Our blog is all about helping writers hone their craft and earn a living doing what they love. We’d be remiss, then, not to cover a genre that provides a lucrative income for a growing number of writers: erotica.
Erotica had a splashy moment in the spotlight in recent years with the massive success of ‘50 Shades of Grey’ and its sequels, but the genre has actually been around for centuries. Erotic poems detailing the lovemaking exploits of gods and goddesses date back to ancient Greece and Rome, and erotic novels have been in circulation at least since Medieval times.
But is erotica actually a legitimate way to make money as an author? We’ll clear up some common myths about this writing category and share how you can get your start (and earn good money!) publishing erotica.
How to Become a Successful Erotica Author
For starters, it’s important to dispel the misconception that erotica is synonymous with pornography. While they both revolve around sexual themes, erotica still requires the central storytelling elements of any good work of fiction: character, plot, conflict and so on. If your story has no more depth to it than an X-rated movie clip, readers–the people you need to make a living from this endeavor–aren’t going to stick around.
In fact, since erotica is so relationship-driven, proper character development is arguably even more important here than with other forms of creative writing. So, don’t be so quick to write off the genre as illegitimate.
The best way to get started writing erotica is the same way you get started with any type of writing: by practicing. Read up on storytelling concepts like story arc and dialogue that will help add substance to your plotline, and challenge yourself by getting creative with unique characters or relationship dynamics.
As you’re perfecting your skills, you may find it helpful to join a writers’ group and share your work for review by your peers. This is also a useful way to gain insights on the industry and find out how others are earning money through writing. You can find countless writing groups, both general and specific to erotica, on sites like Meetup and Facebook.
To get your work in front of publishers and potentially earn your first byline, consider submitting pieces to a literary magazine. These are publications that come out on a monthly or quarterly basis and publish work from emerging authors, and many of them accept erotica submissions.
Find Your Niche
Erotica, like all fiction, has subcategories within the larger genre. There’s erotica that takes place in a science fiction setting or unfolds around a mystery. Some is set in present day while other stories are historical. To find success as an erotica author, find a niche that suits your interests and writing style.
Many erotica writers find they’re most comfortable writing in a genre they’re already familiar with. If you’ve dabbled in fantasy writing, for example, you might find you have a knack for making the sparks fly between witches and wizards. If you’re more of a realist, crafting erotic plotlines that take place in familiar, modern-day settings may be more your style.
Consider length as well. Erotica works vary from short stories to full-length novels and multi-part series. You may find it easiest to try your hand at a few short stories before delving into an entire novel.
All writing takes courage, but writing erotica requires an added level of gumption. You may find that you get tired of explaining the legitimacy of your writing to family and friends, but keep pushing. Some erotica writers report making anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000 per month, and that’s without a major publishing contract. Like you, they had to start somewhere.
When In Doubt, Self-Publish Your Erotic Stories
One upside to writing erotica is that there’s a significant market for self-published works. Self-publishing simply means that instead of going through a publisher and jumping through all the related hoops, you release and promote your work on your own.
While having a publisher comes with many benefits (namely, the financial backing to produce and market your books), self-publishing can be a legitimate way to get your work out there when you’re just getting started. If your work gets noticed, you may even develop a loyal following by going this route.
When you self-publish, you invest your own money to print your book, either one at a time as orders come in or in a batch of a set number of copies. The resulting books are yours to market and sell as you wish, and you keep the resulting profits rather than a publisher taking a cut. As you can see, making money by self-publishing relies heavily on your ability to promote and sell your book on your own.
Thanks to Amazon, though, there’s a new and more cost-effective channel through which many erotica writers have found success.
Erotica and the Amazon Kindle Store
The Amazon Kindle Store is a game changer for writers, allowing anyone with a computer to publish, list and sell works of writing via the massive online retailer. There are approximately 6 million titles available on this channel, a good portion of which are self-published. And lucky for erotica writers, the platform has an enthusiastic fan base for this genre.
To get started selling your erotica on the Amazon Kindle Store, follow this guide for using Kindle Direct Publishing, which is the platform’s tool for self-published writers on Amazon. You’ll need to make sure your book conforms to certain formatting and style requirements.
You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with Amazon’s Kindle Direct content guidelines, which outline what types of content can and cannot be sold on the platform. Certain types of relationships and graphic cover art in erotica novels, for example, are against the rules.
Put It On Your Writing Portfolio
Whether you decide to go the traditional or self-publishing route, you need a place to showcase and promote your writing. This is where a writing portfolio comes in. A writing portfolio is a place online where authors and other writers publicly share samples of their work. It’s a useful tool for landing jobs and making important industry connections, acting as a resume of sorts.
To build your writing portfolio, register for a free account with Clippings.me. Clippings.me gives writers a drag-and-drop interface for building a portfolio and sharing it with the world in just a few clicks.
Once you’ve signed up, complete your writer bio with a little more information about yourself. You can add education, work experience, and interests here, as well as linking out to your other social media profiles. Choose from one of Clippings.me’s default portfolio themes or select colors to create your own.
Next, add your writing samples to your portfolio. If you’ve had pieces published online or have listed works in the Amazon Kindle Store, you can link to them here. If you haven’t been published yet, that’s okay–just upload samples of your writing from your computer in PDF form (and check out this post on how to build a portfolio when you have no writing experience).
Once your portfolio is complete, you can share the link far and wide to start marketing yourself–and earning money–as an erotica writer.
Musings and updates from the content management team at Clippings.me.