How J.K. Rowling's Success lifts all writers
“If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It” is absurd. It is a false idea that writers are in competition with each other anymore. Writers are in competition with reality television, video games, work weeks that consistently exceed 40 hours and a hundred other little things that steal time and desire to read.
Rowling’s stories are the gateway drug that opens people to the mind-altering and mind-expanding properties of books. Other writers need to cheer her success and figure out how that can translate into more sales for any and all books. If people are reading hard copy books, publishers will keep publishing them in the hopes of finding the next Harry Potter series.
“But it's time to give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe.” Writing is not a turn-based system. The great thing about books is that they have a lifespan that is longer and more varied than just ending up on the best-seller list. Lynn Shepherd may not sell a bunch of books all at once, but hoping that a book that you write ends up selling a million copies is like hoping to win the lottery.
The irony that we experience in the United States is that we are one of the most literate nations in the world, but we do not like to read. Newspapers use fewer words and more pictures and graphics to get people to buy because people are intimidated by too many words.
“I can't comment on whether the books were good, bad or indifferent.” Whether or not you have read the books, what you can comment on is their effectiveness in getting people to read.
“Publishing a book is hard enough.” The correct sentence should be “publishing a profitable book is hard enough.” With self-publishers and e-books, publishing a book is easy. It is the differentiation of the book and the publicizing it to get it sold that is difficult.
The life of a writer is a hard one filled with questions of the next meal and how to pay the bills, and it is one that chooses the writer for better or worse. The best that we can do is hope that someone chooses to read something that we wrote, and that it makes a difference in that person’s life. That is exactly what Rowling has accomplished, and it is what should be celebrated. Rowling is singularly responsible for bringing a generation back to books.
“Rowling has no need of either the shelf space or the column inches, but other writers desperately do.” And yet, rather than devote this space to those other writers, Shepherd uses it to chastise Rowling’s success and thus devotes the space to Rowling.
In Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, the bad guys compete against each other, and the good guys have to cooperate in order to win. It is time for writers everywhere to join together and become the good guys we should be. By building up another person’s work that you honestly enjoy, you are, in essence, creating a demand for your own product.
In the movie business, it is the “tent poles” that allow movie companies to take a chance on smaller films. If individual authors are not successful and successful authors stop publishing, those who are trying to break into the business will not stand a chance of getting a book published because there will be no more publishers.
Tearing someone down is easier and elicits more response than building a person up, but that way is counterproductive for all writers everywhere.
This article was brought to my attention when Simone Suddreth published the link along with Anne Rice's response at our Diverse Women Writers course.