Saturday, January 23, 2016

Basic Things Every Erotica Writer Should Have and Should Know

I was talking the other day with Bryce about how to make covers, and what tips and stuff would be good, and then I thought about it... if I really wanted to do something here to help beginners get off the ground, I should really start with the basics, rather than just covers... of which I admit I know very little about since I don't make my own.

What should an erotica writer possess in order to start writing?
  • Basic Understanding of the English Language: You'd be surprised how often I open up an erotica book and it's... bad. Like, really bad. I'm not knocking people who know two languages--I certainly don't!--but if English isn't your first language and you want to write erotica in English... you need a basic understanding of how it works, and how to write in it. You can publish stuff that's hard to read, but people won't come back for more.
  • Basic Understanding of How a Story Goes: Whaaaat? You talking crazy, Alana? Erotica is just sex, right? Well, the thrust (hehe) of an erotica tale is sex, yes. That's the climax. However, even in straight they meet and fuck erotica, there's a basic flow to the story. And honestly, a story about two people meeting and fucking is not all that interesting. To that end, I highly recommend coming up with an interesting scenario, and giving yourself a small outline. It doesn't have to be much, but it's got to follow certain beats. You need to first introduce the main character briefly, explain their problem (yes, erotica characters have problems too, even if it's just "I wore the batteries out on my vibrator!"), introduce the "complication" and other characters, give your readers a tease, and then move on to the climax. For example, taking "Dominating Her Senator" apart. I introduce the senator first, and show that he's stressed out. His secretary shows in his last appointment for the day. This appointment starts bitching him out for voting against things which would help his female constituents, and then starts punishing him for being a bad, bad senator. (Spoiler: it ends in sex!) It's a short story, and it takes place in one setting. However, all those beats are still there. The tease part is when she starts verbally dominating him since it's a femdom book. I would argue that short stories, including erotica, are harder to write than novels because you have to make that connection with your audience in a thousand or so words to get them to connect with the main character. That's a hard thing to do. Obviously, for longer works, you'll want to expand that, but knowing how your story should flow is essential. There are exceptions to this, as always, but for the most part, basic plotting is essential, and it does help you in the long run.
  • Know Your Kinks/Niches: This one requires some research. If you want to write romance? Go read the top romance books being sold right now. If you want to write adult baby diaper stories? Go read the top ones. Figure out what you want to write, and aim your story specifically for that. Now, now, I know it's a bit hypocritical for me to say this because I'm all over the place. However, I'm writing science fiction and fantasy which happens to be erotica. It's not a popular niche, but for this niche, the setting is just as or MORE important than the sex. For Maledom/femsub, it's important that you know how the lifestyle works, and what's sexy about that scenario. For cuckold, you need to understand why people may want to be cuckolded, know what a hotwife is and what a bull is, etc etc. Before you start writing, read the books that people like already in your niche. As a side note, you'll hear the words "kink" and "niche" a lot, and the two terms are basically interchangeable. A kink/niche is the type of erotica you write. I write scifi erotica, and femdom. Sprinkled with a little horror erotica and gay. (Like I said, I'm all over the place) Those would be my kinks or niches. If you take nothing else away from this article, just remember to READ THE POPULAR STUFF TO SEE WHAT WORKS.

Those are the very basic things you need to write erotica. I could also add "basic editing skills" but that goes under basic writing, heh.

Now that you know you can do this, how do you go about writing it? I have a post somewhere here which detailed my method for going through and actually writing. I'm a fan of outlines, but simple ones. I put in more details as I need them. I will move on instead to things you need to know about publishing on Amazon.

Amazon, without a doubt, is the biggest place to sell. You can sell on other platforms, but Amazon is by far the most profitable. Assuming you are writing this to make money and not just for personal amusement, there are some things you need to know about the Big A.

  • Certain Kinks/Niches are a No-No: Amazon likes their erotica plain Jane for the most part. There are certain kinks/niches which are just not publishable on Amazon. These include, but are not limited to: bestiality, incest, underage sex, rape or non-consent (NC stories). These will not only get your book blocked, but could potentially get you banned from Amazon.
  • Other Kinks/Niches are Borderline: There are varying reports from erotica writers, but in general, these niches/kinks are considered borderline: they COULD get your book blocked, but MIGHT not, depending on how you package it. These include: Monster erotica (IF it includes tentacles OR a shifter that is not completely in human form--other forms of monster erotica are safe if they are completely made up or extinct beings, ie dinosaurs), pseudo incest ("step" incest--but Amazon has been cracking down on these recently), dubious consent (as opposed to noncon, dubcon is often a mixed bag, they say they don't want it, but they really do and are enthusiastically participating at the end is dubcon... and usually ok. Having sex while on a mind altering drug (even if it's made up) is much iffier).
  • Titles and Blurbs Need to be Free from Obscenities... and Other Miscellaneous Words: This "rule" is harder to pin down. Obviously, any foul language in the blurb or title will get you blocked or at least adult filtered, so stay away from them. However, other words will also get you filtered or blocked. This is an INCOMPLETE list, as Amazon shifts it around a lot: cheerleader, virgin, babysitter, hypnosis, rape, force (enforced, forcibly, etc), noncon, abuse, girl, boy, preteen, teen/ager, tween, baby, infant, newborn, child/ren, mother, father, brother, sister, bro, sis, mom, momma, daddy, pa, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, cousin, great-, -in-law and step-variants, incest, pseudoincest, family, mind control, PI, (gang)bang or any variant with the word -bang in it (not "gangbanger" though) like blowbang or ragebang, breeding, lactation, rimjob, rectum, deflower, pussy, cunt, creampie, cum, splooge, semen, menstrual, period blood, slave, prison bitch (other derogatory uses of bitch), molest, pedophile, pedo-anything, fuck, jizz, shit (when literal) and anything referring to actual feces or urine, bestiality, any real-world extant animal word like wolf, dog or bull. **Please note that many titles as of late (within the last month) have been blocked by using words like these too: hucow, pounded, sex, hard, penetration, lactation, breeding, milk, thrust, pumped, stretched, filled, rough.** 
  • Covers Need to Follow Amazon's Prudish Rules: Among other guidelines like the size of your cover and what format to save it in, Amazon has a few rules about what you can post for a cover. There can't be any nudity or IMPLIED nudity in there, so handbras are out. Butt cheek need to be covered. You can't have people tied up on the cover, or in handcuffs, especially women. I've heard that you can get away with it if it's a guy, but I would not chance it. However, instruments of bondage are quite alright, so long as they are not actually being used, ie, 50 Shades and the handcuffs. 
The thing that's frustrating about this is that since each book is reviewed by an individual reviewer, and there's no one set of standards, is that what gets one book blocked or filtered won't on another. These are general rules that have been proven time and time again to get people blocked, banned, or filtered, but other things may crop up that haven't been discussed. 

As a side note, I'm still amazed I got "Pooper Probed by Poseidon" and "Knob Gobblin' Hobgoblins" through the adult filter.

What is this adult filter I've been talking so much about? Well, if you publish a book that has "adult content visible to children" (ie, butt cheeks on the cover even if the model is wearing a thong, or perhaps a swear word in the title), then Amazon puts it on an adult filter. Why is this bad? It means that unless people click OFF the adult filter, your book will NOT come up on a search on Amazon. It means less visibility and potentially less sales. How do you know if your book is adult filtered? Good question! Go to and plug in your author name or book. If a big fat red ADULT comes up next to a book that means it has been adult filtered. If you put in my name, for example, two of my books have been filtered: My Big Black Bodyguard Banged my Wife! (for "banged") and The Perils of Penetrating Pixies (for "Penetrating"). 

What is the difference between being "blocked" and "adult filtered"? If your book is "blocked" it's done. It will show up on your bookshelf on Amazon as blocked. I have never had one blocked, so I'm not 100% sure what it looks like, but from what I've been told, you can't miss it. The general advice is to abandon the book on Amazon and perhaps sell it on other platforms if you can.

That's all for now. Need to go back to editing. :)

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