The international Werewolf Erotica gig economy is booming

Rest of the World has a weirdly fascinating article on the growing werewolf erotica industry. Yes, really. There's apparently a huge market for app-based pulp serials from services such as Dreame, GoodNovel, Webnovel, and Fizzo. In China alone, these web-based novels are a $3.7B business.

But what the article mainly focuses on are the gig economy workers cranking out these formulaic fables. Many of them come from places such as the Philippines, Nigeria, and Mexico, where $300 for a novelette-length werewolf yarn might be worth their time. But that comes with a catch: they have to write in English, for English speaking readers, who are interested in stories set in America … even if the readers themselves are coming from the same countries as the writers.

The central characters of many of Dreame's most beloved werewolf novels often inhabit Americanized settings, but the authors don't typically live in the U.S. Rather, they come from countries like Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, and China – and often write novels in their second or third language. One student in Bangladesh, who writes under the pen name Anamika, spends five hours a day, seven days per week writing romance novels. She ends each chapter with a cliffhanger to keep readers hooked. Each book earns her up to $300, along with adoring messages from Western fans. "They are very sweet," she said. "Their comments are my encouragement." 

The emerging web novel industry spans the globe, taking a business model from Asia, assembling a global supply chain of authors in lower-income countries, and paying them to churn out thousands of words a day for English-speaking readers in the West. Rest of World spoke to four current and former employees at these platforms, who described how the art of novel writing is broken down into a formula to be followed: take a popular theme like werewolves, sprinkle it with certain tropes like a forbidden romance, and write as many chapters as you can. Some novels have hundreds of chapters, most ending on a cliffhanger to keep readers engaged and eager to read on.

There's a lot to unpack and explore here about western influence, and cultural erasure, and colonialism, and also the fact that, well, sometimes people like what they like, and you've got to give it to them if you want to make any money.

Also, if you're interested in writing your own werewolf erotica, GoodNovel has a great how-to guide, to help make sure your howling tale fits the best-selling formula.

Inside the global gig economy of werewolf erotica [Viola Zhou and Meaghan Tobin / Rest of the World]