…when other, worthier titles failed? That was the question posted on Goodreads, and here’s my answer:
Because fanfiction porn had to break out at some point, ebooks were exploding like whoah, and E.L. James got lucky by hooking into the fanbase of Stephanie Meyer’s magnum opus on how humans would act if they had their common sense removed (a.k.a Twilight).
Fifty Shades sure as hell didn’t succeed because it’s actually worth reading.
Let’s not kid ourselves here. The book is utter crap no matter what way you cut it. That’s okay, people have their tastes ‘n’ all that, and it’s fine for them to like it, but seriously – it’s crap. It doesn’t stop being crap just because it’s a bestseller.
It was probably one of the first x-rated fanfiction porn stories to be thrown at an audience outside fanfiction. I’m convinced that people bought it because they heard about it and thought ‘hey, sex. I’m totally down for that and this Harlequin bullshit is too tame.’ Then more people (and by people I mean women) bought it because their friends said it was full of sexytimes or it was so laughably bad that they just had to read it to see how bad it was.
There’s fuck all porn for women out there that you can actually read on the bus. Blame porn producers if anything, or 99% of the mainstream media – they spent years making the same dumb shit for men and left women nothing but romance novels and sexual frustration. Some women went ahead and produced their own porn, fanfiction, but they couldn’t sell it and not many had an audience. That’s what we call an unserved demographic there, kids – and that demographic has MONEY. Lots of fucking money. Given the right circumstances (‘hardcore’ porn novel in regular stores), they will bury you up to your neck in that money. Yeah, effectively it opened up the market for a whole bunch of other, better erotica writers to start raking in the moolah, and we should probably be a little thankful for that. But just a little.
Fact is, ladies ‘n’ gentlemen, Fifty Shades made millions because it was in the right place at the right time. If the deities didn’t have a sense of humor, we might have seen a much better story rise in its place, but them’s the breaks.
I could be wrong about this, of course, so I’m going to make a prediction: E.L. James’s next book will be a flop. Why? Because Meyer’s book that came out after Twilight is practically a non-entity, and she at least knows something of how a story is supposed to go. James doesn’t even know that much. So, the definitive proof of whether Fifty Shades succeeded because it has merit or because of circumstances will be whether her next one earns anything even close to it. But my money is on the flop.