The one where Emilia Rose writes erotica on Patreon (and it's her full-time job)

Emilia Rose writes erotica—specifically werewolf erotica—for Patreon. She builds her audience by serializing chapters on Wattpad, then at the end of each chapter she directs her readers to subscribe to her Patreon if they want to read the complete book, then when the book is done she pulls it off both platforms and puts it up on Kindle.

As a result of this strategy, she is earning tens of thousands of dollars a month from her 2,897 patrons on Patreon and an equal sum from her readers on Kindle. As I try to learn more about how to serialize my own novels, Emilia was kind enough to share her secrets with me. Here they are:

How did you first start writing erotica?

I love reading trashy werewolf romance novels.

If I couldn’t read them for the rest of my life, I would probably, most likely, die.

Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it was honestly one of my favorite things to do throughout high school and during my first few months of college. I must’ve read all the smut I could find online because halfway through my first year at the university, I couldn’t find anything new that I liked.

So, I decided to write a book myself. I wanted drama, love, steamy, and, of course, werewolves. At the time, I started writing under my real name and quickly realized that I wanted to write steamier romance and erotic content, without my family reading my stories.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. I just don’t want them reading about filthy-mouthed, dirty-talking, panty-melting alpha men. That would be an extremely awkward and embarrassing conversation.

Wanting to keep my identity a secret—just from them—I jumped into a new pen name without thinking that it would take off. I was doing it for fun, and it just was something to take my mind off my studies.

But writing erotic content has now become my full-time career.

You got your start on Wattpad, how did you reach an audience there?

Gaining traction on any reading app/Kindle is hard. It took me a year to build a solid audience on Wattpad. 

My best advice is to consistently show up, consistently post new content, and consistently interact with your community. Respond to comments. Ask your readers questions like: “What do you think is going to happen next?” or “When will they finally kiss?” or even “Who’s your favorite character in the story so far?”

And when readers answer your question, respond to them.

When you reach out to your favorite artist or author, how cool is it when they respond back? You probably feel like you’re on top of the world. I know that I do. So, be that person for others. You don’t know how many readers appreciate it.

As for a consistent release schedule, you don’t have to update a new chapter every single day. But make sure you’re releasing on a consistent basis. For example, if you release on Tuesday one week, release on Tuesday the next.

If you need to miss a day or you know that your update will be late, make sure to tell your audience. Your readers are hungry for more content from you! Don’t leave them hanging for days at a time with no contact at all.

Build your community!

Did you always know you were going to serialize on Patreon? Or did you consider other platforms?

I never thought I would join a platform like Patreon, simply because I didn’t think anyone would pay for my writing or my stories.

When my most popular book hit one million reads on Wattpad, my fiancé pushed me to join Patreon. At the time, I didn’t even know what Patreon was. When I found out that it was a paid platform, I flat out declined and asked him, “Why would anyone pay for my writing?”

He continued to push me to join for months. Months! But still, I couldn’t wrap my mind around anyone giving me money to read my work. I wasn’t a popular author. I wasn’t traditionally published. I wasn’t a literary star. I was just me.

I grew up in a household where money was tight. I had the mindset that, because I didn’t spend money on things that I didn’t absolutely need, other people wouldn’t either.

One day, I finally cracked and started a Patreon. It took a while to build my first audience, but after switching pen names and writing more erotic and steamy romance content, my audience was growing exponentially.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of hard work.

From the beginning, I treated it like a full-time job. I published consistently and published tons of content. Some days, I even published ten chapters! (I vow to never do that again. It took too much out of me.)

Nevertheless, I pushed through the struggle of juggling writing, school, and a part-time job.

It’s hard, especially in the beginning.

But if I can do it, you can do it too!

Can you tell me more about your publishing strategy and how it works?

My publishing strategy includes offering free books on online platforms like Wattpad, then promoting my next-book-in-series or other content on Patreon to my Wattpad followers. If they want to read all my content right when it releases, then they will join my Patreon.

I don’t shove Patreon down my followers’ throats though, either. If they don’t want to join, then they can still enjoy the books I have freely available on Wattpad.

Once I complete the books on Wattpad and Patreon, I edit them, then pull them down from all free platforms and release them on Amazon. Unfortunately, I cannot keep the free versions available on Wattpad or any free platform because it goes against Amazon’s TOS and I would not be able to sell the book.

The books I place on Wattpad, Patreon, and Amazon are the same books. However, since Wattpad is a serial platform, I do revise and edit the books drastically before placing them on Amazon.

Would you be willing to share how much you earn monthly? And what percentage comes from each revenue stream?

I’m earning multiple five-figures per month from my writing.

For the first year, I was earning about 70-90 percent of my monthly income from Patreon alone. Patreon is my steadiest stream of income, mainly because I’m always providing my supporters with new and exciting content.

Now, I earn about 50 percent of my income from Patreon.

I attribute this to the increase of income I am receiving from other online platforms like Amazon and Apple Books. My success on these other platforms is largely because of my awesome community of readers on Patreon! My readers love buying physical copies and will usually leave a review of the books if I ask them!

To market my books on Amazon and other retailers, I mainly promote on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook and do newsletter swaps (which are when I promote another author in my newsletter and they promote me in theirs).

If you want to publish on these platforms and don’t want the hassle of figuring out each retailer’s website, I recommend using Draft2Digital. All you have to do is upload your manuscript and cover to their website and choose which platforms you want to distribute your book.

You have 2,897 patrons on Patreon. How did you find that audience?

Honestly, I hate paid ads.

I will do everything in my power not to spend money on ads because they’re so variable.

Currently, to advertise, I curate a community of readers on free reading platforms like Wattpad and Inkitt. By releasing one chapter per week, I give those readers my book for free. Most of the time, that same book is already available completely on my Patreon.

Every time I update on a free website, I give my readers the option of reading the book on Patreon by mentioning that the book is completed elsewhere. But even if they choose not to join, I always complete the book on those free websites.

So, how do you convert readers from one platform to another? Cliffhangers.

Cliffhangers are super important for this type of serialization strategy! If you wrap the chapter up nice, the reader will feel satisfied with the ending and won’t mind waiting for the next chapter.

BUT

If you finish a chapter with the main love interest pushing the main character against a door, his nose buried into the crook of her neck, and his hot breath fanning her throat…

OR

If you finish a chapter with the main character mistaking the main love interest as the creepy guy who’s been stalking her, and she fatally stabs him in the stomach, and when he collapses on the ground in a pool of his own blood and his hood falls back, the main character sees who she really stabbed… 

Or 

If you finish a chapter with the main love interest showing up at the main character’s door late at night after the main character confessed her feelings to him and he laughed in her face hours earlier… 

You’re going to get a whole bunch of readers who can’t wait for what’s next. They need to know how the story ends. They can’t wait another hour, another day, and especially not another week. They. Need. It. Now.

I’ve read so many stories where I literally could not wait to read the next chapter. The cliffhangers are so good that I don’t mind paying to read more.

What is your daily writing schedule? How much do you write vs. promote vs. interact with your community etc.?

I release new written content every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday across four different stories. 

On Mondays, I release two chapters of Story One for all tiers. On Wednesdays, I release three chapters of Story Two for my highest tier only AND I release an erotic one-shot for all tiers. On Fridays, I release five chapters of Story Three for all tiers.

My time is split relatively evenly between writing and the writing business. I spend about 20 hours per week writing, more if I’m editing a book to release on Amazon. The other twenty hours are dedicated to promoting, marketing, and interacting with my community.

What are some of the downsides of Patreon? If you could redesign the publishing industry from scratch what would it look like?

To preface this answer, this is my opinion and what works/doesn’t work for me. It is not intended to be a rule, just some things that I’ve noticed while on Patreon and other platforms.

Patreon has set up its website like a blog, which makes the platform incredibly difficult to use for ongoing stories. Since I release two to five chapters per week of a single story, it is difficult for readers to find previous chapters. From a reader’s perspective, it’s not a great experience.

Every time I upload new chapters, I have to make a new post. I update on Patreon chapter-by-chapter, which becomes a mess after a while. Posts are everywhere, and it’s hard to find them. So, I’ve created a master list of chapters and books, where to find them, etc.

This is not the only drawback of Patreon. Recently, Patreon forced me to remove a story that did not go against their Terms of Service. The story was a step-brother, step-sister romance in which the step-siblings had a relationship before their parents even met each other. Patreon classified it as incest when there was absolutely no incest included in the story in the slightest. Both characters are consenting adults who were not related.

After I tried to explain to Patreon that no incest was included in the story, they still forced me to remove it. This story is one of my favorites and had been on Patreon for months. As an author, it sucks to have content removed for no reason at all. Many of my readers were crushed because I couldn’t offer the completed book anywhere else.

Traditional publishing is its own monster. It has downsides like pitching to agents, ownership of the work, and the length of time it takes to publish one book. For me, I found a literary agent within the first couple months of pitching (which is usually not the case). Sometimes people spend years searching for an agent.

When we started working together, I had these big hopes and dreams. But after getting rejections from publishing house after publishing house and after my agent not responding to my emails for months, I dropped him and all my hopes of traditional publishing.

I didn’t understand how a popular book that has reached over 10 million views on online platforms wasn’t being picked up by any traditional publishers. So, not wanting to rely on anyone else for the success of my books, I began publishing them myself.

And it’s made me more money than I believe I could’ve made publishing traditionally because I get to keep all my profits. I don’t have to share them with any publishers, any agents, etc. From covers to blurbs to content, I have total control of my books.

If I could redesign the publishing industry, I would provide authors and aspiring authors with the tools they need to make their own books successful without relying on traditional publishers, agents, or companies. Authors deserve to be paid for the world, the characters, the plot, the dialogue, and everything that they create. 

Each author pours their heart and soul into their writing. And I’ve seen so many authors get discouraged about their work not being picked up by agents, etc. With the right tools and an awesome platform, anyone can make a career out of their passion.

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