E-book Erotica – the way forward?

On Saturday we had a really interesting meeting of the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. There were 8 of us around the table in the Edwardian Tea Rooms of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and one of our member’s exploits took up most our discussions.

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery - Edwardian Te...

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery – Edwardian Tea Room (Photo credit: ell brown)

She shall remain nameless, since for obvious reasons she writes under a pseudonym, but she is making around £800 a month selling her erotic e-books, mostly to the US markets. Bear in mind that she fits this around a full-time day job and a family -it makes me wonder why I am slogging away trying to get the odd story accepted by a women’s magazine or shortlisted in a competition!

Our successful author currently has 67 stories for sale, ranging in length from 3,000 to 10,000 words. Apparently the secret of her success is to keep up with the latest trends in erotica – for example monsters are the ‘in thing’ at the moment (the mind boggles!).

She self-publishes the e-books, formatting them and designing the covers herself. As you can imagine, we were all agog to learn her secrets and she has promised us a workshop in January…

Talking about the mind boggling, I caught the tail end of a Radio 4 program – ‘When Harry Potter Met Frodo’ – about Fan Fiction this week. The presenter was talking about Slash Fiction. This is a sub-genre of Fan Fiction and involves choosing 2 of your favourite male characters from existing works of fiction, bringing them together and letting them have an affair (at least that’s my polite way of putting it!).

So, if you want to write what the market wants – now you know!

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  1. #1 by Ruth-less Shanks on November 29, 2012 - 9:08 am

    My goodness! She’s very smart. I’m impressed. Please blog her workshop tips. Things have certainly changed in the publishing world, haven’t they?!

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on November 29, 2012 - 3:24 pm

      Tabitha, yes, will let you know how the workshop goes – should be fun!

  2. #3 by Patsy on November 29, 2012 - 9:51 am

    Ebooks might be the way forward for me, but don’t think I’ll be attempting erotic ones.

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on November 29, 2012 - 3:27 pm

      Patsy, I agree – e-books are the way forward and I downloaded yours yesterday. Looking forward to it but I have a backlog of reading so might be a while ’til I get round to it.

  3. #5 by blogaboutwriting on November 29, 2012 - 10:38 am

    Interesting stuff, Sally, thanks! I am particularly impressed by the £800 a month from writing erotica! (I’ve just told my partner and he’s said “Well, you’d better get on, writing dirty stories!” (in a very broad Scots accent) Hmmm… I just don’t know if I could do it! Mind you, to be honest, I’ve never tried!!

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on November 29, 2012 - 3:28 pm

      I’ve never tried either, Helen, but e-readers seem to have given this genre a boost because no-one knows what you’re reading!

  4. #7 by susanjanejones on November 29, 2012 - 6:46 pm

    I think I’m trying too hard with my old fashioned attempts Sally. Thing is, I don’t want to read e. porn, so I won’t be writing it, though I think I’m daft. What’s wrong with people?

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on November 29, 2012 - 8:46 pm

      I don’t read it either, Susan, so I’d probably be useless at writing it. I just thought it was interesting how much money could be made.

  5. #9 by Debbie W on November 29, 2012 - 9:41 pm

    It wouldn’t matter if you were useless at writing it, Sally. I have read some of it, and it’s not all good yet it still gets published.

    With the stories I’ve read that are good I couldn’t help thinking the writer had made it look so easy (the writing I mean, not the character) yet there is a knack. Just as there is a skill to writing stories in People’s Friend and the like, there is a skill needed to write these if you’re going to write believable characters, situations, etc.

    Is your friend’s workshop open to all?

    All the best,
    Debbie W

    • #10 by Sally Jenkins on November 30, 2012 - 1:11 pm

      Debbie, thanks for pointing out that these types of stories still need the skill of creating characters etc. Many of us get annoyed when people look down there noses at womag writers and I’m sure erotic writers must suffer the same. Anyone who can write things that other people want to read should be respected for their ability.
      Unfortunately the workshop isn’t open to all – we’re holding it in someone’s house so space is limited.

  6. #11 by Tracy Fells on November 30, 2012 - 3:06 pm

    Oh dear think I would need to do a lot of research before trying to write e-books (the e stands for erotica!). Good to know what’s popular & gobsmacking to hear money involved, but think I’ll stick with what I know… for now

    • #12 by Sally Jenkins on November 30, 2012 - 7:48 pm

      Careful, Tracy – do you mean practical research or reading other books in the genre?!

      • #13 by Tracy Fells on December 1, 2012 - 2:26 pm

        Hmm I don’t think I should answer that…

  7. #14 by Sarah Bradbury on December 2, 2012 - 8:34 pm

    Good heavens. I shall have to read the 50 Shades series, which until now has left me uninterested, purely for professional purposes as I’m not sure how I’d begin with erotica.

    • #15 by Sally Jenkins on December 3, 2012 - 1:29 pm

      I’ve not read 50 Shades either, Sarah, but, like any genre, it’s probably best to get familiar with the market before starting to write. And the beauty of e-readers is that no-one will know what you’re reading!

  8. #16 by Debbie W on December 3, 2012 - 1:52 pm

    I won’t be reading 50 Shades of Grey. From the extracts friends have supplied to me, and after reading comments from,a competition judge about the book, I really wouldn’t consider it as a sensible use of my valuable time.

  9. #17 by piracetam on December 11, 2012 - 12:49 pm

    Interestingly, ’50 Shades’ that now has its own fan fiction spin-off, was initially posted on the internet as fan fiction based on the hugely popular Twilight film and books franchise. The story of the depraved relationship between freewheeling business tycoon Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, is directly inspired by Twilight protagonists Edward Cullen and Isabella Swan.

    • #18 by Sally Jenkins on December 12, 2012 - 4:07 pm

      That’s interesting – I didn’t know that ’50 Shades’ started as fan fiction.

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