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.
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.
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.
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!