Thursday, 19 April 2012

Sex sells, doesn't it?

I think I might be addicted to Food Network UK, I mean, why else would I find myself getting quite excited about a new episode of Cupcake Wars?   It's quite worrying, but I actually look forward to catching up with this competitive cake-making cookery show every morning (I don't watch it when it's first aired at 9pm in the evening, come on!  I've got a husband - can you see him putting up with me passing comments about cream cheese frosting during peak time TV viewing?  I watch the repeats at 7.30am the next day), grabbing my daily dose of this quite addictive programme as I eat my breakfast.  I just can't bear the news first thing in the morning, you see.  BBC Breakfast News leaves me cold, Sky News has turned into a tabloid news station, and Daybreak - well, no thanks. Anyway, once today's Cupcake Wars had finished, I did do a little bit of channel hopping, but only because I couldn't be bothered to get up and start the vacuuming, and in doing so I came across someone being interviewed on Lorraine about how their book was being turned into a movie, so, because I'm an author (I am, okay?  Self-published or not, it's what I do), and because my ears prick up at the slightest mention of books and authors, I stayed tuned in to listen to this interview, not having a clue who this woman was, what her book was, or how she'd started her writing journey, until I pressed the info button on the Freesat box and found out she was British author E.L. James, and they were talking about her erotic romance novel, Fifty Shades of Grey.  Now, I'd heard about this book, heard it was supposed to be quite racy, a bit graphic, and I knew it was right up there on the Bestseller's List.  I just didn't realise it was that popular; that she had Hollywood producers queuing up to meet her to discuss the movie, that people were  clamouring over themselves to be involved in bringing her book to the big screen.   I really had no idea.  So, as I sat there watching this interview, being a relatively new author who's still very wet behind the ears as far as this business is concerned, I couldn't help wondering - again! - just how do you get your books out there and noticed in the way that some of these authors are managing to do?  What's the secret?  What makes a book stand out so much that people come flocking in their droves to buy it?  What do people really want to read about?

Oh, I know it's still a one-in-a-million chance that it'll happen to an indie author like me because people like me are extremely small fishes in an incredibly big pond, but people do sometimes manage to get people to sit up and take notice of their work and I just wish I knew how to make that happen.  Maybe it's all just hype.  Create hype and people will follow, if only to see what all the fuss is about.  And whilst not all of those people will bite, a fair few may just stick around to see what's going on.  I mean, I've got the radio on here in the office, and an advert's just come on telling me about, and I quote, "the movie everybody's talking about" - which is Ewan McGregor's new one, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.  Now, for starter's, everybody is not talking about it because I'm not.  In fact, nobody in this house is talking about it, nor are they talking about it next door or in my mother's house, so therefore (if we're going to be pedantic - which I am, for the purpose of the point of I'm trying to make, and I'll get there, I promise, just stick with me), everybody is not talking about that movie.  However, just by saying that, by making everybody think everybody is talking about it, it creates that little bit of hype that just might draw a few more people into the cinema to watch the film.  Do you get what I'm trying to say here?  Bang on about something for long enough and people will turn up to see what's going on, that's what I'm trying to say.  I just think, however, that if I banged on about my books all the time it would have the opposite effect, but there you go.  Like I said, I've still got to get to grips with the art of marketing... "The book everybody's talking about... No Matter What by Michelle Betham..."  Ah, if only... But a girl can dream... ;-)

Now, I have no idea how the extremely likeable (it was a good interview on Lorraine) E.L James marketed her books, but whatever she did people really did sit up and take notice, didn't they?  I mean, I can only dream about hitting the heights of the Top 100 Bestseller's List.  So, and here's the big question, is it really just because the book Fifty Shades of Grey is (so I've heard) all about sex?  Is that the reason why women are - apparently - passing this book around like it's the Holy Grail or something?  I have absolutely no idea, but whatever is going on, me just writing about the book this morning has actually made me want to read the thing so something, somewhere is working!  So, okay - sex sells, doesn't it?  Is erotic romance really becoming the big thing at the moment?  Do people really want to read about all that on the way to work?  Discussing S&M scenes over the photocopier;  is it really that popular a genere?  Because, if it is, I might just give it a go!  My first two books - No Matter What and See You At The Show - both had a fair few sex scenes but they were scenes I actually toned down because I thought they might be a bit much, but now, well, I wish I'd left the bugger's in their original state!  Still, you live and learn...  And anyway, those books aren't erotic fiction, they're contemporary romance, albeit it a little bit on the steamy side, in parts.

But I am certainly not ruling out writing something a lot more steamy in the future - why not?  And I'm not just jumping on the erotic fiction bandwagon here, it's something I've always wanted to dabble in, I just wasn't sure how popular it was or how much of a call for that kind of book there was.  But, it seems, there certainly is a market for it.  Sex does sell, apparently.  Still got to market the things once they're written though, and that's still something I have yet to master.  But, if you can write a decent book with a plot that people are interested in, concerning a subject that makes people sit up and take notice - and if you can get the marketing of that book just right, then you can certainly hit the dizzy heights of success.  Oh, and I'm also more than aware that I've probably done more marketing for Fifty Shades of Grey than I've managed to get for me own books here, but there you go. 

So, congratulations to Ms. James on the success of her books.  And for making Time Magazine's list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.  You've cracked it, missus!  Now, if you've got any tips you might fancy passing on, I'm more than happy to listen... ;-)

Right - I'd better get back to finishing off me own humble little novel then.  Book number 4 and nowhere near anything erotic, but if you like a bit of romantic comedy... Okay, okay, no plugging today.  There'll be enough of that when the thing's released...

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