FIFTY SHADES OF GREY AND OTHER SIMILAR CASES: THE TRUTH ON HOW THE GREAT PUBLISHERS CREATE THE BEST SELLER

50-shades-grey_0Why many books sold as best seller are often disappointing?

Walking on hypermarkets and bookstores or surfing the Internet, more and more often we are faced with messages that try to convince us to purchase books based on statements such as: “An overwhelming success” or “The publishing phenomenon of the year”, conveying the clear concept that they are valuable texts.

You may have noticed that the message is simple, sharp, direct, and it immediately penetrates the minds of those who would like a good book; most likely they buy it and return home hoping to read some quality escapism. If many have purchased it, they think, there is a reason, and this reason must be: it is an exciting book. The buyer is sure, or rather, he hopes so.

But with disappointment, after a while he realizes that what he has in his hands is not what he have been  promised and for which he paid a considerable sum.

Why?

DISPELLING A MYTH

It is time to debunk a common place and tell the truth about what is happening to Publishing, Cinema, Television and Art in general: IT IS NOT TRUE at all that only writing about sex or violence (or about vampire & Co. lately) sells. There are many authors, British, Americans and from many other countries, who focus on the story, authors writing thrillers, spy stories, etc. selling millions of copies and these are essentially free of vulgarities, hot or violent scenes.

IT IS NOT TRUE at all that if you don’t introduce sex scenes or violence in a movie it will never hit the box office. This is another lie that the media have foisted us for long time, blaming who are not to blame, the end user. Over the years many beautiful Oscar winner films appeared (one example: The King’s Speech, but I could mention dozens) in which there was no violent or hot scenes.

reality showsPay attention to what happened to the TV and Music: would you say that the quality level of TV programs or music you listen has risen over the years?

Do you see beautiful, extremely interesting programs on TV? Or you see so much rubbish? People arguing, reality shows dedicated to the mentally disabled who watch them, hot scenes and total stupidity, talk show dressed up as journalism programs with a brain-damaged intellectual level, fiction and music always equal focusing on always the same topics…

Are you happy you have paid the ticket price, or more and more often you are disappointed of the movie you watched and you have thought you have wasted time and money?

And if we ae disappointed, why do we go again to the cinema? Are we masochists? Are we so unintelligent to use precious hours of our lives in front of the TV and then constantly think that we just wasted time on unnecessary things?

Are we really satisfied with the book we have just read? Or many of them disappoint us? So why do we buy again that kind of books?

THE TRUTH ON THIS APPARENTLY ABSURD PHENOMENON

How do you explain this vicious circle? The media producers (including books industry) and those who work there, say that they produce this kind of works because people want these things.

This, allow me, is a complete lie, a deception, you can understand perfectly considering that a book that you judged disappointing is described on the cover as “extraordinary, fantastic, fascinating …”, etc., The adjectives are wasted.

The most of the public defines TV, much of the movies and Music, of poor quality. They do not like. We do not like. Yet we are told that we want these things. And they tell us that they produce them because the public likes them and demands them. We do not like them but they tell us that instead we like them so much to make them successful.

That is not true.

TWO KEY REASONS

There are basically two reasons behind this artistic decline at all levels that starting from 70’s – 80’s of the last century has gradually degenerated: the first is MONEY.

money-06To understand this better let me tell you a story: years ago I had the opportunity to speak with one of the most important key men of the Italian Mediaset broadcasting network, he was a journalist and a businessman.

During the conversation emerged the topic of quality decline of TV formats and with a bitter taste, he explained me that even though he was one of the two owners (the other one was Mr. Berlusconi) of Mediaset, he was forced to bow down to an evil system for which you have peaks audience when you leverages the lowest instincts of man. This lead to an immediate increase in commercial sales. Each program must have this goal, as target, before whatever else He confessed me with sadness (he was a very polite and intelligent man) that only they were to be blamed because they were lowering the moral standards of society reaching millions of people and broadcasting continuously trash and sometimes degrading formats. In this way, he said, they were creating the basis for a debasement of the individual, for a materialistic and corrupted thought.

sgarbiThat’s why some VIP guests are constantly on TV, when they begin to launch their invectives, to argue, to say bad words, suddenly the audience raises up: the TV viewer, while zapping, meets two people who are quarreling and wonder: what is going on? Soon he changes channel and realizes that he lost valuable time to see an unedifying scene.

atlanta-cnn-center_1617_600x450And the spot broadcasted shortly after will cost several million more, due to the new audience peak: all of this is organized in advance by advertisers, and is fully programmed by the producers who choose the guests thinking about what might happen between them and rubbing their hands thinking how they will earn by this. Very often, also, the TV invents ridiculous and tearful stories or creating situations that leverage the very human emotions of the TV viewer, etc.

tvContinuing with the character mentioned before, he told me that unfortunately in this system whoever owns a television network, or a film production company, or a large publishing group, is a slave of this terrible machine able to destroy the brains and cauterize the consciences, lowering and in many cases eliminating the moral reference values that make us human.

THE GIGO EFFECT

If we think about the power of the Internet and all the garbage flowing in the net and reaching our screen, the absurd violence we see in video games, in movies and on TV, you may have a little idea of the mind control power of mass media: the final result we can read in the newspapers, in  the crime news, every day.

garbageingarbageoutIn the research world this effect is called The GIGO Effect, an acronym standing for garbage in – garbage out:  if you put garbage in your mind it will come out garbage, if you see often violence and sex it will influence your thoughts and, subsequently, your actions.

It is clear that none of us will think to kill someone because we see constantly murders in our favorite serial, but researches show that our behaviors in time will be influenced by what we see on a regular basis. We will become more and more selfish, more materialistic, more irascible, more violent.

If we eat junk food we will have a damage, if we see trash TV we will adopt trash thoughts and behaviors, garbage, garbage in – garbage out.083013_1027_Garbageinga2

THE TRAP

In practice, turning back to our discussion, people generally don’t want to read stupid books, or full of violence and sex at the expense of the plot; nevertheless the fact is that the human being is what it is, and violence and sex rise then and there interest. Despite the same people consider such books of poor quality or disappointing, many fall in the trap and buy them: it is a terrible marketing trick that large publishing groups communication agencies and film / television producers perfectly know.

Following the trend, because our are not artistic experimentation times, but crisis times, media producers exploit only the lines able to raise the peak of interest, they continue to follow for years only models that have already sold. That is why, for example. the TV has broadcasted years of reality show of the worst possible human and cultural degradation. That’s why at the radio we always listen to the same kind of songs and movies and rarely find something really original and beautiful.

The masters of media are able to easily create a virtual initial success, for example writing on a cover strip of a book that it is a best seller, adding emotional adjectives, brilliant, superb, a masterpiece, and so on, but the reality is that in many cases it deals with mediocre books and when you has finished it you wonder why we have bought it.

THE ITALIAN BOOK CONNECTION

The pressure of the media and their communication techniques are so effective that eventually these books sell. Nevertheless, there is much to be considered, and sometimes not very legal. Let’s give the example of the case Italy. In Italy the biggest publishing groups print thousand copies of the book they want to promote as best seller, and put it in the first place in big bookstores, malls, shopping centers, places they acquired paying them. This is a very common (and tacit) practice in Italy, paying a price that other publishers cannot afford). With their book exposed always in first places the publishers convey the concept that the book is selling so much to be considered best sellers, and to increase the effect the books are set in good number, on one or two piles, maybe in attractive positions, alluring. This technique is common all over the world. Think about it, the next time you go to a big mall or shopping center: the books you see on display are only the books of one or two of the largest publishing groups, the owners of the most of publishing houses.

It is a strategy, a sort of not declared war, to physically eliminate competitors acquiring big or medium publishers or distributors: for instance in Italy Messaggerie Nazionali, is now acquiring PDE (another national distributor), Mondadori is doing the same with Rizzoli, etc.) in order to control not only publishing but national distribution as well. This reckless policy is carried out with the purchase of the best and most visible places to display the books in their own and other non-proprietary bookstores, so that all those publishing houses that are not part of these large publishing groups, are physically removed from bookstores.

Furthermore there is a difficulty for customers who ask texts that are not among the favorites of those groups: booksellers reply to clients that it is difficult to get them, make the customer wait for weeks, and at the end he gives up or buy another book. Sure, there is a solution: just go to a bookstore that is not yet a slave of this system, (few in Italy) or order them on the Internet, where the books are cheaper, always available even in the sites of the biggest publishing groups we are talking about, and sent within two days directly to your address. This system is particularly evident in Italy but it is the common trend in all countries.

THE OUTCOME OF THESE COVERT TECNIQUES

Returning to our books on display, at this point if a potential customer reads on the cover strip that the book is extraordinary, evocative, exciting, and it is a best seller, that’s it, the book will go like hot cakes.

Everything we’ve talked about applies perfectly to the cinema: I have some friends who are directors travelling the world for work and all of them confirmed that the silver screen, so apparently glittering and glamorous, is rather ruthless and terrible and acts exactly as above described. The truth to be told, it is much worse and had already happened many years ago with cinemas: the most of them had been bought by the same movie production houses.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREYNESS

Just as an example, have a look on the internet to a book that you now can find in all bookstores and that is defined a worldwide success: Fifty Shades of Grey, published in three volumes.

Have a look also to reviews of the movie from the novel, saying a lot about the quality of the story.

After search in the Internet, and net bookstores and read the commercial description: “The book that has captivated millions of readers around the world, (…) a masterpiece of erotic literature”, etc. Then try to read the reviews of those who read it really and you will find the most colorful literary expressions of disapproval.

But do not do this on the first page of the reviews, where editors and publishers do ask to complacent collaborators to write very positive reviews; they always enter the reviews as first, and gradually even among those successive negative, in order to defuse a little the general negative tone. Go to the following pages and you will find the reviews written by real readers.

You didn’t know this, right?

Unfortunately I am telling you the reality of publishing, and I know it because I work in this area but I hate and fight these mechanisms. I also, of course, ask sometimes readers to put my books reviews on bookstore  sites on the net, but I’ll leave it to them, I do not write and do not make write, fictitious reviews.

However, in the book (and the movie) Fifty Fades of Grey, is to be recognized that readers, except for a few cases, have not at all been conquered by the plot, the characterization of the protagonists and the descriptions of the novel, but have been disappointed by the flatness and the inherent foolishness of a book whose story is described as “unlikely and inconsistent”. From what you read on the net and in the reviews, the vast majority of women (few male readers have read it) says that it is not worth anything and many add to feel sorry to have spent money on such a book. They state to have bought the other two books of the series  not because they were satisfied with the first one, but because they were so much convinced by the reviews and press releases on weekly and women’s fashion magazines (of course owned by the same publishing group), that they had read the whole series, just to feel even more disappointed.

What they have written is that they hoped to find in the other two books what the publisher promised in the advertising messages, but at the end there was nothing of what they desired. They believed the three books were a treasure chest full of valuable jewels, instead they realized it was a nice box desolately empty .

Ditto for the film based on the novel. Of course, it is not envy, I really appreciate other authors, which also sold much, much more, it was just to give an example, because the same process applies to most of the books distributed by big publishing groups.best-Seller

VERY OFTEN IT IS NOT THE PUBLIC BUT THE PUBLISHER WHO CREATES THE BEST SELLER

Definitely, it is not the audience that convince the publisher to print millions of copies, except in quite rare cases; it is rather the opposite. Many big publishers, in fact, deceive the public by saying that the novel is a masterpiece and that plot “(…) grabs the reader and led him through the ordeal of an morbid and fascinating relationship (…)” etc. etc. “, things like that.

The same thing happens in films, music and TV. It is the producer / editor /publisher the one who creates the best seller, and the consequence is that eventually people will buy the book, or the ticket of the cinema. Only after this marketing operation it can be said that the book became a best seller.

THE SECOND REASON

the rune trilogy. i giorni perdutiAdmittedly, to explain the second reason able to activate these dynamics, we must say that there is a will to control the collective minds by a small group of people, For those interested I spoke about this, in my books (expecially the Rune Trilogy, and I GIORNI PERDUTI). But it will be especially in the second book that these explanations are to be thoroughly explained together with other dark aspects in this regard.

I cannot say more, but what is sure is that the control has been working for a long time and is reaching now an efficacy never before experienced.

They can convince you of things that do not exist and even of events that never happened the media created from nothing, but this is a too long story to tell in a simple article.

However, fortunately in bookstores and online there are many good authors, one must choose carefully but there are many beautiful things. For example I love Clive Cussler, but also the Tom Clancy and Patrick Robinson of the early books, for the spectacular dynamics of the plots and the descriptions of military technology, partly James Rollins for the pure American style adventure, with various historical mysteries linked. I have never been disappointed by Ludlum or Patterson as well. They are just some examples of good authors who have sold dozens (sometimes hundreds …) millions of copies around the world with good novels without focusing on scenes of violence, sex or spiritualism, in the vast majority of their books you do not find a page on these things, yet they have sold more than all the other novelists. The same can be said for Dan Brown, despite his inclination towards the occult and pseudo-history. I’m talking of the most widely read authors in the world.

WHY?

Sure, I’m not talking in this time of high literature, I’m talking about popular novels. And these authors are only the ones that I like, but there are many others. You certainly like other authors. In this environment there is ample room for everyone and for all tastes.

IN CONCLUSION, WHAT IS NOW YOUR OPINION?

We have seen that IT IS NOT NECESSARY to lower the level of a book focusing on the basic instincts of man to sell more copies, INDEED, IT IS TRUE THE OPPOSITE but behind these mechanisms there are specific objectives.

If a book is really nice, sooner or later it will convince someone to publish it. The big groups are absorbing the small ones or try to eliminate them.

NBCUltimately the media are basically in the same hands of those who govern from behind the scenes, if you do a little research on the net you will find that all the major American media, weekly magazines newspapers, the major TV networks and film production companies, are the property of the most important financiers (bankers) of the world, the same great family behind American politics leading foreign politics as well.Nytimes_hq

In Italy Mr. Silvio Berlusconi, owner of Mondadori (one of the most important publishing groups) and Mediaset, is a clear example of that.

The point is that there is still a lot to say, because there is a plan, some actors, and the show is going on, the final is not far.

But this is another story.

I’d be curious to know what you think about it.

Pierluigi

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