Dear Miss Snark,
In my murky past, I have written and had published a fair amount of... Well, I believe the polite term is 'erotica' but I think 'porn aimed at women' is more accurate. It's mainly been in anthologies and one or two magazine publications - nothing really bottom-of-the-barrel but nothing that could be passed off as art. I've now completed my first respectable novel and, once it's been revised and polished the appropriate ten times, I'll be shopping it round to agents.
Should I mention my pornographic past? On the one hand, it demonstrates that I have some idea of the harsh realities of the publishing world. On the other hand - well, it's porn. Porn entirely lacking in literary merit, at that.
Is raising the subject likely to get an instant response of, 'Go away, pervert'? (Mailed, of course, in the SASE I have enclosed.) (more likely it will get "send pics and text, here's my FedEx number)
I tried posting this in your blog, but as it's madhouse over there I think it got buried:
I have finished my novel and am preparing to query... here's my issue:
I HAVE been published previously... numerous times. However, two such instances were in a gay eZine that specializes in... well... erotica. However, the pieces I placed there are NOT erotica, though sex exists (briefly) in both... I also published another similar (barely sexed) story in a gay adult newspaper in Arizona... and I published articles in a gay newspaper in California.
Should I just ignore these mini successes so as to not make agents think I'm some sort of erotica writing character and just not mention being published at all? What about the fact that all the presses are gay? There's a gay character in my current MS, but he's hardly the central point of the story (a divorce is).
The main point of publishing credentials is to show an agent that somewhere, somebody else looked at your writing and said "this doesn't suck", not that you know about publishing. If your writing was selected from a group of competitve submissions and you got paid for it, it's worthy of being mentioned, regardless of content.
The question of course is do you want to. If it's writing that shows you are a good writer, mention it. If it doesn't, don't. If the subject area is off the beaten path, so to speak, don't worry. Lots of the very best writers got their start in pulps and porn.