Crowdsourced Erotic Fiction Novel Hits #4 On The iTunes Charts

from the features-100%-more-'beekeeper-sex'-than-the-closest-competitor dept

One of the old adages of publishing is "know your audience." In today's ultra-crowded digital markets, that adage is more important than ever. There's money to be made simply by following trends, and if you can get over any hangups about "artistic integrity," you can ride the wave until it collapses.

Much like the success of the Twilight series kicked loose a wave of imitators and revitalized young adult fiction , E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Gray trilogy (which itself began as Twilight fan fiction) has pushed the erotic fiction genre into the mainstream. This fact didn't go unnoticed by a couple of opportunists (and several accomplices), who took it upon themselves to add to the pantheon of stroke books erotic fiction with a contribution of their own. Enter Brian Brushwood and Justin Young, hosts of The NSFW Podcast.
"It all started with Scam School Book 2 – Brian’s magic book," Justin said. "He found out as he was pushing that book that the top ten in iTunes was all erotic fiction. Even to the point where established authors, like Janet Evanovich, couldn’t break into the top five of the iBooks store—because of all the erotic fiction that was capitalizing on Shades of Grey. And he thought—we could do that!"
The twist here is that Brushwood and Young didn't write a single word. The entire book is compiled from the contributions of their listeners. Held together only by the appearance of the same main character in every chapter, The Diamond Club has more in common with anthologies of Penthouse Letters (such things actually exist) and its inspiration, Naked Came the Stranger, than an actual cohesive novel. No matter. It crashed the iTunes best-seller chart, placing at #4 -- directly following the Fifty Shades of Gray trilogy.

The men behind the book claim to be trolling, but the sales seem to indicate that the book's audience stretches further than those who are in on the joke. Certainly some people aren't aware of the origin, but it's listed as erotic fiction and delivers the payload expected. Without having to spend a lot of time on character development, plot pacing or "compelling" dialogue, it likely delivers on the "erotic" side more efficiently than other books in the genre.
Justin said, "It’s a hoax in that we are not erotic fiction writers. We don't genuinely think it’s any good. But I will stand behind our product that it delivers what we believe to be the most important component in this genre: sex."

And the book does deliver. Though it has over 1,000 user reviews, only one of them calls out the hoax. "If you look at it, right now," Justin said, "There’s only one comment that says it’s a joke. One review says: Don’t pay money for this. It’s what they want."
Some may see this as yet another indicator of how opening ebooks to the masses is going to result in piles of lousy writing popping up everywhere. Maybe so, but I just can't see it as being solely a bad thing. If the customers are happy with their purchases, it doesn't seem to be much of a problem. The advantage here is a ridiculously short turnaround time that would be nearly impossible to emulate running through a second party, which allowed The Diamond Club to take full advantage of a trend before the audience moved on.

The other big takeaway from this? Another new way to connect with your fans, which springs out of the duo's understanding of both their core podcast audience and the ongoing disruption in content creation:
Users are the content creators today – so they made the listeners of their podcast the authors.
Nothing builds loyalty like including your fans in the creative process, and nothing builds word-of-mouth faster than loyal fans.

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  1. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 8 Aug 2012 @ 7:38am

    Re: Re: The Tom Sawyer business model

    You really whacked him around, huh?

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