Many people who find Jeremy Wahl (.com) are here because they are wondering whether they can write short erotica, or whether it is WORTH IT to write short-story erotica. Let’s find out how much money I made with my test on Amazon from late April to the present day.
I was lucky in a way. In 2011 I began writing some short erotic stories and compilations of stories at Amazon.com. This was an amazing time for erotica because nearly anything was published and Amazon didn’t much care. They were keen on keeping freedom of the press idea alive and they didn’t limit much what they sold for authors.
I made around $15,000 USD from about six (6) erotic books between 2011 and 2012. It was OK, but I wasn’t that impressed because I was making more from my non-erotic books, so I just focused on those. Shortly after, there was a crackdown and now Amazon has become more regulatory minded and authors make substantially less.
In 2020, IS IT WORTH IT TO WRITE EROTICA AT AMAZON?
Here’s a graphic showing my sales after publishing some new erotic short-stories at Amazon in late April and early May.
I think my first short story went live at Amazon on April 22. I wrote and published another 5 short stories (7K words per book) by the end of April and kept going into early May. By May 18th I had published twenty erotica titles. Total words published in these books: 215,000. As released, each short-story was $2.99 and the longer books were $3.99. I have since played around with the prices. Most short stories are now at $3.99.
In April, I added just about $7.50 for my efforts. Not much, right?! Hardly worth the effort. That’s about 3 books sold. In May it jumped up a lot and nearly hit $100. Getting better. In June it jumped some more and almost made $150. I published nothing after middle May, so July dropped down a lot. In August we’re already beating July and we’re only at August 14th with another half-month to go.
One thing I need to mention. Well, a few things. Releasing these books did not go smoothly. The first 13 books had absolutely no cover showing at Amazon, though the books were technically listed. I’m sure this crushed the algorithm’s chances of giving me a fair shot. What happened was I had inadvertently uploaded the covers in a ridiculous resolution that resulted in massive files that couldn’t be rendered by Amazon’s bot. It was weeks before I figured it out and uploaded simple 1600×2400 300 dpi images which worked immediately. This was the result of using a new graphics editor (Gravit Designer).
Another thing that very significantly affected my little erotica test was that Amazon dungeoned 9 of my books straight away. I had to revise the covers drastically. I just couldn’t believe that the tiniest crack of ass or seeing ass cheeks was taboo on Amazon and a reason to classify the books as adult only. This hurt a lot. At the moment I have 3 books dungeoned and I don’t have the energy to keep trying to get them out. I’ve revised everything.
The sales of my erotica will likely drop off substantially, but will maintain a fairly steady baseline month after month. Probably with the books I’ve published, I’ll make an average of $50 per month for the next year if I don’t publish any more erotic books.
A total of $363 has been made as of today. Is that enough for writing 215,000 words? No. Probably not for too many people. Assuming we get another $50 per month for a year and $20 per month for the following year, and $10 per month the year after that, is it worth it? That’d be $1,323. It took me about 4 weeks of work to write those books. I mean full-time work, at least 6 hours per day, and usually I worked 8 hours each day on the books.
So, would it be worth it to YOU to write erotica if you got similar results?
I think it depends WHAT you write about. In my case, I just wrote things I wanted to write about… MILFS, GILFS (Grandmas I’d love to fuck), Prostitutes, Asians, and Ladyboys.
None of these are amazing categories, and the results I got reflect that. I think I’d have to write a few hundred books in these genres to be able to make any sort of living from my erotica.
However, if you write about topics that people are very interested in reading – mostly fantasy stuff – you can probably do really well with 30 – 50 short stories.
Here’s how my sales of the top books looked.
How Could You Make Writing Short Erotica Worth It?
If you as a writer were to continue what I did during my test of the erotica market, I think it is possible that you would do far better than what I did. There seems to be a saturation point at Amazon that many authors of erotica have spoken about in forums. Many think if you publish 30 books in a genre, Amazon begins to favor you. Others think 100 books are necessary for a good and sustained boost in the Amazon ranking algorithm. Authors with 200 books and more are absolutely smashing it at Amazon in all cases that I was able to find. Even though the writing can absolutely SUCK in my personal opinion.
What Else Might You Write Instead? Romance.
Writers of erotica who are motivated to make decent money, full-time money, almost invariably gravitate toward writing romance books. There are more readers of romance than any other topic on Amazon. It is primarily women reading romance books, but there are men and lesbians/bi that prefer first-person stories written by male authors / male point of view.
Ideally, you’d write stories for women, from a woman’s perspective. If you’re good and the reader cannot figure out if you as the author is really a male, you can do very well with romance stories. These stories would be 50,000 words or more and be in series. Series of 3+ books can really do well.
Regular romance books don’t sell very well. There are many odd categories for romance writers and you’ll need to pick one or two to write in so you can keep publishing books successfully.
I’m in the middle of writing my first romance book. I’m writing from a male’s perspective and it will not be anything like fantasy or kink. It won’t do that well, but I am really enjoying myself writing it. I’ll eventually start writing romance stories that the market wants, but I need more time to get these muses out of my system!