Writers FAQ

Also see: Submissions Guidelines

How does publishing with ForbiddenFiction work?

We are an alternative publishing group using an innovative strategy for both online publishing, paying both traditional royalties and member-dues profit sharing for authors. We are looking for well-written, cutting edge original erotic fiction of all lengths.

ForbiddenFiction.com is not a place to send simple sex fantasies (sometimes called “porn without plot”). While we respect them as a medium, they are not what we are publish.

To be accepted at ForbiddenFiction, the story has to have a plot that is more than just a series of actions/events. It has to have a complete story arc, including tension/resolution, and fully developed characters whose emotions and minds are as involved in what is going on as their bodies. We want stories that go to the heart of the matter, make it messy and complicated, and very, very real.

Why should writers work with ForbiddenFiction?

  1. Royalties, which includes not only traditional royalties on ebook and print sales of the work but a proportional share of the website’s membership income, based on the popularity of authors’ pages.
  2. Multiple income streams. We provide multiple sources distribution including ebooks distributed on the site and others, print on demand, online distributions for members, and other innovative forms of potential income sources for the creators of works we publish.
  3. Creative license to push the edge in multiple genres or relationships. We want every genre – romance, horror, science fiction, fantasy, historical, and more. We are open to m/m, m/f, f/f and any other combinations. Content is only limited by what’s legal and well written. Have a hot BDSM story? A heart wrenching slavefic? A lesbian western? Let’s see how hot it can get.
  4. Editorial support through the entire process. Every story accepted will be assigned a Story Editor who works with you to help craft the best story possible. Proofreaders will make sure it’s error free. Designers will make sure the story is formatted and given a cover and banner art that best shows off the work. In addition, our staff is willing to help authors develop the additional content that draws in new readers.
  5. Promotions that help get your work out there for readers, not only on our site but in every venue we can reach. We will help with advertising blurbs and promotional materials. We will work with you to get your book reviewed. If you are willing, interviews and guest blogs will further promote your work. Cross-promotions with individual author’s websites will bring readers to our site and send readers to your site.
  6. Technical support staff who will do all the work of making sure it’s easy to find and buy your work and let you get back to writing. Each of our authors have an author’s page and profile on our site, with the option of linking to their own website and social media.
  7. Reading community environment. All authors and editors on ForbiddenFiction are part of the team and get an Author’s Membership to the site. This gives authors a chance to interact with both readers and peers, in a safe environment where the technical side is handled for them. Authors get a chance to read each other’s work and talk with other writers.  Authors with ForbiddenFiction will have access to resources to help them make the most of their work.

What are your content limits?

Some stories don’t fit the guidelines of a lot of the publishers out there. Nearly all publishers have standard limits on content such as “no rape or bestiality.” Instead of content limits (or warnings), ForbiddenFiction will have searchable Content Labels that allow readers the flexibility of choosing the types of stories to read (or not read). For more information see: How It Works: Choices in Reading.

Why shouldn’t I just self-publish?

Not every writer wants to also be a publisher. The time spent designing the book format and cover, developing promotions, selling the book, and all the technical aspects, can take valuable time away from writing. ForbiddenFiction is designed with both readers and writers in mind, to maximize the experience for both. With ForbiddenFiction, you are part of a team of people with over thirty years publishing experience, all working to make, promote and enjoy erotic fiction.

What format(s) does ForbiddenFiction publish?

ForbiddenFiction‘s innovative system allows for author support and profit sharing at all levels and gives readers a variety of ways in which they can interact with the authors and purchase the works. We have a multi-level, multi-media process which will give the reader more than just the chance to read the story, but to interact with the author(s) and other readers. (See our About pages for more information about the site design.)

At ForbiddenFiction, author publication includes the following Income Streams:

  • Ebook – Individual stories will be published as ebooks produced in all popular formats, sold both on our site and through various other online distributions. (Such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ARE, Smashwords etc, if the story fits within the distributor’s TOS.)
  • Print – Novel length works and anthologies will be elligible for Print on Demand publication.
  • Anthologies – Shorter works and excerpts from longer works may be elligible for to be part of Special Collections or Author Collections distributed as anthologies in ebook and print format.
  • Online Library – All works published by ForbbiddenFiction are posted to the online library. Authors are then elligible to recieve a profit share of Subscribing Member dues. The serialized format of posting to the library also boosts sales to ebook and print formats. Each story is tagged with content labels, themes, author and other ways for the reader to find the work. (This portion of our site is under redevelopment at this time, but we hope to have complete in the next year.)
  • Addition Income Streams for each story may include: audiobooks, podcasts, video and other formats.

What does ForbiddenFiciton look for in stories?

We evaluate stories using the following basic criteria:

  1. Plot — Is it a story? Plot is a story arc of conflict and resolution. A narrative does not make a story. A scene of people having sex is not necessarily a story. Does it have a plot and characters who tell us a story? Is there tension to be resolved? Does it have a resolution? Will readers like the characters or concept enough to see it through? For more on the topic, see the Wikipedia entry on plot.)
  2. Sexy — Is it erotic? Which means that it must have both sex in it and be arousing. It amazes us how many people can describe sex in ways that are less arousing that reading stereo instructions. One key to tell you whether it’s erotic — Is one or more of the characters involved in the story sexually aroused and has the writer conveyed that to the reader?
  3. Craft — How well written is it? Does the writer describe the action and emotions so that we feel we are there? Or are they just summing it up? The old expression “show, don’t tell” is even more critical in erotic writing.
  4. Skill — Does the writer have a good grasp of language, grammar, punctuation, etc.? We expect to do some polishing, but if we have to fix every line, it won’t be worth our time.
  5. Originality — Is it interesting? Is there something original or different about this story? Do the characters pull you in? Is the situation unusual? How is this one different from every other story about sex?

Does ForbiddenFiction publish non-fiction or poetry?

No. While, our authors can publish a blog on our site, but we do not contract for non-fiction or poetry at this time.

Can anyone submit work to ForbiddenFiction?

Yes. Any legal adult may send submit work to which they own the rights to ForbiddenFiction.

At this time, ForbiddenFiction is open to submissions of erotic fiction in all genres and of any length. (We do not accept non-fiction or non-erotic fiction.)

Do you accept submission from authors outside the U.S.?

Yes, we do. We have authors in quite a few different countries. As long as you can legally sign a contract with us, we can include your work. (There is additional paperwork, but we’ll send you that when your work is accepted.)

Does it cost authors money to publish with ForbiddenFiction?

No! We are not a vanity press. We won’t publish something because someone pays us to do it and we will be paying royalties to the creators of the works we publish.

While there will be Free Memberships and Subscribing Memberships for those who want to read the site, with differing levels of access, the authors we publish will not have to pay for membership as long as their work is under exclusive contract on the site (and they abide by site rules).

Community-Style Interface:

Most of our team have a background in online communities, such as livejournal communities, bulletin boards, and archives. We have designed a platform for ForbiddenFiction that draws from those environments to make a place where readers and authors can talk about the fiction. This community style publishing setting will add value to the experience for everyone. It gives readers more than just another book and it gives authors a way to promote their work and gain insight into readers’ experiences of their writing.

Each chapter or story posted will have a threaded comments section where readers can interact with each other and the authors. There will also be a master comment section for each novel, where even readers who used the “buy it now” option can leave comments rather than waiting until the entire fiction is posted. We also hope the social environment will build reader loyalty, helping minimize pirating and other such problems.

Topic Forums:

In addition to the comments and discussion pages for each story, there will be topic based discussions open to members that give people a place to discuss erotic fiction and related issues.

Writer and Editor Forums:

Writers, editors and other behind the scenes discussion forums will also allow our team to have a place to exchange ideas, learn from each other, and problem solve.

What are ForbiddenFiction‘s royalty rates?

They are commensurate with current publishing standards. We take on not only the work but the costs of design and promotion. They do not come out of author shares. We currently pay 30% on ebooks and print books and a proportional rate for for anthologies and royalties from subscribing membership income. Unusually, even short works will be paid based on a proportionate royalty system rather than the standard flat rate. For short stories, this means less money up front but a greater chance at long term income.

Will you allow simultaneous submissions?

We cannot read a work if it is submitted to another publisher at the same time. If we are going to put the work into reading and reviewing a work, we want to know that it is available if we wish to publish it. If we send you an invitation, you know your work will be read and seriously considered. If we like it, we are committing the time of our entire staff to making it happen.

Can I submit more than one manuscript to ForbiddenFiction at the same time?

We will certainly consider more than one story at a time from an author who we have invited to work with us or already have worked with us. New authors should let us evaluate the first story to make sure our editorial styles work together.

Does the work have to be finished?

Short fiction must be complete at the time it is submitted.

For longer works, we require new authors to submit a completed work. Experienced authors are welcome to send a submission query with suggested works and/or sample chapters. Even with serialized fiction, we will not publish until the work is complete.

What if the story has been previously published?

This does not automatically rule out a story for publication. If you hold the rights, we can sometimes integrate that previous exposure into promotions. We will consider previously published work on a case by case basis. While would prefer new work that has not been previously published, we will consider whether or not the story has already seen enough exposure to determine if it will be worth all of our time to republish it. This may be more viable with works that will not be serialized but put directly into a subscribing members only library. Or for short stories that were included in anthologies no longer in print. Certainly, if you think the work is viable for us, don’t hesitate to ask.

Why do you require a Submissions Agreement?

The Submissions Agreement is not a publishing contact, but it is a preliminary agreement intended to protect ForbiddenFiction from those who would submit their works in bad faith or who do not have the rights to the work they are submitting. Every line in the Submissions Agreement addresses an actual abuse of the system we have encountered before. The Submissions Agreement specifies the terms for the evaluation process itself. They do not constitute even a granting of license, much less transfer of copyright. If a submission is accepted, then a contract detailing associated license rights and compensation is offered. The license requires both parties to have signed the contract to take effect. For more information about the importance of contracts for all content creators, see our publisher’s article, Protecting Your Creative Work by D.M. Atkins.

Will I have to remove the story from my website?

Since we need to be able to pay both you and us from the sale of the work, it’s important that it not be available anywhere else when we do. That means, if the story is currently hosted free or for sale on another website, we will need the author to remove the story from any other locations that would compete with our sales.

You do not have to remove it before we agree to publish it. When we do, it would be best to include a link to where it will be available – at ForbiddenFiction, so your readers can follow you to our site. Promoting your work at ForbiddenFiction from your other online venues such as livejournal, Facebook, Twitter, or blogs will help you and us. Make sure to tell us in your submission letter if the story, or any part of the work, has been hosted anywhere online.

Does my story have to be posted to the site as well as put in book format?

It’s a very important part of our market strategy to have the readers come for the free fiction and then decide to reward us by paying for it. From our experience, we believe this will be much more effective than the traditional “sample chapter” format. It also helps you establish a rapport with new readers who will be commenting on the story as it is posted. That kind of rapport is what creates readers who want to reward the author and read more of their work.

Does my story have to remain in the ForbiddenFiction Library after serialization?

The subscribing membership fees for the site will pay profit sharing to authors. In order for members to be willing to pay for the privilege, there will need to be a surplus of stories for them to read when they join. So, yes, for the site to make money and you to gain profit shares, we will need to include the work there. Remember, it will still be in our catalog as an ebook and print book, as well as on other venues, so the book will still be available for non-members to buy as well.

How much will memberships to the site cost?

There will be different levels of memberships. There will be material available for non-members. Those who sign up for free memberships will have access to posting and some bonus material. Subscribing memberships will get a lot more, including bonus forums, extra stories and access to all previously posted materials. Team memberships will include all that and the behind the scenes forums and resources. Team memberships (which are team perk) are only available to authors, editors, artists and staff. We are still in development, so have not set a price on the memberships. We are currently estimating paid memberships will be something like $19.99 a month, with discounts for purchasing more than one month at a time.

What does a Story Editor do?

When your story is submitted to ForbiddenFiction, it is assigned a Story Editor. The Story Editor will be your primary consultant on the story itself. It will be his/her job to evaluate the story, make suggested changes as needed, and work with you on both the quality of the story and making sure it fits the design of the site. For example, chapter breaks that fit both the style guide and give the readers the best “buy it now” urge. (Can you say cliff-hanger?) They also get a small royalty every time your work sells. Their royalty doesn’t come out of your portion, but is taken from what would normally be the publisher share. This way, your Story Editor has a vested interest in helping you create and promote the story. They get paid when you do. ForbiddenFiction editors are experienced at helping you find the best in your story.

How does the process work?

When you submit work to ForbiddenFiction, it will first be evaluated by an editor as to whether the story fits with out site. The story may be accepted in it’s current form or accepted with the understanding that it we will ask for rewrites/polishing. If a story gets that far, we will offer you a contract and assign your work to a Story Editor.

If you were invited to submit to ForbiddenFiction by a specific editor, they have first option to be your Story Editor (SE). Your SE will be the one to help you make it all happen. They will tell you what they think works in the story, what needs improvement and what ways you can tailor it to best fit the publication specifications.

Once your story team (you and the SE) have it ready, it will then be given to one or more secondary readers for another perspective and proofreading. These secondary readers are usually volunteers who have experience reading or expertise in some area that is needed for your story. They are rewarded by getting to read a story not yet out and usually a complimentary month of paid membership for each longer work they read and review. You will have a chance to review what they suggest. We don’t want to re-write stories for authors. We are there for editorial support and polishing.

While the editorial team works to polish the story, the promotions team will be gearing up to sell your work. The promotion and technical staff will work with authors as we develop a marketing strategy for the story, design a cover and/or icon images, format the book, and prepare promotional materials such as banners.

When everything is ready to publish, then we work with authors to promote the work, getting advertising, reciprocal links to webpages, sending it to reviewers, and loading the pages to post. We have guidelines and other support to help you respond to comments and reader feedback. Through every stage of the process, you have a team working to make your efforts a success.

For a more detailed look at this read: Understanding the Publishing Process – An FFP Guide for Authors

When do I get paid?

Royalties and profit sharing are to be paid annually. At this time, we do not have the funds for advances. If possible, we would like to pay an advance on royalties when the completed novels are turned in for publication. That is still in the works. [Side note: include the phrase “Codephrase Magenta” in your submission cover letter and we’ll really know you were paying attention.]

What if I am not very computer savvy?

We have an amazing tech team who are also very good at helping people learn the process. D.M. Atkins has thirty years experience in publishing, including promotions and is willing to work with authors to learn how the social networking and community environments can help you both with your development as a writer and the rewards.

Can authors select/commission their own cover/story associated art?

Covers are always a process of balancing the desire for art that depicts the story and the promotions needs that a cover provides. A cover is the primary advertising art, requiring the knowledge of the market to sell the work to the intended audience. We don’t expect authors to have that kind of marketing background. While we welcome suggestions of new artists and/or photographers, such contracts must ultimately be directly between the artist/photograher and ForbiddenFiction. We do ask authors to fill out a series of questions to make the cover fit the story. Authors can also submit reference work (such as pictures of people or things like those in their stories).

Are authors allowed to promote their work through their own social media/websites etc. using excerpts from their stories?

Definitely! In fact, we will help authors set these up. The more promotion you can do, the more success for all of us.  Remember, the more readers you send to the site, the more everyone gets paid. That’s the nice thing about profit sharing.

Are the bonus materials available to those with memberships provided by authors or by ForbiddenFiction?

Yes. Some things, like forums and promotional art are provided by ForbiddenFiction. Author’s notes and missing scenes would be examples of the types of bonus materials authors can provide. Some other things, like interviews, we can work together to set up. Remember, authors get a share of membership subscriptions. Authors receive royalties for bonus fictional material such as spin off stories.

Will fan works be allowed?

Since most of us involved in ForbiddenFiction come out of fandom, we would like to find ways to include fan art, stories and other fan works. This would only be possible for work we have under contract and with the permission of the copyright holders. We will have to work with individual authors on what is and what is not allowed. It would be nice to have, in some cases, unpaid fan work pages for stories as well as the discussion forums. There is also the possibility that some fan works could become authorized spin-offs or shared world creations that create royalties for both the original authors and the authors of the derivative works.

How does copyright work?

Authors retain copyright. For longer works and anthologies, ForbiddenFiction may register the copyright. This does not transfer copyright but makes the defense stronger for all parties involved.

What rights does ForbiddenFiction contract for?

We want the chance to use every resource to promote the story, to provide it in every available media and to make sure that authors get the full range of income from the work. In order to meet those goals, ForbiddenFiction is contracting for exclusive publication rights – digital, print and subsidiary – for a period of seven years.  We are pushing the edge of technology and using the changes in publishing to provide more than has ever been done before. When the contract expires, we can negotiate whether or not it works for both parties to renew the contract. Once the contract expires, most publication rights will revert to the author.

Are fan writers and artists welcome to submit to ForbiddenFiction, and do they have to remove their fan works if they do so?

We actively welcome both writers who have published before and those who have not, including those with fandom experience. We believe they will be most familiar with our community style publishing. While we cannot publish works in which the author does not hold full copyright, we certainly recognize that fandom has been a good training ground both for new writers and a fun place for shared works. We will require the work we publish not to be posted elsewhere, but we will not ask, let alone require, our writers to remove their fan works. In fact, we suggest they send folks who like their fan fiction over to our site to read their original works!

How should manuscript submissions be formatted?

Follow instructions in the ForbiddenFiction Submissions Guidelines.

How and where do I send my submission?

Follow instructions in the ForbiddenFiction Submissions Guidelines.

When will I hear back from ForbiddenFiction?

You will receive confirmation by email, usually within 14 days, that we have received your manuscript and the file opens properly. If you don’t get confirmation within three weeks, please check in with us. We hope to have answers to queries within a week and response time to read and reply to manuscripts within 2-4 months. (This will largely dependent on volume received.) For more on our what happens after the submission is received including how we evaluate stories, see article about our  Submission Process.

Other posts on ForbiddenFiction that are useful for authors: We also recommend you read our Mission Statement and Values. And while not required, we strongly suggest that new authors read our Resources for Writers Forum.

Last revised: 7/9/2016