OK, perhaps it’s a little stereotypical to assume that all women enjoy the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, but ever since the overwhelming success of EL James’ erotic trilogy of novels that are now being turned into a movie, set to break box office records when it opens on Valentines’ Day next year, there has been a huge surge in middle aged women who are producing and self-publishing their own novels.
EL James has well and truly brought female authors to the forefront with her controversial novels, and while some may argue about the quality of the writing and the relevance of her subjects, we cannot argue with the fact that her self-publishing success brought the industry as a whole into pole position in the publishing industry as a whole. An unknown author until Fifty Shades was published; EL James has given authors – male or female; published or not – hope that no matter what your age, gender, religion, political stance and subject matter, it is possible to break into the world of publishing.
In fact, James has done more than just this, as academic research has recently shown that it is middle aged and well educated women who are currently dominating the growing e-publishing market. Taking their inspiration from the Fifty Shades trilogy or not, the fact that this book exists is surely to thank for their emergence and their popularity in the market.
According to Alison Baverstock, an associate professor in publishing at Kingston University in Surrey said that her research showed a clear split between the genders that currently have a self-published eBook on the market. That split is 65% to women and 35% to men, while almost two thirds of all self-published authors are sitting in the middle aged category between 41 and 60. Half of all of these self-publishers in are full time employment, while 32% of them have at least one degree, with almost half of those authors having a higher degree.
Baverstock said that the self-publishing industry of late has shown a very high level of satisfaction in authors, rather than the air of desperation that perhaps has been felt throughout the industry in the past. This idea leads to the suggestion that self-publishing is no longer just a route into the market for those who seek a professional publisher, but actually a way of life for those authors who feel that they know their market better than a publisher. In fact, self-publishing is not necessarily a back-up choice for authors. Gordon Wide, a senior literary agent at Curtis Brown, agreed with the points made from Baverstock’s research and said that “authors may wish to remain self-published; there are many routes to market.”
After EL James’ success, here is hoping that we hear many more success stories come out of the market, and that we are able to grow our industry even further.