Before you set out to write your first (or next) book, ask yourself this—‘Do I have something original to say, or am I simply writing my own version of something that already has commercial appeal‘, because if that’s the case, you should also ask yourself ‘Why am I spending so much of my time and energy writing a book that isn’t really coming from inside of me?‘
We see it everywhere in our everyday lives. In the world of foodservice, there is Five Guys Burgers, but then along comes Five Napkin Burger. On supermarket shelves, we see You Butter Believe It directly next to I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. One could easily fall prey to the unknowing purchase of an iPed for less money as opposed to an iPad. We see it all the time on TV, in the movies, when we listen to music—copycats are everywhere, and of course, we see it in print whenever we shop for something new to read.
While I won’t name names, there are a growing number of published books on the shelves (both physical and virtual) that bare a significant resemblance both in tone and storyline to commercially successful books in recent years. This is nothing new, of course—I mean, remember how many books flooded the market place with the name da Vinci in the title after the success of The da Vinci Code? Of course, one doesn’t need to look far to find a title on the shelves baring the words Fifty, Shades or Gray in the title. Whether or not you think the
trashy, romantic book series by E.L. James is worthy of the many accolades it’s received, it’s obvious that many, many authors have jumped on the bandwagon in hopes to lure readers into their own fifty shades of bait. I responsibly exclude author Ruta Sepetes from this list, as she used the Shades of Gray moniker before James had. Not to mention, Sepetes’ Between Shades of Gray is actually a well-written book worth reading.
Artists need to be true to themselves. Artists need to respect their artistry. While it may be tempting to cash in on the success of someone else’s original piece of work, you’re really just a copycat when all is said and done. At the end of the day, can you really look at yourself and your work with any sense of pride? Countless authors, both indie and traditionally published, fight tooth and nail to get their original stories seen and read by the public. Hours and hours which turn into months and sometimes years are spent working on something that is original—something that truly stands out because it’s never been conceptualized before. I imagine that an author who penned a book with Fifty Shades or Shades of Gray in the title has had more than a few awkward conversations at parties when they mention the title of their book and the other person replies “Oh, you mean just like the trashy book series and bad film?”
So ask yourself, after all the time you’ve spent writing your book, after all the family time you’ve missed out on, after all the friendships that have suffered while you’ve slaved over your computer screen in hopes to churn out a memorable piece of work, would you rather it be something that came from your heart, or rather the ghost of someone else’s work? Personally, I’d rather fail with my own work than find minor success as an imposter.