Friday, 17 October 2014

Disappointment and the Erotica Reader Survey

Smut writer - and marketing researcher - Amelia Bryant has a bitch about the closure of the Erotica Reader Survey and the lack of community spirit from fellow authors. You've been warned: this post bites! 

After what seems an eternity being open, I’ve finally closed the Erotica Reader Survey. I’ve got mixed feelings about this.

Firstly, I’m extremely grateful for the time spent and opinions offered by respondents. You’ve given me some numbers to play with. Thank you – you know who you are. Thank you also to the respondents who did their level best to get fellow smut readers participating. Your efforts are appreciated for sure.

That said, I’m saddened by the lack of enthusiasm shared by the general erotica writing fraternity. This includes smut book forum admins shunting the thread to some obscure part of their empire, as if they didn’t actually want to be involved in it. It also includes smut authors themselves. So much for community spirit.

Now to anyone jumping at the wrong conclusion that Yours Truly is being a spoilt little so-and-so, STOP.

As I’ve near-constantly maintained in forum postings, Twitter, blog posts regarding the Survey, and (if memory serves me correct) the intro and outro survey text, the main findings would be published. That’s right: a professionally designed marketing research survey created, programmed, and analysed for the world (or at least the smut writing / reading community) to see.

Just out of interest, do you know the price tag that would come with that if commissioning this work to an agency or consultant? Well over £5k. So to any detractors out there thinking of taking a pot-shot, forget it.

You’d think that forum matriarchs would have figured it out that there was an intrinsic benefit in promoting the survey. The results would offer a multitude of discussion threads and interaction among members. What’s not to like about that?

Similarly, erotica authors should have realised that by helping promote survey participation, they would have also reaped the benefits of someone – me -  doing the hard work and furnishing juicy data and insight for them to capitalise on. It truly was potentially win-win for everyone in a number of ways.

But it wasn’t to be.

The survey was never going to be ‘representative’. Afterall, nobody really knows the market size for smut stories, and secondly, convenience sampling was used. That said, it was hoped that the survey would generate several hundred responses (one thousand or more would have been wonderful) so that whilst not necessarily indicative of the smut reading universe, the number of responses would at least offer good insight on a sizable bunch of smut readers in its own right. That seems to have flown over the heads of authors and forum Mother Hens alike. Dumb Clucks indeed.

Given that erotica authors face many challenges I’d have thought that something which could have helped us all, would have been enthusiastically supported. But there again, if we can’t even help each other, what hope do we have as a community trying to forward the sector and profession? The words ‘piss up’ and ‘brewery’ spring to mind.

It was also costing me money to keep the survey in its full entirety open, to the tune of £25 per month. Since launching it in early 2013 you can do the arithmetic and work out how much that tots up to. Have there been sufficient response numbers to justify this expense? Definitely not.


So what now?

Well, I’ve always promised there’d be findings generated and disseminated. The respondents deserve that at the very least, even if the numbers aren’t great. So look out for some graphs, charts, and words of wisdom in the coming weeks.

The authors can perhaps take a look at the data and ruefully consider whether what they see could have been even more beneficial with more responses. Hindsight’s a bitch, isn’t it? You had your chances over the last 18 or so months.

Once again, thanks to the respondents and to the small number of authors (you know who you are – big kiss to you all) who got involved in it.

Keep saucy.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Amelia Bryant's Top 10 Tips For Aspiring Erotica Writers - part 1

The self-styled Queen of London Erotica, Amelia Bryant, provides aspiring erotica writers with some sage advice. Her war wounds are still healing in this first of three parts.

1. Be realistic
Reckon you’re going to strike it rich with your first uploaded smut story? Good for you. Your optimism is oozing out of each pore. Unfortunately your naivety is equally plentiful. The chances of you making your fortune writing erotica are slim to say the least. Everyone and their Granny has had the thought “Ooh, I can write a few books and be like that EL James woman and make a mint.”

Before you type your first sentence of your debut smut story, this means you’ve got a shed load of competition. Then, consider that your main distribution platforms such as Amazon KDP or Smashwords have varying degrees of transparency concerning what you can and can’t write, and also the level of visibility afforded to erotica titles in their vast inventories.

You also need to be aware that many people who love smut don’t want to pay for it. Why should they bother? There’s a plethora of free erotica websites out there. Many authors offer a free story or two along with their priced titles. On an individual basis, you can’t fault the authors, who are trying to earn a crust. When you have a lot of smut writers doing this however, cheapskate readers are kept happy for a long time. At your expense.

Anyone can write a few words of dubious quality, chuck in some tits n’ ass (and other bodily particles), slap on a truly awful cover then hit ‘Publish’. Voila: another independent self-published smut author is born. And it’s getting tougher by the day for the good stuff to be found amongst the cack.

Making money from erotica is not easy. Making enough money from erotica to quit the day job and write full time is very hard indeed (I should probably say 'nearly impossible' but I live in hope that some folks will achieve this, so don't want to be completely dismissive). Becoming filthy rich from writing smut is the stuff of dreams. By all means keep your mind in the gutter, so you can conceive wonderfully sexy stories that melt Kindles. But keep your feet well and truly on the ground.

2. Don’t give up the day job.
The previous point will have now primed you for this one. I could spend a fair few hundred words lamenting on the fact that giving up the day job to be a smut writer is a REALLY STUPID THING TO DO. Giving up your day job to be merely a NON-SMUT writer is pretty thick as well given the current state of affairs. 

How the hell do you think your mind is going to be chock-full of images of torrid rumpy-pumpy and saucy plots, when you’re instead worrying about how you’re going to pay the gas bill, and your credit card balance. That’s not conducive to successful smut scribbling. Need further convincing? I’ll digress, and instead let you read this

Feel free to cry into your peppermint tea, beer, red wine, or whatever your poison of choice is.

In short, you can quit the day job once you have made a shed load of cash and can see this being maintained for the foreseeable future. Don’t even consider this otherwise.

3. Don’t tweet: WRITE!
You’d think that with all that tweeting you’re doing, all the links you’re including, the hashtags you’re remembering to insert, and getting the ratio of chit-chat, promo, and engagement right, that you’d see a decent return for your investment.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but it doesn’t. Even when you’re doing all the right things, it still won’t make any real difference. Trust me on this – been there, done that, bought the damn chocolates to boot.

It sucks. Big time.

There was a time when I’d open up Tweetdeck and schedule my tweets for the following day. I’d have some excerpt tweets, some link tweets to Amazon, some to the blog, some to my followers, some general updates, some conversation starters. There’d be those tweets, and the ad-hoc ones through the day which were more conversational with followers and friends etc.

There was consistency, and the ratios were pretty good in terms of chit chat and fun versus blatant plugging. And the results? Not worth typing about. Really, I mean it.

Once upon a time there existed a sense of karma, equilibrium, call it what you want. A sense of mutual back-scratching. In Twitter this equates to plugging other worth people's offerings. or their latest blog post if it's something relevant that would benefit from other people contributing to it. For some people, who you have established a good and respectful connection with, you think nothing of it. You're keen to help them out. I know, I have a few of these and I wish them all the success they can get so I'm genuinely happy to retweet them. 

Then there are others you might retweet in the hope that one good turn deserves another. Experience to date however shows that this is rarely reciprocated. Many a Friday I'd spend half an hour tweeting #FF 's  ('Follow Friday', for the Twitter uninitiated) in the hope of the favour being returned somewhere down the line.

Save your time: the results are genuinely disappointing. 

Tweet every now and again. Tweet if you want to find yourself some sexy followers and engage in some flirty banter. Or if you want to find yourself some smutty photos that will give you ideas for your next scene or story you’re writing. Twitter is FAB for that if you know who to follow. I say knowingly… nudge nudge.

But for the love of God, do not fall into the trap of thinking that you have to incessantly be on Twitter in order to succeed as a smut writer. No! No! No! 

Blog regularly on your site to tell people what you’re up to. Wax lyrical on a multitude of things. At the very least it will help your SEO rankings provided you don’t be an idiot about it. Or hey, here’s a novel (groan…) idea: write more stories!

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Learn from mine so you can avoid the same mistake. Enjoy Twitter for what it is, but do not see it as the marketing wonderkid that will catapult you to smut writing stardom. 

To conclude, consider these rather thought-provoking points:-

1. Nearly three quarters (71%) of Tweets are IGNORED.

2. Twitter itself has been around since 2006 yet its own financial position is far from rosy

Thinking rather ruefully regarding the last point...If Twitter itself can't perform admirably with its marketing clout then what chance does a smut writer with next to no budget have? 

Write more. Don’t tweet more.

That's enough for now.  Keep checking for the next installment. 

Oh, nearly forgot. A few days ago I started on my next story. Yay!  
See, there's no way I could have finished the blog post on such a downer.  

Until next time, smut lovers! 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Yes I'm alive...

Miss me? It’s been a while. I don’t blame you for thinking (like a few of my Twitter buddies) that I’d disappeared from the face of the planet.

Not quite.

I'm still here. Weary and wounded perhaps, but still with a pulse and some brain cells left. How western civilization must be quaking, lol.

There's a few posts coming your way in the near future. 

Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.