Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fan Antics

As if 50 Shades of Grey wasn’t enough. I found out through my favorite writing forum that a big New York publisher just shelled out a seven-figure advance for Gabriel’s Inferno, another book that started life as Twilight fan fiction. Why not? If it worked for 50 Shades, maybe reworked fanfic erotica lightning will strike twice. Or several times. The same forum reported from different sources that HarperCollins was soliciting fan writings at ComicCon. There’s gold in them thar fics!

I wish. I wrote a book that was (cough) inspired by my favorite TV show. I never tried to deny it. I was hoping the knowledge might translate into extra sales. While the book did indeed turn out to be my best selling title to date, it didn’t come anywhere close to the millions of copies 50 Shades has sold so far. You won’t find it at the end of the aisle in Kmart, and no New York publishers are waving seven-figure checks in my face. But it was based on a show with a passionate fan base! Why aren’t I rich and famous?

Clearly I made several mistakes in my marketing. For you budding E. L. Jameses out there, try this formula:

1. Pick a wildly popular book/show/movie with a huge and rabid fan base. Twilight is a worldwide phenomenon. The show I picked, well, isn’t. It’s got its fans, but they don’t number in the millions. On second thought, skip the TV shows and movies and base your work on a book. Those fans are trained readers from the get-go. You’re halfway home already.

2. Write a lengthy fanfic and post it on any one of the free sites available. Let it gather rave reviews and recommendations. Build an audience who’ll buy the rewritten version when you self-pub. It helps if you know how to write, but good writing isn’t mandatory. This is true even of professionally-published books. (Example: The Da Vinci Code or early John Grisham)

3. Include a lot of sex. The kinkier, the better. Especially if there was no sex between the characters in the original but everybody was dying to see some. Maybe that was part of my problem, I didn’t have enough sex scenes and they were pretty tame. Maybe the guy should have been into branding or something. C’mon, he had a tattoo. What more do you people want?

4. Make your hero a brooding older man who’s rich as all get out but has a tragic background/troubled past/deadly secret. His lover is younger, naïve, awkward and ideally a virgin. She’s drawn to him instantly, but she’s not sure how he feels. It worked for Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre is considered a classic for a reason.

5. Your main characters should be male and female. There’s another place I went wrong. Mine was two guys. M/M has a following, but nowhere near the numbers het romance enjoys. My love interest wasn’t a virgin either, although he was younger than the hero. Who was a vampire, by the way. I think that may have helped sales, but I can’t be sure.

The biggest error I made was skipping the fanfic stage. My major concern in devising my story was—what’s the word I want? Oh yeah. Plagiarism. Plus, until 50 Shades came along, there was no money in fanfic, and I have monthly bills. I thought fanfic and money were mutually exclusive. Instead of writing and posting a fanfic with loads of bondage sex, I concocted an original background and story and cast the show’s actors as the leads. They may look the same and sound the same, but they’re not the TV characters. Maybe that’s why big publishers with big advances aren’t beating down my door. If you can’t recognize the beloved characters from your favorite book/show/movie—and they’re not having steamy sex every couple of pages—then what’s the point?

For the record, I haven’t read 50 Shades, and after seeing all the reviews and comments and skimming a couple of pages in the local Kmart, I don’t think I will be. I did read Twilight (got it from the library), and while it’s not my thing, I can understand why 14-year-old girls would fall in love with it. Sadly, I don’t write the things 14-year-old girls fall in love with. I write what interests me. Whether it interests anyone else I don’t know until the book comes out.

For instance, I’m toying with a YA plot right now. It has a guy and a girl. It has vampires. There are no sex scenes at all. It’s primarily a comedy. Sounds like I’m doomed from the start. If I make the guy ten years older, make her young and virginal, put a hot bondage scene on the first page and name them Bella and Edward it might stand a chance. This time, make the werewolves sparkle. They’re gay and wear glitter in their fur. I like that idea, but it’s too original. In current publishing, the word of the day is derivative.

Screw this. Writing a 200k-word fan fiction epic and then rewriting it as an original work is way too time consuming. I’m going to cash in on another trend I spotted on the same forum. Some publisher wants to reissue Sherlock Holmes and Pride and Prejudice and a couple other classics in the public domain, but this time with steamy sex scenes added. I’m targeting Call of the Wild. Buck was a werewolf. Harnessing dogs to a sled constitutes bondage, right? Of course it does. Throw in a couple scenes of M/M cross-species shapeshifter bestiality and I might just have something. Hey, New York! I’m over here! Make sure you spell my name right on my seven-figure check.


Savanna Kougar said...

The world of wacky 'screw everybody' insanity continues, with publishing being no exception... whatever, I've been over the whole stupid NY thing for a long time. For the most part, I could care less about that level of fame and fortune. Just twinges remain.

One reason, I'm a realist. I'm also a futurist. The New York Big Boys are on their last legs unless they can end up censoring or getting rid of the real competition... or everything but what they decide to contract -- which is what they and the media/movie BIG BOYS are doing with all the copyright crap they're trying to push through congress, etc.

So, sure, 'right now' a few authors get the big checks and all the fame. They may be good writer/storytellers, and they may NOT be. It's just a matter of hitting one trend and/or creating, then hyping that trend with deep pockets... profits gotten through mafia-style tactics, like owning distribution because they strong-armed the bookstores into the deal. Not because of any kind of free enterprise.

For the supposed lucky authors, it just means eventually the IRS and the bankster gangsters will get most of their bigtime checks, and take whatever they purchased with it -- already happening to other innocent people all over America, through massive levels of fraud and the use of blatant brute force.

Also, according to my info on the Indie loop, from other authors, most of the big six don't even pay what they legally owe authors, and get away with it for the most part, because of all their corp dirty tricks. Authors are treated much better by foreign publishing companies.

So, those authors getting the big checks are inadvertent parasites on other authors, who aren't getting what's truly owed to them. Not a situation I can morally participate in.

Pat C. said...

I guess you've heard about the class-action suit against Harlequin, then. Seems they've been fudging numbers on ebook sales. One writer posted a screen shot of her royalty statement, which was for something like $2.50. The "Copies Sold" column was blank. We're just supposed to take their word for it? Really?

As for me, I wouldn't mind a 6- or 7-figure check, whether it's from a trad publisher or for self-pubbing. Given my age and lack of saleable skills in today's workplace, I seriously doubt my ability to find a job willing to pay me a living wage. I'd rather not have to live under a bridge. No place to plug in the laptop down there.

I think I just became a professional writer. Time to start praying to the gods.

Pat C. said...

Speaking of derivative works, Temptation and Tights, my twisted love letter to Marvel Comics, is now available for pre-order! I've even sold a copy already! Only 499 million to go ...

Savanna Kougar said...

Oooh, Pat, congrats on the first sale of TEMPTATION AND TIGHTS!

Honestly, Pat, depending on your financial strategy, you'd likely end up with far more problems than you have now, if you did get that large a check. You'd be a plump mouse facing down a pack of starving coyotes.

Most people who win the lottery end up miserable and broke, and far worse off than they were. Believe it or not.

And, no, of course, I don't want you or anyone else living under a bridge, unless that's your preferred thing.

And, where would that big-check money reside? Likely you'd put what you don't spend in a bank. There is NO stable bank right now. They're all on the verge of collapse. Any big bank can be taken down if the powers that be decide on it. Plus, FDIC doesn't have the money to pay out anymore. And, if you did get some of it back, good luck getting it in any reasonable amount of time.

Right now, wealthy people, or anyone with any amount of money in the bank have a heckuva time getting any large sum out, even mere thousands of dollars. People are taking their money out of banks and putting it into any kind of tangible useful tool-item, gold, silver, land.

Pension funds are being stolen right and left by the bankster gangsters. The IRS is going after retirees who have done nothing, on trumped up charges, and taking their houses, anything not nailed down. No one is stopping them. There's a gug expose about this in Austin, one of the IRS hubs.

Plus, the only banks that aren't absolutely corrupt are some of the small local banks and credit unions. And well... anytime the powers that be want to take that bank out. Say, goodbye. They'll step on it like a cockroach... trump up false charges and raid them.

Really, the authors who are getting that big check, and think they're sitting pretty in life, unless they've become down and dirty preppers, they are in for one rude huge wakeup call.

And, yeah, if for same insane reason one of my books got noticed and one of the big six wanted to hand me a big fat check, I'd have a crisis of conscience. Do I take the money and run, try to use it to save myself, my loved ones, and others? Or do I stand on principle, and refuse to be part of a system that sucks the life out of most of its authors?

Anonymous said...

That was great, Pat! I laughed out loud several times :O


Pat C. said...

I know where my first big check's going: I'm buying a house in New Jersey. Or a vacant lot I can put the trailer on. Something where I own the house and the land and don't have to pay rent any more.

I'm lucky enough to have my money in a small local bank. Living in Amish Country, backwards socially though it may seem at time, has advantages. Farm-fresh produce being one of the best.

Pat C. said...

Hi, Dakota! Thanks for stopping by!

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, hate to be a downer. But buying a house these days is an absolute minefield. Because of an electronic entity called MERS, 70% of house titles are now what is being called CLOUDED TITLES. That means titles have not been properly recorded in the county courthouses, and actual ownership is thus, clouded. Insurance companies can't insure title, for one thing.

Also, people who have paid off their houses now can't find their titles. The titles are conveniently lost in the system because of all the derivatives trading.

As well, people who have paid cash for their houses are losing them to banks who claim ownership, even houses bought ten years ago. Even with proof of ownership.

Example: I listen to Joyce Riley's radio show. She paid off her house and property about three/four years ago and has the proof. Yet, to her complete shock she received a foreclosure notice, and had to take immediate legal action to stop her place from being sold on the courthouse steps. Ironically, she had been interviewing a paralegal who has become an expert in this massive real estate fraud. He has a book titled, Clouded Titles, but I don't remember his name right now.

Pat, bottom line, the system is going after home owners big time when they have done nothing wrong. People who have made every mortgage payment are being foreclosed on, and on purpose. If you're a senior DO NOT PAY OFF your house because then it's guaranteed you'll become a target. In fact what banks will do is check a senior's income, and when they're close to paying off their house, they'll demand full payment. And, if the senior can't pay, goodbye house. They've been doing this to farmers and ranchers as well... waiting until the land is almost paid off, then swooping in like vultures.

It's a huge horrible ugly mess out there, with devastating consequences for families, and for all of us. Unless, you really know what you're doing in this convoluted real estate disaster, then I wouldn't recommend purchasing a house.

Sorry... really, I am. I'm sorry for all of us in America who are good people.

Savanna Kougar said...

Update: That's 70,000,000 million clouded titles, not 70%. Just head Dave Krieger, the author of CLOUDED TITLES state that number.

That is a great cartoon!