You’d like to get a book published. Start standing in line, and please, don’t forget to take a number.
At times, hell it’s all the time, it is discouraging to think of the quantity of writers who are a rung closer on the ladder to publication. Big names, debut names, mid list names. As we all know, whether or not these authors are wholeheartedly “good writers” doesn’t necessarily matter. It’s what sells, no?
A couple of weeks ago, crime writer Lynn Shepherd posted an article on The Huffington Post entitled, “If JK Rowling Cares about Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.” There she attacks Rowling for taking over the best seller’s list just by her name. While her arguments are punitive and a bit childish, there’s a lot of truth in Shepherd’s anguish. “…because I think that sort of monopoly can make it next to impossible for anything else to survive, let alone thrive. Publishing a book is hard enough at the best of times, especially in an industry already far too fixated with Big Names and Sure Things, but what can an ordinary author do, up against such a Golgomath?” What chance do we have? But better yet, why do we jump so quickly to saying it’s not fair?
Think of how many stories and books Updike has published, Philip Roth, Alice Munro, Kathy Fish. Do we begrudge them, or celebrate them? I’m not a huge fan of Rowling’s work–I read all of Harry Potter–but the woman has created a world thousands, if not millions, of people have submerged themselves into. Moby Lives! hits it on the spot describing Rowling as a brand, more than an author. And isn’t it a wonderful one?
I’ll admit, I scoff when I see that there’s another book of Rowling’s out. But not so much as seeing that James Franco has a forthcoming publication (and decided to butcher As I Lay Dying, both starring and directing, amongst other things), or that Kristen Stewart had a poem published. While BJ Novak’s book trailer was hilarious, does his writing stand up enough? People will buy these, search for these, because the names matter to them. But are we any better than them?