Writing Erotic Romance Stories for Money
Many casual at home writers, such as myself, have looked into making extra income by writing more. I think most of us have come across the topic of erotic and we all can admit that sex sells. In recent years, thanks to e-books, easy self-publishing and websites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, there’s been an increase in the desire to create these romance short stories and quit your day job or just help out more with household bills. If you are like me, you’ve looked into what it takes to make money with sexy books. Many people seem to get discouraged once they sit down to write one, though. So what does it really take?
Where to start
Google produces thousands of results on “writing erotica for money” but sifting through all of it can be a lot reading and a lot of confusion. All of them say one common thing, sex does sell. But other information is definitely conflicting and some only pertains to certain goals. The main focus or idea that should be on everyone’s mind when getting into writing erotica is, time. It takes time to get noticed, time to make sales and time for those sales to add up. Erotica is a very straight forward concept, you write steamy short stories that center around sex. You don’t need to be a top English major or have years of published work to break into erotica you just need to be able to write about the sex.
Your Writing Skills
The idea that someone doesn’t have to be a great writer to make good money writing is alluring but you do need some basic skills and be good with details. Awhile back I read an article by a writer that said 90% of readers will overlook or not even notice spelling and grammar errors when it comes to erotica. That, to me, seems a bit inflated but I have read numerous erotic short stories that wouldn’t pass a high school English class with higher than a “D” just based on spelling alone. Her advice was poor to say the least. It doesn’t matter where you are writing a news article, a research paper or smut you should always strive to do your best and at the very least use spell check before publishing.
A few random pages I came across in my Google searches said you need to already be in the erotica story world before you publish. They all said that first before you even start writing a story that you need to find online forums, websites and groups and make your presence known. Basically, get involved in the online communities and talk to people, make comments on threads that are relevant to writing and publishing and get to know the big hitters in those groups. One article even said there was no way to make a single dollar without first spending months telling people you’re worth knowing. All of that is not exactly bad advice but again, sex sells itself, and with self-publishing you don’t need to know people you just need a story to sell. The sites people use to buy e-books will yes, list higher sellers first but there are so many sub-genres and the sites do break it down. They also give the customers the option to list new releases first. So getting in good with erotic online crowd is not actually needed. Yes, it can increase your sales if you are notable in the community but it isn’t necessary especially when you are just starting out and finding your comfort zone.
Self-publishing to Make the Money
Now, a common and maybe the most important tip from all these Google searches is how your book is presented on the platforms you choose. Word count is less important than image and writing skills. If you have good writing skills, no one will care if your story is 2,500 words or 10,000 words. As long they get all hot and bothered at the right times in the story. However, no one is going to buy it and read it if the cover and title doesn’t make them want to read it. A catchy and provocative title is a must but be sure it actually speaks to the story. Don’t write a story about vampire lust and title it with something that leans toward ghost possession.
To go along with the title you must, absolutely, have a cover image for each story. E-books don’t have a physical presence but image is still everything. A romance e-book will never get noticed without an image. And just like the title, it needs to speak to the story. It needs to be sexy or mysterious. If you don’t want the typical “two people in an embrace half naked” for the cover there are so many other options. Pick something that stands out to you in the story whether it be an item or a place. A morbid or creepy set story may have cemetery or a haunted mansion on a hill with some fog while a BDSM story may have a picture of handcuffs or rope. Photos can be purchased for a few dollars on stock photo websites or you can always commission the cover for $5-$10 online and leave all the work to a professional.
Your Name or A Pen Name
Many self-publishing writers don’t write under their own name especially those that write erotica. There are various reasons why and all personal. Some don’t want their erotic stories to be directly linked to their everyday lives. Some just don’t like the way their real name looks on the book covers. Whatever your reason is, pick a name that you are comfortable with and when you do start promoting your book, if you choose to do so, always use your pen name. When you sign up for the websites you will be selling on, though, be sure to sign up with your legal name. It will be who the checks are made out to when you start making money. The websites are set up for exactly that.
Along with your name you need to write a bio line for yourself. This doesn’t need to be, nor should it be, your life information. If you are focused on BDSM type stories you aren’t going to want to say “stay at home of 3 kids to much time on her hands.” Get creative, make mention to your genre. This bio line can be updated as you go. So if you begin selling like hot cakes and get listed as a bestseller you can and should put that in the bio line. This is the area and time that you sell yourself. Readers often find an author they love and will buy their newest stories just because they put out new stories. Make yourself just as likable as your stories.
Keeping Your Stuff Current
Always update when needed. As a self-publisher you want to retain all rights to your stories. By retaining rights you can make updates when needed. As you get more comfortable writing erotica you may want to go back and edit your earlier work to boost sales and make it relevant again. That is perfectly acceptable and encouraged by many. By keeping your stories up-to-date you can keep your sales up and keep the money coming. As with selling any product, the more you have the more money you make. And you don’t need to be writing day in and day out. Many erotic romance writers can write a story or two a day but don’t do it every day. Once you have a collection of stories online that are selling you can easily take off as much time as you want or need and you’ll still be making money. However, it takes time and you don’t want to sacrifice quality for quantity, in the end your income will suffer more.