Getting started selling erotic fiction.
December 16, 2014 5:20 AM   Subscribe

New to selling erotic fiction, looking for guidance and suggestions. Mostly likely an nsfw thread.

I've written erotic fiction for quite some time, mostly just for fun and exploration. Recently I actually had a dream that included the sexiest most amazing bits that I'd never even considered before, and it's been driving me nuts, so I started writing a series of short stories with the dream as the opening book. It's...pretty good, and the serial nature of it I think would make people want to keep reading it.

I understand that I can sell on Amazon, I actually already have a seller account from when I sold my textbooks. I have no idea where to start, and I'm hoping someone here can give me some advise.

I'm not interested in submitting to places like literotica or xnxx, it isn't just pure hardcore gonzo gross, I don't want to link or show banner ads to sketchy porn sites. I do manage like 15 other (business) websites, so I definitely have the skill to roll my own...but I feel like driving traffic to it (save maybe from Amazon interested folks) is nearly impossible.

I'm not looking to make much money at all, happy with ~99 cents a copy. I dunno, people may hate it. I'm happy to receive feedback on it too. I've got enough unique kink interests that I suspect I could succeed at making several different kinds of folks interested in my work.

Anyway...talking too much as usual. If you have insight, please share.
posted by TomMelee to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: r/eroticauthors has all the info you need--start with their FAQ.
posted by chaiminda at 5:26 AM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mod note: A couple of comments deleted. To clarify, OP isn't looking for story ideas / subject matter.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:25 AM on December 16, 2014

I sent you a MeMail.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:29 AM on December 16, 2014

Best answer: Don't use your textbook seller account, unless there's some benefit from your erotica audience finding your textbooks, and vice versa. Make a new one, they're easy.

You're right: driving traffic is the big problem, no matter who you are on the internet. Marketing is the #1, end-all-be-all of this, because Reddit and other websites have had many "Ask me anything, I made $10,000 a month writing erotica ebooks!" posts, so the market is filled with writers who want to get rich off writing and selling $0.99 erotica e-books. There's no cost to enter the market, and no loss for not selling; it's not like anyone has crates of their own e-books in their garage they can't sell. You're a small fish in an infinite pond full of other small fish, shoulder-to-shoulder, packed in like sardines. You've never even seen a big fish, not up close, just little fish as far as the eye can see.

The upside of that is: if you haven't got marketing chops, just write it, publish it at Amazon, and be happy when sales trickle in. Someone's going to run across your stories and buy one. You're not going to get rich, but sales will happen.

But the small-fish-in-an-infinite-pond is what every single person who has ever tried to sell something on the internet is up against. This isn't an erotica issue, it's an online business issue that's been there since the beginning. So, you want more than 3 sales a year, and you're serializing for 'hooking' readers -- how is anyone going to find you? That's where submitting to literotica, etc., is a benefit: you're going where the readers are. You're not going to have more than the 3 sales a year if readers don't have a trail of breadcrumbs leading to your catalog of books. Join erotica Facebook groups and post regularly, find erotica review blogs and comment on posts, find erotica reviewers and email them copies of your stories (preferably ask them if they want to see it first), run promotions in your Amazon library (I believe if Amazon is your only distributor, you can do 'free download' days on demand).

But it's like anything selling online: you have to get in front of customers, and there's no magic wand to make it happen. You can buy advertising space through BlogAds or some other network, but there's no guarantee on returns, and anyone can do it -- especially if they have deeper pockets than you. Hit the bricks in the virtual world and go to where the readers are, because that's where the people with money to spend will be found. Do it frequently, constantly, be bold but don't alienate either the readers or the venues you're using to seek readers, and the audience will begin to trickle in. If you're lucky, you'll attract a circle of devoted fans, but that doesn't mean you stop marketing; if you fall into the trap of "I have 100 adoring fans! I made it!" you've given up at the point of only making $100 per book. Adoring fans are nice, but profit comes from thousands of ebook sales. Keep pushing.

(Don't want ads? Why do you think you need them? What benefit do they give you? All they are is passive income, whether you have them or not doesn't affect readers buying your ebooks)

A "unique kink" goes a long way in erotica writing: it's keyword-friendly. People with the kink will be searching for the common terms describing that kink, which will make it easier to find you. Problem is, everyone else knows what the names of unique kinks are, so you're unlikely to be the only one out there writing about it (Rule 34 and all that).

credentials: wifey and I used to run a small publishing company that sold erotica. We had great trouble getting in front of readers, which is why I said "used to"
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:34 AM on December 16, 2014 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Freelance book editor here, with many romance/erotica clients. Everything AzraelBrown says is correct. I'll add: Twitter to connect with other authors; Facebook to connect with readers.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:45 AM on December 16, 2014

Response by poster: Oh those are all really great ideas. WOW. Thanks. Really trying to not threadsit here.

I don't read much online erotica because I genuinely haven't found a source that actually interests me. Like, I'll be reading along and then I'll come to a part that's just...not...well, you know. I'm sorta genuinely worried that people won't LIKE what I've done here because it isn't Suzy getting blowbanged by the soccer team. I know that I'm not the only person in the world with the interests that I have, and I realize it's ALL about keyword, and I feel like I can smoosh enough particular keywords in to make a lot of people happy, I just don't want to sort of lose the idea that there's a buildup here in the story.

Is it acceptable to do something like post Chapter 1 on literotica/xnxx/whatever with a link to the rest of the book/series on Amazon?
posted by TomMelee at 7:03 AM on December 16, 2014

Best answer: Is it acceptable to do something like post Chapter 1 on literotica/xnxx/whatever with a link to the rest of the book/series on Amazon?

Sure but why bother, it won't get you any sales or traffic at Amazon. Those people are getting what they want for free already, and they don't care that it's you writing their kink, just that they can get their kink satisfied.

Publish it at a few vendors for free and then get the Zon to price match it to free, and feed that way. It's a waste of your time to try to get people to shift from consuming your stuff at Literotica to consuming it at Amazon. Just go after the people already shopping at Amazon. Effort spent trying to get more eyes to Amazon is effort wasted. Instead, learn how to get Amazon's customers to your stuff. Keywords, covers, blurbs and content, in roughly that order.

Author loyalty is incredibly hard to get in erotica. Unless you're Cassandra Zara or Selena Kitt and making a hundred grand a month, nobody is looking for your name when they look for smut. They're looking for the new releases that satisfy their kink.

Sent you a memail. Have a good one.
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:04 AM on December 16, 2014

Best answer: I disagree that there's no benefit to publishing Chapter 1 with a link to the rest on Amazon, or giving away Chapter 1 as a free book on Amazon. I'm not a big erotica consumer but I read a lot of romance novels, which are marketed very similarly and which I think are almost as idiosyncratic as erotica (people have VERY SPECIFIC turn-ons and turn-offs). Very often a romance writer will give away one book from a series, or write a free prequel novella for a series, and if I read that and like it, I will absolutely pay money for the rest of the series, because it's hard to find stuff I really like.
posted by mskyle at 2:35 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A: You're reading in the wrong place. There is an enormous erotic literature culture online, and there is a surge in self-publishing as one of the major houses (Cleis) has gone through some upheavals and a few of the stalwarts have moved on (Violet Blue for ex).

B: Submit to anthologies published by the bigger houses, and from there you can start getting some sort of press. If you're as good as you say, you should get accepted by some and from there leverage for your self-published stuff. The bigger houses have inbuilt online marketing and promotions, ranging across the blogosphere, that you can be a part of.

C: Stop ignoring the very big, very obvious, erotica author groups! You are not the first person thinking about this, or doing it, and you're ignoring a source of advice because you're stuck on literotica and reddit. Go read Alison Tyler, Violet Blue, Delilah Devlin,, Mitzi Szereto and others.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:42 PM on December 16, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all. I didn't mean to make it sound like I think this stuff I've written actually has literary merit, just that it's not the junk I've found in my own personal searches for my own very unique batches of interest depending on the day and barometric pressure.

I'm definitely not in that "scene", and a complicating fact is that this is absolutely NOT something that my fiancee would be OK with, especially given that the subject of this particular story is very clearly someone that she knows. (I am not being unfaithful.) It's not like I can just excuse myself and tell her that I'm off to do some *cough* professional development. At least not yet.
posted by TomMelee at 7:42 AM on December 17, 2014

Wanting to publish erotic fantasies about a real life person is a whole 'nother thing to 'publishing erotica'. For starters, your skin is so effectively in the game that you are not going to have any objectivity about the work and not in a good 'this is my kink' way that makes for good niche erotica. More in a 'completely inexplicable to the onlooker' sort of way. And the fact it is about an easily identifiable real person is...edging into some unethical territory. Not just in terms of your relationship but in general terms regarding that person. If your fiancee can recognise that person, others probably can as well, and you've got some issues to contend with.
posted by geek anachronism at 9:18 PM on December 17, 2014

Response by poster: I appreciate the thought geek anachronism, but there's about zero chance that anyone else could recognize the person in the story. It's based on the idea of her, not on her, I don't think she'd even see herself if she read it, which she won't.

My issue with my SO isn't that she'd care it was this person, it's that she'd care if it was anyone, herself included. And still the only way she'd get it is if I said "Here I wrote this after thinking about someone I know."

I get what you're saying though.
posted by TomMelee at 1:09 PM on December 18, 2014

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