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How to make money writing erotica: selling sexy stories

Erotica writing is a growing and lucrative industry that offers creative writers the opportunity to turn their passions into profit, whether they want to make extra money or even make writing their full time day job.

We’ve all seen the incredible success that 50 Shades of Grey had – and despite it’s many criticisms there’s no denying that it brought more awareness into the world of erotica.

Whether you’re an experienced writer or just starting out, there’s no time like the present to dive into the world of erotica and make money doing what you love. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of writing erotica for money, delve into the key elements of writing successful erotica, and outline the monetization opportunities available to writers in this field. 

Whether you’re interested in self publishing your work online, building a loyal fanbase, or pursuing traditional publishing opportunities, we’ll provide you with the information you need to start your journey as an erotica writer.

So, what exactly is erotica?

dictionary page with word sexy highlighted

Also known as erotic fiction, erotica is a genre of fiction that explores sexual themes, desires, and experiences in an imaginative and artistic manner. Erotica writers create stories, novels, poems, and other forms of written work that aim to stimulate and arouse their readers, while also exploring deeper themes such as love, passion, and intimacy.

Depsite the sexual content though, erotica is not simply porn and sex scenes (or dirty stories as your granny might call it!). Erotica readers want great story-telling, with character development and engaging story-arcs.

Erotic writing doesn’t have to be the same length as romance novels – in erotica a short story is common, but writers often develop those into a longer series of books following the same characters.

How much money can you make writing erotica?

The amount of money you can make writing erotica can vary widely depending on several factors such as the platform you use for publishing, the amount of work you produce, and how effectively you market your work. Some erotica writers make a few hundred dollars a month, while others can earn several thousand dollars or more. It can be hard work but there is potential to make a lot of money with erotic short stories.

Top ten Amazon erotica writer Jade K. Scott consistently makes six figures selling her short short stories, and has even written a book about her success, titled ‘The ALL-NEW Six-Figure Erotica Author: How I Make Six Figures Self-Publishing Erotica‘.

Finding your erotic writing niche

One of the keys to success in the erotica writing industry is finding your niche. With so many different sub-genres and themes to explore, it’s important to find the area of erotica that you are most passionate about and that speaks to you on a personal level. This will help you stand out in the market and connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Some of the most popular niches in the erotica writing industry include:

  • BDSM
  • LGBTQ+ erotica
  • Romantic erotica
  • Fantasy-themed erotica.

Within these broad categories, there are countless sub-niches to explore, such as science fiction erotica, historical erotica, and more.

When choosing your erotic content niche, it’s important to consider your own experiences, interests, and preferences, as well as what type of writing comes naturally to you. You may also want to consider what type of audience you want to reach, as well as the level of explicitness you are comfortable writing.

Once you have identified your niche, it’s important to research the market to see what is already available and what types of erotica are in demand. Looking at other erotica authors and their work can help you understand what sets your writing apart and what you can offer that is unique and valuable to your readers.

It’s also important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in your niche, as well as any changes in the erotica writing industry as a whole. This will help you stay relevant and competitive, and will give you new ideas and inspiration for your erotic stories.

Should you use a pen name when writing and publishing erotica?

It’s very common to choose to write under a pen name when writing erotic fiction. Whilst it’s perfectly fine to write under your real name name and you may feel completely comfortable doing so, a lot of people prefer to use a pen name to keep their erotic writing life separate from their ‘real’ or ‘family’ life.

It also means when pursuing other endeavors your name isn’t always linked with your erotic writing.

Plus, it can be fun choosing your pen name!

Writing tips and techniques

As for any aspiring writer regardless of genre, it’s important to practice and develop your writing skills. Most successful authors spent a lot of time practicing and refining their skills.

  • Crafting Compelling Characters and Plotlines

The success of an erotica story lies in the strength of its characters and plotlines. To captivate and retain the interest of your readers, it is crucial to create characters that are rich in personality, relatable, and multi-dimensional. This not only keeps the reader engaged, but also invests them in the story, making them eager to see what happens next.

  • Sharpening Your Writing Skills

Regardless of your experience as a writer, there is always room for improvement. Whether it’s taking writing workshops, reading a diverse range of literature, or seeking feedback from fellow writers, you can constantly refine your writing abilities and become a better storyteller. By investing in your skills, you can elevate your erotica writing to new heights and create truly captivating stories.

There are plenty of resources out there to help you become a better writer.

  • Writing Erotica with Sensitivity and Understanding

Writing about intimate and personal topics requires a delicate touch. As an erotica writer, it is crucial to approach these themes with sensitivity, understanding, and empathy. This means researching your topics thoroughly, writing with respect and care, and always being mindful of the impact your writing may have on others. By approaching erotica writing with these principles in mind, you can create stories that are not only engaging but also respectful and thought-provoking.

What makes bad erotica bad?

I’m sure we’ve all cringed while reading particularly bad sex scenes or ‘adult content’ in books. Cheesy language, overdone metaphors, stilted dialogue and so on.

So how you can make sure to avoid that in your own writing? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Don’t overdo the sex: Obviously, erotica requires some steamy scenes, but it’s important to make sure there’s a story there too. Make sure the in-between sections have good content that develops your story.
  • Include a happy ending: Pun not intended. Erotica readers, like romance readers don’t want to be let down with a bad ending. Whilst it doesn’t have to a falling in love kind of happy ever after, a good conclusion to your story is vital.
  • Build it up: Focus on the build up and don’t just get straight to it. Readers like to be drawn in. See part of your story-telling as literary foreplay.
  • Keep it real, but not too real: Whilst readers are looking for escapism, keeping some elements of realism in your stories. Your main character might be incredibly attractive, athletic etc, but keep them human too, so the reader can relate emotionally.
  • Read for research: Read, read, read – what stands out in other’s writing? What makes it engaging, enjoyable, sexy?

You can get a free trial of Kindle Unlimited to help you get reading as much as possible.

How to create an online writing portfolio

Building an online portfolio is important for writer in any niche, including erotic. This gives you examples of your work that you can show to potential buyers or people who you may want to work with. There a few places you can host your online portfolio:

  • Your own website: Gives you freedom to customise and create your portfolio how you want
  • A website created for people to curate and share their portfolios
  • LinkedIn: You can upload files and samples of your writing
  • Pressfolios: Fro journalists, writers and bloggers to showcase their portfolio.

Monetizing Your Erotica Writing

woman reading using a Kindle

So, once you’ve got started actually writing your sexy stories, how do you go about making good money from them?

Publishing on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

A popular option for monetizing your erotica writing is to publish on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). This self publishing platform allows you to publish and sell your work as an ebook, reaching a huge market of Kindle users. KDP makes it easy to set up your book, manage your royalties, and even promote your work through Amazon’s marketing tools. With KDP, you’ll be able to reach a large, global audience and monetize your erotic writing. It’s free to sell your erotica stories on KDP so it’s a great way to get started. They just take commission on your book sales.

Submitting Your Work to Erotica Publishers and Magazines

If you’re looking for a more traditional publishing route, consider submitting your work to erotica publishers and magazines. Many publishers specialize in erotica and will be interested in publishing your work, especially if it fits within their niche. Just be sure to research the publisher’s guidelines and submission process before sending in your work, and always be prepared for the possibility of rejection.

Selling Directly to Readers

One of the most straightforward ways to make extra income from your erotica writing is by selling it directly to readers. You can create and sell digital copies of your stories on platforms like Gumroad or Sellfy, or even set up a simple website where readers can purchase your work. By selling directly to your audience, you’ll be able to keep more of the profits for yourself and build a direct relationship with your readers.

Utilizing Crowdfunding Platforms

If you’re looking for a way to monetize your erotica writing that combines the best of both worlds – selling directly to your audience and receiving support from your fans – consider utilizing crowdfunding platforms like Patreon or Kickstarter. These platforms allow you to monetize your writing by setting up a monthly subscription or a one-time project goal, and offer a great way to build a community of supporters around your writing. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an established erotica writer, crowdfunding can be a great way to monetize your work and build a loyal following.

A Quick Guide to Starting with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

  1. Create an Amazon account: To use KDP, you’ll need to create an Amazon account. This will give you access to all of Amazon’s publishing tools and platforms.
  2. Set up your book: To get started with KDP, you’ll need to create a book listing and upload your ebook file. You’ll need to provide a title, description, cover image, and keywords to help readers discover your book.
  3. Choose your royalties: KDP offers two royalty options: 35% or 70%. Choose the 70% royalty option if you want to earn a higher percentage of the sale price, but be aware that this option has some restrictions, including a higher price point for your book. You’ll still earn a royalty if your story is read using Kindle Unlimited.
  4. Set your price: You’ll need to set a price for your book when you create your listing. Keep in mind that Amazon takes a cut of your royalties, so make sure you’re pricing your book competitively.
  5. Keyword optimization: Make sure to include relevant keywords in your book title, description, and keywords section. This will help potential readers discover your book when they search for similar content on Amazon.
  6. Publish your book: Once you’ve completed the above steps, you’re ready to publish your book on KDP. It may take a few hours for your book to be live on the Amazon store, but once it’s live, it will be available for purchase worldwide.
  7. Promote your book: To reach more readers, consider using Amazon’s promotional tools and marketing your book on your own channels, such as your website or social media.
  8. Monitor your sales: You can track your sales and earnings in the KDP dashboard. Keep an eye on your sales and adjust your marketing efforts as needed to continue growing your audience.

Creating your ebook

Unfortunately, it’s not all about the writing! Once you have your story written, you’ll need to proofread and edit it too. It’s always worth getting another pair of eyes to look over your new book as sometimes others can spot errors or issues you may have missed.

Once your story is ready, you’ll need to format it into an ebook and add a cover. Luckily, it’s easy to do and there are plenty of options such as Canva that you can use to create an ebook. Amazon also have a tool you can use when uploading your book to KDP.

Book cover design

We all know that you should never judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it – first impressions count and book covers can make a difference! Take a good look at which book are successful and what elements they are using in their book covers to attract readers.

Alternatives to Amazon for selling erotica

Whilst Amazon gives you the opportunity to put your writing in front of a massive audience, there are a few other platforms you can use to sell your stories.


Smashwords is a leading self-publishing platform for independent authors and publishers. The platform allows you to publish, distribute, and sell your work as self-published books in a variety of formats, including PDF, EPUB, and MOBI. Smashwords is a great option for writers looking to publish erotica, as it offers a wide range of options for monetizing your work. You can set your own pricing for your books, and Smashwords will pay you a royalty of up to 85% of the list price on each sale. The platform also offers a number of marketing tools and resources to help you promote your work and reach new readers.

In addition to being a self-publishing platform, Smashwords also distributes your work to other retailers, such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple Books, helping you reach even more potential readers.


Draft2digital is a similar platform to Smashwords, helping indie authors sell their work. Draft2Digital are actually currently acquiring Smashwords. This is not a bad thing for erotica authors, as here’s what they say about the aqusition:

“Authors may continue to distribute erotica under the Smashwords erotica policies, as long as the book complies with the Smashwords terms of service. Draft2Digital will also work to make the Smashwords Store a more effective sales channel for erotica authors and their readers. Our goal is to improve discoverability for your books, to help more readers find you!”

Marketing yourself as an author

When it comes to building a strong online presence, having your own website or blog is a great first step. This is where you can showcase your work, share your thoughts and ideas, and connect with your audience. Your website or blog should be a reflection of your brand, so make sure it’s visually appealing, easy to navigate, and showcases your best work.

Social media is another important tool for promoting your writing and reaching a wider audience.

Choose platforms that are relevant to your niche and audience, and use them to engage with your followers, share your writing, and promote your events and news. Whether you’re using Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, consistency is key when it comes to building a strong social media presence.

Twitter is a particular good social media option for aspiring authors as it has a great community of writers ready to encourage and promote each other. Find and follow other erotic writers using hastags like #writingcommunity, #eroticawriter and #writerslift. The last one there is one writers use to help boost other writers – it’s a friendly community to be part of.

Building a network of followers and fans is also crucial in the erotica writing industry. Attend writing events, join online communities, and engage with your readers to build relationships and grow your network. The more people you connect with, the more opportunities you’ll have to reach new readers and promote your work.

Finally, engaging with your readers is an essential part of building loyalty and growing your following. Whether it’s through online forums, email, or social media, taking the time to respond to questions, comments, and feedback shows your readers that you value their support and care about their opinions. This level of engagement will help you build a connection with your readers, create a community of passionate and dedicated fans, and grow your online presence.

Other places to publish your erotic stories

There are a few more places you can submit your writing, some that pay for your work and others where you might want to publish to get your stuff out there. Always know your worth, and don’t give away your work for free unless you’re happy with what you’re getting in return.

How much should you charge for erotica stories?

There is no set price, but $2.99 is seen as a standard, acceptable price for an erotica short story. If it’s the first story in a series, authors will often charge a lower price to attract readers in to the first book, hoping they’ll continue on with the series and buy the following books at the higher price.

Go and sell those stories!

If you’ve got a passion for writing, the confidence to really go for it and the commitment to work hard, then writing erotica could be a great way to make money. You don’t need any qualifications or experience, just the ability to write well and the determination to go for it. You got this!