Fifty Shades Of Leverage

My fifth book, How Spy I Am, is finally out (phew), so of course I immediately thought of Fifty Shades of Grey.

What, you don’t see the connection?  Bear with me…

First, a disclaimer:  I am one of the (apparently) tiny minority that hasn’t read Fifty Shades.  I likely won’t, for several reasons:

1)     I read the first pages on Amazon and didn’t get swept away by it.

2)     I’ve read some well-written BDSM erotic romance novels by authors whose blogs I follow, but reading was more an act of loyalty than anything else.  BDSM just isn’t my flavour.

3)     I almost never read any type of romance, though I make an exception for Fallen Arches – Novellas of Broken Romance over at Curmudgeon-At-Large.  They make me swoon.  (It’s probably because I can’t breathe between paroxysms of laughter).

So, Fifty Shades?  Probably not for me.


I’m impressed by the number of people who are leveraging Fifty Shades.  Suddenly there are flocks of books titled “Fifty Shades of (fill in the blank)”.  There’s even a website titled “What to Read After Fifty Shades”.

Love it or hate it, Fifty Shades has made a shitload of money, and everybody wants a piece (if you’ll excuse a cheap but irresistible double entendre).

So that’s it; I’m getting in on the act.  After consulting Wikipedia to verify my accuracy, I’m going to tell you how my books are just like Fifty Shades of Grey:

  • I have male and female characters.  Sometimes their relationships are complicated and fraught with sexual tension.  See, just like Fifty Shades.
  • My protagonist is a confident middle-aged no-bullshit woman instead of an insecure college girl, but what the hell.  Details.  They’re both female.
  • My protagonist gets tied up every now and then.  She never enjoys it, but hey, bondage, right?
  • The male character in Fifty Shades is an entrepreneur.  I have a grandmother/granddaughter team who own a sex shop in a small town.  Voila:  entrepreneurs and sex.  Double whammy.
  • Sex.  Got that covered.  My characters don’t intentionally hurt each other during the act, but that’s just a technicality.
  • A virgin.  Hmmm.  That could be a problem.  Never mind, I wouldn’t want to be accused of being an exact copy.
  • Oho, here’s a good one:  The characters in Fifty Shades communicate using a laptop.  So do my characters.  Score another point.
  • You may be thinking this is a little thin so far, but here’s the kicker:  My main male character has grey eyes.  Grey.  And in Book 2, he ties my protagonist up and restrains her.  Ha!  Spike it in the end zone!

I’m sure there are many more striking similarities but I could only get so much from the wiki and I was too lazy to look up any more synopses.  Nevertheless, I’m convinced my claim of sycophantic imitation is just as valid as everyone else’s.

So there you go.  My books are just like Fifty Shades.  And repeating “Fifty Shades” fifty times in a blog post works wonderfully for search engine optimization, too.

I anticipate that within days, book reviewers and avid readers will be calling my novels “the next Fifty Shades of Grey”.  My book sales will skyrocket.  The news media will grovel for interviews with me.  Hollywood will call and beg to pay gazillions of dollars for the movie rights to my books.

Because I’m leveraging the power of “Fifty Shades of Grey” just like everybody else.

Or not.

Okay, I was just kidding around with the whole “Fifty Shades” schtick, but I actually have a serious request this week:  I’m doing a survey on how readers like authors to sign books, and I’d really appreciate your opinion.  There are only three quick questions over at, and I’m giving away a signed copy of the updated version of Book 1: Never Say Spy.  Thanks for your help!

29 thoughts on “Fifty Shades Of Leverage

    • I feel the same as you about genre. As long as it’s well-written, I’m in.

      I guess that’s why I tend not to enjoy romance – I’ve read well-written romance, I get sucked into the story, I’m rooting for the characters, and it’s all good… but I always know how it’s going to end, which kinda takes the fun out of the read.

      And a lot of times I’m left thinking “Bullshit!” at the end of the book when the author has created monumental obstacles to the relationship and then smashed the characters together at the end with “and they lived happily ever after.”

      It’s pretty rare for me to say “It was a great read” about a romance novel without the qualifier “…for a romance.” 🙂


  1. Very, very clever and funny connection between your latest book – for which I wish you great success – and Fifty Shades. I have read Fifty Shades of Yuck and can now say that I never thought erotic sex could be so b-o-r-i-n-g.

    And thanks for the plug (no butt-plug jokes, please) to my incredibly successful Fallen Arches. My plan is to keep posting new chapters until someone pays me to stop.


  2. It seems everyone is reading that book, which pretty much guarantees that I won’t (I still haven’t seen Jaws or any of the Star Wars movies). Congratulations on book five — keep it going.


    • Thanks, Charles! 🙂 I’ve read a few books that were worthy of the hype they got, but most of them just aren’t worth it. I just love Amazon’s Look Inside the Book – it’s saved me quite a few disappointments.

      P.S. I’m enjoying your current series over at Mostly Bright Ideas. Fascinating subject! I’m looking forward to more.


  3. Between “Spike it in the end zone” and “bonus points for the virgins,” I think you’re going to have MORE than enough traffic regardless of how well you leverage your 50 Shades. I’ve read good erotica and I’ve read decent erotica, and I’ve read the first few paragraphs of execrable drivel. I’ve heard too many reviews that 50 Shades falls into the latter catagory to bother. I’ll stick to reading about Ayden!
    I’ve already answered the survey, so I’ll refrain from skewing the vote! Congrats on finishing the 5th one – I need to get cracking on numbers 2-5!!!


    • Thanks! 🙂

      Hey, just for an extra motivator, did I mention there’s Barbie-doll-and-gorilla-porn in Book 2? And here’s a line from Book 4: “I’m not fucking any chickens, dead or alive, and that’s final.”

      Were animals involved in 50 Shades? That’s gotta be worth bonus points for me… plus now I’ve got an f-bomb and a reference to porn on this post. Hello, search engines!


  4. Okay, I entered even though I’ve already read it on my Kindle (and book 2, too (ha! I said tutu)–LOVED them both so much I already bought book 3), because I’d really like a signed copy.

    And I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, either. But I’m still quite sure I like your books better.

    P.S. Would you come do an interview on my blog sometime? I’m planning to rave about your books there anyway, but it would be more fun if I had you there answering inappropriate questions.


  5. Thank you for the handy checklist. I made sure my own novel I’m currently editing measures up:

    male and female characters – Yep! ✔
    complicated and fraught with sexual tension – That’s my novel! ✔
    insecure college girl – Chop the “in” off “insecure” and add “-age” to “college.” 1/2 ✔
    tied up – Um, not literally. Figuratively. 1/2 ✔
    entrepreneur – Yep, there’s entrepreneurs in there. ✔
    sex – No actual sex scenes, but gobs of implied sex. That counts, right? ✔
    virgin – ALL my characters were virgins at some point before the start of the story. ✔
    laptop – “Laptops” aren’t specifically mentioned, but there’s computers galore in there. ✔
    grey eyes – Black eyes. 1/2 ✔

    Bonus – “50 Shades” is some kind of a list-type novel, I assume (listing 1 – 50). My novel has numbers out the wazoo! ✔✔✔

    All aboard the leverage train! 😉


    • Right on! And hey, you get bonus points for the virgins – I like the way you think. Maybe I’ll give myself a half-point for that, too. I’m pretty sure my characters were virgins at some point shrouded in the mists of distant history…

      P.S. I just re-read what I wrote – “bonus points for the virgins”… I dunno, sounds like a flash-fiction prompt, don’t you think?


  6. I haven’t read those books either–I prefer a strong, feisty heroine like Ayden. Good luck with your launch. I’d love to get to the second book in the series, but I have so many others in queue first. But that grandmother/granddaughter team sex shop thing sure is intriguing…


  7. bahahaha! I haven’t read the books either BUT there is @50shedsofgrey which is hilarious on twitter! Did the survey too! You forgot another obvious similarity…you have 5 books out…that’s 5 + 0..which can be interpreted as 5 & 0 and therefore you know….similar to 50…ahem..honestly people need to have a more oblique view of life…why look at everything in black and white when there are grey zones. Does having 50 shades of Grey being repeated in your comment section help with the search engine ..SEO thingie??


    • Oh, good one! I completely missed the 5-0 connection. This is why I love my commenters. 🙂

      And I’m sure repetition in the comments will help. Literary domination will be mine… *insert demonic laughter here*


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