I'm interrupting my writing process because, well, the story is still brewing and I'm procrastinating, but also I was doing a little research. I often look at other erotica writers because it gives me an idea of what sells and what doesn't, how other people are doing, and so on. Now, there's some of them that use some pretty disingenuous tactics in order to get people to read their stuff and to make money. One of them I've sort of covered before, which is mirroring. Amazon is fine with mirroring so long as at least 30% of the book is different. It can be a useful tool to reach more audiences, but if people read different kinds of smut, I can imagine they'd be pretty pissed getting a mirror of something they've already read.
Another "black hat" tactic is excessive bundling. Let's say you have five stories, and you bundle them together, no big, right? Excessive bundling would be making like ten stories (or more) out of those five... which is really disingenuous. Although I plan on bundling some stories together (the Janus Key stuff) in certain configurations, it's going to be up front and honest, and it's actually for my readers benefit. What if they're gay and they don't like Debbie as a protag? Well, then I'm putting together a Dirk bundle. Vice versa with Debbie. Then doing the first five, second five... and then the first ten (when I get there) in a mega bundle. It'll be very honest about what it is, and it's for convenience's sake, not to make extra cash from it (though that will be nice). Out of ten, those excessive bundlers would be able to get like a zillion combinations from them.
The one that's really bothering me though is something quite a few erotica writers use: they don't label them as erotica. There's a huge thread on reddit about that, and I know a few erotica writers that are basically labeling their books, "MILF FUCKING" and putting it under a different category. Another big one is "INCEST HERE" and shit, stuff that would get banned or at least filtered in the erotica category... but it's fine if it's in romance. That's not god damn romance! I feel it's dishonest for a couple reasons. First... well, it's not romance, sorry. It's smut. It's fucking. If it's romantic erotica, there's actually a category for that! Put it there! Second, it opens it up to avoid adult filters people may have at home so that children have access to it. That's just... creepy. And gross. And creepy. Did I mention creepy? Lastly, it devalues the romance category making it harder for readers to find what they actually want.
I'll admit I'm a little jealous sometimes of other people's success, but I won't be successful at the cost of my morals, such as they are. I could go back and relabel all of mine into a different category, but I won't. I am a little stuck on the Rock Harden stuff because I'm not sure that's actually erotica! Heh. We'll see how it turns out in the end, if there's way more story than sex, then I may just try action/adventure or thriller, depending on length. Again, though, it depends. I started writing it to write sex. I have a story around the sex, but it's still sex. I think it would be really dishonest to represent it in a different light to fool people into buying it.
There was this one author, who shall remain nameless, who was putting out erotic fairy tales which sold decently. That's fine, bully for them. However, when I clicked on their stuff, it was all Disney stuff, down to the point where they had the characters on the cover of the books which were directly from the movies. Aghast, I did a little research and made sure of some things... well, Aladdin I knew had no "Jasmine" in the actual story since I'd just read it, but Belle from Beauty & the Beast was actually named "Beauty" in the fairy tale, the original, and so on. So, they were actually stealing from Disney. Unashamedly, I reported them to Amazon and Disney... that kind of shit just makes everyone look bad, and while I might not agree with authors putting their books into non-smut categories when it's obviously smut... evidently Amazon must agree with it since it goes through a vetting process.
Seeing those obvious copyright infringements though makes me wonder how good their vetting process really is.