I’ve been publishing erotic fiction on Amazon for just over a year. I thought it would be useful to share the pros and cons, as I’ve experienced them.
% Commission for Authors
Amazon pays an unusually high percentage of commission to authors who sign up with them exclusively. For sales made in specific sales territories, this equates to 70% for e-book sales and 60% for paperback sales (after printing costs).
The only negative I have found is that, for sales which take place in countries outside of that list, Amazon do not confirm the location of the sale. As a writer, you therefore have no idea where those readers are located, or any ability to audit Amazon’s 35% commission payments to you.
And it goes without saying that, if you do sign up with Amazon exclusively (and therefore 70% commission payments), you need to ensure that you don’t sell your work on any other site, as well as being careful about how much of each book you release on free sites. This does impact your ability as an author to get your name known, because publishing on free sites, such as Literotica, is an excellent way to build up a following. You are also unable to sell on other sites and a number of my readers refuse to purchase anything from Amazon for moral or personal reasons.
There are various Amazon sites across the world (US/.COM, UK, DE, FR, ES, IT, NL, JP, BR, CA, MX, AU, IN). Payments are made to authors from each of those sites individually. Therefore, if an author sells eBooks on three different sites, they will be paid via three separate transactions.
This can be a little confusing because it means that, as an author, you do not get paid a standard amount by Amazon for each book title but instead are dependent on various factors, including fluctuating currency rates. For example, a few months ago, I sold three copies of Fictional Fantasies (Exxxtended version). When I received payments for these, they were:
- £1.73 (Amazon.co.uk)
- £2.07 (Amazon.com)
- £2.11 (Amazon.ca)
Amazon provides the author with a fairly decent web front-end through which to view the sales that have been made. An independent review is undertaken on all changes being published, including when new books are submitted or existing books are amended. To Amazon’s credit, the turnaround has always been fairly swift. In my experience, changes are published within a day, often much less. I particularly like the fact that the content of both eBooks and paperbacks can continue to be altered – so just in case you see a typo after publishing, you can simply go back and amend it.
The only downside I have found is that, once a paperback book has been published, I don’t believe it can ever be removed. So even when you hit delete on it, the book seems destined to remain on your list of available publications forever more (albeit marked as ‘Out of Print’).
Various current and historical reports are made available to authors, via the Amazon website, which provides a fairly basic set of data around each sale made. However, it is only possible to look back at the raw data for the past 90 days. Therefore, you may wish to take regular downloads of the data from Amazon and store locally, if you ever wish to look back on historical sales made.
Advertising and Marketing
Although Amazon do allow the majority of their publications to run Ad campaigns, this option is locked down for “books that contain mature or erotic content”. This limits the ability for authors to get their work out there.
Our hands are further tied for a number of other reasons too. I don’t know the detail, but I’ve been told by some of my readers, for example those in Indonesia, that erotic fiction books are hidden from them on the Amazon site they access. Put simply, somebody, somewhere is preventing them from viewing or buying erotica.
And then of course, relatively few readers will leave a review for an erotic fiction book, again making it difficult to build any momentum behind your book. I’ve even had some women email me, to say that they love my stories but can’t purchase them, because they would be stored on their iPad or Kindle, which their husband/children have access to.
In conclusion, it can be a bit of a minefield but, overall, I am happy with the service Amazon have provided to me, as an author of erotic fiction. My bestselling book to date, is undoubtedly the very popular ‘To Love, Honour and Oh Pay’.
Fenella Ashworth is a British author of contemporary erotic fiction. All of her stories are available from Amazon and free for those with Kindle Unlimited access. Her best known novels are ‘To Love, Honour and Oh Pay’ and the Daniel Lawson series.
Fenella also releases stories on BooksieSilk, Booksie, Lush Stories and Literotica, and is often visible in the Literotica ‘Erotic Couplings’ Hall of Fame (Top Rated).
For a chance to win copies of her stories in a free monthly prize draw, as well as keeping up to date with news from Fenella, please sign up to her newsletter.