The Internet has changed the terrain for erotica readers and writers, with sites devoted to the spicier side of romance and the raunchier aspects of relationships. Steamy prose is easy to find and almost as easy to publish - on websites that take submissions and as stories for sale for e-book readers. Learn about what's hot, what's not, how to write for the discerning reader, and how to make more than couch cushion change publishing your own work.
Taste a Few Samples
Get your feet wet by reading widely and well. Before taking the plunge at your keyboard, check out the latest lusty literature from the vast array of online resources offering free or cheap reads. Some present samples and a publishing platform. Others are read-only, although a number of those take submissions. Look for popular subjects, particular kinks and how they are handled, length of stories, POV (most successful erotica is written from the female point of view), and helpful hints about making money from your own work.
- Literotica - Literotica is an all-encompassing portal for most things erotica, with a focus on curated free fiction that includes enough spicy content to cater to almost every kink, configuration and fetish. Visit this site to sample stand-alones, multi-part series, favorite author catalogs, fan fiction, poetry, humor and satire. Literotica has interactive storytelling and submission guidelines and is strictly an over-18, adults-only experience.
- BDSM Cafe - BDSM Cafe is fifty shades of the real deal. You won't find pretend bondage and domination stories here. Instead, the site presents free erotica that accurately portrays BDSM experiences. They screen visual content for authentic consent and legal-adult professional models. Want to write in the still-popular billionaire BDSM niche? Educate yourself on this adults-only site.
- Remittance Girl - Written by a British woman living in exile in Southeast Asia, this blog is dedicated to erotic fiction and poetry. Provocative writing covers a range of erotica topics, each clearly labeled so you can choose your favorite kink. The blog is continually updated, and guest writers post here from time to time.
- Refinery 29 - Looking for free erotica tales you can dive right into? Refinery 29 is the perfect online destination. Enjoy richly ornate prose and lots of links to articles about positions, sex toys and more, for your edification.
- Excessica/Excitica - These two erotica publishing companies are the brainchildren of best-selling erotica writer Selena Kitt, who has long battled censorship in the traditional publishing industry. You can find good examples of current indie-published short work, steep discount sales, and a friendly platform to feature your own work. The adults-only site includes a forum for writers and readers that requires registration.
Okay, okay, we're talking about writing erotica here. Get smart about what's selling and how to monetize your assets into a part-time, or even a full-time, business. Those would be literary assets. Writing and self-publishing erotica on the Internet can be a lucrative gig - if you're nimble and good at responding to a rapidly changing market.
- Identify a niche or two that catches your eye and sells like hotcakes. Could be billionaire boss, first encounters (always at legal age or older), paranormal/shifters (whoa, those werewolves!), teacher/mentor and student, m/m (male/male), f/f (female/female), monsters, ménage and more. There are endless varieties of the pleasure principle, and an enthusiastic market for each of them.
- Write your stories, or longer works, put a cover on them and upload them to an online book retailer like Amazon (Kindle), Apple (iBooks), Barnes & Noble (Nook), or Kobo. Then write some more. The business of indie- or self-publishing is a real business. It requires learning how to do a lot of the work beyond the writing, but it's very doable. If you have deep pockets, you can hire out tasks like editing, cover art, formatting and proofreading.
- Make money. Some. Or a lot, maybe. Online distributors pay up to 70% of the sale price of your work and that adds up fast if you sell high volume. It's a dispiriting trickle if you don't sell well. But you can control that to a large degree by learning about the business from the online communities that exist to help you quit your day job. 'Write more, write better' should be your author mantra. 'Market smart' should be your business plan. You're a writer. It's a business. Wear two hats.
- Expect upheavals. From time to time, distributors toss up roadblocks that tank your sales. They may create a firewall and put all erotica behind it, so it becomes difficult for would-be readers to find your. A book with a gorgeous shirtless vampire on the cover may be your bestseller one day and get blocked by the online store the next day - due to a sudden crackdown on bare-chested vampire covers or something. Sigh and find a new outlet, write in a new niche or change the cover.
Tips and Tricks
Keep these tips in mind as you explore the world of publishing erotica online.
- Go boldly forth without a pen name if you prefer. But, don't be shy about using one (or more!) to protect your privacy, keep your straitlaced family - or your employer - in the dark, or separate your erotica-writing self from your middle-grade-fantasy-writing self.
- Skip the purple prose and the euphemisms. Nobody interested in erotica wants to read about heaving bosoms, throbbing manhoods and glistening pleasure palaces. Keep it real - not clinical - but grounded in actual physical action and breathless response. Using at least three of the five senses in your description of each incident will help here. Using all five senses is even more sensual.
- Study covers for your niche. Covers are the eye-catchers that communicate genre, kink and professionalism to a web surfer looking for something to read. There are specific types of cover art for specific types of stories. Once you understand the look for your kink, consider creating your own covers in Photoshop or using free GIMP software (look for many excellent tutorials on YouTube). No art talent? Hire a pro who specializes in erotica covers, or hunt for a good deal on cover art via fiverr.com.
- Master the art of publishing on sites that make it simple for you to upload your work, such as Kindle Direct Publishing, Barns & Noble Press, Apple iBooks, Kobo and Google Play. Review these platforms thoroughly, taking advantage of the provided links for video and text instructions and tips for how to maximize the value of each site.
- Do not pay an 'author service' to help you plan, prep, proof and publish your work - unless you have excessive amounts of cash burning a hole in your pocket. Online self-publishing has a reasonable learning curve. You can do just about everything yourself and there are plenty of free forums (see below) to answer your newbie questions.
- You may find it beneficial to rely on a service for distribution. Useful services like Draft2Digital and CreateSpace will format and upload your short stories and books in wide distribution and manage your catalog for you for a small percentage of your royalties.
There are a number of enticing resources to help you hone your erotic writing chops and share your titillating prose with the wider world.
- Dirty Discourse - Dirty Discourse is a lively forum for self-published erotica writers that is a goldmine of current content and marketing information. The site has a modest sign-up fee to discourage voyeurs and trolls and encourage participation from serious author/publishers. Here, you'll find candid and very helpful discussions about every tip, trick and topic under the sun.
Writer's Digest - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Writing Erotica (But Were Afraid to Ask) from Writer's Digest is a basic how-to that hits all the highlights for you. Check out their ten tips to get you started typing sexy times into short story, novella or novel-length fiction.
- Online articles - It seems as if every news outlet and magazine has tackled writing erotica at least once. Google "How to write erotica" and you can read for hours. Two short takes to get you started include: Learn to Write Erotica-Centaur Sex, Anyone? and How to Write a Good Sex Scene.
- Passionate Ink: A Guide to Writing Erotic Romance (pictured) - Written by Angela Knight, this book shares secrets and details for how to write erotic stories. Topics covered include setting up a good sex scene and writing dirty dialogue.
Freelance Erotica Writing Gigs
Guaranteed pay is a thing. Set-fee freelance gigs won't come close to your earnings if your self-published erotica takes off. But, a bird in the hand... Actually, best just skip that one. Check out the following links to find established sites and magazines that pay freelance writers for the hot stuff.
- Upwork advertises jobs under Creative Writing but you have to really hunt for erotica opportunities on the site. One recent posting for a 'Romance Niche Writer' promised lots of work in many erotica categories, long-term, for about $50 per 5,000 word story.
- Cobblestone Press is always looking for sensual & erotic romance and short story erotica. They are a no-fee, full-service publisher that pays 35% royalty and seeks audio and electronic (e-book) rights. Their website specifies categories to write in or to avoid, with word counts as low as 5,000 words for some topics.
You Can Nail This
Once you get that heat turned up, it's hard to turn it off. Erotica is seductive and you can get hooked on writing it for your own publishing empire or someone else's. Just remember, arousal is heightened by relationship, so give readers plenty of bang for their buck by containing your erogenous prose within a narrative for added impact. Yes, you're writing sex, sex, sex. But you're also delivering a stimulating, ravishing story in the end.