The Fifty Shades Effect: Women Dominate Self-Publishing

This article by Maggie Brown originally appeared on The Guardian 11/9/14.

The success of EL James’s erotic trilogy has led to a surge in the number of middle-aged women producing ebooks.

The success of EL James and her Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy did much to overturn the stereotype of a self-published author. Now academic research further challenges the image of eccentric hobbyists scribbling away in their sheds by revealing that it is middle-aged and well-educated women who dominate the growing e-publishing market.

Alison Baverstock, an associate professor in publishing at Kingston University, Surrey, said her research showed a clear gender split, with 65% of self-publishers being women and 35% men. Nearly two-thirds of all self-publishers are aged 41 to 60, with a further 27% aged over 61. Half are in full-time employment, 32% have a degree and 44% a higher degree.

Baverstock said there was a widespread misunderstanding about who decides to self-publish a book, and how the genre was changing the publishing industry.

James has become arguably the richest of self-published authors through her “mummy porn” but, while the prose and storylines have won mass audiences, they have also attracted scorn. There is a belief, according to Baverstock, that self-publishers are doing so as a last resort, as vanity publishers, and may not have much formal education.


Read the full article on The Guardian.