Let me preface with with two things:
One I am writing this with a stomach bug and a possible sinus infection with about 10K to write in the next 36 hours.
Two, I haven't read any of the Fifty Shades of Grey books. Nor have I seen the movie. I could barely get through the sneak peek on Amazon. For those non-romance writers, Romance 101, don't stand in front of a mirror and describe yourself. I'm sure someone has done it well. E.L. James did not.
That said. I did spend some time yesterday on Twitter at the #askeljames hashtag just to see what was going to happen. As expected the tweets trashing the books versus asking actual questions were about a thousand to one. I might be optimistic on that, but I'm a writer, not a statistician.I'm not going to talk about anything else bad about the book. There are enough blog posts on that topic. Including this one.
I'm not going to address those (shudder) who missed the abuse in the book.
I won't go into any specific tweets, but the hashtag garnered several articles about it, all of them pointing out that this was a PR nightmare.
Entertainment Weekly's headline suggested that the campaign didn't go as well as expected.
US Magazine said that the questions would have made Christian Grey cringe.
Global News played on the BDSM aspect of Fifty Shades and said that E.L. James took a lashing.
But was it really a PR nightmare? What did that hashtag get many people to do? Talk about the books. As someone who would love a few more zeroes to the left of the decimal point in my royalty statements, I'd love for that many people to be talking about my book. Of course, I'd prefer it to be because I'm that fantastic a writer, but if you don't have that talent then you take what you can get.
Was this the catastrophe that everyone is saying it was? Or was it a fiendish plot? Did we all get played? Did we all take time out of our day to watch another author getting bashed? I'd bet there were many readers who stumbled upon that hashtag who had never read the books and said, "They can't be that bad."
What did those people do next? They went and bought the book.
Voila! Someone just might be a PR genius.