Wednesday 16 May 2012

50 Shades of Shamelessness

Thinking about all the cash-ins on Stieg Larsson's rubbish books, I wondered whether the same was happening for another depressing global book phenonmenon, the thinly-veiled Twilight fan fiction 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James. And, indeed it is. All of the following books were/will be released in the four months between the start of March and the end of June this year. There are others, too, though most of those I suspect just have the misfortune to have coincidentally made use of the same cliche in their titles, so I've left them out.

Needless to say, pretty much all of these are self-published, sorry, 'independently published' books.

When your stock image doesn't quite fit, just squeeze it until it does. Sure, it makes your book look like something watched on a giant TV by one of those disgusting savages who spend thousands on a vast screen but then don't fix the aspect ratio, but who cares?

Who cares that it doesn't actually mean anything?

When one title for your endless series of knock-off zombie novels isn't enough, try three.

Shades of mould

Hilarious! Lucky nobody else came up with that title!
Oh, bugger.
A parody with overtones of domestic abuse. What could be funnier?

I see what they did there. Hilarious!

More aspect ratio issues. I hope against hope that 'Burt Maverick' is the author's real name.



Nothing says 'romance' like tiny internal organs exuded from antique surgical equipment.

Hilariou--! <Sound of self-administered shotgun blast to head>

How far can you inappropriately stretch a title in an attempt to scab a readership for your book? A case study.
Can the no-doubt hilarious Adam Roberts parody be far behind, presumably to be titled 'Gray Shades of Fifty'?


matthew. said...

I hate the independent publishing industry for this very reason. I just got into an online fight with a self-publishing author because her major advice was to find mass appeal in order to sell one's fiction. Ugh. I'll just be over here enjoying my Gaddis and Zola.

JRSM said...

I'll be there with you.

The whole electronic self-publishing scene means people can jump on a bandwagon with incredible and depressing speed.

Ian Koviak said...

Hey, don't knock it till you try it!

I have to churn out a lot of stuff like this in my daily work too. Not necessarily this bad, but for titles like this. It's painful to do it, and I often fight the urge to say something (who writes this and who reads it?!?!@?@?#?$%), but in the end, I try to give it a decent look and move on.

I don't think many people buy this stuff. I think most of these people are aware that they are not producing anything worthwhile and do this more as a hobby with a potential to sell a few copies and add to their yearly income (by $5). Shameless? Sure, but sometimes it's fun to be shameless and get away with it! Plus, with some of these titles it's pretty obvious these people are not targeting a high-minded audience. This is filth for filth's sake. No ones making an excuse either which way.

There is an incredible amount of crap being churned out by traditional houses that is nearly as bad in terms of content—it just gets a professional cover, that's all. Blame it on the designers. We make "crap" look good. I guess the piss of here is that these folks didn't even attempt to make these look good.

I should redesign one of these and show you what difference it would make to the books implied importance if it had a decent cover.

JRSM said...

That's all very true--after all, the original '50 Shades' is professionally published now, with traditional houses having jumped on the bandwagon when they smelled money. And I've received several emails from other traditional houses pushing books obviously inspired by them. As you say, the designers have done much nicer cover designs for them, but the contents arent anything to be happy about...

jb said...

I'm not sure which I like better: the fact that 'Fifty Shades Nastier' has 'The EROTIC WRITER' across the top (not even near the author's name!) or the primary-school-esque 'By,' before the author's name on 'Shades of Grey: A Meegan Jones story'.

JRSM said...

Yes, covers with "by" on them always seem quite cluelessly sweet.

Dracula said...

It's not the authors' faults. It's the readers'. If they didn't buy "50 Shades" and its ripoffs, there would be no motivation for these unfortunates to try and make a profit.

JRSM said...

They all need to take some blame.

Ian Koviak said...

Blame the designers—even if it's the author acting as designer—WTF

Christina said...

Wow. Just wow.

I can't help but wonder how profitable this is. How many people actually buy the wrong book?

Pat Powers said...

Well as a self-published erotic ebook writer, I can tell you that the reason they do it is because most ebooks don't get a hell of a lot in the way of attention, ever. Sure, anybody can self-publish now, but nobody has to pay any attention. Any kind of hook beats no hook. 50 Shades of Gray has sold 10 million copies. If even one percent of them buy YOUR book, you are rich. Which is not what most self-published ebook authors are. Au contraire!

JRSM said...

I think Pat's spot-on. I guess it's the same principle as spam--99% of people ignore you, but if 1% hand over their cash...

Anonymous said...

My brain hurts... and not in a good way.... :(