Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Erotica: To Write or Not To Write?
Back in the day, writers were told that if you wanted to make a lot of money, fast, then you had to write pornography. They used the word 'pornography' rather than 'erotica' because back in the day there was no erotica! Well, maybe there was, but I don't think it was called that.
As the end of the month nears and I contemplate my back-balance being plundered as my rent cheque barely squeaks through, I wonder if writing about something other than urban fantasy would be more financially lucrative (hell, almost anything would be more financially lucrative!). I've gone so far as to try to calculate the average Amazon ranking for books in each of the categories (fantasy, science fiction, erotica, and so on) to discover which kind of books sell best, but, as far as I can tell, books with erotic content don't seem to do markedly better or worse than any other kind of book.
I will confess to putting some thought into the question of whether an unknown author of erotic romance has a better chance of selling their work than an unknown author writing in another genre. Personally, I doubt they do. Here's why: I think that, all things being equal, the key to an unknown writer selling a story is how easily the writer can define and write to their market for that story.
Let me try to say that again, only in another way. (Here we are stipulating that the stories we are comparing are equally well written.) A writer who knows more about what her audience wants to read, and who writes accordingly, will have a better chance of selling their story, provided they can connect to that audience. I think this counts for a lot of the success Harlequin has. They know the demands of their audience and they give their audience what they demand.
Of course the size of the audience matters. I imagine that the market for erotic stories is enormous (suddenly it seems all my words have a double-meaning!), but so is the market for urban fantasy, or just plain old romance stories. Also, as John Locke mentioned in his excellent book, How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, it isn't just the size of the audience that matters, it is whether you can connect with that audience, as well as how engaged that audience is with you as a writer, and with what you write (that is, how likely they are to buy your work; the more likely they are, the smaller the audience needed). Or something like that.
I'm blathering. If anyone would like to share your thoughts on this, please do, mine seem to be running around chasing their collective tails. Also, what genre do you think is the most profitable?