1. elbow27
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    elbow27 Member

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    Erotic writing - the new gold rush

    Discussion in 'Erotica' started by elbow27, Jan 25, 2013.

    So I have been thinking about writing a short (50-75k word) novel inspired by Fifty Shades. I consider myself literary, and most of the other books I have written have been intellectual works (non-fiction). But I simply can't ignore the commercial potential of a book like Fifty Shades. You don't even have to sell 20 million copies to make a small fortune and be set up for life.

    What do people think? Is this the new gold rush? Is there still room to make money as an author this way? Is it cynical to see my authorship as a commercial endeavour?
     
  2. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    To be honest I think the sex scenes in Fifty Shades are crap. I'm new to the romance genre but I've been reading a lot of them lately. Nora Roberts writes them brilliantly well because she understands that the value of sex scenes is portrayed not by the physical actions, but the emotions the characters are feeling.

    I think Fifty Shades is so appealing because it combines physicality and emotions in a unique way. The problem is the physical is very extreme--BDSM--and the emotions comes in the form of pages and pages and pages and pages of useless monologues.

    To replicate the, err, quality of Fifty Shades you might need that same formula.
     
  3. elbow27
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    elbow27 Member

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    Ugh, the dialogue and monologue is so terrible in 50 Shades. To be honest I think the BDSM is unnecessary, just a device. I think the most important sexual element is that the leading woman is new to sex and the reader goes through the eye-opening journey with her. All very, very corny though.
     
  4. Drusy
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    Drusy Senior Member

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    I haven't read it yet because I've heard it was horrible. How good the book was isn't the discussion though, is it? Fifty Shades did the same thing that Harry Potter did for YA. It gave the genre a boost but for every Shades or Potter there are thousands of other titles wallowing in a well of obscurity. If you head over to Amazon and look at how many new authors are trying to break into the genre and are offering their work for FREE ... it's not a great recommendation for trying it. If you think that you have a story to tell and that you can really do it justice - go for it. My advice though isn't to tackle the genre just for the sake of a paycheck. Though, I'm sure that there are some people who have probably done just that and gone on to deposit the money quite happily.
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Never write with dollar signs in your eyes. There's going to be 100,000 authors out there with the same idea.
    Passion and dedication for your story are more important than commercial selling points. ( They help - but
    it's better to write something you're passionate about rather than jumping on a bandwagon that's
    probably already full up. )
     
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  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm of the opinion that a writer should write what interests him/her and not be focused on what might have the potential to sell. Furthermore, there's nothing to convince me that writing an erotic novel is going to guarantee sales. Like Drusy said, there are already so many people trying to sell their erotic novels, and for this particular genre, I think luck plays a huge role in determining what sells and what doesn't.

    So no, definitely not a gold rush.
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    First of all, "intellectual works" is in no way synonymous with "non-fiction." Either fiction or non-fiction can be "intellectual." Likewise, either fiction or non-fiction can be vapid and inane.

    Have your other books been published? If you're a traditionally published author, I'm surprised you view the authoring of books as a cash cow. Most authors don't "make a small [or in some cases, not-so-small] fortune" and rarely are they "set up for life."

    I also find it interesting, that as someone who considers himself "literary," you so readily admit to having read "Fifty Shades." I admit to having read it, but it's not something I'm particularly proud of. In some ways I find it oddly affirming that one doesn't necessarily have to be a great writer to pen a blockbuster novel, but I find ample evidence for that on the bestseller lists every day. What is always sad are the wonderful, thought-provoking, wonderfully-written pieces that end up on the remainder shelves and wallow in obscurity for most of time.

    The thing about what's "hot" right now in the bookselling world, is that once people realize a particular type of book is popular, there isn't really time to write a similar book and get it published before the fad fades. It's kind of like the stock market -- stocks reflect the cumulative wisdom of the marketplace, taking in all available information about a company. Once you find out a company is "hot" everybody else knows it as well. (That's why insider trading is illegal. If only there were some way to get "insider" information about what the book-buying public will embrace.)

    So, yes, right now there are lots of books being pushed as the 'next 50 Shades' as everyone looked to already existing books, or almost-ready books, or even manuscripts in slush piles, at this point, the "trend" if one really exists for erotica is likely already on the downswing. It's not generally possible to hit the jackpot by basing your story on one that's already out there (fan fiction notwithstanding).

    At the end of the day, as a writer, you're better off writing whatever it is you want to write, putting your passion into something that you love. There's no guarantee of success (and in fact, the odds are against it). It's not cynical to see authorship as a commercial endeavor -- writers do have to earn a living, after all. But generally this business reaffirms the adage of "do what you love, the money will come." (Even though often doing what one loves doesn't lead to the money arriving.) But, as with many artistic endeavors, the time spent on most of the projects doesn't make pure economic sense. Most frequently, you'd be better off working at McDonald's, given the time required to author a published novel.

    If you really have a passion to write an erotic novel, you should do it. If you've been traditionally published, ask your agent and editor about it. They're the ones who would be able to best point you in the right direction. If you haven't been traditionally published, I'd be extremely surprised if you write a best-selling novel, motivated purely by financial and commercial success. I guess anything's possible, but I'd say its unlikely.
     
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  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There's nothing new about titillation. It comes and goes (no pun intended, for once) from the bestseller list.

    Not to sound like an old fart, but every generation seems to think it has invented sexuality or begun the sexual revolution.
     
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  9. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    You can't plan an anomaly. The internet was saturated with erotica in that style long before fifty shades. Now its going to be even worse with people jumping on a misguided bandwagon.
     
  10. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that one shouldn't write anything simply because they think it's the new way to make tons of money. And I resent, on behalf of several writers I know who write erotica, the implication that it's something one can just "write up" and sell easily. It takes just as much hard work to produce good erotica as it does to produce good romance, good sci-fi, good anything.
     
  11. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Hey, 'Walker, how ya' doin' girl?

    My problem with erotica is not the author. My problem is with the lazy reader who has to pay money for someone else's fantasy.

    Some human endeavors--like erotica, barroom brawls, and boo'ing the 49ers--are experiences one explores for himself.

    "Come into my office, Tourist, I have an assignment for you. Here's 1,000 bucks. I want you to wine, dine and seduce the most beautiful woman you can find. Have a three page report on my desk by Monday morning..."

    Huh?
     
  12. elbow27
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    elbow27 Member

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    Exactly. I only read Fifty Shades out of pure curiosity at what kind of writing could cause such a huge phenomenon. As a sociologist it fascinates me. As a lover of books it saddens me. As a sexual being it just makes me laugh! But commercial, it is amazing to behold.
     
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  13. elbow27
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    elbow27 Member

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    As somebody who preaches market forces, I'm afraid c'est la vie my friend.
     
  14. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure what your point is.
     
  15. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    'Fifty Shades' is the McDonalds of books. Quick, cheap and easy to consume.

    Of course, you've never heard someone say, "Wow, I had a double cheeseburger over at the new McDonalds on 22nd Street and it was AMAZING!"

    Popularity does not equal quality. That's just how things work, unfortunately. ;)

    ~ J. J.
     
  16. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    1) How is paying money to read/watch/listen to "someone else's fantasy" different in erotica than with any other fiction?
    2) I would so read that article. It would be fascinating to see the planning process, the execution, whether it's successful, the definition of "most beautiful," what other considerations come into play, etc.
     
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  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    And you spend the next couple of days indisposed?
     
  18. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, the cause of being "indisposed" would have vastly different levels of enjoyment.
     
  19. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    I decided I would never read it when I found out my mother was halfway through the third book...

    ~ J. J.
     
  20. elbow27
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    elbow27 Member

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    I love fillet steak at the best restaurants in the world, but I also love a McDonald's Double Cheeseburger. The best steak restaurants in the world might run a profit if they're lucky, and be fantastic places to spend an evening, but McDonald's employees millions of people and is a huge profit maker. So they have different purposes. Society needs them both...

    I'm not defending 50 Shades from a literary POV, I'm defending it from a commercial one.
     
  21. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is absolutely correct. For all the hand-wringing writer-types do over 50 Shades, you have to admit, E.L. James certainly tapped into something (no pun intended). Millions of people absolutely loved the book. People who never read books, or hadn't read a book in a decade read her's. So, she does deserve some credit, dismaying as that may be. In many ways, I find her less objectionable than some other authors of pop-fiction, in that she did not intend her book to be a serious literary endeavor and doesn't pretend that it is.

    And of course, there is room for everything. No one views pornography for the cinematography. No one watches a cheezy Lifetime movie on a lazy Sunday afternoon expecting a life-changing experience. And sometimes, one has to be in a certain mood to watch the Oscar nominees, especially for categories like Best Foreign Film. But the same person may, on occasion, enjoy all of them.

    The original question, however, didn't deal with whether Fifty Shades should exist, but whether it was feasible or advisable to attempt to author a similar book for financial riches. Despite the fact that there's room for all sorts of writing, my answer remains "no."
     
  22. elbow27
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    elbow27 Member

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    :) But how many hugely successful action movies have there been since the original? What even was the original action movie?! Ditto slasher movies. Ditto movies that poke fun at slashers.
     
  23. Drusy
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    Drusy Senior Member

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    Hahahaha! *Wipes a tear away. So true for so many people.
     
  24. elbow27
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    elbow27 Member

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    My 7-year old daughter saw it on the dining table today and said, "Daddy, what's fifty shades of grey about?". Ahem. That won't happen again...
     
  25. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This question is not directly relevant to the question you asked, nor is it germane to your implied argument that anyone who wants to earn a lot of money as an author should just write a novel with a lot of sex in it. "Action Movie" is a pretty big category. And not everyone who sought to write/star in/direct an action film was able to do so. Not every single movie that's made is successful. You could just as easily ask how many successful murder mysteries have been written since the first? A lot. And a lot more were written that weren't commercially successful, for a wide variety of reasons.
     

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