Interesting piece in the Observer yesterday about authors scrabbling to make ends meet. Admittedly, he didn’t produce many examples of writers gnawing crusts in garrets, and the lady in the photos lived in a hugely charming, shabby-but-chic house in Oxford. If that’s grinding poverty, most of us would say bring it on. I think he was inspired mainly by his own penury. Or maybe other writers are too sensitive to admit they’re broke?
He identified the crash of 2008 as the starting point of a downturn in publishing, and there was the usual complaint about bloggers putting out free content on the web that was distracting solid readers, but I think rather surprisingly he ignored the influence of Kindle and all the other eReaders, as well as the new-found respectability of self-publishing. In the same paper, there was a report on Fifty Shades of Grey selling over 100,000 million copies, so a) I don’t think reading will die out any time soon, even if it’s reading the phrase ‘my inner goddess’ trillions of times and b) Shades was a self-publishing triumph. The author went from Twilight spinoff to major publishing house via self-publishing, and jolly good luck to her.
A friend keeps asking me why I don’t write the ‘new’ Fifty Shades. I think the first answer probably is - I should be so lucky! But secondly, I squirmingly couldn’t write stuff that would have me dying of embarrassment if anyone I knew read it – whether from the S&M point of view or on the inner goddess repetition front. I dare say sitting on top of a mountain of money might make it all worthwhile. But say I just wrote a rubbish book about sex, and no one bought it, except my relatives and neighbours, who looked at me strangely ever after? Even I, as a writer of fiction, can see this is a much more likely scenario than becoming a best seller. Eeek! I think I’ll give it a miss, thanks.