Writing Taboo Subjects 101
Writing naughty boundary pushing stories can seem like a fun venture. Over the recent months, I’ve seen a surge in the number of authors interested in writing controversial themed erotica. The problem is that, in this day and age especially, there’s no official source on how to publish taboo erotica and romance. So, in an effort to help out my fellow author, here’s a quick crash course.
How Do I Decide What To Write?
When it comes to taboo erotica and romance, there are three main categories: BDSM, Incest, and Bestiality. Usually, one of those three subjects will appeal to you more than the others. If not, then I highly suggest writing the subject you know the most about. There are some authors who can write any subject, but then, there are those who cannot. What I have found is that a majority of authors writing taboo subject matter do so because they enjoy the social aspects involved.
While the social aspects involved may be easy to toss aside, please reconsider. Any author considering taboo erotica or romance should comprehend the thin line between obscenity and literary value. In this day and age, the difference between obscenity and art is often difficult to discern. This makes being aware of the issues involved even more important. If you wish to write a taboo subject, but do not know what will add artistic value to your story, please do further research. Each of the three taboo categories has its own challenges. Consider these ramifications beforehand!
The most important step to picking a category is reading. There are plenty of sites to read free stories featuring any one of the three taboo subjects. If you’re unsure of a particular category, see if you enjoy another author’s work. Does a particular story spark a creative idea? What do you enjoy about the category? Without too much time involved, there should be a clear answer to your question. Above all, remember to write what you enjoy or have a natural inclination toward. If you’re writing long enough, the money will follow.
How Do I Make That Subject Unique To Me?
The best way to make a subject or category yours is by appealing to a certain niche or subkink. These are often narrowed down aspects within a much broader category. While picking a subject can be easy, deciding on a particular niche is often a far more difficult task. Below are, in my opinion, the top selling subkinks:
Alpha Males: This subkink often features possessive men who may or may not be wealthy intent on getting what they want. Often, this subkink will include breeding.
Non-Consent/Dubious Consent: A subkink that involves rape play or forced sexual fantasies made into reality. Non-Consent stories are usually much darker and often contain S&M elements.
Punishment: While not always a part of B&D, punishment is a popular niche that involves may different fetishes. Some overlapping includes: golden showers, foot worship, spanking, and various forms of humiliation.
Shapeshifter: Animals that transform into humans for sex, such as werewolves. These days, there’s no telling what this subkink can include!
Otherworldly Beings: Often overlooked, this subkink includes aliens, tentacle sex, or other strange lifeforms. Breeding is usually a part of this niche.
Breeding/Pregnancy: While many stories feature breeding, bestiality often incorporates females becoming pregnant with human/animal hybrids. Sex is often dubious, and specially for this purpose.
Mother/Son: Often features young adult sons and their beautiful older mothers. While not always the case, the mother is usually the authority figure pursuing her son.
Father/Daughter: Barely legal girls and their older handsome fathers are perhaps the most popular. While heavily explored, this subkink usually features a naughty daughter pursuing her father.
Brother/Sister: Siblings that experiment together and later caught by their parents is usually the norm of this subkink. However, twins tend to be a particular interest. Also, hurt and comfort situations are likewise common.
How Do I Become Successful?
Each category has unique sales opportunity, and needs its own exploration. Any author looking to become successful needs to focus on becoming specialized. Having a catalog with a main category will sell okay. An author that has a particular category and niche picked out, becomes successful. Once specialized, an author can then decide on the best places to publish their works. This step is highly variant, but above all, it gets down to providing readers the best experience.
Should I Write Erotica or Romance?
The answer to this question depends largely on how long you want to write. An author needs to consider how much time they can dedicate to writing. Another factor along with that, is how long and author plans to write altogether. There is a difference between authors writing to make a quick buck and those writing for long term viability. Every author will be different, complete with their own writing abilities. Never sacrifice quality for quantity. Always remember, what matters most is writing the best story every time.
For authors able to produce longer works for a long period of time, consider writing Romance. In the long run, novels tend to have a better shelf life. The one downside to this however, is that some categories are difficult to turn into Romance. This needs to be considered before putting words to paper. Readers expect a certain experience when they pick up a Romance novel. Just because a story is longer doesn’t mean it’s Romance. Please remember though, erotic novels exist. Long erotic works will still sell that much better when adjusted for the qualifications of a Romance.
Authors who write shorter works should highly consider erotica. Usually, these stories have a short shelf life. This means, authors will often switch topics and have multiple pen names specific to their category. With taboo subjects however, this back and forth is less viable. Because of the nature of taboo erotica, there tends to be a slight variant in the overall shelf life. Single titles however, do not sell for the long term. This makes short stories ideal for authors planning on writing for a short period of time.
How Long Should My Stories Be?
While there are standard lengths for Romance and Erotica stories, an author needs to write the best story possible. This will eventually mean you get a random length. Do not make this book fit your usual length! In the long run, it is better to have an outlier and adjust the price according. That said, here are the typical lengths and corresponding prices:
Short Story – 3,000 to 10,000 – $2.99
Novelette – 15,000 to 35,000 – $3.99
Novel – 40,000 to 50,000 – $4.95
Epic – 70,000+ (Price Accordingly).
A Note About Free Stories: Unless you’re writing a series over five books in length, free stories do not help sales. No matter the length of the free story, this advertising model does not work for single titles. If you are considering a free starter to a series, research which sites to publish your titles to. Many sites price match, and very few present a benefit to authors setting permanently free titles or series starters.
How do I pick a pen name?
Pen names are one of those things that matter more to the author than the reader. Because the reader will probably never know you write under a pen name, consider what you personally want from the new name. Many authors choose names that reflect their category, but many more do not. At times, authors keep their given name. Whether or not you do this depends largely on how open you wish to be about your subject matter. Lastly, a word of advice, pick a pen name that’s easy to spell!
How Do I Promote My Book?
The best way to promote your book, especially with taboo subject matter, is the metadata. Too many authors overlook their book’s title, cover, and blurb. These are the things readers will always see though. Don’t spend months on a story just to quit at the last minute by selling the metadata short! Authors will spend time and money on blogs, newsletters, and give out thousands for advanced reader’s copies of their book, only to forget their title, blurb, and cover. Focus on those three, and let your book sell itself every time!
What Makes A Great Cover?
Admit you’re never going to be both an author and a cover artist. A professional cover is important, and a self-publishing author is not usually a graphic artist. Find a cover artist that specializes in Romance or Erotica covers, particularly one that uses professional photo stock, and then shut up. If the graphic artist wants your opinion, they’ll ask. Don’t get too attached to one particular image or idea for a cover. Many times, an image struggles to sell the book because the author wanted a particular scene on the cover. Usually, it all boils down to a great stock photo, and the discretion of a graphic artist… not the author!
What Makes A Great Title?
A great title goes right along with what makes a good cover. When picking a title, keep in mind the niche of your book. A reader should be able to guess the niche of your book by either your title or your cover. Try to keep titles under three or four words. While this is difficult, it will allow your cover to really showcase the title AND photo stock image. Long titles, while they might make a book searchable, will fail to entice a reader. Your book will likely never make it off the virtual shelf. Authors should pick strong words that convey their niche. Remember to be tasteful, and above all, flexible.
What Makes A Great Description?
Descriptions are, in my opinion, the most important part of a book’s marketing. A great description hooks readers without giving away the entire story. About a paragraph in length, descriptions will often contain keywords specific to your book’s category and niche. Once a reader is hooked and wants to find out more, the description should compel them to buy the book. Along with this, many authors include an excerpt. A great excerpt should be raunchy, tasteful, and intriguing. In a way, the combination should ensure the reader knows what they’re getting when they buy your book. Remember, they’re buying your brand too!
How Can I Make The Most Money?
For authors with taboo subject matter, the key to making money is quality. The authors that write the best story possible, and stick with the process, will make the most income. There are many different levels of success, but every single one of them takes time. I’ve watched too many authors put in the time and effort, only to bail out right before they make good money. By the time they realize the mistake, it’s too late. Don’t make this mistake, be stubborn and productive. There’s a thin line between critical and stupid… flirt with it.
Is There Any Advice You Can Give?
There is so much advice to give new authors that I could do a brand new post. Above all though, my biggest piece of advice is this: be objective. I’ve watched many authors jump on bandwagons only to crash and burn within a few months. There is not a way for authors of taboo stories to appease everyone. Don’t try. I, myself, have wasted countless hours trying to fit into the writing community. After a certain point in time, you just grow out of it. Be stubborn, support yourself, and trust in your own experience. Aside from that, here’s some other helpful advice:
- When starting out, publish three shorts AND a novel.
- 5,000 word shorts are okay. 10,000 word shorts are great.
- Don’t sell cheap eBooks. Higher prices are better.
- Edit again.
- Steady publishing is better than quantity.
- Research the time, price, quality model. Pick two.
- Don’t look at sales figures by month. Do so by quarter.
- Invest for a full year.
- Trust your publisher.
One last piece of advice, no matter how bad it gets or overwhelmed you feel, keep writing. Don’t buy into the self doubt for a moment, but improve when necessary. Success takes time, and for authors, that time is better spent writing!