Kinky interviews: R. Phoenix on dark erotica, censorship, and the ways to bypass it ;)

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It’s been a while since I posted any interviews with kinky writers, but now there’s a good cause for an update! Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about authors who specialize in dark and taboo fiction being banned from Amazon and Patreon. R. Phoenix (aka Raissa Donovan) and Adara Wolf (aka Addison Wolf) decided to go censorship-free and post their new works on their own website The Wolf and Phoenix. Which I think might be an interesting example for others 🙂

First of all, a few words about why you decided to leave Patreon and launch your own subscription-based website—and what kind of content you have there.  Also, how does it actually work? 🙂

Okay, SO. Once upon a time, a little author named R. Phoenix wrote some naughty stories that couldn’t go on Amazon chapter by chapter and put them up on Patreon for people who wanted to read them. She also started posting chapters of her current WIPs for people to read because, yes, it does motivate me to write when I know people are waiting for my stuff. She. I. Whatever. I’m the same person, I promise.

Anyway, Patreon got on my ass for posting a noncon teaser of my first RH (Reverse Harem) book, then they conducted a review of my account and made me delete everything that was even remotely questionable, down to stepbrothers. All the content on my Patreon had to go. I couldn’t even link to my site on Patreon or vice versa because it was against their TOS.

Because I was writing stuff that was just not appropriate for Patreon, I made the difficult choice to close my Patreon, which I had worked so hard to gather support for over the past few years. I really missed having the immediate feedback from Patreon subscribers and the motivation to write on a regular schedule around some stuff that was going on in my personal life.

Adara Wolf and I started collaborating more and more, and lately, most of our projects are collaborative because we both work faster and more efficiently that way. She writes the same kind of thing I do, and while she didn’t get dinged by Patreon, she knew it was only a matter of time.

I’d heard of a few other platforms similar to Patreon, but they either didn’t allow the content or they had really appalling rules in their TOS – I seem to remember one of them basically said they owned the content, and I won’t name what site that is partially because I can’t remember for 100% certain. I’d also seen Nicholas Bella have success with starting their own website for subscription-based things, and Bey Deckard did the same.

(Are you tired of me rambling yet? Sorry. I’m almost done… with this question. *cackles*)

The way it works is pretty simple, actually. (Once you get it set up, anyway.) We use a plugin for WordPress called s2member. It allows us to set up different tiers and charge per tier/capability, plus if we wanted to, we could charge per post – though that would be a pain and we have no intention of doing that. Basically, a member signs up with either Paypal or Stripe, gets their proper tier, and the coding we put in our posts allows them to see different content based on how they’re logged in.

If you’re logged in to the right tier, you’ll see the whole post; otherwise, you get a notification telling you that you need to join to see the content. It’s all pretty straightforward (and safe – s2member has been around for a long time).

Tl;dr: Patreon hates kinky authors and we were able to mimic a Patreon-esque website here we could write what we wanted and make it work within WordPress.

Kinky authors seem to migrate from Amazon to Smashwords because of the censorship thing. What are the pros and cons of having books on your own website instead of publishing them on Smashwords (or wherever dark erotica isn’t forbidden yet)?

The fact that Smashwords allows pretty much anything is a definite plus, and as more readers discover it (as more authors migrate to it with writing delicious taboo content), it becomes more and more popular. We have a “series” we’re working on called The Mages of Corentin, and these are Smashwords-exclusive because they’re all mind-control and noncon. (Our subscribers get copies of these for free before they go live on SW.)

Pros of SW: Being able to reach more people, people not being dissuaded by a subscription;

Pros of Website: A place to post works in progress! Some of our readers like to read as we go, and we’re able to post chapter by chapter for a monthly fee ($5/MM or $5/Het OR $9/Combo). We post extras like deleted scenes, bonus stories, and anything else that we think our core readers would enjoy. Some of these, we’ll eventually publish, but others will stay exclusive to the site.

Have you had any difficulties with setting/maintaining/advertising it? Did you promote it somehow in addition to mentioning it in your mailing lists?

It has been surprisingly “easy.” I put easy in quotes because setting up s2member is not for the faint of heart, haha. It’s not particularly difficult once you figure it out, but there are a lot of options, and it can be very overwhelming. They have really great helpfiles, though, and poor Bey Deckard was called upon to help us figure some of the things out.

Maintaining it has been easy! Once it was set up, it all just sort of does its own thing.

Promoting it is a little more difficult. We promote in our newsletters (my personal NL, Adara’s personal NL, and our joint Het NL) as well as in the backs of our books and in our groups/when we do takeovers, etc. Sometimes people will ask where they can find certain content (yes, one day I will finish Becoming a Lady 2 *sheepish*) or if we have bonus content, so we can guide them there.

You’ve got both M/M and Het content on your website. Which seems to be more popular so far? Is there a different audience for each of them or do most of your readers subscribe for both?

M/M content is by far the most popular, followed by Combo then Het. We do have more M/M content than we do Het, so it makes sense. The people who subscribe for M/M do it primarily for the extras; the people who subscribe to Het do it primarily for the WIP. Our audiences do overlap a bit, but most people choose one or the other.

Are you planning to add other kinky authors to your subscription someday—or is it going to be a duo project for you and Adara?

This will remain a duo project for us. I don’t have the time/energy to run something any bigger than that. A lot of this is done manually, so it can be pretty time-consuming. Worth it for our readers, but I don’t want it to be too expensive because it takes up too much time, you know? I’d rather be writing!

How often will you have updates? Is it easier or more difficult to write when you know for certain you have readers waiting for new chapters?

We have updates weekly on our current Works in Progress – which right now are The Shade and His Thief (MM) and Keeping Vanessa (Het). We also update Training Arash (MM/Adara Wolf solo) and Becoming a Lady 2 (MM/R. Phoenix) sporadically as well as exclusive extras. We try to do new stuff beyond the WIPs at least every two weeks (Arash, Lady 2, behind-the-scenes, deleted scenes, whatever) to keep things fresh.

For me, it’s both easier and more pressure. I’ve known for a while that a few people are really looking forward to Lady 2, which is really flattering! At least one has joined the site just for that. It’s humbling, and I’m grateful, and sometimes it’s pretty good motivation to keep writing. Some days, though, I just feel SO BAD that they’re paying to read my book and I’m not writing it enough.

So yeah, a little bit of both!

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