Fifty ShadesIt sounds suspiciously like a story from The Onion: ‘Fifty Shades’ author to publish writing guideBut nope—it’s actually a real-life AP wire story that appeared on the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s website this morning. Scheduled to be published on May 1 by Random House’s Vintage imprint, Fifty Shades of Grey: Inner Goddess (A Journal) will be a combination of author E.L. James‘ professional writing advice and—get this—blank journal pages for readers to fill with their own words. Wow.

You definitely don’t need an English lit degree to see this book for what it is: A fairly easy way to make a pile of money by cashing in on a trend before it’s too late. But I can’t fault James—or Random House, for that matter—for wanting to publish a book that’s almost guaranteed to sell in large numbers. Both entities, after all, are in the business of producing content and trading it for money. There’s nothing wrong with that.

And yet I also can’t help but see the irony in a project like this; I’m not sure there’s even one other recent author whose writing skills have been criticized as harshly and publicly as that of James’. Then again, maybe that’s how—or why—the germ of the idea was conceived in the first place. Maybe James wants to prove the naysayers wrong?

I can’t actually see myself buying this book, but out of sheer curiosity, if nothing else, I’ll definitely be downloading the free sample on Amazon. And I’m already looking forward to the reviews.

But here’s what I really want to know: If you’re an aspiring writer—the type of person who may have picked up a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing, say, or Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird—would you consider buying a how-to writing manual from E.L. James? Why, or why not?


  1. I’ve read On Writing and I still re-read it every so often because it’s full of great advice. But no, I won’t be buying James’ book. I’m happy for her success and what she’s done to encourage the self-publishing writers, but her style of writing isn’t something I want to emulate. I’ve done the fanfiction-to-commercial fiction thing, and while I learned a lot from writing fanfiction, I’m not convinced she’s the one to help me take my writing to the next level.

  2. OMG! NO! The blind leading the blind. Silkily is NOT a word, much less an adverb. If one more character flushed, blushed or gushed I was going to vomit.

    E.L.James had an ok idea, an ok plot, but she really could have used an editor to make her work really shine. And THAT is the true tragedy of her work since her main character was in publishing.

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