I have alluded to some of my side hustles in earlier posts, but this will be the first time I actually talk about it in detail. My most successful side hustle right now is actually publishing erotica on Amazon (yep, I’m not joking). It’s a great side hustle because it requires very little skill, marketing, and start up costs…and it can provide a decent income source. Right now (after about 6 months), I am consistently making over $1,000 a month. Alright, let’s talk about how to write erotica!
How In The World Did I get Started?
Now a lot of you are probably wondering how I got started in the first place. Well, I actually read a blog post about it. One of my favorite blogs is 30 Days To X by Robert Koch. Robert’s blog has a lot of great business and life advice, so I highly recommend readers check it out.
As I looked through his blog, a particular post caught my eye: It was the review for a how to write erotica book. I researched the idea a bit more after reading his post. I couldn’t believe how much some authors were making.
After sleeping on it, I decided I wanted some of that action. I bought Robert’s book recommendation and started my publishing business. During my first full month, I published 9 books and made $192.09.
Why You Should Write Erotica Too
A lot of people think that publishing your own ebooks is impossible, but it has never been easier with advancements in technology. I mean we’ve all heard of struggling authors barely getting by on stale bread and water, right?
By that logic, an independent author should have no means to make a dime! But consider this: I started my erotica publishing business with no audience, no email list, and never spent a penny on marketing/advertising…and I still made over $190 my first month!
The beautiful thing about erotica is that you can get started right away and generate money from day one. The start up costs are so low. In fact, I broke even less than a week after publishing my first book.
Right now, there are many platforms for authors to publish erotica (and other ebooks). These include (1) Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), (2) Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press platform, and (3) Smashwords. Out of all the platforms, Amazon KDP has the best royalty structure.
Here is a comparison of the royalty structures:
- 35% royalty option (books must be priced between $0.99 and $200.00)
- 70% royalty option (books must be priced between $2.99 and $9.99)
- 40% ($0.99 to $2.98)
- 65% ($2.99 to $10.00)
- 40% ($10.99 to $199.99)
- 45% to 85% depending on a variety of factors such as affiliate marketing, end user device, etc.
Right now, I am publishing exclusively on Amazon’s platform. Amazon KDP is great because Amazon is one of the most popular online retail websites in the world. They do hundreds and thousands of sales every second. That’s the kind of platform I want to be on.
Keep in mind that Amazon KDP pays out royalties two months in lag. So all of the sales you had for the month ending 12/31/16 will get paid out in February.
Here are 3 key reasons why you should publish erotica right away:
1. No special skills are necessary
Do your writing skills suck? Grammar skills need brushing up on? Welcome to the club! I fall into both of those categories, but guess what? None of those things have kept me from selling hundreds and hundreds of books.
The beautiful thing about writing erotica is that you’re not selling a literary masterpiece. Nope! You’re selling dirty sex. And guess what most people are doing when they read erotica? Yep! Most readers will miss 90% of the grammar and spelling errors in your book.
2. Very low start up costs
I love online businesses because they typically have low start up costs. It would cost you less than $100 to start a blog. Guess how much it costs to start a physical business? A good friend of mine invested over $100,000 to start a restaurant near the beach and that doesn’t include the $25,000 he put in for a pending liquor license! His restaurant has only been open for six months and he’s breaking even (which is actually pretty good by restaurant standards).
Writing erotica is great because there are low start up costs and it is very easy to break even. In fact, I started mine with less than $50 of investment! Even if you don’t break even, you will unlikely lose a ton of money.
3. No Marketing Needed
A lot of people think you need a big marketing list or spend on advertising to be a successful author. That may be true in certain genres, but absolutely no marketing or advertising is needed to sell erotica. Sure, having a website or subscriber list does help, but it is not necessary to be successful. As the old adage goes…sex sells itself.
4. Passive Income Baby!
The good thing about writing erotica is that you generate passive income. How great is it to see book sales come in when you’re on vacation or spending time with family/friends or just relaxing at the beach? It’s the best feeling in the world!
Currently I make over $1,000 a month. I only publish about 4 times a month these days (I used to publish 8 times a month). Each book only takes me ~3.5 hours to write, edit, and design a cover.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know my current income is a combination of passive income on old books and sales on new books. Based on my current performance, I estimate my old catalog could still pull in at least $500 a month for the next year on passive income alone.
How To Write Erotica
Some of you may be wondering how to actually write erotica. Starting your own erotica publishing empire can seem kind of scary, but it is not. Like many first time authors, I had never even published anything before. That’s why I outlined a quick two step process for first timers:
1. Know What Your Niche Is
Writing erotica is all about finding the right niches. You have to find one (or a few) that really work for you. These can be gay prison stories, lesbian stories, or even BDSM stories.
Not every niche you write in will be successful. I highly recommend getting Kindle Unlimited. It is basically Netflix for books. For just $9.99 a month, subscribers can borrow up to 10 books at a time (you can click here to get a 30 day free trial). Many erotica books are published under the Kindle Unlimited program because it provides additional royalty benefits (I’ll probably discuss this in a future post).
When you select on a book, check the far right side to see if it is published under Kindle Unlimited. If it is, you can borrow the book for free!
What you want to do is read lots books in your niche. If you’re doing gay prison stories, check out who the most successful authors are in that category and read their most recent books.
Take notes on:
- how their stories are structured,
- how they format the book,
- what their book description is like, and
- the book cover design.
Once you get an idea of why the authors in this niche are successful, you can begin writing.
2. Begin Writing!
Once you figure how what niche you want to get involved in, you’ll have to get your hands dirty with lots of writing.
For beginners, I recommend writing stories around 2,500 to 4,000 words long. When you’re just starting out, you want to write in a few niches to test the waters and see what works for you. You don’t want to invest the time to write a 20,000 story in a bad niche and wind up bombing in sales. When I first started out, my books were around 4,500 to 5,000 words long.
I like my stories to be structured with 3 parts:
1. First, the story should introduce the main characters. Describe their gender, how they look, location of the story, and most importantly character motivation. By character motivation, I mean what do they want? Does the main character want a promotion? The new secretary at work? The new doctor at the office? Figure out what the characters want.
2. Second, build desire and some kind of conflict. Maybe the conflict is an office policy that doesn’t allow employee dating or maybe it’s something like the moral dilemma of sleeping with your boss to get a promotion. The point is to hook the reader in with some kind of exciting problem.
3. Third. resolve the conflict/desire and consummate sex.
Once you find success in a particular niche, you can really scale up and pump out stories.
A few thoughts on pen names
Creating a good pen name is pretty important. Remember to pick something simple and easy to remember. There is some debate on this, but I always pick a female pen name.
This is because if you are catering to a male audience, they find it ‘sexier’ if it is written by a woman. The same thing is true if you cater to a female audience. The last thing ladies want is to imagine a fat, old pervert writing the stories they read.
Pick a pen name that is relatively short. Something like “Mary Tanner” is perfect because it is short and easy to remember.
Publishing Tools You Want To Have
If you’re going to be serious about publishing erotica, I highly recommend using Scrivener to write your books. It is an amazing word processor that has much better functionality than Word.
The best thing I love about Scrivener is that it formats ebooks beautifully automatically. Here’s what Scrivener will look like if you upload your document onto Amazon KDP:
In comparison, this is how the exact same text looks on Word:
As you can see, Word doesn’t have even have the same paragraph indents as Scrivener. In addition, I’ve found that you sometimes need to play around in word to get the font size and/or spacing right. This can be a BIG time suck to fix something in word, upload it to Amazon KDP, and previewing the document to make sure everything is correct.
You can eliminate over 95% of weird Word formatting errors in Scrivener. Trust me, if you spent 3 – 4 hours writing and editing a 4,000 page story, the last thing you want to do is spend another 1.5 hours fixing some stupid formatting error.
Out of respect for Robert, I’ll refer you to his review post on Scrivener in case anyone wants to buy it with his affiliate links.
Also, Scrivener does offer a FREE trial of their program. You can try it out here before you think about actually purchasing the product.
P.S. There are often Scrivener coupons floating around out there (like at retailmenot) that you can use for an even bigger discount!
Photoshop and Depositphotos
If you want to sell erotica, you’ll need a kick ass stock photo and access to a photo editing software. I use Photoshop and a stock photo from Depositphotos to create all of my book covers. Depositphotos has a great selection of over 50 million files, which ensures you can pick out the perfect photo for your niche. They also have great sales once in a while (like 100 photos for $100). If you’re interested, check out their site and get one of their low cost plans to get started.
Photoshop is easily the best imaging editing software out there today. If you want to add amazing text, change brightness, and alter your cover somehow, then this is the tool for you. There are dozens of amazing (and free) Photoshop tutorials on YouTube that will teach you everything you need to know.
Click here to try the free trial of Photoshop.
If you don’t want to spend the time to make your own book covers, you can always outsource that task to someone on Fiverr.
How Much Can I Expect To Make?
A lot of people are always curious about how much you can make writing erotica. Well…how much you make really depends on you. It depends on how successful your books are, how many times you publish, and a variety of other factors. Some authors make $100 a month and some make over $10,000 a month.
In my very month of publishing, I made a little over $190 by publishing 9 stories.
I had one of my better months in December despite publishing less. Due to Holiday travel and family time, I only published 3 stories in December. However, I still made over $1,000 for the month! I had ~$686 in outright book sales, ~60,000 pages read under Kindle Unlimited (which would translate to about $300), and also $105 in book sales from another older account (with a very old pen name).
The key to generating a $1,000+ a month income source from publishing erotica is consistency. You have to get a publishing schedule and stick to it no matter what (especially in the beginning). Grind out those stories and watch the sales come in. It’s the best thing in the world when you look at your sales chart and see it go up!
P.S. If you’re considering writing now, I highly recommend checking out Emily Baker’s book on how to write erotica. It is an incredible book and has helped make me thousands. Also, it’s free if you have Kindle Unlimited (just another reason to get it)!
Readers, do any of you also publish erotica on the Amazon KDP program? Do you have any tips to share as well? Questions? Let me know in the comments!