I suck at making money online pt 2 (erotica)

16 replies
A while back I started a thread, "I suck at making money online." Basically, my problem was a case of "shiny object syndrome," in that I would surf these forums for hours, get sucked by all the clever copywriting, and leave a few hours later mentally drained and overwhelmed from all the stuff I thought I had to do to make any money.

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)
Story
Email list

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!
#erotica #making #money #online
  • Profile picture of the author GoodFE
    This is by far the best post that I ever read on here, but I might be bias because I basically do the exact same thing as you do! Well, almost.

    If I were to add to this, I would say that it's vitally important that you eventually learn how to make your own covers as it will give you complete control over the entire product.

    I make the high end of 4 figures a month doing this (in Euros and after tax) and I basically do the exact same thing as lionpuncher mentioned (with a few small alterations).

    Keep it up, you'll be out of the rat race in no time!
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  • Profile picture of the author Diana Lane
    I think a newcomer to Kindle could learn a lot from this, regardless of the genre they were writing in. I'm not sure people who buy erotica place quite as much emphasis on word count as other fiction buyers would, though, as they're looking for something quite different to someone who is looking to settle down for a long, cosy read. If you can float someone's boat in 5000 words they'll keep coming back to you, whereas another author who fails to do the same in 10000 words is just going to leave them feeling short-changed. Erotica is not my genre though, so maybe size really is more important than what you do with it here

    I absolutely agree about the cover. I often look at some of those on Amazon and wonder just how hard the author has had to work to live down to what they're promising. Covers are easily as important as the title, probably more.

    Well done on turning things round for yourself. That's never easy.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Banned
      Thanks for starting such an interesting thread, and congratulations on your success-to-date with this.

      Have you joined the "Warrior Book Club" ("private forum", within the Warrior Forum, where the Kindle authors discuss all aspects of their businesses?) You should.

      Please excuse an observation about the third part of your method: buying a cover on Fiverr. This can be fraught with legal problems. Especially at the moment (it's very "topical"!). It's important to take great care over "rights" to cover-images, because there's litigation pending at the moment, and threats being made, and so on and so forth. It's not easy to be sure that Fiverr sellers genuinely own re-sale licenses to the images they use to create book-covers, and liability rests with the authors who use them. It would be a potential problem to have book-listings removed from Amazon in response to a DMCA-notice being served on them by image copyright-owners, not to mention the risk of consequences potentially even more averse than that. It can be something of a legal minefield, and it's very much caveat emptor. "Just saying!"

      .
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  • Profile picture of the author lionpuncher
    Thanks everyone, I will check out the Warrior Book Club. I spend most of my time on KBoards, although many of the people over there have turned into some serious erotica-hating snobs, so it makes it difficult to glean any new information. I just applied to join a forum run by Raminar Dixon and Scarlet Cox, two big name erotica authors. The name of the forum is Dirty Discourse, you can google it for more info. I have no idea if its any good, and thinking of it now it seems that the forum here would be a better resource.

    As for the covers, you guys are correct about the rights issue. However, the truth of the matter is that worst case scenario, Amazon will only ask you to change the cover if a formal complaint is sent. Its a lot of work for the owner of the rights to do that.

    Depositphotos offers a standard license as well, if you want to have peace of mind.

    Thanks!
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Banned
      Originally Posted by lionpuncher View Post

      I just applied to join a forum run by Raminar Dixon and Scarlet Cox, two big name erotica authors. The name of the forum is Dirty Discourse, you can google it for more info. I have no idea if its any good
      I hear that its immediate predecessor just "suddenly disappeared", not honoring any refund requests, including those of all the people who had recently paid to join and not even yet been granted access. And that the new one, in spite of some continuity of management/moderation, isn't even giving those people a free membership in attempted compensation. It sounds very strange (and extremely short-sighted), to me. But that's what Scarlet Cox herself recently told a writer friend of mine, anyway. (Scarlet Cox herself was not one of the earlier forum's owners and therefore has no legal obligation to its members.)

      Originally Posted by lionpuncher View Post

      worst case scenario, Amazon will only ask you to change the cover if a formal complaint is sent.
      That's far from the worst-case scenario - it's comparatively minor.

      The worst-case scenario is that you can actually be sued for unauthorized use of copyright images. There are companies making a living by doing that, and/or settling the cases out-of-court to the advantage of their contingent-fee lawyers. Far from being "a lot of work for them", it's how some of them earn their daily crust of bread together with some lightly-salted Normandy butter and a glass of Champagne, provided by unwary authors and others who felt as you apparently do. I suggest that people should take great care over image rights and not rely on "the worst that can happen being a forced change of cover".

      (Yes - it's happened to people. There have been threads about it, right here, in the past.)


      .
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      • Profile picture of the author GoodFE
        I've personally heard several stories about this myself, but the issue goes even further than fiverr.

        Recently, I was reading a thread on the Amazon Community page for KDP authors. One user was creating ebook covers and then advertising them on his website with a placeholder title and authors name until someone actually bought them. But it's against the T&C of most stock photo websites, and the stock photo website that he used were demanding the names of everyone that bought a cover from him. Despite only selling the cover to one client, the stock photo website considers it a template and that is against their T&C.

        Amazon are very strict when it comes to copyright issues, and I doubt they would take it so lightly if they felt someone legitimately had a claim.
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  • Profile picture of the author imafable
    Oh wow. This is really a lot of help. I've been thinking of publishing but never really got into it. I guess it's more of a mix of confidence with writing a decent book as well as not knowing where to start at all. This is a good lead and yeah, I'll probably implement this. It's not as pricey to start as well.

    With Alexa's points, I'll keep that in mind as well. I wouldn't want to be caught in the middle for using copyrighted things and I know how important those images are being a graphic designer, getting my photos stolen is one thing I wouldn't want to happen to me ever.

    Any other advises you can add with your great share for success?
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    What's going on here?

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  • Profile picture of the author hardworker2013
    I think us men prefer to watch porn than to read. The visual is
    more stimulating, i do not see a busy man like myself in this day and age
    reading a porn book. Well i guess you just have to continue what
    works for you.
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    • Profile picture of the author Slade556
      Originally Posted by hardworker2013 View Post

      I think us men prefer to watch porn than to read. The visual is
      more stimulating, i do not see a busy man like myself in this day and age
      reading a porn book. Well i guess you just have to continue what
      works for you.
      Well, yeah, but one could write erotica books and target mostly women. It's a large public to target, so I think it should work!
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  • Profile picture of the author Elvis Michael
    Congratulations!
    You can still make a shitload of money writing erotica even after Amazon applied some "family-friendly" filters over a year ago. Is it harder to profit now? generally speaking, yes, but you can still publish books and earn with little to no promotion.

    Fetishes and weird shit often sells:
    Spend some time looking for weird little kinks, if you can. Here's an example:

    Back in 2013 I noticed a book about "lactation sex," or men who enjoyed drinking a girl's breast milk while in the act. I found the fetish odd, so I checked out the book's ranking. I noticed it was selling pretty well, even without any reviews whatsoever (a number fewer than 20,000 is a good rank, in my eyes).

    I checked another book on the same subject, and another................and another (x10). Most of them were successful. From different authors, mind you. So i jumped in and was pleasantly surprised with my results.

    So again, look out for weird little fetishes here and there. The uncommon often sells.

    A word on bundles:
    Also, this is the absolute best time to publish a mega bundle if you have lots of individual books available. I don't know if it has anything to do with this time of year, but every time I publish a big bundle around this time, the book tends to bring a few hundred bucks almost indefinitely (I have seen bundles whose momentum never dwindled that much, almost a full year later).

    Reviews:
    Granted, positive reviews have helped keep those bundles selling, but you should still do great even with a handful of testimonials. So don't be afraid of encouraging reviews within the book's description and inside the book itself.

    Unless your story is truly horrible or the reader is a picky *******, the majority of such reviews will be positive....... or neutral at worst.

    Experimental, but potentially worthwhile:
    Here's something else you can try (admittedly, I haven't played much with this, so take it with a grain of salt)....

    Dont always promote one of your own books inside (inside of a book someone just purchased from you). Instead, you may occasionally want to promote the works of a popular erotica author. Introduce your readers to a particular book and provide a hyperlink to it.

    In turn, assuming many people buy that author's book through your link, this means that your book might eventually show up within that author's "Customers Also Bought" section. This is a handy section that appears on a book's main description page, and it usually gets lots of eyeballs.

    I'm sure I don't need to tell you how great that would be...

    Elvis
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    • Profile picture of the author Jason Freeman
      Hey great job lionpuncher! These are my favorite kind of threads where someone that was struggling comes back and writes about some success. I remember your first thread and I think it's great that you took some advice and followed through. Keep going on this.
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    • Originally Posted by Epic Passive Income View Post

      Congratulations!
      You can still make a shitload of money writing erotica even after Amazon applied some "family-friendly" filters over a year ago. Is it harder to profit now? generally speaking, yes, but you can still publish books and earn with little to no promotion.

      Fetishes and weird shit often sells:
      Spend some time looking for weird little kinks, if you can. Here's an example:

      Back in 2013 I noticed a book about "lactation sex," or men who enjoyed drinking a girl's breast milk while in the act. I found the fetish odd, so I checked out the book's ranking. I noticed it was selling pretty well, even without any reviews whatsoever (a number fewer than 20,000 is a good rank, in my eyes).

      I checked another book on the same subject, and another................and another (x10). Most of them were successful. From different authors, mind you. So i jumped in and was pleasantly surprised with my results.

      So again, look out for weird little fetishes here and there. The uncommon often sells.

      A word on bundles:
      Also, this is the absolute best time to publish a mega bundle if you have lots of individual books available. I don't know if it has anything to do with this time of year, but every time I publish a big bundle around this time, the book tends to bring a few hundred bucks almost indefinitely (I have seen bundles whose momentum never dwindled that much, almost a full year later).

      Reviews:
      Granted, positive reviews have helped keep those bundles selling, but you should still do great even with a handful of testimonials. So don't be afraid of encouraging reviews within the book's description and inside the book itself.

      Unless your story is truly horrible or the reader is a picky *******, the majority of such reviews will be positive....... or neutral at worst.

      Experimental, but potentially worthwhile:
      Here's something else you can try (admittedly, I haven't played much with this, so take it with a grain of salt)....

      Dont always promote one of your own books inside (inside of a book someone just purchased from you). Instead, you may occasionally want to promote the works of a popular erotica author. Introduce your readers to a particular book and provide a hyperlink to it.

      In turn, assuming many people buy that author's book through your link, this means that your book might eventually show up within that author's "Customers Also Bought" section. This is a handy section that appears on a book's main description page, and it usually gets lots of eyeballs.

      I'm sure I don't need to tell you how great that would be...

      Elvis
      Yes, this stuff sells like crazy.

      When Emotions High, Intelligence is low (And people buy more)
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  • Profile picture of the author slammer81
    Well done brother! GOOD WRITING goes a long way doesn't it?
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  • Profile picture of the author Eugenius360
    Great post LionPuncher...do you have a link or name of one books you wrote? Just to gauge the quality nothing else LOL
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  • Sounds like a great strategy..

    Remember to keep testing..

    And refining your system

    For better results
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    [CENTER][B]==> Do you want to make money online? [/B]
    Free video: How regular people are making 6-figures per month on the internet! [URL="http://www.clkmg.com/fc27/UDCL-IN2WF"][B]Watch this free video now![/B][/URL] <==[/CENTER]

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  • Profile picture of the author Vickers
    Hi Guys,

    How does one go about joining the "Warrior Book Club" ("private forum")

    The private forum sounds very interesting.

    Thanks

    Vic
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