Reese Copeland (pen name) is a Greensboro author, ghostwriter and avid reader who claims to read 300 books a year. Copeland embraces a “cottagecore” aesthetic, celebrating a simple, rural life emphasized by activities like picking flowers, baking foods from scratch and wearing lacy, floral-print dresses. Copeland lives modestly, so it’s surprising that she bares it all for her job writing smut. Steamy, filthy, fan-yourself-with-your-hand kind of smut.

How in the world does an opportunity writing erotica even present itself?

(Laughs) Oh my gosh, okay. So I’m an avid reader, and I’d be obsessed with my favorite authors. Before Booktalk (an online book discussion forum), it was Facebook groups, and I’d always be in the authors’ Facebook groups talking about what I think could be done better. And then from there I started working on ARCs, which is advanced reader copy for some of the authors. I was so opinionated that my comments got larger so that developed for a few of my clients into actual ghostwriting. It was just straight up romance for the longest time and then I got a request for an alien romance and I was like, ‘What are y’all talking about right now?’ In doing my research for the client I realized there were all these genres that never even crossed my poor little vanilla mind.

I was reading very Hallmark romances. These were not that. My client said, ‘If you don’t feel slightly ashamed writing it, it’s not good enough.

From there I started getting more erotica clients and then eventually I tried my hand at a reverse harem book. The book was a success, but I didn’t like having to deal with unsolicited opinions and having to please your readers so I just decided to stick with ghostwriting. My first erotica gig happened around 2018.

Are you able to talk about some of the works you’ve helped with?

I can’t say too much, but there is something for everyone. If you have a kink, there is a work of fiction out there for you. I’ve worked on some of the most interesting things, and there are [sex] toys and things of that nature that go with those books. To me, that’s the most interesting part is seeing how authors take the genre they’re working on and align it with merchandise.

How has writing erotica changed your view of sex?

I grew up in a very Baptist, African-American family. Sex was supposed to be for your husband and only your husband and really only when you’re trying to have children. I think that’s why as a young girl I got into reading romances because it was something I could never imagine before. Just meeting in the grocery store, falling in love, going home and banging it out. Once I became a writer, sex for me is so much more intimate now. Porn doesn’t do it for me anymore since it’s basically my job. If anything, I’m thinking, Her toes need to curl. She’s not grabbing at the sheets. It’s not even physical for me anymore. It has to be more than that for me to want to be invested in it.

How does writing erotica intersect with your identity?

I’ve had people find out what I do for work and think that means I’m a swinger or overly sexualized all the time. What my job is has nothing to do with my base identity and I think it can be very confusing for people.

It also makes it hard for me to make friends. I don’t typically lead with what I do for a living because people make assumptions. My husband was trying to make friends at one point, and when everyone was telling funny stories, he told one about my job. Someone there basically assumed he was saying we were swingers, and the next time we hung out with them one on one, they were coming onto us.

What tips do you have for writers looking to enter the erotica industry?

Write what you know. Don’t write just because you think that’s the genre you should be making money in or that’s the most easily accessible genre. If it’s something that actually turns you on or makes you feel some type of way — if you cry while writing it, your viewers will cry while reading it. There’s a lot of things you can do on your own, and for every writer, there’s a reader.

Check out Reese Copeland’s work on Amazon.

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