Anyone can write erotica—it’s just sex scenes strung together. Right? W-R-O-N-G!
To be successful in the competitive erotic fiction market you need more than hot sex on every page. Sometimes you don’t even have to have that much sex in the story to sell like wildfire.
What are some of the ingredients to writing that sizzler (with or without sex)?
1. Be comfortable with what you’re writing. If you are, then the writing flows, if you aren’t, the writing labours = a boring read and an unmarketable work.
2. Characters: as with all forms of commercial fiction, characters are the most important ingredient for any successful story. A publisher once told me that she rejects approx. 98% of all work submitted. Why? Her answer was: ‘poor characters’. A deficient plot can be rectified, “bad writing” can be fixed, but deficient characters cannot (at least not without a huge re-write).
No bland cardboard cut-outs, your guys and gals have to be “real”. Create characters that leap off the page; create sympathetic characters. How? Become involved with the characters. The writer has many ways to do this, but one path is through emotion.
3. Emotion: an author needs to create an emotional bond with the reader. How? Through characters. Readers read for characters—they want to “live” as the characters: share their triumphs and conflicts, their fear and their peril. And characters must respond to each other—in the bedroom and out of it. How? Through emotion. The characters must have a “connection” beyond the physical. And a “sex scene” without emotion is boring – to read and to write!
4. Conflict: characters just don’t have sex, they have drama and they have conflict (emotional, physical), to add pace to the story.
5. What’s hot in the market? What sells like hot cakes? Male-Male stories; ménage; shapeshifters; vampires – do your research!
6. Think closely and cleverly about how to market yourself and your stories. Astrid’s books regularly hit best-seller lists, so she must be doing something right!
7. Consider how to make your writing stand out from the crowd. Write effectively using emotion, dialogue, conflict, characters and then draw on real-life to spice-up your writing. Research is the key! Write the book you want to read and take risks with your writing: don’t accept bland in your stories—dare to be different! But understand what you are writing.
8. Think seriously about whether you should be writing erotica? If you’re squeamish about writing sexy, then this genre may not be right for you.
But can you still write “erotica” without graphic sex? In her workshop, Astrid will define what makes a work erotic and what readers want (and don’t want) – the answers will surprise you! Astrid will define the genre and introduce you to the markets and how you can write successful erotica and make money. For more information about her workshop please click here.
Astrid Cooper has been professionally published in Australia, UK, Europe and North America for over 20 years. She is also a freelance manuscript editor and assessor, as well as a teacher and mentor.