In general, I have no objections to Submission Guidelines dictated by websites with regards to the fiction they would like to have submitted. After all, the websites have the right to choose whatever type of fiction they like, and indeed it could be argued that the sex fiction sites should actually be more selective than they are in the quality of the fiction they present. Would that the criterion of selection was more to do with excellence of style, plotting, characterisation and other measurements of quality rather than content alone.
However, it’s content that determines what’s presented. It is actually easier to find fiction that deals with or even graphically depicts sexual acts involving children, rape or bestiality in a branch of Waterstone’s, Smith’s or even a public library (if you know which classics of literature to reference) than in Literotica, Lush Stories or even (in extreme cases) Stories OnLine.
On the other hand, it is very easy to find in such websites and others stories that are barely literate, hugely derivative, plodding and pedestrian, and failing to reach any of the standards that would be imposed on a submission to a high school story competition.
So, why am I raising such concerns?
Well, several of my stories have failed to pass submission guidelines on some of these sites, but, it must be said, for rather arbitrary reasons set by the moderators and somewhat unevenly imposed. In most cases, the issue has been the suggestion of under-age sex (which I would dispute), but sometimes on issues of style which I’d go along with if the bar was set so high that my own prose didn’t quite reach such elevated standards. But as I’m quite capable of reading other stories which have been submitted and are highly regarded, I tend to think that excellence of style is not the issue. Rather, I would contend that the guidelines applied by that moderator are so rigidly applied that the very flexibility of style and presentation which fiction in the mainstream world of literature takes for granted would mean that virtually no fiction submitted, for instance, to the Man Booker Prize would be acceptable.
I wonder what the moderators would make of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, Will Self’s Umbrella, or Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. And in terms of content let alone style, the last one would be banned along with the fiction of even George RR Martin and quite a few other mainstream writers.
Nevertheless, one of the advantages of having my own website on ASSTR is that I can present my fiction exactly as I like however much I might think that for many authors this is a vice rather than a virtue.