Erotic fiction has always been around, and since the advent of the Internet doubly so. What previously was hard to spread due to its dubiousness can now freely be shared via the World Wide Web – people who wrote for their own enjoyment can now put it there for everyone to see. But one aspect of the entire situation has always been more or less the same – erotic fiction has never been treated very seriously, remaining a kind of third-rate literature unfit to be talked about, embarrassing to be found out reading, a pathetic hobby for pathetic people (including readers and authors both).
But it seems that this situation has drastically changed in the last few years, and erotic fiction got under the spotlight – at least for the time being. And all thanks to one wholly remarkable book, namely – 50 Shades of Grey.
And it really cannot be called anything but remarkable – a book of erotic fiction that started out as fanfiction based on Twilight series (not much of a literary masterpiece itself), and was almost universally panned by critics for having some of the most atrocious writing ever to be published (British novelist Salman Rushdie says that the aforementioned Twilight looks like War and Peace in comparison) sold more than 70 million copies worldwide, put its previously unknown author into “The World’s 100 Most Influential People” list according to Times magazine and became the fastest-selling paperback in history.
The genre that has always been somewhere on the fringe of literature has suddenly become a legitimate vocation choice. “If such a book managed to bring its creator such a fantastic success, certainly I can do even better” – these are probably the thoughts that were passing through thousands of minds as people read 50 Shades of Grey.
The results were not long in coming – dozens of websites collecting and publishing erotic fiction sprang into existence, ranging from pathetic FrontPage affairs to professional and presumably profitable resources, while the ones that existed previously saw a dramatic upsurge in visitors and sign-ups. Some simply allow their visitors to join, share their own texts and read the works of other collaborators; others give extensive tips on writing erotic prose, as seen on this site; but all of them have one thing in common – they serve as meeting places for people dreaming of becoming rich and famous going down the same road as E.L. James, the author of 50 Shades of Grey.
And who knows, probably among these thousands of people trying to learn a new craft there are some who are really going to achieve something in this field. What used to be a very niche and pretty unsavory hobby became fashionable – E.L. James started a new trend in publishing, which is likely to see a number of new releases in the years to come. In the course of time fascination with this topic is likely to pass, as well as its popularity with publishers, but for now the situation seems to be quite advantageous for writers willing to move their careers in this direction.
Of course, the majority of dreams and hopes people writing for these sites are not going to come true – what is real for any other genre of literature is even more real for erotic fiction. Thousands of novels are written every year, only a fraction of them get published, and only an infinitesimal number of them get any real attention, let alone become as famous as 50 Shades of Grey.
But if there is anything the story behind this book teaches us is that one can never say what is going to become the next big thing.