Not the author - I'm not into author bashing, honestly I'm not. OK, maybe a little pummelling and tenderising but that's the limit.
Not the book itself - although that is difficult considering how badly written / annoying people say it is. Or more to the point, I haven't seen people saying it's well-written. (Although I've enjoyed the well written snark!)
But the hype.
My giddy aunt, THE HYPE!!!!!
It's out of hand, and it's stupid.
And ultimately, the hype over 50 Shades of Gray can't be good for writers, the romance/romantica/erotica genre, fan fiction or publishers.
Why is so much hype bad for writers?
Because for the last few weeks, I've had three well-meaning relatives suggest I jump on the erotica bandwagon. Yeah, that's real sensible considering I write "sweet" young adult romantic comedy. With talking ferrets.
But what's worse is that so many writers like myself attend workshops, write every day, critique work, go to meetings, hone our craft . . . and then something like 50 Shades becomes a bestseller by accident and . . . I can't help thinking the world doesn't make sense any more. My writer friends are also scratching their heads wondering how this happened.
"But you're just a jealous hater," people say. Sorry for the typo, that should be Jelus H8er.
Fair cop. I'll wear it. How could I not be jealous? I wish I had sales like that, I really, really do.
Why is the hype bad for the genre?
People love to pour scorn on romance. It's shooting fish in a barrel. I deeply love romance of all kinds and in any broad genre like romance (inspirational, urban fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, historical, young adult, erotica) you're going to get some really good crack and some absolute shite. Every genre has it. But here's the thing, I don't think anyone is reading 50 Shades for the quality of the writing, at which point people who disparage romance will use this one trilogy as an example of how 'all romance is crap'. It's such a tremendous shame because if only Kate Noble's books had this kind of hype, or Anne Gracie's, or Cristina Brooke or Anna Campbell or Kelly Hunter or Trish Morey or Melanie Milburne or Fiona Lowe or ME!!!!!!
(sorry, I forgot myself) but any and all of these authors write really, really well and love the English language and love crafting a fabulously written story and if they got the hype, maybe more of the world would see just how good the romance genre could be!
Fan fiction - how can this be bad for them?
From what I've read, 50 Shades began as fan fiction. It was fan fiction based on the Twilight novels. Fan fiction is where you take characters and settings (copyrighted characters and settings) from established popular culture and then write your own adventures about them. Loads of my friends have made Star Wars fan fiction movies, for example.
The thing is, by playing in a recognisable sandbox, you're amongst friends and having a great time. The quality of product can be hit and miss, but it's where a great many people begin learning the craft.
And they can't make money on it, because they're using copyrighted and trademarked characters and worlds.
So personally, I don't quite understand how this has made the crossover. I'm expecting to read about a lawsuit any day now. But then Stephenie Meyer's people might have to read 50 Shades and I have a feeling they'll be all, "You're not tricking us into buying it!"
People know the origins of 50 Shades was in fan fiction and . . . I can only see this polarising the community further.
And lastly, why is this bad for publishers?
Publishers are getting kicked in the head from all places. Bookstores are closing, Amazon is voraciously eating into their profit margins like my son going through a stash of chocolate. Costs are going up. Distribution is painfully expensive. More books are being published every year creating even more competition, yet the buyers are purchasing less . . . it's inverse supply and demand and it's not sustainable.
Publishing is risk-averse at the best of times. Picking up an indie author who already has strong self-publishing sales is a smart move. BUT with so much hype surrounding this product, the publisher raises people's expectations . . . and then someone reads it and doesn't like it, probably because it's so badly written.
CONFESSION: I have not read all 3 books. I have read the first few pages and . . . what's that old saying? You don't have to eat the whole egg to know it's bad? Maybe my complaint about the hype is nullified by me not reading it. I mean, reading all of it. OR, maybe I'm contributing to the hype by even talking about this? This is the problem with hype. It becomes all pervasive and infects everything. Even sensible conversation.
"Ignore it" you might suggest. Yes, of course I'll ignore it. Except that it's invaded even the daggy aisles of my local Big W for goodness sake. How can I ignore it when it's up in my face?
But you know what I can do? I can pour this frustration into my books. I am still writing, still querying, still doing everything I can to write the very best books I can. And not even the hype of this book, or whatever hype is around the corner, is going to stop me.