Best advice I ever got was to look at the top 50 or so in your niche and take note of what you see in their font choices. Do what they do. Color, font style, *font size,* title line & byline positioning, basically... in this business, don't be afraid to be a bit of a copycat when it comes to covers. Putting too much thought/work into it costs money and readers already know what they want to buy (and are very unlikely to buy what they don't recognize quickly as "what I want to buy" in their minds.)
I’m laughing right now wondering if there are 50 people consistently pubbing in my niche.
But the advice is sound.
Oh man, you're in a tiny boat! Well, similarly, do you know how to research the people in your niche and see which ones are moving products successfully? Basically it's going through the common names you see and taking note of each book's sales rank. After you've sorted through, let's say *ten* or so of the names you frequently see in your niche, figure out which of these authors has the most books in a good sales rank—once you narrow it down like that, it's easier to figure out *who* to be watching. Tbh, it's probably a good thing your niche is small, that makes it a bit faster to figure out which authors are worth learning from!
My research technique is much more woo-woo. I just sort of browse my main 3-5 keywords and see who’s there, what they’ve pubbed recently, am I on the first page or third. Stuff like that. Then I let it influence whatever I’m doing (usually covers but often blurbs too). It’s also how I did school.
I’m always open to trying new things though, so I’ll try that.
This is a dumb question, but how do you see the top 50 in your niche?
Is it simply a case of searching for your niche and looking at the top 50 results?
If there's a subcat for your niche you'd google "amazon.com top 100 [niche] erotica", which will give you the top 100 bestsellers in that subcat.
So if, for example, your niche was BDSM you'd be looking for [this page](https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-BDSM-Erotica/zgbs/digital-text/7620212011).
Having a look, they seem to be very broad and not kink-specific (not at all that I'm surprised), so that doesn't really work for me.
But thanks for the tip.
I always have this problem. I'm sure the advice is sound, that I am supposed to look at the top 50 books, write similar content and blurbs, and copycat the covers, but I don't see any similarity in any of them—blurbs in every direction, no two covers alike, and all completely different stories and kinks. I keep working on it though, maybe I'll figure it out. (EDIT) I wanted to add this part. I have problems understanding when I read on here how ALL the browsers will instantly ditch me if I mix Genre a little in my Author Central back catalog. ALL of them? Some people out there must just sort of browse around, surely. Do you mean to say ALL buyers know exactly what kink and cover they want? I don't do it like that(?) nor do I know anyone that does. We walk into a used bookstore and look around for something that interests us, a cool-looking travel book, an odd-looking novel, or a book about how to live in the wilderness. Then I buy it. Same on Kindle. I look around and see something that looks good, then KU. I believe all of you. You have all been here a long time and gained a lot of experience. But some of it makes no sense.
it depends on how niche your, uh, niche is - if it's, say, "BDSM", then, yeah, that can cover quite a lot of things, and a sensory-deprivation latex-heavy book is going to look different to a naughty neighbour chastity-belt book. And you could write BDSM and include both of these, to varying degrees. Some people work on a super-specific niche, others are broader, but it's generally helpful to have some "core focus", even if it's as broad as "F/f BDSM, generally with power imbalance and physical impacts" or something. That should give you a decent foundation, and readers that can go "oh, cool, they're giving me what I want". Then you can scatter in a few things on the edge of that Venn diagram, that still overlap but less centrally (e.g. "F/f BDSM, generally with power imbalance and office outfits"). You're right in that most readers aren't super-laser-focused on just one thing and can endure some level of "drift", but it's best to have at least one "core focus" area rather than write a load of utterly different stuff.
Yes. I'm starting to understand. Actually, I just came here to add that to my predominantly MM vanilla catalog, well I just finished a rough BDSM, and it's flying off the shelf since I published I last evening! I have other off beat MM as well. Some is first kiss, others are bondage and domination, and lots of sissies. Thanks for your answer. I'm trying to learn. But I used the example of a second-hand bookstore. I don't stomp out of the store if all the books aren't in the same genre. I met a guy once that read absolutely nothing except Zane Grey Western novels. Absolutely nothing else. But everybody else reads a broader spectrum. I like travel books and do some writing. I read Paul Thoreau and Somerset Maugham. But If they have something in their catalog that doesn't appeal to me, I don't close it off and say 'No More!". Whatever. I'm trying not to sound like I'm arguing. I believe you guys 100%. I just can't imagine someone looking at my first kiss books will discard me because I publish a BDSM. Maybe...
most readers are likely broader-read than we tend to portray them as, but remember you're trying to build up a group of people that want to buy your stuff. So if you're consistent, that's a lot easier - a reader that likes your rough BDSM book sees that you've released a new book, looks at the blurb / cover and goes "yup, that looks like rough BDSM, I like that, I'll buy it". If you swap to something massively different then the chance of that drops - _some_ readers will be both into rough BDSM and whatever the other book is about, but not all. Ideally, you want to end up with enough people looking at your stuff and going "fuck yeah, new book by peculiar resolve, awesome, that's a must-buy!" and that gets a lot easier if the books are close enough to appeal to the same people, without them needing to look at the details and figure out if it's what they want. The more different things you write for, the more you're watering down that appeal - it _can_ work, if you put out enough material to make up for the dilution, or what you work with is generic enough to have broad appeal, but it probably makes things a bit easier for yourself if you focus on a specific thing, at least to start with.
So your existing readers probably won't abandon you, or blacklist you or anything... but it does mean they might be less interested in future releases, because they'll be less sure if it'll be what they're into or not. It's kind of a "branding" thing - if your brand is strongly _thing X_, and then you release _thing Y_, that can make people less interested in you overall, because they want that hit of _thing X_ and aren't interested in _thing Y_ at all.
Thank You. I think what I am doing is experimenting still. I did build up a brand: MM vanilla. But nobody was too interested. (I started there because it seemed like something I could do and I was a little intimidated that I was writing erotica at all.) Now I am trying to understand Kinks and trying to find something that people are more interested in. I think when I find something I like and can do well enough that people buy I will start a new pen and write only one genre. I see that those that build up a good brand with good covers succeed. Sometimes the writing isn't even that good but if they have a consistent series and good covers and blurbs they are far up the kindle chart. So, once I figure out something I can put together, then I will make a new pen and put together a series. For now, just put them all in there and use it as a learning process. The rough BDSM sold more overnight than some of my Vanilla MM sold in a year.
What's selling the best? That's how you know what readers are looking for. Read the genre, write the genre, study the genre like it's money in your pocket.
Thank you. That's what I try to do. My kinkier sells better than my vanilla. That's a start!
Only two rules really apply.
1. Do what others do.
1. Do what makes your cover text most visible at thumbnail size.
As long as the style choices make sense for the rest of the design and don't affect the legibility of the type, it really doesn't matter.
I suspect that shoppers give your cover about a quarter of a second look before choosing to move on or look in. So any double effort required to read the title that takes longer than .25 seconds will lose the potential sale.
I think a moderate contrast of letters against background (not opposing colors but complementary colors), and sans sarif fonts for clarity at a distance -- they are looking at a cover that is about 1/4 square inch -- is good practice.
I suspect that a black and red dominated cover suggests a more straight up, get to the sex erotic romp, while the more pastel you get, especially into the aqua-blues and neutral greens , suggests more drawn-out, story-oriented themes.
And then of course, anything pink will draw a female customer, anything blue will draw a male customer. Just the way it is -- choose your cover photo accordingly.
> I suspect that a black and red dominated cover suggests a more straight up, get to the sex erotic romp, while the more pastel you get, especially into the aqua-blues and neutral greens , suggests more drawn-out, story-oriented themes.
These colors signal tone of the work, not amount of sex. Pastels and brighter colors like aqua signal a more lighthearted story, where red/black/grey/navy signals a darker or more serious tone.
> And then of course, anything pink will draw a female customer, anything blue will draw a male customer.
This is nowhere close to true and you really need to stop giving advice based on your assumptions.
I’m giving no advice, so I’m not busting your union of “trusted smutters,” so you can put away your baseball bat and go back in your clubhouse. I’m sharing speculations and inviting discussion with those who also speculate on marketing questions. Or is this not allowed, Elon?
"Just the way it is" typically means one believes it to be fact. I'd think someone who writes for a living would understand that words have meaning and how they'd be interpreted by OP.
Again, are we telling people what they can and can’t say around here? Is there some brotherhood that owns the advice? Can I share marketing speculations or not?
You can spout bullshit all you want, we'll keep calling it out.
That this weird doubling down of your supposed victimhood is your reaction to me telling you that you did present that statement as fact, not speculation, says a lot more about you than it does me. So go ahead and continue being petulant and calling people Elon. People on here can read and can see that one of us is acting far more like him than the other.
Yes, we agree on one thing at least: people here can judge for themselves. You’re not required to tell people what they can or can’t share. You aren’t required to hold hands lest the poor vulnerable dears happen across bad advice. I’m not a “trusted smutter,” so they’ll be safe! Phew, right?
I find it revealing that “trusted smutters”, this “we” you speak of, find it necessary to call out “bullshit.” Do you have meetings about it in the clubhouse?
If you have an issue with the flair then talk to u/SalaciousStories about it.
Correcting bad advice has always been a thing on this sub, and hundreds of posters have managed to not feel threatened by that. Curious that you are.
I share speculations gleaned from analysis of my own numbers. You seem threatened as though I’m proffering “bad advice.” What I’m offended by is your presumption to attempt to shut down discussions you don’t like. “You really need to stop” is the phrase you used. Why must I “need to stop” exactly? You wear the deputy badge. Is there an implied threat I’m supposed to understand? If so, state it.
I explained to you already that my issue was you presenting a falsehood as a fact.
You're being deliberately obtuse so that you can continue arguing. This very thread is a testament to the fact that I have no ability to stop you from posting, so you can continue to pass off bullshit as truth, just as I can continue commenting that it's false.
You want so badly to act like you're being silenced while *still commenting and discussing*.
You don't have a "trusted" flair because I haven't noticed any sort of pattern of usefulness to what you have to offer. Mostly you just spout complete horseshit (like your "marketing speculation" in this thread that has no bearing in reality, or worse, your own subjective reality). So if you want to double down on that horseshit, I'll just assume you're here to troll and take appropriate action to prevent that from happening in the future.
Generally, it's about setting, niche, and/or tone, and/or basic graphic design skills and composition, not outdated 20th century sexism or "themes".
Blue contrasts with yellow/orange and vice versa, so if the stock photo is yellow-leaning, a blue font is likely to work better and be more visible, or it could be a beach read/holiday romance.
Pinks and purples show well on a white, silver or grey background while red, white and green naturally pops up on Christmas stories. Black and red could mean anything from a dark romance, mafia or bad boy to bdsm or fucking Santa Claus, or the designer just didn't want to use a white font (which with a drop shadow will look good on almost any color.)
Also, customers could not give a shit about the font color because most, if not all, e-ink readers displays are in black and white so they're not seeing the female-attracting pink font anyway.
Good points here. Thanks for that.
But if you look at top-selling erotic titles using red on black-dominated covers, you'll find the fucking starts up pretty quickly, while in the books with the more pastel covers, the fucking doesn't get going till later on.
We're talking about readers who want to masturbate here, not generate feelings. I'm not talking about romances people use for feelings, I'm talking about erotica people use for self-stimulation. What nobody gives a shit about is whether they are reacting to outdated 20th C sexism themes or not. It's not me saying this. Go to the amazon "all departments" and search "pink." Everything is female. Search "blue." Almost everything is male. You go and fight it, and good on you. I'm using it.
Finally, I am going to bet that a lot of the reading market is shopping on a laptop or phone, and reacting to colors. Every publisher big and small but you seems to think colors matter at the point of purchase.
> the fucking starts up pretty quickly
Likely because they're in a niche where the expectation is high heat and spice, which can be indicated through the use of color combined with photos.
Look, if we go into the [top 100 bestselling erotica list](https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Erotica/zgbs/digital-text/157057011), most of those aren't legitimate *erotica*. They're high heat romance novels with a ton of sex.
Yeah, I said it's outdated sexism, I didn't say it's dead. Nor am I going to waste my time and go "fight it".
And odds are, they're not. Readers react to the title, cover photo, or author name, over anything else. Those three factors carry more weight than font color ever will, because names have reputations, photos have sexy models, and titles scream about tropes or niches.
Word of mouth and reputation is God among readers, hence books with not great covers are still in the overall top 500 six years after publication, and what they predominantly talk about is the hot daddy on the cover, the tropes, or the author's writing ability, not the fact you chose to go up a digit when cycling through the RGB settings for your font color.