Fifty Shades of Fame and Shame

PW has chosen their Publishing Person of the Year.

They chose E.L. James.

Their reasoning:

Because the success of the series continues to reverberate throughout the industry in a number of ways–among other things, the money it’s brought in helped boost print sales in bookstores and turned erotic fiction into a hot category–we have selected James as the most notable player on the publishing stage this year.

The money the books brought in turned erotic fiction into a HOT category. Mmm hmmm.

All puns aside, I’m not getting why PW would celebrate the fact that erotica is growing in popularity. Is there some philosophy or political persuasion that rejoices in erotica? Are mommy-porn readers superior citizens, better neighbors, and more loving mothers than, say, readers of fantasy or mysteries?

I mean…I can see Mormons or Christians or Atheists or Muslims saying, “Hurrah! This book written from our worldview has sold a bajillion copies and we are impacting a bajillion readers.” But who has a stake in erotica? I’ve never known anyone who would say, “Yeah! Erotica is selling well. We’ve fought so hard to make it happen because we think it’s so important to society that erotica sell well.”

I have friends who are fantasy lovers who might rejoice if a fantasy writer was named Publishing Person of the Year. They might say that So and So’s books have made fantasy a hot genre and that is a reason to celebrate because more fantasy will published to fill their bookshelves. But is there a big erotica-loving contingent that is out there celebrating that there will now be more sadomasochistic novels published for them? Apparently so. Millions of readers bought the Fifty Shades books. The three books together have sold 35 million just since Random House picked them up. So, yeah, apparently there are a lot of mommy-porn-lovers out there.

What can we do about that?

We Christians can pray.

And we writers can keep writing and keep improving.

And we readers can get the word out that Christian publishers are putting out some high-quality books these days. My sister–not a Christian–read Gina Holmes’s books a few weeks ago. She’s visiting me because our mother is dying, and she found Gina’s first two books, one of which deals with death, on the shelf. She read Crossing Oceans one day and Dry as Rain the next day. She liked them very much, and she had no ulterior motive. She had no reason to say she liked them–she’s not a champion of Christian fiction.

In the end, though, we won’t get a lot of respect from the world. If perfect Jesus didn’t get much respect, why would anyone respect warty old Christians?

I searched the Internet and I couldn’t find any reference to PW naming Jerry Jenkins and/or Tim LaHaye Publishing Person/s of the Year, and rejoicing over the fact that their books made post-apocalyptic fiction hot.

And in the end, who cares? Our job is not to gain praise from the world, but to live with integrity in the world. To love God and to show him to the world. To show that he’s excellent and beautiful and merciful and holy and altogether good. We can do that, in part, simply by working hard and writing well, I think. Study, improve, go the extra mile, make your book great, offer it up to God, and then start the next project.

Let’s not be discouraged by PW’s choice of Publishing Person of the Year. Instead let’s see it as a call to pray and as a challenge to put out quality work.

But just for fun…who would you have voted for if you got to pick Publishing Person of the Year?


Sally Apokedak
Sally Apokedak is an associate agent with the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. She’s in the process of building a dynamite list of authors. She is also active in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the American Christian Fiction Writers, and Toastmasters International.