It’s a tough world for writers. If you are not losing your laptop with your draft novel in a blizzard (she did find it later), you might be searching for ways to overcome writer’s block. And as a writer friend complained to me recently, publishing houses aren’t interested in encouraging writers and promoting literature, they are investors who want to make money. The decisions they make on writers and books are primarily commercial rather than artistic.
There has been some focus on this recently, particularly in the field of children’s books, as authors have pleaded with the public to see beyond the celebrity writers who are trying to add another string to their bow. By eating up the publishers’ marketing revenues because they will be commercially successful whatever their artistic merits, the professional authors get squeezed out. A really well-crafted, imaginative children’s book will last forever, as mentioned with Alan Garner a few months ago. Robert Macfarlane pays tribute to Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising in this piece, as he prepares an audio adaptation for BBC World Service, which begins next week. As he says, the characters ‘sank deep into [his] bones’ as a child, ‘and have never left.’
On the one hand, then, professional crafters of fiction need support by people buying their books, as this article explains. On the other hand, professional writers are often called upon to help out those celebrities with plotting, characters, genre and the actual writing – their anonymous hand often helps the celebrity author to their literary success.
So if you are buying books for Christmas – and who won’t be? – aim for an independent bookstore if you can, and a real, professional author.