Monday, December 16, 2013

Why Isn’t There Another 50 Shades Of Grey?

Have you noticed how many erotic novels will reference in an ad, a press release, or book jacket copy how it’s like 50 Shades of Grey -- only better? Some have gone on to sell relatively well but none come close to being the breakout once-in-a-decade book that 50 Shades became. Should this surprise us?

50 Shades really should never have been so successful -- or so it seems. It started out self-published, overseas. But it caught fire and it has sold tens of millions of copies. But it seems its formula or style is easy to copy and in fact, existed long before it was published, so why haven’t others caught fire?

Because only one book series can be a genre-leader, just like Anne Rice’s vampire books and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. None of these women wrote books about something that wasn’t covered or done before, but each caught lightening in a bottle. And because they became monster-selling authors it was unlikely there’d be room for two mega-heavy weights to co-exist.

If you hope to breakthrough as an author, find a way to write in an underachieving genre or where the leader is not killing the competition.

The best-seller lists are filled with people who have sold a nice amount of books but by no means are world-beaters. Only 11 books in fiction hardcover sold over 10,000 copies this past week. Just two topped over 50,000.

Of the Top 25 best -selling hardcover fiction authors for the past week, just two books have accumulated 500,000+ sales for the year. Nine topped 100,000. Big numbers, yes, but not crazy sums. It seems it takes a lot for a book to kill its competition.

There’s no precise formula for what makes a book a super best-seller but it’s clear that few super best-sellers can share the limelight, especially within the same genre. Maybe books that want to explode should not reference 50 Shades of Grey. It’ll need to be the anti-50 Shades if it has a chance to find a big readership.


Here is my 2014 Book Marketing & Publicity Toolkit: Based on 20+ years in publishing --

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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