Popular bisexual columnist dishes on how to succeed in the sex writer ecosystem

Zane has cemented himself in the queer media industry as one of the go-to sex writers, specifically for bisexual male points of view.

Popular bisexual columnist dishes on how to succeed in the sex writer ecosystem
Courtesy of Zachary Zane
  • 7.6% of U.S. adults identify as LGBTQ, according to a 2024 Gallup poll. Of that group, bisexuals represent the largest demographic at 57.3%.
  • Statista estimated the market size of the sexual wellness market would reach $37.2 million by end of 2023
  •  Boyslut is a 2024 Lambda Literary Finalist

Starting with the COVID-19 shutdowns, the world saw a massive increase in sexual entrepreneurship. The rise of OnlyFans, Just4Fans, hookup apps like Sniffies, and influencers taking sex-toy sponsorships ensured one thing: the world's oldest profession was not only here to stay, but here to provide some serious coin.

Popular columnist and author of Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto, Zachary Zane, said that to make it in the saturated sex industry, people need to find something that sets them apart from the others. 

“Often the way to do that is to have a specialty that is usually [your] big thing — like niche porn,” he said. “Things like fisting or piss play, but those are actually not that niche anymore! That content is everywhere.”

Zane has cemented himself in the queer media industry as one of the go-to sex writers, specifically for bisexual male points of view. When he was 24, he published his first article, I’m a Guy Who Came Out as Bisexual and Now Can’t Date Anyone, Gay or Straight, on Xojane, a now-defunct online publication for women, or as Zane describes, as a “feminist website with a lot of first-person essays.” 

The article discussed the struggles in coming out as bisexual concerning finding bisexual women and gay men who were interested in him, and how he fell in love with a bisexual woman and felt seen, heard, and accepted for the first time. 

When the article was published in 2015, Zane said there were maybe two articles he knew of addressing bisexuality and they were more tailored to straight people convincing them that bisexuality exists. He stressed that during that time, there were no stories from a bisexual person to another bisexual person about their shared experiences, including internalized homophobia.

“I wasn't worried about appearing too effeminate or talking about how hot guys were that would make her feel uncomfortable and it was a game changer dating someone bi, so I wrote this piece and it just went super fucking viral,” he said. “And I think, in part because, at the time, there was such a dearth of bisexual visibility and such a dearth of bi content.”

After his publishing debut, Zane who described himself as “not a good writer by any stretch,” filled a hole…in the market that desperately needed attention.

Zane’s true goal at the time was to publish a novel, but he quickly learned that to get an agent who wants to sell your book, you need to beef up your writing portfolio first — meaning he needed bylines. So he continued receiving contract after contract with industry giants and niche publications.

“I was able to slowly expand out to queer sexuality, writing more about graphic sex, explicit sex, then just male sexuality, men's health and then you know, just larger and now everything regarding sexuality for sure, but I kind of started very niche and expanded out from there,” he said.

Now, this industry insider has a weekly sex advice column at Men’s Health entitled “Sexplain It.” In the column, he answers a diverse range of questions about masculinity, ethical non-monogamy, sexual insecurities, and the LGBTQ community. He also co-authored Men’s Health Best Sex Ever: 200 Frank, Funny & Friendly Answers About Getting It On, and began a monthly column at Cosmopolitan titled “Navigating Non-Monogamy,” where he shares all the mistakes he’s made in polyamory.

His queer work has also been published by The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The Washington Post, among many other top publications. Zane has served as a contributing editor at Pride.com, HIV Plus magazine, and The Advocate magazine, and was also an associate digital editor for OUT magazine.

Entering Boyslut Era

In 2018 Zane began writing his proposal for Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto and by 2020 he was able to finish it and snag an agent. And because the COVID-19 crisis created more writing time for the author, he launched the Substack newsletter, Boyslut, in hopes of building a core audience for his book.

“I have something like 6,000 unpaid subs or total subscribers,” he said. “So obviously the majority are unpaid, but some are paid. And the articles usually within the first 25 hours get between like 4,000 and 6,000 views.”

The Boyslut Substack allows Zane complete freedom. He doesn’t answer to an editor and he can be as graphic as his imagination allows, but he prefers to have erotic stories that include an overarching message, rather than smut stories for their own sake. Boyslut readers are also able to submit their sexy stories to the Substack to be considered for publishing.

“Some of the stories are just some wild fucking stories that don't have a larger message — They're just fucking hot,” he laughed. “But most of them do and I like that.”

Although he spent years building an extensive audience for his debut book, he said he still suffered from the age-old feedback so many queer entrepreneurs experience — there’s no audience or market for this.

“I hate that so much and it's just not true,” he said. “I realized if I'm going through this [not seeing my experience in media], this means millions of other people are going through this too. And that's a really good strength to have as a writer. It means there's an untapped market for us.”

He adds that one of the reasons why he thinks he was able to publish Boyslut is because of Gen Z. Gen Z is identifying as bisexual more than any other generation before.

“So like, in a way, where if I almost did this five years ago would have been too early versus now,” he said. “My book came out really at the perfect time.”

Zane receives at least two to three messages a week about how this book has changed someone's life and he said those messages give him the most incredible feeling and it’s why he does what he does. 

“It's not like I'm getting the big bucks for writing this memoir. You know what I mean? Like, I'm not doing it for the money or for the fame. If I wanted to do things for the money or fame, I wouldn't be a sex writer,” he said.