So JK Rowling's latest
sold 1,500 copies when published anonymously (having been turned down by one
publisher who said it was "well written but quiet"). That's with
proper distribution in bricks and mortar shops and with an endorsement by Val
McDermid on the cover. It had good reviews too.
Although there has been the odd bitchy remark from fellow writers, JK Rowling
does not attract the sort of loathing that is reserved for the likes of Dan
Brown. This latest effort has probably increased the affection that many of us
seem to feel for her. It was brave to publish anonymously and the good reviews
suggest that there is more to her than hype. (Although I would have thought
most people who had read her work should have realised that already.) Most
importantly, it has made the rest of us feel a lot better about our own sales.
I got my latest royalty statement
this week and, instead of burying my head in my hands and weeping, I consoled
myself with the fact that, although I have practically no bricks and mortar
distribution and Val McDermid doesn't know me from Adam, 'The White Rajah' has
sold getting on for half as many copies as JK Rowling. The sad truth is that
only 2% of published works sell more than 500 copies. I am delighted that 'The
White Rajah' is part of that 2%.
Thank you to everyone who
has put their hands in their pockets and bought a copy. Most of the people I
know would say that they think that books are generally a good thing. But
unless people are prepared to give unknown authors a chance, the reality is
that we will end up with a few very popular authors producing new volumes
featuring established characters while original writing that is not aimed
firmly at the bestseller chart simply languishes and dies. JK Rowling has done
everyone a favour by highlighting the difficulties that most authors face.