So I took some advice that I got in the thread, picked a strategy and for the past three months have been grinding it out at least a few hours per day. I'm making this post to "pay it forward," just in case there are some similar people out there who are in a situation like I was a few months ago and are looking for some inspiration.
My strategy: self publishing erotica to Amazon
I chose this because I'm a decent writer and a fast typist, and I personally consider this strategy to require very little thought. You write a book, put it up on Amazon, then you write the next book. Its pretty easy.
So here's a full breakdown of what I do:
1) Pick a kink
2) Write the story
3) Buy a cover on fiverr
4) Format the book using Calibre
5) Enroll in KDP Select
6) Promote for 5 days for free (to boost ranking)
7) Buy $5 for promotion for extra visibility (+/- 500-1000 downloads)
8) Once you have 3-4 books, bundle them together and create another book
1) Pick a kink -
Erotica is basically porn for your mind. Actually, I think there are a lot of similarities between porn and erotica. People watch porn to get off, and the same is true for reading erotica.
As such, people are turned on by different things. Without getting into too much detail, let's just say that what gets me hot and bothered may not do the same for you – and vice versa.
The idea then, is that you really can't go wrong when you pick a kink. Just write about whatever turns you on. Sure, BDSM is a popular topic, but if it doesn't turn you on then there is no point in writing about it.
Assuming that you will be writing the stories yourself, you want to pick something that works for you. When I write, I try to shoot for 5000 words. That seems to be the minimum length that people will want to read, although now I'm realizing that in fact it should be longer than that, probably closer to 10-15 thousand words.
While you could probably knock out one 5k story in a day, the longer ones will take you a few days so its up to you how long you want to make them. If you're writing the shorter stories, its better to choose hot topics so they're easier to sell.
2) Write the story
Like I said, 5k words should do it. If I'm writing in OpenOffice (or Word), then that usually amounts to 10 pages of written text. On an e-reader, it will be able 20 pages. On my word processor, I take the first few pages to set up the story, the next few to set up the sex, and then around page 6-7 I start the sex scene. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later.
Coming up with ideas is hard, so I like to steal them. Movies, TV, other books, it doesn't really matter because there are pretty much no more original ideas out there anymore. Steal a little from here, a little from there and before you know it, you've got your own story line. Just fill in the gaps, add a little sex and boom – instant story.
I also use a thesaurus, especially during the sex scenes, so it doesn't get repetitive. Using a thesaurus is like watching a different porn clip – it stimulates in new ways.
3) Buy a cover on fiverr
There are plenty of designers who will make you a cover on fiverr. If you take a look at the erotica section of Amazon, you'll see that most of the covers are poorly designed shit. That means if yours is any good, it will stand out from the rest.
You can also design your own cover with photoshop or Gimp (free version of photoshop), and Amazon also has a cover creator tool that you can use. I've used the tool quite a bit and found it to be very helpful, although you are quite limited in what kind of designs you can make with it.
My advice is to just spend the $5 and buy a nice cover. You will easily make that back in the lifetime of your book.
4) Format using Calibre
Formatting is easy with Calibre, as long as you know what you're doing. The biggest thing is to format your document when you're actually writing it. What I mean by this is that you need to set the indent for your paragraphs at .5, and the spacing between lines at .16.
This gives you nice looking paragraphs that are double spaced in between, much easier on the eyes.
The guts of your book need to be like this:
Table of contents (created in Calibre)
Title page (title, copyright, etc)
People say starting an email list is super useful, though I have to admit this is a weak area for me. I only recently started doing this, and have built a list of about 100 people so far. I basically tell them that if they sign up, I'll let them know when my books are free so they don't have to pay for them. I can't say that I've made any money from the list just yet, though I suppose its a good thing to have.
I also like to put a section called, “A note from the author” in the beginning – just me asking for an honest review of the book. I say that I'm a professional author, reviews are good, and that I need more of them. So if you like the book, please review it blah blah blah. The reviews trickle in, but people are reluctant to review erotica, probably for the same reason that people would be reluctant to review porn clips.
5) Enroll in KDP Select
To KDP Select or not? That is the question. Some people have great success publishin through other distributors. Personally, I did not. When I first started, I published to as many places as I could. After a month, the only other place I had any sales was Barnes and Noble, with a few sales here and there on A1 Adult Ebooks.
This was right around the time that Amazon released Kindle Unlimited. You pay 10 bucks a month, and can download as many KDP Select titles for free as you want. Authors still get paid, somewhere between 1-2 dollars per “borrow.”
So the choice was either make a little money on Amazon and a little money on BN, or just throw everything in with Amazon. I made my choice and have stuck with it, though I suppose the grass is always greener to some degree. While I can't say that I am a bazillionaire just yet, during my 2nd month of constant work, I made over 1200 bucks. Some people make more, but it just goes to show what the potential is if you put the work in.
The main benefit is that your books are available in KU, which means people can read it without paying. Everyone likes free shit, but you still get paid.
6) 5 day free promo + boost on fiver
This is #7 as well, but I'll just explain them both right here. Anyway, another benefit of KDP Select is that every 3 months, Amazon will let you promote your book for free for 5 days. Now, people say that its better to space out the days, but personally I like things to be as easy for me as possible so I can focus on writing.
That means that I like to put all 5 days at once. Set it and forget it (another reason why I only like to publish to 1 retailer). Now, before I do this, I schedule a promotion with someone on fiverr with the username of Bknights. He has a website that promotes kindle books. You give him a link to your book and the dates of the promo, and he will add it to his site.
People go there to look for deals, and if they like the looks of your book, they might download it. While you don't make any money directly from doing this, you will probably get some email subscribers. Also, when your book is downloaded for free, it boosts your Amazon ranking, increasing the visibility of your book. You might also get some reviews.
The hope is that the residual boost in rank will add up to enough sales/borrows to at least cover the cost of the promotion. Most of the time, this is the case.
8) Creating bundles
The idea behind this is pretty simple. Write 3-4 stories in a series (same characters), then bundle them together. I forgot to mention it, but you should price your books at 2.99. That will get you the higher royalty from Amazon – and it is also an acceptable price for erotic shorts.
You can of course price them at whatever you want, but 2.99 should be your starting point. When you create a bundle, depending on the length of your stories, you should set the price at 3.99. If they are long stories, then you can price it higher. Though 3.99 is a good general rule of thumb.
Bundles are great, because you can bundle whatever you want. If you have 12 stories (3 series of 4 stories each), then you can create 1 bundle per series (3 bundles), another bundle (the first story in each series), and then another bundle (all 12 stories together). The more stories you have, the more possibilities you have to create bundles.
Obviously, don't go overboard with this (its tempting!).
9) Rinse and Repeat
That's the strategy right there. It requires a lot of work, but fortunately most of this work is just typing out words. My biggest problem with getting into making money online was seeing the big picture. Each individual step seemed clear enough, but tying it all together just boggled my mind. Some people out there can do it, but for some reason I just wasn't able to.
I like this strategy because its so simple. You write a short story, put a cover, publish and promote. If you have the time and inclination, you can do 1 a day. Within a few months, you should be making decent money.
When I started getting serious (September 2014), I already had a combined 13 short stories and bundles. I was not making very much money.
Almost 3 months later, I have a combined 83. To be honest, I thought I would be making more money with this system by now, but as people will tell you, this is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time to build your catalogue and get your name out there. I mean, it takes 60 days to get paid on anything you sell anyway, so if you're going to get started, keep that in mind as well.
My first month, I made almost $400. My second month, $1200. My third month might be a little less than that, sad to say, because with the holidays here, people are saving money for gifts and whatnot.
The good news is that Amazon is now giving a 6 month subscription to KU with their new reading devices. So that's lowering the barriers even more. People will be buying lots of their devices for christmas, so that means that putting in the work now will make early 2015 very profitable for some of us!
Anyway, hope you enjoyed my super long post. Just a reminder to people out there that if you're not having any success with what you're doing, keep trying!