How NOT to self-publish an erotic novel
‘Samba, sex and self-loathing’ was 5 years in the making snatching any nanosecond to write on the metro, frantically racing in between students whilst teaching English abroad or editing away in the evenings whilst fixing the injustices of the world as a social worker in the UK. And that was the easy part. Read about how my book came to be here. Due to the fact that there are some sex scenes in my book (granted most are comical), I presumed that my contemporary fiction narrative should probably be classified as erotica. I read ‘In at the Deep End’ by Kate Davies, sold in most high-street bookshops which has illicit content about sexual female relationships making me believe it’ll be easy to market and sale erotic contemporary romance. Also not forgetting that by not mentioning its adult content those pesky bots on Amazon would find my book and ban me for life.
Subsequently, sending my synopsis to literary agents was soul obliterating. As it goes, agents generally won’t touch erotica with an oak tree trunk sized barge pole. Such novels are a risk as they contain adult content and agents are still quite toffee-nosed about the ‘sleazy’ genre. This was my first hurdle over the huge Great brick Wall of China of problems I’ve faced with marketing my erotic novel.
On discovering this literary agent’s elitism, I decided to self-publish instead, initiating epic scale hurdle number two. If you’re going to self-publish, not only do you have to be a writer extraordinaire but also a social media marketing guru. I’m not a millennial so spending more than an hour trying to navigate differing socials, for me is the equivalent of giving birth for 48 hours, then having a C-section but on top of that also being a man.
Promoting erotica is a completely different ball game to normal fiction publications due to its adult content. I tried to buy Facebook and Amazon ads but they were rejected because of the explicit image on my front cover. I knew nothing about digital marketing so how on our ‘over redacted’ earth was I going to promote my book when I couldn’t even advertise on social media? It’s all very well thinking I’d find an influencer who’ll give my book a shout out but which over 30-year-old female celebrity will actually promote a ‘shady’ erotica novel most probably tarnishing her wholesome image? Madonna (shudder)? Cara Delevingne (in my dreams)? Gemma Collins (more like)?
However, romance and erotica is nearly a $1.5 billion industry, following the rise of e-books and self-publishing. The commercial success of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ rocketed erotica into the mainstream and made it socially acceptable to read smut on the tube (well secretly on a kindle albeit the red glow and sweaty top lip, giving it away). So if this is the case, why is it so difficult to promote erotic novels anywhere and why is erotica still so underground? Mainstream book promotion sites such as Bookhub and KDP ads bypass anything that’s not ‘Little House on the Prairie’. Any mention of vaginas even the word ‘sexual desire’ is comparable to saying- let’s have a chit chat about Hitler’s internal and foreign policies.
Continue to read my blog ‘How NOT to self-publish an erotic novel’ here.