What I’ve Learned From Moonlighting as an Erotica Author

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I’ve been neglecting this blog lately, but as some of you already know, I’ve been busy conducting an experiment. I’d planned to self-publish Epiphany sometime this spring, but now that date has been moved out until this summer because my muse was very naughty (literally) and took me down the rabbit hole into dark erotica.
In spite of the distraction, I’m so happy I took a flying leap into that dark hole! I’ve learned a lot about the self-publishing process and have made some great contacts too. I went from absolutely no platform to managing a blog, Twitter account, Facebook page, and Goodreads profile for another identity, and though I don’t have thousands of followers, the progress I’ve made is promising. I’m now getting ready to release the third novella in a trilogy, and I thought I’d share some tips that I’ve learned through trial and error for anyone else considering self-publishing (or for those who have already published and need ideas on how to get the attention of readers).
 
Fair warning—this is kind of long:
 
1. Besides good, clean writing (which goes without saying) the book cover is THE most important tool. You’ve probably only got about two seconds to hook a reader into clicking on that cover for more info. I’ve gotten a few compliments on my covers for my erotica series, and I believe the book cover is the reason I managed to do so well during my free promos. I reached #1 in erotica free books during my first promo and #14 during the second. You can have the best story on the planet, but if your cover isn’t drawing readers in, then you’ll likely remain in Obscurity-Ville. After the cover, the blurb is next in importance. Make sure it’s enticing, clear and to the point, and free of typos and errors.
 
2. Book blogs are your friend, but how do you find them? Well, you can use Google (and I’ve done this), but I finally settled on another strategy that produced better results. I stalked the reviews of other books in my genre (such as work by Kitty Thomas and C.J. Roberts) on Amazon and Goodreads, and then I clicked on the reviewers’ profiles. And viola! Not only had I found a book blog, but based on the review/rating they’d given, I already knew something important: they would likely be interested in my book as well. Obviously, not all reviewers are bloggers, so you’ll have to take some time and go through them until you find the reviewers who also blog, but from there it’s pretty easy to contact them about reviews, guest posts, giveaways, etc. Most of them have clear review policies on their blogs. This is a great way to get your work in front of readers AND network. After the bloggers had left their reviews on Goodreads, I noticed that more readers added my books to their to-read shelves.
 
3. I mentioned free promos, didn’t I? This was truly an experiment, and I had no idea what to expect since everything I’d read in regards to Amazon’s promo days (five of them every three months in exchange for exclusivity) was hit or miss. I only had one title available during my first two-day promo, so I couldn’t capitalize on a boost of sales in other titles, but it did pull in a few sales afterward. Of course, this was about Christmas time, but I do think the promo helped—especially as I made it to the top of free books for my genre. I ran the second promo (three days this time) when I released my second novella, and whether or not it boosted sales on the new book, I couldn’t say for sure, but I will say that running a promo was a good way to draw traffic to my blog, Twitter, and Facebook accounts (just be sure to include these links at the end of your titles). I like to think it did help, as the second book stayed in the 7,000 – 15,000 range in rankings for the first week on Amazon, and the first wasn’t far behind. If I could do it differently, I would have waited until I had at least another book available for purchase before running a free giveaway.
 
4. Blog hops. I signed up for Skye Warren’s Naughty New Years hop, which ran in early January. I used this to reveal the cover of book two, and I also lured people in by offering a $25 Amazon/B&N gift card giveaway. Sales did NOT pick up during this week, and most people were interested in little more than entering the contests, but I will say that it was a great way to attract new followers on my blog, Twitter, and Facebook page (I used Rafflecopter for the contest and required likes and follows to enter). They say the more times someone sees a book, the more likely they are to buy it in the future, and I believe this based on my own personal experience as a reader. So even though they weren’t buying my book during the hop, they were adding it on Goodreads and clicking that like button on Facebook. I went from a handful of followers to 60+ on my blog, and the same happened on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Now, the next time I updated my blog or Facebook page, someone would (hopefully) be paying attention. I’ve noticed since then I’ve had further reach on Facebook than any other social media platform, which really surprised me.
 
5. And speaking of social media…I’m not really impressed with Twitter. I’ve seen people spam with auto-tweet after auto-tweet, yet their sales aren’t skyrocketing. I did use Twitter to spread the word about the free promos and blog hop, and I had some results there, but as for spamming ten thousand times a day with “buy my book” tweets, I just don’t see the point. I’ll mention my books every once in a while, but I haven’t seen that it helps. But if you’re going to post URLs, I like to use Google Shortener, as it’s an excellent way to see which tweets/posts/etc draw the most traffic. So far, Goodreads and book blogs have been instrumental is getting the word out. It makes sense, as this is where the readers are.
 
So, to sum it up…
 
I’ve thought a lot about my experiences—the triumphs and the mistakes—and I’ve come to the conclusion that you really only need three things to successfully sale books: A well-written book with commercial appeal (popular genre), a hooky blurb and eye-catching book cover (and not in the “oh, my God that is so awfully bright” sense either), and you need to get your work in front of the readers; the readers are the only ones who matter. So consider all the places where readers hang out and try to sneak your foot in the door.
 
I hope this was helpful to someone! Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to
keep an eye out for the new cover of Epiphany—I’ll be revealing it (and the final blurb) here soon! 

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2 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned From Moonlighting as an Erotica Author

  1. Love this blog. Very inspiring and gives me a lot of ideas. Pretty much along my way of thinking about Facebook and other social media functions. They have to be handled just… differently. With more smarts.

  2. Thank you, Joss. I'm still trying to find my way around social media. I'm learning as I go, and I'm sure I'm making mistakes. There are times when I tweet or post something that I feel like a complete idiot! Considering I'm a Gemini, it shouldn't be this difficult to put myself out there, but it has been. I'm (veeerrryyyy slowly) getting better at it.

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