Does Sex Sell? Insights From A Professional Erotic Author

Thanks to 50 Shades of Grey, and all of its various imitators, the mainstream market is absolutely flooded with erotica. Licentious literature is nothing new, though, and it’s been booming for years out of the spotlight. However, there’s more to the success of being an erotic author than a simple “sex sells”.

How much more? A lot more according to this interview with noted erotica author Pandora Box, also known as Peter Hayward.

Insights From an Erotic Author

Earning Your Keep Writing Smut

On the one hand, making money as an erotic author isn’t all that different from making money as any other kind of author. The writer has to produce solid content that caters to a specific audience, that content has to come out regularly, and the author needs to be sure to grow his or her audience with every release.

What makes writing erotica different? Well, according to Hayward you need to put out at least a few hundred products (short pieces will do, since a lot of erotica readers won’t call “bullshit” if you label a 7,000-word piece a novel), and you need to find something that’s dark enough to be attractive, without being so dark that it will get taken down from Amazon (who has regular purges of erotica that violate certain terms). Hayward’s niche is mind-control incest, for example, but he said if you were allowed to write straight-up rape fiction or bestiality then those would be the top sellers. Those topics are banned, though, so you need to sneak them in through other means; such as the label “breeder” or “werewolf.”

Broad Appeal Is The Key

It isn’t just about finding a niche and ducking Amazon’s arbitrary censorship, according to Hayward. Succeeding as an erotica writer is about finding a big enough kink that you can get a steady flow of readers, but small enough that you have a fierce, and dedicated group. In his own words, a story about two people meeting in a cafe and having sex isn’t going to sell, because that doesn’t appeal to any particular kink, and it won’t show up in keyword searches. However, phrases like “cowboy gang bang” are going to get you noticed and sell books.

Which is, of course, the goal.

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