Writing Short Stories and Self Publishing Them on Amazon KDP plus passive marketing and how to find readers. AKA answering the Reddit question: "Does anyone write short erotica and sell on Amazon? What's your process and how do you direct readers to your stories?"
>Does anyone write short erotica and sell on Amazon?
Uhm... I think, like 80% to 90% of the regulars on this sub are writing Erotic Shorts and posting on Amazon. That's kind of the only thing anyone around here talks about (which is a good thing, because it means you can search this sub for just about any topic related to writing shorts and publishing on Amazon, and find tons of helpful advise already written. This sub is great for learning the ropes.)
>What's your process and how do you direct readers to your stories?
Search this sub for the word "dataporn" and you will find literally thousands of threads, each one a chart/graph, with step by step details on just exactly what the OP did, how they marketed, and what their resulting sales and incomes were.
There are a wide range of dataporns from newbie first 30 day flops to long-time 6figure earners, and everything in between.
The dataporns on this sub are fantastic at going over everything you need to know to succeed and everything you need to avoid so you don't repeat mistakes others made.
>I've read my share of articles and FAQs on self-publishing. The question was more about what specific people have found to work best, rather than a general self-publishing FAQs.
Uhm... okay, but that tells me you DID NOT read the FAQs of this sub, which is literally 100+ linked pages to comments from users of this sub, authors explaining their step-by-step process. Had you read this sub's FAQs you would have known that it is **EXACTLY WHAT YOU WERE LOOKING/ASKING FOR, WHICH IS WHY SO MANY PEOPLE RESPONDED TO TELL YOU TO READ IT**. This sub's FAQ section is NOT your standard generic, FAQs and you would have known that if you'd taken the time to stop arguing with everyone and just go look at WHY they are all telling you to check it out.
I mean you say this:
>Good grief! I hope this isn't a sampling of the kind of people in this sub.
But you didn't even take the time to find out why everyone is telling you to read the FQAs here. You just had yourself a huffy assed cry baby foot stamping temper tantrum over what you interpreted as people being rude, when in fact, they were being incredibly helpful and you just dismissed them for it being "only a FAQs". **READ** the 100+ page FAQ section of this sub and you will see that is is NOT your average generic FAQs.
>I scrolled the sub, found some things useful and interesting but I've been here for a few days. I can't scroll endlessly until I find the specific thing I'm curious about.
That's what the search feature is for. There are well over a million threads on this sub. Even if you spent every day of the rest of your life here, you'd never be able to scroll through them all.
Go to the search box at the top of the page and type a specific term you want to know about, and it'll give you a list of just those threads.
Much easier then scrolling through random ass threads of every topic under the sun.
Want to know how to publish BDSM on Amazon? Type "BDSM Amazon" in the search box, and every thread on the topic of BDSM on Amazon will be at your fingertips in 5 seconds.
Plus, just because a thread is old, doesn't mean you can not still post comments on it and get replies. There are threads on this sub that are 7 years old and are still getting comments and conversations on them. That's why it is best to use the search feature. Because you won't find those threads any other way, due to Reddit doesn't auto-sort by active/new comments. You simple will not find those threads by scrolling. Searching is the only way to locate them.
>I also write erotica, though I haven't had much success with readership.
Most likely this is due to "passive marketing", that is usually the case, when most people say something like this.
When I first started, I had no clue anything about passive marketing, so, yep, I had the same problem
But then once I found out about passive marketing, I went back and redid all my books, and within 30 days I went from under $10 a month to $900+ a month, and as my backlog built up, I was not long to reaching $3k a month.
So, I'm a big supporter of the idea of putting all your emphasis on your passive marketing.
Passive Marketing means your SEO stuff, like: Book title, cover art, description on Amazon's sales page, backcover blurb on the paperback edition book covers, the "look inside" sample preview on Amazon, and most especially the 7 keywords you enter in the keyword slots when you publish on Amazon.
Like for example: you could have the best darned cover art ever put on a book, BUT, if that cover art does not tell your readers at a glance what genre the book is and what the story is about WITHOUT the reader, reading the title/blurb/description, then having the best cover in the world doesn't matter for shit, because readers won't click the thumbnail.
First impressions are a big deal.
First impressions will make or break your book.
So your cover art, should be sending out the right first impression to draw in the type of reader interested in the story behind that cover.
You see, on Amazon, the first impression, is going to be a teeny, tiny, barely one inch tall thumbnail. Neither the title nor the author name are going to be easily visible, so your cover art MUST make an impact. You cover art MUST scream from the rooftops "I'm ___ genre! And here's what my story is about! See my niche! Click me!" And that's a lot to ask one image to do, but that is what you need to have happen.
When I first started, I was slapping up bikini-babe on the beach images on all my covers, regardless of what the story was. Why? Because back in 2010-2013, EVERY Erotica author was slapping bikini-beach-babes on their covers, regardless of niche. It was the trend of the time. And a lot of those books had sucky sales. Why? Because the stories had nothing to do with bikini-beach-babes, and readers soon figured that out after reading 3 or 4 authors with bikini-beach-babe covers.
The thing was the bikini-beach-babe covers were in fact drawing sales, because readers wanted to read about bikini-babes on the beach, but then the stories inside had nothing to do with bikini-babes or beaches.
It was the very early days of Kindle, so no one had any clue what they was doing, we had no one before us to teach us, we were the first ones doing it, so we had to flail about trying to figure out what in the hell we were doing, on our own, without anyone to show us the ropes, because Kindle was brand new and there was no one before us to tell us what to do.
2010 Kindle was like the Wild West.
But, now a decade later, we know what to do and what not to do.
And what to do is: have cover art that gets sales, YES, but make sure that cover art is an ACCURATE representation of both the books genre and theme, plots, niche, and fetishes. A cover that does not match it's contents, is going to be seen as false advertising, by readers, and once they discover one of your books to have cover art not matching the content, well, readers just won't trust you to match your cover art to your content ever again, so they will not only refuse to buy your other books, but they will tell other readers not to buy your books either.
So the first step to gaining readers on Amazon, is to research the cover art of the best sellers in your specific niche. Also the flops in your niche. And the mid-list folks too. Compare the covers of the bestsellers to the covers of the flops, and then compare your own cover art.
And remember "Erotica" is NOT a niche. It's a genre. So you can't just search Erotica cover art. You need to narrow focus, search JUST your niche. Your niche will be something like: "licking nipple piecing play" or "stepping on pierced scrotum play" or "hot bishuon shampooing each others hair" or "cake farting" or "gay man suspended from a chandelier by his testicles" or "skin slothing slug bathing" (I write all of those niches, that why my mind defaulted to listing them, but pick whatever niche you are writing and see what others are doing). Remember research the cover art of your specific NICHE not the genre. So NOT something like: "BDSM" because there are a million and one types of niches within BDSM - in fact every niche I just listed above, is a TYPE of BDSM. And be sure to narrow focus. A sub-niche like "BDSM billionaires" or "BDSM billionaire bosses" is STILL not narrow focused enough because there are so many niches inside of that sub-genre. You would need to go more like "gingerbread house cake farting with my billionaire CEO" in order to get accurate research into cover art specific to your niche. And yes, "gingerbread house cake farting with my billionaire CEO" is an actual niche within BDSM. Once you start looking into fetish niche writing, you may quickly discover that EVERYTHING you thought was "rough and raunchy" is ACTUALLY just plain old dull, vanilla BDSM and not an actual fetish niche at all-that is what MOST new to the world of writing BDSM quickly discover.
Now, your question here, is just so generic, so, not specific, that I really can't help/advice you on what you should be doing, because Erotica shorts doesn't tell me anything about what you are writing or what you need help with.
I'm sorry, but, you REALLY need to be asking MUCH more specific questions, if you want any one to actually be able to help you.
You say you write Erotica. Okay.
What kind of Erotica?
Hard Boiled Noir Detective Meets Erotica?
Space Seed Alien Abduction Breeding Porn?
Cosmic Horror Cultist Kidnapping Women and Sacrificing them to Space Tentacle Porn?
I could go on listing the millions and millions of types of Erotica out there, but you get the idea, right? Without knowing what kind of Erotica you specifically are writing, there is just no way any one on this sub can help you figure out why you are not gaining readers.
I mean, I write Unicorn Porn and I could tell you, how to market Unicorn Porn to Bronie Fans, but, that advice wouldn't mean shit for helping you, if you are writing Sutter Mill 49ers Saloon Girl Porn, because readers looking for gold rush miners vs saloon girl smut, are going to have no interest in Elves letting unicorns fuck their peeholes with their horns. Or Santa's Elves shoving candy canes up each other's asses, that's going to be a different readership as well, so different marketing to reach them. Mermen dragging unsuspecting bikini-babes off the beach and into their underwater cave lair, that's a different type of reader. I write all of these: Unicorn Porn, Miner 49er Porn, Merman Abduction DubCon, and Santa's Village Porn. Each has a completely different reader base, so completely different marketing is needed for each of these types of Erotica.
So when you ask:
>>Does anyone write short erotica and sell on Amazon? What's your process and how do you direct readers to your stories?
...and everyone is telling you that you REALLY need to be more specific before any of them can help you, this is what they mean.
>Does anyone write short erotica and sell on Amazon?
Yes! Everyone-literally every user here, writes Erotica shorts and publishes them on Amazon...that IS what this ENTIRE sub is about.
>What's your process and how do you direct readers to your stories?
This sub's FAQs is a compilation of more then 100 different comments answering EXACTLY this question.
And the dataporn threads are tens of thousands of threads, each created by a different user, writing up massive step-by-step details of what they do, how they do it, and the results they got.
I'm sorry, but you SAY you are an Erotica writer, then people ask you to be specific, and you have a temper tantrum while saying you don't know how to be more specific then saying "Erotica", which kind of tells us you don't really know what Erotica is, because people who read and write Erotica, are VERY quick to be specific with things like: "I write aliens abducting MILFs and milking them to make HumanCow ice cream." not, say "I write Erotica."
Saying just "I write Erotica" is kind of what virgin teen boys say, when they doodle out vanilla stories about boinking girls with big boobs, and not actually anything to do with writing fetishes, niches, plots, themes, or stories.
Most people -who are adults nd not teen virgins- who want to read Erotica, and NOT looking for horny virgin teens writing stories about boinking girls with big boobs and are instead, looking for things like, horny housewives humping her zucchinis in the kitchen, while nosey next door neighbor jerks off by shoving a cinnamon stick up his peehole, while he secretly watches her from outside her kitchen window.
Quite a big difference, between Erotica telling a story about a lonely housewife and her lustful and equally lonely neighbor, and porn that is plotless scenes of guy goes to the bar to pick up big boob chick and fuck her all night, the end.
When people here are asking you to be more specific in what exactly you are needing help with, they mean, that when you asked THIS:
>>Does anyone write short erotica and sell on Amazon? What's your process and how do you direct readers to your stories?
...but they are saying that you SHOULD have asked something like THIS instead:
*"I write aliens abducting MILFs and milking them to make HumanCow ice cream. Does anyone else write this? I'm having trouble finding readers for my niche. If you write HuCow Shorts too, could you tell me what your process is for reaching your readers?"*
You come off as not knowing what Erotica is, when you just say "Erotica" followed by saying you don't know how to be more specific, when others ask you to be more specific then "Erotica", and that's why you got the answers you did on this thread.
People here are NOT trying to be rude, they just don't know how to help you, when there are millions of types of Erotica out there and you don't seem to be aware of that fact.
Step back a bit and look at it from our point of view. We DO want to help you, but we have no clue what specifically you need help with.
You say you write "Erotica" but don't say what kind. Then you say you need help finding readers. But, without knowing what TYPE of Erotica you write, we have no way of advising you on how to attract the TYPE of readers who want to read hat you write. Do you understand why everyone was saying to be more specific? They DO want to help you, but they are confused and uncertain as to what exactly it is you need help with.
>I also write erotica, though I haven't had much success with readership...I posed my question to hear how individual writers managed and what specific tricks and tips might be.
After cover art, I would say keywords is the 2nd best thing you can do to get readers.
I publish on a weekly schedule, and every release I spend a few days nit-picking the keywords and republishing, until I get the story to show up in 5 to 7 genre/niche/categories (the list of cat links in the info section on the book's ASIN page; the one that usually shows only 2 cat links... I discovered if I tweak the keywords enough, I can always get 5 of those links to show up, and sometimes 6 or even 7 of them).
*(Note, I'm writing Dark Harem Fantasy with Romance-sub-plot and erotic fetish scenes, not Erotica, so, that could mean my results are going to be different then for someone writing Erotica or more generic Romance. It is my understanding that no matter what you do, the cat list will never display more then 2 if you select Erotica as your genre, but I've never had a book listed in the Erotica genre so I don't know how accurate that may be. If any one knows, if you can get more then 2 cat lists to show up in Erotica, maybe they could offer some insight?)*
Well, once I discovered that tweaking keywords can land your book in more then just the 2 genres you can select, I went back to all my old books and tweaked the heck out of them.
Back when I was traditionally publishing, I stuck narrow focused to genre, because that's what you have to do if you want to get published. I don't do that today, with self publishing though. Instead, I let my stories wander where they may, following the characters along with whatever they are doing. Which results in my self-published work being vastly different from my traditionally published work, and dipping in and out of every genre possible, sticking with no one genre 100%.
So, my genre that I write for Amazon, looks something, sort of like this: "Dark Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery > Bizarro > Literary> Absurdist > Yaoi > Gay Romance > Slice of Life > Dystopian > Post-Post-Zombie Apocalypse > Time Travel > Portal Fantasy > Character Study > Vignette".
But you can't put all that as your genre on Amazon, LOL!
Amazon let's you pick 2 genres. Each of those genres is an option Amazon let's you pick. So, what I do is, I put "Dark Fantasy" as my primary genre, and then, put whichever of the others best fits the story in question, for my second genre. Resulting in my entire series ends up showing up on ALL of those genre categories.
But then, by tweaking the keywords, using that list of genres (and other more specific niche related keywords), I've been able to get almost ever volume (400+) of the series to have 7 genre cats each volume. Which ends up resulting in the series as a whole, showing up in over 30 different genre cats total on Amazon. Which I think has had a lot to do with why I get so many sales (most volumes sell 27k -twenty-seven thousand- copies within the 1st week or so of release-and I think this is because the series show up on so many different lists on Amazon-note, that I do ZERO marketing/advertising and I don't have social media or newsletters or mailing lists-nothing, I don't even tell people on Reddit what my penname is-100% of my marketing is just keyword tweaking and cover art, and relying on Amazon's algorithm to do the rest).
I'm a huge supporter of tweaking keywords and using that as your number 1 primary marketing focus, because I've seen how big of an impact this has on sales, and how much it boosts your sales just to get on as many of Amazon's cat lists as possible.
I know, I see so many newbies around here, saying they don't have time to waste of keyword research, so they say they will skip it and, damn, I just shake my head and roll my eyes, because they really have no cue how much they are shooting themselves in the foot by skipping that one step.
I think after good cover art, good keyword research is the second best thing you can do for your books on Amazon. Keywords may not be such a big deal on other sites, but on Amazon, keywords are the think that will make or break your book sales. Good keywords will get you to the top 10 lists and bad keywords will sink you to the bottom of the sea.
I'm always thinking: "If I was the reader looking to read this, what search term phrase would I type into Google/Bing/Amazon in hopes of getting book results?" Then I type that keyword phrase (usually a sentence-ish of 4 to 7 words) into Google to see what sites/images/shopping items/books Google gives me in the search results. Then I search the same phrase on Bing to see what Bing gives me. Then I search again on Amazon-the full store search-to see what that gives me. Then a 2nd time on Amazon in books. Then a 3rd time on Amazon in Kindle ebooks.
And as I am writing Fantasy that learns heavy into Dungeons and Dragons style territory, I also search that phrase on Noble Knight's website (a book store that sells used DnD/RPG/etc game books), BullMoose Music's website (another DnD/RPG/game book store, and on DriveThruRPG's website (a place like Amazon Kindle, for self-publishing RPG game books and LitRPG novels and short stories-it's similar to SmashWords but mostly LitRPG books).
So, now I have 7 tabs open on my computer, and I can grid them side by side and compare, what kinds of books/items/images/etc did this keyword phrase give me. Was there an overlap of the same few items showing up in the top ten results on each? If so, was it books? If so, how do those books compare to mine? Same genre? Different genre? Do I want my book to show up alongside these books when someone searches this phrase?
Then I go to the bottom of Google and Bing, where it recommends similar search terms, and I open each of those in new tabs and compare if those phrases give better results. Then I test those search terms in Amazon and the other bookstore sites mentioned above.
I'll go through a few dozen search term keyword phrases this way, until I have 7 of them, that I think will both be likely terms/phrases my readers will type in search, and that are bringing up competitor books most similar to mine that I think, readers of those books would probably like my books so I hope my books will come up as recommended under those books.
This is a major part of my publishing process and I devote a day or two, to doing this, every week. Spend 8 to 12 hours of the day, doing nothing else by big time looking for keywords to match my book. And as I publish a 15k to 20k book for the series every week, and I use different keywords for each book, I end up doing this full day of keyword researching every single week.
When you publish on Amazon, there is a section with 7 slots for adding keywords.
In Erotica, those 7 keywords don't add additional cats, because Erotica can only have 2. In everything else (Romance, Horror, Fantasy, etc) those 7 keywords, sorts your book into additional cats - 7 total (not 8). However on the book's public page only the top 3 are shown, not all 7. Top 3 ranked. Meaning, if your book is listed as:
...those are your sales ranks in the 7 categories, that your keywords sorted you into.
However, on your public sales page it'll only say:
...listing just the top 3 ranking categories, and not mentioning the other 4 at all.
Obviously this example is for a Cozy Murder Mystery Short Story (yes, those are the actual rankings of a real book on Amazon right now - I just grabbed it at random to show you what was possible.) You can see the full 7 cats using one of several various tools which track ranks. Like I said, it doesn't show up with more then 3 of the public sales page.
This I know from personal experience. Most of mine, get into the categories they are in based off the 7 tags I use. I go to the categories to search and see what categories Amazon has that my story would fall into, and I use the specific category name as on of my 7 keyword tags, and within the next day or two my book shows up in the specific category, whose name I used as one of my 7 tags.
Like for example, a lot of mine are listed in the "Small Town & Rural Fiction" category as well as the "Dark Fantasy" category. And, the REASON they are listed there is quite simply because I selected "Dark Fantasy" as one of my 2 genres in the drop down menu, and then, I directly typed the phrase "Small Town & Rural Fiction" as one of my 7 keywords.
I WANTED my book to show up in the Amazon category: "Small Town & Rural Fiction", so I just typed the words "Small Town & Rural Fiction" as one of my 7 keywords and BOOM! Within 24 my book showed up in the "Small Town & Rural Fiction" section, when I click the "Small Town & Rural Fiction" link on the Kindle store front.
And the REASON I use this keyword is because all of my stuff is set in the same small rural town, and the town's community/town hall dynamics are very important to the series' plot, the town has only 3k residents, most of them horse, sheep, or poultry farmers, with several fishermen due to it being in a coastal cove. So, even though the category "Small Town & Rural Fiction" seemingly isn't a go-to category for an Erotica-type Dark Fantasy series, it is in fact one of the top three most relevant categories I could put my series in, and therefore I made certain that it got listed there.
It says somewhere in Amazon's KDP Help section, about doing that to put your book into 7 sub categories, -Amazon themselves, tell you, to search the categories and use the names of any category you want your book in, as your keywords, in order to ensure the book lands in that category, in addition to the 2 primary categories you pick from the genre drop-down box. That's why I started doing it, because I went through and read all of Amazon's Help pages, and that was what Amazon said you were supposed to do with the 7 keyword tags.
The Help page had a list of a few hundred keyword tags and what categories your book would show up in from using them. I can't remember now what page it is, but it's one of the pages in the KDP Help section about how to use the 7 keyword tags.
However, none of my books are in the Erotica section either, so I'm not sure if it's different. I write BL/Yaoi/M-M-M-Harem Fantasy/Gay Dark Fantasy Romance that has erotic content woven within the story/plot. Basically I write M/M Romance that features freaky-taboo fetishes, stuff like consensual strangling/asphyxiations, biting, blood letting, stabbing with needles, burning skin with boiling hot melted chocolate, etc - things that border into the abuse/torture porn side of things, that don't include sexual intercourse during the fetish act, but both parties are getting off on the act, one because he likes sadisticly torturing people, the other because he's a mascichist who likes being tortured.
So my stuff is in Dark Romance, Dark Fantasy, or outright Horror and it's sub cats, instead of Erotica or more normal tame Romance. Some people call my stuff "Sexless Erotica" because it contains no sexual intercourse scenes, but focuses on fetish content that readers get off on.
My stuff to Erotica is like comparing Rob Zombie to Nikki Minaj. Nikki is straight up Erotica, while Rob Zombie is Horror with twice as many boobs and pantie shots as Nikki has, but you couldn't call it Erotica because of the Horror stuff being too much Horror.
My stuff is like that.
So, like I said, it has a lot of the same triple X nudity and fetish stuff Erotica has, but it's got too much horror/gore/violence to actually be called Erotica. You can write some pretty messed up/violent stuff, but Amazon usually sorts it into Horror not Erotica I don't write anything raunchy enough to get listed in Erotica, and I thought, doesn't Amazon handle Erotica book categories differently from Romance categories? I'm not sure. I thought I remember someone saying they did.
>Does anyone write short erotica and sell on Amazon?
Me personally? Yes and no.
I don't write Erotica, buuuuut, what I do write is jam packed full of graphic nudity, voyeurism, piecing play, piecing fetish, tattoo fetish, hair brushing fetish, hair shampooing fetish, social bathing fetish, and is Gay Harem Yaoi that spends a huge amount of time with the guys sexually playing with each other, even though the actual sexual intercourse fades to black. I call what I write Gay Haram Dark Fantasy Romance, but a lot of my readers call it "Sexless Erotica" and point out that even hard core grind house BDSM porn, doesn't go as extreme as my genital piecing scenes do.
So, it's up for debate if what I write counts as Erotica or not. I never felt it was Erotica, so I list it as Dark Fantasy on Amazon. But, I've got several thousand regular readers who say it's hands-down Erotica, and is actually more extreme them what they find sold in the Erotica category.
But, when I think of Erotica, I think of sexual intercourse, actual insert tab A into slot B, type scenes, which I don't write. I mean, sure I pile a half dozen naked guys in a bathtub and have them sexually touching each other while they bath each other, buuuut, they never have intercourse on page, and the plot is heavily focused on the romance/relationship of the MC and his 2 primary lovers (he has 37 other lessor/minor lovers-all of whom live with him and he considers them his spouses-but only the MC and his two primaries get the bulk of page time.)
The other thing is, when I think of Erotica, I think, the sex is the point of the story, so MOST of the story IS just one big giant sex scene. Well, my stuff is very dialogue heavy, a lot of guys sitting in the bathhouse bathing each other while they talk about past events of the day.
It's very literary, very emotion driven, and focused on them dealing with problems and such. The focus is on how events in their lives effect them and their relationship. Plus there's a lot of focus on the family unit, providing for each other, taking care of each other, defending and protecting each other from dangers, etc. And then there is the worldbuilding-huge amounts of world building-plus the magic system (these guys are all mages), and then there is the quests, DnD style questing goes on, setting up camp sites, hunting and gathering food, scouting for zombies and undead, etc.
So, yeah, I get what readers are saying when they point to the bathhouse and brothel and tattoo and piercing scenes and say those scenes are a thousand times more graphic, more raunchy, more sexual, then any Erotica story, okay, but those scenes are just that: scenes. The sexy time scene make up maybe less then 30% of the over all story in each volume, and even with the over the top BDSM fetish stuff, I don't think having "erotic scenes" in your story, makes the entire story count as Erotica the genre.
When it comes to getting readers of one book, to buy through to your other books, backmatter is going to play a big role.
You want the last page of your book, to drive then straight back to your Author Central Profile on Amazon. You can have up to 3 Author Central accounts on Amazon, you can find them in your KDP dashboard. If you have several pennames (I have 15 pennames, for example), then select the 3 pennames that are your biggest sellers.
I however only have one Author Central Profile, even though I have 15 pennames and could select 2 more Author Centrals. The thing is, one of my books took off, sold 300k copies in less then 6 months (in 2014) and then it's sequel (in 2016) sold 10k copies with in an hour of rerelease, passed 100k copies within 30 days, and continued selling copies, surpassing a million copies sold (just that one title) in February 2021, and still sells 10+ copies daily, and because of these 2 books, I ended up with a huge following of repeat readers who became addicted to the series. I now have 27k readers who buy every volume within 7 days of a new release-meaning every volume I publish gets 27k sales within 7 days- and, once I had a mega hit series like this, I just focused on that one series only, and therefore that one penname only, resulting in, I put my other 14 pennames on hiatus to focus on just this one series full time.
My readers are mega fans of the MC and his 2 lovers, and they CosPlay these 3 characters at conventions like PAX and ComicCon, where I do panels and workshops on how to write and publish Gay Harem Romance/Yaoi.
So, I never bothered to set up my 2 additional author central profiles.
When I first made the switch (in 2010) from traditional publishing novels (which I did from 1978 to 2014-keep in mind I did**already have a large following since the 1980s BEFORE I started uploading to Amazon, so I DID NOT start as a "no name author" when I switched to self-publishing) to self publishing short stories (which I did from 2010 to 2022/currently still do), my early books had massive backmatter dumps in them. Big mistake.
I used to have a list of every title, including all the book covers, and descriptions, to every book on Amazon. When I first started and it was just 4 or 5 books, it wasn't that big of a deal. But with weekly releases, that meant it was only a year to 50+ titles linked in the backmatter. Yikes!
Every new book published, I added it to the backmatter, and then went back to update the backmatter of the older books to have the new longer list.
Damn. Was that ever a waste of time, that I should not have been doing!
Because the backmatter list got so huge, it reached the point where it was 30+ pages long after the end of the story, and readers were not bothering to scroll past "The End" to even see the backmatter links. Amazon used to show a page by page chart of what pages specifically readers had read, so you could see exactly at what scene they stopped reading. Amazon removed that chart from the dashboard several years ago-but at the time, I was checking this chart often and using it to see what pages of the story readers stopped at and fixing those scenes. And I noticed almost no one ever read the back matter at all.
So, I overhauled my backmatter to being the same page as the "The End" page. It now says:
"The End. Thank you for reading! Want to read more? The entire series can be found here: *url link to the series page on Amazon*."
So the last page of the story is now the last page of the book, there no longer is a back matter section at all, just that one link in the "The End" sentence of the final page of the story.
This has resulted in far more click through to the series and of course a deep increase of sales of the older volumes.
So, I do highly recommend simplifying your back matter as much as possible. Readers don't want to deal with "extra baggage" at the end of the book, so they'll just skip it.
Make it easy for your readers to go straight to your profile page and start browsing for your next book, as soon as they finish reading the first one and are hyped up to read more. Catch them during the "just finished reading and want more" rush.
Now here's a thing that is going to come off as VERY controversial around this sub: newsletters.
99.99% of users on this sub preach the holy gospel of having a newsletter, like it was the end all be all holy grail of marketing.
They cite getting 10 readers here and 20 readers there, and spending 40+ hours a month on writing and sending newsletters... me, I've sold a million+ copies of a single title, over a quarter million copies of another title, and have four hundred plus other titles each with an average of 27k copies sold per volume ... meaning in total, my series has surpassed more then **TEN MILLION COPIES SOLD** when you count all 442 (four hundred and twenty two) titles in the set. And while 10million may sound like a huge number, keep in mind it it ONLY because I have so many titles. It's not a million copies each for 10 books. No. It's 27k people each buying four hundred books, and Most small towns have more then 50k people in it. Heck, New York City has 7 million people in it, so my 27k readers could easily all fit on a single street in New York. It NOT a lot of readers, it's just a lot of titles and a small group of readers who addictively bought every title.
BACKLOG, and great, big, honking HUGE fucking backlog, is the secret to my sales figures. And that didn't happen over night. Like I said, I've been uploading weekly stories to this series since 2010, and it now has 422 volumes on Amazon. It only takes one reader to buy the entire backlog for my to earn $800 in a single day, from on single reader, because I make on average $2 per sale, and when they mass buy 422 backlog titles in one order, that's me earning around $844 in one day and gaining 422 new copies sold, all **FROM JUST ONE READER**. And this is wht a massive backlog, for **ONE** series, following the life of **ONE CHARACTER ONLY** is the single most important thing you can do to make writing short stories your full time income/job/career.
But, you don't need a newsletter to do that.
I don't have a newsletter.
I have never had a newsletter.
In fact, I don't do any marketing at all.
I don't even use social media.
Heck, I don't even own a phone, so I can't physically create an account for MOST social media as they require the apps to be downloaded to a phone.
I know newsletters are the holy grail gospel truth around here, but, I've never had one. Never seen the point. And I am living proof, you do NOT need on to gain readers.
Marketing for me is a headache. That's why I don't do it.
I've seen so many writers waste so much time and money on buying ads, posting on social media, etc, and then struggling to even get a dozen sales from any of it. Then, me, all I do is mega keyword obsessing for a few hours one day a week, and I have 120+ books sitting in top 10 lists on Amazon and new releases selling an average of 27k copies within a week of release, and other writers ask me what mailing lists/newsletters/ads I use, and I tell them: none! I've never bought an ad, I've never posted on social media, I've never had a newsletter, I've never had an email list. It's JUST keywords and book covers. That's it. I make sure my covers are on point for my genre and I make sure I narrow pinpoint my keywords. That's all I do for marketing. Not one thing else.
My method is: write, edit, cover art, keywords, publish, write, edit, cover art, keywords, publish, write, edit, cover art, keywords, publish, repeat, repeat, repeat.
Basically build a backlog, all for a single series following a character whom readers love to love, keep the text "clean" *(free of typos, spelling and grammar errors)*, make sure cover art is branded to the series and "tells" the reader at a glance what the book is "about" without them even having to read the title or blurb, and go mega-ham on relevant (none-spammy, long tail-full sentence) keywords.
But also too, my series is **NOT NUMBERED**. Each volume is a full, complete story, that stands on it's own. Any random new reader, can pick up any random old or new stoy and read it without needing to read any other story before or after it. Each volume contains every character intro detail needed for that one story. Each story contains every worldbuilding detail needed for that one story. Each story contains every magic system detail needed for that one story. And each story is 15k words long, so you can see that there is no room for massive info dump character intros, info dump world building, or info dump magic systems. Each story contains **JUST EXACTLY THE AMOUNT OF INFO THE READER NEEDS TO KNOW FOR THAT ONE STORY**.
And then key to my success, is this: have one character that you love with screaming fangirl rabid abandon, so much, that you can spend the rest of your life writing a new story about him every single day and never get tired or bored.
Having one character that you just obsessivly gush fangirl love for while you write is sex capade adventures, is the key to grabbing readers, dragging those readers in, and having those readers running like raving lunatics' after your main character.
I write my main character, as though I was writing super-fluffy-super-smexy-super-smutty Gay-BL-Yaoi-Slash fanfiction. It's full of cringy, eye rolling tropes, and lots of ridiculous eye rolling stuff, BUT, that sort of thing is why readers love it. They love that my MC is a ditzy clutz, they love the cute fluffy cuddle times he has with his harem, they love the over the top Batman-style super villains, they love the squish relationship he has with his primary lover. They love the cringe. They love the tropes. And they love him. Readers love the main character and just keep wanting more and more and more of him and nothing but him, doing all the tropy, cringy stuff they know he's going to do. And giving readers more of the character they love sends them all **SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE** to my backlog to buy everything, so they can just have more and more and more and more...
...I often do things that other writers shy away from *(such as my characters are elderly instead of young buck 20/30something hot studs, my couples are married, I don't writing cheating or premarital sex, I am writing Erotica under my real name and I am year round doing live in person offline meet and greets with my readers, attending conventions like ComicCon and PAX to do how-to-write/publish workshops and book signings with the fans who CosPlay my characters) )*, I often don't do things that are considered "required" *(for example - I don't have a newsletter, I don't have an email list, I don't use beta readers, I don't send of ARCs, and I've never done/bought any sort of advertising whatsoever, and yet these things are preached as the "holy grail" of things you can not succeed without having done.)* The thinks I do and don't do work for me, largely because I live in a 1975 Dodge Sportsman 22foot Class C motorhome, so I am literally able to drive my house and writing office to any town in any state, and pow-wow one on one with my fans, many of whom just follow me around from convention to convention the same way Deadheads followed the Grateful Dead everywhere...plus my RV is painted dayglow glow-in-the-dark and under blacklights neon pink, with my author name in 12 foot tall letters on both sides, and the covers of my newest releases always up 4 feet tall on the sides...
...my RV acts as a literally mobile billboard advertisement for my books. and this is 100% all I do for "advertising". I should note, we are Persian Gypsies, my family, and we are what most in America refer to as "Carnies" or "Carnival Gypsies", so my RV is parked at most every sideshow, carnival, amusement park, festival, and event throughout New England, plus I live on a beach that gets 2million tourists every summer weekend and when not traveling the RV sits at the end of my driveway where all those tourists have to walk by to get to the beach, and I sell on average 30k paperback chapbooks out of my driveway every month, to said walking by tourists. Sooooo... I have very specific living conditions and lifestyle arrangements which allow me to do the extremely not standard things I do, and still succeed at getting more sales then the average Erotica author.
(My pink Dodge Sportsman is pretty easy to Google is you want to see what it looks like, as is my Volvo with the 2.5million marbles glued to it).
I say this, because, I do believe a lot of my succeeds is directly related to my lifestyle, my culture, and where/how I live, the fact that I was in 2 Stephen King movies
(Thinner and Christine-so have a fanbase from that as well) and I am aware that because of these unique conditions, it may be difficult to impossible for someone with different lifestyle circumstances to repeat what I do.
...in short, in spite of the cover art, in spite of the keywords, in spite of it all... it all boils down to the writing, and having created a character whom readers find addicting to read about.
So, even if you have the best covers and the best keywords on the planet... that still won't equal repeat readers coming back for more, if you don't have good writing, good grammar skills, a good story to tell, and a character readers keep coming back for more of.
In the end, the wrapping paper brings them in, but content is king, and it's the content inside of the wrapping paper that keeps them coming back for me.
Anyways, hopefully some of this will help you out. Perhaps you can apply some of my methods to your work and gain more readers?
Good luck with it!
>How short do you mean when you say short erotica? I'd be curious to learn how like 2000-word stuff does.
Last I knew Amazon had a ban on anything (any genre-not just Erotica) that was less then 3k words. Unless something has changed recently, Amazon was requiring minimum 3k words per book. It's been a few years since I tried uploading anything that short, so I'm uncertain if that rule is still active or not.
I used to write 1k short Horror back in 2010to2013 era of Kindle, and somewhere around 2015, Amazon did a mass purge of literally MILIONS of books, across all genres, again, not just Erotica, and sent the authors an email about a ToS change that made 3k words the minimum required wordcount for uploading to Kindle.
Amazon had said something about books under 3k words long being "poor user experience", and said the problem was people were uploading entire novels, one chapter at a time, charging $2.99 per chapter, and that Amazon had received a lot of reader complaints that the $2.99 per chapter scam was causing readers to boycott Amazon, and thus the reason for the change.
The change was not only did it have to be 3k words minimum, but it also had to be a complete story with a full beginning, middle, and end. Amazon put a full ban on serials as well, in that same email. They said from now on, a story could not end on a "to be continued" as doing so was a violation of being a complete story rule. They mass banned lots of serial novels during that same purge. (This was before they released Vella-you are now required to use Vella if you want to upload chapters instead of complete stories. Uploading chapters outside of Vella will get your account banned.)
But, like I said they sent that email out in around 2015, and Amazon changes things every couple of months, so I am uncertain if that specific ToS rule is still in effect now in September 2022 or not, or if they changed it again since then?
By the time Amazon had made the change, I had already made the switch to writing 5k to 10k long stories, and had already removed my 1k stuff and rebundled it as 10 pack collections of 10k (ten stories at 1k each), so I didn't get hit by the purge all the 3k books.
In my personal experience, 1k shorts just did not sell well, but a 10pack of ten 1k each shorts, bundled into a 10k book, sold very well. That was the reason I had unpublished my 1k stuff and republished as ten-packs of ten 1k shorts per collection.
But, again, I will point out that it was Weird Horror and Cosmic Horror that I was writing at those word counts, not Erotica. My Erotica content has always been 15k to 35k novella length.
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