Self-Publishing & Erotica: The Cold Hard Facts-Part 3

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Ok, so here it is. Sorry, it took me three columns to get here, but the stuff I laid out in part 1 and part 2, I thought necessary. If you are still with me and want to furrow forward into self-publishing, here are some specific facts I can offer.

1.)  There are lots of book producers out there; choose wisely.

For those of us looking to get a book out there, especially first-timers, there are plenty of companies—what I call ‘book producers’ (you can call them a ‘vanity press’)—who will help you through various stages of preparing your book or can push you through the entire process. Some of these companies are honorable; others not so much. 

There are always lots of folks out there looking to take advantage of you. I’m sorry, but it’s true. If you go this route, do your research, read reviews, talk to other self-published authors if you can, and learn which of these companies are worth giving your money to.

Remember, you can also reach out to a copywriter, layout person, cover artist yourself.

2.)  Amazon will help…to a certain degree.

In some cases, Amazon has become the only game in town, something I warned about way back in one of my earlier columns, and they can be incredibly sketchy for erotica writers. Amazon can/will and forever determine what they want on their portal, and when it comes to erotica, they tend to move the goalposts at whim, determining just what subjects, even what words, they will allow. Subjects like age-play, certainly anything to do with people pretending to be family members (this includes characters calling each other “mommy” or “naughty baby boy” in a story), get in trouble all the time with Amazon. Sex mixed with horror and anything hinting at ‘water sports’ also tends to throw up the old Amazon-y red flags.

The good stuff about Amazon (beyond their reach and that everyone who is anyone will ask you first and foremost “So, is your book up on Amazon?”) is that you can order an ‘Author’s Copy’ (see here) from Amazon for only a minimal amount of money. Doing this, you can get a print copy of your book in your hot little hands, gaze at every inch of it and determine if the book is to your liking. If not, you can easily go back into Amazon and change whatever you like, even order another copy later (yes, just one) and have another look-see. This cuts down on the expense (and believe me, way back, I incurred this expense, so I know it can be expensive) of ordering a box of your book (even now, book printers have a minimum amount that they need to print to complete an order) and realizing the print version didn’t come out the way you wanted it to! Then having to go back and change templates and order a bunch all over again, hoping for the best.

3.)  Diversify.

You can list your book across multiple retailers. If you want to grab an ISBN #, you can do so via the Library of Congress and pretty much reach out and sell at any retailer that will have you. You are under no contract when you self-publish.

4.)  Erotica is indeed different so treat it differently by self-publishing

As I have been writing here, erotica is different. Considered by many, even other professional writers, as the red-haired stepchild of fiction genres, it’s hard to get mainstream attention for a naughty book without that attention being pejorative. So doing this yourself, at least for your first few forays at publishing, and maybe ever onward, is a good way forward. But don’t worry, there are plenty of places to contact and network. There’s the SEX POSITIVE BOOKS BLOG on Twitter@BooksSex, the UK-based,, and the ERWA, to name just a few places that will get you up and running.

5.) The Profit Is Yours.

When you are under no contract, when you set up your little self-publishing concern on Amazon or wherever, print a box of books for that lecture you are giving, even sell your tomes out of the back of your car, the profit from sales are 100% yours. By selling eBooks, you’ll keep your overhead even lower as you do not have to incur the expense of printing books.

You might indeed find or get contacted by a publisher you do want to publish through. God knows, there are many advantages to doing so. But keep an open mind about self-publishing. Do your research every step of the way and find the avenue that works best for your book, knowing that, these days, you can do a lot of the work you pay others for (either directly or from a split of your royalties) yourself and enjoy a better percentage of the profits.


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