Wednesday 29 October 2014

A Fellow Author Urges You to Step Aside

The situation: midlist author ranting and raving; your face on the cover of national newspapers (not hers).

The symptoms: outrage.

You’ve made your first thousand million. Books are flying off the shelves. Your titles boom straight to number one the moment they’re released. It’s safe to say you’re doing bloody well.

In a deviation from your usual, chirpy children’s fiction, you decide to write a crime thriller for adults. You’re a little apprehensive about the change of audience. Your fans are mostly under twelve and now you’re writing for grown-ups.

But boom!

The Blackbird’s Kicking a Strop goes straight to the top of the crime chart. You won’t need the extra millions, but your favourite charity might. You’re ecstatic.

However, less than a week after the launch, you see your face on the front of a national paper. Nora No-Sales from Nowhere-in-Particular has urged you to stop writing. Why? Because you’re bad at it? Because your books are traumatising people? Because your books glamorise abusive relationships? No, because you’ve ‘had your turn’.

Her argument is that your work is dominating the book market, thus compromising the sales of other authors’ work. (It’s not sour grapes though, she’s careful to add. So it’s definitely not sour grapes.)

Do not stop writing. Do not pay the slightest heed to her words. You are perfectly entitled to keep publishing and take your career in whatever direction you decide.

If your extra shelf and column space is stealing the limelight from other deserving authors, you could perhaps use some of your vast fortune to support new writing schemes, open an independent book shop or start your own literary magazine. At the end of the day, earning a living through writing books is not a crime.

Do you really think Nora No-Sales would turn down the chance of serial number one hits if she could?

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