One of the things Hollywood scouts are buzzing about coming off the holidays is, surprisingly, an erotica series by a British TV executive which has garnered strong word-of-mouth via GoodReads and other fan sites. An insider said the series, called Fifty Shades of Grey (which is also the title of the first book), is "being compared to Nine and a Half Weeks" and is making the rounds among producers in Los Angeles. Author E.L. James published the books without an agent through a small former writers community called The Writer's Coffee Shop, and told PW she has sold approximately 30,000 copies since releasing the first book in May, 2011.
James is represented by film British film and TV agent Valerie Hoskins and, still, does not have a literary agent. Hoskins confirmed that there is "huge buzz" on the books, largely from American producers and, now, from a few larger American publishers. The books are out in trade paper and e-book, and available through a number of outlets, inclduing the Kindle store. The series, which is set in the U.S., follows a woman named Anastasia Steele, who is studying literature, and who becomes romantically (and sexually) entangled with an entrepreneur named Christian Grey.
The Writer's Coffee Shop, which was initially founded in 2009 as a community-based literature fan site, established a publishing division in 2010. The publishing division, which releases genre fiction, culls titles from content directly uploaded to its Web site, and lists 11 books in its fall 2011 catalog. When asked why she opted to publish through such a little-known outfit, James said she liked the idea of going small. "I didn't try any larger, more conventional forms of publishing, preferring to dip my toe first into the publishing world with a small, very supportive publishing house."