Saturday, 21 September 2013


Reading this piece, published in the Guardian recently, is a warning blast across the bows of would -be writers:

It seems writing the book is not enough - you have to publicise it as well. That means attending launches, doing readings, possibly opening supermarkets for all I know - all in the name of getting readers to a) buy and b) read your book. I have the strangest feeling that to anyone but the writer, a) is the more important aspect. How many you sell determines the next contract.

Today I heard from a friend who has been asked to write a short story in the style of her latest book and have it published for free in a national newspaper. Bravely, she turned them down when they refused to pay any fee or donate to a charity of her choice, and went on to sell the story to another publication. Why is it that something taking hours of work should be snapped up and swallowed whole, for free? Are writers so desperate for any kind of publication that they will settle for such deals? The newspaper would no doubt argue that the exposure would attract many readers - but can they prove that? It may do the newspaper or magazine some good, because the story would be worth reading - but there's no guarantee that the reward will come via a bookshop sale for the author.

People say that  free book on Amazon acts as a taster and lets people know if they like the writer's style. I'm sure that's true, but again, stories take time to write and surely the author should be paid for that work? A book can be on sale on Amazon for under a pound (or a couple of dollars) and if people can't shell out that amount for something that took weeks to create, then words fail me.

(The picture is a winter picture of leafless trees and a scatter of snow across the grass - a taste of things to come)

1 comment:

Dean Crawford said...

All authors have to do their own publicity, with the exception that the biggest sellers get big-budget advertising campaigns. The reason I've been fortunate to meet so many of those big names is that, like me, they attend annual crime writing festivals and such like both here and in the USA and Europe. It's all part of the machine of getting your name known, and it all helps.

That said, I don't know if I'd bother much now with library appearances or other "local" events. The books sold versus the hassle of being there in the first place makes it very difficult to justify...