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  http://time.com/money/3054324/twitter-jumps-on-strong-earnings-trouble-is-its-still-not-profitable/

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! 


  1. I love this article!! I'd love to say the situation is better in the professionally published market but alas it's exactly the same; and all of the above advice rings just as true to me (with three professionally published full-lengths) as it does someone about to crank out their first 2,000 word story.

    It's a grim situation - if you're in it for the money or fame, at least.

  2. Sadly, I too concur with every word of this. I've learnt to my cost that time and effort spent on the likes of Twitter yield very little in return. However, this touches on the point I made more recently in reply to Danielle's "The Fifty Shades effect lie". As an indie author who self-publishes, striking the balance between creating my art and marketing it, is not easy. I'm forever torn each morning when I wake up; Do I write the next chapter of my self-professed gem, more likely for my eyes only, or do I spend the day firing off some soul-searching tweets in the hope someone out there is listening and, more importantly, wanting to take my writing seriously?

    A grim situation indeed, but I guess that is, by definition, the indie author's lot; we have to do these things alone, until recognised. And for me, that's all I'm striving to achieve at the moment, recognition. It's an over-saturated world out there, fame and fortune, very much like the music industry, require a healthy slice of luck; right place, right time syndrome.

    However, surely a little recognition shouldn't be too hard to come by if one writes well, puts it out there and spends a little time shouting about it on social media. Maybe I need to take a course in marketing!