Check out the latest edition of Full on Insanity with Nicola Matt. Today I had the pleasure of chatting with aspiring author Brian Snellings.
Check out the latest edition of Full on Insanity with Nicola Matt. Today I had the pleasure of chatting with aspiring author Brian Snellings.
It’s live and just $1.99 through tomorrow only! Or get it free with your KU subscription.
Click here to purchase.
With the recent release of the movie 50 Shades Darker has come another shit-storm of discussions and accusations regarding the literary validity of the book and those who have enjoyed perusing the trilogy’s pages. While I certainly enjoy reading and joining in the debates, over the past few days I have seen a disdain for a social community at large that I find far more concerning than whether or not the books have any literary merit.
Many people in the BDSM community, both readers and authors alike, have been pointing out the glaring inaccuracies of the BDSM aspect of the storyline. What they are met with more often than not is the sentiment of “It’s just fiction, so it doesn’t have to be accurate.” While I agree with this to an extent, I think society as a whole is missing the bigger picture.
Why is everyone so quick to dismiss the BDSM community’s outrage at the inaccuracies in the book? Why are their feelings, and in turn their entire community and lifestyle, being swept under the rug as if they didn’t matter simply because the trilogy is “fiction?” Do their feelings and concerns not matter?
Let’s break it down. Had this story centered around any other social community or group – say a religious sector or the LGBT community – and contained so many inaccuracies, these communities would be in an absolute outrage over it. What’s more, society as a whole would confirm that these people have every right to be outraged. Why had the author not bothered to research that religion and/or community before having that work published? Why were these groups’ feelings, lifestyle, and community not taken into consideration before publishing something so inaccurate?
If that trilogy had been centered around some horrible tragedy, such as the Holocaust, and contained so many inaccuracies, society as a whole would be outraged, and people would confirm they have every right to be outraged. How dare the author not do any research before broaching such a delicate and emotionally charged event in history before publishing?
The simple fact of the matter is, people who read historical romance get incredibly upset if the backdrop to the story contains so much misinformation that it distracts from the story. The same goes for literature centered around real-world communities and groups or events. And for all intents and purposes, EL James shined a spotlight onto a very secretive group which never once asked to have society as a whole peek into their world and then basically insult them by telling them their community doesn’t count because EL James writes about fictitious characters. It’s absolutely absurd for people to think this, much less use the “it’s fiction” excuse when the members of this community try to educate the readers of this book as to just how inaccurate the BDSM portion of the books actually is. As an author, it is our duty to ensure our stories, despite being fiction, accurately represent the world in which they are set.
Yes, we can all agree that people loved this book because it was your typical “girl meets damaged hero and teaches him how to love” HEA love story. It’s a storyline that has been used for centuries. The problem lies when the author did not bother to do any research into a rich society that actually exists, grossly misrepresents their lifestyle and relationships, and never once acknowledge she may have been premature in such representations in her haste to get the books published. To compound the problem, because most people do not realize just how wrong the depictions in the books actually are, they do not understand why the BDSM community is so outraged about the discrepancies. And the more the community tries to educate people on why they cannot support the books, the angrier people get, once again dismissing the community’s lifestyle and standards as not being of any value or importance because “it’s just fiction.”
And this leads me to the whole point of this article. Exactly when did it become socially acceptable to dismiss an entire community of people simply because the average person doesn’t understand them? Why are their feelings and outrage over the gross misrepresentation of their community not valid? I had so hoped that society as a whole had come much further along than this.
If nothing else, many people have admitted that the trilogy was their “gateway book” which has led them to seek out books written by authors with a better understanding of the lifestyle, those who have researched the topic, who have or is currently living the lifestyle, or who just want to do their own works and their readers justice by providing them with a more believable fictional experience. Yes, it may be fiction, but that doesn’t mean research and work arent’ involved.
I only ask that readers keep in mind that the BDSM community exists. It is a society filled with loving people and relationships, and their chosen lifestyle has validity and they should be respected, even if it is within the pages of a fiction book. After all, fiction may be art imitating life, but misrepresenting the truth has far-reaching consequences when dealing with people, lifestyle choices, heritage, and society. This group of people exist in the real world, and both the people and their lifestyle have every right to be respected by everyone, even authors who write about fictitious characters.
I’ve been boggled recently by the number of authors who hold onto this stance that EL James somehow “invented,” made “mainstream,” or “legitimized” erotica. Erotica and the porn industry is a multi-BILLION dollar a year industry and has been for decades. You can’t get much more “mainstream” and “legitimate” when you are raking in that kind of sales every year.
The simple fact of the matter is, there were thousands of erotica writers already out in social media long before EL James came onto the scene, along with millions of erotic novels. James did not “pave the way” for erotica any more than Stephen King “paved the way” for horror or that Stephanie Meyer “paved the way” for vampires. People were already talking about erotic literature with their coworkers, erotic authors advertised their work on social media, there were already thousands of active forums and social media groups and websites devoted to talking about and advertising erotica, we were already discussing it in our book clubs, and we were already talking about it with friends. Erotica was already mainstream and a legitimate literature genre long before EL James. She may have become the poster child for the genre and made more money off of it than anyone else, but the genre was already very well established and doing very well long before her books were released. It is much the same way that while George Lucas and Gene Roddenbury may have made more money off of science fiction than many other sci-fi authors, the genre was alive and well long before they decided to join the ranks of HG Wells.
Erotica has had, and still has, a huge following, hundreds of millions of readers and thousands of authors all discussing the art form. All James’ books did was drawn in the very small minority of readers who had shied away from the genre. They picked up the book and began singing its praises. People who already read and appreciated the genre bought it to see what all the fuss was about, and most promptly tossed it to the side in favor of better writers because, again, they were already heavily into the genre and had been for years (multi-BILLION dollar industry, remember?). Despite the sales numbers, more people dislike the story than those who did like it, because again, there were more people already into the genre who were used to better written literature than there were “novice” readers who had just stumbled upon the genre. James’ success is certainly uncanny, but she certainly didn’t “legitimatize” the industry.
There has been websites dedicated to erotic literature for decades now, and many of these authors have a very large following and a lot of success. Case in point – the above screen shot. This is a snippet of a list of the most read erotic stories on an adult website I used to write for. In case you can’t wrap your mind around the number of reads on that first story, it is 11,073,078. That’s over 11 MILLION reads on that story. The next one is over 8 MILLION reads. Just the first 11 stories (and that site hosts hundreds of thousands of stories and authors) on that site have more than 45 MILLION reads total. That’s pretty damn “mainstream” and “legitimate” for a genre which everyone seems to think didn’t appear until James’ got published, especially considering some of those stories came out years before 50 Shades.
Let’s also not forget Anne Rice’s Beauty Trilogy which was also a very successful BDSM publication which came out in the 80s, and also her book Exit to Eden. In addition, there are also the hundreds upon hundreds of Harlequin novels and authors which have been around for decades. These weren’t books being read in the privacy of people’s homes, they were being toted around on school campuses, to work, being talked about on social media and in book clubs. The billions and billions of people who already enjoyed the genre were already talking about it. James just got the other 20% of the population talking about it, too. While that is certainly something to be admired, it hardly makes her a “founding father” of the genre. While *you* i.e. the small number of readers who weren’t already into the genre may not have noticed what was going on in the literary world prior to 50 Shades, erotica was being written, it was being talked about it, and it was being advertised just as much as it has been since 50 Shades was released. People just didn’t notice it prior to James. It’s like saying murder and all the horrible things in the world weren’t happening before the days of social and broadcast media. Yes, it was. It’s just much more accessible now thanks to the media.
In summary, James has without a doubt become the poster child for erotica. However, there is a huge difference between being the poster child for a genre and actually being the first person who ever wrote in it. It is also a huge stretch to consider her the person who somehow broke down barriers on a genre that was already raking in over $4 BILLION dollars a year and which had several million erotic books already on Amazon’s virtual bookshelves. A poster child she may be, but erotica was already mainstream long before she came along, and it will continue to exist long after the next big craze hits.
Had a lovely chat with International Bestselling Author Taylor Dawn. Check out the full interview below.
Tonight Full on Insanity had the pleasure of sitting down to chat with indie sci-fi author Neil Herndon to discuss his books, writing process, and the publishing industry. Huge thanks to Neil for allowing me this opportunity to get to know him and his work. Hope you enjoy!
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Yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting down with writer, co-author, and friend, author Angel H. Scott for our first ever podcast of Full On Insanity with Nicola Matt. We had a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to doing more podcasts and interviews with fellow authors and other artists.
If anyone would like to be a featured guest on the show (we literally talk about everything on this show, including random episodes of The Walking Dead and other fandoms), please be sure to CLICK HERE to fill out the guest request form. I will be back with you as soon as possible to schedule a date and time.
In the meantime, if you would like to listen to me and Angel shooting the shit for an hour (we did do a lot of giggling), watch the podcast below – and excuse my really bad southern drawl 😀
Since the formation of the ‘indie’ artist, they have had to rely on a variety of funding adventures to get their art out to the masses – borrowing from family, friends, pawning items, Ebay, selling them on CraigsList – whatever it took to get the capital to fund their next project.
Some time ago, some ingenious person thought it would be a really great idea if they put together a website that would allow artists and other entrepreneurs the ability to tap into crowd funding – a way for people who really believed in their work, their product, and/or their business plan to invest money into helping them fund the project.
For the most part, it really is a great system. It has allowed artists of all types – musicians, painters, budding film makers and directors just to name a few – to scrape together the capital needed to finish their projects and get it out to those who not only helped fund the project, but to those who may ultimately become a fan.
Basically, crowd funding works just like finding investors for a company – you write up your sales pitch and put it out there for the world. People who want to invest in the project/business venture in exchange for a copy of the finished product do so happily. For the most part, people have used it to fund musical albums, to create prototypes, to help with business start-up capital, to create paintings, to fund films – the list goes on and on.
For some reason, though, people of the author community seem to think that this crowd funding option should not be available to writers and authors. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I see authors bashing other authors for doing crowd funding to help offset the costs of editors, formatters, cover artists, or even with funding a book signing tour. I don’t quite understand WHY everyone seems to think it is okay when bands get together to crowd fund their next album, but these same people will break out the lynch mob if an author dares to do a crowd funding campaign to help with the costs of producing a book. Are we not artists too? Do we not have the same rights as any other artist to fund our projects however we see fit? Exactly what gives you the right to tell others what they can and cannot do in order to fund their projects? Are you jealous you didn’t think of it first?
Yes, I understand you have the leeches of society who are basically using crowd funding as a way to be lazy and expect everyone else to pay their way. No, I am NOT going to pay your bills because you want to sit on your ass and write full-time. Hell, I’d like to do that too, but I have bills to pay and it’s not anyone else’s place to pay those bills but mine. But, I don’t see anything wrong with doing a crowd funding campaign to help pay for all the many professionals that are needed in order to get a book ready for publication. To me, it’s no different from bands crowd funding their next album or indie film makers funding their next film. No, I don’t think they should just ask for money without offering anything in return. That’s just charity. That’s being lazy and expecting someone else to pay your way. But actual crowd funding investment? Why do authors hate this so much?
Well, here’s a little secret. I use crowd funding, and if you don’t like it, you can go get effed. And if you are one of those who think you just have to point out how wrong you think it is for an author to offer someone a copy of their upcoming release in exchange for them investing in said project ahead of time through crowd funding, I’m pretty sure I’m going to refer you back to the above italicized sentence.
If you don’t want to use crowd funding, then by all means, don’t. But don’t get pissed off because the rest of us are utilizing all the avenues at our disposal to get our projects out to our readers. If my readers want to pay me in advance for a book I’m still working on, that’s their business. No one is forcing you to use crowd funding, but don’t knock others for using the same business model which has proven to work time and time again just because you don’t like it. I don’t see any of you telling JK Rowling she should be ashamed for living off the government for years while she wrote Harry Potter. So if you wouldn’t tell her to put her projects and dreams on hold “until she saved up and could afford it,” then please don’t say that shit to indie authors either.