Okay, I can’t stay silent any longer…

Many people in my various writing groups {and on twitter} have been asking “Why is 50 Shades Of Grey so popular?”

I haven’t read the series and don’t intend to. But I can tell you the biggest reasons it’s so popular without reading it. I’m serious. Ready for the secret formula?

It started out as a naughty Twilight fanfiction.

People underestimate the exposure writing fanfictions gains. Even badly written and “sucky” fanfictions are read world wide. Which means that the author had readers all over the world before she ever published the first book. Not one or two, try thousands, That is a lot of exposure before she even had a book to sell.

I’m telling you straight up. I started out writing fanfictions six years ago. It’s a great way to learn the basics of the writing craft, while gaining wide exposure and creating fans. I have readers around the world waiting to get their hands on my debut novel, simply because they like my fanfictions. They like my writing style.

A while back I posted a poll up asking my readers “If I were to get a Fantasy/Romance novel published would you buy it?” 98% said absolutely {without asking for any details about characters, plot, or price} 2% said maybe. So, I know going into the venture I already have a lot of customers {loyal fans even} waiting to buy it. More so since I’ve mentioned it on my Author page and blog.

Mrs. James did her promoting without using the usual platforms and created a wide audience base, before the product was even ready. That is the biggest key factor to the success of the series. Reading the many reviews {good and bad} I can tell you other parts are: her “awesome characterization” and  “many unexpected twists” {two things that any author who knows what they’re doing can achieve} Throw in the “twilight factor” and the BDSM factor and voila instant overnight success.

Despite how badly written it is. {I’m not just going by what the reviewers have said. I tried to read the first chapter of each book and I have to agree the writing is atrocious.} I won’t bother reading those even if they went on sale or were free.  Reading stuff written that bad gives me migraines. For the importance of quality writing check out this fabulous post done by Jami Gold: She nails it.

I’ve heard she’s even received a five-million dollar movie contract for it. The fact she ‘s a former executive  may give her some insights we regular authors don’t have, which she has no doubt applied to her story telling aspects, that may have helped boost her success a little more.

I’m happy for her success, because it gives hope to other aspiring novelists who started writing fanfictions, that they may achieve a similar success.

Do I expect a movie made off my writings? Not anytime soon, thought it would be cool. *grins* But I’ll keep my head on the ground, thank you. I write because it’s my passion. Not a day goes by that I’m not doing something to progress my novels, or their promotion.

Am I envious? No. I’m genuinely happy for Mrs. James, Her success has opened doors for erotic romance authors as well, gaining them a possible wider audience. People who don’t usually read erotica have opened their eyes to some of what is in stores, waiting to be read.

Everybody’s talking about this series. media, talk show hosts, twitter-verse, writing groups, ect. So I figured it’s time to address the question they’ve all been asking.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Is all the media hype is well deserved? Is her success unfair? I’d love to hear your opinions.


About kittyb78

Catrina Barton is a licensed Kung-Fu Instructor of the Black Dragon style, and draws on that experience to make her fight scenes both realistic and action packed. She enjoys being surrounded by the stark beauty of mother nature. Whether it's a moon-lit starry sky, or a picnic by a peaceful waterfall cascading from the mountain side. Growing up no matter where she was physically, she always had at least one book in her hands and spent every free moment lost in a book. It's only natural that as she grew up, her passion for reading grew into an even stronger passion for writing, especially Young Adult Paranormal Romances. She is a proud member of many writing and marketing groups, and an active participant at Critique Circle and several other crit groups. Favorite personal quote: "An author cannot grow without both constructive criticism and encouragement."

6 responses »

  1. mollyspring says:

    Do I think that fanfiction is a great way to practice writing and get feedback? Yes. Do I think it is a viable path for most authors? No.

    I think the success of 50 Shades has a lot to do with timing and luck. From the brief excerpts I’ve read, it’s not particularly well written or especially risque as far as BDSM erotica goes.

    The most reductive explanation for its success is that it is a Cinderella story with a hint of kink. The girl isn’t exploring BDSM out of her own curiosity, but as an expression of love.

    The media is so captivated because people love to act surprised women are interested in sex. Which is kind of naive and insulting, in my opinion.

    • kittyb78 says:

      I completely agree, but a lot of the success also has to do with her early, wide exposure.

      There is one other Author I can recall who wrote a Happy Potter Fanfiction years ago and got 80 thousand reviews, and a book contract based on it alone.

      Of course the contract said it had to be original work, no fanfic, but the fanfic got the company to notice her talent.

  2. hedgefund says:

    My immortal! If I remember correctly, that one got atleast somewhere in the ballpark of 80,000 reviews, all proclaiming her a troll.

    What about famous authors like George. R.R Martin fulminating against the idea of fanfiction all together? He seems to want to avoid people writing his characters in Fanfiction period; not only because its a violation of his Copyright but because he says its a not the best way for aspiring authors to sow a craft. Such that the characters and world that they are writing in are already established and the Fanfiction author is reliant on a crutch and not exercising their imagination to its full extent

    I think hes somewhat right; this Shades of Gray book like you said the writing is awful, and its a Twilight Fanfiction.

    • kittyb78 says:

      Good point, but those of us who do learn the basics of the craft by writing fanfiction, shouldn’t all be lumped into the same category as Mrs. James. Most fanfictions written about the authors have given a written or verbal okay for their stories to be added to the lists, and we are required to post a disclaimer reminding the readers it is not our world or characters, they belong to their creators and no money is made from fanfiction.

      Those of us who follow the rules, shouldn’t be looked down upon because of one bad apple.

      Happy Potter and The Methods Of Rationality has over 17,600 reviews and most are positive. It depends on the author’s style and knowledge of the craft. Yes, there are many out there who don’t want their characters used {Anne Macaffrey for instance} and many others who encourage it {such as J.K. Rowling.}.

  3. Jami Gold says:

    Thanks for the link! I wrote another post about the ethics of fanfiction where I go into my thoughts about the “fairness” issue, so trust me, you don’t want me ranting here. 🙂

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