Holy crap! I’m in danger of dwelling on Fifty Shades of Grey, but today I’m going to spin it in a different direction: How Fifty Shades encourages me as a writer.
And it’s not just that the book started out self-published.
Sometimes when I’m bumming about how Fast Lane still has more than 999,000 downloads to go to reach a million, I turn on my Kindle and read Fifty Shades’ reviews. Not all of them. Just the ones that make me feel good.
Like this one from DS: “The repetition…the repetition…the repetition. I’m convinced the author has a computer macro that she hits to insert one of her limited repertoire of facial expressions whenever she needs one.”
And from GadgetChick: “The success of this book baffles me. The really tragic thing is that there are authors of erotic fiction out there who have been working for a long time, who actually—you know, have WRITING SKILLS—who will never be as rich and famous as the woman who wrote this very lackluster book that is getting all kinds of attention for no good reason.”
And nopeachoil: “Warning: You will not be able to unread this book.”
And meymoon: “Did a teenager write this? I looked up the author to see if she was a teenager. I really did because the characters are out of a 16-year-old’s fantasy. The sex scenes…become so unbelievable that it becomes more laughable than erotic. (Ana) orgasms at the drop of a hat. He says her name and she orgasms. He simply touches her and she orgasms. It seems that she’s climaxing on every page.”
And these gems: “Fifty ways to yawn.” “Could not finish.” And, the crown jewel, “Not the worst I’ve ever read…No, wait. It IS.”
And those appear in just the first four out of 1,883 pages.
You might think the monumental success of a book that spawns so much vitriol—yet averages about four stars—would further bum me out. But the way I look at it, the number of bad reviews for E.L. James is higher than the number of books I’ve sold. All that hate—and yet, really, I can’t imagine it keeps her up at night. Many, many people hate this book, this series—and yet, it’s a monster success.
If a million people hate your book, there are still seven billion more people who might like it. I’m only looking for 999,000.
Failing that, I could always start writing down my teenage erotic fantasies and throwing them up on Amazon for $2.99 a pop. And since I’ve been having teenage erotic fantasies nonstop for the past forty years, I just might have Ms. James beat.