So you’ve found someone you’d like to work with out there on the wide wild web. What now?
The first question worth asking yourself is, how do I present myself? A good place to begin would be to have a public presence where you can show a potential partner that you’re for real and what you’re into. There are many ways that you might do this, but I happen to think that setting up a site of one’s own and doing a little writing is an excellent start.
Write down what turns you on. Try to make that into a vision and publish. Don’t be shy. You can use a pseudonym if you want (I do!). About two years ago, after having diverted myself with writing a sequence of weird and porny screenplays that I’m pretty sure will never be acted out in front of a camera, I sat down and wrote an illustrated essay about what I really liked. This essay became A Thamatophile Manifesto, and together with that strange screenplay material, became the foundation for the site Erotic Mad Science. Then I started blogging about what I was into, writing posts as simple as “Look! A concept or image makes me squee (even if it makes others squick)!” or “Wow — here’s a provocative historical forerunner of one of my own kinks!” The useful outcome of all this activity (which, okay, maybe I took a little far) was that when I started looking for creative partners to commission I had a rich bed of source material to point to and say: here is what I am into — do you think you’re sufficiently interested in it to want to join me in working on it?
And I do think it is important for your creative partners to, in at least some degree, share your enthusiasms. If they do, they’ll be much better able to understand what it is that you’re asking them for when you place commissions. The art they work with you on creating will be sexier, because they’ll engage and have some of themselves in it. And they’ll be able to come up with ideas that contribute positively to the projects you work on.
A note about setting up sites and publishing. There are tons of places on the Internet that will allow you to do this for free, but as a general matter I endorse Bacchus’s First Rule of the Internet: “Anything worth doing on the Internet is worth doing at your own domain that you control.” Anyone who’s done anything with erotica for any length of time knows horror stories: material deleted, accounts canceled, creators banned. You and your material are much safer if you set up your own domain. Sure, there are some up-front costs, but it’s easy to find someone out there who will register your domain and host your site and leave you alone as long as you pay the rent, which will work out to pennies a day if you get anything remotely like a good deal. With tools like WordPress available (for free!) it is easy to be up and running with a good-looking, customized site in a few hours. And of course, you will look a lot more for real if your domain name reflects your Internet identity.
Approach with respect. If you’ve found someone whose work you like and who want to commission, get in touch. Explain what you like about their work and inquire whether they might be interested in accepting a commission. There’s nothing rude at all about this. Remember: creators who publish on the Internet are out there because they want to be found, and in general, they want to hear from you. One good thing to try, especially if you have a site of your own, is to ask permission to publish an image or story-excerpt or whatever of theirs on your site (with attribution, of course). This is an effective way to communicate your admiration of their work, and as long as the request is reasonable, they will generally say yes.
When it comes matters of money and commission cost, be courteous but matter-of-fact and businesslike. Other creators have opportunity costs for their time and just like you they have to eat and pay the rent, and generally they’ll be able to tell you what they need to charge to do a given piece of work.
Don’t be afraid to ask in detail for what you are looking for. Here is an example of where it pays to have done preparatory work for what you’re into, because it will help another creator figure out what you might like, but at the same time, don’t be afraid to write a detailed script. (Your preparatory work writing on your own site will help a lot here to, because you’ll get in the habit of describing what you like in detail.) When working with a visual artist, use of visual references is also an excellent idea. For example, when working with Lon Ryden on the character design for Bridget O’Brian (one of the four adventuresses in the current Tales of Gnosis College story Study Abroad), I suggested basing her on Clara Bow. (A 1920s screen goddess not too much remembered today, except perhaps for some astonishing rumors which turn out not to be true.)
Lon’s artistry then resurrects the 1920s sex bomb as an early 21st century college student (how’s that for practicing mad science?):
Ask for what you want, and more often than not, you’ll come away happy.
Finally, and I think centrally important, remember that your creative partners are partners, not servants, and that this is true even when you’re paying them. If you’ve selected them well, they are people who are sympathetic to what you’re into. They’ve read what you’ve written and looked at visual images that turn you on and they have taken on your projects. Remember that they are creators in their own right. If you trust them, they can and will contribute to what you’re doing. They will have ideas about how to do things. You don’t necessarily have to accept them, but remember that they are often very good at what they do and often might think of ways to do it better. Take them seriously. Among the more gratifying experiences you can get as a co-creator is working with someone who has become sufficiently into what you’re doing that you no longer always have to write a detailed script or commission: you can just outline it and have gratifying results come back. You can get to that point, but you need to establish respect and trust, which you easily do if you use decency and common sense and keep the maxim of this paragraph in mind.
You can do it. I know you can.
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