Publishing Erotica Part 13 – Publication
Today, let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of publishing. You’ve assembled all your pieces. You have your short story ready to go, it’s polished, it’s formatted, it has a sexy cover that won’t get you in trouble with Amazon, your blurb is written, and you have your keywords. Now it is time to put that all together and hit publish.
There is one last decision left to you: what to charge?
Authors have been grappling over this decision for years. There is a lot of soul searching, questioning. If I price it too much, will anyone buy it? But if I sell it for too cheap then I won’t make back the investment I put into my work? It’s a balancing act against what the consumer will pay versus what your willing to sell it for.
The indie world is not the big publishers. It’s hard to sell a full novel for too much. You can’t even put your ebook for sell on Amazon for more than $9.99, something traditional publishers don’t have a problem with. But that’s okay, because us self-published authors get a bigger chunk of the royalty pie. We don’t have a publisher taking a cut, only the site who’s selling your books. And the big one, of course, is Amazon.
Amazon has an interesting royalty payout. It differs from any other site, of course. Amazon has to do its own thing all the time. There are two different royalty plans for ebooks: one for books priced between $0.99 and $9.99 and the other for books $2.99 to $9.99. The first one is a 35% royalty. The second is a 70% royalty minus a small fee based on the size of the file. This fee amounts to a few pennies unless you have a book with lots of images. I cannot attest to how that might affect the price.
35% versus 70%. It is a huge difference in what you make. Now below $2.99 you have no choice: 35% royalty. If you’re $2.99 or more, there is no reason to select 35% unless you want to give Amazon more money. Now we are talking about short form erotica, which it typically between 4000 and 7000 words long. What should you price it at?
You might say $0.99. My book isn’t that long. Is it really worth more?
Yes, it is.
The erotica market, unlike others, will pay $2.99 for their smut. People like to get off, and they pay for quality material. $2.99 is a signal that your erotica is quality. People see prices and rate things. Why is this book $0.99. Is it not that good? This book is more expensive. It must be better quality. It’s an unconscious way our minds work.
Second, you might think people will still by the $0.99 book. I can get more sells that way because it’s more attractive price wise. Well, the way the royalty payout works you have to sell SIX books at $0.99 for every ONE book at $2.99 to make the same amount of money. Why sell your books short? If you’re in KU, you’re already taking a hit in your profits from that system.
There are times to sell a book at $0.99. Many first books of series are priced lower to entice the reader in, hoping they’ll continue on to the full price books that follow. Like KU, it can be a loss leader, a way to drive interest in your other books like having free giveaways. Another thing you’ll see at $0.99 are mega-bundles of twelve or more stories. We’ll talk about those next.
For short erotica, the market will bear $2.99, so why sell yourself short? Especially if you’re enrolled in KU. Let that system be your loss leader to drive up your sales rank and then if someone purchases it, you can make a nice royalty. You worked hard on your erotica (I know you do, all authors work hard even if readers don’t realize it).
Now once you’ve built up a catalog, it’s time to start talking bundles. Bundles are a great way to make extra money. There are customers who shop only for bundles, looking for deals, versus customers who buy individual stories looking for immediate gratification. Bundles should either be stories of a same series or a same theme. If you have a few cuckolding stories, bundle them together and sell them, get more life out of your works. Short erotica have a short shelf-life. They can burn bright for a few days, maybe a few weeks if you really hit a great kink, and then they die into coals that will simmer for the rest of their lives, giving you the occasional sale.
That’s why you need to keep writing and keep publishing to keep people looking through your back catalog.
And that’s what makes bundles so great. Your strategy as a short-form erotica author is to keep publishing, to build your catalog to the point where those simmering coals start to add up. And that gets you more and more stories which you should bundle together. I tend to do my series in divisions of threes so I can publish a bundle of 3 stories for cheaper than buying them individually. For a series of 3 $2.99 erotica, I’ll price my bundle at $4.99 and DO NOT enroll it in KU. Your singles already are in there. Keep your bundles out so you can make money, because you can’t just off pages read. If you want to bundle more than 3 stories, go for it, just adjust your pricing accordingly.
Making covers for bundles presents interesting challenges. There are a number of ways to go about it. You can do the faux-book set look, where you make a fake book box set in Photoshop or GIMP. Doing this requires advance skill with these programs. Search YouTube for tutorials, and you can make a 3D book in several different ways. Some places have templates to make it easier for you or there are way to map 2d images to 3d objects.
Another way is the split cover art method, which is what I use for the majority of my three-book bundles. This also requires more skill at Photoshop or GIMP, but not nearly as much as making a 3D book box set. You just divide your screen into thirds, and then slice up your original three cover models to fit the thirds. Another method, which is better if you have more than 3 bundles, is to shrink the original covers and take a quarter or more of the space on the bundle. This works well up to about six books.
The simplest method is just create a normal book cover with the name of your bundle or collection. You can use a new cover image, or if you have used the same image for all the books in your series, only changing color, you can go with that method. It works. Just make sure in your title, you let people know the number of stories contained in.
Now once you have a very large catalog, it’s time to move into mega-bundles. This is where you take older titles, things you’ve had published for a year or longer and just gives you a sale or two a month, and put them into a mega-bundle. Ten or more stories, all in a large collection, sold for cheap, usually at $0.99. These bundles are sold for cheap because mega-bundles, being such great deals, can shoot up in sales ranks and bring in revenue and visibility for your catalog. And since the titles bundled in it are old, it’s not a loss to your income to sell so cheap. They’ve already had their moment in the sun, had their original bundle, and now it is time to give them one final flare of life and see if you can find a new crop of readers for your work.
And that’s how publishing short form erotica works. You build up the catalog, sell your books for a price that shows you are writing quality erotica, and then bundle them. Once you have that large catalog, start your mega-bundles. Rinse and repeat.by