E-book publishing is a flourishing market, with more and more people joining in the fun every day. You can go to any number of sites and find work from writers who you could never hope to find at your local bookstore. Erotic literature and romance novels have emerged as one of the most profitable self-publishing markets because it is fun to do and the market is huge.
I myself entered the world of online erotic self-publishing nearly a year ago, publishing erotic short stories under a pen name (Ciara Ryan, and now my real name as well) after years of rejection by the so-called “mainstream publishers”, and aside from being a lot of fun, it’s a great way to make some extra scratch when times are tough, and let’s face it; times are tough right now.
I’ll give you the basics here, and in no time, you’ll be on your way to writing the type of smut that sells so well. If you’re a shy person, maybe this isn’t for you, but if you’re willing to put your fantasies down on paper for others to indulge in, self-publishing may prove to be a very lucrative endeavor. I offer up this article as a simple outline, always be sure to read and understand the legal requirements and guidelines when publishing your work, whether it’s copyrights, or using pictures or anything else. KNOW WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN’T DO!
STEP 1: Research
Before you start writing down naughty tales, you need to know what’s going to sell and what’s not going to sell. You can have a super-sexy story that really revs your engine, but nobody else is interested in. Visit different sites (I’ll give them to you soon) and checkout what’s popular. There are a number of genres when it comes to this type of writing and some seem to outsell others by a wide margin, so it’s up to you to decide which genre to pursue. Pay close attention to the categories that define the work you research, because this is the way retailers will market your books, and how buyers will search for them.
The best indication of how a product is doing, is to read the costumer comments, go to the author’s website or look them up on Facebook, or one of the other thousand sites where people can promote themselves; if they’re bragging about huge sales number, it’s a good indication that the genre they write is popular. A few of the writers I researched when I was considering jumping into the industry were, Sable Hunter(my personal favourite and the one I most highly recommend if you want to learn how to write erotic romance that will sell), Kelly Haven and Georgia Fox. Just be careful, recently certain sub-genres have come under heavy fire and are effectively being removed from some retailers.
Once you’ve decided what you want to write, write.
STEP 2: Creating accounts
Now that you’ve got something you want to sell, you’ll need to create online accounts to distribute your work. Amazon.com is the biggest player in the industry, but they certainly aren’t the only game in town. Below are just a few of the other sites you can go through to get your work out to the masses, and I recommend setting up accounts with all of them. You’ll need a valid email address to set-up accounts, so make sure you have one (like anybody doesn’t have an email account)
I recommend starting with Amazon, and moving to other channels once you’re comfortable.
Be sure you fill in the account bios and add a picture for each retailer, so perspective buyers can get to know you. Remember, people aren’t just buying your work; they’re buying your image. So create an interesting persona and give yourself a cool pen name. Your trying to build a brand and with it, a loyal customer base that will grab your next book as soon as it hits the shelf.
If you decide to write for more than one genre and have more than one pen name, you’ll have to set-up separate accounts for each.
STEP 3: Formatting your work
With your accounts set-up, you’ll be able to submit your work through multiple channels. Each channel has different formatting guidelines. Amazon is relatively uncomplicated and easy to figure out if you have even the most rudimentary of computer skills, whereas Smashwords is a little more involved, but can be learned if you take your time, which will payoff in the end because they distribute to Apple, Sony and a whole host of other ebook retailers, where you definitely want your books. To make life a lot easier, I recommend the following free conversion tool http://calibre-ebook.com/ which will keep you from losing it (trust me, I know from experience).
STEP 4: Cover art
I use Adobe Photoshop to make my covers. You don’t have to use the same program, but yes, you ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY have to have a cover if you want your books to sell. E-book publishing is just like traditional publishing, and the cover is what first attracts a buyer to your book and can literally be the difference between you MAKING a sale, and NOT making a sale.
Much like formatting, different retailers have different requirements when it comes to the dimensions of the cover, so I do two versions of each cover, a 600 x 900 version and a 200 x 300 version. Make sure you label the cover with the dimensions when you save it, or you’ll use the wrong one almost every time, which is frustrating, especially when you’re learning as you go.
You’ll need pictures for your covers and they can be bought relatively cheap (usually $1-$3, depending on the quality of the image, and the site). Here are just a few sites where you can get pictures. Most offer extended license options if you plan on making you work available in print.
Above is the cover from my latest release, so you can see what can be created by a computer illiterate like me. With practice, you’ll be a designing wizard in no time.
Always be sure that you read the license agreement when buying pictures, make sure you know what they CAN and CAN NOT be used for. Sites vary, so be sure to read their license policies to be sure you have the rights necessary.*
STEP 5: Pricing your work
DON’T GET GREEDY. There are thousands of other ebooks out there for costumers to chose from, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by pricing your book unreasonably. I write short stories that are usually between 4,500-6,000 words and I sell them for $1.69. Do more research to see what books like yours are selling for and price accordingly.
If your write three stories that are along the same theme, put them together in an anthology (price accordingly) and now you’ve got four books instead of three.
STEP 6: Let the people know you exist
Simple really, get yourself out there wherever you can and let people know you’ve got something they might be interested in reading. Create an account on Facebook and make a Fan Page. Start a blog and get people talking. The erotic literature community is full of great people, who are extremely kind and usually willing to help out.
The first sale I ever made, only netted me thirty-three cents, but I can’t describe how good it felt when I found out. Well I’d never be dumb enough to guarantee you’ll make money, I will go on record as saying that you will have a good time trying.