How a Hoax Erotic eBook Cracked the iTunes Top 5 (Produced on Vook!)

by Matthew Cavnar on

The Diamond Club Goes Viral

Fifty Shades of Grey proved the rules of publishing a blockbuster have changed--now The Diamond Club, a crowd sourced erotic stunt novel, is proving the only rules that matter are the ones you make up.

"Crowd sourced erotic stunt novel" is a mouthful of a description, but it sums up The Diamond Club--which is currently #4 in all Paid eBooks in iTunes after three days on sale. It's behind only the 50 Shades trilogy itself.

So where does this steamy, narratively incoherent, beekeeper sex loaded hit come from? The fans of Brian Brushwood and Justin Young, the hosts of the NSFW podcast. Brian's a magician, comedian, slight-of-hand master and the author of the excellent Scam School Volume 1 and 2 (also Vook produced). I spoke to NSFW co-creator Justin today about their latest ingenious project.

“It all started with Scam School Book 2 – Brian’s magic book," Justin said. "He found out as he was pushing that book that the top ten in iTunes was all erotic fiction. Even to the point where established authors, like Janet Evanoich, couldn’t break into the top five of the iBooks store—because of all the erotic fiction that was capitalizing on Shades of Grey. And he thought—we could do that!”

The book has its roots in an older New York publishing scam, Newsday columnist Mike McGrady's 1968  Naked Came the Stranger. "I was influenced by Naked Came the Stranger," Justin said. "In the late 60s, romance was a burgeoning thing showing up on the NYT beststeller list. And he decided as a reaction that he’d have 28 writers write a chapter in a book about a Long Island house wife having sex with all sorts of people of their era. A reformed rabbi. A crooner. Late 60s characters. We thought, how can we update that?”

And so arose the idea for The Diamond Club.


Crucial to the success of the project were three key realizations Justin and Brian had:

#1: Users are the content creators today – so they made the listeners of their podcast the authors. Every listener could write and submit a chapter for inclusion in the book. The chapters didn't have to connect to each other at all--as long as they featured the main character. 

#2: The iTunes Paid Book Chart is the NYT bestseller list of today--that's what you have to crack. 

 #3: The secret isn’t a secret anymore. You can scream and yell and it’s going to remain a hoax to 99.9%. Your own audience must be explosive, but everyone else is going to buy what’s at the top of the charts.

I was curious how the book, which very definitely delivers on the core aspet of erotic fiction (lots and lots of sex) could still be considered a hoax.

Justin said, "It’s a hoax in that we are not erotic fiction writers. We don’t genuinely think it’s any good. But I will stand behind our product that it delivers what we believe to be the most important componenet in this genre: sex." 

And the book does deliver. Though it has over 1,000 user reviews, only one of them calls out the hoax. "If you look at it, right now," Justin said, "There’s only one comment that says it’s a joke. One review says: Don’t pay money for this. It’s what they want."

What Justin and Brian really wanted was to get their audience excited--and give them a fun ride. In the process, they've revealed the new truths about publishing. At the end of the day, you need an audience that loves you.

Justin concluded, "The larger trend in media in general is that your off season is more important than your season. If you want to put in your effort only when you’re selling, you’re not doing it right. Bring them along through the process. People want to do this. Because it's fun."

Of course, The Diamond Club was created on Vook. Our platform makes it easy for people to pursue whatever serious, harebrained or comical eBook project they want. Check it out yourself.


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