How to write and self-publish erotica on Amazon

The used panty marketplace

Writing erotica can be a great way to enter the sex industry without having to take your clothes off or get on camera. If you’ve always enjoyed writing, erotica is one of the most profitable genres, so it’s an exciting job to get into!

Interested in trying to translate sex into words? We’ll get the ball rolling, and you should be able to sell your first erotic short on Amazon in no time.

How to write erotica

Erotica is written content that’s meant to sexually arouse the reader. That’s its main goal. Everything else, even the plot, comes second to making sure that the sex is great.

Most erotica stories on Amazon are shorts, generally ranging between 2,000 and 10,000 words. You can mostly just set up a scenario, write the sex, then wrap it up in a nice bow. You don’t have to worry about too much character development or external plot conflicts. People are here to see your characters bone, and you’re here to provide.

Some erotica stories are longer, especially if the author wants to incorporate romance elements. Erotic romance is a category on Amazon, and writing in it allows you to add in more plot development and let the characters develop feelings for each other beyond sexual intimacy.

The length you want to write is up to you. Writing erotica shorts is probably the best way to make quick money and get your work out there, but erotic romance tends to be more artistic for people to express themselves.

One of the best ways to start writing an erotica story is to choose a trope for your first story. Tropes are plots, themes, devices, or characters that have become so common in the genre that readers recognize them. Examples might be enemies to lovers or billionaires. They’re not cliches, but rather devices that you can use to your advantage.

It may seem uncreative to use a trope in your work, but that’s actually what erotica readers are coming to your book for. Romance and erotica readers love finding books that feature their favorite tropes, and they often buy books specifically for the trope. Some authors even list the tropes of their books on their book’s sale page to draw readers in.

Here are some common romance tropes with a plotline for each:

  • Fake dating: Tim wants to bring a girl to his brother’s wedding, so he asks his friend Elizabeth to go with him and pretend they’re dating.
  • Friends to lovers: Ken and Pete have been best friends since high school. However, things have started to feel a little different lately…
  • Billionaire: Amanda meets a billionaire while working at her nonprofit job, and sparks fly immediately. But did he actually notice her?
  • Forbidden romance: Olive can’t date Isaac because their dads have a huge business rivalry. Can their love last?
  • Enemies to lovers: Randy and Michael are captains of rival hockey teams, and they hate each other. However, they meet in the locker rooms one day and sparks fly....
  • Second chance: Samantha and Lynn dated in high school, but broke up when they went to separate colleges. Now, they’re both back in their hometown and wondering whether they could rekindle things.
  • Secret dating: Dwayne starts dating his boss Lara, but they can’t let anyone know because they work together.
  • Friends with benefits: Fiona and Eric start hooking up in college, but everything changes when they start to develop feelings for each other…

If you’re looking for some more common tropes, check out this list.

You can also use more specific scenarios in your short erotica in order to set the scene. For example, you could have your characters get snowed in at a ski lodge, have to share the same bed at a hotel, or are alone at work on the weekend. Having something specific can give you an element to ground your erotica and make it interesting.

Once you decide on your tropes and scenarios, you should work on your characters. When you write erotica, they don’t have to be as intensely developed as they would in another book. Give them enough definition that they’re interesting, but you don’t need to write up their entire backstory before you begin writing.

Most of the target market for erotica is women. For that reason, if you’re writing heterosexual erotica, it’s very important to get your male character right. He’s the one who’s seducing the female character, and in turn the reader. Make sure he’s sexy!

It can help to write a quick outline to determine what will happen in your book. Even if it’s a short erotica, you might want to know where the sex scene will go and what acts they’ll do. You should also determine whether this encounter will change the characters in any way. Try to imagine the scene in your head.

Now you’ll get to the actual writing. Writing anything takes practice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write good erotica stories right away. It helps if you have experience writing fiction already, but it’s definitely not required. Just keep in mind that writing isn’t easy, and if you don’t like it, you can always try a different type of sex work, like working as a phone sex operator or selling your used underwear.

Our biggest piece of advice for writing an erotica story is to write what turns you on. If you are bored or even grossed out, that will definitely come across in the text. Choose people and tropes that you find sexy.

Some people need to get in the mood a little bit before they start writing sex scenes. Having a glass of wine can help loosen you up. You might also consider watching porn or reading an erotica story to get you inspired. Maybe you even want to have sex with your partner or masturbate beforehand.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. You’ve probably read bad sex writing before, and it’s one of the most awkward things out there. One of the worst things that makes erotica bad is using awkward language. Phrases like “his turgid member” or “her lady cave” will take readers out of your story and maybe even gross them out or make them laugh. It’s better to keep your language a little more basic, using words that people would actually use, like “pussy” and “cock.” It might start to feel like you’re being repetitive, but usually your reader will be okay with that.

Don’t worry about your sex scenes being too long, particularly in erotica shorts. Most people have the opposite problem, and end up with sex scenes that are too short. If this is your issue, figure out what extra details you could add. How do they undress each other. How does she taste? Are there any emotional feelings?

If your sex scenes are too short, you might consider whether you’re writing enough unique, distinct elements of the sex scene. It can be boring to simply go from clothes off to kissing to penetration. Adding foreplay can help, and during the sex, they might switch positions, take out sex toys, or engage in different kinks. Aim to add some spice to their sex life!

How to self-publish your book on Amazon

Once you’ve written your first book, it’s time to get it online for everyone to read!

First of all, don’t feel embarrassed that your book is being self-published instead of traditionally published. Some people see self-publishing as a way to publish your book if you’re unable to snag a publisher. Others might call it an “easy way out.” However, this isn’t true, especially for erotica shorts.

Amazon and other self-publishing sites are the best way to distribute your erotica right now. There are few (if any) publishers publishing erotica shorts, mostly because they’re hard to distribute in physical copies. Self-publishing is where it’s at.

Plus, when you self-publish, you can make a larger percentage of money on each book sale, which can really benefit you. Many authors who are self-published absolutely love it and wouldn’t go to a publisher, even if they offered.

Here’s a quick introduction to the self-publishing process. Every book and author is different, but this will give you a general blueprint to help you decide if going on this journey is right for you.

Step 1: Research

In order to succeed at self-publishing, you’ll need to do a lot of research before you begin. Google any questions you have and read several articles about them. Read some comprehensive articles like this one to give you an even better idea of the field. Self-publishing is something that you teach yourself to do, and it requires commitment.

One of the best places to get up to date information on the craft is the Facebook group 20BooksTo50. The group is made up of tons of people who are in the industry, and many of them have found a great deal of success. This is where you can ask questions, make relationships with other authors, and learn as much as you can. Search the archive for any questions you might need answered, and read their master documents cover to cover.

When you’re looking at self-publishing information, make sure that it’s up to date. Amazon changes their policies and guidelines all the time, and it won’t help you to find things that are five years old. Always check the date!

Step 2: Edit

Your book won’t be perfect right away, no matter how much time you spend on it. You’ll need to do some editing to make sure that your book looks professional and that the reader will enjoy your book.

Many self-pubbed authors edit their own books. You can do this by trying to look at it objectively. You can set the manuscript aside for a few days or weeks, then come back to it with fresh eyes.

Consider finding a friend, partner, or relative who can read your book for you. Of course, this is a little harder when you’re writing erotica. However, if you have someone who won’t find it too weird, they could give you some valuable advice.

It’s even better if you can find a professional to edit for you. This will cost some money, but it might help you improve your craft when someone who knows what they’re talking about tells you what to cut.

Sites like Fiverr and Upwork let you find editors willing to look at your book for fairly cheap prices. If you’re looking for a great editor, check out this post from Jane Friedman for more information.

Lastly, you’ll need to do a copy edit on your book to look for typos. Again, you can contract someone out to do this, and it’s not a bad idea. It’s very hard to find your own mistakes. Grammarly can help with this to a certain extent if you want to do it yourself.

Step 3: Cover

Your cover is how you’ll present your book to the world. It’s the first thing people will see in connection with the story you’ve written, so it’s absolutely imperative to get a good cover.

Your cover should look as much like one you’d find at a bookstore as possible. It’s a high bar, but customers are looking for quality products, and they’re not always forgiving of crappy covers. If someone passes over your book before they even read the summary, you’ve lost out on a sale.

Unless you’ve taken Photoshop classes or work in graphic design, it’s probably not a good idea to make your own cover. Stuff like typography and photo placement are very hard! It’s better to hire someone to make your cover if you can afford it, and it might be less expensive than you think.

Cover designers on sites like Fiverr can be very affordable. Just make sure to give your artist a nice tip. Germancreative is one of the top designers on the site, and she makes beautiful work at a reasonable price. If you have more money to spend up front, a great place to use it is for your cover.

You can also work to find a pre-made cover for your erotic short. The designers at Go On Write have a large selection of covers to choose from, and they’re very affordable. Just make sure you pick a cover that screams erotica. People should know from your cover what to expect in your book, and that should be sex!

Many authors don’t listen to this advice and still choose to design their own covers. We get it, especially if you’re broke. One of the best tools to design your own cover is Canva. They have great book cover templates with pre-made typography that can look professional. You’ll have to buy the rights to your own stock photo, though; you can’t just use any image you find on the internet.

Step 4: Description

The second most important part of getting people to read your book is the description. Once they’re drawn in by your cover, they’ll want to know more. That’s where the summary comes in.

Your description will tell your readers what the book is about. However, you don’t need to tell them every piece of your plot. Instead, think of it as a sales pitch that informs the audience about your book. They should want to hit the buy now button after they’re done reading.

Let’s read a few good erotica summaries. Here’s one from Property of the Mountain Man by Gemma Weir:

“Tall, dark and muscled like a god, Beau Barnett is great with an axe. Every woman in Rockhead Point wants a taste of the mountain man. Including me. Except he doesn’t even know my name. I’m just the girl behind the counter filling his coffee, while he grunts and grumbles, barely making eye contact. Then a newcomer with a charming smile and a fancy suit shows up in Rockhead Point, and refuses to take no for an answer when he asks me to dinner. That’s when I find out Mr. Mountain Man not only knows my name… he thinks I’m his property.”

Writing from the female protagonist’s perspective can be helpful in a summary. It allows you to show how sexy the man is through her point of view. This one summarizes the plot succinctly, but in a way that will appeal to people who want to get with Mr. Mountain Man.

Here’s one more from Doctor Daddy’s Lonely Little by Mary Potter:

“She is desperate to be loved. He will never let her be lonely again.

Liam
I had everything I could ever want.
A perfect job, money, and family.
Even with all of that, I still wasn’t happy.
I still wanted more.
I wanted a woman who I could trust, who I could love. A woman who made my blood burn.
Dating wasn’t getting me anywhere and finding a Little that was perfect for me seemed impossible.
I’m beginning to give up.
Then I meet her, battered and bruised, but so beautiful and sexy.
I had to have her.

Gwendolyn
I’ve been alone my entire life.
I’ve grown used to the solitude, but still crave the affection and love that I see in others around me.
I thought I could find that in my ex, but soon realize what a mistake that was.
A mistake that nearly cost me my life.
I think I’m dead the first time I see my Angel Daddy.
He’s masculinity and dominance all wrapped up into a perfect bundle.
He offers to take care of me, and I can’t understand why.
After all, no one else had wanted me before, why would he want me now?
But I can’t say no. He’s a Daddy and the Little in me wants to obey his every command.

Doctor Daddy’s Lonely Little is a short, hot, and loving story of age play featuring two adults who fall in love at first sight. Together they have to navigate their feelings, insecurities and a danger lurking in the shadows. This story includes DDLG and ABDL, drama, romance, and a happily ever after. Enjoy!”

This one’s a lot longer, but it sets up the character’s backstories very well. We also like the tagline at the top, since the first sentence needs to be grabby. Lastly, putting the tropes in a paragraph at the end can help with search results. Plus, it really gives readers an idea for what kind of story they’re in for.

Make sure that you’re using sexy descriptions, but not anything that would be a red flag for Amazon. They have what authors call “The Dungeon” where books that are too explicit go, and those books no longer come up in search results and aren’t promoted. You don’t want to be there.

Avoid using words that are too intense in your description. For example, anything that would be censored on TV is a no no. Do some research to determine whether your summary will fly on Amazon.

Step 5: Publish

Once you have all of your ducks in a row, it’s time to list your book!

You have a choice: whether you want to use Kindle Unlimited or not. The program allows authors to offer their book through the Amazon program, which lets readers check out unlimited books for a small subscription fee. You’re then paid for each page a customer reads. The per page price is pretty low, but it can add up!

If you choose to enroll in Kindle Unlimited, your book needs to be exclusive to Amazon. Otherwise, you can also post it on sites like Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Google Play.

To publish your books on Amazon, you’ll need to make an account with their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform, which allows you to easily upload and format your ebook. 

If you price your book above $2.99, you’ll receive 70% of royalties. If you price it below $2.99, you only get 35%, so most authors choose to go above this threshold, and most readers are willing to pay this price, even for erotica shorts.

Once your book is up on Amazon, it’s time to celebrate. 

Then, if you want to make lots of money, it’s time to start on the next one!