At the news Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James was publishing a writing guide, I tweeted the following because I am at at least a little bit of a dick:
A writing guide by the 50 SHADES OF GREY author is like a cookbook written by Ronald McDonald. bostonherald.com/entertainment/…
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) March 11, 2013
And it was a ha-ha-funny tweet admittedly tasting of the vinegar tang of sour grapes because E.L. James has sold an eye-bursting number of copies of her book. I think by now everyone on the planet has at least three copies even if they don’t realize it. In truth I laud James for her success — I mean, shit, it’s out there, it’s selling, who am I to say she doesn’t deserve it? The joke for me is that just because the book sold well doesn’t make it the watermark for good writing, and so — well, blah blah blah, I’m explaining the joke, which of course kills it.
Regardless! A few folks tweeted or commented that it’s horrible she sells so well and what chance do they have of getting published and life sucks and the publishing industry is a cabal of vampires and we’re all fucking doomed so fuck it and let’s all just cry into our pillows.
Stop that right now.
You’re looking at the wrong thing.
You’re saying, “This crap over here is popular and that’s bad.”
Who cares? Who gives a jiggling jar of koala cock about that? Crap is frequently popular. (See earlier joke: Ronald McDonald.) It takes nothing away from your work or your chance of producing that work either on your own or when working with a strong and friendly publisher.
That one series of books is a lone floater in a very big pool of water.
Lift your gaze.
Look at your bookshelves.
I look at my shelves, I see books from years past and from this year and I see books that haven’t even been published yet (’cause I’m lucky like that) and you know what? They’re incredible! Great authors are producing great content and publishers are fucking publishing it. Who cares about some other book series? Books don’t really compete against one another. The 70 jizzillion people who bought the Fifty Shades books weren’t likely to buy your books anyway and if they do, great, yay, confetti, applause, puppies, ponies and popsicles for all.
Nothing in those books takes anything away from you.
Keep writing. Eyes forward. The popular kids are always gonna do what the popular kids are always gonna do. It’s a big world. Lot of readers. An infinite Internet. Keep writing.
To conclude? A point made by a very wise man who would’ve been 61-years-old today: