is a serious legal grey area in my country and moreover is a limit for me as erotic material goes. Fortunately that material is far from a major part of the site's identity or content, so I decided to go ahead with it... but you as a writer might make a different call, so be aware.

Submitting & Managing Stories: It's possible to compose a story in Word or OpenOffice, export it to HTML, submit it to SOL and have it published with a minimum of fuss the same day. (There are other, more granular options available if you're into them and guides on how to use them.) Stories will be broken into multiple chapters if they exceed a certain length, so it's up to authors to format them accordingly if they care where the page breaks are and it's possible for minor formatting glitches to occur if you're using an exported HTML document. Still, all in all, this is as efficient and low-impact a process--which is as respectful as possible of author's formatting parameters--as I've ever encountered at an online story portal.

You can heavily customise story categories and tags in the story submission process using a standardised form that exhibits some redundancy but also covers most contingencies. SOL also has an interesting suite of story management tools for once your story is posted. You get a vote histogram on your story management page, authors can assign stories both to series and to "universes" which makes for interesting ways to sort and categorise content, and the site allows for marginally customised author "homepages" that lay out your stories and "universes" efficiently. You're given more than a single line with which to introduce your story to potential readers, which is handy, and there are tools available as part of "premium" content on the site--and even the ability to hide stories behind a paywall if you choose--of which I haven't even scratched the surface. It would be technically possible to use this as a commercial portal if you were sufficiently in the know.

Weighing against the appeal of these tools: SOL's look is, uh... quaint. "Clunky" and "outdated" might be more accurate descriptions. Information is often displayed or broken out between pages in counter-intuitive and puzzling ways, or uneven about updating from one page to another, and overall the site has a very minimal, no-frills look which is fine for non-commercial stories but which would make me hesitant about using it for more commercial purposes.

Forums & Community: To date, some lurking on SOL's forums has disclosed that they seem much slower in traffic, narrower in focus and considerably less prone to drama than some forums elsewhere. That's just an impression on relatively short acquaintance, though. I can't comment in much more detail.

#3. Lush Stories.

In some ways Lush Stories feels almost like a site that was created by someone trying to carry out a mission similar to Literotica's, but to eliminate many of the frustrations that site encountered in its evolution. I don't know whether that's true or not, but certainly the site's founder Nicola has created a very slick, attractive and interesting story portal with a lot of laudable features. It's a site that I like in many ways... and really want to like in others.


Biggest Pros: Attractive and easy-to-use interface; well-conceived site management and policies; large and active community
Biggest Cons: Variable quality in story moderation, submission process and back-end tools; may not be the best outlet for writers of longer stories


Viewership & Profile: Lush Stories advertises its vital stats right up front. And it's an encouraging sign of the scale of audience that one can log on at virtually any time and find north of a few thousand readers browsing the site.
This how Lush the stories get. "Lush AF," as the kids would
say if they were allowed to read this content.

As at other sites, reader voting is enabled here (or can be), but Lush Stories is even more aware of the potential misuse of such voting systems and manages its story voting aggressively--or at least reserves the right to do so. Users entering more than three "low votes" on stories in a row apparently, in theory, have to justify their activity to a moderator or have their voting privileges locked. I'm not sure of the outcomes here -- it seems this could be open to gaming, or possibly bias story voting to the higher ranges of the scoring system and make "high scores" relatively meaningless -- but it's an approach that could conceivably work with the right implementation, and I admire at least the commitment to interfering with nuisance vote-trolling, which can be a real problem.

Authors can customise a profile that, happily, can include linking to and promoting off-site blogs and commercial work on sites like Amazon and Smashwords. (Literotica is considerably more restrictive about this, a philosophy that seems outdated to me.) Author blogs don't seem to appear anywhere other than one's own profile and are probably of limited usefulness.

Submitting Stories: This is where I have the most reservations about Lush Stories at present. It seems like LS should have a more efficient story editing and posting process than other sites -- it isn't just one person vetting the stories, but a moderating team who presumably are meant to be working in concert to provide more speed and efficacy and better quality control than you might find at story sites elsewhere.

However, the results can apparently be a wee bit of a crap-shoot on Lush Stories. Matthew Vett once described frustration with a process that could last several hours involving story moderators who ranged from the acute to the acutely clueless. But the range of possible experiences are wider than this.

For example, when I submitted a story to LS, I was informed that it was too long and needed to be broken up into parts (done), and subsequently that the back-end tool that purports to allow one to paste formatting from a Word document actually renders content all but unreadable if you try to then break up that text from one edit window to another in LS*** (???), that the story contained a tag that one can't use on LS (fair enough)... and finally I was asked, because the story contained short sections of script-style interaction, whether it was a play because "we don't publish plays."

That last question was surprisingly clueless, since the answer would have had to be pretty glaringly obvious just from the shape of the text, but that wasn't what made me throw up my hands at that point. Rather, it was that eliciting this extremely basic, at-a-glance series of questions and corrections, none of which had yet touched the actual content of the story, took a total of seven days from the point of submission. I'm forgiving of delays, but not that forgiving.

I may well have caught LS' moderating team at an extraordinarily bad time; it can't all be like this for them to have gotten forty-two thousand stories posted. So I'm willing to try again. At some point. Maybe not, like, right away, though.

(*** Shout-out to LS moderator Ruthie who helped diagnose this problem more precisely in comments. Not that it's any less confusing why this should be happening.)

The site submission policies and overall procedure tends to favour stories of 10,000 words or less, so that's a further thing to think about when submitting if you typically write longer than that.

Other Site Features: Apparently LS members swear by the site's chat rooms, which I haven't had a chance to sample (I'm not really a chat person). There are grades of membership ranging from bronze up to gold of which it was unclear to me what they meant; I'm told by Ruthie that apparently being a Gold member gives your stories a promotional boost and gives you access to added editing attention from the site, so that's interesting. Not sure how I feel about that.

LS conducts story contests with cash prizes which seem solidly-conceived: they include word limits to ensure apples-to-apples comparisons between stories, the winners are determined by a group of curators rather than pure reader votes, one entry is allowed per writer, drama and conspiracy theories about contest outcomes are strictly prohibited and so on. It really is a model of how contests should be run, at least on paper.

Forums & Community: As with SOL I've only been a lurker on LS' forums, but they seem reasonably positive spaces relatively free of toxicity or at least of the extremes thereof. I've seen LS members talk about the genuine sense of community there; I can't comment on that in much depth, it may be a valid claim or just a question of perspective.

#4 - 6. Hentai Foundry, NovelTrove & Nifty.

These are sites that I haven't had a chance to use directly as either my stories don't fit their editorial mission, or I didn't know they posted stories while I was doing my shop-around.

This naughty librarian is here included
because of reasons.
The last was true of Hentai Foundry, which I always thought of as an art site but which publishes prose as well. I've heard from authors who swear by the quality of the site's community and the feedback they get there and how much this pushes them to improve their writing. At present I can't add much to either confirm or deny such claims or talk about the submission process or the site, since all I've done there is sign up for a membership and check out the basics of the story submission form. It's kind of weird that there are "Racism" story tags? Aside from that I've got nothing.

NovelTrove is a really interesting site which I'm looking forward to exploring more as a reader. I'm unlikely to publish there in the foreseeable future ("reluctance" is a common theme in my work and is a no-go for them), but the site certainly looks great and I've already discovered interesting content there, among which are blogger Bacchus' dives into story sites like Literotica and Lush Stories. So, writers out there who know more about it than I, I would love to hear from you and be able to flesh out this impression.

Nifty specializes in LGBTQ+ content. Since none of my writing falls purely within that milieu and since I rarely read purely within it either, I really don't know much about it beyond that it exists and that I've heard good things about it. Uh, hello readers and writers at Nifty! Would love to hear from you, too.

#7 - 9. BDSM Library, The Mind Control Story Archive & ASSTR (Alt.Sex.Stories Text Repository).

These are sites previously familiar to me where I either couldn't or wouldn't post.

In the case of the venerable BDSM Library, which has been hosting BDSM stories for as long as any of the other erotic sites out there and has a justifiably loyal following, it was a case of couldn't. For some reason its story submission form was simply broken and would not accept any version of the file. Apparently this is an ongoing glitch they're still working on. I may one day go back to try again because I do like the site and it would be nifty to finally have a story up there.

The Erotic Mind Control Story Archive is, in terms of the quality of some of the stories hosted there, simply one of the best erotic story sites with that specific focus, period. Some of the hottest stories I've read pretty much anywhere are on the EMCSA and some of my current writing falls within the theme, so I quite like the idea of having a story there. Unfortunately it can be difficult for readers to find content and the estimable Simon bar Sinister requires submissions in tagged text format, which is kind of a huge pain and pretty hard to justify going through in 2017, so this had to be a case of wouldn't.

ASSTR is another wouldn't. I can't go through this article without mentioning it, because it's one of the great holdovers from the free-wheeling age of Usenet (a.k.a. the internet before the Web) and has its own storied place in the pantheon of erotic literature sites. However, it is hellishly hard to navigate and owing to the total lack of filtering, there is no way around a certain really uncomfortable fact: it is almost impossible to go to the site at any point and not find a bunch of pedo content on the main page or in the Author "Spotlights." If SOL's "teens" category gave me pause, ASSTR is just a hard no for that reason. (In fact I won't even link to it here, although I'll note that NovelTrove's Bacchus, apparently made of sterner stuff than I, has given them a review.)

#10-12. Amazon, Smashwords & Nook: The Commercial Sites.

These of course are the sites where, as the name implies, you can sell your work. They really are probably each worthy of their own separate article, but there are some brief thoughts to be shared about at least the two best-known commercial players, Smashwords and Amazon.

Amazon of course needs no introduction. The most common narrative you'll hear about it from self-publishing and indie authors is that it's mostly worth publishing e-books there for the sheer scale of the audience it attracts; but that on the other hand Amazon has done a great deal to make itself an increasingly hostile venue for publishers and writers... especially for erotic titles. As the estimable Brixton Atwood puts it:

"Their censorship practices consist of hiding adult content from anyone that would want to find it, including adult readers. Infractions include my cover design where a female has lowered the strap of her shirt from her shoulder to the middle of her arm. In other words, they highly discourage erotic books and their methods for identifying them are vague, irrational, wildly inconsistent...bureaucracy at its worst."

While specific experiences may vary, this kind of frustration is common, especially the complaint that dealing with Amazon's bureaucracy is like dealing with the staff at Franz Kafka International Airport. I know that Uruk Press' recent Sex and Sorcery collection was affected by that obsession with hiding erotica covers from the public, for instance (despite the cover in question being no racier than what can find on some mainstream fiction covers). So... author beware.

As for Smashwords: they appear to be a lot more consistent and less censorious in their attitude toward erotic content, from what I can see in my own involvement with them and reports from other authors. They also have some nifty site tools, in particular the MeatGrindr app which adapts a document into multiple e-book formats.

The downsides? The audience just isn't as large as Amazon -- in fact, depending on what you're writing, posting a freebie here may actually drew fewer eyeballs than you'd get on one of the free erotic story portals -- and to take full advantage of it you really need to be listed on their Premium Catalogue.

And therein really lies the rub.

If you're trying to get Premium Catalogue-ready using a document format from within the last ten decade, you will quickly discover the limits of the MeatGrindr, which apparently was not designed with .docx files in mind (!!!) (how long have .docx files been around, now?) and requires an arcane work-around for Table of Contents scripts because it can't deal with anything resembling current protocols from MS Office or similar software. Getting listed on the Premium Catalogue can thus become something of an odyssey.

Barnes & Noble, meanwhile, apparently have their own commercial e-book portal at "NOOK Press." I don't know anyone who publishes directly there, so I'd love to hear from authors with experiences to contribute.

Allow Me To Play You Out.

"Paperback Writer" is the irresistible choice here, obviously.

But why not treat yourself to a Wu-Tang Clan / Beatles mash-up album while you're at it?

Happy reading and writing! See you all next time.


  1. I am the moderator at Lush Stories who vetted your story. I remember your submission and the reason I removed it for correction.

    We do ask that stories over 10,000 words be broken down into sections. As for the comment about plays, we don't publish plays and ask that all of our stories follow the standard Lush format.

    The delay in having your story processed was probably due to the large number of submissions that Lush receives. There is not time to comment on the content of each individual story as it is vetted. Lush standards are higher than other sites for a reason. Our goal is to have the best erotic stories on the internet, and to showcase those stories as well as possible.

    I remember that your story didn't use correct dialogue formatting for a short story, but listed each person speaking then the dialogue with no quotation marks, in what is usually considered play format. What I asked is that you reformat your story so that it met Lush standards. When a writer is new to Lush we go out of our way to make them welcome, offer advice to help them bring their story up to our standards and help them get their stories on the front page. Sometimes, as in your case, when the story is formatted in a manner that makes reading it difficult, we have to ask the writer to make it more readable by following our standard formatting rules. This is for the sake of our readers, and not because we are trying to make it difficult for new writers. If you had read our stories before submitting your work, you would have been familiar with the formatting we ask for. We ask that all dialogue be placed in quotation marks. "Like this," she said.

    I believe that our moderation staff has a closer relationship with our writers than any other site. My removal notice, while it may have bruised your ego, was an attempt to establish a relationship with you and help you get your story in good enough shape to go on our front page. I'm sorry that you wouldn't take the time to establish a relationship with our staff.

    We have many people who are willing to help you edit your story, but our moderating team doesn't have time to edit each submission. Our Gold membership comes with some editorial help from the moderators, but even then it is impossible for us to reformat all the submissions if they require as much work as your submission would have required to meet our standard. Often new writers require extensive rewrites before they meet our formatting standards. Your story was written more in the format of a screenplay than a short story. A format that we do not accept. If you will resubmit it in short story format we will be glad to look at it again.

    We ask for standard English punctuation and grammar. Because of the high number of people who read our stories on phones, we ask that you not use very long paragraphs as large blocks of text are sometimes difficult for people reading on phones. We have some restrictions in content, no underage sex, no non-consent, no incest, etc. which are listed in our disclaimer. If you like I will send you a copy.

    We allow longer works of fiction, but we ask that they be submitted in sections of fewer than 10,000 words. We also have an audio category where you can post audio stories.

    Our chat rooms are very good. There are both public and private chat rooms which allow posting of images as well as text. We also have forums where you can discuss everything from politics to your kinks.

    Our community of writers and readers will be happy to have you as a member. There is nowhere on the internet where you will have more support as a writer than Lush Stories.

    1. Hi there. Thanks for your reply.

      FWIW I felt like your confusion about the story's content and format was more related to the technical glitches you described than anything else. (If you'd like a chance to read the full story it's live on SOL here: -- Of course if spicing prose fiction with snippets of other genres is too avant-garde for LS that's entirely y'all's biz, but you might find it useful to know it's not in fact all that uncommon in prose fiction. My attempt at it is a training-wheels version inspired by a far more famous example:

      As noted in the post I wasn't frustrated by corrections to formatting and tags -- that's a commonplace of publishing anything anywhere -- so much as by the length of time it apparently took just to get to that point. Which to be fair I did guess might have been due to some unusual circumstance.

      Anyway I am sincere about wanting to give LS another shot at some point, whenever that happens. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond here and thank you for giving of your time to the cause of online erotica more generally. Have a great week.

    2. I think that the confusion was more about what you had in mind. We aren't anti avant-garde, but as a new writer we don't have any idea what you are trying to do unless you tell us. Our readers can't always tell what's going on in a writers mind.

      We prefer that sections like that be set in italics to set it apart from the main body of the text. That would allow the reader to discern that the part was an interview. A note above the dialogue text would also work.

      Something like this:

      (from interview)

      Your story wasn't removed for content, only because it's style was not easily understood. In my first read through I had no idea if it was an interview, part of a play, or just bad formatting.

      We don't make major edits to writers works without their permission, and we prefer that they do the corrections themselves if any are needed. I don't recall seeing your story resubmitted though.

      We can have over a hundred stories in the verification queue at any given time, and our moderators are volunteers and limited in the amount of time we can devote to the site, so sometimes there is a longer delay between submission and processing than we like.

      We process our stories from the oldest to newest, so if there are a hundred stories ahead of yours there is going to be a delay. Sometimes it takes days for a story to get to the top of the queue.

      Being a gold member gives writers priority. Their stories appear at the top of the queue no matter how many stories are there. They are also entitled to a certain amount of editing, not in content, but in punctuation and grammar.

      We spend a lot of time correcting the punctuation and grammar of all our writers when we have time, and there is also help available from other members for those writers who are unfamiliar with the rules of grammar and punctuation.

      I believe that we provide a great deal more help to beginning writers than any other site. You must remember that Lit had many years head start on us, so you can't expect us to have as many stories as they do.

      We don't publish just anything that comes our way, but we are willing to work with beginning writers so that their stories are publishable. We don't allow down vote trolling, and most of the constructive criticism is done in private messages rather than on open comments because we don't want to discourage beginning writers.

      We welcome more experienced writers. There is a note box so that you can let the moderators know what effect you are going for in a story. We encourage beginning writers to start out with basic short stories, not to try avant-garde styles of writing.

      A writer has to bring something to their writing besides style. If you show us that you are capable of writing great fiction, we will publish it.

      Very few stories are ever rejected at Lush. Yours was not rejected either. It was removed for stylistic reasons. Some stories are removed several times before they make it to the front page.

    3. Impatient writers will sometimes have problems with our vetting process. We are trying to help, though, and not trying to discourage any writers from submitting their work.

      Becoming a member of our writer's community may seem hard at first, but once you are, it's a very rewarding experience. We are a much better site for the beginning writer than Lit.

      I know that you and Matthew Vett believe that the harsh criticism and troll voting and commenting on Lit is better for writers, but I don't agree. I think that Lush is more nurturing to writers and therefore a better place to post fiction.

      A writer can be so easily discouraged by one bad review or a comment from somebody who is just posting to be mean. I have written for Lit, and I know from experience that there are people there who will just down vote stories and leave horrible comments just for their own amusement.

      Lush discourages this with our low vote rules. We don't allow anonymous commenting either, which cuts down on the number of mean comments on people's stories.

      Just as some people will give up after a removal notice, others will give up writing due to a mean comment on their stories by a troll. Potential is lost in both cases, and we don't like lost potential. We strive to bring out the best in people's writing.

      Of course, there are different levels of writing on Lush, as anywhere else. We don't expect writers to have perfected their art, and we want to help them improve. I don't believe that any other site offers more help and resources to writers than Lush, or more opportunity to perfect their craft.

    4. Hi Ruthie:

      Thanks again for your comments.

      "I know that you and Matthew Vett believe that the harsh criticism and troll voting and commenting on Lit is better for writers"

      Oh no, I don't think anything of the sort. That I have some uncertainties about what the outcomes of the Lush system might be does not at all meaning I'm agreeing with Vett's post. And I don't think Vett was endorsing troll voting and toxicity on Lit either, at any rate I'm certainly not, as hopefully the part of this piece dedicated to Lit makes clear; I am certainly not in the least implying that you should have the same number of stories as Lit either, I think having 42K stories on a site an accomplishment, not a criticism.

      "I think that the confusion was more about what you had in mind. We aren't anti avant-garde, but as a new writer we don't have any idea what you are trying to do unless you tell us."

      I mean, if you are really concerned with why the comments in the post are there, it's why I provided you a link to the full story. Basically what your comments show is that this is a "first-glance" kind of critique that saw the fragments of script and reacted. Which, that's within your rights, but it doesn't give me a huge amount of faith that adding italics or further text would have mitigated that confusion; basically at some point, *reading* of the text to see whether it actually explains and provides cues and transitions between these and other parts of the story would have to happen. As a writer new to LS -- albeit not a "beginning writer," but thank you for making me feel young :D -- I have to guess based on prior interaction whether that reading is likely to occur and whether continued effort is worth it. For this particular story the answer was no. But like I said, I'm not writing you guys off and I'm willing to make allowances for bad days or weeks.

      (I don't hesitate to add that I'm fine with critiques of how a story device is used, we just didn't get to that point. Again I'm understanding that the back-end problems with the functioning of edit windows and cut-and-paste et cetera might have made detailed reads difficult for you, and that's okay too. Again though, that too is a "first-glace" kind of issue. Obviously volunteers work within time constraints, but you know, so do we all. If you think I'm being unreasonably "impatient" in thinking that ideally it should not take seven days to reach those kinds of "first-glance" critiques, well, we'll just have to agree to disagree and hope we have better luck next time out.)

      I'm happy to hear that Lush is a supportive environment and I thank you again for the kindness and thoroughness of your engagement here.

  2. Cutting and pasting from word is possible at Lush in our submission box. When a story is returned, we ask that it be corrected in the Lush edit box because our story queue allows the moderator to view the corrections made by the writer. Words added are shown in red, words removed are shown in green.

    When someone does edits in their story on their word program and then re-pastes the entire story, it shows up to the moderator as green and red blocks of text, making it impossible to see the changes to the story. The entire story has to be opened in the edit box by the moderator and carefully proofread to see if the changes asked for have been made. Our writers can do this by opening their story in 'edit' on their 'my stories' page and editing it in the Lush submission box. It is not difficult. Sometimes, when stories are very far off the Lush standard it is best to resubmit it as new.

    All of our moderators are volunteers, and we have limited time to spend on site. We ask that writers help make our job easier and more efficient by following a few basic rules in submitting their stories. Cutting and pasting is not a problem for writers, it is just something that slows down the verification process and causes delays in our processing.

    1. "When someone does edits in their story on their word program and then re-pastes the entire story, it shows up to the moderator as green and red blocks of text, making it impossible to see the changes to the story."

      Yeah, and wow, that's crazy. I would find that incredibly frustrating as a volunteer moderator / editor, so I completely feel your pain on that.

    2. (I mean just to be clear, when I was first asked to break up the story to meet the word-count limit I did that from one edit box to another, so apparently this also generates the confusing text colours you talk about since I didn't repaste anything from Word past the first submission. Still, that's wild.)

    3. None of this applies to the original submission, where you can cut and paste to the submission box from any program. Many of our starting writers tend to correct the removed manuscript on their word processor, then paste back into the box, which causes the green and red blocks I referred to earlier, and does away with any corrections that the moderator has made up unto that point. I try to make that clear to all new members who submit stories.

    4. "None of this applies to the original submission, where you can cut and paste to the submission box from any program." I'm under the impression that you only got involved after the request to break up the story, where the question of cut-and-paste intelligibility shenanigans came into play. The first three days before that are on another moderator, I think. To whatever extent that's significant.

    5. (My comments are about the whole process, not this moderator or that moderator, is what I'm getting at.)

  3. If you have two edit boxes open at once it causes the same effect. Any copy and pasting would result in the same thing after the initial submission. It doesn't just have to be from a word program. It can also be cuts from another edit box.

    1. That's what I figured. Yeah, super unfortunate.

  4. Thank you for taking the time to write this post, Cyrano! You obviously put a lot of work into it. Hopefully, it will benefit authors trying to navigate the ever-growing maze of adult fiction publishing websites.

    We especially appreciate your critique of Literotica - both the positive observations and the negative ones. We have always welcomed author (and reader) criticisms and suggestions so we can keep improving Literotica for the future.

    As far as your comments about Lit being stuck in the 1990s - it's probably somewhat true as far as speech issues. We personally have strong beliefs about free speech, even if Lit does have a few restrictions that don't allow ASSTR-level freedom.

    That said - we also understand that some people are more sensitive and prefer a safer environment. As we move forward with the next version of Literotica, we will be introducing tools to allow authors and readers to tailor the Literotica experience to their own personal comfort level. Examples of upcoming Lit features include a much more personalized reading experience and optional filtering for certain types of content. On the author side, we will be introducing site-wide blocking of members with whom authors do not want to interact. The long-promised user-to-user messaging system is also slowly coming together behind the scenes.

    As far as the speed of releasing new features on Literotica - we are often challenged by issues that come with a high number of daily readers. Lit's readership has grown a lot in the last few years, and just keeping the site up and fast takes a great deal of our time and effort. We are hopeful that the next version of Literotica will allow us to speed up development of new features.

    Again - we just wanted thank you for writing this piece and for challenging us to make Literotica a better community for everyone. Also, thank you for publishing your work on Lit for the last few years!

    1. Sounds like some exciting things are in the works! I'll look forward to seeing them unfold; and I sure appreciate that the immense volume Lit deals with brings certain limits to the speed of change. Thanks again for all you do and for the outlet you provide for authors.

  5. The problems with BDSM library have apparently been fixed since you were there last. The layout isn't much. Stories are listed in order by day and month, and the page is long, but can also be viewed in order of popularity, author, length, votes and title. The number one story is "Rape and Torture of a Cheerleader" so people who don't want to read non-consent might want to not browse there too much. Their longest story has had 783,807 readers since 2006, so it evidently draws viewers. The most popular has 1,139,587. They evidently have a large and loyal fan base.

    1. Thanks for that. I really should put a note about some of the stronger content there in the main post.