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Thread: 50 Shades of Grey trilogy goes from fan fiction to Random House

  1. #401
    Crypto-fascist Soccer Mom's Avatar
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    Hey, since we've already got multiple 50 SOG threads going in the Roundtable, I'm going to merge this into the big thread. If posts get out of order, I apologize.

    merging in 3...2...1....
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  2. #402
    Benefactor Member Manuel Royal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HoneyBadger View Post
    Oh, wow. That tumblr girl is mean.

    And with that, and the caveat that I swear I don't wander around the internet looking for this stuff, here's SNL's 50 Shades commercial (scroll down to the video).
    That's hilarious. And I think I'm finally starting to understand this thing.

    Let's stipulate that 50 Shades of Grey is mediocre erotica edited from fanfiction based on a pretty crappy series of novels. But it's a triumph of marketing, and I think the key to the whole thing is the title. It's not a gushy romance novel title (Rapture's Pulsations), nor a supernatural-BDSM-erotic title (Bloodchain Submission). It's got a title that should belong to an insightful, Pulitzer-nominated exploration of the human condition. It sounds respectable.

    And once something gets on the best-seller list, it takes on a life of its own. I imagine this book is being bought by people who were unaware such naughty stuff was even out there.
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  3. #403
    Benefactor Member Manuel Royal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebloodfiend View Post
    You do know that television writers are technically fanfiction writers, too.
    No, they aren't. They're part of a collaborative, professional, commercial project.
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  4. #404
    Quote Originally Posted by Manuel Royal View Post
    No, they aren't. They're part of a collaborative, professional, commercial project.

    Depends what you mean by "fan fiction." Technically, and pedantically, you're correct. But there are two charges usually leveled against fan fiction (besides the mostly-spurious IP issues which 50SoG has made somewhat less spurious): (1) that it's amateur writing and usually very, very bad; (2) that it cannot possibly be "real" writing and storytelling because the author is using someone else's characters and world, and therefore by definition it is no more artistic than a paint-by-numbers creation.

    #1 is true but irrelevant - most writing is bad, most amateur writing is very, very bad, and the quality of writing depends on the writer, not on whether or not the writer is writing fan fiction.

    #2 is why people compare tie-ins and television writers to fan fiction authors; if you claim that any writing that uses someone else's creations is by definition inferior, then that applies even if the writing is paid professional work. There is no intrinsic difference between Harry Potter fan fiction and licensed novelizations of a TV series.

  5. #405
    Benefactor Member Manuel Royal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    #2 is why people compare tie-ins and television writers to fan fiction authors; if you claim that any writing that uses someone else's creations is by definition inferior, then that applies even if the writing is paid professional work.
    I don't claim that, and have never heard anyone else claim that. Sounds like a straw man.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan
    There is no intrinsic difference between Harry Potter fan fiction and licensed novelizations of a TV series.
    Yes, there is. It's not a technical, pedantic difference; it is, as you say, an intrinsic difference.

    The first is amateur -- probably in more than one sense: it's a labor of love, as the word implies; and also, probably (though not necessarily) lacking in the skill and polish one expects in professional published work.

    The second is in fact a professional work, either commissioned on the basis of a writer's record and credentials, or accepted on the basis of its quality. An episode of a tv show, a novel in a continuing multi-author series, or what have you.

    Very occasionally, a piece of fanfiction will end up being part of the actual property, and therefore part of its canon. (Eric Flint's 1632 world is a special case here; it's set up for exactly that.) But, in the vast majority of cases, the twain do not meet, and they remain obviously and intrinsically different and distinct in their provenance, position in the literary or entertainment world, and (usually) quality.
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  6. #406
    Quote Originally Posted by Manuel Royal View Post
    The first is amateur -- probably in more than one sense: it's a labor of love, as the word implies; and also, probably (though not necessarily) lacking in the skill and polish one expects in professional published work.

    The second is in fact a professional work, either commissioned on the basis of a writer's record and credentials, or accepted on the basis of its quality. An episode of a tv show, a novel in a continuing multi-author series, or what have you.

    If that's an intrinsic difference, then there is an intrinsic difference between a pre-published manuscript and that same manuscript post-editing and publishing.

    There is nothing intrinsic to fan fiction that makes it incapable of being professional-quality work. 50SoG isn't crappy because it was made inherently so by originating in fan fiction.

  7. #407
    Formerly Phantom of Krankor. AW Moderator Torgo's Avatar
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    (I think quite a lot of TV screenwriters get hired off the back of spec scripts, which do seem rather like fanfic in certain ways, except for the fact that they're not intended for a fan audience.)

  8. #408
    Quote Originally Posted by Manuel Royal View Post
    And once something gets on the best-seller list, it takes on a life of its own. I imagine this book is being bought by people who were unaware such naughty stuff was even out there.
    From my personal observations, this is very true. One of my friends half-joked, "I've never read such filth in my life!" I promptly pointed her to other, better-written books and she's now a happy camper.

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  9. #409
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torgo View Post
    (I think quite a lot of TV screenwriters get hired off the back of spec scripts, which do seem rather like fanfic in certain ways, except for the fact that they're not intended for a fan audience.)

    Yes, you write 2-3 scripts based on existing shows, with the understanding that they're not going to see air. (Even if they knock someone's socks off, your knowledge of the show and its plot/character arcs is far behind that of the current writers, so your "episodes" likely won't fit the real deal.)

  10. #410
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manuel Royal View Post
    I imagine this book is being bought by people who were unaware such naughty stuff was even out there.
    Based on the reviews I've seen and the comments from people on TV, I'm beginning to think the same thing actually.

  11. #411
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubastes View Post
    From my personal observations, this is very true. One of my friends half-joked, "I've never read such filth in my life!" I promptly pointed her to other, better-written books and she's now a happy camper.

    The casual reader really doesn't know what books are out there. The good news: they do now.
    this is my experience as well. The people I know who are reading/have read the 50 Shades books are completely unaware of better written material available.

  12. #412
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manuel Royal View Post
    T I imagine this book is being bought by people who were unaware such naughty stuff was even out there.
    If that were true it would speak volumes about how poorly many of the presses who produce these kinds of books promote their titles.

  13. #413
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stew21 View Post
    this is my experience as well. The people I know who are reading/have read the 50 Shades books are completely unaware of better written material available.
    I know someone who recently read the series. She's not familiar with the higher quality work in the genre, but she felt like she could read 50SoG because it had gone mainstream, had been portrayed on the news in a positive light, and was, therefore, more "allowable." It's like there's less perceived shame in reading and enjoying this book than in reading other books in the genre.
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  14. #414
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mustafa View Post
    If that were true it would speak volumes about how poorly many of the presses who produce these kinds of books promote their titles.
    I disagree. I think it might have more to do with a) the lack of actually looking, b) seeing the info/books they do get and not being interested, or c) as someone just mentioned "Fifty Shades" being more "allowable".

    As far as a), not every person is aware of Samahain, Decadent, and etc., and I'm not entirely sure but I don't think they're going to immediately search it out unless they are just completely interested in the genre. Don't get me wrong, there are cases where the genre is searched out. However, I still think, to some level, not all mind you, the genre is still a niche genre, especially when you get into specific sub-genre.

    As far as b), and this kind of bounces off of point a. Like I said, there are times when it is searched out, and the results they get aren't interesting enough. Either due to cover or blurb. And I'm not in any way saying it's bad, don't get me wrong. It's all a matter of preference. "Fifty Shades" brought interest not only to the book, but also to the genre as whole. Possibly even the lifestyle.

    And Point c), because this book is doing well or is popular, because it has become a best seller, and it's the "hot buzz", it's "okay" to read without getting labeled or chastised or ridiculed. Reading it and enjoying it doesn't bring a stigma, in fact, it could even put you in the "In" crowd. If that all makes sense.

    And it is possible you could be right to a degree, that the ePublishers aren't promoting enough but at the same time, I, personally, don't believe they're completely at fault or to blame. I think it's multiple factors really.

    I kind of hope this all makes sense, and I'm not trying to offend anyone with my statements at all.

  15. #415
    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heza View Post
    I know someone who recently read the series. She's not familiar with the higher quality work in the genre, but she felt like she could read 50SoG because it had gone mainstream, had been portrayed on the news in a positive light, and was, therefore, more "allowable." It's like there's less perceived shame in reading and enjoying this book than in reading other books in the genre.
    Which is why it's called mommy-porn: plain old porn surface-sanitized for the suburban book-club set.

    Agh. Sometimes I roll my eyes so hard they pop out of my head and I have to chase them across the carpet, hoping I get there before the cat does.
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  16. #416
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    It seems the buzz is already jumping to the next thing... a self-published SF ebook called WOOL is rapidly gaining popularity and just received several options for film. The media is calling it "the SF version of 50 Shades of Grey," which is extremely misleading, since what they mean is "it's a self-published book that's gaining popularity quickly," not "it's SF erotica." It's supposedly very well-written.
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  17. #417
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    Quote Originally Posted by maybegenius View Post
    It seems the buzz is already jumping to the next thing... a self-published SF ebook called WOOL is rapidly gaining popularity and just received several options for film. The media is calling it "the SF version of 50 Shades of Grey," which is extremely misleading, since what they mean is "it's a self-published book that's gaining popularity quickly," not "it's SF erotica." It's supposedly very well-written.
    Just been snapped up by Century, another Random House imprint in the UK.

  18. #418
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    Nice. I should also note that this is NOT this author's first book... he has something like nine books out currently (all self-published, to my knowledge). So, sounds like another Amanda Hocking-esque situation... he started putting out multiple books, gathered a following, then one took off and got the attention of the pros.
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  19. #419
    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    Hmm. Is self-pubbing going to be the new query letter?
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  20. #420
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
    Hmm. Is self-pubbing going to be the new query letter?
    Seems like.
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  21. #421
    practical experience, FTW Rubay H.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maybegenius View Post
    It seems the buzz is already jumping to the next thing... a self-published SF ebook called WOOL is rapidly gaining popularity and just received several options for film. The media is calling it "the SF version of 50 Shades of Grey," which is extremely misleading, since what they mean is "it's a self-published book that's gaining popularity quickly," not "it's SF erotica." It's supposedly very well-written.
    I can confirm that the Wool series is very well written. I lost sleep for a week reading them.
    Seriously, best sci-fi I read all year and I don't say that lightly because right next to me is a stack of Philip K. Dick books I've been working through the past two months.

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  22. #422
    Benefactor Member Manuel Royal's Avatar
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    I never heard of Wool before, but now I'm thinking of getting the omnibus edition from B&N, just based on the reader reviews here. Not just because they're all positive -- but because they're all thoughtful, substantive, correctly-spelled mini-reviews. The book seems to attract intelligent readers who know science fiction. The Nook version of the book is only $.99 (which seems odd; the paperback is $14.36).

    Just downloaded a free sample and read it. Intriguing beginning; couple of stylistic problems (e.g., when a sound is literally that of laughing children, there's not much point in saying it's "childlike").

    But I've become hypercritical of such things. As Isaac Asimov pointed out in an essay back in the '80s (in which he argued for speculative fiction to get the respect it deserves as a branch of literature), even if a good science fiction novel doesn't have great literary prose, it typically excels when it comes to creating a background from the author's imagination -- something a typical contemporary novel doesn't have to do. It excites the mind in ways other literature doesn't.

    It bugs me that the copyeditor in my head gets in the way of just enjoying sf the way I used to. Also, I often feel a sickening degree of pathetic envy for the authors.

    (Note: this doesn't apply to 50 Shades of Grey, which really does appear to be crap. The whole affair bears no resemblance to anything I want to do in the publishing world.)
    Last edited by Manuel Royal; 05-15-2012 at 07:38 AM.
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  23. #423
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    I've heard of Wool before, it's a really popular self pubbed book. also I'm guessing it's a promotional deal if it's $0.99. It's £3.08 on Amazon UK for the omnibus.

  24. #424
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    I'm becoming more disillusioned over this whole 50 Shades thing. Maybe if I hadn't read the snippet, but I did, and I just can't understand why anyone would salivate over these books. I'm a romantic, so the whole bondage thing with explicit sex does nothing for me, and I wanna barf thinking of my neighbor, or my former library colleagues, or God forbid, my mother, reading 50 Shades.

    What really bothers me though is that the publisher didn't even bother to get this thing edited properly. I know times are tough and things are changing, but IMO they used the author. One day far on down the line, heck maybe right now for all we know, she will regret not having gone through the proper publishing experience. Made it rich, went on The View, got oodles and oodles of moola, but someone skipped an important step. It just all seems so cut throat and wrong. Maybe it's fair because she did piggy back Twilight, but what would it have hurt to spend a few months editing the thing?

    I don't know . . . I'm probably giving power to it all by writing in this way.
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  25. #425
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    Quote Originally Posted by folkchick View Post
    I'm becoming more disillusioned over this whole 50 Shades thing. Maybe if I hadn't read the snippet, but I did, and I just can't understand why anyone would salivate over these books. I'm a romantic, so the whole bondage thing with explicit sex does nothing for me, and I wanna barf thinking of my neighbor, or my former library colleagues, or God forbid, my mother, reading 50 Shades.

    What really bothers me though is that the publisher didn't even bother to get this thing edited properly. I know times are tough and things are changing, but IMO they used the author. One day far on down the line, heck maybe right now for all we know, she will regret not having gone through the proper publishing experience. Made it rich, went on The View, got oodles and oodles of moola, but someone skipped an important step. It just all seems so cut throat and wrong. Maybe it's fair because she did piggy back Twilight, but what would it have hurt to spend a few months editing the thing?

    I don't know . . . I'm probably giving power to it all by writing in this way.
    How do you know it wasn't edited. I read a snipit, and I didn't see any punctuation out of place, or any formatting errors. Poorly written does not mean poorly edited.

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