EL James wins publishing industry prize for making 'erotic fiction hot'

by Natasha Wynarczyk

EL James PA

Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James has been named the publishing industry's most influential figure of 2012 for making 'erotic fiction hot'.

The British novelist won the American-based Publishers Weekly prize for publishing person of the year, but it turns out many people in the sector were displeased with the result.

The New York Daily News went as far as to say 'civilisation ends', while the LA Times said: 'James wrote fan fiction, she got it independently published by a micro e-press, it went viral, she got a book deal, she started collecting serious paychecks.

'All that is great news for an individual author, but it hardly justifies making that individual the Publishing Person of the Year… It's really impossible to say that James has done much more than get very, very lucky, although PW tries to make that case. Someone who stumbles across a jackpot is certainly fortunate, but should they be anointed with an industry's laurels? Maybe someday, PW will find a person in publishing who is doing something, rather than having something done to them, and name the individual Publishing Person of the Year.'

Even the site's commentators were very unimpressed, with one person saying: 'I want to die. Or kill. Or just eat some cake until this literary pain goes away'.

Another wrote: 'Seriously? Is this the best you guys can do? Hilary Mantel becomes the first woman to win the Booker Prize twice and you pick EL James? Lay off the eggnog and rethink your decision.'

However Publishers Weekly defended the decision by citing the staggering 35m sales of the erotic novel in the US alone and noting James's influence.

A spokesperson said: 'Because the success of the series continues to reverberate throughout the industry in a number of ways – among other things, the money it's brought in helped boost print sales in bookstores and turned erotic fiction into a hot category – we have selected James as the most notable player on the publishing stage this year.'

Do you think EL James deserves this award? Or do you agree with the negative commentators? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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