It’s no mystery that I love parodies. Everyone loves parodies, or at least they should. It takes a certain type of humor and a certain skill to take an already created work and change it into something amusing, but still faithful to the original. And these days, what’s riper for the picking on than the young adult paranormal romance genre of novels? They’ve got your Twilights, your weird fallen angel stories, fairytales with a twist (the twist is angst), and I’m even going to put 50 Shades of Grey in there because you have to admit, it’s a little supernatural how fast it blew up in the popular media. Within this genre, the worlds and universes that can be tapped for inspiration are a promising parody writer’s oyster. This week’s web crush is much more than a simple parody, however; it’s a hands-on study of the genre and the publishing industry as a whole.
Back at the beginning of February, media commentators Lindsay Ellis and Nella Inserra, more commonly known as the Nostalgia Chick and Nella respectively, started an amazing journey under the catchy title, ‘50 Shades of Green’; a project whose goal was to get a terrible paranormal romance written within about a month and then pitch it to actual publishers. Not on their own, of course. Every aspect of this novel was a collaborative effort between the two ladies and their audience of video viewers and followers from various other social media sites. After listening to the comments and ideas put forth by the enthusiastic viewership the final product was imagined under the name of Awoken, a paranormal romance staring Cthulhu. I know, right? And trust me, with their desire to keep is as close to Twilight-level as possible, it’s going to be as terrible as it sounds.
Keeping with the community input, even the original manuscript of the story (only shared with the publishing companies it was sent to) was co-written by around six different authors—this was most likely due to the time constraints they placed on themselves—but the impressiveness of getting a novel-length manuscript written and edited so that each different author’s part homogenized with the rest cannot be ignored. In a further attempt to continue their ruse, a community-formed pseudonym was created: the “author” of Awoken, Sarah Ellenson. This fictitious person would allow those that were in on the joke the experience, the joy of being an over-defensive author willing to go the extra mile to attack the ‘haters’ of the book, as real authors in this genre are stereotypically wont to do.
But, as I said earlier, this journey isn’t just about the writing process; it’s also about the publishing process. In their newest update, they actually received feedback from various publishers in response to their query letters (the letters authors sent out to companies trying to make their book sound appealing and profitable) and, as opposed to what one may think due to the brutally critical nature of the publishing industry, not all the feedback was negative. In fact, one small publishing company even offered them a chance to publish their book legitimately rather than leaving them to deal with the beast that is self-publishing. It brings up an interesting conundrum of retaining the artistic freedom allowed by self-publishing versus gaining a wider audience with a more well-known publisher and even now I’m not sure with method of publication they’ll end up picking.
No matter what they choose, I’m too invested. I want to see how this ends, and what possible implications this could have on the publishing industry and the genre as a whole. What would a project like this reveal to up and coming writers? What are the lessons that can be gained? I’ll have to watch through to the bitter (bittersweet?) conclusion of this epic to find the answers to those, but it’s something to ponder. Here at BlipTV you can watch the entire process from beginning to present, and I highly encourage you to do so. I’ll even embed the first part below. Here’s hoping that these ‘50 Shades’ see as much green as those shades of Grey did.