Every Saturday morning I check the New York Times Best Sellers list. My jaw dropped and is still unhinged because E.L. James has the #1 spot for combined print and e-book fiction sales for this week with Fifty Shades of Grey beating out the first week sales for such established authors like Jodi Picoult (#2), Robyn Carr (#3), Jonathan Kellerman (#4) and Gena Showalter (#7). Also, Fifty Shades Darker is #15 and Fifty Shades Freed is at #21.
E.L. James must be doing the snoopy dance, not only for hitting the #1 spot with her refurbished erotic romance Twilight fan fiction (when was the last time an erotic romance was #1 on the NY Times best seller list?), but her eye popping print deal most authors can only dream about.
Fans of The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy are going to applaud over this bit or news, while those who hate the books will want to bash their head against a wall. The New York Times is reporting:
“Now American publishers have just concluded a battle over the rights to re-release the book in the blockbuster fashion they think it deserves. This week, Vintage Books, part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, known for its highbrow literary credentials, won a bidding war for the rights to all three books, paying a seven-figure sum.
On Monday, the publisher will release new e-book editions of the trilogy. Weeks later will come a 750,000-copy print run of redesigned paperback editions.
Ms. James’s agent, Valerie Hoskins of London, is fielding offers from Hollywood producers for the film rights and from foreign publishers for the rights to the book in other languages.
“I think it can only get bigger in terms of its success,” Ms. Hoskins said. “One of the things about this is that in the 21st century, women have the ability to read this kind of material without anybody knowing what they’re reading, because they can read them on their iPads and Kindles.”
Where print editions of “Fifty Shades” are available, many independent booksellers have placed them front and center in stores, an unusual place for erotica among copies of Abraham Verghese’s “Cutting for Stone” and Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit From the Goon Squad.”
“It’s a major amusement,” said Margot Sage-EL, the owner of Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, N.J., which has sold dozens of copies and whose customers have begun asking for more erotica. “But I can’t really endorse it. What can I say, hey, we have some soft porn on the table?” *this is my local bookstore and they barely sell any romance. Heh*
A 7 figure sum means James is at least getting $1 million minimum. As for a hefty 7 figure sum that could mean upwards of close to $10 million. I haven’t seen this much excitement over a book or series of book since Twilight. (har har). My own review of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is my most visited review post in the history of my blog, edging out my reviews of JR Ward and Nalini Singh, which were once my most visited ones.
What does this mean for the future? A lot of things are going to change, IMO, just as when Twilight became a huge phenomenon and changed the publishing landscape.
Let’s look at both the pros and cons of what the hype surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey means for publishing and writers and authors.
You’re going to see a large amount of refurbished fan fiction being published. Those writers of naughty and erotic Twilight fan fic are going to come out in droves trying to sell their work. Publishers are going to welcome these stories with open arms, regardless if they’re well written or not.
Book that aren’t well written or not edited will probably sell well. Fifty Shades of Grey is a perfect example of this, and it’s even worse with Darker and Freed. No editing has been done. And does it really matter? No, because again, James just got a mega 7 figure print run book deal and has sold over 100,000 books of the trilogy at $10 a pop. You do the math.
More dark, angsty, abusive, obsessive heroes will be written and the Mary Sue virginal, slap her upside the head heroine who can only save the emo hero’s soul will become the norm. Writers who have no idea about the real BDSM culture or fail to do their research will try and pen BDSM scenes between the hero and heroine that is more false than fact, but readers will eat it up regardless. The sex toy industry may profit as well if those writers who do their research buy such products to use in their stories.
Those who write erotic romance, stand up and cheer because those readers who have read Fifty Shades of Grey will be on the lookout for more. This will increase your sales by leaps and bound and open readers who wouldn’t dare to read romance, or erotic romance will now be open to reading it. I once didn’t want to be considered an erotic romance author and was surprised that most of my book reviews used the word “erotic” when describing my books. Now I see this can only benefit me and other authors who write erotic romance.
An erotic romance has made the #1 spot on the New York Times! Whatever you may think of Fifty Shades of Grey, this is awesome thing. It can only help the romance genre in many ways. New types of readers will be open to reading romance. The romance genre can only benefit from this.
Those writers who think they don’t have the talent to compete and get published, this is your time to shine! Because of El James’ success, you too can get published. If James can take her fan fiction she wrote for fun and sold it make to make oodles of money, you can too.
I knew once the Today Show got wind of Fifty Shades of Grey, along with the mainstream media, this book and the other two into the trilogy would explode. It’s the hottest thing to hit publishing. Everyone is talking about it. I can’t stop talking about it. And from this, you’re going to see so many others jumping on the Fifty Shades bandwagon and hope for the same success EL James has. And why not? I would if I knew I could make money hand over fist. This is one trend that’s not going to die down anytime soon, even though a backlash of sorts has begun against Fifty Shades of Grey.
It’s been said time and again don’t follow trends. I’m calling BS on that. Trends don’t die down quickly. Look at Twilight as an example. This book came out seven years ago and it’s still going strong. Copy cats of Twilight have been published to great results and anyone who tries to follow the Fifty Shades trend might have the same results.
What does this mean for writers of fan fic who want to publish their stories like EL James did? There’s an unwritten rule in the fan fic world that you don’t make a profit from selling fan fic. James threw that out the window, and how can you blame her? There are no damaging consequences to her action regarding this. Her reward is world-wide recognition and how much her bank account has grown. Writing stories based on published books, television or movies are nothing new. But the idea that a writer uploads a piece of their fan fiction on a site like fanfiction.net and then tries to sell it leaves a bad taste in people’s mouth. But if a writer publishes fan fiction with a publisher and was never uploaded on a site like fanfiction.net, it’s not so bad. Why is that?
I admit, I got on my high horse about EL James publishing Fifty Shades of Grey because it was Twilight fan fic. But I have no right to judge. I’ve come to the conclusion that I have published fan fiction and have made a profit on it. Three of my titles, The Princess’s Bride, Sleeping with the Frenemy and Scandal in the Wind are essentially fan fiction. To some this is very wrong. I suppose it is. But when The Princess’s Bride is my biggest selling book out of any other title I published, netting me thousands of dollars in a year and a half, along with Scandal in the Wind selling very well, why would I not continue to do so? Because of this I may not receive respect and some may think I fail as an author, but it all comes down to making money for me. If these titles are making me a nice sum of money, why wouldn’t I write more of them? If EL James can do the same, why can’t I?
Also the few pieces of fan fiction I wrote and are up on Fanfiction.net has had a recent upswing of traffic. Less than a week ago I’ve posted a R-rated Downton Abbey fan fiction between Sir Richard and Mary that some believe has crossed a few lines in regards to the sex because Richard is forceful with having Mary to submit to him in the bedroom. It’s my most read piece there regardless and has increased the traffic read for my North and South fan fiction. What if I decided to publish an erotic Downton Abbey fan fiction. Would that be wrong if say the audience is there to read it and wants it? Yet another ethical writing question to ponder.
Over the next few months there’s going to be many discussions about EL James’ success and how the lengths she went through to get there. It should be interesting. Let’s hope it’s more positive than negative for helps the romance genre and the authors who write romance.