The Political Demonization of Incest

Is The Trump Family The New Borgia Dynasty?

In 1492, Rodrigo Borgia became Pope Alexander VI. And, at first glance, the legacy he would leave behind seems largely incorruptible. During his life, Pope Alexander VI, would contribute to the historical legacy many of us now take for granted including, the declaration of Ferdinand and Isabella (the reigning King and Queen of Spain) as Catholic sovereigns, granting Spain and Portugal rights to the New World, and, of course, commissioned building projects and artistic embellishments. Despite these moments, Pope Alexander VI is often remembered as one of the worst popes in history. Keep in mind, this is the same Pope Alexander VI whose son would go on to inspire Niccolo Machiavelli in his writing, The Prince.

But, with his religious conviction unquestionable by many, how did Pope Alexander VI become so mercilessly hated? After all, the insult of many people recognizing Pope Alexander VI not by his papal title, and instead as Rodrigo Borgia, is a historical insult that runs quite deep. The Borgia name itself has become a family name synonymous with incest where political scandal, murder plots, and love affairs were the inherited legacy. So, is the Borgia family really as bad as history remembers? What about the accusations on incest? To answer that question we have to start where all scandals seem to start, with a beautiful daughter… and her politically powerful father.

Incest In The Borgia Family

From the beginning, Pope Alexander VI’s reputation was somewhat questionable. His weakness, even as a then Cardinal, was beautiful women. Rodrigo Borgia had, in fact, taken a mistress, Vannozza Catanei, and subsequently fathered four children (later legitimized upon his becoming Pope Alexander VI). Included in these four children was a single daughter, Lucrezia Borgia. At the time, daughters were monetarily valued, by wealthy families, as a political tool. Weddings were political alliances, a way to ensure and strengthen political power. This meant Lucrezia Borgia was thrust into the political spotlight and all eyes were on her future marriage. Her wedding would become a major political affair: international gossip, and romance was simply not taken into account.

At first glance, Lucrezia Borgia was undoubtedly beautiful. She was often the inspiration for many artists and their paintings. Yes, Lucrezia Borgia, the soon to be topic of scandal, was described and painted as the embodiment of Christian piety and grace. Those privileged enough to be in her presence would often discover her charm went much deeper than outward beauty. Lucrezia Borgia was in fact, quite intelligent. Her education, at the behest of her ambitious father, was quite unusual for an ‘illegitimate’ child during the time period… especially for a female. As a child, Lucrezia had actually been taught by Adriana Orsini. The extent of her education included the Latin, Greek, Italian, and French languages as well as music, singing, and drawing. A combination of beauty and intelligence, Lucrezia was highly sought after, and her father used this to his every advantage.

In June, 1493, Giovanni Sforza married Lucrezia Borgia in all the pomp and circumstance possible. All seemed quite well, as Giovanni Sforza was the ‘perfect’ choice of a husband. His family gave Pope Alexander VI a much needed ally in Northern and Central Italy. The match may have been a little too perfect, as many now note the role of the Sforza family in the election of Pope Alexander VI. Whether or not the marriage was a political favor in turn for another, the joyous atmosphere was short lived. For in 1494, France invaded Italy. In a moment that can only be described as sheer stupidity, Giovanni’s uncle, with his nephew in Rome, decided to pledge his alliance to France. Pressured by Lucrezia’s brothers, Juan and Cesare, Giovanni simply couldn’t go against his uncle, and declared loyalty to France as well. This led to a painful mistake, one that put Giovanni’s life in jeopardy.

In a moment of imprudence, Cesare warned Lucrezia that her husband would need to be killed. Loyal to her husband, Lucrezia probably warned Giovanni, because he quickly fled to safety in Milan. Pope Alexander VI was not about to let the resource of his beautiful daughter go to waste, and soon sought an annulment to her marriage with Giovanni on the grounds of impotence. Insulted to say the least, Giovanni refused the annulment. This began all the scandals that would plague Lucrezia, and ultimately, the Borgia family. Giovanni in his refusal to accept an annulment, started rumors and speculations claiming Pope Alexander VI wanted Lucrezia for himself, adding in a jealous and lust crazed brother for good measure. Soon, everyone was discussing the incestuous scandal of the Pope, and his daughter.

Ultimately, with the promise of being able to keep the dowry, Giovanni accepted the annulment. In 1497, with her marriage annulled, Lucrezia retired to a convent. There she may have stayed if it hadn’t been for her brother Juan’s death. The death was a scandal of its own, one that deserves attention to detail all on its own. Juan Borgia, formerly known as Giovanni (because nothing shouts incestuous scandal quite like a husband and brother sharing a name), seems quite unremarkable to history, if not for his inherited love of women… particularly his younger brother’s (Gioffre) wife. This painting of him might be a bit unkind of history, but the circumstances surrounding his death have done nothing but increase the scandal.

On the night of June 14, 1947, deep in the heart of the ghetto of Rome, Juan Borgia left a feast in his honor, never to be seen again. The setting wasn’t strange to him, as the villa in question was his mother’s house. However, early the next morning, Juan’s horse returned without its rider. A search was sent out, only for his body to be discovered in the Tiber. Any doubts surrounding the circumstances of Juan’s death were soon put to rest. His throat had been slit and his body had received a total of nine stab wounds. None of the valuables he was carrying had been stolen. Pope Alexander VI was stricken with grief and quickly launched an investigation into finding the culprit. A week later, the investigation was halted.

The abrupt halt to find the murderer of Juan Borgia has led many to speculate that the culprit lay within the Borgia family itself. It’s worth noting that while the Orsini family was probably suspected by the Pope himself, nothing ever came of those suspicions, which would have been quite fortuitous. Instead, the murderer is often speculated to have been one of Juan’s brothers. Cesare and Gioffre both had ample motivation to kill Juan, but it is Gioffre that is the more likely. It was Gioffre who had married at the age of twelve, to a bride who was then sixteen. The interest of Sancha (Gioffre’s wife) in her brother-in-laws is well documented. Rumors of Sancha’s affair with both Juan and Cesare were widespread, which if true, classified as incestuous at the time. A general consensus of the issue now speculates that Cesare, at Gioffre’s request, murdered Juan. Sancha was suddenly a widow, one with inconvenient political ties to Naples.

Resigning from his vows as Cardinal, Cesare soon followed his brother footsteps and took a role in the papal armies. He was also in want of a wife. Hoping to wed Cesare to Carlotta of Naples, thus strengthening allegiances against France, Pope Alexander VI once again used his daughter’s marriage as a political tool. This time, Lucrezia married Alfonso of Aragon, the brother of Juan’s widow, in 1498. The match was actually a happy one, despite newfound rumors circulating prior to their wedding. In another moment of sheer brilliance, someone fathered a child within the Borgia household, an infant often referred to as Infans Romanus, but named Giovanni. A somewhat common occurrence, one that could have been solved quietly, suddenly turned into the scandal everyone was talking about. This time, it seems to have been the fault of Pope Alexander VI himself.

In a poorly executed political move, Pope Alexander issued a decree stating that the child, Giovanni, was fathered by Cesare and an unnamed woman. Unable to recognize the child as his own, Pope Alexander probably saw the wisdom in keeping the child within the family, soon entrusting his care to Lucrezia. However, Pope Alexander seemed concerned about Giovanni’s long term well-being, and issued a supplemental decree to the first one. Now, the waters became muddy, and Pope Alexander acknowledge that Giovanni was in fact his child, not that of his son Cesare. The scandal that ensued is the source of many incestuous rumors circulating today about the Borgia family. This was the atmosphere in which Alfonso of Aragon married Lucrezia. Despite the rumors, Lucrezia and Alfonso had their own child, Rodrigo, in 1499.

Lucrezia’s joyful marriage was once again to be interrupted by politics in 1500. The strategic arrangement of Cesare Borgia and Carlotta of Naples fell apart. Not to be without a wife, Cesare married Charlotte d’Albret in an unanticipated and politically strong move. Suddenly, the interests of the Borgia family were with France, their previous enemy, and against Naples. The swapping of alliances put Juan’s widow in a predicament that soon saw her imprisoned in Rome. For Lucrezia’s husband however, the fateful turn of alliances was devastating. Trouble first struck the newly married couple in June of that year, when Pope Alexander became injured by a falling chimney. Concerned for her father, Lucrezia nursed his wounds. Two weeks later, Lucrezia’s husband, Alfonso, was stabbed multiple times on the steps of the Vatican.

The attack left Alfonso trapped within the Vatican. Lucrezia was devastated and refused to leave his side. She took control over his nursing, ordering doctors to examine him, cooking her husband’s meals herself, and seeing to it her father issued guards to ensure his safety. Rumors of the attack on Alfonso made their way through the streets, and soon, Cesare was once again painted as murderer. Some speculation even went so far as to say Cesare wanted his sister for himself. A month later in August, as rumors began circulating full force in print, Alfonso was strangled to death. The culprit was well-known, a hired assassin of Cesare Borgia. Suddenly, Lucrezia was a widow, all at the ordering of her ambitious brother. This was devastating to the then twenty year old.

Forced to abandon her son, Rodrigo, to his godfather, Lucrezia remarried for the political advantage of her brother and father in 1501. With her new husband, Alfonso d’Este, living in Ferrara, Lucrezia soon left Rome to join him in 1502. For once in her life, Lucrezia seemed both happy and in a bout of good fortune. In 1503, while enjoying a passionate affair with her new brother-in-law, Lucrezia received news that her father had died. Once again, Lucrezia was forced to deal with the painful pieces of her family legacy, as her son, Rodrigo, remained trapped within the Vatican. Unable to take care of the child herself, Lucrezia entrusted the care of Rodrigo to Sancha, her son’s aunt.

For Sancha, the death of Pope Alexander VI in 1503 marked a turning point. She was suddenly free, and refused to stay in Rome any longer. Leaving her husband, Sancha took Rodrigo and left for Naples. Interestingly enough, not long after she did so, Cesare came to visit her. The meeting is one of speculation, with most people suggesting Cesare entrusted the care of Giovanni, the Pope’s illegitimate son, to Sancha’s care. There are plenty of reasons for this, as Cesare was facing problems of his own. With his father’s death, Cesare found papal backing tough to come by for his army. In 1506, after being taken prisoner and having his land confiscated, Cesare was sent to Spain. There he escaped and became a military commander for King John III of Navarre. But, in 1507, Cesare was ambushed and killed.

Lucrezia only seemed to thrive in her newfound environment. The people of Ferrara seemed quite in love with their Duchess. Both her and her husband enjoyed passionate affairs outside their marriage. Despite this, Lucrezia only became the embodiment of beauty and honesty. She would go on to have more children, but also showed signs of impending difficulties. Then, in June 1519, Lucrezia gave birth to a ninth child. The daughter was named after her husband’s sister, but died soon after birth. Lucrezia would not do much better, as close to two weeks later, she died of complications. The legacy she and her family would left behind was almost immediately tarnished by political rivals. It seems history was not kind, especially to the longest surviving of the Borgia siblings.

History has taught us that, more often than not, the legacy that survives someone is not the truth, but rather, an intricate web of fiction mixed with fact. We have also learned that tarnishing someone’s reputation often takes nothing more than patience and salacious gossip. The Borgia legacy seems plagued by both these things. Art and Literature no doubt played a huge role in the tarnishing of the Borgia name. But the problematic issue is how. It’s true that Cesare Borgia was a murderer who killed those unfortunate enough to get in his way. It’s also true that Pope Alexander VI was a politically ruthless individual. But, what about Lucrezia? Does she really deserve the rumors surrounding her incestuous sex life? No, not really.

Out of all the rumors surrounding the Borgia family, incest is the most scandalous. Both Netflix and Showtime capitalized on the incestuous love affair rumored to have occurred between Cesare and Lucrezia. For their efforts, fan bases of individuals now exist eager to see the rumors proven historically true. The political rivals of the Borgia would never have imagined this taking place, much less the Borgia family themselves. No, at the time, incest was the most sinful of behaviors. Only someone truly evil could commit the sin of incest, much less produce offspring from such a union. Incest was quite equatable to sleeping with the devil himself, all in an effort to sell your soul. So, what changed? Why are people suddenly rooting for the incestuous love affair to succeed? Well, because incest is the last taboo, and the last demonization that still exists politically.

Incest In The Trump Family?

Want to see this scenario play out in real life? You need look no further than Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka and the 2016 Presidential Election. But to get a clear picture, you need to go all the way back to 2006. At the time, Ivanka Trump appeared with her father on The View to promote her role on The Apprentice. Then twenty-five, Ivanka Trump had a background as a teen model and was just getting her business feet wet. The interview seemed to be going well, right until Donald Trump was asked to comment on his daughter’s modelling. Asked for his thoughts on if his daughter were to pose in Playboy, Trump answered a little too honestly. Remarking on his daughter’s ‘beautiful figure’ Trump joked, “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” That was all it took to lay the ground work for future scandal.

Flash forward to May, 2017, the Presidential Election is going strong, when all of a sudden, Bill Maher does the unthinkable. Probably remembering the old interview, Maher decides to make an incest joke, insinuating Ivanka can bribe her father with sexual favors. The joke doesn’t go over well with the media, but for a certain subset of people, the comment is too good to ignore. Suddenly pictures resurface of Donald Trump and Ivanka in questionable poses with people calling attention to their ‘special relationship’. The rumors start to become more common, and while people may not admit it, they can’t stop talking about the latest celebrity gossip. Once again, incest is at the center of a political scandal, and for modern society, it’s a hit.

Then in September 2017, just when things look like they might die down, Ivanka makes the mistake of referring to her father as ‘Daddy’. The comment adds fuel to the fire, and suddenly, there’s nothing to quelch it. While people were quick to remark on the tasteless joke by Bill Maher, this time around, they can’t resist. Trump’s history of awkward comments, pictures with his daughter, and the close father-daughter bond is too much for the gossiping public to ignore. Articles start popping up in common news feeds, and people are consuming the latest version of the printed pamphlets all too common in the Borgia time period. But this time, the material is cheap and the exposure vast.

When Donald Trump becomes President-Elect Trump, well, the rumors resurface. When it comes out Melania Trump will not be joining her husband for the first few months in the White House, people are quick to insinuate Ivanka will be the ‘fill in First Lady’. The political smearing of Donald Trump, on the topic of incest, seems complete. Not only are people talking about it, but Ivanka herself has to deny the rumors calling them inappropriate. When Donald Trump is sworn in as President, things seem to calm down… for a while. Ivanka is still in the spotlight, the rumors echo down the halls of the White House, but for the most part, people stop adding to the gossip. Suddenly, there’s enough to draw attention to now without involving the President’s daughter.

But then, just when everyone thought there might be some peace to the incestuous gossip, Ivanka started to appear at political functions instead of the First Lady. This could have easily been explained by interviews of Melania Trump stating she wanted to focus on raising her son. The rumors simply wouldn’t have it. Ivanka Trump’s place in the political world of her father was somehow proof the pair couldn’t be separated. They simply ‘had’ to be having an incestuous love affair if not sexually, then by proxy. Yes, there were even speculations surrounding how much alike Melania Trump’s father looked like her husband, Donald Trump. Nothing was off limits, and everything was suddenly a free for all. That is, until suddenly, things calmed down about a year into Trump’s presidency.

The political world had moved on, the incestuous gossip suddenly old news. Yet, that didn’t stop Michael Wolff from taking the rumors just a tad further in his book Fire and Fury. Only time will tell if readers of the book will go on to add yet another layer to the incest rumors. The author claims that Ivanka Trump is actually a ‘wife’ to her father, and Hope Hicks, Communications Director, a ‘daughter’. Now, if that doesn’t just exemplify the height of incestuous gossip, I don’t know what does. Suddenly, the President has a daughter for a wife and a daughter by proxy in his communications director. Somehow, I think we ended up back in 1497. Then again, at least those rumors were only just beginning! Yes, the political smearing by incestuous passions is alive and well today.

Why Is That? Why Incest?

Well, the answer is simple: incest is the last taboo. If you truly want to demonize your political rival, you have to go for the throat, the worst of the worst. In today’s society, incest remains the last stronghold. We’ve seen the acceptance of unfaithful husbands, illegitimate children, same-sex affairs (and marriages), and even plural/open relationships are becoming ‘the norm’. When it comes to incest however, feelings are much different. Incest is still ‘disgusting’ and a ‘perversion of nature’. While incestuous relationships today are consented to by mature adults, that doesn’t stop people from labeling the behavior as unusual or unacceptable. Until incest becomes typical and loses its taboo status, well, we’ll always be treated to these incestuous rumors. But hey, that just might mean we have the affair between Ivanka and Donald Jr. to look forward to!

Another Top 10 Predictions For 2018

After reading Lot’s Cave’s post on the Smashwords predictions for 2018, I knew I had to write my own. Last year, I decided to take a break from social media and a hectic writing schedule in favor of observing the market. After all, I’d done painstaking research in that area already. The natural progression turned into a different kind of market analysis. As an author, I’m not particularly fond of words like market analysis, profit margin, gross or net. You get the point. That’s why this post is desperately needed. This is market analysis for those that likewise aren’t too familiar with such terms. That’s okay, I’ll explain everything while discussing my own predictions for 2018.

To framework my thoughts and opinions, I’ve decided to read Smashwords original 2018 Book Industry Predictions post. Why am I doing it this way? Well, it’s actually a really important step in the process. Smashwords is a great site, and Mark Coker is generally really good at explaining things in the industry. But, when it came to this year’s predictions post, he really dropped the ball. There are too many aspects of this industry hidden behind ‘publisher speak’, this combined with his ‘business speak’, and well, you get my idea. All this really does make for a confusing predictions post, and so, here’s the first point for those looking for clarification.

My Top Ten Author Predictions For 2018

1. Indie Authors Did Not Assert Control & Won’t In 2018

For Mark Coker to say that indie authors took control of the publishing world is a gross misunderstanding of the industry. Hidden in Mark Coker’s statement is the idea that prior to indie authors the mainstream publishers were censoring content. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Mainstream publishers have always been competitive, and likewise, do gain an ever increasing platform of visibility. But, they certainly didn’t limit the industry’s content any more than we see it today. Authors could still publish, they could still seek out an audience, but it was much harder.

As a group, indie authors usually suffer a kind of limbo in today’s industry. Many authors don’t want to wait for the big name publishers to publish or accept their manuscripts, and so, they rush off to the nearest indie platform. The problem with this is what follows. An author publishes their somewhat lackluster book, and then, it doesn’t sell. The author gets discouraged and many times, never writes again. Why does this happen? Because the author got the instant gratification of seeing their unpolished book published. There was no trial by fire, and as a result, the author has no root to their craft. When hardships come, they tip over easily.

I’m not against indie authors, I identify largely with the label, but we need to admit our faults. Many mainstream publishers complain about crap flooding the market, and there is a reason for those complaints. Just because someone can publish doesn’t mean they should. For Mark Coker then, to say this sort of ‘all access pass’ to publishing is asserting control, is dishonest. If anything, indie authors have actually damaged the mainstream publishing half of the industry. There were not better deals for authors in mainstream publishing as a result of indie authors. Overall, the whole market needs an equilibrium it will probably never find. That is not, nor has it ever been, control asserted.

2. Kindle Unlimited Is A Lost Cause

Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited is a constant, and albeit reasonable, complaint of Mark Coker. No one is going to lie and say Kindle Unlimited is great for authors. However, we have to be honest about what it is. Kindle Unlimited, and its subsequent books are not a uniform group of ‘leeches to slowly drain other booksellers of their lifeblood.’ To say so, quite frankly, is a little dishonest. What Kindle Unlimited really is remains quite simple, Kindle Unlimited is the socialist system of eBooks. Yes, I mean that in the strongest possible way. Kindle Unlimited is the very definition of Socialism. Merriam-Webster defines Socialism as:

A stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

In this particular version of Socialism, KENP (Page Reads) are the good to be sold. The unequal distribution lies in that wonderful KDP Select Global Fund. This is not even getting paid for the amount of work done, but rather, the work the ‘government’ thinks you perform by pages read. Yes, this really is a socialist system. For all of Mark Coker’s harsh comments on Kindle Unlimited and Amazon’s monopolistic practices, he’s never once gone so far as to call it like it is. But why hasn’t he? Well, I suspect it is because of the immense amount of pressure not to piss off Amazon, or its author base. Even Mark Coker must make a living competing with Amazon.

As with any socialist system though, it is important to realize Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited will grow worse for authors. Socialism leads to Communism, and yes, there is a difference between the two. The most simplistic definition of Communism is when the government distributes goods equitably, and by equitably, people usually mean by highest need first. Can you imagine this kind of system carried out within Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited? It doesn’t take much imagination. Amazon is already incentivizing certain markets and authors over others. Oh, and that pool of money, well it’s shrinking. What happens when that ‘easy’ money dries up? Kindle Unlimited is a lost cause for any indie author really wanting to support themselves by writing for a living.

3. Breaking Up Amazon Won’t Help — If It Even Happens

Perhaps my biggest complaint against Mark Coker lies in his solution to the problem. Breaking up Amazon won’t really solve the problem we see embodied in the indie author industry. Want proof? Look around at the other largely monopolistic company giants: Google, Facebook, Walmart, etc. There are too many big name big influence companies to list, and we all know their names whatever the niche market. It’s safe to say then, that the problem isn’t just the Romance market. The problem isn’t just Amazon. But where Mark Coker and I differ largely, I suspect, has to do with our politics. To say otherwise would be dishonest. We all have our particularly personal bias, and at least, I’m admitting mine in my blog post.

While Mark Coker advocates the dismantling of Amazon’s monopolistic status, he’s, at the same time, placing blame on Amazon. But, in an odd example, isn’t that kind of like blaming the car for driving over the speed limit? The car was, after all, made to drive 100MPH. Didn’t the car company put you in that position? This argument doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t account for personal responsibility. Amazon isn’t to blame for offering extremely low, often undercutting prices. The consumer is responsible for buying these products without care or concern. This is also true for those using Facebook, Google, and Walmart. There’s just something within the consumer that doesn’t think twice about that next good deal in the long term.

This is largely why breaking up Amazon won’t solve the indie market problem. Authors will still lower their prices to minuscule amounts in the interest of making that next sale. If it isn’t Amazon, it’ll be someone else. The personal responsibility of each and every author plays a huge role in this. That’s why I bother to write blog posts saying such harsh things. I find it a personal responsibility to warn people about undercutting other authors’ prices. Is it an unforgivable sin to utilize Amazon or even Kindle Unlimited? No, but it is a practice that needs to be embraced wisely. If authors charged more or likewise demanded compensation for their time, Amazon eventually have to listen. Mark Coker at least got one thing right on this topic, there’s always an author to take someone else’s place if they don’t play along.

4. This Will Be The Year Of Side Taking

If I’m right, and personal responsibility is important, then 2018 stands to be a year of side taking. What do I mean by that? Well, are you committing to Kindle Unlimited or not? For authors that choose not to, or are barred from, using Kindle Unlimited, the market stands to become a highly competitive marketplace. There will always be the temptation to be jealous of successful authors, but this could get much worse this year. For authors who refuse to play the Amazon game, for authors that turn away all that wonderful imaginary money, the mockery and pain will be an intense constant pain. This is something I’ve already learned and had to embrace in my own unique way.

You know what I love? Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Why is that relevant though? Well, it was my unique way of realizing the struggle of individuality. Writing Taboo Erotica can sometimes feel a bit too glamorous. Authors, myself included, like to think we’re on some sort of crusade for free speech. The problem is though, whether this is true or not, many authors criticize writing any content that doesn’t suit Amazon’s taste or content policy. The Fountainhead showed me why this is. Amazon authors, especially those looking to write for a living, have settled. They think we too should settle, and when we don’t, well it’s a personal conviction against them because they did.

The hatred is real, but many taboo writers don’t know this goes both ways. Amazon exclusive authors are jealous of us too, because we have the freedom of writing for the sake of writing. We have the audacity to charge ‘high’ prices, and our customers pay it. What neither of us, regardless of side, understand is this was all orchestrated to happen. When authors are busy undercutting each other and each other’s prices, well, mainstream publishers get to come up as the ‘hero problem solver’. Authors will flock to a symbol for their cause, and for authors wanting to make money, that symbol is Amazon. The side taking can only grow worse the more extreme tensions get. We need to stop taking sides and realize, we’re all indie authors looking to publish and make some money for our efforts. Why is that continually so complicated?

5. Authors Will Grow More Desperate… And Annoying

Why did I leave the Erotica Authors Reddit community seemingly overnight? Because authors are annoying, and will continue to get even more so. Okay, this isn’t true for every author, after all I’m an author. But, as a majority, the authors looking to eek out a profit at every opportunity are going to get worse. One of the things I did last year was subscribe to a couple author newsletters. Now, I read a wide variety of books and I did get to compare and contrast ‘erotica’ themes newsletters to other market’s newsletters. You know what? The difference is startling! My inbox was filled with erotica themed newsletters almost every single day. The other markets couldn’t compete even when combined. Does anyone see the problem here?

As the market grows more and more competitive, authors are going to get more and more desperate. What will happen to my inbox then? The problem isn’t just newsletters though, it’s a much broader problem. Authors are treating each other rather dishonestly, using them to find that ‘secret solution’ to their problems. Overall, this doesn’t help anyone feel like there is a much broader community of like-minded individuals. What’s worse though, is how it leads authors into settling and foregoing their personal responsibilities. Perhaps no one has thought this through to completion, because no one will be happy when everything is said and done. Readers won’t want newsletters, authors won’t talk to one another, and overall market prices will drop.

The important thing to note in all this is that authors have done this. I’m blaming authors, and I’m not being shy about it. All those people that settled, cut each others throats, and then lowered their prices when nothing else worked are a problem. Yes, scammers are a problem, but there are scammers in every industry. They are a small sliver of the overall representation readers see, or at least, should see. When the authors though start cutting corners, start charging lower and lower prices, and start abusing the trust of their reader base, well, who wouldn’t expect problems? These are all problems, and they’re annoying problems. Isn’t it time we just fixed it?

6. Authors Can’t Expand Into Other Markets

For authors looking to write for a living, pay attention to this one. You cannot expand into a different niche market. Anyone who says there is money to be made in cookbooks, science fiction, or historical fiction are lying to you. This sounds definite because it is. But how can I say it? Well, the logic behind this one is simple: romance is the trend setter. When publishers compare what is called the ‘market share’ of a particular niche, they’re discussing the amount of money a particular kink can earn you in comparison to others. Romance always captures the largest percentage of the market share. Simply put, Romance is the most profitable subject to write. Likewise, this incentivizes the most authors looking to write for a living. Simple enough.

What many authors fail to realize goes hand in hand with this is the fact that Romance is a trend setting niche. The trends that happen in the Romance world eventually trickle down throughout the rest of the market. This means the only reason Science Fiction or Historical Fiction remain lucrative is because the Romance trends haven’t ruined them yet. The minute Romance dries up, authors will move on to the next, which is probably Science Fiction by the way. Don’t buy into the idea that you can simply shift markets without any fallout. You’ll automatically make less money switching from Romance to Science Fiction, all else being equal. Not only that, but the longevity of your income source will dry up at the same time Romance dries up.

There are already whispers about the next market to jump into this year: audio books. What very few people are mentioning along with this is the fact Amazon may ruin the market before it even really began. Need proof? Check out Audible’s Romance Package. Does that scare anyone? It certainly should. Amazon through Audible and its new Romance Package subscription service stands to gain complete control over the Romance industry, and it doesn’t matter if it is hard copy, soft cover, or audio books now. What is clear however, is that audio books are not the next new trend everyone thinks they will be. In the long run, audio books will actually become yet another Kindle Unlimited, just another mechanism in the overall machine that is Amazon.

7. Single eBook Sales Are The Platform’s Fault

This may not seem like it impacts you as an author, but it does. When publishers talk about single copy eBook sales, they’re talking about a customer buying a lone book. Mark Coker correctly argues these type of sales will decrease, but for the wrong reason. He once again blames Kindle Unlimited, but is it ultimately Kindle Unlimited’s fault? I don’t think so. The blame once again belongs on authors, as authors have undercut prices and encouraged sites, like Smashwords, to run continuous sales. This is the sneaky little problem no one wants to talk about. Why does no one want to talk about it? Because it is a huge problem on platforms that exist outside Amazon.

How does a publisher compete with the giant that is Amazon? Well, many publishers have decided the solution is a site wide sale. This makes sense on the surface, as the sale seems to offset some of the bargains Amazon can afford to run continuously. Likewise, what customer doesn’t at least browse through the sale options? But, deep down, there is a cost to any sale ever put on by a website. Usually, websites put on sales when they want to incentivize the selling of a particular product. In other words, if a publisher ordered too many books, or perhaps wants to boost a book’s rankings, offer it at a discount. But, when sites don’t push a particular product, well, then they’re just begging for sales.

The begging that takes place during a sale always comes at a cost to the author. Don’t forget this. A sale requires a sale price, and that usually means a pay cut to an author. I’ve done this math multiple times. I know Smashwords doesn’t have the audience or customer base to pull the numbers to justify lowering a price. But to prove it, here’s an example. If I drop my $5.00 book price down to $2.50 for a Smashwords sale, Smashwords would need to sell roughly twice as many books to make it worth my while. You’re welcome to imagine this with new books (no incentive for customers to buy at sale price) or older books (your customer base probably already has the title and won’t buy enough to make up the sale difference), and see for yourself.

8. Platforms Will Become Less Significant

For authors, which platforms to publish to is an extremely important choice. Yes, this echoes the theme of taking side but it differs slightly in application. This year, I do see echoes of what others have said, the market is shrinking. Platforms are finding it harder and harder to compete against Amazon. Now, the positive side to this is that, for the most part, Taboo Erotica exists outside of Amazon. Readers obviously want the taboo content, their willing to pay good money for it, and they’re finding it on Lot’s Cave especially. But for sites like Smashwords and Excitica, there may come a time to decide if publishing taboo content along with their more mainstream content is the way to go. This is a delicate topic, and many authors don’t want to talk about it. But, if we’re honest, it’s extremely disconcerting. The platforms available to taboo content are shrinking rapidly.

But, in all fairness, it isn’t just taboo content. Sites like Apple, Scribd, and Kobo will all face a tough time against Amazon. Apple has one thing going with its iBooks, the prevalence of the .EPUB format. Many book lovers have found their favorite format, and it isn’t .MOBI (utilized by Amazon). For those not committed to one e-reader, the .EPUB format is a must (as it can be used across multiple platforms or devices). I know I’m not alone when I say I love using Apple products because of this very feature. But, I must also admit, I find it easier to install the Kindle App, and then just buy books right there and then. It’s tough to compete, even for Apple, with its embrace of authors and eBook lovers. Time will tell how well they weather the Amazon difficulties.

Sites like Kobo and Scribd though, I suspect, along with Mark Coker, that they will struggle, if not vanish completely. These sites have essentially killed off their customer base, or their ability to expand. Kobo in my mind has a name for not taking even borderline content. Scribd, if I even remember right, has a subscription service meant to still compete with that of Amazon. The business models are outdated, and one doesn’t have to be a genius to see that. How many authors have you heard selling well on Kobo? How about Scribd? Likewise, how many authors are having difficulties even uploading to platforms these days? Publishing platforms are going to find the decisions that didn’t matter before suddenly do, and by the time they realize it, my guess it will be too late.

9. Brand Recognition Will Start To Matter More

I know this sounds odd after all I’ve said, but I suspect this will become prevalent with time. As the market grows more competitive, big name recognition will become even more important. Readers are going to need a way to sort through the scams and crap books while still being able to get a good deal. How has this traditionally been handled in the past? Brand recognition. In some industries brand names have become synonymous with their product. Kleenex is the name of tissues, Coca-Cola is the name of soda, JELL-O is the name of gelatin. You get the point. These brands all became household names, whether we endorse how they did so or not. That is how the eBook industry will more than likely change this new year.

What’s important to realize is that brand recognition doesn’t have to come through a mainstream publisher. As an author, I utilize Lot’s Cave for this purpose. That’s why I now blog not on an author blog, but on the Lot’s Cave blog. I prefer to become recognizable through the Lot’s Cave brand. When people see the Lot’s Cave logo, they more than likely think ‘taboo incest erotica’. And, when that happens, I want them to think ‘Lily Weidner… father daughter incest’. This is what I have personally chosen to do, but I suspect more authors will eventually opt for a similar option. Romance authors for years flocked to the coveted title of ‘Harlequin Author’. Many Erotica authors used to covet the title of ‘Ellora’s Cave Author’, before the company went out of business.

Readers for their part used to buy books simply for the brand recognition. They took a chance on new authors because they trusted the brand. When an industry grows saturated, readers likewise look for those favored products. There’s a reason I smile when I see a Lot’s Cave book on the best seller list over at Smashwords, I know my title won’t be far behind. This is the secret success of taboo authors working together in large groups, everyone wins. Admittedly, it does take a bit of time to recognize this. I’ve been on both sides. There were times I grew jealous of others success, but I now look up to these authors. Authors that last for the long term understand this, and they embrace brands.

10. Writing What You Love Will Be Important

This is the note I wanted to wrap everything up with. I think writing what you love will be extremely important going into the new year. As industries become more and more competitive, having a motivation is extremely important. Personally, I can attest to this as an author. If you don’t follow my catalog, you may not know I predominately write short stories. This due to multiple factors, but one of them is that I simply enjoy writing shorter stories. Now, many people have told me not, as I won’t make enough money. But, those same people write three novels and then quit entirely. I don’t want to quit writing, so I might as well enjoy writing what I love. If you do want to make money, that’s fine, but maximize what you enjoy. That way, you’ll keep writing when it gets tough.

There are so many authors giving bad advice out to inexperienced authors. We all have to realize that everything is predicated on personal experience. The author giving advice, me included, have a personal experience that clouds judgement. A new author starting out probably doesn’t even know how to best articulate what they need advice on. Together, both have a responsibility to one another to bridge that gap. The best way I know how to do this though starts with determining what an author loves to write. So, I like writing raunchy more extreme father daughter incest titles, but it comes at a cost. I know my books probably will never appear on a best seller list in a mainstream paper. But, I’m also not looking for that kind of reward either.

No matter what the year brings, no matter how tough it gets, some authors simply feel the necessity of writing. I’m one of them, and I suspect many of the authors reading this do too. That’s what will keep the eBook industry thriving in some capacity. There are universally two main rules of writing, write a lot and read a lot. What many people fail to realize is that authors are also readers. How you, as an author, consume books, matters. How you, as a reader, write books, matters. Both of these concepts are two sides of the same coin. They are inseparable. Why though, do readers not have to be told to ‘read what you love’? Do you see the disconnect there yet? As an author, you need to write what you love. Do so, and this entire post, while relevant, won’t seem important to you later on down the road.

Incest In History: Tudor Lovers


For history lovers, the Tudor Era holds a certain kind of enchantment. Whether it’s the scandals, the social wars, or the philosophical debates, one thing is for certain, people are obsessed with anything Tudor. Men and women alike scrutinize King Henry VIII’s love life, and for good reason. As an author of Incest Erotica, I especially love the Tudor Era. Why? Because there’s plenty of inspiration! The Tudor family wasn’t untouched by incest or rumors of incest. In that spirit, I’d like to share some interesting incest patterns of King Henry VIII and his family.

A Brief Introduction


King Henry has always been a divisive figure. Many will blame him for England’s separation from the Catholic Church. Others yet, will recall the brutal way he disposed of unfavorable wives in his pursuit of a son and heir. Still, King Henry’s life is largely overshadowed by his outright lust. It’s not surprising many people focus on King Henry’s six wives, his pursuit of mistresses, or even his legitimate and illegitimate children alike. Thankfully, historians were not above capturing these scandalous affairs, giving us plenty to discuss. Where though, does one start to cover the incestuous desires of King Henry?

King Henry & His Brother’s Wife  


From the very beginning, Henry found himself involved in a somewhat incestuous scandal. A proxy marriage between his brother, Arthur, and Catherine of  Aragon, had fallen through upon Arthur’s unexpected death. With a much needed alliance between Spain and England relying on the marriage, Henry took his brother’s wife as his own. While Catherine swore the marriage was never consummated, King Henry would go on to have his doubts. In any case, the incestuous undertones of the marriage did require the Church’s approval, which the young King received. Unfortunately for him, the sin of incest would continue to leave doubts in the minds of his subjects.

King Henry and his new bride, Catherine of Aragon struggled to produce an heir. This more than anything is speculated to have caused Henry’s attentions to wander in an otherwise successful marriage. While it’s worth noting Henry took to bed one of his Queen’s maids of honor, Elizabeth Blount, their scandalous affair was not incestuous. Though, King Henry was quite loyal and devoted to Lady Blount. The two had a son, one Henry recognized. This however, might have been Blount’s undoing.

Shortly after recognizing the birth of Elizabeth Blount’s son, King Henry started another affair. The reason is unknown, though it would not take much to speculate. Perhaps the young Henry had no desire to bed his wife, while simultaneously being unable to bed his mistress. Whatever the reason, Blount disappeared into obscurity after the acknowledgment of her son, and made room for the infamous Mary Boleyn.

King Henry & His Mistress’s Sister


While unintentional as it is scandalous, King Henry ended up sleeping with both Mary Boleyn and her sister, Anne Boleyn. The two sisters are said to have had little in common and separate personalities. At the same time, King Henry is rumored to have fathered yet another illegitimate son by Mary Boleyn. This child went unrecognized, though only by King Henry. Many who saw Mary’s son remarked on their similar appearance, thus spreading the rumor for history to record. Son or not, Henry’s familiarity with Mary Boleyn makes his marriage to her sister all the more depraved.

King Henry sought an annulment of his first marriage, thus legally making Catherine of Aragon his sister. The incestuous irony of that statement goes unnoticed by too many. To his credit, Henry did seem to care for his ‘sister’ well enough, not to mention their daughter. At the same time, Henry disposed of Mary Boleyn fairly rapidly without much thought. The woman was said to be far more beautiful than her sister, Anne Boleyn, but it was Anne that ended up becoming Henry’s second wife. The historical record seems to believe this is due to Anne’s ambition and intelligence, not necessarily her looks.

Interestingly enough, Mary Boleyn did attend the wedding of her sister, or at least accompanied her. Their strained relationship didn’t seem to suffer for this, and Anne even saw to the education of her sister’s ‘bastard’ child. When Mary Boleyn eloped with a man of little prospects and reputation however, the two parted ways. Anne Boleyn had her sister banished from court ending any progress the two may have shared. As sad as that may sound, Mary’s marriage seems worth the sacrifice. A union out of love was rare, as Anne Boleyn was soon about to discover.

King Henry & His Fifth Cousin


As was common with Henry, his marriage to Anne Boleyn came to an abrupt end. It should be noted that many people to this day blame the King himself. Anne Boleyn’s demise is often seen as a political move on the part of others, and favorable to Henry. After giving birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, and becoming pregnant again, Anne Boleyn knew she needed to give Henry a male heir. Whether under extreme pressure, or simply realizing the danger of her situation, Anne started meddling in Henry’s love life, specifically his habit of attaining mistresses.

Henry had indeed taken a mistress while Anne was pregnant, his fifth cousin, Jane Seymour. As ambitious as Anne Boleyn was, Jane Seymour was said to be just as sweet and gentle. The two women knew each other well enough, as Jane Seymour had served as maid of honor to both Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon. When Anne discovered the affair however, she miscarried days later. This event was her undoing. After her miscarriage, King Henry had very little interest in keeping Anne around. She was accused of high treason, adultery, and incest. Yes, the King accused Anne Boleyn of sleeping with her brother in order to get rid of her. The two, along with a few others, were quickly executed making way, ironically, for Jane Seymour, Henry’s fifth cousin.

To Jane’s credit, she quickly became Henry’s favorite wife. Ultimately, Henry would be buried beside her. Many people credit Henry’s favoritism of Jane to the fact she bore him a son, but this does not seem to be the case. Out of all Henry’s wives, Jane was the least political. While she favored Henry’s daughter by Catherine of Aragon, and repaired their relationship a great deal, Jane otherwise did not meddle in Henry’s political life. Another factor may be attributed to their short marriage, and Jane’s unexpected death. For better or worse, with the death of Jane in childbirth, Henry needed yet another wife.

King Henry & Another Sister


The King’s ability to wed another seemed doomed from the very beginning. After Jane Seymour’s death, Henry was said to mourn quite devotedly for three years. In fact, it is during this grief that Henry’s iconic image would take shape. The King was no longer young, and his failure to take care of himself suddenly showed. Henry put on weight, suffered from diabetes, and ultimately developed gout. These aging features made the once handsome King quite a difficult lover. It’s not surprising then that Henry ended up with another ‘sister’ in a marital arrangement gone wrong.

Henry’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, stands out more than most. Germanic in heritage, her beauty was not easy recognized by the King. Many Englishmen remarked on her beauty, though Henry failed to think so. From the beginning, Henry seemed opposed to the idea of Anne. He asked for unflattering portraits, was put off by her demeanor, and ultimately decided he simply did not like her. In a strange twist of fate, Henry seems to be honest in his dislike of an otherwise beautiful woman. Perhaps, his grief for Jane outweighed his need of a wife.

Still, Henry’s inability to consummate his marriage with Anne, quickly dissipated when introduced to the young Catherine Howard. Anne of Cleves ultimately agreed to an annulment, earning her the title of King’s Beloved Sister. In retrospect, this may have been quite fortunate for her, as she lived a long life. Outliving the King himself, Anne lived long enough to see Henry’s daughter Mary crowned Queen of England. Likewise, she also saw the end of many men and women that earned the King’s disfavor. Interestingly, the courtier who encouraged Henry’s marriage to Anne was executed on the day of Henry’s fifth wedding.

King Henry & His Wife’s Cousin


The woman Henry married for his fifth wife was none other than Catherine Howard, first cousin to Anne Boleyn. One would think the King wise enough to avoid such a match, and yet, he wasn’t. Catherine Howard was a young woman full of life and instantly earned Henry’s attention. Those at court found Catherine just as beautiful and delightful as the King, and thus began the downfall of Henry’s fifth wife. With little digging into her past, Henry married the indiscreet and foolish girl already tarnished with scandalous tales of premarital affairs.

Catherine Howard received the lavish attentions of the middle-aged King. While the young Queen adorned himself in the finest jewels and French fashioned gowns, rumors started spreading. The previous indiscretions of the now Queen became the talk of court, and Henry found himself embarrassed. He must have felt something of love toward the young Catherine, and tried his best to ignore the rumors for a time. When Henry discovered the truth, the King even did his best to ignore the dire situation of his then wife. However, Catherine lacked the intelligence to keep herself alive.

With her indiscretion so well-known, Catherine should have claimed a prior marital contract with the other man. Doing so would have legally voided her marriage, but spared her life. Instead, Catherine tried to claim she was forced into the affair. While unwise, the plea may have worked. Catherine Howard however, had also engaged in an adulterous affair with a favored member of Henry’s court. Suddenly, her claims of force had little merit. The King’s fury could not be ignored, and Catherine Howard was ultimately beheaded. Ironic as it is, the only wives of Henry to be beheaded were related, as they were first cousins. While Anne Boleyn was more than likely innocent, Catherine Howard was not. Both were beheaded for adultery in any case.

Henry’s Final Wife & Her Incestuous Impropriety


The final wife of King Henry was rather sensible. A widower, Catherine Parr had previously been married three times already. This gave her the uncanny ability to relate to Henry’s three children. Also, it’s worth nothing that Henry’s sixth wife was also his third, and fourth cousin once removed multiple times over. Interestingly enough, this is not the strangest incestuous thing about Catherine Parr and King Henry. Together, they share a mutual love interest of sorts, as both loved members of the Seymour family. Prior to marrying Henry, Catherine Parr sought the attention of Jane Seymour’s brother, Thomas Seymour.

When Henry died, Catherine reunited and ultimately married Thomas Seymour. To make matters all the more strange, Thomas was rumored to have an interest in Catherine’s now stepdaughter, the Princess Elizabeth. Ambitious and power hungry, Thomas sought to marry the young princess. Marrying Catherine instead, Thomas still had access to Elizabeth, essentially giving him the best of both worlds. Needless to say, things did not go well for either of the women involved. Things took a real turn for the worse however, when Catherine became pregnant.

Thomas’ affections for Elizabeth had always been seemingly harmless. The two were known to engage in ‘horseplay’, acts that often involved Catherine herself. Whether Elizabeth liked these invasive moments or not is unclear, though many agree she developed a crush on her stepfather. When Catherine became pregnant however, these moments became more threatening to both Catherine’s marriage and Elizabeth’s reputation. Upon discovering her stepdaughter and husband embraced and kissing, Catherine sent Elizabeth away. Lucky for her, this helped distance Elizabeth from the scandal that followed. Thomas’ ambition grew too much, and he was later accused of high treason and ultimately executed.



The life of King Henry is riddled with incestuous sex. While many people are quick to dismiss these as historical accounts or traditions, this is not always the case. Today those interested few digging into Henry’s background are discovering more taboos than initially expected. As writers, it’s easy to forget that history often repeats itself. The immoral acts of one generation are not all that different than our own. So, before writing that next novel, why not consider what one can get away with? Behind all of Henry’s power, prestige and beautiful women was still a man, just a man with a lust for women that burned far too hotly.



Writing Advice & How To Part 1

Writing Taboo Subjects 101


Writing naughty boundary pushing stories can seem like a fun venture. Over the recent months, I’ve seen a surge in the number of authors interested in writing controversial themed erotica. The problem is that, in this day and age especially, there’s no official source on how to publish taboo erotica and romance. So, in an effort to help out my fellow author, here’s a quick crash course.

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A Call To Authors Of Incest Erotica

Publishers Are Banning Incest Erotica

Or Why We Need To Embrace Content Guidelines

Recently, many publishing websites have been altering their content policies. As an author specializing in incest erotica, I understand this sudden trend. My titles have previously been distributed and made available on Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Google, Smashwords, and other retailers. So, when a select number of publishers decided to no longer accept my catalog’s content, it meant making a difficult choice. Either I unpublished over fifty titles (more than 70% of my entire catalog), or I could try breaking the rules. Ultimately, I decided to embrace the issue and unpublish my catalog where appropriate. Why did I choose to neglect over 88% of the Romance market? Well, here are ten reasons I unpublished where necessary, and why you should too!

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Defining Success

How To Judge Your Achievements

The subject of writing quality is a tough one to discuss, as there are quite a few opinions as to what classifies quality writing. Speaking from the perspective of an author, it’s tempting to use the tools I’m most familiar with: royalties. In my opinion, this would be a huge mistake. Why? Because not every great story or author gets noticed. Judging great writing quality then must be determined some other way, but how? Skill level. If we look at an author’s skill level all else falls into place. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve found to be the most consistent and telling way to judge your achievements and success.

Level One: Amateur

An amateur is someone brand new, more than likely just starting out. In the writing community, this often means an author without honed skills. What does this look like? Well, many armature level authors start out using websites like StoryWrite,, and Literotica. These sites provide budding authors with much needed feedback, while readers enjoy access to free material. For amateur authors, this can be a critical step in jump starting a writing career.

Some authors do choose to remain at an amateur level, but not all. Many authors, however, will naturally progress to the next level, even without knowing the proper steps. Amateurs begin making long term acquaintances, friends that more often than not, encourage a progression into the next level. For those that do advance, an interesting trait develops close to the transition – boredom.

Boredom may or may not occur, but many bored amateurs do become published authors. Why? Because boredom transitions into a search for opportunity. These amateurs often wonder if they are ‘good enough’ to be published and out of sheer curiosity will start looking for publishers. In time, these same amateurs will seize the opportunity to submit a first manuscript. When these manuscripts get accepted, amateurs are shocked they even progressed into the advanced category.

Level Two: Advanced Amateur

The writing quality of advance armatures will vary greatly from work to work–some works will be extremely artistic and well-crafted while others will be total flops as they experiment with different ideas. Because of this varying quality in skill level, advanced amateurs can be hard to spot or even define. For sake of argument, an advanced amateur is best described as a published author within their first year or so. Authors in this category will start a catalog of their own, trying to get a feel for the industry. But what consistently marks authors in this advanced category? The clue to spotting an advanced author happens to be in their catalog. Advanced amateurs will, more often than not, be experimenting with different ideas. For writers, this means books involving different genres or sub-genres.

Finding the right genre is a personal commitment, one many advanced amateurs struggle with. This is why advanced amateurs can stay locked in this stage for so long. Authors write with varying motivations, not all of which are conducive to gaining professional experience.  The advancement into the professional level isn’t possible accidentally; the transition requires honing skills to a point of obsession and brutality.

Many tools authors want to judge quality writing with are embraced in this stage. The skills aren’t fully developed, but there’s an awareness of them. Authors will start to find their proper writing genre, one they enjoy working in. If an author is willing to keep working hard, there will be an eventual advancement into the professional category. In between the advanced and professional levels, there can be a blurring of quality. The key however, is that the quality is not yet consistent.

Level Three: Professional

Authors, reaching the professional level, will consistently sell well across their entire catalog. Notice, this does not always mean a high sales rate. Professionals though, know how to write a consistently good product, one readers want to buy. Professional writing can be tricky to spot, at least without buying multiple books from the same author. Judging an author’s catalog however, will give a hint to their professionalism. Authors that have reached this level, will possess a narrowed down catalog. This doesn’t mean an author’s catalog must be small in order to be consistent. Realistically, old titles from previous levels will still be sold by the author. What matters, is the consistency of the latest titles.

New titles at the professional level will have a common theme running from book to book. The author has found his or her genre, and knows how to write within that niche. The writing at this level often appears better, mainly due to consistent improvements over time.

I hate admitting this, but any author willing to try hard enough can make it to the professional level. Many writers will say it takes a special kind of talent to become a professional, but this couldn’t be more untrue. Only consistency matters. What many authors and readers see as those talented few are actually writers who have advanced beyond the professional level. Unlike the previous levels, not everyone can transition up to the artist level through hard work alone. Special skills are required for any author to become a real artist.

Level Four: Artist

True artistry not only requires an inherent talent, it requires an investment few writers can make; true commitment. After the time spent going through various levels, artistic authors internally know they’re simply different. They’ve made as many enemies as they’ve made friends. They’ve challenged their genre and tested the edge, trying to push boundaries into the mainstream. The true motivation behind an artist will never be sales, but a passion for what they write. Authors will know instantly if they qualify for the artistic level, whether immediately or in the future.

In today’s market, many authors think they have that special skill to become an artist, or they can somehow learn the trick. Sadly, the number of true artists seems to be shrinking. Self-publishing gives many authors the opportunity to find out if he or she is an artist, which I certainly support. The truth is, authors wanting to reach the artist level must, I repeat must, go through the armature and advanced armature levels, but may or may not actually bypass the professional level. While many artists have the passion to match skill with their experience, many stop short of the final level. The writing industry can be daunting, and it affects authors in long term most. Artistic authors may be forced to perform in the professional realm at times in order to make a living.

Artists are the select few authors we all know by name. Why do we know them by name? Because they have a real skill and love for their readers beyond professional writers. Authors may take a look at their books, wonder why they’ve become so famous, but at the end of the day, it’s the artistry. The use of writing tools like grammar, punctuation, and formatting, will not always be exceptional. Authors of this level though, they know their craft, don’t care one wit about their market, and most importantly, they’ve learned their limitations and strong points.


As an erotic author, there are many times I look at the writing industry and wonder what is going on. Today, many authors are likely to hurt another author’s chance just as likely as they are to teach an amateur. I’m not proud of this fact, but I’m proud of those who continue helping other authors to advance. In reality, many authors start out as amateurs because they have a passion for writing. With the growing surplus of authors created by a new and vibrant self-publishing industry, many are quick to blame amateurs as the source of all problems. This opinion couldn’t be more wrong.

Amateurs by definition will lack the refined skills many advanced authors feel they should possess. Sadly, authors need to take an honest look at their own writing. What skill level you’re on has nothing to do with pride, sales, or even time experience. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, even if you get stuck at a particular level. Acknowledging what level you’re at is the best way to advance if that’s what you choose to do. The trick is finding a starting place, and sometimes that’s a task of its own.