Recently a woman named Lynn Shepherd wrote an article for the Huffington Post entitled “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing She Should Stop Doing It.”
One might think, judging by the article’s title, that it is a shred fest on Ms. Rowling’s abilities as a writer, but it isn’t…at least not in the strict sense. I’m sure the title was carefully crafted for its potential to go viral more than anything else.
Be that as it may, Ms. Shepherd’s main point is more about JK’s “star power” than her writing ability. She (Shepherd) even admits to never having read any of Rowling’s books or seeing any of the films (she doesn’t say whether she’s been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando or not).
After her introductory paragraph, where she attempts to rationalize the title, and the second paragraph which is a confession of non-participation in the world of Rowling, she proceeds to complain about how the attachment of the Rowling moniker to a book seems to instantly drive sales into the stratosphere.
While her claim is true, I can’t say that I agree with her issue.
Basically she claims that Rowling’s celebrity assures her success in any future endeavors and that she has made it that much more difficult for other unknown authors (like me) to catch a break and be the next rags-to-riches story.
Okay – before I tell you why I disagree with Shepherd, let me say this…
It is true that the novel The Cuckoo’s Calling, which was originally released under a pseudonym, was not breaking any sales records until it was re-released with JK’s name on it. The same can be said for The Casual Vacancy. After the name was changed the sales soared thanks to Rowling’s reputation – a matter that doesn’t sit well with Shepherd, who insists that it was obviously not due to the quality of the work – even though she has never read it.
As an independent author who is only minutes away from mega-stardom, I can honestly say that I totally disagree with Shepherd’s complaints – even though my sales numbers are not exactly getting me invited to black-tie events or providing me with red carpet photo ops.
Because Rowling earned every bit of her celebrity status and how she chooses to use it, or not use it, is entirely up to her.
Any complaints about it are sour grapes at best…
For all we know the name game may not have been her idea. I can picture a commission-based agent demanding it in order to finance his new boat.
I know quite a few indie authors, but I can’t think of one, off the top of my head, who would complain about having half the name recognition as Rowling…or King…or Grisham…or Patterson.
Hell – I’d settle for being as well-known as Richard Castle and he’s not even real!
The point is this…it is the goal of almost all authors to reach that point in our career where we can sell our grocery list for six-figures…that’s the name of the game.
The thing that is wrong – is for those of us who haven’t made it yet to have contempt for the success of somebody who, before becoming famous, was living in her car.
As always – thank you for reading