Welcome to the Authority Pub guide on how to write good erotica.
And by “good erotica,” I mean erotic fiction that pulls your readers in, gives them what they want, and keeps them interested all the way to the end.
These stories can be anything from erotic microfiction to full-length erotica novels. And there are things you need to know about this genre before you dive in.
For starters, if you’re going to write for erotica readers, know what they like — and what they don’t. Find your tribe and learn from them.
And if you don’t already know the difference between erotica and porn, you soon will.
What is Erotica?
Erotica (or “erotic lit”) is a genre of fiction that includes captivating erotic encounters between the main character and another character.
Unlike porn, good erotica has well-developed characters the reader can relate to — and stories that hook them from the start and keep them reading.
Erotica as a genre still prioritizes character development and plot above the actual sex that happens.
Porn is all about the sex. Any plot or character development that happens is accidental.
Like fantasy, the point of erotica is not to recreate realistic encounters. It’s to stretch the limits of the reader’s imagination.
Erotic fiction is a popular form of escapism that allows both authors and readers to explore a wildly improbable “what if” that leads to a happy ending (of sorts). It’s about awakening sensations in the reader that leave them wanting more.
And it’s harder to write good erotica than most people think.
How to Write Erotica
To get started writing high-quality erotica, do the following:
The best way to get started writing erotica is to build familiarity with the best examples of it. In other words, read the kind of books you want to write.
If you don’t enjoy reading erotica, you won’t enjoy writing it, either — and you won’t get much love from erotica readers, who have expectations of the genre.
There are plenty of groups online — on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. — for authors and readers of erotica.
(Remember you don’t have to be published to be an author; you simply have to have authored (i.e., written) something. So, if you’re creating content, you’re authoring it, too.)
Join some of these groups and actively participate in them with questions, supportive comments, etc. to get to know fellow authors in this genre and to learn more about what erotica readers generally want.
Use dedicated Google docs, Word docs, or private journal entries to practice writing erotica for yourself. Use situations from your own life (or someone else’s) and embellish them to create erotic stories of your own.
Or make stuff up. A brief snapshot of random strangers on the bus, on the street, in the store, etc., can be the kernel of a new erotic story you can keep to yourself.
Then, when you’re feeling more confident, practice writing erotic fiction for others and share it online — on Tumblr, on your blog, on Wattpad, etc.
Make a Name for Yourself as a Writer of Erotica
You don’t have to earn money with your first published erotic fiction. Just post it, share it, and get some feedback on it, ideally from readers and writers of erotica.
Learn from the most helpful feedback and keep practicing. Keep putting your work out there.
If you enjoy writing short, sexy pieces, you can quickly build a name for yourself on Wattpad or with your own erotic fiction blog. Post short stories for your visitors to read, and share them on social media.
Or create an author website with links to short but complete erotic stories, along with links to published “Short Reads” on Amazon.
Know the Risks with Writing Erotica
In whatever genre you write, being a successful author means taking risks. And whether you use a pen name for your erotic fiction or not, you’re taking a risk by publishing erotica.
If you’re reading this post, though, I’m betting you’re ready to risk all of this to create stories your readers will read more than once while waiting for your next one to come out.
Erotica Doesn’t Have to be Straight to be Successful
Erotica isn’t just for straight couples — or just for cis-gendered characters.
If you’re interested in writing for non-het couples (or non-cishet characters), you’ll find a growing market for that on Amazon and other platforms.
If you check out the bestsellers (paid) in the LGBT+ category, you’ll find both romance and erotica. And with the browser extension KD Spy, you’ll see that the top 20 in romance have better rankings than the top 20 in the more explicit erotica category.
This is worth keeping in mind if you prefer a slow-burn romance with an erotic scene or two rather than hard-core erotica where you can’t get through a chapter without landing in another sex scene.
The same goes for straight romance vs. straight erotica. Go with what you honestly prefer.
Tips for Writing Erotica
You can’t write great erotica unless you’re familiar with the best erotica out there. And to get familiar, you need to do the research. Oh, the agony. Smirk.
Google “best erotica” or “best erotic fiction” to find the names of authors and titles to explore. Then make a list and start reading.
Once you’re familiar with the most popular basic storylines of well-written erotica, you can outline one of your own and flesh it out with details of your choosing.
You’ll also need to zoom in on the sub-genre that interests you most, whether that’s erotic fairy tales, erotic retellings of popular myths, space erotica, etc.
Taking everything we’ve learned so far into account, keep the following tips handy when you’re getting ready to write erotic fiction:
This seems like a good place to introduce the next topic.
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How to Write a Sex Scene
When you’re writing a romantic sex scene for an erotic story, you want it to be arousing.
You want it to sweep your reader away. You want description to be evocative and even graphic — but not tasteless or misogynistic. So, steer clear of euphemisms that make readers cringe.
Not sure what I mean? Think of the last time you read an erotica sex scene with phraseology that made you laugh or think, “Ugh! Seriously?” right before you closed the book and reached for something else.
If you enjoy sex yourself, it’s easier to write about it in a way that will draw your readers in and make them want to keep reading. Just being “good at sex,” though, doesn’t make you good at writing about it.
And even if you’ve never experienced the kind of sex you want to write about, you can still learn from those whose sex scenes in their erotica novels make you want to keep reading.
After all, writing erotica is all about giving your reader what they can’t get in real life.
That said, keep the following tips in mind:
All of these boil down to knowing and respecting your reader.
If you know what they like and what will make them close your book (and possibly burn it — or worse, leave a 1-star review), you’ll be better equipped to write something they’ll actually finish.
Can You Make Money Writing Erotica?
In short, yes, you can get paid to write erotica. If you’re good at it and gain a following, you can even earn thousands a month in book royalties.
If you’re curious about how well your new favorites are doing, check out their author pages, and look at the ranking for one of their best selling books.
Anything that stays in the top 10,000 on Amazon (for the Kindle copy) is probably selling around 400 copies per month, according to the Jungle Scout calculator. If it stays in the top 1,000, it’s selling around 1100 a month.
Multiply that by 70% of the price, and you now know how much they earn from that title alone.
Use KD Spy to get detailed information from any erotica writer’s author page or on the sales page for one of their novels. Then, if their work appeals to you, read some of their novels.
Writers who want global exposure can’t afford to ignore Amazon, especially if they live in the United States. Fortunately, KDP makes it easy to self-publish your book in both Kindle and paperback formats.
If you don’t already have a KDP account, creating one is quick and easy. Once you click on “Create New Title,” the process is simple and straightforward.
Other platforms like Smashwords and Direct2Digital also make it easy to get your work out there.
That said, the ease of self-publishing erotica and the popularity of this genre don’t negate the importance of thorough editing, professional formatting, or a well-designed cover.
If anything, all three are even more important for self-publishing authors to consider.
I hope you’re encouraged, though, by the demand for well-written erotica and the ease of getting your work in front of your ideal readers. It’s a market that isn’t likely to go away.
Ready to write your erotic fiction?
Now that you know how to write erotic fiction, is there a type of erotica that particularly appeals to you?
Are you willing to make a list today of titles you’ll read to better acquaint yourself with the kind of erotic stories you want to write? And after you’ve read each title, are you willing to write about it and to even practice writing a sex scene the way the author did?
We learn by doing, after all. We learn to write better by writing more and by learning from those who are further along in their writing careers than we are.
What will you learn this week?