Now that I’ve got your attention. In honour of Valentine’s Day, or Saturday as we call it, here is a re-post of my opinion on books like Fifty Shades of Grey, now a movie that is going to make too much money for mediocre smut. Thank goodness Charlie Hunnam pulled out….PHRASING!
Can bad books be a good thing? What I mean here is can a badly written bestselling book be a good thing if it promotes reading. I was cruising Facebook trying to avoid anything about the Walking Dead episode from last night, and I see this image posted by Kobo and I become annoyed. Not for any good reason, I don’t have any idea what it is about but I can guess. It just irritates me especially with the #1 New York Times Bestselling Author tag.
I’m going to venture away from my usual posts of media reviews and go on a bit of a rant and pose my dumbfoundedness on something that I have been observing in the world of books; it’s going to start with Fifty Shades of Grey.
I will preface this by saying, no, I have not read the books and I don’t plan to. From what I have heard about it, the sex is graphic and depraved and the main character is a pathetic representation of women and I’ve also heard the writing and editing is terrible. Since the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy hit it big, I have seen so many books with similar covers being thrown at readers. I can only guess that the ones being constantly pumped out aren’t literary masterpieces, not that a good book has to be. I haven’t read any of them because I don’t read hard-core porn, well not since The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy written by A.N. Roquelaure (that’s Anne Rice). Say what you will about how she transformed and put down her vampire books when she returned to Catholicism, but her writing was top-notch in 1994 when these books were written. I will also say that the use of graphic, hard-core and depraved sex in books is the reason that I stopped reading Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books after Obsidian Butterfly.
I understand its entertainment and escapism (that’s what books are good for) and people should enjoy it if they so wish but I am sick of seeing the same cover with minor variations for these books everywhere and seeing the bestselling tag on them. There is a clear lack of originality and creativity being portrayed when you are just mimicking an image and presumably creating the story using the same ideas of other books and authors. No, there is nothing new under the sun but come on, you can judge a book by its cover when the cover is nearly the same for mass amounts of books. I know this is obviously a marketing ploy to get readers. And from what I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey was Twilight fan fiction. This makes me sad.
I will give E.L. James some credit for the empire that she has built, presumably not with talent but with good marketing skills. From what I learned in an eBook self-publishing class, James originally published Fifty Shades of Grey on Smashwords.com and it grew from there with her becoming a successful, best-selling author. That is a good thing to see for authors who go that route and many, many writers are given the difficulty and saturation of the book industry today.
Maybe I’m cynical and being too critical of something I haven’t actually read but I’m just sick of seeing these covers popping up on Facebook and Kobo. They are the same thing over and over and then I think, maybe that’s the way to go to build a readership. Porn and degradation. I can’t do it. I ventured about as close as I ever will to a sex laced, submissive tale with my short tale, Make Me Bad (shameless plug, free download on Smashwords.com, click the title for the link) but even that was pretty tame. I’m not a prude or stuck up I just don’t understand the popularity of these books that all seem the same.
Disclaimer: I mean no harm or insult to those who chose to read these types of books. I am curious to know what the appeal is and if they are all the same and if the actual composition of the book is good or if they are badly written bestsellers because of the subject matter. I also don’t mean insult to the writers. Good for them for hitting a trend. But if you are going to be a bestselling author, then your work should live up to the tag.