This is a great analogy for a writing career. I’ve never really been someone that expected to win the lottery in any case!
Publishing books is like investing, NOT like winning the lottery.
Of course, we all wish it was. It would be nice to write your debut novel, see it published, and suddenly it becomes an overnight success, but chances are that’s not going to happen.
Hopefully, what really happens is that you write a book, gain some fans, make some sales, and write another book.
Each book you write is an investment in your future, and your career. When you save for retirement, do you put $100 on a stock and hope it grows to a million? Noooo. You save over time, build on what you have, and diversify your portfolio.
Publishing books is very similar. You have to keep writing books, keeping depositing into your writing portfolio, and keep growing your audience.
I realized this when I released the first two novellas in my Highborn Chroniclesa few months ago…
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A few days ago, a Huffington Post, um, post went viral on Facebook. Here it is. If you haven’t read it, go on. I’ll wait.
Back? Are you as outraged as I am?
Never mind the fact that post’s author, Lynn Shepherd, admits she has never read Harry Potter and yet implies insulting things about the mental capacity of any adult who reads the series, “…mainly because there’s [sic] so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds…”
Never mind her assumption that there is only a finite amount of success to go around, and that Rowling hogging it all results in Lynn (can I call you Lynn?) and other writers getting less.
Never mind the fact she’s targeting one of very few blockbuster female writers. Why not aim it at Stephen King, say? Is it because he hasn’t dabbled in mystery like Rowling has—which, if true, clearly gives Lynn’s objection the pungent aroma of sour grapes? Or is it because he’s a man, whereas Rowling, as a woman, should be more considerate of others? (Uh oh…)
Never even mind her assumption that writers are only entitled to write and have success in one field—in Rowling’s case, children’s fiction. They definitely shouldn’t branch out into other fields of writing endeavour. That’s just greedy.
The things that get me are the two, fatal flaws in Lynn’s logic.
If it weren’t for JK Rowling making readers of teenagers who otherwise might have spent their time playing Farmville, there would be, well, less readers. These are readers who, as adults, might dabble in mystery because Rowling went there. Readers who might then read other mystery novels.
And if it weren’t for JK Rowling, her publisher would have less money. It may not exist at all or, if it did, it’s publishing team would be less likely to risk paying advances to debut authors. It would have less money to spend on lower-return print runs by mid-list authors.
These are the reasons why blockbuster novels and writers are always a good thing. Yes, always. Regardless of what you think of Twlight’s portrayal of romance, or 50 Shades of Grey’s “representation” of BDSM, or The Da Vinci Code’s alleged (although not substantiated in court) plagiarism, they bring money into the industry and get people reading who otherwise might not.
If the price other authors pay for these benefits is that the blockbuster author gets the display at the front of the store, so be it.
There are only two reasons I can think of why Lynn would write that article. One is that she genuinely believes Rowling is taking a place in the mystery genre that rightfully belongs to others (aka “herself”). The other is that she figures bad attention is better than no attention. I’m sure her books are getting a lot of views on Amazon at the moment—although most of it is probably one-star reviews by Rowling’s fans, so I struggle to see the benefit there too.
To me, Lynn’s post looks like career suicide. Am I missing something?
This is a great blog post by Dahlia Adler about the different forms of publishing (traditional, small press and independent) and the pros and cons of each. It’s a good place to start if you’ve written a manuscript and you’re trying to decide what next.
I’d love to be able to write such a post myself rather than reblogging someone else’s, but at the moment my experience of the process just doesn’t extend that far. So I hope you’ll forgive me for referring you to someone else’s work. :p
I’d really like someone to tell me to my face that publishing is dying, because I haven’t laughed in someone’s face in a really long time, and I miss that feeling. To think publishing is dying is to be walking around with your eyes closed, to have failed to stop the Q-tip when it met resistance. Publishing is evolving, changing, and in many ways, even growing. And as a result, we have some lovely and scary things called choices.
It used to be that there were really big houses, and then less big houses, and that was kind of it. Sure, you could go with a vanity press if you had serious money to burn and either true belief no one would know the difference or apathy whether anyone would, but none of those books ever ended up on my shelf. (Or on my ereader, because they didn’t exist! That’s…
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