Do Erotica Authors Need A Publisher?
The short answer is no. You don't need a publisher at all. Most erotica is sold on e-reader devices, and most of that is on the Amazon Kindle. And you can publish your work on the Kindle quite easily. With a bit of hunting around online you can easily learn how to create a cover and publish your own book on Kindle. So why do publishers exist?
The real question is not whether YOU WANT a publisher. And that depends on your goals. You don't need a publisher at all if either of the following is true.
1. You don't care about the money. If you are doing this to get your stories out for your own enjoyment, and possibly that of a few partners, and put it out there for the world to see, then you definitely don't need us, or any other publisher. If that's you, then have fun, write some steamy stuff, and have a great sex life!
2. You want to be your own publisher and are interested in learning all of the aspects of it. If you want to learn how to do it all on your own, you can keep all the money your books make. And it will keep you occupied and learning, which is really fun for some people. But there are a lot of skills involved and it's a lot of work to essentially compete in a market against publishers with teams of specialists who handle everything. If your cover design isn't great, you're in trouble, because publishers have graphic designers and marketing people who have been studying those subjects for years. The same goes for a whole host of skills like keyword research, blurb writing, promotions, social media, web design, marketing, and even choosing the right markets and categories for your work.
If you just want to write, and make money from your writing, then you need a publisher. That's our job. And it's what most authors want to do. And it's much more efficient. This is why there are many people who enjoy playing basketball, but the best players focus only on their game and don't worry about getting a law degree to negotiate their own contracts, getting a serious education on nutrition and strength training and conditioning, and learning to manage endorsement deals.
If you write erotica, and want to make money doing it, you need your own experts working to get your work out to as many people as possible. Without customers, you can't make any money, and writing for an audience of one just isn't satisfying to most writers.
So what does a publishing company actually do for you?
In the traditional publishing world, they edit, typeset, print, and distribute your work, as well as handling the entire layout including cover design, and they also promote it and get it onto store shelves. These things all cost money, which is why traditional publishing contracts give the author such a small percentage of the book's sale price. Most traditionally published books, even those that sell reasonably well, don't earn anything beyond their advance, which isn't usually very much money.
The good news is that the world of publishing has changed, and erotica is a thriving market in that brave new world. Print books still exist, and in fact we love them. But print erotica does not sell very well and it is handled by the traditional publishers almost exclusively. We looked into it and we don't want anything to do with competing in that world. But e-readers like the Kindle are an amazing technological revolution for the writer, and reader, of erotica.
This new technology requires a whole new skill set. Publishing a book in digital format still requires editing, formatting, and cover design, though most of things are less work than they used to be. But it also requires keyword and category research, writing an effective blurb, search engine optimization, a social media persence, one other important factor. Volume Boost.
What we refer to as volume boost is the tendency for each book from a particular author, or in a particular series, to increase in sales as more books from that author or series become available. In the world of erotica, each person who reads your work, is likely to read more of it. If it's any good, they are likely to read all the other books like it.
Let's look at an erotica series as an example.
Let's say that you write Tied Up: Book One of the Bondage Bob Series. You promote it as best you can and get twenty five sales. If you are promoting by yourself, this would be a real success. Most first time authors, even if they try hard, don't sell this many copies in their first two months. At the standard price of of $2.99 on amazon, you end up with around $50.
After two months, you release Still Tied Up: Book Two of the Bondage Bob Series. You already know that you can get twenty five sales from a self published book. And while sales are dropping off, you still get five sales in the next two months from the first book. When you release the second book, something interesting happens.
You actually get eight sales from the first book because some people who found the first book went back and read the second book. And you get thirty sales from the second book some readers of the first book bought the second book as well.
When you release the third book, each of the first two books get a little boost, and they each give a boost to the third book. And so on. This works for each book you release under the same pen name as well. Self published erotica writers refer to the "dirty thirty" as the point where they start making enough money to consider it a significant part-time income or possibly quit their jobs entirely. When an erotica author who has good work and some sort of marketing behind them, gets thirty books up for sale on teh same platform, they all work together enough to garner significant sales.
Now, do you have time to write thirty books, and promote all of them? And do you want to wait that long to start making real money? Our goal is to work like a collective. We not only promote all of our work from the same mailing lists and social media accounts, but many of them are published under the same pen names. If we have multiple authors contributing to the Bondage Bob series, we can get to thirty books very quickly. And even if you only write one or two of those books, you get that signal boost from the readers of the rest of the series and they all get a signal boost from you!
We also handle everything from cover design to keyword research. And we have people who are experts on these subjects so that we don't need to get to anywhere near thirty books to start seeing a serious jump in sales. We can edit your work to make sure it is top quality and also help expose it to enough readers to give it a chance to stand on it's merit.
This is why we are so picky about the work we publish. Every story we publish represents our authors in general. And if a story is good, it helps our other books even more. By this time next year we hope to have a dedicated core of readers who know that anything we publish is top notch and who look forward to buying any new work we release in their favorite genres.