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After is on its way to becoming the next 50 Shades

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Well howdy there, friends! What would you say if I told you that we were living in a circle of hell that Dante Alighieri couldn’t have imagined in his deepest fever dreams? Okay, well, does your answer change when I tell you that Anna Todd’s After has been acquired by Simon & Schuester’s Gallery Books in a mid-six figure deal? And then when I remind you that the fanfic already has movie rights? And that the author believes editing will ruin her process? Or that when you google the word “after,” not “after fanfic” or “after Anna Todd,” just the word “after,” the first result is her story and not the definition of the word “after”? What would you say then?

sniffing glue

Look, it’s not that I dislike Anna Todd. She hasn’t given me the self-aggrandizing, victim-blaming bullshit quotes that E.L. James did over the course of the 50 Shades media shit storm. She clearly likes to write, and she’s dedicated to her readers– something E.L. James hasn’t exactly been praised for. There’s no reason for me to dislike Anna Todd. Not even her quote about not editing because it will ruin her story; I more or less just shake my head and murmur, “Oh, my sweet, summer child.” My hope for her is that, through the process of editing her fanfics for publication, she will become a stronger writer, and never again say that editing will ruin her work.

But if authors seem butt hurt when something like this happens, a lot of people say, “Well, you’re just jealous!” You know what? Yes. We are jealous. We’re jealous and we’re frustrated and we’re disappointed. We were told for years and years that the only way to succeed in publishing was to keep learning and developing our skills and to respect our work enough to let only the very, very best land in front of other peoples’ eyes. We were told that the only way to land a traditional publishing contract was to deliver a book that was already in better shape than 90% of what was on the market. To submit anything less would be futile. And with that comes the unspoken corollary: if your book does get published, it’s because it was already flawless.

So, aspiring authors spend thousands of dollars flying all over the country to go to conferences and workshops that tell them how to write one of these flawless books. They get up early and stay up late to grab time to write. They beg or pay people to read their manuscripts, so they can get them into publishable shape.

And then “tattoos are not expectable” winds up taking home a bigger advance than most authors can ever dream of receiving.

Believe me when I say that most writers truly do cheer for the success of newcomers. We don’t operate in a state of constant professional jealousy. Well, I mean. I know some who do, but fuck them. Most of us want to see everyone succeed, because there’s room for everyone at the table. But we get frustrated when we read stuff like this:

“Wilson, the acquiring editor, told PW ‘the book is very long, so we’ll edit it down and get to the core of the story. We’re committed to keeping the story people know but we want to reach traditional readers as well.'”

[Full disclosure for ethics’ sake, Adam Wilson was my editor at Harlequin for my last few books there. This story doesn’t have so much to do with him as it does with the recent trends in publishing, but I thought it would be honest to give a heads up.]

Look at that quote: “The book is very long, so we’ll edit it down and get to the core of the story.” This sticks in my craw. It sticks there so hard. So many times, I’ve been at industry events where editors or agents will give the advice to write tight, to keep the story moving, to have it polished enough that in the lucky event an editor’s eyes land on your manuscript, they’re wowed by your narrative skill. So “edit it down and get to the core of the story” isn’t something you’re supposed to do after you get picked up by a major publisher. It’s something you have to do before your book is even ready to submit.

Furthermore, After lacks another crucial characteristic of what we have been told is a salable manuscript: rudimentary grammar and punctuation, two basic things authors have heard hammered home in lecture after lecture from publishing professionals. “We don’t want to see your manuscript until it’s been proof-read to perfection!” Well, then explain this bullshit, traditional publishing. Explain it.

Obviously, when a publisher sees potential money laying around, they’re going to grab at it. That’s business. But they don’t say, “We’re grabbing this for the cash! Whee!” They make statements like:

“Gallery Books is publishing the book fairly quickly. ‘[Publishing this quickly] is not for every book but we have lots of fan-fiction writers and we’re familiar with the Wattpad community,’ Wilson said. ‘We’ve learned to publish quickly when it comes to self-published authors.'”

See how that makes rushing an unedited manuscript with an aimless plot– “And then Steph makes me go to another party! Again! And I hate it! Again!”– sound like a special commodity that can’t be handled through the usual channels? They don’t want to admit that the bottom line is the bottom line here. No publisher is going to come out and say, “We will publish literally anything, no matter how bad it is, no matter what shape it’s in, whether or not it borders on plagiarism, e.g. 50 Shades of Grey. We will publish anything that we think will make us more money than it costs to print the book.”

Look, I’m not saying that I’m shocked. I’m a realist. But traditional publishing works very hard to convince aspiring authors that every book they sell was accepted and published based on merit alone, and only they are the arbiters of what is and is not “a book.” It’s how they sell their product, I get it. But if those authors had just known that it was okay to rewrite someone else’s entire series and change the names, they could have written 50 Shades of Grey. If we had just known that publishers wanted barely coherent boy band fanfic, we’d have all written barely coherent boy band fanfic.

This is a trap that a lot of commoditized creative ventures fall into; we can’t set out saying we want to make money, because then that means that what we’re making isn’t art, and that’s what we’re supposed to be in it for. Writers are supposed to create for our own pleasure, strive for perfection, and ignore the sometimes disheartening financial realities involved. We’re supposed to buy the line that the books that get published do so by being the best of the best the moment they’re plucked from the slush pile. And we’re supposed to do all this without any public expression of anger when something like After or 50 Shades of Grey achieves staggering success. Who does this model benefit? Not the authors.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you fart and blame the dog enough, eventually people realize where the stink is really coming from. If publishing is a business, then it needs to admit that it’s a business. It would make stuff like this way less insulting authors and readers.

 

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59 Comments

  1. Oh, Jenny, you don’t even know the half of it yet. There is a point at the end of book 1/beginning of book 2 where you can kind of see how it could almost be good in the right hands. But then she keeps going and it goes dowhill to levels I didn’t know were possible, storywise.

    And spelling, grammar and writing? I have doubts that English is her first language. To her credit, she does mention in one author note that she’s aware her grammar sucks. But she also states in another that she reads through before posting. I don’t know how that’s possible.

    That she’s getting rich off of this makes me sick to my stomach. And the worst part is anyone criticizing this crap gets told to shut up, that at least people are reading and “good” is subjective. To hell with any standards on a professional level.

    May 27, 2014
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  2. Flo
    Flo

    All I can say is “wow”. It’s not just that the grammar is poor, the punctuation misused and a repetitive storyline, there are several spots in the books with serious continuity errors as well. I think it is really sad that those who have worked so hard are getting shit on while someone who can come up with a good “story” (and I use that term loosely) about a popular person in a popular band can get rich this way, without knowing how to really write. It’s all about the money–not just what they are paying her, but what they think they can make off all of the teeny-boppers who are gushing over this piece of crap. I’m not a writer, and it really bugs me too. If you read the comments on Wattpad, it’s obvious who the readers are for this book, and they aren’t exactly the most critical of readers. I’m sure that’s why the publishers are in fast forward mode on this, strike while the iron is hot before something better and hipper comes along, make as much money as we can.

    What makes me even sadder is this young woman is essentially being fed a lot of crap. Her audience gushes over her, she’s being pursued by publishers, etc. My question is this–once the dust settles on “After”, will all her hangers on still be there, will someone help her polish her craft, or will they all just walk away for the next big thing and leave her hanging? At 25, she’s not a kid, but all this ego stroking and so forth has the potential for a horrible fall. Maybe she can go hang out with Lindsay Lohan?

    May 27, 2014
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  3. Have you been reading my mind? 😉

    What you just blogged about is what I’ve been thinking—with great frustration—for the last few years, because I was one of those writers who studied their genre and craft and attended countless conferences and workshops over the last 10 years to become a better writer, who would someday get noticed by the right agent/editor. Then I read about so many cases like this one where publishers see dollar signs. So I finally decided to self-publish, since I was already paying for an editor, book doctor/content editor, and a website designer (so the editors and agents could see I was committed to my book and building recognition). I might as well continue investing in myself. Maybe when I build a following and am finally making significant bank, then they will call me. Whether I decide to answer that call is up for debate.

    May 27, 2014
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  4. I think you’ve captured perfectly why so many writers and readers have issues with these kinds of stories becoming so popular and lucrative. I’ve fielded a handful of “you’re just jealous” comments when I criticize 50 Shades and
    other terrible but profitable books, and I’ve wished for a long time that I could stop being so pressed about these books. I can’t seem to, though. This post elucidates the exact reasons.

    I’ve been trying for years to improve my writing to what I felt were publishable standards–did cons, creative writing courses, editing courses, etc.–plus the lovely side benefit of being a woman of color so as soon as agents find out my heritage (I’m Eurasian with European last name so it isn’t immediately clear until they see me/talk to me), I get pigeonholed into “ethnic” fiction (my stories do feature non-white characters, but the focus isn’t their ethnicity. I write sci-fi and fantasy, so the focus is on the adventure and the world building). This all makes me wonder what it is about writing like this which is, by fairly objective standards, terrible, that captures the public’s imagination while writing that strives to be technically good by the same standards gets ignored. It’s weird. Is it b/c the latter group usually doesn’t write about romanticized semi-abusive (or outright abusive, depending on one’s interpretation) relationships that reinforce patriarchal values (and feature lots of poorly-written sex?) Do people just like meandering stories full of superfluous descriptions of mundane tasks like coming home from a party?

    There is literally nothing about these books and the phenomenons surrounding them that isn’t discouraging as hell for both writers and readers.

    May 27, 2014
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    • ali
      ali

      the unicorner– i love adventure and world building in sci-fi! where can we find you?

      May 28, 2014
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      • In unpublished hell, lol. Hoping that will change soon!

        May 28, 2014
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  5. the-great-dragon
    the-great-dragon

    I’m going to be naively optimistic here and say that After will NOT do well. The big draw for 50 Shades was that it was about BDSM (okay, it was about abuse, but BDSM was how it was marketed.) That was it’s shtick. That was the shock factor. The big draw for After is Harry Styles. That’s literally ALL it has going for it, so once it gets published and the names are changed, there’s really nothing to draw people in.

    Twilight had vampires, 50 Shades had BDSM, this has…tattoos? I guess? And that’s fricken boring. I refuse to believe that anyone wants to read a book that boils down to “Omg I hate tattoos!” “OMG I have tattoos!”

    All that being said, you are absolutely 100% justified in your anger and I’m pretty peeved myself.

    May 27, 2014
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    • Lieke
      Lieke

      I’m right there with you. I hope that the publishers have just seriously overestimated how many people are interested in After and HOW interested they are. I can’t see people spending money on this. I can’t.

      May 28, 2014
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  6. Belinda
    Belinda

    I’d not heard much about this book — but from what I’ve gathered thus far — this “After” story is a fanfic based on 1D and/or a band member? Hmm…That in itself makes me want to…vomit. I mean, isn’t the 1D fan base a wee bit too young for that type of story?? Most of them will have to wait 4-5 years to be able to get into the theater! lol

    And it’s also a shame that everything that falls into a certain genre gets compared to FSOG now — there are so many better works out there that should set the standard. It’s frustrating to me as a reader when another author makes reference to FSOG within a story — whether blatant or vague. Obviously, FSOG wasn’t a book written by some literary genius — it is disappointing to hear that someone who was able to achieve so much success with a somewhat inferior product is actually quite the snot-rag when it comes to being humble about those achievements. The fact that the book was unnecessarily stretched out over three books is annoying as all hell…and even worse, they’re really milking it for allllll it’s worth by going with three movies, as well. Frustrating as it may be, I will admit that I’ll likely succumb to the media BS when the flick gets released simply for the fact that they cast Jamie Dornan in the lead role because he is a rsther talented dude. I just hope the FSOG movie doesn’t ruin his career. 🙁

    May 27, 2014
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    • This “book” compares to 50 Shades not because it is erotic fiction (though the amount of sex/page ratio is really, really low) but because in style, voice, character “development” … it IS 50 Shades.

      I would not be the least bit shocked if I found out EL James actually wrote it herself and paid Anna Todd to say she did. If not, Todd learned to “write” by reading James. It’s exactly the same.

      May 28, 2014
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  7. Liz
    Liz

    I know nothing about the publishing industry, but I have to wonder what level of “control” Ms. Todd is going to have over the editing/condensing of her book. By the time it hits shelves, can she really be considered the “author”, or will her role fall more into the “story by” or “based on an idea/characters/story by” credit that we sometimes see in movies or TV (not that they’d ever label the book that way). I’m not saying she shouldn’t be an author, or doesn’t deserve to be called one, but how much of what we will see on store shelves will actually be her work – edited based on her ideas and input? I find it hard to imagine that a publishing company that wants to turn this thing around fast and make bank is going to have the patience to wait for a new author who so far (I’ve only read the recaps) exhibits a sub-par understanding of grammar, punctuation, and pacing to make her own edits and revisions.

    I wish her all the best, even though I’m not a fan of the way her work is being received/published. I think it will be more unfortunate if her potential development as a writer is cut short than if we get another crappy romance/erotica novel on the shelves.

    May 27, 2014
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  8. I console myself by thinking it’s their funeral. Literally. Tradpub is dying, and shit like this is why. You can’t pronounce yourselves gatekeepers and the only stewards of true literature and then do this. Well, I mean, you *can*, but we’re not going to believe you anymore. We’re going to say, “To hell with your gate. I don’t even want into that city.”

    May 28, 2014
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    • zee
      zee

      It’s in a worse state than that, penguin and random house will recommend you spend thousands on their vanity press connection, author house (who don’t seem to have a grip on English themselves going by emails I’ve received by them). I also went to a publishing convention a few months ago and even the publishers and agents there were saying there was nothing they could,really give these days that you couldn’t achieve with your own editor and graphic designer. All they do is print books and send them to stores, that’s the only bonus they offer. They expect you to hire an editor, do the marketing, maybe even produce the cover. All for a huge cut of minimal profits.

      I’ll be self-publishing, negotiating an editor now. It’s someone I know will do a good job with what I’ve prepared so far. Increasingly, it seems like the most honest way to get your book out there.

      May 28, 2014
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  9. Channy
    Channy

    As an aspiring author, someone who has been working on one manuscript for the last three years–four revisions, five betas, a writing group, one talented editor friend and a partridge in a pear tree– and I STILL don’t think it’s good enough. I refuse to submit it to the querying process until I believe it’s 100% the best it’s ever going to be, and so far, it just isn’t there. And then I read stuff like this… and the E.L James stuff… I never actually -read- 50SoG but I followed your blog right from the first recap to the end, and it makes me weep. Weep! And this post captures it perfectly. Yes, writers are jealous but because we have slaved for years on a work we want to be proud of that it’s perfect and this… happens.

    Moreso, the whole After and 50SoG is especially annoying because I wrote fanfiction when I was young, and that was always the golden rule of the fandom: You never profit from this fanwork. It negates the whole principles of what you’re doing/writing. And so to see this happen, not once, not twice, but a great dozen of times in the last couple years.. works of fanfiction getting preference over truly original work? Some days, it just makes me want to hang up my hat and call it a day.

    May 28, 2014
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    • Don’t be too disheartened. They are still publishing good books every once in a while. My friend’s ex boyfriend’s brother (I know — lol) has a book coming out next year. Stephen King has actually reviewed it and loved it, which makes me think it’s probably quite well done. I don’t care for King as a human being, but I respect his writing and judgment regarding writing.

      The one positive side to this is that publishing and making a lot of money on crap like this allows publishers to take chances on lesser-known writers, right? I think I’m more bothered that so many people choose to read things like this than I am that publishers publish it. I wish people were smarter and more discerning.

      May 28, 2014
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      • Petra47
        Petra47

        Completely off-topic, but what’s wrong with Stephen King as a human being? I’m honestly curious…

        May 28, 2014
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        • He’s said some very generalized nasty and insulting things about members of the US armed forces that I will never forgive. And what he said was nowhere close to correct and extremely ignorant.

          May 28, 2014
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          • Petra47
            Petra47

            I must have missed that one…

            May 29, 2014
          • Yeah … a lot of people did, I think. I have some very strong military ties (close friends, a Marine I dated on and off for 10 years and my fiance is in the Navy) so my radar is strong on that subject.

            If you Google, you can probably find the quote. It was actually pretty widely publicized at the time.

            May 29, 2014
      • Channy
        Channy

        There are a few good books out there and I pick them up, but they just don’t get the treatment they deserve… no movie deals for the great fantasy/Sci Fi YA’s of today.. nope.. everyone is all over the same, chewed up self-misogynist crap that people write for “fun” that just so happens to garner them millions of readers?

        Not bitter at all…

        May 28, 2014
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        • Maybe not YA sci-fi and fantasy, but it isn’t true thst good books aren’t getting attention or movie deals. Just recently, The Book Thief, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Fault in Our Stars — just a few that spring to mind. And then there are the Aragon (right?) books and Percy Jackson.

          Even on the adult side, there have been quite a few. They’re out there. But we all see red when things like After and 50 Shades get this ridiculous attention and I think it overshadows those things.

          May 28, 2014
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          • Channy
            Channy

            Yeah, sorry the previous titles you mentioned have gotten attention and there have been a couple flops (Eragon for one… Percy Jackson stalled for some reason) but it just seems like nothing ever gets the 7 figure deals (either movie or publish) like this when they really deserve it.

            May 28, 2014
    • “I wrote fanfiction when I was young, and that was always the golden rule of the fandom: You never profit from this fanwork.”

      This is a great point. I think that among old-school fans, there’s a knee-jerk resistance to these pulled-to-publish fanfics that don’t even try to hide it (and even use the popularity of the fanfic as a selling point!) b/c it’s been so drilled into our heads that fandom is like fight club. I’ve always felt there was something inherently unethical about using someone else’s fictional characters (even if their fanfic personas are nothing like the canon) to get attention, then find+replacing the names in MS Word and profiting. Real people fic is a little murkier, I think (at least on a creative level), but the “fandom is like fight club” instinct still applies.

      May 28, 2014
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      • Channy
        Channy

        Haha, yeah you nailed it. Fandom is like Fight Club. Because while I can appreciate loving a set of characters so much that you wanted to write your own adventures for them in their world… making just a few small subtle changes is not only uncreative but incredibly offensive to the original author. Maybe some original worlds are diverse and expansive with complex characters like the FFVII fanfics I used to write… ormaybe the characters are just pieces of cardboard like Edward and Bella, but it doesn’t make what they’re doing any better.

        May 28, 2014
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    • Lavender
      Lavender

      I feel you, and am in a similar situation, but personally I cannot summon any jealousy in this scenario. As an unpublished writer trying to make it, this news makes me angry. It makes me sad. It perhaps even makes me bitter – but only about the state of publishers and agents today, not the author herself.

      I don’t understand why anyone would be jealous of this, or of her success following it. Yes, she’s getting insta fame and insta riches. But look what she wrote. Just look at it. Would you want to be responsible for unleashing that on the world? Would you want to be named as the author of that for the rest of your life? To explain to your children, and their children, that this is why you were famous for 10 minutes? When you lie on your deathbed and think on your greatest achievement, would you want this to be listed as one of them!? Fuck that shit! I’d rather be an impoverished, unpublished, hardly known author for the rest of my life and have my integrity.

      May 30, 2014
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  10. Highlander II
    Highlander II

    ‘Monetizing’ fanfic isn’t a ‘new’ concept… remember FanLib? (probably not – it’s from 2007 and pretty short-lived) [http://fanlore.org/wiki/FanLib#cite_ref-2] – they tried to go about it in a really skeezy ‘we’ll take all the money and leave you holding the bag’ sort of way. It’s now dead and gone b/c they sold the guts to Disney after the super huge fan backlash that pretty much guaranteed they’d be hard-pressed to actually turn a profit. (and by ‘gone’, i mean there is absolutely NOTHING left of it b/c they had it wiped from the interwebs and FanLore and LJ are pretty much the remnants)

    If you’re interested in the whole roller coaster ride, this is a good staring point: http://life-wo-fanlib.livejournal.com/609.html

    May 28, 2014
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  11. Bee
    Bee

    This may be a naive viewpoint, but isn’t there some kind of legality issue with the use of real person’s identity here now that there’s money involved?

    (Or are they changing the names? I may have missed that)

    May 28, 2014
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  12. Jemmy
    Jemmy

    Yeah, you’re completely justified being angry at the publishing sector if that’s the hypocrisy they’ve been practicing. Making decisions based on dollars is fine, telling authors they have to meet X standard and then not applying that standard when it suits them is just crappy.

    Is this somewhat like the difference between an arthouse movie and the extremely commercial, really crap ‘blockbuster’ type movies they make for the sake of butts on seats?

    May 28, 2014
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    • Sarah
      Sarah

      Even the blockbuster can be well done though. Just because the appeal is less intellectual doesn’t mean that it can be sloppy. There are works of great literature and there are fun books to read that don’t rise to that level and this garbage isn’t worth the paper. (Or the electrons.)

      May 28, 2014
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  13. SO disappointing. It just depresses me that the American reading public apparently wants this total crap. And how do they plan to get around 1D suing them for using the names and likenesses of actual real people? I assume changing their names, but will that be enough?

    May 28, 2014
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      Give them a cut of the proceeds. That would probably fix it.

      May 28, 2014
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    • Sarah
      Sarah

      I think that finding books to read for many is difficult because there is so much out there. So, they wait for someone to tell them what to read and follow like sheep. Not because they actually think it is good stuff but because they want to be part of the phenomenon and they want to have people to discuss the books with. I’ve read books that I want to talk about with people that are not well known and convincing people to give it a go doesn’t always work. But if it makes the news or generates buzz regardless of the quality lots of people read it.

      May 28, 2014
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      • Another excellent point. Sad, but true. I initially caved and read Twilight b/c people wouldn’t shut up about it but I got so bored that I tapped out about ⅔ into the book. Not doing that again, lol. I usually find book recs via goodreads and peer pressure my friends into reading them. lol

        May 28, 2014
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    • Suzy
      Suzy

      I know for the movie they will be changing names, so I assume the same for the books. However, everyone knows these got popular because of the 1D link. I think the 1D should sue, because there is NO WAY all this would have happened if it had not originated as 1D fanfic. Just a quick look at the comments tells you that.

      May 28, 2014
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      • I think as long as they change names and at least somewhat alter descriptions, they’re legally OK. They will have to change some of the writing because there are lines in there directly out of 50 Shades, not even changed at all.

        And I still think EL James actually wrote it. It is exactly in her voice and style. *shudder*

        May 28, 2014
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      • Ilex
        Ilex

        That’s what I’ve been wondering. This can’t be legal as a published novel using the names of the real guys in One Direction, so obviously they’ll have to change that, right? But then … what is this book without the 1D association? It all seems very murky and confusing. Thinking about this is making my head hurt.

        May 28, 2014
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        • Suzy
          Suzy

          Right? Honestly, of this were just another badly written story about misunderstood love, who would have cared. I’d say the vast majority of the reads (the actual number, not that ridiculous overblown 700m) were drawn to it simply because it was tagged 1D. It almost smacks of copyright infringement. 1D has lots of money. I think they could afford a legal battle. They owe me for “That’s what makes you beautiful”. Cause that song keeps getting stuck in my head.

          May 28, 2014
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        • I touched on this in a comment I left upthread, but that’s something that’s bothering me too. It’s not the same level of creative bankruptcy as ganking other people’s fictional characters and worlds and then changing the names/profiting, but it’s still exploiting a tenuous link to a popular celebrity, even if the only things this fic’s Harry seems to have in common with the actual Harry is the name and what he looks like.

          May 28, 2014
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  14. On her instagram acct (which I check occasionally, god knows why) Anna Todd said “we will just be improving and editing etc, so it will be a better version of what you already love!” So apparently editing her story doesn’t ruin it if a huge check is involved.

    I have friends who have books they’re trying to get published; stuff like this makes me so angry. I couldn’t have passed my college creative writing courses turning stuff like this in and now this woman gets rewarded for a book that’s mostly nonsense.

    May 28, 2014
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  15. trynn
    trynn

    Yanno, maybe I should try writing crappy fanfiction and see if I can get myself published. I mean, probably not, but it’s kind of a nice thought, because I do like writing, and getting something, even crap, published, would at least get my name out there. And then maybe I could get better books published.

    Unfortunately, as an aromantic asexual, I can’t exactly write sexy romance novels, which seem to be trending at the moment.

    Anybody want to read really crappy science fiction with more magic than science? I could post chapters on my blog, and then you could have fun deconstructing the bejeezus out of it.

    I wouldn’t feel offended, in fact, I’d find it all rather hilarious.

    May 28, 2014
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    • Channy
      Channy

      I’d totally be down for that.

      May 28, 2014
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    • “Unfortunately, as an aromantic asexual, I can’t exactly write sexy romance novels, which seem to be trending at the moment.”

      I’m neither aromantic nor asexual, but I’m just plain not good at contemporary romances. I write K-pop fan fiction, but I always do sci-fi AUs and stuff and I figure those are not exactly going to be the next After

      May 28, 2014
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      • Channy
        Channy

        K-Pop fanfiction set in a Sci-Fi AU would be the best thing ever.

        May 28, 2014
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    • zee
      zee

      Dude, I’m a demoromantic grayasexual. I’ve written smut … helps to be good buddies with an erotica writer. She makes me do very bad things in the fictional world.

      May 29, 2014
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  16. Ilex
    Ilex

    Sing it, sister! I’ve been through those querying trenches where you are expected to submit (a) the most compelling query letter ever; (b) the most compelling opening sentence ever; (c) the most compelling first 5 to 10 pages ever; and (d) the most polished, perfect manuscript and hole-free plot ever. And then you get rejection after rejection after rejection anyway … 75 for me, and twice that or more for some other writers I know.

    To see someone get to jump all of that stress and frustration and grief with a “manuscript” that reads the way After and Fifty Shades do just leaves me feeling … [shakes fist and falls to floor weeping and gnashing teeth]. Whatever criticisms people want to throw at Twilight, Stephenie Meyer did have to write a query letter and suffer a lot of rejections before she found an agent who loved her book enough to try to sell it.

    I just honestly don’t know what the Fifty Shades/After phenomenon means for publishing and writers, especially romance writers.

    May 28, 2014
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  17. Suzy
    Suzy

    There only four chapters left in After 3. Anna has not updated in a couple of weeks now. Do we suspect she’s waiting until it’s published for those chapters, to capitalize on them that way? Wouldn’t it be funny if they thought they were going to sell seven hundred million books to all those readers on Wattpad?

    May 28, 2014
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    • Oh ugh! I’m only reading this because of Jenny and no way will I ever pay for it. I will be PISSED if she stops there. I at least want to see how this piece of crap turns out.

      May 28, 2014
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      • Suzy
        Suzy

        Doesn’t it piss you off that somehow, outside of your control you’ve been sucked in. Like one of those scary mega storms.
        The worst of it is, there were some actual points where you could see the glimmer of a good story. If she really wanted to be a writer in a few years she could have revisited those, when she was a bit more confident. That chance is now gone.

        May 28, 2014
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        • I don’t think she would ever be a good writer. I don’t think she has the innate talent for it. I think she has a few glimmers that someone who actually has that talent could make a great story out of, though. But not her. I saw the same things in 50 Shades. EL James will never be a good or even decent writer, but she stumbled upon themes that someone else could have worked with.

          May 28, 2014
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          • Also, it hasn’t sucked me in all that much except I’m just nosy and like to finish what I start. Plus it helps me follow Jenny’s snark. 🙂 I’ve actually been dragging and forcing myself to read this for about the last 100 or so chapters. I’m exhausted by the characters’ actions and relationships and the repetition.

            May 28, 2014
      • Channy
        Channy

        I haven’t even heard of it until I checked Jen’s blog and saw she was doing a new recap. And to be honest, I cant bother myself to read it when Jen does such a great job summarizing the thoughts in our heads. ;D

        May 28, 2014
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  18. Margot
    Margot

    Now i just skimmed the post as im at work but…how is this legal?
    How can you take real people that are famous like 1 direction and put them into a book? I mean, i know its not
    The real Harry Styles but still, how is this allowed?
    Does this mean i can write a story with JK Rowling and Tom Cruise as Tom Cruise fight an evil pre crime syndicate that involves magic and time travel?
    Or if i wanted a story with Donald Trump actually shooting the foxes you mentioned in your 50 Shades recap, i can do this?

    I can take a real person, change their personality and do whatever i want with them?

    May 28, 2014
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    • linda
      linda

      Wait… Isn’t Scarlet Johansson suing some French writer for using her name in his novel?

      May 28, 2014
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  19. Jessica
    Jessica

    This post makes me sad for humanity. Sad that publishers are willing to give a platform to such terrible writing (50 shades and After reminds me of the sort of stupid stories my cousins and I used to write as naive, romanticizing 11 year olds), and sad that people are wasting their time reading it. I can’t imagine how any author wouldn’t be royally irked by this.

    May 28, 2014
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  20. That’s so depressing. I know the people trying to operate in the publishing industry have it tough. Thousands more manuscripts on their desks than any human can be expected to read. I know they will say and do anything to reduce that pile. That perfect book thing is just another way to discourage authors. To reduce the ever growing pile of manuscripts they have to try and read. One of McOther’s friends is a wine merchant. He reckons that to stay on top of his game he needs to taste three or four bottles a day. Publishers….. They’re probably looking at several hundred. By now they just head for the money and anything that reduces the number of people they have to tell to piss off is gravy. Unfortunately, that makes them look a tad hypocritical sometimes.

    But the worst bit, for me, was the bit about how they’re used to publishing self published stuff quickly. As in they see it as cheap crap and don’t give a shit. I might have enjoyed 50 shades If someone at that benighted company had bothered to edit it. It’s my arts and crafts principles again. But I reckon that if you do something, it’s worth doing properly….. Mwahahahaargh. But what do I know. I slave for years over my books and if I sell one in a month I’m chuffed.
    🙂

    Cheers

    MTM

    May 28, 2014
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  21. Cody
    Cody

    Call me crazy, but… I think After is better than Fifty Shades, even with all of its typos and grammar wrecks. I think that, if the publishers would actually insist that After gets a proper editing before it goes to print, the book could actually have some interesting plot points in it, something actually approaching a real story.

    Don’t get me wrong; the female lead is still a spineless moron, and the male romantic lead has more in common with The Joker than he does with Mr. Darcy, and nothing fucking happens for several hundred pages at a time.

    But there are rare moments in After where it seems like the story is just on the brink of self-awareness. At the very least, After doesn’t pretend like Harry’s controlling behavior is done out of love or good intentions. It is 100% aware that Harry’s actions are insanely, psychotically fucked up, and just doesn’t care. I’ll take that over ELJ’s bullshit abuse-masquerading-as-BDSM any day.

    (I should point out that my opinion of Anna Todd went up after the most recent chapter of After 3 came out: Harry actually starts to take meds for his mental illness/nightmares, and it is not presented as a sign of weakness, and he does not pretend to know more about psychiatry than his therapist, and no one breaks any HIPPA laws. Baby steps, I guess.)

    May 28, 2014
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  22. Beckybeq
    Beckybeq

    Yuck. I’m beginning to think that the next get-rich-quick scheme would be comparable to how I wrote my essays in high school & college. The trick was to write what you knew the teacher wanted to read, not what you actually think. (I found this out the hard way when I wrote that the “deep meaning” behind the writing of MacBeth was money. Hey a theater owner has to pay the torch bills.)

    So, find the lowest common denominator, squash any pride or integrity, write stupid stuff, profit…

    May 29, 2014
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  23. My theory is that writers who can create 50 Shades or After do so because they like that kind of thing. Unfortunately, for those of us who aspire to more, a lot of readers do also. I don’t think it’s that some of us set out to make art. All of us do. We just have a very different idea of what art looks like. Have you seen “Big Eyes”? Because I think the Keane’s — both of them, took Margaret’s work seriously, and so did tons of people, even if critics scoffed and Woody Allen made jokes in Sleeper. Honestly, I sort of tried to write a trashy, sexy vampire book, but it came out like literary fiction that god help us all makes the reader think (or so I’ve been told). All any of us can do is keep looking for our audience and hoping it consists of more than a small circle of friends.

    March 14, 2015
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  24. […] at After, the semi-erotic One Direction fanfiction which just sold for six figures, but you can click here for a short and considered author’s take. Even Kanye West, who says he hates books and is a “proud […]

    January 20, 2019
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