The Future of Taboo, Forbidden, Ultra-Smut, and Other Controversial Erotica

Will Incest Erotica Survive the Purge?

A short time ago the Lot’s Cave Newsletter published its thoughts about the future of controversial erotica on Smashwords. Mark Coker, the CEO of Smashwords responded by fiercely denying any censorship. (See back issues online for the transcripts). Today, Smashwords is stepping up its efforts to silence taboo and controversial erotica. It’s not your imagination; it’s happening right now. Smashwords just banned a number of hard core eBooks this last month, essentially wiping them off the Internet if not for Lot’s Cave. The rest of all erotica authors are supposed to think that’s okay because of rude subject matter. The latest victims consist of authors who write non-consent erotica.

Censors of rape and non-consent erotica assume all sexual violence committed is done by men and that men are by nature sexually violent to women. It has been proven time and again that it is women who most enjoy rape fantasy’s and rape erotica. Indeed, at Lot’s Cave, nearly all rape erotica is purchased by women. Censoring rape erotica actually hinders conversations regarding sexual fantasies and sexual responsibility. Hindering such conversations are actually detrimental to women’s health and sexually open relationships and reinforces the concept that women can only be victims. Does banning rape erotica reinforce toxic adherence to certain strictly enforced gender roles?

You are not delusional in thinking publishing platforms like Smashwords are discriminating against UltraSmut Authors and that they are gaslighting us by claiming ‘no policies have changed; they are just enforcing existing policies under stricter new criteria.’ Hey, we call that a policy change! When caught silencing controversial authors. The chilling effect that occurs every time a new round of “enhancements” is that it keeps most erotica authors far from the boundaries; it keeps them from writing anything that might be controversial in any way for any reason. Because these policy rules are largely unwritten, constantly evolving, being made up all the time, and enforcement is changing, they make a mockery of the concept of a self-publishing platform where all authors are treated equally and that book readers/buyers do not know what they want to read.

First Amazon, then Barnes & Noble, and now Smashwords are controlling the direction the entire publishing market, defining exactly what erotica consumers are allowed to read. If you control the terms, then you can control the outcome of social direction. UltraSmut authors are ignoring this at peril. You will lose every publishing platform going forward, including Lot’s Cave, if authors do not put a stop to this. Some ill-informed authors might agree with Publishing Platform claims that this is just “competition” this is just “free market”; if you do not like Amazon, if you do not like Smashwords, go make your own publishing platform. These authors have never started their own companies and don’t know what it means to start a business. These companies, including Smashwords now, have all built themselves up to the point of monopoly power on the back of protectionist government regulations.

Small companies like Lot’s Cave need large companies like Smashwords to plow the path ahead, without which it’s difficult to survive. We desperately want and need Smashwords to provide taboo authors an uncensored publishing platform. If Smashwords caves in to the vocal few complainers and discontinues publishing ultra-smut, it will make life extremely difficult for us by requiring Lot’s Cave to justify its existence.

Now that Smashwords has ‘arrived’; and in doing so, joined the ranks of all major publishing platforms in crowding out the last bastions of controversial erotica, they are changing the rules on us. On Sept 15, 2017 Smashwords published a table on their blog stating that ‘“rape for titillation” was allowed but discouraged and they would retain the right of refusal—but never provided any discernable “discouraging enforcement”’. Suddenly with no warning they are simply snuffing out authors completely and removing other titles this month. Yes, it’s true they are snuffing out authors and titles from authors that you and I do not necessarily hang out with, read, or enjoy; that’s not the point. They are testing the waters: so nobody protested when it was rape erotica, pretty soon it will be authors and content that are closer to what you and I enjoy writing. Remember a few months back when Mark Coker wrote to Lot’s Cave that “And FWIW, dubcon is considered taboo”?

With Smashwords and Lot’s Cave remaining as the two main platforms for publishing taboo erotica, we want to take a moment to ask some tough questions. The market has changed dramatically, both in what content authors are providing and how stores respond to customer feedback. Examining how to best maximize these market trends is vital… but so is paying attention to the established rules.

Lot’s Cave originally raised its concern when Smashwords implemented a new classification system for content deemed controversial. At the time, Mark Coker stressed the importance of doing so stating:

“Our new approach empowers those who know their content best – the author or publisher – to directly categorize and certify the erotic themes of their books. This will give our sales channels greater confidence to receive the erotica they want while avoiding the titles they don’t want.

The new Smashwords classification system is built on trust. We trust our authors and publishers to accurately categorize their books, and we trust they recognize it’s in their best interest to do so. As is our practice, we will continue to monitor all Smashwords titles for compliance with the Smashwords Terms of Service. Those who jeopardize this trust through deliberate misclassification will face account closure.”

Note here that Mark Coker stresses trusting authors to know and mark their content accordingly while also claiming that doing so is in their best interest. But is it really? What is Smashwords really incentivizing authors to produce? The answer isn’t clear cut. And in this murky water, how is an author to know what is in the mind of Smashwords? Failure to know the mind of Smashwords in defining the meaning of “allowed but discouraged” means being cut off altogether.

Smashwords has gone to great efforts to define the content it deems controversial, and to their credit, they actively attempt to make the process easy for authors. However, there are quite a few problems in their current definitions. We want to take an honest look at these definitions, what they encourage authors to do, and how publish platforms treat such controversial content as a whole. As authors, it is always important to take into account the climate of public opinion, as we soon shall find out.

As mentioned previously, Smashwords makes is extremely easy to look up their content requirements and definitions. There’s the blog post discussing content, and their Terms of Service. In short, here are the definitions of content deemed necessary of further classification:

Age play – One or more consenting adult characters role playing, pretending to be babies or children. Most retailers will take this, but iBooks will not.

Bestiality – Sexual relations between humans and real-world animals (sex with Big Foot, dinosaurs, shape shifters and other imaginary creatures is not bestiality). Few retailers will take this.

Dubious Consent (dubcon) – A common and popular theme in mainstream fiction. Dubcon explores the gray area between consent and non-consent. Not clear if the receiver of the sexual act was fully on board or not at the time of the act. Most retailers will take this.

Incest or pseudo-incest – Sexual relations between family members, whether biologically or non-biologically related. Includes stepbrother, stepsister and step-anyone. Few retailers will take this.

Nonconsensual sexual slavery – Erotic depiction of a person captured or held against their will, such as kidnapping, imprisonment or human trafficking. Not to be confused with BDSM, which is predicated upon informed consent and negotiation between both parties before the act, and which provides safe words so either partner can end the act if it goes too far. If the book adheres to BDSM best practices, do not classify it as Nonconsensual sexual slavery. Few retailers will take nonconsensual sexual slavery.

Rape for titillation – The dominant theme of this book is rape — whether the rape is by one person or a character is raped by a group of people, i.e. a gang rape or nonconsensual “gang bang” — and it targets readers who are titillated by the fantasy of nonconsensual sexual relations. Few retailers will take this.

Out of these, Smashwords says that most retailers will accept Age Play and Dubious Consent (Dubcon). But what about Smashwords itself? Isn’t that what we really care about? Smashwords provides a graph in the blog post that says they will take Age Play, Bestiality, Dubious Consent, and Incest. What they will take but highly discourage is listed as Rape for Titillation and Nonconsensual Sexual Slavery. This shouldn’t be too shocking to authors, but things quickly get confusing. You see, if one wishes to double check this information in Smashwords’ Terms of Service, one finds vastly different information. According to Smashwords ‘Terms of Service’ under section 9f, we find the following information:

“Barely legal” erotica is strongly discouraged, and is subject to additional review and may be removed without notice at the sole determination of Smashwords, especially if characters are in situations – or have mannerisms – that suggest that the characters are actually underage.

Rape erotica and sexual slavery erotica, where the predominant theme is rape violence for titillation, is strongly discouraged, and is subject to additional review and may be removed at the sole determination of Smashwords. Note that erotic BDSM fiction that adheres to BDSM best practices, where all role-playing is consensual with safe words, is allowed and not to be confused with rape or sexual slavery erotica.

Bestiality erotica is allowed but not encouraged. A one-off title is more likely to be acceptable than if a publisher is publishing dozens or hundreds of such titles. At Smashwords discretion, such content may be removed or accounts closed.

Incest and pseudo-incest (sexual relations among non-biologically related relatives and siblings) erotica is allowed, but it will be blocked by most retailers and library aggregators.

Confused yet? Well, if not, why don’t we just go ahead and point out the immense problems here. The first glaringly obvious issue is the number of controversial categories we’re dealing with has changed. Do you notice Dubious Consent anywhere under Section 9f? It’s missing. Dubious Consent is not discussed anywhere in Section 9f. Not only that, but some of the category information has been changed. Note, for example, that Rape for Titillation and Sexual Slavery Erotica are now under the same exact category. There is also no Age Play, but if we assume a bit here, Barely Legal has taken its place. Also, what is encouraged and discouraged content has changed as well. The blog post originally said Smashwords took, but discouraged Rape for Titillation and Nonconsensual Sexual Slavery. But now, Smashwords has said it also discourages Barely Legal, Bestiality, and that original category of Rape for Titillation with the Sexual Slavery tacked onto it. But let’s take another look at Section 9f’s wording with a bit of emphasis…

“Barely legal” erotica is strongly discouraged, and is subject to additional review and may be removed without notice at the sole determination of Smashwords, especially if characters are in situations – or have mannerisms – that suggest that the characters are actually underage.

Rape erotica and sexual slavery erotica, where the predominant theme is rape violence for titillation, is strongly discouraged, and is subject to additional review and may be removed at the sole determination of Smashwords. Note that erotic BDSM fiction that adheres to BDSM best practices, where all role-playing is consensual with safe words, is allowed and not to be confused with rape or sexual slavery erotica.

Bestiality erotica is allowed but not encouraged. A one-off title is more likely to be acceptable than if a publisher is publishing dozens or hundreds of such titles. At Smashwords discretion, such content may be removed or accounts closed.

Incest and pseudo-incest (sexual relations among non-biologically related relatives and siblings) erotica is allowed, but it will be blocked by most retailers and library aggregators.

What is the difference between strongly discouraged and may be removed without notice and strongly discouraged and may be removed, besides a notification? Furthermore, what is the difference between strongly discouraged and allowed but not encouraged? Anyone? Would we be terribly in the wrong to think all is not as it appears to be? The fact of the matter is the language used within Section 9f is highly suspect. Not to mention, the language is extremely negative, just look again at the Incest category, “Incest Erotica is allowed, but it will be blocked by most retailers and library aggregators.” And that brings us to a very important point.

Remember when we said Smashwords’ definitions will impact what an author does, either intentionally or unintentionally? Well that’s the problem with wording with Section 9f. Smashwords is actually falling into a pit of problems, finding itself trapped in being both a publishing platform AND a distributor. They run their store and have their own content guidelines, but so do the platforms they distribute to. But the language quoted above is actually quite telling. Smashwords is encouraging authors to produce content that is highly distributable, and that can’t be articulated with set definitions. This is why there are glaringly obvious difficulties with the classification system among many others. But why is Smashwords encouraging highly distributable books, especially if we assume no ill intent toward controversial content?

The answer, if we’re allowed to speculate, is simply public opinion. While it might be a difficult subject for many, public opinion has a large and heavy influence on controversial content. After all, how does one even get controversial content without others finding it controversial? Smashwords, being the large platform that it is, has to walk to the tight rope between both allowing controversial content and keeping public opinion happy. This is not an easy undertaking in the least! And somehow, Smashwords’ actions are leaning more and more in favor of those who dislike controversial content… and they might not even realize it!

In short, controversial content becomes censored not because of orchestrated bans, but a dwindling ability and incentive to publish and sell such content. With the diminished platforms, it becomes more and more difficult for authors writing such content to make a living. But, on the more insidious side, it also allows public outcries against publishers that blaze a trail and continue to allow controversial content where others failed to. Smashwords, we assume, still very much wishes to be a platform for everyone. However, if that is the wish, it needs to better articulate their terms. Separation between what is able to be distributed and what the storefront will publish is a key step. Allow authors to help. This isn’t about trusting authors, but authors trusting Smashwords. The winds have changed, and with the change in winds comes a new need, the need to be upfront and honest about what content is or is not acceptable.

Again, part of this also gets down to being honest about defined content. Are Age Play and Barely Legal the same thing? What does Barely Legal mean, and why is it a problem? How many titles per catalog are authors allowed if they write Bestiality or Non-Consent? Does the intensity of the rape scenes matter in defining what is Dubious Consent or Rape for Titillation? Many of these questions are often determined by public opinion. For example, violence toward women is often linked to Rape for Titillation in the first often called out by more sensitive readers. One must always be mindful of promoting violence towards women. Sound familiar? Well, what about blackmail? Is sexual blackmail, especially without any violence whatsoever, Rape for Titillation? Authors are begging to know! And that leads me to my last point, that of proper categorization.

Properly categorizing content isn’t just on the author’s end of responsibility. Smashwords also has to recognize and rely on the filters in place. Given that authors are trusted to properly categorize their content and flag controversial subject matter, what is wrong with Smashwords’ own filters for customers? Right now, there are three filter settings available to customers. The first of these is outright exclusionary to erotic content. The second filter setting is one that allows only mainstream erotica. Lastly, we have the filter that allows all erotic content; or a controversial filter as it were. What is wrong with this? If Smashwords were to trust authors to truly label their content, and there are filters in place for the customer, does public opinion really matter?

Odds are the public opinion won’t matter as much as you may first think it does. And that’s really the heart of the issue. Does Smashwords really trust its customers and authors? We hope they do, because if not, there’s going to be very difficult standards to comply with in the future. As a distributor to Smashwords for our authors, we want to be in full compliance. We want to be the trusted source specializing in controversial content that continues thriving in an erotica market that allows for said boundary pushing content.

The FOSTA & How It Impacts Authors

To prevent sex trafficking the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate worked together in passing updates to the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). Instead, FOSTA shut down of Furry dating sites, Reddit forums, and the Craigslist’s Personals section. Other forums are removing link materials to intended to assist new authors writing erotic content. Worse yet, a great number of people now question the impact FOSTA will have on sex workers. Yes, there’s even a hashtag to raise awareness for those impacted by FOSTA. Clearly, authors writing controversial subjects need to take note of this issue.

Authors are already panicking over the new updates to FOSTA. This is to be expected, especially given how many authors still remember the impact of Operation Choke Point. For those who recall the tough government sponsored crackdown, the collateral damage surrounding efforts to stop sex trafficking is nothing new. Ironically, the first victim’s of Operation Choke Point were those same sex workers now advocating for raised awareness in dealing with FOSTA. The crackdown didn’t just impact sex workers, but websites like Lot’s Cave and our authors as well by causing credit card processors to drop us. While most businesses accepted Operation Choke Point, Backpage resisted. Smashwords was in the forefront of erotic authors resistance. Today, many are arguing it is for these reasons that the updates to FOSTA were put in place.

Backpage’s defense against Operation Choke Point lay in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This protection stated, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Basically, the government couldn’t hold Backpage responsible for what users of their website published from outside sources. To many, this was a legal loophole that must be closed. The updates to FOSTA do just that, standing to hold websites responsible for what users of the website publish or post. FOSTA attempts to hold websites responsible for facilitating, or making it easier, for sex traffickers to thrive.

The impact on websites like Reddit and Craigslist is easy to see. Users generating posts or content that advertises sex trafficking or its victims could easily fall into the facilitation category. What is murky however, is the role Erotica ebooks and even some Romances play in the new FOSTA regulations. It is worth noting that FOSTA overwhelmingly punishes sex workers, or platforms that can easily be abused in favor of sex trafficking. What was once safe, when abused, becomes a means or platform to do the most harm. The catch-22 situation is not as easy as legislation would like it to be.

For authors of controversial content however, there’s a fine line to walk. It’s always advisable to purchase boundary pushing photo stock from credible photo stock sites like Depositphotos or Bigstock. Controversial stories are arguably safe to publish, but that doesn’t mean platforms to do so will be plentiful. It would be difficult to assert that a story featuring controversial content facilitates sex trafficking, but that doesn’t mean people won’t make that very argument. After all, there’s always been some debate surrounding non-consent and dubious consent books, along with the ever popular BDSM titles. What was once popular, may now find itself the source of hot debate.

But do authors need to protect themselves? Not really. What is there to protect? Either your book promotes (or facilitates) sex trafficking, or it doesn’t. There doesn’t even need to be a debate surrounding the nature of free speech. While it is possible to do so, it just seems quite unnecessary. Authors don’t need to be THAT concerned about the updates to FOSTA. This opportunity though is a great reminder that the quality of your book and its content matters a great deal. Authors might consider what public good does the story contain, and write in some ‘moral to the story’ end note paragraph. This is ultimately what we would encourage our authors to consider in the wake of FOSTA. The better the quality and content of your book, the better your chances are of not having an issue with FOSTA.

When authors consider the packaging of their product, certain messages get across to potential buyers. Telling readers your book is erotic, helps to deal with the negativity surrounding the issue for those who dislike such content to begin with. A little bit of class also goes a long way to smoothing over some residual tension. Titles like, “Sex Trafficking My Hot Daughter!” probably aren’t a good idea. For authors writing dubious consent or non-consent themes, consider your titles a bit more carefully. While “Sex Trafficking My Hot Daughter!” probably isn’t a workable title, “Seducing My Slutty Daughter” is. Along with that, properly categorizing your book is even more essential. If there’s a dub-con or non-con category and it fits your book… use it!

The Lot’s Cave analysis of the FOSTA update is that its intention is to prevent and/or stop the facilitation of sex trafficking on websites mainly through advertising and eventual sale of sex trafficking victims. In no way would an erotic book do this. The FOSTA update stresses the act of actual sale, or conspiracy to facilitate a sale by way of advertising. Our platform on Lot’s Cave cannot do this, and as such, works as a preventative measure. In no way does our website endorse or encourage sex trafficking. Many of our authors will also discover their publishing platforms likewise do not find themselves in violation of FOSTA. Overall, our analysis is that FOSTA is difficult to violate as it is currently written, unless you are in fact, knowingly or intentionally, violating U.S. laws already.

In closing, it’s always a great idea to remember that fallout with controversial content is inevitable. At times, it is easy to get carried away though. Not every government crackdown is out to get us. Those pursuing new laws can get a bit overzealous, and with time, it will be sorted out. Until then, understanding FOSTA and what it intends to prohibit helps. Ensuring that your book doesn’t provoke such sensibilities is often the correct choice, and makes it all a little easier to do business. Lot’s Cave encourages all of our authors to consider quality, and the foot you put forward to the customer. At times, your customers can be your best resource… and friend.

Please Note: This post is purely opinion and should in no way be considered legal advice. You are responsible for any action taken on this advice and resume sole responsibility. Lot’s Cave, Inc. will not be held liable.

The Axiom of Quality, Price, & Time

We’ve been getting feedback from our Top 10 Predictions For Taboo Authors In 2018. One response though, really stood out to us. Why? Because it was from one of our authors, Gerry Maxwell. We thought his observations were worth highlighting, so we asked for his permission to share them with all of you!

“Your analyses also remind me of the axiom in marketing: You can market on the basis of only three elements — quality, price and time – but you can only market on the basis of two at a time. In e-book publishing/distribution, nobody can compete on time. Everybody has to make the book immediately available for download or you’ll lose the sale. Which means all competition has to be based on quality and price, meaning either low quality/lower price, or high quality/higher price. A business based on low quality/higher price or high quality/lower price would not be sustainable.”

Lot’s Cave thought Gerry Maxwell’s comments were so pertinent, we created an entire post around it and highlighted five important points from Gerry Maxwell’s insights. Lot’s Cave would like to start by saying thanks to him for the opportunity to do so.

Five Highlights From Gery Maxwell’s E-Mail On Marketing

1. You Can Only Select Two Items From The Combination Of Price, Quality, Or Time

Gerry Maxwell’s comment on the self-publishing industry is essential, so essential that it bears repeating. You can only have two of the three options, quality, price, or time. What’s interesting to note is that one of these variables is always fixed. In other words, it’s the one of these three variables you can do absolutely nothing about, leaving you with a choice between the other two. This then, is what determines your actual choices. You let one slide in favor of the other. Confused yet? I promise it’ll get easier in a moment. The marketing axiom of quality, price, and time actually shapes entire industries in impactful but seemingly unimportant ways. Take for example, traditionally published books.

The market of traditional publishing is rife with debate at the moment. Some feel their books are priced too high, while others feel the time between books is a bit cumbersome. Why is that? Well, it has everything to do with the market axiom Gerry Maxwell mentioned. In traditional publishing the fixed variable is quality. No one can essentially change the quality of what you get. Every Anne Rice, Stephen King, or Dan Brown book will have the same quality of printing, at least it’s supposed to. What this means is that the price you pay or the time it takes to publish is variable. The complaints you hear are customers who feel the ‘sacrificed’ variable was the wrong one.

This ‘sacrificed’ variable, in a way, is actually what created the e-book industry, or at least allowed for it. That is why Gerry Maxwell is correct when he says, “In e-book publishing/distribution, nobody can compete on time.” In this case, time is the fixed variable. Why is time the fixed variable? Well, probably because traditional publishers ‘took too long’ and the e-book industry grew to fill the gap. Suddenly readers could get books where quality or price were the fluctuating variables… and that changed everything. Readers can now observe the drastic change in the market axiom emphasis.

2. Pre-Sale Doesn’t Work In Self-Publishing… Especially For Erotica

Alright, this one took us three readings of Gerry Maxwell’s comments to piece together. It’s not that difficult once you see it, but getting to the conclusion can seem a bit overwhelming. Pre-sales are actually a big deal in the e-book industry right now. The option is said to be a great marketing strategy, and authors are highly encouraged to utilize pre-sales. But, when Gerry Maxwell says, “Everybody has to make the book immediately available for download or you’ll lose the sale.” he means it. This logic has a great impact on pre-sales and if an author should utilize them at all. Under a marketing lens, pre-sales don’t actually seem to hold much value for the vast majority of authors.

Customers looking at e-books want the book immediately, and this is the ultimate flaw of pre-sales. This is especially true when it comes to Erotica, no one wants to wait for their e-book. Quite honestly, who can really blame them? Pre-sales only put distance between a reader and the sale. All momentum, all interest generated up to the point of ‘pre-sale’ is lost when the reader chooses to get another book… because it is available the instant they want it. In fact, it is fair to say that pre-sales don’t really favor the reader, but the author. The marketing strategy behind this is clearly to boost a book’s rankings the day of release, and therefore, a somewhat arguable disservice to readers.

But why then are pre-sales the hot marketing strategy? Because they work for traditional publishers. There’s no real way to sugar coat this, so we won’t try to. Pre-sales work when you have an established readership and a stabilized and steady publishing schedule. Loyal readers will then be more likely to purchase the new book on pre-sale, probably so they don’t forget. But, this strategy is almost exclusively successful to those authors of some notoriety. It’s not really a matter of if the reader will purchase the book, but how and when. The pre-sale captures that reader and makes the sale before they forget to spend their money. But when it comes to Erotica… it’s not very helpful… exactly because of that time variable being fixed.

3. High Quality Lower Price Is Not Sustainable

At Lot’s Cave, we see authors striving to implement the strategy of high quality at a low price quite often. It is always surprising to us, because we don’t understand the thought behind the submission. Many authors at the moment seem to think that high quality and lower price is the way to go. To them it is a ‘marketing strategy’, and the best one at that. Many publishers would say they don’t judge an author’s marketing strategy, but at Lot’s Cave, we do have some concerns. When authors utilize failed strategies, we believe it is a disservice at the very least not to inform them of the fact. High quality lower price is not sustainable for many reasons, but we can share an example that is well-known by many in the industry. In fact, it is the problem we see going on right now.

Authors spend much of their time writing full length novels, roughly between 45,000 – 60,000 words. For this, the market price at the moment is typically about $4.95. Some authors believe a good marketing strategy is to price that book at $3.99, or even $2.99, roughly between 20% – 40% off in a misguided effort to outsell competition. But, very few authors tend to calculate the costs of doing so. We’ve done that, and we’ve discussed it many times. We also notice that very few authors look at where their books are competing as well. If you were to take a look at the top selling books in the $3.99 price point, the average word count is between 10,000 – 20,000. That means, when you write a 40,000 word book and sell it in that range… you’re undercutting your efforts. You could literally write two books (both high quality) and still make the same amount of money.

The distinction here is important, because many authors feel they have to sacrifice that quality variable. To them, writing shorter works automatically means a drop in quality. But that’s not true, or at least, it shouldn’t be. Lot’s Cave isn’t actually recommending you write shorter stories either, quite the opposite actually. What we are saying is that you should charge the correct price for your books. If the market rate is $4.95, there’s a good reason for that. The moment you decide to lower your price and call that alone your strategy… there’s an issue. Just like you can’t sustain writing 45,000 word books for $3.99, you can’t sustain writing 1,500 word books for $4.95 either. There’s a reason that it goes both ways, and that, is precisely the marketing axiom we’re talking about.

4. Lower Price Means Lower Quality

Again, this is another point we see playing out at Lot’s Cave quite often. Gerry Maxwell mentions, “All competition has to be based on quality and price, meaning either low quality/lower price or high quality/higher price.” The distinction here is really important because it gives insight into the minds of readers. If we accept that authors are competing on the terms of high quality/higher price or low quality/lower price, then we must accept that low quality and lower price go hand in hand. As we mentioned above, high quality/lower price simply isn’t sustainable. Because of that, we can get a glimpse at the implications of trying to put a book on continuous sale or a flat out lower price than is reasonable. Your book is going to shout low quality, and you may not intend it to.

Lets be honest, there is some place in the market for low quality/lower price books. But, do you really want to write for that niche? We suspect many authors bothering to read this post don’t want to be known as the ‘low quality writer’. With that out of the way, we then have to proceed with a bit of caution. Many authors don’t intend for their books to be low quality. In fact, many books in the lower price ranges are surprisingly good quality. But, that is the inherent problem. Authors competing in the lower priced ranges are automatically assumed to be low quality writers. How then do authors writing shorter works fix this issue, especially if it is what they enjoy writing most?

Well, we’ve discovered that many authors of shorter works have had success bundling their stories. Now, to be clear, we do not mean releasing singles AND bundling. No, we mean authors who release COLLECTIONS of their shorter works and nothing else. Why would an author do this? Well, it’s actually a core example of the marketing axiom playing out in practice. Time is fixed, so the only thing to fluctuate is either price or quality. Given the author wants that great quality story, then price must fluctuate. The author has chosen to charge more for the bundle than lower price for individual stories. The benefit though, is that now readers will see high quality/higher price and not low quality/lower price. Which would you buy?

5. High Quality Higher Price Means Different Things To Different People

Lot’s Cave has taken a lot of heat for stressing a high quality/higher price strategy over the years, and that’s okay. One of the biggest reasons for such a diversity in opinions is actually that high quality higher price looks different to different people. We welcome this debate because it makes our authors stronger wiser authors. In the intense debate, Lot’s Cave has come to learn that many people view high quality to mean long word count. Which, to be fair, is kind of the side we’re on too. But, every once in a great while, we have an author prove us wrong. Usually, this means a book actually falls into the low quality higher price model, but not always. At times there’s actually a disconnect between a book’s packaging and what’s inside.

For example, Lot’s Cave gets books where the kinks inside the book don’t cohesively work with the title. In this case, the writing is great, the cover art is amazing, and the metadata is all good… but the reader doesn’t get what they expected. This is a high quality story and the right price (higher price), but the reader will be unhappy. In another case, a story might be written okay, have an average cover, and metadata that needs a little polishing but is otherwise okay. To the reader, this book is actually better than the one that didn’t satisfy their expectations. For many readers, the high quality/higher price book their happy with is actually detestable to many authors. Obviously, there needs to be a greater sense of awareness when discussing what high quality means.

The most important thing regarding a book’s quality will always be its ability to satisfy readers. This is why some authors don’t make good judges of a book’s quality. We’re too attached to things like market axioms. But, for the most part, a taboo erotica author should still strive for that sweet spot, that high quality/higher price output. The great thing about this goal is that it is shaped to your niche of the market. You can write short stories and hit it. You can write novels and hit it. You can even write anything in between and hit it. But what is at the center is the idea, the axiom of time, quality, and price. Being able to articulate your strategy is the first step to having one… and that is invaluable. That’s what’s so important about Gerry Maxwell’s comment, at the core, it shows every author how to sustain themselves, their output, and enjoy writing all that much more.

The Political Demonization of Incest

Is The Trump Family The New Borgia Dynasty?

In 1492, Rodrigo Borgia became Pope Alexander VI. And, at first glance, the legacy he would leave behind seems largely incorruptible. During his life, Pope Alexander VI, would contribute to the historical legacy many of us now take for granted including, the declaration of Ferdinand and Isabella (the reigning King and Queen of Spain) as Catholic sovereigns, granting Spain and Portugal rights to the New World, and, of course, commissioned building projects and artistic embellishments. Despite these moments, Pope Alexander VI is often remembered as one of the worst popes in history. Keep in mind, this is the same Pope Alexander VI whose son would go on to inspire Niccolo Machiavelli in his writing, The Prince.

But, with his religious conviction unquestionable by many, how did Pope Alexander VI become so mercilessly hated? After all, the insult of many people recognizing Pope Alexander VI not by his papal title, and instead as Rodrigo Borgia, is a historical insult that runs quite deep. The Borgia name itself has become a family name synonymous with incest where political scandal, murder plots, and love affairs were the inherited legacy. So, is the Borgia family really as bad as history remembers? What about the accusations on incest? To answer that question we have to start where all scandals seem to start, with a beautiful daughter… and her politically powerful father.

Incest In The Borgia Family

From the beginning, Pope Alexander VI’s reputation was somewhat questionable. His weakness, even as a then Cardinal, was beautiful women. Rodrigo Borgia had, in fact, taken a mistress, Vannozza Catanei, and subsequently fathered four children (later legitimized upon his becoming Pope Alexander VI). Included in these four children was a single daughter, Lucrezia Borgia. At the time, daughters were monetarily valued, by wealthy families, as a political tool. Weddings were political alliances, a way to ensure and strengthen political power. This meant Lucrezia Borgia was thrust into the political spotlight and all eyes were on her future marriage. Her wedding would become a major political affair: international gossip, and romance was simply not taken into account.

At first glance, Lucrezia Borgia was undoubtedly beautiful. She was often the inspiration for many artists and their paintings. Yes, Lucrezia Borgia, the soon to be topic of scandal, was described and painted as the embodiment of Christian piety and grace. Those privileged enough to be in her presence would often discover her charm went much deeper than outward beauty. Lucrezia Borgia was in fact, quite intelligent. Her education, at the behest of her ambitious father, was quite unusual for an ‘illegitimate’ child during the time period… especially for a female. As a child, Lucrezia had actually been taught by Adriana Orsini. The extent of her education included the Latin, Greek, Italian, and French languages as well as music, singing, and drawing. A combination of beauty and intelligence, Lucrezia was highly sought after, and her father used this to his every advantage.

In June, 1493, Giovanni Sforza married Lucrezia Borgia in all the pomp and circumstance possible. All seemed quite well, as Giovanni Sforza was the ‘perfect’ choice of a husband. His family gave Pope Alexander VI a much needed ally in Northern and Central Italy. The match may have been a little too perfect, as many now note the role of the Sforza family in the election of Pope Alexander VI. Whether or not the marriage was a political favor in turn for another, the joyous atmosphere was short lived. For in 1494, France invaded Italy. In a moment that can only be described as sheer stupidity, Giovanni’s uncle, with his nephew in Rome, decided to pledge his alliance to France. Pressured by Lucrezia’s brothers, Juan and Cesare, Giovanni simply couldn’t go against his uncle, and declared loyalty to France as well. This led to a painful mistake, one that put Giovanni’s life in jeopardy.

In a moment of imprudence, Cesare warned Lucrezia that her husband would need to be killed. Loyal to her husband, Lucrezia probably warned Giovanni, because he quickly fled to safety in Milan. Pope Alexander VI was not about to let the resource of his beautiful daughter go to waste, and soon sought an annulment to her marriage with Giovanni on the grounds of impotence. Insulted to say the least, Giovanni refused the annulment. This began all the scandals that would plague Lucrezia, and ultimately, the Borgia family. Giovanni in his refusal to accept an annulment, started rumors and speculations claiming Pope Alexander VI wanted Lucrezia for himself, adding in a jealous and lust crazed brother for good measure. Soon, everyone was discussing the incestuous scandal of the Pope, and his daughter.

Ultimately, with the promise of being able to keep the dowry, Giovanni accepted the annulment. In 1497, with her marriage annulled, Lucrezia retired to a convent. There she may have stayed if it hadn’t been for her brother Juan’s death. The death was a scandal of its own, one that deserves attention to detail all on its own. Juan Borgia, formerly known as Giovanni (because nothing shouts incestuous scandal quite like a husband and brother sharing a name), seems quite unremarkable to history, if not for his inherited love of women… particularly his younger brother’s (Gioffre) wife. This painting of him might be a bit unkind of history, but the circumstances surrounding his death have done nothing but increase the scandal.

On the night of June 14, 1947, deep in the heart of the ghetto of Rome, Juan Borgia left a feast in his honor, never to be seen again. The setting wasn’t strange to him, as the villa in question was his mother’s house. However, early the next morning, Juan’s horse returned without its rider. A search was sent out, only for his body to be discovered in the Tiber. Any doubts surrounding the circumstances of Juan’s death were soon put to rest. His throat had been slit and his body had received a total of nine stab wounds. None of the valuables he was carrying had been stolen. Pope Alexander VI was stricken with grief and quickly launched an investigation into finding the culprit. A week later, the investigation was halted.

The abrupt halt to find the murderer of Juan Borgia has led many to speculate that the culprit lay within the Borgia family itself. It’s worth noting that while the Orsini family was probably suspected by the Pope himself, nothing ever came of those suspicions, which would have been quite fortuitous. Instead, the murderer is often speculated to have been one of Juan’s brothers. Cesare and Gioffre both had ample motivation to kill Juan, but it is Gioffre that is the more likely. It was Gioffre who had married at the age of twelve, to a bride who was then sixteen. The interest of Sancha (Gioffre’s wife) in her brother-in-laws is well documented. Rumors of Sancha’s affair with both Juan and Cesare were widespread, which if true, classified as incestuous at the time. A general consensus of the issue now speculates that Cesare, at Gioffre’s request, murdered Juan. Sancha was suddenly a widow, one with inconvenient political ties to Naples.

Resigning from his vows as Cardinal, Cesare soon followed his brother footsteps and took a role in the papal armies. He was also in want of a wife. Hoping to wed Cesare to Carlotta of Naples, thus strengthening allegiances against France, Pope Alexander VI once again used his daughter’s marriage as a political tool. This time, Lucrezia married Alfonso of Aragon, the brother of Juan’s widow, in 1498. The match was actually a happy one, despite newfound rumors circulating prior to their wedding. In another moment of sheer brilliance, someone fathered a child within the Borgia household, an infant often referred to as Infans Romanus, but named Giovanni. A somewhat common occurrence, one that could have been solved quietly, suddenly turned into the scandal everyone was talking about. This time, it seems to have been the fault of Pope Alexander VI himself.

In a poorly executed political move, Pope Alexander issued a decree stating that the child, Giovanni, was fathered by Cesare and an unnamed woman. Unable to recognize the child as his own, Pope Alexander probably saw the wisdom in keeping the child within the family, soon entrusting his care to Lucrezia. However, Pope Alexander seemed concerned about Giovanni’s long term well-being, and issued a supplemental decree to the first one. Now, the waters became muddy, and Pope Alexander acknowledge that Giovanni was in fact his child, not that of his son Cesare. The scandal that ensued is the source of many incestuous rumors circulating today about the Borgia family. This was the atmosphere in which Alfonso of Aragon married Lucrezia. Despite the rumors, Lucrezia and Alfonso had their own child, Rodrigo, in 1499.

Lucrezia’s joyful marriage was once again to be interrupted by politics in 1500. The strategic arrangement of Cesare Borgia and Carlotta of Naples fell apart. Not to be without a wife, Cesare married Charlotte d’Albret in an unanticipated and politically strong move. Suddenly, the interests of the Borgia family were with France, their previous enemy, and against Naples. The swapping of alliances put Juan’s widow in a predicament that soon saw her imprisoned in Rome. For Lucrezia’s husband however, the fateful turn of alliances was devastating. Trouble first struck the newly married couple in June of that year, when Pope Alexander became injured by a falling chimney. Concerned for her father, Lucrezia nursed his wounds. Two weeks later, Lucrezia’s husband, Alfonso, was stabbed multiple times on the steps of the Vatican.

The attack left Alfonso trapped within the Vatican. Lucrezia was devastated and refused to leave his side. She took control over his nursing, ordering doctors to examine him, cooking her husband’s meals herself, and seeing to it her father issued guards to ensure his safety. Rumors of the attack on Alfonso made their way through the streets, and soon, Cesare was once again painted as murderer. Some speculation even went so far as to say Cesare wanted his sister for himself. A month later in August, as rumors began circulating full force in print, Alfonso was strangled to death. The culprit was well-known, a hired assassin of Cesare Borgia. Suddenly, Lucrezia was a widow, all at the ordering of her ambitious brother. This was devastating to the then twenty year old.

Forced to abandon her son, Rodrigo, to his godfather, Lucrezia remarried for the political advantage of her brother and father in 1501. With her new husband, Alfonso d’Este, living in Ferrara, Lucrezia soon left Rome to join him in 1502. For once in her life, Lucrezia seemed both happy and in a bout of good fortune. In 1503, while enjoying a passionate affair with her new brother-in-law, Lucrezia received news that her father had died. Once again, Lucrezia was forced to deal with the painful pieces of her family legacy, as her son, Rodrigo, remained trapped within the Vatican. Unable to take care of the child herself, Lucrezia entrusted the care of Rodrigo to Sancha, her son’s aunt.

For Sancha, the death of Pope Alexander VI in 1503 marked a turning point. She was suddenly free, and refused to stay in Rome any longer. Leaving her husband, Sancha took Rodrigo and left for Naples. Interestingly enough, not long after she did so, Cesare came to visit her. The meeting is one of speculation, with most people suggesting Cesare entrusted the care of Giovanni, the Pope’s illegitimate son, to Sancha’s care. There are plenty of reasons for this, as Cesare was facing problems of his own. With his father’s death, Cesare found papal backing tough to come by for his army. In 1506, after being taken prisoner and having his land confiscated, Cesare was sent to Spain. There he escaped and became a military commander for King John III of Navarre. But, in 1507, Cesare was ambushed and killed.

Lucrezia only seemed to thrive in her newfound environment. The people of Ferrara seemed quite in love with their Duchess. Both her and her husband enjoyed passionate affairs outside their marriage. Despite this, Lucrezia only became the embodiment of beauty and honesty. She would go on to have more children, but also showed signs of impending difficulties. Then, in June 1519, Lucrezia gave birth to a ninth child. The daughter was named after her husband’s sister, but died soon after birth. Lucrezia would not do much better, as close to two weeks later, she died of complications. The legacy she and her family would left behind was almost immediately tarnished by political rivals. It seems history was not kind, especially to the longest surviving of the Borgia siblings.

History has taught us that, more often than not, the legacy that survives someone is not the truth, but rather, an intricate web of fiction mixed with fact. We have also learned that tarnishing someone’s reputation often takes nothing more than patience and salacious gossip. The Borgia legacy seems plagued by both these things. Art and Literature no doubt played a huge role in the tarnishing of the Borgia name. But the problematic issue is how. It’s true that Cesare Borgia was a murderer who killed those unfortunate enough to get in his way. It’s also true that Pope Alexander VI was a politically ruthless individual. But, what about Lucrezia? Does she really deserve the rumors surrounding her incestuous sex life? No, not really.

Out of all the rumors surrounding the Borgia family, incest is the most scandalous. Both Netflix and Showtime capitalized on the incestuous love affair rumored to have occurred between Cesare and Lucrezia. For their efforts, fan bases of individuals now exist eager to see the rumors proven historically true. The political rivals of the Borgia would never have imagined this taking place, much less the Borgia family themselves. No, at the time, incest was the most sinful of behaviors. Only someone truly evil could commit the sin of incest, much less produce offspring from such a union. Incest was quite equatable to sleeping with the devil himself, all in an effort to sell your soul. So, what changed? Why are people suddenly rooting for the incestuous love affair to succeed? Well, because incest is the last taboo, and the last demonization that still exists politically.

Incest In The Trump Family?

Want to see this scenario play out in real life? You need look no further than Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka and the 2016 Presidential Election. But to get a clear picture, you need to go all the way back to 2006. At the time, Ivanka Trump appeared with her father on The View to promote her role on The Apprentice. Then twenty-five, Ivanka Trump had a background as a teen model and was just getting her business feet wet. The interview seemed to be going well, right until Donald Trump was asked to comment on his daughter’s modelling. Asked for his thoughts on if his daughter were to pose in Playboy, Trump answered a little too honestly. Remarking on his daughter’s ‘beautiful figure’ Trump joked, “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” That was all it took to lay the ground work for future scandal.

Flash forward to May, 2017, the Presidential Election is going strong, when all of a sudden, Bill Maher does the unthinkable. Probably remembering the old interview, Maher decides to make an incest joke, insinuating Ivanka can bribe her father with sexual favors. The joke doesn’t go over well with the media, but for a certain subset of people, the comment is too good to ignore. Suddenly pictures resurface of Donald Trump and Ivanka in questionable poses with people calling attention to their ‘special relationship’. The rumors start to become more common, and while people may not admit it, they can’t stop talking about the latest celebrity gossip. Once again, incest is at the center of a political scandal, and for modern society, it’s a hit.

Then in September 2017, just when things look like they might die down, Ivanka makes the mistake of referring to her father as ‘Daddy’. The comment adds fuel to the fire, and suddenly, there’s nothing to quelch it. While people were quick to remark on the tasteless joke by Bill Maher, this time around, they can’t resist. Trump’s history of awkward comments, pictures with his daughter, and the close father-daughter bond is too much for the gossiping public to ignore. Articles start popping up in common news feeds, and people are consuming the latest version of the printed pamphlets all too common in the Borgia time period. But this time, the material is cheap and the exposure vast.

When Donald Trump becomes President-Elect Trump, well, the rumors resurface. When it comes out Melania Trump will not be joining her husband for the first few months in the White House, people are quick to insinuate Ivanka will be the ‘fill in First Lady’. The political smearing of Donald Trump, on the topic of incest, seems complete. Not only are people talking about it, but Ivanka herself has to deny the rumors calling them inappropriate. When Donald Trump is sworn in as President, things seem to calm down… for a while. Ivanka is still in the spotlight, the rumors echo down the halls of the White House, but for the most part, people stop adding to the gossip. Suddenly, there’s enough to draw attention to now without involving the President’s daughter.

But then, just when everyone thought there might be some peace to the incestuous gossip, Ivanka started to appear at political functions instead of the First Lady. This could have easily been explained by interviews of Melania Trump stating she wanted to focus on raising her son. The rumors simply wouldn’t have it. Ivanka Trump’s place in the political world of her father was somehow proof the pair couldn’t be separated. They simply ‘had’ to be having an incestuous love affair if not sexually, then by proxy. Yes, there were even speculations surrounding how much alike Melania Trump’s father looked like her husband, Donald Trump. Nothing was off limits, and everything was suddenly a free for all. That is, until suddenly, things calmed down about a year into Trump’s presidency.

The political world had moved on, the incestuous gossip suddenly old news. Yet, that didn’t stop Michael Wolff from taking the rumors just a tad further in his book Fire and Fury. Only time will tell if readers of the book will go on to add yet another layer to the incest rumors. The author claims that Ivanka Trump is actually a ‘wife’ to her father, and Hope Hicks, Communications Director, a ‘daughter’. Now, if that doesn’t just exemplify the height of incestuous gossip, I don’t know what does. Suddenly, the President has a daughter for a wife and a daughter by proxy in his communications director. Somehow, I think we ended up back in 1497. Then again, at least those rumors were only just beginning! Yes, the political smearing by incestuous passions is alive and well today.

Why Is That? Why Incest?

Well, the answer is simple: incest is the last taboo. If you truly want to demonize your political rival, you have to go for the throat, the worst of the worst. In today’s society, incest remains the last stronghold. We’ve seen the acceptance of unfaithful husbands, illegitimate children, same-sex affairs (and marriages), and even plural/open relationships are becoming ‘the norm’. When it comes to incest however, feelings are much different. Incest is still ‘disgusting’ and a ‘perversion of nature’. While incestuous relationships today are consented to by mature adults, that doesn’t stop people from labeling the behavior as unusual or unacceptable. Until incest becomes typical and loses its taboo status, well, we’ll always be treated to these incestuous rumors. But hey, that just might mean we have the affair between Ivanka and Donald Jr. to look forward to!

Taboo Data of Note

Last year, we decided to highlight noteworthy taboo themes. These were the categories specifically targeted by aggregators in the recent content restrictions. This year, Lot’s Cave would like to expand the way you look at taboo themes. For authors writing the taboo content readers want, there’s very little information out there. How do you predict what your customers will realistically want? Is there a way to best market your story regardless? These questions do indeed have answers, answers that are surprisingly simple. The best place to currently look for data regarding the taboo is… Pornhub.

10 Noteworthy Trends From Pornhub’s Year In Review

1. Top Categories Are Clear For Taboo Authors

If you take a look at the Pornhub survey, the top categories, overall, are quite clear. These consist of Lesbian, MILF, Ebony, Hentai, Japanese, Anal, Mature, Big Tits, Threesome,  and Big Dick. What do these top ten categories tell us? Well, quite a bit actually. If you’re writing taboo themes, your best bet is a Mother pairing of some sort. This is where it gets less clear. Who should your Mature Older Woman MILF be pairing with? The best options according to just these categories seem to be a daughter/younger woman, son/younger man, or a combination of the two! Also, take note, the more well-endowed or curvy your characters are… the better!

2. Sub-Categories Are Less Clear But Manageable

Added to the main categories are, of course, sub-categories. These turned out to be Cuckold, Japanese, Indian, Cosplay, Korean, Transgender, Creampie, Gangbang, French and Cartoon. Out of this odd assortment of options, we start to notice a few worthy kinks to work into the taboo content of our stories. Some of these sub-categories will depend on the overall category you choose, naturally. However, some kinks are also easily worked into an overall story idea. Consider the Cuckolding niche, again, with that main MILF/Mom category. How easy would it be to cuckold the husband or even son with the daughter or sister? This, when done correctly, can make your story appealing to multiple customer bases.

3. Consider Your Customer Base By Gender

Above all else, gender plays a large role in what kinks a person searches out. In terms of the data, women are more likely to search for Lesbian, Threesome, or Rough Sex categories. Men on the other hand are more likely to search for Mom, Sister, or Lesbian. Clearly the Lesbian kink is a crossover niche, but in terms of men, the numbers are vastly skewed. The number of men that enjoy the Lesbian kink are similar to the number of men that enjoy the Anal niche. This means that, if you’re writing Lesbian kinks, your audience is more than likely to be female. Prepare accordingly! Likewise, if your audience is male, consider Mother/Son/Daughter your ‘go-to’ niche.

4. Consider The Age Of Your Customer Base

While this may not seem as important, your catalog will thank you. When writing taboo themes for profit, authors often have to think long term. This means writing for the current market, while also investing in future niches. Age plays a role in these decisions. According to Pornhub’s survey, the kinks between age groups is quite startling. For example, those in their twenties are more interested in Double Penetration or Lesbian. Those in their forties are more interested in Anal or Transgender. Likewise, those in their sixties are more interested in Handjob or Mature kinks. Consider this when writing those sub-categories. You can make your book appealing to that growing audience, while still tapping into the vastly wider current market. The emphasis you place on the book will simply change over time.

5. Holiday Themes Aren’t Worth It

Lot’s Cave sees a lot of authors looking to maximize sales around certain holidays, mainly Christmas and Halloween. If the sales traffic matches that of porn traffic, well, then the investment simply isn’t worth it. According to Pornhub, its traffic dropped on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, and Halloween (Lot’s Cave confirms that holiday themed erotica does not sell well). Likewise, there were a few increases in traffic on Black Friday, Valentine’s Day, and Good Friday. These days are probably best explained by the ‘days off’ they fall on in anticipation of a holiday. But, there isn’t a connection to a sudden kink filled frenzy. The one holiday that might be recommended to embrace is Valentine’s Day… but for taboo content… that’s a difficult sell. Although, we might like to see if any author can pull this off!

6. Lesbian Sex Is For Younger Women

Okay, this is kind of specific, but it is important. According to a Pornhub’s Women Searching for Women, the rate in which women are interested in Lesbian Sex goes down with age. Why is this important to you as an author? Well, it means your characters should fit certain criteria. Stories told from a younger woman perspective might speak better to a customer than stories featuring an older woman. Likewise, female readers might specifically relate more to college settings, new town settling in themes, or even returning home to their family for a little taboo twist. While this data doesn’t seem so important, it can, in fact, have a big impact on your sales in the long term.

7. Gay Themes Have Their Own Market

What we mean by this is well, look at this article. Gay porn has so much data to navigate that we could almost write a whole list just for this topic. If you’re a taboo author looking to write Gay themes exclusively, take time to invest in market research. While it might surprise many, 37% of Pornhub’s traffic for Gay porn was… women! This means there are vastly different kinks and customer bases within this category, making it more a distinct market in its own right. Likewise, Gay porn viewers can’t seem to agree on which kinks they enjoy best… at least by age. This makes it even more important to consider things like gender audience, age of customers, and corresponding kinks and sub-categories. Yes, the difference really is that vast!

8. Experimentation Seems To Increase With Age

This isn’t a data point we can show stated anywhere, but we couldn’t help but notice it. At least right now, the older you are… the more you like to experiment. However, this does seem to be a trend in men more than women. When writing a taboo themed story, especially one where experimentation is key, age really does matter. Stories that feature older characters should probably have them initiating the experimentation. Younger characters can wonder about it, watch porn about it, but are probably less likely to go out and try it. This probably has more to do with confidence with age, but who really knows. As an author, you can excuse it any way you like! Again though, watch out for that Lesbian and Gay market… this rule may not always ring true.

9. The Younger Generation Has Strange Interests

Yes, we’re calling the kettle black on this one, but hear us out. According to Pornhub’s survey, those in the 18-24 range tend to look up some odd porn. What does this mean for authors? Well, we’re not really sure. The younger generation seems intrigued by mixes of porn with popular trends. What do we mean? Well, one of the stranger categories watched by 18-24 year olds was fidget spinner porn. Could an author find a way to incorporate some of these odd trends in their books? Probably. The question is if it would pay off in the long run. It probably wouldn’t, but if you have that strange kink… you might try it if you have an audience that’s well… into fidget spinner porn. We’re intrigued, so let us know if this actually works for you!

10. Country Specific Niches Are A Thing

Alright, this one is last because it’s interesting but full of cautions. At times, certain countries seem to like their own country best. If you’re writing a book about Japanese women, you might consider highlighting it in the title. This doesn’t work for every country, and you will have to do your research, but it might be worth it for certain authors. Keep in mind, kinks do vary by country… as what is taboo varies by country. You may want to consider this before writing your book as there are plenty of smaller niche categories to highlight. Who knew the Japanese had such a fetish for piss play? Well, I guess if you read the survey…

To Conclude

Lot’s Cave likes to go through data, and we suspect some of you do as well. We recognize however that not every author likes to write ‘according to the data’. This is alright. There’s nothing wrong with writing for the enjoyment of writing. But, if you’re interested in boosting your book that little extra bit, why not try some of these options?



Another Top 10 Predictions For 2018

After reading Lot’s Cave’s post on the Smashwords predictions for 2018, I knew I had to write my own. Last year, I decided to take a break from social media and a hectic writing schedule in favor of observing the market. After all, I’d done painstaking research in that area already. The natural progression turned into a different kind of market analysis. As an author, I’m not particularly fond of words like market analysis, profit margin, gross or net. You get the point. That’s why this post is desperately needed. This is market analysis for those that likewise aren’t too familiar with such terms. That’s okay, I’ll explain everything while discussing my own predictions for 2018.

To framework my thoughts and opinions, I’ve decided to read Smashwords original 2018 Book Industry Predictions post. Why am I doing it this way? Well, it’s actually a really important step in the process. Smashwords is a great site, and Mark Coker is generally really good at explaining things in the industry. But, when it came to this year’s predictions post, he really dropped the ball. There are too many aspects of this industry hidden behind ‘publisher speak’, this combined with his ‘business speak’, and well, you get my idea. All this really does make for a confusing predictions post, and so, here’s the first point for those looking for clarification.

My Top Ten Author Predictions For 2018

1. Indie Authors Did Not Assert Control & Won’t In 2018

For Mark Coker to say that indie authors took control of the publishing world is a gross misunderstanding of the industry. Hidden in Mark Coker’s statement is the idea that prior to indie authors the mainstream publishers were censoring content. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Mainstream publishers have always been competitive, and likewise, do gain an ever increasing platform of visibility. But, they certainly didn’t limit the industry’s content any more than we see it today. Authors could still publish, they could still seek out an audience, but it was much harder.

As a group, indie authors usually suffer a kind of limbo in today’s industry. Many authors don’t want to wait for the big name publishers to publish or accept their manuscripts, and so, they rush off to the nearest indie platform. The problem with this is what follows. An author publishes their somewhat lackluster book, and then, it doesn’t sell. The author gets discouraged and many times, never writes again. Why does this happen? Because the author got the instant gratification of seeing their unpolished book published. There was no trial by fire, and as a result, the author has no root to their craft. When hardships come, they tip over easily.

I’m not against indie authors, I identify largely with the label, but we need to admit our faults. Many mainstream publishers complain about crap flooding the market, and there is a reason for those complaints. Just because someone can publish doesn’t mean they should. For Mark Coker then, to say this sort of ‘all access pass’ to publishing is asserting control, is dishonest. If anything, indie authors have actually damaged the mainstream publishing half of the industry. There were not better deals for authors in mainstream publishing as a result of indie authors. Overall, the whole market needs an equilibrium it will probably never find. That is not, nor has it ever been, control asserted.

2. Kindle Unlimited Is A Lost Cause

Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited is a constant, and albeit reasonable, complaint of Mark Coker. No one is going to lie and say Kindle Unlimited is great for authors. However, we have to be honest about what it is. Kindle Unlimited, and its subsequent books are not a uniform group of ‘leeches to slowly drain other booksellers of their lifeblood.’ To say so, quite frankly, is a little dishonest. What Kindle Unlimited really is remains quite simple, Kindle Unlimited is the socialist system of eBooks. Yes, I mean that in the strongest possible way. Kindle Unlimited is the very definition of Socialism. Merriam-Webster defines Socialism as:

A stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

In this particular version of Socialism, KENP (Page Reads) are the good to be sold. The unequal distribution lies in that wonderful KDP Select Global Fund. This is not even getting paid for the amount of work done, but rather, the work the ‘government’ thinks you perform by pages read. Yes, this really is a socialist system. For all of Mark Coker’s harsh comments on Kindle Unlimited and Amazon’s monopolistic practices, he’s never once gone so far as to call it like it is. But why hasn’t he? Well, I suspect it is because of the immense amount of pressure not to piss off Amazon, or its author base. Even Mark Coker must make a living competing with Amazon.

As with any socialist system though, it is important to realize Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited will grow worse for authors. Socialism leads to Communism, and yes, there is a difference between the two. The most simplistic definition of Communism is when the government distributes goods equitably, and by equitably, people usually mean by highest need first. Can you imagine this kind of system carried out within Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited? It doesn’t take much imagination. Amazon is already incentivizing certain markets and authors over others. Oh, and that pool of money, well it’s shrinking. What happens when that ‘easy’ money dries up? Kindle Unlimited is a lost cause for any indie author really wanting to support themselves by writing for a living.

3. Breaking Up Amazon Won’t Help — If It Even Happens

Perhaps my biggest complaint against Mark Coker lies in his solution to the problem. Breaking up Amazon won’t really solve the problem we see embodied in the indie author industry. Want proof? Look around at the other largely monopolistic company giants: Google, Facebook, Walmart, etc. There are too many big name big influence companies to list, and we all know their names whatever the niche market. It’s safe to say then, that the problem isn’t just the Romance market. The problem isn’t just Amazon. But where Mark Coker and I differ largely, I suspect, has to do with our politics. To say otherwise would be dishonest. We all have our particularly personal bias, and at least, I’m admitting mine in my blog post.

While Mark Coker advocates the dismantling of Amazon’s monopolistic status, he’s, at the same time, placing blame on Amazon. But, in an odd example, isn’t that kind of like blaming the car for driving over the speed limit? The car was, after all, made to drive 100MPH. Didn’t the car company put you in that position? This argument doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t account for personal responsibility. Amazon isn’t to blame for offering extremely low, often undercutting prices. The consumer is responsible for buying these products without care or concern. This is also true for those using Facebook, Google, and Walmart. There’s just something within the consumer that doesn’t think twice about that next good deal in the long term.

This is largely why breaking up Amazon won’t solve the indie market problem. Authors will still lower their prices to minuscule amounts in the interest of making that next sale. If it isn’t Amazon, it’ll be someone else. The personal responsibility of each and every author plays a huge role in this. That’s why I bother to write blog posts saying such harsh things. I find it a personal responsibility to warn people about undercutting other authors’ prices. Is it an unforgivable sin to utilize Amazon or even Kindle Unlimited? No, but it is a practice that needs to be embraced wisely. If authors charged more or likewise demanded compensation for their time, Amazon eventually have to listen. Mark Coker at least got one thing right on this topic, there’s always an author to take someone else’s place if they don’t play along.

4. This Will Be The Year Of Side Taking

If I’m right, and personal responsibility is important, then 2018 stands to be a year of side taking. What do I mean by that? Well, are you committing to Kindle Unlimited or not? For authors that choose not to, or are barred from, using Kindle Unlimited, the market stands to become a highly competitive marketplace. There will always be the temptation to be jealous of successful authors, but this could get much worse this year. For authors who refuse to play the Amazon game, for authors that turn away all that wonderful imaginary money, the mockery and pain will be an intense constant pain. This is something I’ve already learned and had to embrace in my own unique way.

You know what I love? Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Why is that relevant though? Well, it was my unique way of realizing the struggle of individuality. Writing Taboo Erotica can sometimes feel a bit too glamorous. Authors, myself included, like to think we’re on some sort of crusade for free speech. The problem is though, whether this is true or not, many authors criticize writing any content that doesn’t suit Amazon’s taste or content policy. The Fountainhead showed me why this is. Amazon authors, especially those looking to write for a living, have settled. They think we too should settle, and when we don’t, well it’s a personal conviction against them because they did.

The hatred is real, but many taboo writers don’t know this goes both ways. Amazon exclusive authors are jealous of us too, because we have the freedom of writing for the sake of writing. We have the audacity to charge ‘high’ prices, and our customers pay it. What neither of us, regardless of side, understand is this was all orchestrated to happen. When authors are busy undercutting each other and each other’s prices, well, mainstream publishers get to come up as the ‘hero problem solver’. Authors will flock to a symbol for their cause, and for authors wanting to make money, that symbol is Amazon. The side taking can only grow worse the more extreme tensions get. We need to stop taking sides and realize, we’re all indie authors looking to publish and make some money for our efforts. Why is that continually so complicated?

5. Authors Will Grow More Desperate… And Annoying

Why did I leave the Erotica Authors Reddit community seemingly overnight? Because authors are annoying, and will continue to get even more so. Okay, this isn’t true for every author, after all I’m an author. But, as a majority, the authors looking to eek out a profit at every opportunity are going to get worse. One of the things I did last year was subscribe to a couple author newsletters. Now, I read a wide variety of books and I did get to compare and contrast ‘erotica’ themes newsletters to other market’s newsletters. You know what? The difference is startling! My inbox was filled with erotica themed newsletters almost every single day. The other markets couldn’t compete even when combined. Does anyone see the problem here?

As the market grows more and more competitive, authors are going to get more and more desperate. What will happen to my inbox then? The problem isn’t just newsletters though, it’s a much broader problem. Authors are treating each other rather dishonestly, using them to find that ‘secret solution’ to their problems. Overall, this doesn’t help anyone feel like there is a much broader community of like-minded individuals. What’s worse though, is how it leads authors into settling and foregoing their personal responsibilities. Perhaps no one has thought this through to completion, because no one will be happy when everything is said and done. Readers won’t want newsletters, authors won’t talk to one another, and overall market prices will drop.

The important thing to note in all this is that authors have done this. I’m blaming authors, and I’m not being shy about it. All those people that settled, cut each others throats, and then lowered their prices when nothing else worked are a problem. Yes, scammers are a problem, but there are scammers in every industry. They are a small sliver of the overall representation readers see, or at least, should see. When the authors though start cutting corners, start charging lower and lower prices, and start abusing the trust of their reader base, well, who wouldn’t expect problems? These are all problems, and they’re annoying problems. Isn’t it time we just fixed it?

6. Authors Can’t Expand Into Other Markets

For authors looking to write for a living, pay attention to this one. You cannot expand into a different niche market. Anyone who says there is money to be made in cookbooks, science fiction, or historical fiction are lying to you. This sounds definite because it is. But how can I say it? Well, the logic behind this one is simple: romance is the trend setter. When publishers compare what is called the ‘market share’ of a particular niche, they’re discussing the amount of money a particular kink can earn you in comparison to others. Romance always captures the largest percentage of the market share. Simply put, Romance is the most profitable subject to write. Likewise, this incentivizes the most authors looking to write for a living. Simple enough.

What many authors fail to realize goes hand in hand with this is the fact that Romance is a trend setting niche. The trends that happen in the Romance world eventually trickle down throughout the rest of the market. This means the only reason Science Fiction or Historical Fiction remain lucrative is because the Romance trends haven’t ruined them yet. The minute Romance dries up, authors will move on to the next, which is probably Science Fiction by the way. Don’t buy into the idea that you can simply shift markets without any fallout. You’ll automatically make less money switching from Romance to Science Fiction, all else being equal. Not only that, but the longevity of your income source will dry up at the same time Romance dries up.

There are already whispers about the next market to jump into this year: audio books. What very few people are mentioning along with this is the fact Amazon may ruin the market before it even really began. Need proof? Check out Audible’s Romance Package. Does that scare anyone? It certainly should. Amazon through Audible and its new Romance Package subscription service stands to gain complete control over the Romance industry, and it doesn’t matter if it is hard copy, soft cover, or audio books now. What is clear however, is that audio books are not the next new trend everyone thinks they will be. In the long run, audio books will actually become yet another Kindle Unlimited, just another mechanism in the overall machine that is Amazon.

7. Single eBook Sales Are The Platform’s Fault

This may not seem like it impacts you as an author, but it does. When publishers talk about single copy eBook sales, they’re talking about a customer buying a lone book. Mark Coker correctly argues these type of sales will decrease, but for the wrong reason. He once again blames Kindle Unlimited, but is it ultimately Kindle Unlimited’s fault? I don’t think so. The blame once again belongs on authors, as authors have undercut prices and encouraged sites, like Smashwords, to run continuous sales. This is the sneaky little problem no one wants to talk about. Why does no one want to talk about it? Because it is a huge problem on platforms that exist outside Amazon.

How does a publisher compete with the giant that is Amazon? Well, many publishers have decided the solution is a site wide sale. This makes sense on the surface, as the sale seems to offset some of the bargains Amazon can afford to run continuously. Likewise, what customer doesn’t at least browse through the sale options? But, deep down, there is a cost to any sale ever put on by a website. Usually, websites put on sales when they want to incentivize the selling of a particular product. In other words, if a publisher ordered too many books, or perhaps wants to boost a book’s rankings, offer it at a discount. But, when sites don’t push a particular product, well, then they’re just begging for sales.

The begging that takes place during a sale always comes at a cost to the author. Don’t forget this. A sale requires a sale price, and that usually means a pay cut to an author. I’ve done this math multiple times. I know Smashwords doesn’t have the audience or customer base to pull the numbers to justify lowering a price. But to prove it, here’s an example. If I drop my $5.00 book price down to $2.50 for a Smashwords sale, Smashwords would need to sell roughly twice as many books to make it worth my while. You’re welcome to imagine this with new books (no incentive for customers to buy at sale price) or older books (your customer base probably already has the title and won’t buy enough to make up the sale difference), and see for yourself.

8. Platforms Will Become Less Significant

For authors, which platforms to publish to is an extremely important choice. Yes, this echoes the theme of taking side but it differs slightly in application. This year, I do see echoes of what others have said, the market is shrinking. Platforms are finding it harder and harder to compete against Amazon. Now, the positive side to this is that, for the most part, Taboo Erotica exists outside of Amazon. Readers obviously want the taboo content, their willing to pay good money for it, and they’re finding it on Lot’s Cave especially. But for sites like Smashwords and Excitica, there may come a time to decide if publishing taboo content along with their more mainstream content is the way to go. This is a delicate topic, and many authors don’t want to talk about it. But, if we’re honest, it’s extremely disconcerting. The platforms available to taboo content are shrinking rapidly.

But, in all fairness, it isn’t just taboo content. Sites like Apple, Scribd, and Kobo will all face a tough time against Amazon. Apple has one thing going with its iBooks, the prevalence of the .EPUB format. Many book lovers have found their favorite format, and it isn’t .MOBI (utilized by Amazon). For those not committed to one e-reader, the .EPUB format is a must (as it can be used across multiple platforms or devices). I know I’m not alone when I say I love using Apple products because of this very feature. But, I must also admit, I find it easier to install the Kindle App, and then just buy books right there and then. It’s tough to compete, even for Apple, with its embrace of authors and eBook lovers. Time will tell how well they weather the Amazon difficulties.

Sites like Kobo and Scribd though, I suspect, along with Mark Coker, that they will struggle, if not vanish completely. These sites have essentially killed off their customer base, or their ability to expand. Kobo in my mind has a name for not taking even borderline content. Scribd, if I even remember right, has a subscription service meant to still compete with that of Amazon. The business models are outdated, and one doesn’t have to be a genius to see that. How many authors have you heard selling well on Kobo? How about Scribd? Likewise, how many authors are having difficulties even uploading to platforms these days? Publishing platforms are going to find the decisions that didn’t matter before suddenly do, and by the time they realize it, my guess it will be too late.

9. Brand Recognition Will Start To Matter More

I know this sounds odd after all I’ve said, but I suspect this will become prevalent with time. As the market grows more competitive, big name recognition will become even more important. Readers are going to need a way to sort through the scams and crap books while still being able to get a good deal. How has this traditionally been handled in the past? Brand recognition. In some industries brand names have become synonymous with their product. Kleenex is the name of tissues, Coca-Cola is the name of soda, JELL-O is the name of gelatin. You get the point. These brands all became household names, whether we endorse how they did so or not. That is how the eBook industry will more than likely change this new year.

What’s important to realize is that brand recognition doesn’t have to come through a mainstream publisher. As an author, I utilize Lot’s Cave for this purpose. That’s why I now blog not on an author blog, but on the Lot’s Cave blog. I prefer to become recognizable through the Lot’s Cave brand. When people see the Lot’s Cave logo, they more than likely think ‘taboo incest erotica’. And, when that happens, I want them to think ‘Lily Weidner… father daughter incest’. This is what I have personally chosen to do, but I suspect more authors will eventually opt for a similar option. Romance authors for years flocked to the coveted title of ‘Harlequin Author’. Many Erotica authors used to covet the title of ‘Ellora’s Cave Author’, before the company went out of business.

Readers for their part used to buy books simply for the brand recognition. They took a chance on new authors because they trusted the brand. When an industry grows saturated, readers likewise look for those favored products. There’s a reason I smile when I see a Lot’s Cave book on the best seller list over at Smashwords, I know my title won’t be far behind. This is the secret success of taboo authors working together in large groups, everyone wins. Admittedly, it does take a bit of time to recognize this. I’ve been on both sides. There were times I grew jealous of others success, but I now look up to these authors. Authors that last for the long term understand this, and they embrace brands.

10. Writing What You Love Will Be Important

This is the note I wanted to wrap everything up with. I think writing what you love will be extremely important going into the new year. As industries become more and more competitive, having a motivation is extremely important. Personally, I can attest to this as an author. If you don’t follow my catalog, you may not know I predominately write short stories. This due to multiple factors, but one of them is that I simply enjoy writing shorter stories. Now, many people have told me not, as I won’t make enough money. But, those same people write three novels and then quit entirely. I don’t want to quit writing, so I might as well enjoy writing what I love. If you do want to make money, that’s fine, but maximize what you enjoy. That way, you’ll keep writing when it gets tough.

There are so many authors giving bad advice out to inexperienced authors. We all have to realize that everything is predicated on personal experience. The author giving advice, me included, have a personal experience that clouds judgement. A new author starting out probably doesn’t even know how to best articulate what they need advice on. Together, both have a responsibility to one another to bridge that gap. The best way I know how to do this though starts with determining what an author loves to write. So, I like writing raunchy more extreme father daughter incest titles, but it comes at a cost. I know my books probably will never appear on a best seller list in a mainstream paper. But, I’m also not looking for that kind of reward either.

No matter what the year brings, no matter how tough it gets, some authors simply feel the necessity of writing. I’m one of them, and I suspect many of the authors reading this do too. That’s what will keep the eBook industry thriving in some capacity. There are universally two main rules of writing, write a lot and read a lot. What many people fail to realize is that authors are also readers. How you, as an author, consume books, matters. How you, as a reader, write books, matters. Both of these concepts are two sides of the same coin. They are inseparable. Why though, do readers not have to be told to ‘read what you love’? Do you see the disconnect there yet? As an author, you need to write what you love. Do so, and this entire post, while relevant, won’t seem important to you later on down the road.

Top 10 Predictions For Taboo Authors In 2018

Here at Lot’s Cave, we look forward to the Book Industry Predictions post over at Smashwords every year. For indie-authors, this is often the most precise way to do market analysis with the least time spent. When you’re a publisher though, market analysis never ends. This year Lot’s Cave decided to share its own predictions for 2018. The market is rapidly changing and authors more frustrated than ever. Worse, there’s no list specifically designed for taboo authors. Well, now there is! Let’s take a look at 2018, taboo erotica, and predict what it means for you!

Predictions often mystify people, bringing to mind crystal balls, tarot cards, and magic spells; but they shouldn’t. That’s because accurate predictions are based on trends or repetitive patterns. As 2017 came to a close, many of these became clear. There continued to be an ever increasing amount of taboo romance and erotica themed eBooks, despite incentives otherwise. In response, many sites started to ring in the new year by implementing and securing strict content filters. Along with this, industry prices seemed to be getting lower and lower. Taboo authors rode out the storm during 2017 with success, but 2018 requires more scrutiny. What kind of scrutiny, well, check out our predictions.

Your 2018 Taboo Erotica & Romance Predictions

1. The Taboo Market Will Become Increasingly Competitive

With the new content restrictions imposed on authors, many publishing platforms refused new eBooks outright. Sites disappeared for taboo authors overnight, many times without warning. The publishing platforms that remained soon became flooded with titles, the back catalogs of authors now locked out elsewhere. As taboo publishing opportunities continue to shrink, the overall taboo market appears to stand a large chance of becoming flooded. Think about it, the average customer base of any one publishing platform does not change that rapidly. A surge in taboo titles then, reaches the same reading audience as before. This is what creates a competitive market, one that increases with each new title published.

To weather this change, taboo authors need to continue publishing only top quality content. It’s that simple.

2. There Will Be Immense Pressure To Undercut Taboo Prices

The problem with a highly competitive market is it often brings poor marketing strategies carried out by desperate authors. In 2017 many taboo authors lost 50% of their income, easily. Flooding sites with their titles was only the beginning. In their desperation, many authors uploaded their entire catalog overnight. What’s wrong with that? Well, it leads to a heavy drop off rate. Instead of building up their visibility, these authors echoed a scam. Readers couldn’t keep up, or simply didn’t want to. Now, these same authors will have to desperately make up the difference. How will they do that? The most common method is by undercutting the price of other authors’ books. Does that make sense, no. Will it be successful, no. But will authors continue to do this, yes. This is a prediction!

With a growing amount of authors ‘needing’ to undercut the prices of others, it’s worth noting the taboo market has weathered this overall trend quite well in 2017. Last year, the impact of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited almost destroyed the romance market. Untouched, was the taboo erotica readership. While full 60,000 word romance novels were selling and competing at $0.99, the same length taboo erotica novels rose from $4.95 to $5.99 or $6.99. Meanwhile taboo erotica shorts of 2,000 – 3,000 words are now easily competing at the $2.99 price point — outselling longer $0.99 romance titles. How did this happen? Well, many people are quick to excuse it as a premium content fee. Admittedly, for many authors this is the best explanation… and a true explanation. But importantly there’s also a core to the pricing issue. The taboo erotica market exists outside of Amazon’s sphere, and readers continue to pay the old market prices for books. This trend will continue during 2018.

That’s really the problem, much of the overall eBook market in 2017 dropped from $2.99 to $0.99. Not only that, but the word count for said prices increased dramatically. Taboo authors are going to feel this shift now. The urge to lower prices is already starting in subtle ways. Smashwords has already begun experimenting with ‘holiday’ sales, often finding excuses to create them. Authors are known to slash their prices down to $0.99, or cut them by 50% for higher ticket items. In general, the author forums are filled with non-taboo erotica market advice. Everyone is shouting for authors to lower prices, and publishers are often giving incentives to do so. Newsletter signup bonuses, Platform wide sales, Promotion sites, and authors themselves are all demanding lower prices. In 2018, many taboo authors will buy into this, and in so doing, they will undercut their own market. Do not lower prices!

3. Micro-Short Stories Will Have To Be Curtailed

Along with higher competition and lower prices, comes an interesting phenomenon. Short stories will slowly die out, but only after seeing an over-saturation. With the needed exposure, many taboo authors will flood sites with short stories. And, well, why not do this? Quite frankly, there’s a huge incentive for authors to abandon novels when micro-shorts are selling for $2.99. But that price is only temporary, and it’s already dropping fast. Remember, the readership base of any site doesn’t increase dramatically. Flood a market, and readers get fed up. This will actually incentivize longer titles into selling. The problem is, again, competing for lower and lower prices. This is already starting to happen, as 12,000 word books sell at the $2.99 price point on the average. In 2018, this word count will increase to 15,000 or 20,000, essentially destroying the $3.99 price point.

4. Fringe Platforms Will Disappear

This is something that won’t actually cause a panic for many taboo authors. Due to content restrictions, taboo erotica and romance is already banned on sites like B&N, Kobo, Scribd, etc. These sites are desperate, and many of them will disappear in 2018. Why? Because first, in banning taboo content they got rid of their audience, and second, they outright can’t survive the ever decreasing market prices. Why do readers buy eBooks over print books? Well, many did so for the convenience of carrying around multiple books with ease. This is no longer an incentive, as readers recognize the fact they don’t often read more than two or three books at a time. Likewise, for avid readers, the incentive to buy eBooks exist on lower priced platforms (Kindle Unlimited). Those that love to buy eBooks are quite often either avid readers, or erotica readers looking for a discreet way to collect titles. These platforms satisfy neither taboo customer now!

5. Taboo Authors Will Be Forced To Utilize Kindle Unlimited

No, we aren’t expecting Amazon to allow taboo content. What we mean is that many authors who rely on writing for a living and look solely for profit in writing taboo content, will have to resort to Kindle Unlimited. The problem with this is that, quite often, authors find themselves unable to go back. Amazon has a very competitive market, and market analysis is extremely important to accumulate sales. But, that does come with a cost. Many authors will find themselves thinking only about marketing strategies for Kindle Unlimited. Their mindset actually changes to consider a free book valuable outside Amazon’s website. Time has proven free books and discount promotions on the average don’t work for taboo content. What will happen though is more flooding, lower prices, and in the long run, less money for authors. This goes with the understanding that Amazon isn’t necessarily bad, but combining platforms can be.  The thinking has a way of blending together, and that’s the danger. Authors writing solely for artistic expression are pretty much immune to this prediction.

6. Smashwords Will Actually Start To Drop

This isn’t something we like predicting, but it’s very important to taboo authors for 2018. Smashwords is one of the few platforms available for taboo content. The problem is Smashwords is often the largest and most popular. This means authors turned away from Amazon will decide to ‘try out’ Smashwords first. When B&N turned taboo content away, Smashwords took them in. Well, the lower prices, market flooding, and desperate authors are making this site less viable. Taking an honest look, we have to admit the sales won’t happen easily. For authors that lower their prices, they stand less of a chance of selling their book, not a greater chance! Why? Because Smashwords doesn’t often favor author based sales. In other words, Smashwords isn’t conducive to customers buying entire catalogs of one author. So, if your title is suddenly $0.99, do you think readers will purchase it? Why go through the shopping cart to buy just $0.99. Sure, readers buy multiple books browsing a site, but what happens when those books update too frequently to make a profit?

7. Lack Of Promotion Efforts Won’t Hurt Taboo Authors

One of the best trends to happen in 2018 is the closing gap in social media marketing for taboo authors. Newsletter advertising favors and incentivizes discounted books. Lot’s Cave takes the position that discounting is not necessary, particularly as newsletters are increasingly flooding the market. Other than that, authors have had to find a way to promote themselves through social media. Well, sites like Facebook have been hitting authors hard in this area. As they do so, authors that depended on social media will struggle. But, that comes as a benefit to taboo content. With the market starting to level off, as now, readers aren’t getting paid promotions shoved in their face. But this does not hurt taboo authors so bad as always, readers are less than likely to suggest taboo themed erotica to their friends.

8. Time Traps Won’t Draw In Taboo Authors Or Readers

Already 2018 is becoming a year about the next new thing. Authors are discussing new promotional platforms, audio books, podcasts, etc. These are all traps for the taboo author. There’s nothing quite as tempting as wasting time in a self-serving task like recording a podcast or an audio version of your book. For taboo authors specifically, this really does look ridiculous. We all need to be honest with ourselves in the erotica sphere of the market. No one wants to hear your voice because ‘they want to know what you sound like’. Erotic readers want their smut, they want it now, and they don’t want your voice permeating their erotic imagination. Write more, record less. Trust us, when 2018 comes to a close you’ll be happy you did.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting how bad of a marketing decision audio books are for taboo authors. If you think about it, there are too many ways to lose a potential reader. Is your book written in first person? You better have a narrator to match your character’s gender. Oh, your story is in third person? Well you better have an entire cast. Is your book extremely erotic and meant to get your reader off? Well you better hope your narrator is the right gender. Just don’t do this. Audio versions of books are great for some markets, but your market probably isn’t it if you’re reading this blog.

9. Amazon, Kindle Unlimited, And The Growing Problem

Lot’s Cave must admit, we don’t particularly like Amazon. Their Kindle Unlimited program has really devastated the market for everyone. That said, Amazon is starting to get a reputation. It’s not even a good reputation. The problem is though, that Amazon is a giant. As much as we don’t like them, we have to be honest when trying to predict their influence. We remember the Apple iBooks debate, and it wasn’t pretty. Amazon seems to always get its own way, and 2018 probably won’t be any different. Authors opt in, authors can opt out, and Amazon continues to grow in popularity. The best taboo authors can do in 2018 is learn how to work with Amazon as a factor. That won’t stop us from pointing out its flaws, and there might be some complaining, but hey, so is everyone else now!

10. Scams, Scams Everywhere

Lower prices, high competition, it’s a recipe that brings out the scam titles. The taboo niche of the market typically avoids this, but just wait. Scams in the taboo market are going to increase dramatically. These books may look poor in their cover design, or they may actually look pristine. Along with the scams always close behind come sloppy authors. This isn’t really the fault of the scammers, but they don’t help. In the mad dash to stay relevant, many authors will start cutting corners. This means books will have extremely short descriptions, no excerpt, or even generic covers on the sites that allow it. For those that care about quality content, the combination can be infuriating and disheartening.

What The Market Will Look Like For Taboo Authors

Lists of predictions are great, but often times, they’re a bit overwhelming. To help ease the confusion, we wanted to finish by walking you through what you might notice in 2018. This isn’t going to be true for everyone. Admittedly, the author that locks themselves away and writes probably won’t notice many of the changes until they emerge. But, for those committed to analyzing the market, there will be notable changes. These are what you can write down on a sticky note, place on your computer, and simply watch. They also make a great set of guiding posts to keep yourself from falling into traps throughout 2018. Of course, please make sure you analyze your strategies first.

High Competition

The first thing you’ll notice as an author is a lot of competition. This will often be checking your publishers’ front page, only to find your book has already slid off. Authors will likewise be frantic, and less likely to agree on any one strategy. There will be tons of short stories selling right alongside novels. You might also notice a certain niche or kink taking up key spots in the best seller lists, and these might even feel outdated to you. That’s because the newer titles will sell too quickly to replace the backlog of sales, particularly of Smashwords. Backlog sales are counted on their site when determining book rankings. As odd as it might sound, the less sales overtime mean low replacement rates on best seller pages.

Weird Price Ranges

Along with the high competition, you might notice a sliding scale in prices. This is already starting to happen, and it will probably frustrate many authors. By the time you upload and choose your selling price, the market has shifted. Some books, due to the author’s prevalence, can charge drastically higher prices than a new author. While this happens all the time, this year it will be even more prevalent. This also comes with that saturation, and many authors will desperately lower prices leading to the difference. Not only that, but the quality of books will look quite different. Why? Well, because there will more than likely be a pool of authors flooding alternative site. The book covers are geared toward the original platform, not yours.

Pressure, And Lots Of It

Every author feels a certain amount of personal pressure to succeed. But, in 2018, this pressure is going to intensify. There will be an immense amount of pressure to cave into overall market trends. This will often be in the areas of social media promotion, pricing, and word count. The pressure doesn’t mean authors have to cave into it, but when slow sales start to occur, it can be a tempting prospect. Knowing that this pressure is going to occur ahead of time, will often provide the opportunity to figure things out beforehand. That’s the real value of predicting trends, you don’t fall into the traps of lower prices when you don’t need to just because an author in an outside market says to do so.

Steady Change

As an author, there’s really nothing to be done about platform changes. The thing is, they can be noticed. If Kobo were to actually shut down, or go exclusive with their romance subscription service, that would be easy to note while publishing. These changes are actually quite notable even for authors not looking for them. If there’s more ‘holiday’ sales on Smashwords and you’re publish frequently, you’ll notice. When you browse top sellers, if cover art shifts, you’ll notice. Kinks, title themes, sales, available platforms, sliding scales for word counts and prices are all things you can take note of without much time invested in the process. It’s worth doing this, even if it’s a minute observation.

To Conclude

Overall, 2018 has the potential of being a really successful year for taboo content. The market is actually shrinking in some ways, but exploding in others. Somewhat trapped in the middle is taboo erotica and romance. Admittedly some of this year’s trends were felt last year in the mainstream romance niche. But, isn’t that all for the better? It means we’re almost guaranteed changes that can be acted on beforehand. The best way an author can deal with anticipated and unanticipated changes is continuing to publish. Publish as frequently as you can, but be always mindful of content quality. Put out a great product every time, and you can charge whatever you want for it. You’ll weather the storm of 2018 just fine. But, as a whole, it’s looking like a promising year. Happy 2018!

The Value of Amazon’s KDP Select for Taboo Authors

Lot’s Cave has always been dedicated to helping authors with various publishing strategies. Right now, the big question in the market seems to concern Amazon. Do you publish with Amazon? Is exclusivity worth it? Are there options for authors writing taboo content?  The questions can seem endless to an inexperienced or new author. Perhaps the main question though has always been is KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited worth it? Well, let’s take a constructive look at answering that question for you!

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The Taboo Themes of Note

This year has certainly seen its share of market changes! We’ve seen slight changes in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited system, B&N purging all controversial content, and a small uptick in popularity for taboo content. The latest change? Smashwords implementation of a classification system for taboo content. While this change already has authors talking, Lot’s Cave thought we’d add a new perspective to the mix! So, if you’re an author looking to get a little more out of the Smashwords classification system, this blog post is for you.

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Incest In History: Tudor Lovers


For history lovers, the Tudor Era holds a certain kind of enchantment. Whether it’s the scandals, the social wars, or the philosophical debates, one thing is for certain, people are obsessed with anything Tudor. Men and women alike scrutinize King Henry VIII’s love life, and for good reason. As an author of Incest Erotica, I especially love the Tudor Era. Why? Because there’s plenty of inspiration! The Tudor family wasn’t untouched by incest or rumors of incest. In that spirit, I’d like to share some interesting incest patterns of King Henry VIII and his family.

A Brief Introduction


King Henry has always been a divisive figure. Many will blame him for England’s separation from the Catholic Church. Others yet, will recall the brutal way he disposed of unfavorable wives in his pursuit of a son and heir. Still, King Henry’s life is largely overshadowed by his outright lust. It’s not surprising many people focus on King Henry’s six wives, his pursuit of mistresses, or even his legitimate and illegitimate children alike. Thankfully, historians were not above capturing these scandalous affairs, giving us plenty to discuss. Where though, does one start to cover the incestuous desires of King Henry?

King Henry & His Brother’s Wife  


From the very beginning, Henry found himself involved in a somewhat incestuous scandal. A proxy marriage between his brother, Arthur, and Catherine of  Aragon, had fallen through upon Arthur’s unexpected death. With a much needed alliance between Spain and England relying on the marriage, Henry took his brother’s wife as his own. While Catherine swore the marriage was never consummated, King Henry would go on to have his doubts. In any case, the incestuous undertones of the marriage did require the Church’s approval, which the young King received. Unfortunately for him, the sin of incest would continue to leave doubts in the minds of his subjects.

King Henry and his new bride, Catherine of Aragon struggled to produce an heir. This more than anything is speculated to have caused Henry’s attentions to wander in an otherwise successful marriage. While it’s worth noting Henry took to bed one of his Queen’s maids of honor, Elizabeth Blount, their scandalous affair was not incestuous. Though, King Henry was quite loyal and devoted to Lady Blount. The two had a son, one Henry recognized. This however, might have been Blount’s undoing.

Shortly after recognizing the birth of Elizabeth Blount’s son, King Henry started another affair. The reason is unknown, though it would not take much to speculate. Perhaps the young Henry had no desire to bed his wife, while simultaneously being unable to bed his mistress. Whatever the reason, Blount disappeared into obscurity after the acknowledgment of her son, and made room for the infamous Mary Boleyn.

King Henry & His Mistress’s Sister


While unintentional as it is scandalous, King Henry ended up sleeping with both Mary Boleyn and her sister, Anne Boleyn. The two sisters are said to have had little in common and separate personalities. At the same time, King Henry is rumored to have fathered yet another illegitimate son by Mary Boleyn. This child went unrecognized, though only by King Henry. Many who saw Mary’s son remarked on their similar appearance, thus spreading the rumor for history to record. Son or not, Henry’s familiarity with Mary Boleyn makes his marriage to her sister all the more depraved.

King Henry sought an annulment of his first marriage, thus legally making Catherine of Aragon his sister. The incestuous irony of that statement goes unnoticed by too many. To his credit, Henry did seem to care for his ‘sister’ well enough, not to mention their daughter. At the same time, Henry disposed of Mary Boleyn fairly rapidly without much thought. The woman was said to be far more beautiful than her sister, Anne Boleyn, but it was Anne that ended up becoming Henry’s second wife. The historical record seems to believe this is due to Anne’s ambition and intelligence, not necessarily her looks.

Interestingly enough, Mary Boleyn did attend the wedding of her sister, or at least accompanied her. Their strained relationship didn’t seem to suffer for this, and Anne even saw to the education of her sister’s ‘bastard’ child. When Mary Boleyn eloped with a man of little prospects and reputation however, the two parted ways. Anne Boleyn had her sister banished from court ending any progress the two may have shared. As sad as that may sound, Mary’s marriage seems worth the sacrifice. A union out of love was rare, as Anne Boleyn was soon about to discover.

King Henry & His Fifth Cousin


As was common with Henry, his marriage to Anne Boleyn came to an abrupt end. It should be noted that many people to this day blame the King himself. Anne Boleyn’s demise is often seen as a political move on the part of others, and favorable to Henry. After giving birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, and becoming pregnant again, Anne Boleyn knew she needed to give Henry a male heir. Whether under extreme pressure, or simply realizing the danger of her situation, Anne started meddling in Henry’s love life, specifically his habit of attaining mistresses.

Henry had indeed taken a mistress while Anne was pregnant, his fifth cousin, Jane Seymour. As ambitious as Anne Boleyn was, Jane Seymour was said to be just as sweet and gentle. The two women knew each other well enough, as Jane Seymour had served as maid of honor to both Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon. When Anne discovered the affair however, she miscarried days later. This event was her undoing. After her miscarriage, King Henry had very little interest in keeping Anne around. She was accused of high treason, adultery, and incest. Yes, the King accused Anne Boleyn of sleeping with her brother in order to get rid of her. The two, along with a few others, were quickly executed making way, ironically, for Jane Seymour, Henry’s fifth cousin.

To Jane’s credit, she quickly became Henry’s favorite wife. Ultimately, Henry would be buried beside her. Many people credit Henry’s favoritism of Jane to the fact she bore him a son, but this does not seem to be the case. Out of all Henry’s wives, Jane was the least political. While she favored Henry’s daughter by Catherine of Aragon, and repaired their relationship a great deal, Jane otherwise did not meddle in Henry’s political life. Another factor may be attributed to their short marriage, and Jane’s unexpected death. For better or worse, with the death of Jane in childbirth, Henry needed yet another wife.

King Henry & Another Sister


The King’s ability to wed another seemed doomed from the very beginning. After Jane Seymour’s death, Henry was said to mourn quite devotedly for three years. In fact, it is during this grief that Henry’s iconic image would take shape. The King was no longer young, and his failure to take care of himself suddenly showed. Henry put on weight, suffered from diabetes, and ultimately developed gout. These aging features made the once handsome King quite a difficult lover. It’s not surprising then that Henry ended up with another ‘sister’ in a marital arrangement gone wrong.

Henry’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, stands out more than most. Germanic in heritage, her beauty was not easy recognized by the King. Many Englishmen remarked on her beauty, though Henry failed to think so. From the beginning, Henry seemed opposed to the idea of Anne. He asked for unflattering portraits, was put off by her demeanor, and ultimately decided he simply did not like her. In a strange twist of fate, Henry seems to be honest in his dislike of an otherwise beautiful woman. Perhaps, his grief for Jane outweighed his need of a wife.

Still, Henry’s inability to consummate his marriage with Anne, quickly dissipated when introduced to the young Catherine Howard. Anne of Cleves ultimately agreed to an annulment, earning her the title of King’s Beloved Sister. In retrospect, this may have been quite fortunate for her, as she lived a long life. Outliving the King himself, Anne lived long enough to see Henry’s daughter Mary crowned Queen of England. Likewise, she also saw the end of many men and women that earned the King’s disfavor. Interestingly, the courtier who encouraged Henry’s marriage to Anne was executed on the day of Henry’s fifth wedding.

King Henry & His Wife’s Cousin


The woman Henry married for his fifth wife was none other than Catherine Howard, first cousin to Anne Boleyn. One would think the King wise enough to avoid such a match, and yet, he wasn’t. Catherine Howard was a young woman full of life and instantly earned Henry’s attention. Those at court found Catherine just as beautiful and delightful as the King, and thus began the downfall of Henry’s fifth wife. With little digging into her past, Henry married the indiscreet and foolish girl already tarnished with scandalous tales of premarital affairs.

Catherine Howard received the lavish attentions of the middle-aged King. While the young Queen adorned himself in the finest jewels and French fashioned gowns, rumors started spreading. The previous indiscretions of the now Queen became the talk of court, and Henry found himself embarrassed. He must have felt something of love toward the young Catherine, and tried his best to ignore the rumors for a time. When Henry discovered the truth, the King even did his best to ignore the dire situation of his then wife. However, Catherine lacked the intelligence to keep herself alive.

With her indiscretion so well-known, Catherine should have claimed a prior marital contract with the other man. Doing so would have legally voided her marriage, but spared her life. Instead, Catherine tried to claim she was forced into the affair. While unwise, the plea may have worked. Catherine Howard however, had also engaged in an adulterous affair with a favored member of Henry’s court. Suddenly, her claims of force had little merit. The King’s fury could not be ignored, and Catherine Howard was ultimately beheaded. Ironic as it is, the only wives of Henry to be beheaded were related, as they were first cousins. While Anne Boleyn was more than likely innocent, Catherine Howard was not. Both were beheaded for adultery in any case.

Henry’s Final Wife & Her Incestuous Impropriety


The final wife of King Henry was rather sensible. A widower, Catherine Parr had previously been married three times already. This gave her the uncanny ability to relate to Henry’s three children. Also, it’s worth nothing that Henry’s sixth wife was also his third, and fourth cousin once removed multiple times over. Interestingly enough, this is not the strangest incestuous thing about Catherine Parr and King Henry. Together, they share a mutual love interest of sorts, as both loved members of the Seymour family. Prior to marrying Henry, Catherine Parr sought the attention of Jane Seymour’s brother, Thomas Seymour.

When Henry died, Catherine reunited and ultimately married Thomas Seymour. To make matters all the more strange, Thomas was rumored to have an interest in Catherine’s now stepdaughter, the Princess Elizabeth. Ambitious and power hungry, Thomas sought to marry the young princess. Marrying Catherine instead, Thomas still had access to Elizabeth, essentially giving him the best of both worlds. Needless to say, things did not go well for either of the women involved. Things took a real turn for the worse however, when Catherine became pregnant.

Thomas’ affections for Elizabeth had always been seemingly harmless. The two were known to engage in ‘horseplay’, acts that often involved Catherine herself. Whether Elizabeth liked these invasive moments or not is unclear, though many agree she developed a crush on her stepfather. When Catherine became pregnant however, these moments became more threatening to both Catherine’s marriage and Elizabeth’s reputation. Upon discovering her stepdaughter and husband embraced and kissing, Catherine sent Elizabeth away. Lucky for her, this helped distance Elizabeth from the scandal that followed. Thomas’ ambition grew too much, and he was later accused of high treason and ultimately executed.



The life of King Henry is riddled with incestuous sex. While many people are quick to dismiss these as historical accounts or traditions, this is not always the case. Today those interested few digging into Henry’s background are discovering more taboos than initially expected. As writers, it’s easy to forget that history often repeats itself. The immoral acts of one generation are not all that different than our own. So, before writing that next novel, why not consider what one can get away with? Behind all of Henry’s power, prestige and beautiful women was still a man, just a man with a lust for women that burned far too hotly.