Cameron D. James is a multiple-bestselling author of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance, and in this all-in-one book, he shares his personal experiences and advice on how to write, publish, and sell your erotic fiction. While it can be difficult to make a living off of writing, the secrets in this book can help you grow your career and increase your sales month after month. Years of experience, research, trial-and-error, and experimenting have led Cameron to hone his approach to writing, publishing, and selling, and he shares everything with you in this book.
This handy manual explains:
- Key writing and editing advice to ensure the quality of your fiction rises above your competitors.
- What to look for in a contract if you choose to publish your fiction through a publishing house.
- The realities of the hard work behind self-publishing your fiction.
- How to give your book — including the cover and blurb — a spit and polish to make it draw readers in and close that sale.
- The truth about which online vendors are worth your time… and which ones are best ignored.
- The secrets of marketing an erotic book in a highly competitive genre.
- How to effectively use social media to network with readers and sell your books.
Don’t waste time and money trying to figure all of this out on your own when you can learn how to do things correctly on your first try. This book gives you what you want to know, all in one convenient place.
This second edition includes updated information on vendors, expanded chapters on social media and sub-genres, and clearer instructions for formatting.
You want to write gay erotica, do you? Dirty bastard.
I’m going to start with the bad news. Unless you become a mega bestseller, which happens to a depressingly minuscule fraction of writers, you’re not going to make enough to quit your day job. You might make enough to go on a nice vacation or supplement your income. Or it’ll help cover the cost of a pack of gum.
There are two types of writers who enter the competitive world of gay romance and erotica — those who want to make a quick buck, and those who enjoy writing and want to succeed in the long run. The “quick buck” people soon fizzle out and disappear. The quality writers who stick with it are the ones that succeed and, in the end, make a decent amount of money.
The real secret to writing, publishing, and selling gay erotica is to be professional. That’s it. This book will show you how to be professional at what you do. We’ll journey through the process, examining how to write and edit an erotic story, how to go about self-publishing and what the various platforms offer you, and then we’ll look at the various aspects of self-promotion, including the eternal question of “How, exactly, does one use Twitter to sell a book?”
I started writing this book because I saw a lot of bad advice out there. Let me rephrase that. I saw a lot of terrible advice out there. I don’t claim to be any sort of expert, but I do know a few things and I see a lot of people doing the complete wrong thing. Their choices will only cause them problems in the end and they will burn out. I also see other self-published authors, from a variety of genres, dispensing terrible advice to newbie writers. These newbie writers, who don’t know any better, lap up that advice and follow it to the letter.
So, who am I? If you haven’t read any of my stories, here’s a quick summation.
My name is Cameron D. James and I am the author of two M/M erotic romance novels and more than a dozen erotica novellas and short stories. I’ve been at this game for about four years. Well, I’ve been writing for way longer than that, but I published my first piece of erotic fiction about four years ago. In that time, I have become a bestseller several times over.
Autumn Fire, my first M/M erotic romance novel became a bestseller on the now-defunct All Romance eBooks, Going All The Way, Bump and Grind, Sins of Lust, and Seduced By My Best Friend’s Dad, four of my erotica novellas and short stories, were also bestsellers on All Romance eBooks. My erotica short story, Go Deep, has spent more than a year on Amazon’s Top 100 Free Gay Erotica list. It will sometimes drop off the list, but soon reappear. Go Deep, as of this writing, has been downloaded over 13,000 times.
In addition to writing under the name Cameron D. James, I also write under two other pseudonyms, exploring different areas of erotica, both gay and straight. Those pen names focus exclusively on short stories and have allowed me to test out sub-genres and a higher output volume, as well as alternative marketing strategies, pricing, and sales venues. These pen names have quickly risen to be as profitable as my Cameron D. James line of books — and sometimes even more profitable. In all, I’ve published over seventy pieces of fiction.
While I’ve seen some successes, I’m not living off my writing, at least not yet. I read somewhere that it takes three to five years to establish yourself as an author. I believe this to be true, just based on the progression of my career. Pretty much nothing happened, other than a handful of sales, in my entire first year. After that, things slowly picked up speed and are now going quite well. There’s still a lot of room to grow, but if things continue as they are, then that growth will happen.
Even if I’m not mega successful and living the life of luxury while writing about sex all day, I still consider myself a success already. A happy author is one who sets realistic goals. My goal was never to make fifty million dollars in six months. My goal was, and still is, to write quality fiction that people like to read. My reviews and continued sales show me that I’ve reached, and continue to reach, my goal.
In terms of financial reward for writing, my goal was to use it as supplementary income, to afford things normally just beyond my reach, not to replace my full-time job. Again, I’ve reached it. After just two years of saving all my royalties, I was able to take a vacation I’ve always wanted to take, but have never been able to afford. (Before you get thoughts of some erotic gay cruise, I’ll confess that it’s a week in Newfoundland, Canada’s eastern-most province.)
If you peruse writing forums, especially those frequented by erotica and erotic romance writers, you’ll see people stating (rather vaguely) that their income is in the four or five digit range. I suggest taking this with a grain of salt. In the few forums I’m particularly thinking of, there is a considerable amount of ego and showboating involved. However, I will accept that some of them have income in that range, but I would almost guarantee you that they work hard for it. The average author will not make that amount.
I remember telling someone, several years back, that I made $1.84 in royalties that month, and that paltry amount was coming in three bank transfers. Nowadays, my sales average in the mid three figures each month and I’m working on getting it into the four figures.
So if you want to be one of those authors, who’s only in it for the quick buck, this book probably isn’t for you. Best of luck to you, but don’t hold your breath. But if you’re looking to be professional at what you do, to create a name for yourself and have fun along the way, then I hope you’ll enjoy proceeding through these pages.
What you’ll find are general guidelines on how to approach the different aspects of writing, self-publishing, and marketing. What you won’t find are specific instructions. That’s because the internet and specific steps to complete these tasks both change too rapidly. If I give you specific instructions for uploading your ebook to Amazon, or for scheduling a promotional tweet on Twitter, or for setting up your Facebook like page, those steps could change before I finish publishing this book and you’d have useless instructions in front of you. (Already, between writing the first draft of the first edition of this book and rewriting my second draft, Kindle Unlimited has completely changed their payout structure and a new erotica vendor website has emerged. And between writing the second draft and third draft, the new erotica vendor has disappeared and another one is poised to open soon, and Amazon continues to tinker with the payment structure in its Kindle Unlimited program. And, as mentioned, a whole world of changes have happened between the first edition and the second edition.)
Instead, I’ve given you guidelines to approach this industry like a professional. The general tips and suggestions and ideas are applicable to all of the present platforms, as well as emerging platforms that may not exist yet. By adopting the right attitude, you become a flexible and professional author that is ready to take on anything. And when those quick-buck authors have long given up on the business and moved on to the next get-rich-quick scheme, you’ll be having the time of your life getting paid to write about sex.