Thursday, 11 April 2013
Help or hindrance? Dangled carrot or sustained revenue killer? Is free erotica a problem or worth its weight in gold to the independent smut writer?
Whether dipping one’s proverbial tootsies into the erotica writing business, or being a seasoned pro, free online erotica is one issue bound to provoke reaction. Anyone seeking online smut to read on their PC or download to a phone or Kindle or similar e-book reader can either go to well known websites such as Literotica to access a plethora of free stories. Or they can go to Amazon and Smashwords and pay for the stories accessed (these sites also offer free stories).
But surely it must frustrate authors trying to earn a crust (never mind a fortune) from their writing, when facing so much competition from others offering their wares for nowt? Why do this?
Let’s consider the pertinent points. Firstly, cost. Once the book has been written, the formatting done and the cover designed and everything is uploaded, the costs of production (time, paper, print toner, fizzy pop and Chocolate Hob Nobs consumed while writing/typing) are incurred once and once only. There’s no marginal cost attached to subsequent sales made.
A free book should help generate some buzz, shouldn’t it? ‘Buy my FREE steamy erotica tale on Amazon’ etc etc. Announce this on all the relevant social media channels and the express hope is that there’s a flurry of downloads which will a) keep the book in the top half of the Amazon sales lists, thereby achieving some visibility b) convince those readers to fork out for subsequent priced books.
But does it really work like this?
The problem is that such a simplistic viewpoint fails to take into account that thousands of other smut authors have exactly the same idea. The result: thousands of free stories. But the unavoidable fact is that there’s now an abundance of free erotica. And that spells trouble for the erotica writer seeking financial recompense for their efforts.
I liken it to someone walking to work in the morning or heading out of the office for lunch. You’ll see coffee shop baristas offering samples of their latest blends. Perhaps you’ll see a deli shop offering passers-by a tiny bite of a new sandwich combo. You’ll be offered a tasty mouthful (stop sniggering at the back!) in the hope that you pop in to buy a full-sized sandwich the following day, or perhaps even there and then.
There’s an implicit understanding operating: here’s a free sample to see if you like it, and if you do, you can have more. Much more. As much as you want in fact.
But you’re going to have to pay for it.
However, there’s a segment of the smut-reading fraternity who say ‘Why should I pay for anything? There’s so much available already for free. What incentive is there to pay for it?’
Using my street food analogy once more, It’s the equivalent of the hungry office worker being able to walk along a street full of delis and coffee shops and receive enough small samples of coffee to equal a full cup, and enough small sandwich bites to make up a proper-sized sarnie. His or her thirst has been totally quenched and their appetite sated. And without having to pay for a damn thing! But to add insult to injury, they can return day in, day out and do exactly the same, because there’s an endless supply to enjoy. Now it’s a stretch to imagine this could happen in real life. But it IS happening online when it comes to reading erotica.
So, you’ve got a whole gamut of smut writers doing what they think is a sensible attempt at gaining some awareness and hopefully driving subsequent sales. Individually, not a bad idea. Collectively however, the overall effect is arguably detrimental.
Now it’s important to recognise there are many erotica authors who write for the simple pleasure of writing and striking a chord with readers, who wish no reward for their efforts. They perhaps want to dip their toes in the bath or wish nothing more than to see their words stimulate, inspire and/or amuse others. And bless them for it.
There will also be a large number of smut readers around the world who have no intention of paying as so much is already available. They want something which will get their juices going enough for some naughtiness and then, hey-ho, that was nice. Next!
What is the split between those who will pay and those who won’t? For erotica writers wanting to earn a living doing this, the non-payers are of no concern. Well, I say that glibly: they ARE a concern if they constitute the majority. But professional erotica writers will focus their efforts on what they know paying customers will shell out for. That’s one of the reasons for the Erotica Reader Survey that’s currently live.
Personally speaking, I value my time spent thinking about the story, planning it, doing a bit of research perhaps, developing some characters, before even getting down to writing it. And don’t forget about editing, re-writing if necessary, and formatting for Amazon, Smashwords etc. That’s a fair few hours. Most businesses would charge for their time and effort in producing the final product or service – why should erotica writers differ?
I’d love to receive your comments on any of the points raised here and encourage some discussion on the topic. And keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up post in which I’ll talk about pricing approaches, strategies and tactics.
Monday, 8 April 2013
So if you’ve read my hot erotic story ‘Baring All In Bayswater’ perhaps you’d like to get a flavour of the area, especially if you’re not from London or you’re located thousands of miles away.
|Photo: (c) Amelia Bryant|
Locals requiring some extra bedroom (or wherever) spice have a well-stocked Ann Summers store on Queensway to stock up on assorted naughtiness. And shock author confession – this is the store where I bought my first Rampant Rabbit!
|Photo: (c) Amelia Bryant|
Bayswater has something of an edgy reputation – just like its Australian equivalent (what is it with Sydney, trying to copycat London’s vice spots: King’s Cross AND Bayswater?!) Yes, it’s a hustling busting ‘never quiet’ area – Queensway certainly – but it is also renowned for its sexual commerce. Some of the nearby W2 streets are well known on the internet for the ‘services’ offered in some of the apartments, and police have broken up vice rings and brothels operating in the area.
|Photo: (c) Amelia Bryant|
And I actually know Queens Court rather well! I won’t reveal all, but I did date someone for a while who flat-shared there. I must admit: I never bumped into any exotic ladies all the times I was up and down in the lifts. Let’s just say that with the preponderance of genuine hotties that could often be seen walking along Queensway, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.
Anyway, I’ve got happy memories of Bayswater as you can imagine, and it made returning there for some photos a pleasure. The sights and smells took me back a few years. And yes, speaking purely objectively of course, yes there are still a veritable amount of hot-to-trot ladies there – ‘working’ or otherwise!
Have you read a juicy excerpt from my smutty Bayswater story? Read it now!
Or if you have already and liked it, then buy 'Baring All In Bayswater' at Amazon, dammit! ;-)
Watch out for accompanying ones for each new London Lovers' Ground story!
Wednesday, 27 March 2013
So if you’ve read my short smutty story ‘Earl’s Court: Making an Exhibition Of Oneself’ perhaps you’d like to get a flavour as to the locale, especially if you’re not from London or you’re located thousands of miles away.
Located in the south west of central London between Cromwell Road and Old Brompton Road, Earl’s Court is know for a variety of things. The first, and probably the largest, is the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre - home to business expos (where my characters ‘Aussie’ Rob Sadler and Lorna Calderwood meet), home and leisure shows, and major rock concerts. In fact barely five days after moving to London all those years ago, I went to my first gig here – and what a night! I’m also no stranger to it for research/marketing expos etc. over the years.
The tube station is just across the road from the Centre – in fact this picture is taken from the station entrance. The other main entrance is on Earl’s Court Road – here.
Needless to say, the tube station can get pretty crowded when there’s a gig or expo on. Which in itself presents a fantastic opportunity to letch at some pretty hot talent! [Public transport confession time: I had a major snogging session on the westbound District line platform one cold February evening many moons ago. Ah, halcyon days!]
Earl’s Court is also traditionally known to be a hang out for Australians living in the city. And escorts too, apparently! There are a lot of hostels and hotels in the area – of varying quality and price ranges.
Earl’s Court has a number of gardens with bushes and trees lining the perimeter railings. The vast majority – if not all of them – are private, and only accessible under lock and key. So not every Tom, Dick and Harry can get it. But hey, perhaps from time to time people are careless, and in the case of Rob and Lorna…jackpot!
Have you read a juicy excerpt from my smutty Earl’s Court story? Read it now!
Or if you have already and liked it, then buy 'Earl's Court: Making An Exhibition Of Oneself' it at Amazon, dammit! ;-)
I hope you've enjoyed this little pictorial expedition into my setting for the book - watch out for accompanying ones for each new London Lovers' Ground story!
Sunday, 24 February 2013
I’m talking about numbers. More specifically, regarding smutty books. At this point in the game, what should the objective be?
I’ve got eight titles out there available at Amazon and Smashwords. That pretty much covers the main e-book distribution channels. Now, having listened to what the best in the business have to say, coupled with my own instincts as a professional marketer, I’m in a bit of a quandary.
Several smut writers have affirmed that for every ten books released there is a noticeable increase in overall sales. So should I be frantically typing out new material like there’s no tomorrow, to reach ten then twenty titles available? Listening to the voices of experience is never a bad thing.
But wait a moment.
Think of the erotica reading fraternity in quantity terms. If Fifty Shades of Grey and the e-reading factors have had the impact that we’re led to believe they have, that equates to one hell of a large potential readership out there.
So even if only a relatively small proportion of the total smut-buying market downloaded my stories, I’d certainly notice. In fact I’d be cock-a-hoop with the soaring sales figures.
So, the main question is this. With eight titles already on the virtual bookshop shelves, surely the focus should be on raising awareness and driving sales of the products already available rather than developing new ones? If readers do want to go on a mini splurge and download my other books, there’s seven of them. That’s good potential revenue in anyone’s eyes, considering the size of the market.
Interim data from the Erotica Reader Survey (not taken part yet, and love reading erotica? Please do the survey!) strongly suggests that once readers find an author they like, they’ll buy more of their stories. That’s reassuring to all writers. But readers aren’t going crazy and downloading EVERYTHING immediately. There’s a recession happening, remember. I compare it with a bricks and mortar shop, with the stock visible in the window and ready to be bought. It’s just that not enough people are looking at the shop window and coming inside.
What’s the point in writing another twenty books, if there’s still not enough (to my liking, anyway) people sniffing around and buying the first eight?
That’s not a product problem: it’s an awareness and communications issue.
That however, is for another blog post.
Monday, 11 February 2013
It had to happen. No seriously; it really did.
Take one horny imaginative - and pretty horny, if truth be told – marketing researcher with a penchant for fruity words and filthy thoughts.
Take an industry which (undeservedly) has its fair share of detractors, and which could collectively could do with a bit of TLC. Or failing that a good hard shag.
Well, it seems that Yours Truly’s naughty words have come to the attention of the research industry’s main trade publication – the cunningly titled (wait for it…) ‘Research’.
[The industry isn’t that unimaginative, honest!]
Gracing the back page ‘Diary’ section which tends to paint a lighter note on research happenings, they’ve exposed the industry to a brief synopsis of my first story ‘Mirror Mirror’ in the Crash! Bang! Wallop! series, centred around the sexiest (albeit fictitious) London marketing research agency.
A quarter of a page no less! Can you imagine how much that space would have cost in advertising terms?! Exactly.
I'm a rather happy bonking bunny now!
Friday, 8 February 2013
Are erotic writers delivering what readers want?
How diverse are readers’ erotic reading habits?
The simple fact is that to a large extent nobody knows! And that’s bad for readers and writers alike.
Hence the reason for the Erotica Reader Survey, aimed at getting to the bottom of what readers of erotic stories really want and how they go about getting it. If you’re a reader of erotica, you now have the perfect opportunity to give your honest opinion on a whole host of areas relating to the writing, content and purchasing of erotic stories.
As erotic story readers, you’ll already have your own feelings about the kinds of story that turn you on – and those that don’t. You’ll have also figured out the number of characters you like in your stories, the mischief they get up to. Your favourite writers – or new ones that are crying out to reach new audiences – may not have a clue about how best to make you aware of their new releases available to you.
You’re here because you love erotic stories. So why not take 10 minutes of your time to make yourself heard?! Grab yourself a glass of wine, get comfy and put your thinking cap on. Let’s talk about smut!
The survey is COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS – deliberately so – in order that you can be completely candid in your responses. Nothing less than total honesty will do, otherwise it’s a pointless exercise for everyone.
The survey has been designed to the same standards as a professionally commissioned research project, and key findings will be shared on this blogsite (there might even be some nice fancy charts too!).
CLICK HERE TO BEGIN THE SURVEY (it’s on Survey Monkey, a professional and highly regarded marketing research survey and hosting site).
If you’ve got any questions about the survey, then be sure to send me a Tweet and I’ll respond ASAP.
Cheers, and have a great weekend!
Monday, 4 February 2013
Hello again naughty smut readers! Doesn’t the week fly by?!
Hope you all had a lovely weekend. Mine largely consisted of watching six brilliant opening games to the Six Nations Rugby championship. Hmm… rugby: the smell of Deep Heat, chunky thighs, big muscl…..er that’s quite enough of that for now, hehe! Maybe I should write some rugger-related romps over the next few weeks? I’ve got a cracking title in my head already…
Anyway, as for the week ahead, this will be spent mostly doing the things that I wanted done over the past few days. Catch-up already, lol. The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions, it seems. Mind you, AC/DC always maintained that Hell Ain’t A Bad Place to Be, so I’ll take comfort from that.
So, getting all the first eight naughty stories up onto Smashwords is the primary objective. I’m sure it’ll be like Amazon; once the first couple are under the belt without any issues, it’s pretty standard stuff. At least I hope so! Some news releases need firing out as well.
Finally, there is the Erotica Reader Survey, which should be up in the next couple of days. There’s just a few more questions I’m slipping in, then it’s a matter of uploading and programming into Survey Monkey. Of course being in the marketing research biz truly does help out in this regard: not just doing it, but writing about it (albeit filthily)!
I’ll digress, but if you’re a reader of erotica, erotic romance, or just plain good wholesome smut, call it what you will, then your thoughts and opinions truly matter. Watch out for a separate post on this in the next few days along with the survey link. Some of the main results will be uploaded for everyone to see, and maybe a few interesting ones from the juicy crosstabs too.
As ever, comments and feedback on any of the posts, and my stories (buy now, ker-ching!!) are most welcome, and don’t be shy, say hi on Twitter too.
Here’s to surviving the week….in the sexiest way possible!