Author Topic: Erotic fiction - explicit! - advice sought  (Read 1879 times)  

Offline A.L. Heidecker

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Erotic fiction - explicit! - advice sought
« on: May 13, 2020, 09:36:08 pm »
Greetings!

In these days of virus scare, I (together with half the Earth's population no doubt) have turned to writing romance for sale on the Amazon kindle platform. Now I wonder what tools there are for increasing the visibility of my novellas.

I find that when I search for my titles on Amazon they don't really show up. If I search on author name they do show up. So my works clearly fly under the radar to potential readers.

I have followed some Amazon marketing suggestions, like

Nicely designed cover
An author page that lists all my texts
a short blurb that I hope catches attention

MY books are A.L. Heidecker, "Mandarin Ohh" and "LA Affairs" and "Cities on Fire" (I want to include pictures but not sure how to do it)

I do not do much social media so have not really used this so far to market books.

I would love to hear from others who have worked in the romance genre. Hopefully some have some ideas to share. MY books are quite explicit in their content - for adults only!



« Last Edit: May 17, 2020, 05:55:57 am by A.L. Heidecker »

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    Online Becca Mills

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advertising advice sought
    « Reply #1 on: May 13, 2020, 09:43:44 pm »
    Welcome! Inserting pictures is tricky. It's something I also had difficulty figuring out, when I first got here. Here are some directions, but please know that sexually suggestive and erotic images are not permitted here. Assuming your covers are G-rated:

    To insert an image, first you upload the image to a website of some sort -- your own site, Shutterfly, Flickr ... whatever. Personally, I use Facebook: opening an image in its own tab there generates a dedicated URL. Once you have a URL that will lead you to the photo on the web, you come here, start to compose a post, put your cursor where you what the picture to be, and click the image button up among the composition tools.



    See? The button has a teeny picture of the Mona Lisa on it! When you click that button, you'll get a set of image tags:

    [img][/img]

    You paste the URL for your image between the tags:

    [img]http://theaposition.com/robertfagan/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2012/04/happy.jpg[/img]

    That code generates this:



    If you need to adjust the size of the image, you can add a height tag inside the image tag brackets:

    [img height=200]http://theaposition.com/robertfagan/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2012/04/happy.jpg[/img]

    Result:



    [img height=80]http://theaposition.com/robertfagan/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2012/04/happy.jpg[/img]

    Result:



    This is especially useful when posting covers, since those images tend to be gigantic.

    Hope that helps! :)

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    Offline A.L. Heidecker

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advertising advice sought
    « Reply #2 on: May 13, 2020, 09:49:53 pm »
    Excellent, thanks for the guidance Ms Mills!

    I suspect that my pictures, which fall into the erotic but maybe not quite sexually suggestive category, might not be permitted on this forum. I have no intention of upsetting sensitive souls - or standards of decency somewhat different from my own.

    I don't know if you'd be willing to check out my covers on Amazon (author A.L. Heidecker) and clarify for me?
    « Last Edit: May 13, 2020, 09:57:26 pm by A.L. Heidecker »

    Online Becca Mills

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advertising advice sought
    « Reply #3 on: May 13, 2020, 10:15:19 pm »
    Excellent, thanks for the guidance Ms Mills!

    I suspect that my pictures, which fall into the erotic but maybe not quite sexually suggestive category, might not be permitted on this forum. I have no intention of upsetting sensitive souls - or standards of decency somewhat different from my own.

    I don't know if you'd be willing to check out my covers on Amazon (author A.L. Heidecker) and clarify for me?

    Yeah, too racy for us. The one you've made into your profile picture is fine, but the other two ... no. Sorry, it's apparently a Google ads rule.

    Welcome! :)
    Read about using the Writers' Cafe here. Our larger "forum decorum" is here. The site's overall terms of use are here. Please be aware of this material.
    Troubleshooting: If you're having difficulties with advertising on KBoards, the contact email is [email protected] You can also use our PM system to contact the site's owners via the vsAdmin account. The Link-Maker and Author Signature Tool long longer function. There's a manual version of the former here and a workaround for the latter here.

    Offline A.L. Heidecker

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advertising advice sought
    « Reply #4 on: May 13, 2020, 11:00:53 pm »
    Fair enough Ms Mills. It's a good thing you have standards in this field, truly.

    But it seems to me, as a romance writer in the adult/explicit genre, that we have our hands somewhat tied when it comes to advertising. I believe that Amazon doesn't allow participation in their advertising programs. I should be very happy to hear from authors who have successfully sold their romance works online.

    New to this genre and happy to learn!


    Online Usedtoposthere

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advertising advice sought
    « Reply #5 on: May 14, 2020, 07:04:07 pm »
    I took a quick look. I think an issue you will have is that you haven't really written romance. You seem, from a quick perusal, to have written the sexual adventures of a man. Two books, at least two (?) different women, and it's "about" the guy, not the relationship. (As far as I can tell from the blurb etc.)

    A romance is about two people (or more, if it's a menage romance) falling in love. It may or may not have sex in it. In erotic/steamy romance, the sex may be a big part of the story, even a major plot point, but the driving force of the story is the relationship between the people. The point of a romance novel is people's struggle to be together, to build a life with each other, to complete each other and become their best selves.

    It's really hard to advertise romance successfully, or to do well with it, if it doesn't meet the criteria of the romance genre.

    Here are some guidelines from RWA that you could look at to see whether what you've got is a romance novel. https://www.rwa.org/Online/Romance_Genre/About_Romance_Genre.aspx

    ETA: Yes, you can advertise romance, including erotic romance. You just can't advertise on Amazon if your covers don't meet their ad guidelines.
    « Last Edit: May 14, 2020, 07:10:45 pm by Usedtoposthere »

    Offline A.L. Heidecker

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advertising advice sought
    « Reply #6 on: May 14, 2020, 07:47:50 pm »
    Thanks Usedto,

    You hit the nail on the head! And of course I was never comfortable with the romance epithet (at least not of the usual girl-falls-in-love-with-billionaire-boss-and-they-live-happily-ever-after-kind). Thanks for taking a look at my material.

    My writing is, as you note, about the adventures and anxieties of a young man - who travels and meets women as much as he meets himself. It is perhaps more of an erotic travelogue in that way. MY story "MANDARIN OHH" is closer to romance perhaps as it involves two people only and their struggle to be together, even if it turns out to be impossible.

    I understand it is hard to market this type of writing that doesn't fit squarely in one genre. And I will think carefully about how to proceed with writing.

    The RWA website is helpful to aid understanding. It notes that 82% readers are female (even if readerships are changing much now and become more diverse). I expect it's hard as well to market a male-centered narrative to the female audience.

    Food for thought. Thanks Usedto!

    Online Usedtoposthere

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advertising advice sought
    « Reply #7 on: May 14, 2020, 09:45:34 pm »
    Women are happy to read romance from the male point of view. Most romance is written from both male and female POVs, and quite a bit of romance is written solely from the male POV.

    Theres a huge universe of romance beyond girl falls in love with billionaire boss. It is an enormous and diverse genre. But yes, they will end up happy together, because that is the sole requirement of the genre. Its about a relationship. And they end up happy. Just as a mystery is about a mystery, and it ends up solved. Beyond that? Anything goes.

    Offline A.L. Heidecker

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advertising advice sought
    « Reply #8 on: May 14, 2020, 11:08:23 pm »
    Of course you are right, romance is an enormously diverse genre. There is also untamed mountain man romance, damaged navy seals romance, submissive Asian woman romance. I forgot about those!

    Forgive me for being flippant!

    Ending up happy together as an imperative for the romance genre. You are probably right about that. But, knowing next to nothing about the genre, it seems to me that a satisfactory/necessary resolution to a storyline can be that characters (after an impassioned romance, naturally) end up walking their separate ways. If you love someone, set them free, right? Maybe this can work better than an unresolved murder mystery.

    In my modest fiction I wanted to write about ordinary young city folks, intelligent, educated, who meet each other and admit their desires. My male character is being conquered as much as is conquering. I am not interested in cynical cheating or philandering (but then not much romance is I guess).

    Usedto, I suppose that my texts are a bit peculiar and do not fit any genre squarely. Probably not much market for this sort of thing. But I am not wholly unhappy about that. Are you a romance writer yourself?

    Allan

    « Last Edit: May 14, 2020, 11:10:17 pm by A.L. Heidecker »

    Offline Vickie Vaughan

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advertising advice sought
    « Reply #9 on: May 15, 2020, 12:34:59 am »
    So as a steamy romance (really erotica) author myself, here's some feedback:

    Your blurbs don't really grab me at all. They are a basic statement about what happens in the book. You should look at rewriting those in future and make them a bit more sexy.

    You call yourself an Amazon bestseller author with three books (and one is a merging of the other two). That is an instant turn off for me, and also feels like a bit of a rip off if you combine two books that seem to be totally unrelated into one.

    Covers certainly don't reflect romance, or steamy romance. Take a look at the top sellers and emulate them in terms of fonts, etc.

    In short, my feeling is you have more work to do than simply advertising - focus on content, blurb and covers. I understand that may sound harsh so please take it with my congratulations on publishing! 

    Offline A.L. Heidecker

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advertising advice sought
    « Reply #10 on: May 15, 2020, 01:31:29 am »
    Vickie Vaughan - Touche!

    Thanks for your feedback which is surely constructive. I have certainly to make some changes, and will try to rewrite the blurbs to make them more titillating. VV, do you have any Kindle authors you would recommend I look to as an example of good blurbs (and maybe the other aspects, good covers, fonts)?

    A rip off to combine two separate novellas into one book? Quite right! However, the two novellas have the same protagonist and the story line of one is a direct extension of the other. So I thought I would combine the two and enhance and rewrite them extensively: the Hong Kong setting in the novellas was rewritten as a Los Angeles setting. Publishing erotic novellas on Amazon means I'm cut off from the Chinese, and as far as I can see the Hong Kong markets, so I thought a California setting might appeal more broadly. How significant do you consider geographical setting to the appeal and marketability of erotica?

    I haven't poured much thought into this project beyond those ideas. In any case it's been a fun pastime during the virus scare! I only try to write the kind of story I suspect I would enjoy reading myself.

    Offline A.L. Heidecker

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advice sought
    « Reply #11 on: May 15, 2020, 01:37:20 am »
    I have just changed the wording of this discussion thread from "advertising advice sought" to "advice sought" because I understand I have some way to go even before I should consider or spend money on advertising. Thanks for all comments!

     8)

    Allan

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advertising advice sought
    « Reply #12 on: May 15, 2020, 01:48:51 am »
    I don't know that much about romance marketing, but you state here that you write romance with sex in it, yet your author's bio you refer to your product as erotica and refer to yourself as a writer of erotica. Some romance readers might get turned off seeing your books referred to as erotica. The erotica label often has a stigma attached to it.

    Calling yourself a best selling author is also a bit problematic unless you have the sales numbers (or actual bestselling ranks) to back it up. Potential readers can see the ranking numbers at the bottom of the descriptions. Referring to yourself as a best seller could turn off some potential readers.

    Good luck in your endeavors.

    Offline A.L. Heidecker

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advice sought
    « Reply #13 on: May 15, 2020, 02:19:21 am »
    Thanks JB,

    The "bestselling author" has been omitted. But it takes a while for it to be effective on the Amazon site. It was clearly a stretch - or a fiction if you like, just like my author name Heidecker, but we are in the business of creating personas, are we not?

    I also changed the "erotica" - graphic romance fiction or explicit romance literature might be better terms I suppose (of course then the term "literature" might be offensive to some...)

    Allan

    Offline unkownwriter

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advice sought
    « Reply #14 on: May 15, 2020, 02:59:26 am »
    If there's no happily ever after or happily for now ending, if the story isn't about the romantic growth of the characters, if you break any of the other "rules" of the romance genre, then you are not writing romance. That is the end of it all. You may be writing coming of age, or something else, but advertising your work as romance will not help.

    My opinion is that you need to study writing and self publishing more, especially whatever genre you end up writing in, before worrying about doing ads. Learn about covers, descriptions, titles, writing styles. It's not just a matter of putting up some story and waiting for the sales to roll in. It's never been that easy, and it never will be.

    Offline atree

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advice sought
    « Reply #15 on: May 15, 2020, 03:17:02 am »
    You will only increase your chances of success once you go from trying to trick buyers into buying, to trying to serve customers with quality.

    There are 2 ways to work in publishing, one is a constant fast-forward uphill battle (which may provide nice returns), the other is a walk in the park (which sometimes leads to great things)

    For one, all you need is to be a hack. For the other, what you need is a knack.

    Offline A.L. Heidecker

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advice sought
    « Reply #16 on: May 15, 2020, 04:55:08 am »
    If there's no happily ever after or happily for now ending, if the story isn't about the romantic growth of the characters, if you break any of the other "rules" of the romance genre, then you are not writing romance. That is the end of it all. You may be writing coming of age, or something else, but advertising your work as romance will not help.

    My opinion is that you need to study writing and self publishing more, especially whatever genre you end up writing in, before worrying about doing ads. Learn about covers, descriptions, titles, writing styles. It's not just a matter of putting up some story and waiting for the sales to roll in. It's never been that easy, and it never will be.

    Thanks for your input Unknown. It's appreciated, surely.

    There's some fundamentalism involved here methinks. To my mind, romance writing is any narrative whose main momentum is derived from the amorous attraction between two people - at least. The main ingredient has to be the story of romantic growth (often in idealized form). The main characters must be happily together for a while, but not necessarily forever.

    As it happens, I'm not too bothered by genre constraints. Remember even a tragedy can have elements of comedy (tragicomedy) and can have a happy ending; just think of Jane Eyre, Shakespeare's Richard III or Macbeth. I also do not feel any particular affinity with the romance genre per se and am happy enough to be breaking its rules. My top priority is to remain true to the original idea I had and to see it carried out.

    Maybe I should label my writings erotic fiction of an explicit or graphic nature (which I actually do do), and leave it at that.

    You urge me to study writing and self-publishing, which I certainly shall do (and actually already do do). Thanks for pointing me to it.

    Allan
    « Last Edit: May 15, 2020, 05:16:56 am by A.L. Heidecker »

    Offline GinJones

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advice sought
    « Reply #17 on: May 15, 2020, 08:07:26 am »
    It doesn't matter how YOU define romance. What matters is how the genre's readers define it. And they (we) define it as a story that focuses on the relationship AND has a happy ending. If your definition doesn't match the reader's definition, the reader will be turned off and not buy in the first place, or will buy one book from you (expecting to read a story that meets her definition), but never another book. Don't mess with reader expectations (except in a plot twist way, rather than a genre expectation way).

    Online Usedtoposthere

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advertising advice sought
    « Reply #18 on: May 15, 2020, 09:06:20 am »
    No. It does not work better than an unsolved murder mystery. It works the same. In other words, not at all. What you are writing is not romance. Period.

    There are many, many, many types of romance beyond those you describe. Your contempt for the genre shows and is insulting both here and to any potential readers. You do not understand it. Do not try to write it unless you do.

    Yes. I am an actual bestselling romance writer.

    I understand that my tone is snarky. You must understand that romance authors are used to this dismissive attitude toward our work, which can encompass some of the great themes of human nature. We write about people. First and foremost and always. It is just as difficult to write romance well as any other genre. But it is incredible how many people think it is easy because the genre and its readers are stupid.

    You could try writing that mystery that remains unsolved. That thriller where the bad guys win. That fantasy where evil prevails. None of them are likely to sell. That is not what readers are reading for.
     
    ETA: Romance is also not about the male character conquering. It is about the male and female character growing. Each of them has a character arc, a personal journey.

    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advice sought
    « Reply #19 on: May 15, 2020, 11:56:20 am »
    It's pretty common for the MMC to want to conquer/claim/possess the FMC, especially in the more "alpha" or "alphahole" or "OTT short erom" space. But he's obsessed solely with the FMC and he needs to have her forever.

    Alexa Riley was the most notable author on that space but they were banned last year. I believe their books are still available on other retailers. There are plenty of similar authors. It's a very competitive niche. I don't know a ton about it because it's not my thing (my guys tend to be more afraid of getting hurt, even if they are a little obsessed).

    A lot of romance is about the hero and his growth and damage (and willingness to change for the heroine) but that's a very specific thing.

    Offline Trioxin 245

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advice sought
    « Reply #20 on: May 15, 2020, 11:48:58 pm »
    If you order a pizza you expect one to be delivered...

    If your order a red car with a sun roof, you expect.....

    Your readers expect certain things when they buy a romance/sci-fi/mystery etc.

    It's nice to think you are here to test the boundaries and enlighten readers in a new way, but you are not going to.


    Offline unkownwriter

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advice sought
    « Reply #21 on: May 16, 2020, 04:25:45 am »

    Thanks for your input Unknown. It's appreciated, surely.

    There's some fundamentalism involved here methinks. To my mind, romance writing is any narrative whose main momentum is derived from the amorous attraction between two people - at least. The main ingredient has to be the story of romantic growth (often in idealized form). The main characters must be happily together for a while, but not necessarily forever.

    Every genre has the same issues, though. Romance has long been known to encompass certain tropes, certain reader expectations, and to go against them leads only to failure.

    As it happens, I'm not too bothered by genre constraints. Remember even a tragedy can have elements of comedy (tragicomedy) and can have a happy ending; just think of Jane Eyre, Shakespeare's Richard III or Macbeth. I also do not feel any particular affinity with the romance genre per se and am happy enough to be breaking its rules. My top priority is to remain true to the original idea I had and to see it carried out.

    You should be concerned that what you write follows the genre you intend to place it in. Sure, there can be other elements, but the main story must follow the general description of the genre. No one says you can't be true to your idea, just that you understand that you're not writing what you think you are, and readers are not going to just accept it and praise you for telling the wrong story.

    Maybe I should label my writings erotic fiction of an explicit or graphic nature (which I actually do do), and leave it at that.

    You can label it what you want, but if you put it in the wrong genre, it won't matter. Erotic fiction has rules, too. The sites you might want to sell your work has rules about what it allows. It would be much easier for you to simply find the correct genre, and market to that audience.

    You urge me to study writing and self-publishing, which I certainly shall do (and actually already do do). Thanks for pointing me to it.

    You're welcome. I know you likely meant that as snark, but whatever. Try to listen and learn from members like usedtoposthere, who is actually a best-selling writer of romance, who knows her stuff and has helped many others find their way.

    Allan



    Offline A.L. Heidecker

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advice sought
    « Reply #22 on: May 17, 2020, 12:22:39 am »
    Huargh! This is fascinating!

    Thanks to respondents for constructive comments, truly. Thanks for underscoring the importance of tropes and genre expectations. I will surely keep these points in mind as I continue to write. There seems to be consensus here on this matter, it is clear for all to see!

    Usedto, let us approach all this with a bit of levity, please. My questions above were not intended (consciously) as contempt for the genre, and I did not mean to cause offence to readers of romance or folks on this forum. Hopefully, what *you* perceive as a snarky or contempt-laden comment will also feel honey-glazed and sugar-coated and not wholly unpleasant to ingest.

    Maybe I come from a different place than some of the earnest writers here (not just geographically greetings from Hong Kong!). When we begin to write, ideas are everything. They enter our consciousness and if theyre not too elusive we can put them down on paper. I write what clicks for me and I try to stay true to my original ideas, true to what feels right on the nerve endings. As I write I worry much less about rules and the specifics of genre requirements (stock characters, tropes, cliches, etc.) This makes it hard to shoehorn my writing into the genre boxes later on.

    Admittedly, it also makes it hard to sell (hence my original question).

    But even if I just sell one or two novellas per day, I still get a kick out of that!
    I do not do this for a living, praise the lord.

    Anyhow, lest I be completely excommunicated (or disembowled) by the honourable community of romance writers (of which I never saw myself as a worthy member) I have changed my genre to erotic fiction/erotica, which of course has its own set of rules. But I think I can meet them better.

    Advice here will be kept in mind as I go forward and hope to market better to an audience.

    Thanks all, happy writing!
    « Last Edit: May 17, 2020, 08:00:19 pm by A.L. Heidecker »

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advice sought
    « Reply #23 on: May 17, 2020, 05:12:23 am »
    Labelling your books erotic fiction / erotica isn't necessarily a bad thing if you have romance elements in your books.

    There are a lot of erotica writers who do that. It's a wider genre than thought.

    Offline A.L. Heidecker

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    Re: Romance fiction - explicit! - advice sought
    « Reply #24 on: May 17, 2020, 06:17:52 am »
    Labelling your books erotic fiction / erotica isn't necessarily a bad thing if you have romance elements in your books.

    There are a lot of erotica writers who do that. It's a wider genre than thought.

    Thanks JB, see this is actually quite helpful! I am of course open to the argument (defended vehemently by practitioners here) that the romance genre has indispensable stock elements, such as the inception of romance, the waxing (and waning) of romance, and an emotionally satisfying ending - conventionally a happy ending. As is clear, I have no interest in ticking all these boxes.

    Calling my dilettante writing erotica or erotic fiction is right because this label refers merely to the important element in my narrative, which is perhaps closer to a travelogue but structured around description of erotic activity. Sorted!

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