There was some big news in the book world last week: EL James has written another book!
I heard about it in a few Facebook writing groups I’m in, and Publisher’s Weekly had to mention it in one of the newsletters I subscribe to.
The thing is, I don’t understand why anyone cares, and so passionately, it seems.
Well, I understand. Her 50 Shades of Grey took the romance community by storm and sold a record number of books. The trilogy was turned into movies, which, in turn, made E L James a household name and millionaire. It’s what any indie writer, or any writer, for that matter, dreams of.
She was a so-called “overnight success” (though her fanfiction of Twilight had been online for free for years prior) and the inventor of what is now called “Mommy porn.”
But why is it such big news that she’s writing again?
Even if you didn’t like 50 Shades of Grey, you have admire a woman who could write a few books that captivated so many people. Regardless of how well, or not well, they were written, James told a great story. If you want to read about what made her trilogy so intriguing, read The Bestseller Code. The authors of that book break down what James did (either purposely or by mistake) that made her books so un-put-down-able.
I didn’t read her books. I bought the trilogy a long time ago from a thrift store, and I flipped through the other two in a Target while my kids looked at toys. But I didn’t buy them.
I did, however LOVE the movies. I own them and rewatch them all the time. And yep, I paid to see them in the theatre. If the movies followed the storylines of the books at all, I can see where people would be intrigued.
But in terms of the indie community, I don’t understand the derision aimed at poor Mrs. James. I mean, if you’re going to roast her over an open flame for the bad writing, what are YOU doing to improve yours?
I’m glad that EL James has written another book. I’m glad she had the courage after being treated how she was by the writing community (proving once again that writers are not readers. READERS purchased her book, and it was the READERS who lined her bank account.) I’m glad she wasn’t intimidated by her own success.
I think this is an opportunity for writers to support other writers. What can we do to support other writers?
- Stop tearing each other down.
EL James wasn’t fully responsible for her book being what it was. She was a first time author, and her publishing house could have supported the editing process more than it did. Instead they pushed out her book to make use of her popularity online. It paid off, but I’m not denying her book could have been edited better.
- Leave positive feedback.
Even the most horribly of written books can have positive things you can say about them. And if you feel you can’t be nice about anything, just don’t say anything at all. Sometimes silence really does speak louder than words.
- Don’t read outside the genre of your preference.
The thing that made the most angry were the people who were dissing 50 Shades of Grey weren’t James’s target audience. 50 Shades was a New Adult, possibly Young Adult novel, and if you couldn’t appreciate the book for what it was–Anastasia Steele trying to find her place in the world while falling in love–then the book wasn’t for you to begin with.
- Learn from James’s mistakes.
Instead of laughing at the kind of book 50 Shades is, take a look at what you didn’t like about it, and learn how to avoid those things in your own writing. Did she not pull off 1st person? Too many adverbs? Was her book too wordy? Were there plot holes? (The movies indicate there were.)
- But also realize she did SOMETHING right.
She had to have, otherwise no matter how much marketing she had behind her, her books never would have taken off to the extent they did. What did she do right? She’s a good storyteller. Christian Grey was notably, romantically flawed. He was everything a reader wants in a romance novel hero.
- Be careful what you wish for.
Success comes with people who will be jealous of you, and who will want to cut you down just for the fact you made it and they didn’t. To be ostracized for success isn’t something anyone wishes for. And while James seems to have had all the luck and success in this world, you want people to keep your books on their shelves–not donate them to a thrift store.
This isn’t the kind of reading nook you want people to build with discarded copies of your books.
Congratulations to EL James on her release! Let me know if you plan to read it. 🙂
The Mister is on pre-order until April 16, 2019. If you want to preorder it, click here.
Thanks for reading!