Forget the nudge-nudge, wink-wink tabloid headlines about 50 Shades of Grey, the momporn bestseller by E.L. James. The runaway success of this load of old rubbish shows that publishers really do possess the data on the market, and writers can learn a lot from this.
The publishers’ target market is, of course, the big spenders of the day, and these are the new middle class, the product aware, aspirational and uneasy tribe described so brilliantly by Grayson Perry in episode two of his excellent In the Best Possible Taste:
These are the people who are turning the publishers’ wheels, and understanding this new, insecure tribe, and what they want is the way a writer can gain popularity and success. The problem is how. How could a writer possibly know that the new middle classes could have a taste for pornographic S&M literature? Did E.L. James discover it by chance? Probably. Who knows? Who cares? I haven’t a clue about E.L. James’s background, but I do suspect she may be one of the target market herself, so she should know best.
I just listened to a good discussion about the novel on Woman’s Hour, but the ‘say-no-more’ arf-arf nonsense really got on my nerves. The BBC presenter kept saying “I’m finding out a lot more than I want to know about S&M”. Really? I don’t think so. In Tunbridge Wells, they want as much as they can get and more. And to prove this, a quick google on 50 Shades of Grey soon revealed that it’s not S&M that attracts the product aware wisteria keepers of suburbia, but the desire to revive their flagging sham marriages. The root of the very existence of 50 Shades of Grey is the suburban desire to have children as a mark of success.
Take a look at this staggering discussion on cafemom.com. It’s all about pregnancy, and talks about the novel as a sex aid.
My favourite puke-making contribution has to be “Keep on reading… whether it’s for babymaking or not… staying sensually connected is SO good for your relationship… YAY!!”
Yeeeesh! Wipe down my Kindle.
Publishers know all about suburbia, and that’s why they published 50 Shades of Grey. I shouldn’t mock. I want a million of these double-income Range Rover-driving sprog-monsters to buy my textual viagra one day.