Being discreet online
February 13, 2009 3:33 PM   Subscribe

I would like to write & sell erotica online. What do I need to know about maintaining my privacy?

There are four things in particular that I'd like to keep anonymous/discreet:

1. Receiving & sending money online
2. An anonymous email address that I'd rather not have linked with my current one, but perhaps a bit more sturdy than temporary emails (particularly for replies)
3. Anonymous webhosting & domain names (I can be on a subdomain of another site if need be)
4. Possible ads, with payment to the anon account in #1

How do people that deal with selling sexual media online maintain their privacy? Are there central agencies that take care of this for you, or can you do this yourself?

I'm doing this for a bit of fun, so I'm not expecting tons of money, but some info on how to get this going would be great!
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've never done it, but look into as a host. They're cheap and have an amazing policy with regards to stuff like this.
posted by Rabulah at 4:15 PM on February 13, 2009

The anonymous money is really the problem. All of the online money transfer services I know of require real contact information, and none of them allow for anonymous transfers. This is not just them being small minded, but is a taxation requirement in the US, if I understand correctly. They won't let you receive money anonymously because you might be using the service for money laundering, or you might just not pay taxes on it. The IRS frowns on that.

Likewise, I don't know of any anonymous credit card processors. They're going to want you to be an incorporated company of some sort (at least an LLC). Having set that up, it's just a matter of a few minutes to trace back from the company name as it appears on somebody's bill to the registered agent for that company. You could pay a lawyer to be your registered agent and to be the only officer by proxy. But, you're going to be paying them hundreds or thousands of dollars a year for that service, which is probably going to make it pretty difficult to break even. It's also easy to violate fraud and incorporation laws with this approach, so you'll definitely need the lawyer to steer you through it.

Anonymous email is easy to set up, Just lie about your real name. Go with gmail, and it'll be plenty stable. I've set up several of these.

I'd never heard of it before, but really seems like a good choice. However, you can set up private domains most places that go through Domains by Proxy. None of this keeps the registration company in question from knowing your info, but it does keep people in general from finding it with a whois.

Finally, I don't know that you'll be able to sell your erotica at all. The web is a glut of free porn and free erotica. The market is so saturated with people doing it for free (and frequently pretty well), and the erotica market is so much smaller than the visual porn market, that I imagine it's going to be very difficult to get readers if you're charging for it. You might have better luck if you're catering to a particular fetish or kink that isn't well represented on the major sites (like, but I honestly can't think of what that would be... they're very comprehensive.

If you're just doing this for fun, then I'd stop trying to monetize it and just put it out there. Alternatively, if you think you're good enough, you could try writing it and trying to get it published in book format under a nom de plume. The erotica publishing houses are fully prepared to publish something under a bogus name while still cutting you a royalty check. But I suspect there's a lot of competition even for that.
posted by Netzapper at 5:01 PM on February 13, 2009

How about setting up a DBA? That way the checks and credit cards go to that name.
posted by Vaike at 6:30 PM on February 13, 2009

What about setting up a trust which has a trustee (your lawyer or another trusted party) receiving payments for you then depositing them into an account for you? The lawyer would protect your identity from creeps and jerks. This option is probably not free or cheap.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 9:00 PM on February 13, 2009

How about setting up a DBA? That way the checks and credit cards go to that name.

In most states, it takes less than 10 seconds to look up a business' name or DBA and get all of the joyous information necessary for a stalker to have a really good time. Your registered agent is required to give their physical street address, and that information becomes public record.

In order to hide that sort of information, you really do have to pay somebody else to be your registered agent.
posted by Netzapper at 5:17 AM on February 14, 2009

Seconding that you shouldn't really expect people to pay for it. There's so much free stuff out there that if you really think your erotica is worth money, you should be shopping it around to book publishers.
posted by EarBucket at 7:37 AM on February 14, 2009

Submit your stuff to Ellora's Cave. If they like it, you can stay anonymous to the general public.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:06 AM on February 14, 2009

follow-up from the OP
There's more to my business idea than just selling erotica, so please don't comment on the viability of it. Not what I'm asking about :P

I'm in Australia. I understand that you can have an ABN, but can you register a bank account under an ABN and not have it linked to your real name? (Essentially I don't want to be easily tracked by stalkers or conservatives from my past - the more layers they have to go through, the better.)

Also; any good anonymous blog hosts out there? The ones linked on past AskMefi questions don't work anymore.

Feel free to email me at if you have more information.
posted by jessamyn at 2:36 PM on February 14, 2009

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