Renee Rose: Making a Living Writing Erotica
When I fell into writing spanking romance, I got lucky. It just so happened that the thing I wanted to write most in the world also happened to be a niche in which it’s easy to make a solid living. Within six months I was making enough each month to pay the mortgage and in a year I was making what I consider a full-time living. I read a figure (which I’m sorry, I can’t seem to dig up the reference now) that only seven percent of authors make it to five figures a year. Really? I’m in the top seven percent? Am I that good? Nope. Not at all.
I cringe over some of my earlier works–overly wordy with too much passive voice, overused words like “that” and beating the reader over the head with the character’s emotions. But I always think how lucky I was to be able to hone my craft while still making money. I didn’t spend the last two years working on one perfect novel. I wrote 20 novellas, which provide a passive income stream while I work on the new books.
Be a Big Fish in a Small Sea – Find your Niche
The trick, I think to making a living writing erotica, is to find that targeted niche. Spanking romance is one of them. We learned at Eroticon 2014 from Josephine Myles and Anna Martin that M/M Erotic Romance is another highly lucrative niche. I’m quite certain there are a great deal of other ones, and I’d love it if you’d add them to the comments to help other writers. It’s easier to make a name for yourself amongst a smaller pool of books. There are many ready-made markets out there to small, targeted niches. Spanking romance is far smaller a pool than BDSM. I think it was quite easy for me to get noticed and gather a following in this smaller pool.
Another reason spanking romance makes for quick sales there is more shame associated with it. I think people who are into BDSM, have probably admitted it to themselves and their partner, while people with spanking fantasies are often in the closet. I believe where there’s more shame and therefore less self-actualization with the sexual kink/orientation, sales are higher. Readers are looking for an outlet/expression of their kink because they may not be asking for it at home.
There are many other kinks like this. Age play, diaper play, lactation, pony play, monster erotica, anything considered taboo. There are a few targeted publishers that serve these genres, and therefore have a ready made audience. With spanking romance, there are two major publishers, and if you publish with them, you are practically guaranteed decent sales, even as a brand new author.
Know Your Audience
There are by far, more female readers than male, so in spanking fiction, femme dom books are not the big sell, M/f are. Josephine Myles and Anna Martin explained the same thing for the M/M romance– most of their readers are hetero women. If you don’t write to that audience, it’s fine, I’m not suggesting you “sell out” but just consider how to target your audience.
Back when I was in my twenties, a therapist gave me an article on perfectionism. In it, the author described how limiting it can be to our success– you never publish that book because you are waiting to get it just right. As I mentioned above, I guess I might have one kick ass book if I’d spent the past two years refining it to submit to a top five publisher (who of course wouldn’t take spanking romance!) but instead I made money while improving with each book I wrote. One of the major tricks to making a living writing is to keep your output up. Your new books sell your back list and keep your name out there. If you think you don’t have enough time to produce books at the rate of one every couple months, try a productivity tool like the Write or Die web app (it’s free, you don’t have to download it, just use the one on the screen). You’ll be amazed at how many words you can write in 30 minutes a day! Certainly enough to publish a novella every two months!
Talk to me
I would love to hear from you about other niches you have found lucrative, questions you may have about my niche, etc. Please leave comments!