50 Shades of Green...

Saturday, April 28, 2012
While I've had a couple of people ask me if I've read "50 Shades of Grey," I had an interesting question from a Facebook follower the other day. To the effect of whether or not I thought it was professional for an author to actively lobby for people not to read a book.

I didn't have to think long on that one. My answer is no, of course it's not professional.

Let me back up. Have I read "50 Shades of Grey?" No. Am I going to? I don't know yet, quite honestly. My TBR list is already huge, filled with a ton of  books written by personal friends, non-fiction books for research, and books by my favorite auto-buy authors. I'm not kidding when I say I've got several HUNDRED titles already queued up, in both e-books and dead-tree books.

Here's another thing. Since I am active in the BDSM community, a switch with ample experience on both ends of the flogger, as it were, part of me is hesitant to read a book by an author who is, by her own admission on the TV interview I've seen her in, a 'nilla author. She seemed almost embarrassed that she wrote the book.

HOWEVER, as I've told others who've asked me my opinion of it, that's just my opinion. I tell people to download the sample or skim through it in a bookstore and see if it's a fit for them and decide for themselves whether or not they want to read it. Lots of people seem to enjoy it, and that's why there are plenty of writers and genres out there, because people don't always like the same books, genres, authors, etc. Form your own opinion of the book. I like books that some people don't, and some people like books that I don't. That doesn't mean I'd ever counsel someone not to read a book.

(Caveat: if someone was asking me for a recommendation on a specific type of book, and said, for example, that they absolutely did NOT like paranormal books, I certainly would warn them off of my books that are paranormal, if that makes sense?)

That being said, back to my Facebook friend's question. After we'd discussed her question back and forth a couple of times, she got down to the reason for her question and sent me a blog post link to someone who, apparently, is a self-pubbed author of only two books. And who ripped "50 Shades" up one side and down the other.

Oh.

My.

Goddess.

I have rarely seen such unprofessional behavior as bad as what I read in that blog post. The author railed against "50 Shades" as being trash and horrible and warning people not to read it, ad nauseum. Frankly, I was stunned.

You know, I'm human. Am I jealous that as a person active in BDSM who writes about it that I haven't sold 80 gazillion copies and have a movie deal? Duh. A little. But life goes on. Show me a writer who claims they aren't jealous in some small way of any big-time author and I'll show you a liar (or someone who needs to be on meds for having a psychotic break from reality).

Would I ever rip that author for their success?

Fuck no. Especially not on my blog, and DOUBLY especially if I only had two self-pubbed books to my credit.

I don't even review books anymore, unless I REALLY like them, because as an author, it paints a target on my back. I don't think writers SHOULD review books (at least negatively). I'm not saying don't point out factual errors, I'm saying don't slam a book, an author, and darn sure don't lobby people not to read the author's book. And they also shouldn't be telling anyone who had the "audacity" to read and like the book that they were idiots.

What was even more amusing/shocking was that this blogger/author claims to be an academic with a degree, a teacher, even, and when it was suggested by one of the blog comments that they should be encouraging people to read for themselves and make up their own minds, the commenter was scoffed at as if they were an idiot.

Wow.

Just... wow.

The only thing I can think of is that the blogger is seething with jealousy that a newbie author had the audacity to hit it big on their first time out of the gate.

Obviously, that blogger has no practical, reasonable knowledge of how the publishing world can work. Lightning strikes of success are the exception, not the norm, but they certainly can and do happen. Suck it up, buttercup, and deal with it. That's life.

Frankly, any book about BDSM that makes it to mainstream attention and helps open doors for other BDSM authors like myself is a GOOD thing, in my opinion. There are people out there afraid of losing their jobs and their children because of their fear of being outed for their participation in BDSM. If a book can help raise awareness and normalize it and help eliminate that stigma, then fan-fucking-tastic!

Here's the thing, just because you don't like a book doesn't mean someone else won't like it. That's what the nature of this business is all about. I've had newbie writers tell me before how grateful they were to me for encouraging them when they've written me. Of course! Why wouldn't I? As I wrote in my infamous "you are not a special snowflake" post, this isn't some zero-sum game where there's only so much room at "the top" of the mountain. There's no reason not to encourage others to write what they are passionate about. Might not be my cuppa for reading material, but it doesn't matter.

Writers have to first write for themselves. If a writer doesn't feel passionately about what they're writing, no one else will, either.

So will I read "50 Shades?" Maybe, maybe not. I don't honestly know right now. Should you read it? That's totally up to YOU, dear reader. And if you happen to like it, good for you. Don't ever let anyone make you feel ashamed or stupid for liking (or disliking) a book. It's like berating someone for not liking ice cream or spaghetti. It's personal choice and taste.

And here's some advice to my fellow authors -- don't slam a book just because YOU don't like it. Damn sure don't slam readers for reading the book. You never know how many of your readers (or potential readers) might have loved the same book and decide that YOU aren't a writer they want to invest time and money reading. Discretion isn't just the better part of valor, it's also a wise career move.

Now go forth and read. And let me hear your opinions of an author who would publicly rip apart a book you love and call you an idiot for liking it in the first place.

11 reader comments:

  1. Nay Nay said...:

    I just read you blog on "50 Shades of Green" and enjoyed it. I found my self yelling "YOU TELL 'EM SISTER!" at the computer while reading it. I truly believe the person who slammed 50 shades is an idiot. while I didn't care for the book, (not a fan of 1st person narrative, and couldn't get passed that), I do like some BDSM books.

    To me if a writer slams another writer's work, it's like telling the world, they are just jealous. We readers (especially those of us who like erotic) can make up our own minds about whether or not we will read something. I certainly don't need anyone telling me NOT to read something. I know if I had read that writer's blog, I would have let them know that I thought they were being totally unprofessional and that it could have serious repercussions on their own career. I would have pointed out that their rant could backfire on them and make people not buy their books. This blogger is a narrow minded, jealous, person and is trying to instill their beliefs on everyone else. (Sorry sugar, it don't work that way!)

    I have the utmost respect for writers. Just because a book is not my cup of tea, it is selling, so someone likes it.

    If you don't like a book, put it down, pick up something else and read it. Duh!

    As an avid reader, I am insulted by people who try to tell me what to read as if I was still in elementary school. I am a grown woman and quite capable of finding something that I like to read, thank you very much!

  1. kpill said...:

    Wow! I am truly amazed at the negativity of some people. And yes.... the root of most negative comments is jealously. I have read the book, and I liked it very much. I am curious, since I didn't read the blog, was her problem with it the BDSM , or did she just hate the book in general?

  1. I think sometimes people forget to think and just toss out crap. We should be supporting one another and not trashing each other. What is this high school? The success of the 50 Shades books has opened the world to erotic fiction. It will get people looking into more books and discovering other writers in the genre.

  1. Pauline said...:

    So well said Lesli, I loved every word of it.

    It's quite an eye-opening experience to be put down by someone because you posted a comment disagreeing with
    something they've said on their blog. Then you're told you're entitled to your opinion, but that your opinion is
    wrong and theirs is right. If that's not bad enough, their boyfriend comes on to the blog and gets nasty when you try to defend your opinion.

    Reading is probably my greatest passion and always has been, and for that reason I hold those that can write in the highest esteem possible. It's in books that I find some of my greatest joy. So when an author shows complete disregard for another author's work or the readers that enjoy it, all respect for that individual goes right out the window.

    @kpill ... the blogger/author had a problem with the book because, as she said, it was "abusive" and not BDSM, but she also made it very clear she hated the book in general and for people not to read it.

    Is 50 Shades of Grey the best book ever written? Perhaps not, but I loved it. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it touched my heart.

  1. I have read the 50 shades trilogy and I loved them. I really didnt see many similarities to twilight like most claim. If an author slams another book and its author and readers then I as an avid reader and aspiring author do not want to waste my time with that author no matter how good their books are.

  1. Ann said...:

    I like to think that in art there are no rules. Art has always had this sense of magic and wonder for me. It's been an escape and has helped me grow as a person, as a woman. What creatively speaks to me may not speak to someone else, but it still nourishes the soul.

    Because I've always thought that a part of what someone creates comes from deep down within them. It's a part of them. The good, the bad, the insecure parts that you might never actually 'tell' someone else about. An artist chooses to express it, and let their work speak for them.

    I've always thought the only 'rule' to follow, when it comes to art, is to not insult another's creativity. How do you insult one's artistry, when it is a part of who they are?

    I would never insult someone elses creativity.

  1. I've been pretty vocal about not being interested in reading the series, but would never insult anyone who read it. Some of my readers say they found me as a result of reading that series.

    I did try to read a sample of Fifty Shades, but, like Nay Nay, the first-person narrative was a turnoff. (And I was taught that if you do first-person, you never have a heroine describe herself by looking in a mirror, which happened in paragraph one.) I've only gotten into one first-person narrative story, and it is an unpublished work by a friend of mine (who just sold to the same publisher as the Fifty Shades original publisher).

    Recently, an author criticized a scene in a favorite book of mine and in a forum she knew the author she was criticizing was also a member. It upset me enough to lose respect for the critical author and to not want to read her books any more, so I hear what Shelli is saying, too.

    I just hope that my criticisms of Fifty Shades have never crossed that line. I do envy her the sales (but not the movie rights--I mean, I do NOT want Hollywood messing up the fantasy movie that's been running in my head since I started this series last summer!).

    Some authors just shoot themselves in the foot, though. And if that author keeps that blog up, she (I assume it's a she, because, well, women are hardest on other women), probably needs a friend to advise her to think about deleting it. (You know, the kind of friend who will tell you you have a piece of spinach on your front tooth right before you go on TV for an interview.) :)

    I just wish people would quit asking me my opinion of this series! Maybe if I just say, "I'm sorry, I haven't read it and live in a cave and have no opinion" would be best. lol

    But she is opening doors and lowering inhibitions. When I took 19 women at the Romantic Times convention earlier this month in a limo to a BDSM Club social in Chicago, while there, a Chicago tour bus of another 15 or so women was loading up after they toured the club. When tour buses start making stops at BDSM Clubs, you know the walls are tumbling down. Fifty Shades, and all those TV shows that delve into light and dark BDSM these days, have helped achieved that.

    Kally

  1. @Nay Nay - Thank you. :) I agree, there's no reason to "slam" a book. I mean, sure, okay, if someone doesn't like a book, give a reasoned, but polite, review. There's no reason, ever, to slam a book. It's unprofessional. Although I still say professional authors should refrain from negative reviews.

    @kpill - It was the sheer poisonous tone of the blog that really got me, that and insisting people should not read the book. Then slamming one of the commenters for daring to say that people should make up their own minds.

    @Savannah - I think you're absolutely right.

    @Pauline - I'm sorry that happened to you. I am still gobsmacked by that blogger's reaction. I felt really angry for you on how you were treated.

    @Shelli - Well said. It's one thing not to like a book, but what the blogger did was just...beyond the pale. Totally out of line. And I'm with you.

    @Ann - Well said, and I agree. It's one thing not to like something, but it was how the blogger just attacked the book and the author (and commenters) that really got my goat.

    @Kally - LOL! I could give a tour of a local dungeon here in Tampa. LOL! What you could say is something like what I'm telling people, that your opinion of the series shouldn't matter, and that they should investigate it themselves to decide if they want to read it. Invite them to download the free samples (I'm guessing since Nook has them that Kindle does, too.) That way, you don't have to worry about it. I still don't know if I'm going to read it or not, as I said in the blog (and yours are some of the ones in my TBR pile that I need to read LOL) but if I do read it and find I don't like it, you won't hear it from me. LOL

  1. Calla said...:

    I have read most of the replies and the original blog post and I have to agree that if nothing else it would look bad on an author to publicly denounce another book.

    About two months ago (maybe) there was a big to-do about an author, a man, putting down romances. He basically said anyone who reads them had the maturity of thirteen year olds and the intelligence of monkeys. He went so far as to DELETE posts of those who posted reasoned and logical disagreements. He of course kept the ones that were just people insulted without well articulated responses because he could easily put them down. He did not differentiate in any way the wide variety of genre's within the very large category of "Romance" just said anyone reading romances was stupid.

    I bring this man up because I found that though he listed himself as a science fiction author, he had NEVER himself been professionally published (I'm sure he would have listed it on his webpage and there were none). Now, I found it quite funny, and I did post it on his page but he did of course delete my response, that there is a vast overlap in the people who read romance and the people who read sci-fi so he had just alienated about 75% of his potential readers IF he were ever to be published.(I did make note of him so that if he were ever to be published I would never buy he books.)

    So is it okay to be jealous? Yes, that is natural. Is it okay to say that you yourself do not like a certain book? I would say that it is as long as it is not a serious rant on how much you hate it and that no one should ever read it, but to just say you don't like it? Sure, go ahead, just do it politely.

    I used to write fanfiction and would get critism all the time. Did I get upset? Not for ACTUAL critism. There is a term in the fanfiction world called "flaming" and the general rule is "no flames allowed". The same should be true for most forums, and authors who want to keep attracting readers won't flame other authors.

    To finish off, I will say that I myself do not intend to read 50 Shades, it just doesn't appeal to me. Just like I did not read the Twilight books. Why? Because I found most of the people who actually read and liked Twilight were not people who read paranormal books in general, or even paranormal romance. Everyone I actually SPOKE to who liked it had not been exposed to the books that I myself DO like and they had no interest in reading them. The one person I spoke to who was in the habit of reading the same books that I do, said she had to FORCE herself to read them and she did not enjoy them (she read them for her daughter) but she did not slam the books instead providing genuine reasons that I agreed with. THIS is an example of someone whose opinion I go for. I find that many authors actually don't necessarily read the same kind of books they WRITE and so why would I look to them to tell me what to read?

    This went WAY further than I intended when I started. Sorry.

  1. Tonia said...:

    Way to go, I couldn't have said it any better. As someone who has been an avid reader for over 30 years with an eclectic taste of many different types of books no one should be telling anyone what they should and should not read. It just goes to show how things are changing today. Everyone seems to be concerned about everyone elses business instead of minding their own. We are a free country. I am all for freedom of speech, if you don't like something don't read it it's fine to express that you don't care for something but certainly not your right to belittle someone else for liking something.

  1. @Calla - Exactly. :) I don't understand the blogger's vicious approach. I understand even less her telling people not to read it, and less than that, her belittling people who took a more reasoned approach than she did. Ugh.

    @Tonia - Thank you! :)