Okay, so I’ve been at this gig for a while now and, since I started out, I’ve learned some helpful tips that I thought I’d share. I should point out that these are about independent, self-published books, so may not be relevant to everyone.
I’d also like to preface this by saying that, though I trained in writing at University, it was a very broad course covering all kinds of writing, not just strictly creative. So, I am in no way an expert, and I’m sure there will be things in this list that some of you will respond with, ‘Show, don’t tell? That’s amazing- write that down for me Strange!’ Before promptly slapping me in the face with your notebook.
With that said, here are my top (amateur) tips for writing erotica:
1) Show, don’t tell.
Just kidding! Though seriously, that shit is pure gold. Can you believe I only heard that phrase about a year ago? If you’re new to writing and haven’t been introduced to that concept, look it up, it’ll change your life.
1) Write what you know.
Sounds obvious, sure. But, if you’re anything like me, you’ll get through a few chapters of writing before you realise you actually don’t know as much as you may have thought. I’m not saying anyone here isn’t very intelligent, I’m sure you all are. But what if, for example, you decide to write a sexy story based in some incredibly exotic location, then you start describing the setting only to remember you’ve never actually been to Brazil and you can’t really draw enough information from the penultimate Twilight film to describe the setting.
With that in mind, write what you know. If you want to set a story in a really exciting location, try and draw on things that you’ve experienced in places you have been. Don’t limit yourself by needing specific details, build a story around the specifics that you have experienced and would want to experience again. Went for a great meal in your home town? Describe it as if you were explaining it to someone from another country who had never tried it. In love with the view from a local landmark? Write about it a if it’s the most unique and exotic thing in the world.
2) Research what you don’t.
Again, seems obvious. And, if we were talking about most genres of fiction, I would say it was. But I know when I started writing erotica I relied heavily on things I had already experienced as the broad basis for my stories. I mean, you’ve either had sex or you haven’t, right? It didn’t occur to me straight away that it was a good tool in my box (mind out of the gutter people. I’m tryin’ to be academic here!) to get some research to empower my stories further. For example, when I wrote the last instalment of Beast of Backar – The Hunt – I ended up doing loads of research about the Russian Revolution, stolen artefacts etc, and it didn’t even take me that long. But it gave the story so much more depth and the erotic parts were all the more enjoyable for it.
3) Literally everyone always judges books by their covers. Always.
Come on, be honest; we all do it. Before you publish anything, look at what books that are selling well have on the cover. What makes them stand out? Take notes, it definitely makes a difference. Also, think about what you look for when choosing a book. Would you pick up an erotic story if it had a picture of a giant penis on the front? Well, then don’t put one on your cover!
3) Brush up on your skiiiiiiiiiiills.
Not everyone who writes has had the money to attend loads of courses. That’s okay, but there are endless free resources these days that you can access for free to help you up skill yourself. I follow loads of blogs and vlogs from established and starter writers to learn as much as I can about my craft so that I’m always improving. This also comes back to the cover design- if you don’t know how to create a professional and appealing cover, look it up. I promise these things will be well worth your time.
4) Manage your expectations
So, you’ve researched your story, you’ve got well rounded characters and exciting settings. The sex scenes are hot and steamy. You’re ready to start your new life as an erotic author. Goodbye, grind! Goodbye office friends I never really liked that much!
Yeeeeaaaaah. Don’t print your letter of resignation just yet. I hoped I would be making enough money from my stories within about six months for me to quit work and write full time from home.
I made a grand total of £8 in the first month and the money just kept trickling in. Two years later, well…let’s just say I’m not living it up like E L James. There are several reasons for this in my case. (The writings fine, by the way. 🤨) BUT – first of all; who da hell are you? You’ve got to work up and build a name for yourself. Once you’ve had a fair few titles out that have done well, people start looking out for you, but that takes time. Also, if you publish through Amazon like I do, the percentage they take is, frankly, outrageous. But I console myself with the knowledge that at least my work is being read, where if I went through traditional means, it quite possibly wouldn’t. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use traditional publishing, you gotta do you after all.
5) Stick with it!
Following on from the last point, don’t give up!What separates the writers who can write full time and the ones that can’t (other than actual ability in some cases) is that they stuck it out. At first you’ll be like, well duh. I can write forever! But when you actually publish all those ideas that had been burning in your brain for years, that’s when the real work starts. Finding new inspiration, investigating what’s selling, keeping up the standards. Yeah, your hobby is now your job, and that changes things. This is when you’ll know if it’s really what you want to do. Me? I’m just now at the point where I’m making about three figures a month even when I don’t release anything, which I’m very proud of. And yeah, it’s hard, but I’m sticking with it until the AI’s price me out of the industry.
6) Try not to take reviews to heart.
Unless they’re good. Then let them inflate your ego to totally disproportionate expanses!
Seriously though, I’ve had a few reviews that stung. I’m not pretending that I’m the best writer in the world. I’m not saying my books will change your life. I had an idea and I just put it out there in case someone else might enjoy it. Problem is, if you put something into the public sphere, you have to accept that people are going to comment and may be quite harsh: it just comes with the territory. If you can’t handle the heat, best you get out of the kitchen. Also, there have been times when I’ve learned something from my less than glowing reviews, and I take that as a positive.
Well, I think that’s pretty much it from me at the moment. All in all, I love what I do because I get to be creative and saucy all in one outlet. I hope this has been even a little bit helpful for some of you.
Check back again soon for more ground-breaking revelations from a somewhat established indie sex-writer.