JK Rowling Doesn’t Need My Advice

…but damn does this Huffington Post writer get it wrong.

Dear god, why do I fall for the clickbait.

Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way: with my publisher hat on (complete with the Fascinator of Cold, Hard Logic), of course I want her to keep writing for adults, because her success helps my company, and keeps me in a job. Okay? Okay.

Next: bookseller hat.

The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s calling brought people into bookstores. How is this a bad thing? Oh, right, it’s not. With all the people out there writing eulogies* for bookstores, it’s books like these that help keep their doors open.

*(So many eulogies. Decades worth, akin to those placeholder celebrity death announcements CNN has queued up just-in-case. Except people keep hitting publish. Bookselling’s still not dead, though.)

Someone walks in looking for the new JK Rowling, they might browse through other sections and pick up other books, too. Because that’s how it works, book buying. That’s the reason Amazon and B&N have those sections beneath your purchases for other stuff you might like. “People who bought <this book you’re buying> also bought <other book>.”

Book sales drive more book sales.

Writer hat:

There are readers out there, for sure, who have very limited funds. If given a choice between JK Rowling’s book and a lesser-known writer, they might very well pick her book. Quite possibly because they read and enjoyed the Harry Potter series. Or because they know her name and figure she must be able to tell a good story. Or, yes, because they read a review. Thing is, their money was never anyone else’s to begin with.

That goes for readers who can afford more than one book at a go, too. Sales to JK Rowling are not sales stolen from your pocketses.

In fact, let’s say a person who doesn’t usually read mysteries picks up The Cuckoo’s Calling for the sole reason it was written by JK Rowling. Let’s say they like it. There’s a year between The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm. You know what that person who has learned they like mystery novels will quite possibly do?

Buy other mystery novels.

This is why you see (/plops bookseller hat back on, atop writer hat) displays in stores that say “If you liked Twilight, you’ll like…” or “If you like Stephen King, you’ll like…”

For most writers, books take time. Fans read other books in between, while they’re waiting. Epic fantasy readers did not spend the six years between A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons twiddling their thumbs. They sought out other books that scratched that same itch. They discovered other writers in the meantime.

So no, Ms. Rowling writing more books in the Cormoran Strike series doesn’t hurt other writers. I don’t know enough about how the review process works (as in, how big professional publications decide which books will be featured). But I’m pretty sure she’s not sitting there cackling at having stolen the spotlight from a lesser-known writer. I would also put money on “that review space would have gone to another Big News Book” if she didn’t have something coming out that month. Just saying.

I don’t need to address snobbery of the slam on adult readers who read the Potter books for themselves, and not the children, do I? Good.

Point is, one author telling another “you’re too successful, get out of my yard,” is ridiculous.

As my friend Camille said, “The writers I know celebrate each other’s successes because readers win when another book is born.” Which is exactly right.

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