First of all, let me say that I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey. This is not a review of the book, nor a comment on its content or literary merit. Unlike many out there who seem to feel qualified to review something they have not read, I will not be giving my opinion.
This book is a phenomenon of the digital age. It is the fastest selling book of all time. But, this has to be put in context. When Harry Potter first came out there was no such thing as an eBook. People had to queue outside Waterstones or Barnes and Noble at midnight to get the next book in the series. Now, it’s available at the touch of a button, so although Ms James has achieved a remarkable feat, it is impossible to compare it to any other best seller in the past.
But it is still a remarkable feat.
This book has received a lot of attention, for various reasons. The biggest one has to be the sexual content. This has polarised opinion, with as many on the side of ‘I won’t be reading that filth’ as there are on the ‘Is it as good as they say it is?’ side. I know a few women who have read the books, some of whom say they enjoyed the sex parts, others who said they weren’t that good, others who felt it was too graphic and skipped over those bits.
But they all said they enjoyed the books, particularly the romance.
These people are all readers, who have no knowledge of writing techniques and the do’s and don’t’s; they just know what they like, and this was it.
But the sad thing is that so many self-published and independently published authors are screaming from the roof-tops about what a travesty it is that someone with, in their view, no talent whatsoever has managed to manipulate the public into buying what is clearly a pile of rubbish that, as I read just today, would be better off cut up into pieces and hung on a string in the toilet.
Also, apparently, and I have no knowledge of this myself, so I can only assume they are correct, this is a direct rip-off of Twilight. Really, is this the first time someone has taken another person’s work and used it for their own benefit? West Side Story anyone? And of course, the play that is based on was taken from an older Italian story.
Of course, I am not suggesting that either 50 Shades or Twilight are in the same literary category as Romeo and Juliet or West Side Story, I am just using them as an example. Added to which, the only person who should be concerned about it is Stephanie Meyer, and from the interview she gave to MTV earlier in the year, she has no problem at all with the books. She said she fully supports Ms James.
What really saddens me about all of this is that so many indie authors are complaining so loudly. ‘Why is she making so much money from such trash when my writing is so much better than hers?’ ‘How dare she be so successful when I am clearly more talented than her.’ ‘Her writing is so bad, as is the spelling and grammar.’
Well, I have read the opening chapter of this book, and also of some of the people who are shouting the loudest. You know what? In most cases her writing is better, as is her sentence structure. There are some bad books out there, all of them self-published and most of them undeserving of any success.
And I am willing to accept that people will feel the same about my book. Not everyone will like it, just as not everyone will like 50 Shades.
But, if by some miracle one of those books I have chosen to check out turns into a best seller, will I ridicule the author? No, just as I will not ridicule EL James. She has achieved what we all want, and we should be celebrating her success, not vilifying her. I will gladly applaud any self-published author that goes on to bigger and better things.
All these authors are doing is showing how mean-spirited and envious they are. In the majority of cases it is nothing more than sour grapes, and paints all independent authors in a very bad light.
I for one salute her. And I am ashamed for all the haters who would have her books turned into toilet paper