Sex can be a four-letter word.
I’m new to writing in the world of erotica and kinda new to the world of writing. I haven’t been particularly successful with my other books, meaning I haven’t made a ton of money. So I thought I’d dip my toes (and the rest of me) into the world of erotic fiction. I had a fun hook and a writing partner (my life partner who added the female perspective to the story). We wrote it, and yada, yada, yada, it’s ready for publication.
The elevator pitch is as follows: “Young Savannah is a new vampire, but she doesn’t want to drink blood. What can she do? A girl’s gotta eat.”
“Wait. What does she eat?”
You get it.
First, we have to list the novella for sale with all the vendors who sell e-books. This is a new path for me because up until now, I’ve been exclusive with Amazon to get some of that sweet Kindle Unlimited money everyone is talking about. As a publisher, you don’t have to click yes on the KU option, but if you do, you make your book “free” for KU subscribers (but unavailable anywhere else), and you get paid for every page they read. It’s about one penny for every three pages read. Thus I make about a dollar if someone reads my entire book instead of buying it for five (I would make about 3.50). It’s a great deal if you’re one of those writers with thousands of page reads a day. But if you have to spend two dollars to make one, it’s not that great.
But I digress. Category is one of the most complex parts of publishing. What category you choose determines what shelf your book is placed on in the digital bookstore. (See some of my past posts for my lamentation on the subject of categories and their subsequent abuse). I’ve heard from other experts on the topic of romance v. erotica. In short, I’ve heard that romance readers expect, nay demand, the HEA or HFN (happy ever after & happy for now). Don’t put it in “romance” if there isn’t a happy ending, i.e.; two people end up together. Not the massage “happy ending.”
But my book has a lot of descriptive sex scenes, and no two characters end up together, so it’s not romance? Right?
It might be romantic, but don’t put it in romance unless you want ‘category nazis’ to give you a bad review.
So, I guess I’ll put it in erotica.
OOOH, don’t do that! No one will find it.
Each platform (amazon, b&n, et al.) has different methods to list your book, including categories. I decided to risk it and put it in both romance and erotic (where the option is available), confident that the Warning on page one will turn off those who don’t want to be turned on. Since every platform has a free preview, I’m not worried that many people will make it past the warning and then demand a refund and post a negative review. Not too worried…
This is the ‘parental advisory.’ Warning, bad words ahead!
This book is intended for mature readers with a sense of humor! If you’re offended by descriptions of sex, heaving bosoms, college girls, penises, engorged genitalia, college boys, anal sex, spunk, clitorises, breasts, blood, cumming, sex, pussies, cunnilingus, boobies, blowjobs, vaginas, tits, asses, love, S & M, gay stuff, moisture, vampires, cum, jizz, wads, semen, and the C-word, please put the book down now and have a glass of wine. Do us all a favor and have a couple.
Now comes the part where we try to drum up presales before the book release. I have some experience, but not success advertising on Amazon and Facebook. Here’s the deal— Facebook and Amazon won’t let you advertise explicit stuff on their platform. What’s “explicit”? You might think it means you can’t show nudity or sexual situations, but their policy is that you can’t advertise sexually explicit material even if the ad isn’t sexually explicit.
In the days of My Space, I had a girlfriend who didn’t use MySpace because “Facebook was cleaner.” She didn’t really explore Facebook, or maybe she missed the dirty stuff because they weren’t allowed to advertise. There are some borderline groups and people promoting their smut that is way more explicit than a few dirty words.
Maybe the romance experts are right. Maybe erotica is a death sentence.
But we wrote a good book that will appeal to some readers, but how the heck do we let people know we’re out there, ready and willing? I’m told that grassroots campaigns are the answer! Get a blog and blog every day. Hmmm. Information that would have been useful yesterday! Well, months ago, at least.
What will we do to promote our project since we can’t promote smut via Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub, Twitter, or Facebook? Whizzbuzz books is a service that will promote any book for a year for $49, so maybe I’ll try them. I’m sure there are others.
I hope we can get some people to follow us into the dungeon.