I’ve always enjoyed hot books, and I wrote erotica for years before it become profitable. Once I started making money at it, it went better than I expected in many ways. I treasure reader reviews and I’ve relished the freedom in erotica compared to other genres. I’ve enjoyed writing romance, but fulfilling the many specific requirements and reader expectations has been a stretch. In erotica, I’ve had a lot of fun writing supernatual suspense, crime fiction, and genre-bending adventure.
The biggest downside to writing high-heat books are the ongoing hassles and risks specific to publishing erotic works. In more than four years of writing and self-publishing erotica, erotic romance, and sexy books in other genres, I’ve witnessed many authors lose their accounts. When a retailer closes an account or blocks specific books, it’s usually not possible to get an explanation. This makes for a big, tense guessing game.
Loss of visibility occurs often—to specific books, to Erotica in general, even to erotic books of all kinds at random. Every time books loses visibility on a major retailer, I lose money. Operating on a small margin makes this a tiring business.
Every detail of the cover and blurb carries the potential of getting a book blocked from promotion or distribution. Some books get published, only to become invisible to searches without notice.
Sometimes, there are understandable reasons for account closures and book blocking. There are always people who knowingly break rules. But countless authors seem to get caught in a wide net or run afoul of nebulous guidelines. Even in cases where their accounts are reinstated, these authors pay a heavy cost. There’s no restitution for ruined promotions, destroyed sales momentum, lost sales during the book blocking or account closure. Too often, I get a close look at the risk of losing everything, and I haven’t got much left to lose.
Knowing that retailers can destroy my business without notice is an ongoing source of stress. I steer clear of banned or risky subject matter, but the lines can change in an instant.
As much as I believe in the freedom of creative expression, there are many lines I don’t cross for personal reasons. There are also many sexual fantasies that seem to sell well that aren’t erotic to me.
Instead of copying other authors, I’m prone to going my own way. This isn’t a recipe for success in the competitive self-publishing realm.
The Good Part
I enjoy writing women who take action in their lives. The women in my books, including the nineteen year-old virgins, are determined, know what they want, and make choices to improve their circumstances.
I particularly relish creating action heroines who are often left out or treated as stereotypes or tokens in popular media. Curvy women larger than a US size 12, women of color, bisexual women, and non-conforming women of many kinds. Women who are ‘too different,’ ‘too smart,’ ‘too assertive,’ ‘too unfeminine,’ ‘too masculine,’ ‘too skilled/competitive/powerful.’ I celebrate the outsiders. The people who create change in their worlds, in their intimate relationships, and in their own lives.
Writing my way toward Halloween, I let loose one of my all-time most non-conforming protagonists. You can find that tale in my firemen menage series, All the Men. It begins with Fire Chief’s Toy and climaxes in the fifth and final episode, Witchy Toy. My subconscious insisted on telling that story, despite concerns that I was going too far.
The part of my mind that concerns itself with making a living knew I risked losing readers with that series. Years ago, during a real-life controversial relationship, my lover said, “The people who matter don’t mind, and the people who mind, don’t matter.” I kept that in my heart and finished the series the way it wanted to go.
From the beginning of my self-publishing journey, my intention was to refrain from censoring anything. Due to vague content restrictions and the potential for dire financial consequences, I have sometimes had to restrict my freedom. One retailer will not only ban an author for life, it confiscates earnings from all books if it deems that a book crossed its unstated lines. Yes, there are no content guidelines, but if anything I write is considered in violation of content guidelines, my account will be closed without recourse. That’s a heavy weight to deal with book after book. Other retailers have pulled entire erotica catalogs without warning.
For creative growth and greater protection of income, I’ve expanded into more genres. For this to be worthwhile, I need a larger audience. For the past year, I’ve been considering dropping Erotica entirely.
Most promoters and retailers are far less biased against any genre other than outright Erotica.
If you’d like more erotic books from me, you can help by buying them or getting my free downloads from authorized sites including Smashwords, Kobo, Apple’s iBooks, Barnes & Noble, GooglePlay, and Amazon.
Leaving reviews is another way you can help. Many book promoters require a minimum number of reviews to qualify for advertising. You don’t have to use your real name or write more than a couple of lines. Thank you for your support.
Halloween is my favorite Holiday. My retro Huge Monsters bundle will be available for a few more days at the $2.99 sale price. Witchy Toy is .99c in presale through Saturday, and will then go up to full price.
Autumn is a good time to take stock of our directions in life. In my former life in rural California, this was harvest time. I hope you’re enjoying life and going in directions that are meaningful for you. I’m staying in one place for a few weeks, assessing what’s next.