How to attract more readers and give them a reward—that was my quest.
I have individual novels, a trilogy, and a five-part novel. My poetry titles come in the form of a bumper book of serial poetry, my five-part, multi-genre series and, of course, a collection of rhyming erotica.
Erotica, not usually mentioned on this blog—apart from poetry I have several novels, two anthologies of short stories, and a series of novellas.
I was looking at an opportunity hidden in plain sight—box sets.
I could offer a series at a cut-price. Yes, it would mean I lose a small amount in royalties from the individual book sales, but providing entertainment to a greater readership is more important to me than the money—which of course would be the spin-off; I know. 😀
Four questions came to mind.
How many people are keen to have a series available in one download?
How many people will take the opportunity of saving about 15-20% on the overall price?
How many of my series should I prepare as box sets?
How hard would it be to create them, and how long would it take?
The good news is, the graphics in this post are not simply for show. The first part of the job is done—four box sets completed, although while working on the project it felt like forty. Amendments to front and back matter was tedious, but worthwhile.
In each case, there is at least a free book when comparing prices to individual purchases.
These box sets are available on Kindle Unlimited.
I have no intention of going along the audio route so it will be interesting to see if this idea works.
Things got off to a good start with the erotica—a box set sold within three hours of publication.
I’ll write a post giving any useful information if the idea takes off, and in which area/genre.
A Life of Choice is available as five individual eBooks, a box set of five, and as a paperback trilogy.
If you’re new to my brand, all of my eBook titles are available on Kindle Unlimited.
In my meantime, I’ll be happy to accept question, comments and suggestions.
In Part 1, I wrote about the titles and general description of my work in this genre.
In Part 2, I moved on to how I found myself venturing into this area of creative writing.
I’d like to use this final article to go under the covers ….
In the wake of Romance, the Erotica genre is the next big thing – in regard to sales. For this reason alone, it’s not surprising writers of other genres attempt erotica, and it might be why their trials are published with a pseudonym.
Many writers try producing this special genre. Having read widely in the indie and the traditionally published sectors, I’ve discovered a wide range of ability.
We all think we know what goes on behind closed doors, but how much of our ‘knowledge’ is actually supposition, imagination, or guesswork?
The first aspect of this topic to put to bed (pun intended), is about how wonderful other people’s sex lives are. We could look at examples, but in reality there are too many variables to examine sex life.
I’ll list a few examples to prove the point:
1. A person who has no sexual experience, but has read a few books which suggest sex should be enjoyed by anybody with anybody, doing anything. I remember a girl from my early 20’s who earned the nickname ‘Martini’. If you’re not old enough to remember the TV ad, the slogan was: ‘any time, any place, anywhere ….’
2. A person of limited sexual experience, but read widely, and is eager to try anything once.
3.A person who enjoys the early years of marriage, where there has been an occasional hot night between the sheets. Lifestyle calmed and the bedroom became a place for two things; frustration, or boredom – or both.
4.An older person who has been in a relationship for 50 years, had a lot of varied experiences before marriage, and has for far too long settled into a mundane ‘get it over with’ mindset.
5. A person in a long-term relationship, but is with a partner who has no desire to ‘experiment’. Opportunities may not have been taken when younger, and now one partner may spend time wondering about activities found in books, but never tried.
What must a writer consider when publishing erotica?
Instead of producing a text-book answer, I’ll list a few of my personal criteria.
1. It is erotica, but it should not only be about the sex – a plot should exist.
2.I avoid sexual taboos, which I don’t believe have to be listed. If you have any doubts what is considered ‘taboo’ in erotic literature – use a search engine.
3. Colloquialisms for body parts and activities read better than creating a biology lesson with an underlying story.
4.Consent – or a fair idea of what is ahead is my preference. If a character sounds as if they didn’t know what they were getting into – or what was getting into them – it’s not non-consensual or innocence; it’s naivity.
5. Exceptional hygiene standards and preparation are occasionally mentioned in passing.
I have other minor points I keep in mind, but the aforementioned are the main ones.
Which erotica appeals to me?
I enjoy the tale if I find myself consumed by the story, embracing the characters (metaphorically), and reading for the story – not the genre.
Which erotica irritates or alienates me?
When the language used is stilted, and the body parts and activities are like a sex education class for those who speak English as a second language.
When the situation and dialogue is contrived and the ‘story’ goes from dialogue to action in an unrealistic time scale.
Two-dimensional characters usually combined with little or no back-story.
Highland Games is the series title of my erotica novellas. My first tale is an introduction to the series and the main location. In each successive book I aim to explore a different aspect of sexuality. As I do with all of my work, I’ll be taking note of feedback, and I’ll adjust my writing if there is good reason.
Thank you for taking the time to read my posts, and particular thanks to those of you kind enough to leave your thoughts. I appreciate all feedback.
As a reward for your kindness, I’ll remind you my novel, Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica is FREE on Amazon over the weekend Saturday 30th July / Sunday 31st July 2016.
My first article in this mini-series looked at what I’ve written and published in the erotica genre. As a refresher, it explains I’ve written poetry, short stories, and a novel. It also highlights my latest venture – I’m underway with a series of novellas.
This second post is an insight into why I decided to get involved in this area of creative writing. Reading erotica isn’t for everybody, and having read comments from writers who can spin a great yarn, I know the writing of erotica isn’t for everybody either.
In closing Part 1, I promised the whys and wherefores of my interest.
I first dabbled in literary titillation when I was experimenting with poetry. I’d written about natural history, the military life, thrillers, reincarnation, romance, and a few odd pieces where I introduced humour. It was when I wrote about relationships I found I had to move on from the meeting, and the dialogue.
Surely as the romance deepened it would be natural to move on to action?
It took several attempts before I produced anything I’d post on the poetry website, which had guidelines on ‘acceptable’ content for any genre.
My erotica poetry started out like sexual foreplay. The hints were in there, a bit of teasing of what might come, and I took it forward with visual appreciation, dialogue, romance, titillation, and finally action. I received several compliments on my efforts and I was glad I’d tried.
In the background I had already started playing around with the concept of short stories, and I’d tried a variety of genre. The prompt to try my hand at erotica came from a fellow poet. The lady wrote well, which was why I was delighted to have public praise from her on my widely varying poetic efforts. As I developed my verse, this lady was particularly impressed with my erotica and wrote me a private message to let me know.
A couple of private messages later there was a request for me to write an erotica short story. It wasn’t for general consumption, but for my secret fan, who said she’d be willing to critique the finished product. I obliged and produced a story which she liked, and it was followed by a few others. We’re no longer in regular contact, but I get an occasional message to let me know she reads all my work.
I was keen to write romance, adventure and thrillers, which were the genre I read. As I increased my selection of reading material, I selected the first in the ‘Fifty Shades …’ series. Suffice to say I wasn’t impressed by either the writing or the content. I wrote a review which appears here: Fifty Shades – a review.
Having had my interest piqued by the popularity of something so badly written, I downloaded erotica eBooks by both male and female authors. It should be remembered at this point, a high number of authors in this genre use a pseudonym. I found several areas of concern in my research of erotica storytelling.
1. A lot of the ‘books’ purporting to be erotica are neither erotica, nor stories, but a series of scenes involving two or more people in sexual activity.
2. Many of these titles are badly written in the extreme, but the worst are usually spotted in their short sample available on Amazon.
3.A personal gripe is the ‘author’ who produces a badly written, short book, and compounds those two factors by over-pricing.
Is there anything worse?
Yes, sadly, a few of them go on to write a ‘series’. I detected many of these by the rapid turnaround of the ‘next in the series’ being produced a month after the previous title.
Having read several erotica titles covering a wide range of sexual orientation I can tell who knows their subject, and who uses vague descriptions.
What’s the difference?
Put simply, it’s the difference between saying ‘The man had a gun.’ or, ‘Dan carried his Browning 9mm automatic.’
I’ve read samples which have had me shake my head because they’re so awful, and I’ve seen eBooks which made me smile – because the cover, title, length, sample, and price were so bad. It takes imagination to believe the author is serious.
There we have it faithful followers. I was erotica curious, and tried my hand. I believe I’m making progress, and my titles have positive reviews. I am still experimenting to some extent, but I work on the premise my finished titles should have a story, and the books should be written and formatted with the same care given to any other genre.
In the final part of this insight I will take you under the covers, and we’ll look at the detail.
Thank you for reading my offerings, and any comments are welcome as always.
Like it or loathe it – erotica is one of the oldest genres of storytelling. You can dress it up (no pun intended), in a pretty cover, or go black cover with a suggestive title, but the introduction of the eReader has enabled many people to indulge and enjoy the reading of sexual adventures which had previously been so near … yet, so far.
The erotica eBook market is a gift to those who would have looked at titles in a bookstore, but never lifted the book. In many cases it would be due to the books being out of reach. Peer pressure, embarrassment, upbringing, or whatever reason might have stopped thousands of folk from buying into this area of reading, but no more.
What is the appeal to a reader?
Two areas come to mind, although there are more.
1. For those who have, or have so far had a less than adventurous sex life it gives an insight to how things might be, even in the imagination. We can all dream.
2. The erotica eBook opens doors (mainly bedroom doors), and it allows the voyeuristic aspect of our nature a little exercise.
‘I don’t have a voyeuristic aspect …’
‘I just love the stories …’
‘It’s porn in words …’
Whatever your attitude to it, I’m here to tell you I enjoy reading it (if it’s well written), and I enjoy writing it too. Yes, I’m still in the early days in writing the genre, but for me, it gives the same release of imagination other writers have when working on paranormal, historic romance, or any other specialised topic.
I will continue to write thrillers and romance, but I’m unashamedly erotica-curious. I have a strong desire to explore erotica, and I’d like to see which type of writing works best.
It was while considering story length it occurred to me to produce a hybrid – the erotica novella. Thus far I have one title out there, but I’ve already made notes towards the others in what will be a minimum five-part series.
How do I intend to capture and hold interest with the series?
Each of the stories will be based in the location which is introduced in the first novella Highland Games – 1, but as the series progresses I’ll concentrate on a different angle of sexual persuasion.
What’s coming next in this three-part post?
In the second part of this article I’ll explain the whys and wherefores of me getting into bed with this genre. At the end of Part 2 I’ll give you a hint of what’s coming in Part 3.
If you’ve taken anything from this first part (other than the links to my books), I’m certain you’ll enjoy how I first discovered my desire to experiment … and later in Part 3, we’ll go under the covers, or between the sheets if you prefer.
Apart from the location, there is no connection between ‘the games’ in the story and the games usually associated with the Scottish Highlands.
It is my first novella, and if the idea appeals to enough readers there will be a series. My plan at the present time is to continue to at least five stories. Each book will introduce new characters, but cameo roles will be played by characters featured in other stories from the series.
Central to the idea is the Highland Haven Hotel which is in a remote location, not surprisingly – in the Scottish Highlands.
Is it wham, bam, thank you, ma’am?
No, it isn’t, because although the predominant activity is sexual, the characters will have a background, a voice, and as might be expected, particular preferences ….
Each book will have a cohesive story to carry the journey of the main character and at least one support character.
These books are not among the longest, or most complicated I’ve written, however, the most ambitious aspect will be for me to inter-relate the characters of the individual tales, and the dates.
I accept the erotica genre does not appeal to everybody, but in my reading experience so far, I’ve found a lot of badly written work in this category. It was after reading a famous, modern story I was inspired to write the genre myself. The ‘Shades’ book, in my opinion, is neither believable nor properly researched. I applaud the author for making a fortune – selling rubbish.
How does my version of erotica compare?
It’s not for me to say, however, I have more than one title out there now, and they carry positive reviews. Enough said.
Like so many creative writers, by the time I completed my first novel, Ten Days in Panama, I had grown to know my characters as if they were real people. A few of those people would be good to look at, and to have around, but like reality, others were not so endearing.
In my next big story, Beyond The Law: Formation, I had learned more about my craft and the characters became better developed much faster. I spent longer in their company, and each visit was like getting together with a few old friends.
When I wrote my sequel, Beyond The Law: Retribution, I got back together with characters with whom I was well-acquainted, and I enjoyed the process of the story from the outset.
It was less frustrating when the storyline veered away from my intended direction. I was also forgiving of issues as they arose. I was still the puppeteer, but in some mysterious way I had been pulled into the scenes, conversations, and struggles.
I left those characters behind to get on with other projects, but I’ve been drawn back, so among other things, I’m presently working on the final story in the trilogy, Beyond The Law: Consequences.
As with poetry when I started writing, I’ve come to realise I enjoy the familiar company of certain characters, and in recent times it occurred to me to take the series idea to a new level.
For many years I’d worked on my autobiography, but it was never fully satisfying, so rewrite after rewrite left me feeling empty. There were too many anecdotes to include, because it made the story too big, but many which were so peculiar they refused to be excluded.
Apart from anything else, even if it was fact-based-fiction, which point of view would work best?
From this train of thought evolved A Life of Choice, a fact-based-fiction novel in five parts, but each part a generous size. I’m not interested in writing a handful of short books to top up my catalogue. To date, I have the first two parts published, and Part Three will arrive in the autumn.
I dabbled in the writing of erotica and enjoyed it, so I wondered how best to continue. I compiled a collection of short stories which was well received, so I followed it with a novel. It too received positive feedback.
How could I achieve a hybrid, I wondered?
My foray into the novella length is how I’m heading. It will be a series of inter-related stories, each longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel. The novella series will start with Highland Games – 1. By mid-June I’ll be looking for beta readers for this first story.
Due to it being erotica, anyone who volunteers will remain anonymous if requested.
The answer to the question in this blog post title, ‘Why so … series?’
By creating a series of three, five, or more stories which are interconnected – I can enjoy the company and emotions of characters I’ve come to know better than some of the real people in my life.
I’ve learned during my reading and writing journey, in the case of some authors a series can be a method of continuing a story for the benefit of a readership. It can be a way of increasing sales by producing a series of extremely short stories, and I’m fine with either of those ideas. However, there are some series which are too short in quantity, and lacking in quality, but these are measures we find in every part of our lives.
Any books I produce as part of a series will be produced with the same care and attention to detail I devote to my other writing. I will strive to make every book a standalone, but without irritating anybody who’s read the earlier work. If I ever come up short, I can only hope it’s because a reader has a personal issue, and not because of the writing.
For me so far, writing about characters beyond a first story has produced the joy of writing about people I’ve become close to, and after the realities of life, my characters are great companions. They won’t let me down. If they do – I’ll kill them. 🙂
Writers by nature will read an abundance of ‘top tips’ on their craft.
Is it because we all want to be the best?
I would suggest not. Whatever our reasons for writing, I believe the majority of us read top tips to improve our craft.
We don’t want to be the one whom everybody else is calling ‘comma man’, or ‘she who loves exclamation marks!!!
The driving force for us is to write, followed by the desire to do so to the best of our ability.
Some of us will work tirelessly, aiming to improve with every sentence, paragraph, chapter, and ultimately book – or title.
We are in this strange world through personal choice. We learn through comments, suggestions, tips, textbooks, and sheer hard work. We want what works best on several levels.
Titles are right up there in the ‘top tips’.
Personally, I’ve given up on the 1,001 theories. For example: Should we avoid anything which sounds like a famous book or film?Should we use a cliché?Should we use one word, or a phrase? The list of methods is endless.
In the end, it is an individual choice.
Take for example the title of this article. I’ve checked over many hundreds of blog posts and found there is little correlation between the day an article is posted and its success.
Where have I found the most comments, or most success?
Yes, for me, the secret is in a catchy title.
When I choose a title for a poem, short story, or novel it sometimes takes longer than the piece of work. I can end up with a considerable list, but the deliberation is worthwhile.
I can honestly say I wouldn’t change the title of any of my individual short stories or books, because I spent so long getting to the end result.
This blog post is an exception, because I came up with the title first.
For my various books I’ve tried to use a title which would work without a book cover. I know it will sound strange if you’re a writer, because we constantly discuss how important the cover is for a book.
What about a blind or partially-sighted person who judges by what they hear?
They might depend on ‘hearing’ the book. They’ll hear a list of titles, and they’ll hear the blurbs, but they might never ‘see’ the cover, so it becomes meaningless.
I want my titles to convey an image before the cover is created.
You’ll have seen notes under the books I’ve chosen to highlight in this article. Clicking on these graphics will take you to the book’s page.
If you’ve read this far I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed my theories, and perhaps you’ll take something away from here.
I thank you for seeing the title of the post and taking an interest.