Tag Archives: 50 shades of grey

Murder All Fan Fiction Writers

It was recently announced that an author named Anna Todd has sold her debut novel for six-figures. Actually, the article I read about it was posted months ago, but it’s being passed around online again like it’s recent news. The novel was published in October. There are already sequels. This woman’s life suddenly went from “posting shit on Wattpad in-between breaks from my day job” to “full-time professional novelist”. For most writers, this is a dream come true. Some of us would kill for this opportunity. It’s always great when an unknown breaks out into the big leagues. Especially younger writers, like Todd, who’s only 25 years-old. She has a very promising career ahead of her, if her books sell and continue to sell.

Yet, right now, people fucking hate this woman’s guts. You see, Anna Todd’s debut novel, After, isn’t your typical book. It’s actually One Direction fan fiction.

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As I mentioned previously, its origins come from the online writing community, Wattpad. Todd began writing it in installments she’d post on the website. It became popular. Really popular. Like, onebillion-readings popular. And now Simon & Schuster is publishing the series through its imprint, Gallery Books. Paramount Pictures has already purchased the screen rights.

People are outraged. Social media is blowing up with disbelief. Meanwhile, I’m just sitting here, scratching my head. I’m not confused about the publishing deal. No, that makes perfect sense. I’m just confused about the confusion. What did we expect to happen after the massive success of 50 Shades of Grey? Shit, E.L. James made $95 million from those. $95 fucking million.

Obviously there’s a market for erotic fan fiction. People want to read it. Maybe not you, maybe not even anyone you know. But there are readers. Publishers want to print books that they know will sell. It’s much easier taking a chance on a formula that’s already been proven to work than to randomly accept an original novel with no fan base and no gimmick. Thanks to Wattpad, Anna Todd already had a fan base. Thanks to¬† 50 Shades of Grey, she already had a gimmick. A publisher sees that, they think hell yeah, let’s ride this fucker out. And Anna Todd, whether intentional or not, was smart. She took advantage of a market demanding material. She hopped aboard the fan fic train and commandeered the driver’s seat. I’m sure the book will need a lot of editing, since she’s just posted them online without much proofing, but the same can be said for pretty much any book before it’s gone through professionals.

Should we be upset at Todd? I don’t think so. I hear a lot of anger. Writers are jealous and pissed off. They think Simon & Schuster’s money is being wasted. Thanks to this Anna Todd, more talented writers just lost their chances of making it big. But that claim is kind of ridiculous. Simon & Schuster is a smart company. They’ve been around a very long time, and there’s a good reason for that. They know their shit. They know what readers want to read, and readers want erotic fan fiction.

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Of course, I’m not talking about every reader. I’m assuming the majority of these readers are teenagers. But maybe I’m wrong, and hell, there’s nothing wrong with adults reading erotic fan fiction, either. Whatever keeps them entertained. Whatever keeps them reading, right?

All I’m saying is, it’s doubtful the same type of person who digs 50 Shades of Grey or Anna Todd’s After is going to love Toxicity or The Mind is a Razorblade. I don’t feel like I am having to compete with these authors. Our books share vastly different readerships.

People see news like this and they declare the novel is dead. They said the same shit about Twilight. They’ll always be saying it as long as books that don’t fit their preferences continue to get published. That is an ugly mindset. Look at it this way: my stepdaughter started off reading Twilight. It became a very popular book. It sparked an interest in reading that no other book had been able to do. Since then, she’s plowed through The Hunger Games, The Mortal Instruments, and whatever else that’s currently popular. As she grows older, we’ll move on to Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy, etc. Who knows? Our genres eventually evolve. The love of reading is what matters.

My point is, some books may seem horrible to you–most of them certainly seem horrible to me–but your tastes do not limit the enjoyment of other readers, and if you think they do, then you’re selfish. Readers are not bad people for reading things you find awful, and writers are not assholes for marketing to an already established audience.