Indie Life: The Solar Eclipse of Writing

wpid-Photo-12082013-757-AM.jpgBeing heard amongst the noise of millions of other published books. It’s not only a concern for Indie writers but a relevant issue for those seeking traditional publishing too.

The recent debacle with JK Rowling’s pseudonymous attempt to publish as a new author is a wary tale. It personally got me down for a little time.

New unheard-of author Robert Galbraith’s Cuckoo Calling at first count was not doing so well getting noticed by anyone – including those agents/editors confident enough to admit they rejected the book in the slush pile.

Rowling/Galbraith had all the experience of any new author struggling to be seen in today’s market – slow initial growth and weak commercial success even when published by some great publishers and receiving glowing reviews on this “author debut”. It failed to catch on…
Albeit, Rowling had the means to hire staff to do all her marketing and platform work, the U.K. book cover holds a blurb by bestselling thriller writer Val McDermid (something a true unknown debut author can only dream of) and the financial success or otherwise of spending all that time writing with small sales would not have had the same implications on her life decisions than many of us must juggle.

The leak came that Robert was really Joanne and within a short period the book was making top UK charts and the NY Bestselling list. Based on a name.

Robert’s website has a series of QA’s explaining some of this, but there is also another book in the crime fiction genre coming out for Robert. A BBC article (amongst all the articles which covered the controversy ie. publicity for the book) – suggests that the initial 3 months of Robert’s unknown book equated to similar book sales experienced by an unknown JK in the early days of Harry Potter with the following quote from Rowling:

“Robert’s success during his first three months as a published writer (discounting sales made after I was found out) actually compares favourably with JK Rowling’s success over the equivalent period of her career.”

Personally, I despaired for a little time over this news. Not only did Rowling move from YA Urban Fantasy into Mystery with her first book outside of Harry Potter, The Casual Vacancy, but now she’s moved over into Crime/Detective fiction specifically.

jk found time to writeAs Galbraith, she was doing all the same things we are told to do – there was a website supporting the author (not sure of tweets) but I ponder what might have happened if the guy was ever asked to attend a book signing.

I don’t have any unkind thoughts towards her need to continue writing – writers write, right? And goodness knows, she must have a mighty support system and dinosaur hide to get her through the many criticisms of anything she does.

But here’s a recognised best seller now writing in my own genre, and as soon as she brings a book out her sales produce more noise for anyone else published in that genre.

As an Indie writer, sometimes a look at the chances of being noticed and selling a copy of a book just feels HUGE – in the proportions of our small Luna moon fighting off our Sun. The chances of failure are as big as the sky, further even…

But then I remember it’s all a matter of view. From Planet Earth the little moon satellite, being closer to us, can actually block out our huge sun when lined up correctly.

It’s with this hope that I continue – with perseverance I will someday have my own mini-eclipse and be found amongst the many solar stars out there.

But enough with the metaphors, I’m basically holding onto hope, just like all Indie authors, that somebody out there will enjoy reading what we write. JK Rowling’s pseudonymous outing certainly has something to say about commercial success, but also – her passion for telling a story, shared with every writer out there trying to write. In that, I feel the fellowship of writing, and also strengthen my own motivation.

Maybe that’s the whole key that makes us writers – hope, perseverance, and the need to tell a story. Something shared with the blazing stars and tiny blinking lights out there in our solar storm of publishing.

I wish you all your own little eclipse.


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One thought on “Indie Life: The Solar Eclipse of Writing

  1. You’re quite right. The problem for authors these days is discovery. It always has been. However the new publishing paradigm underscores the point. Quality will always work in the end providing it is found. And some of it, I fear, is lost amid the noise. However, the onus is on authors to keep perservering.

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