I have been following a discussion lately which started with the observation that E L James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, has got where she is today by spending £100,000 of her own money promoting her book. I have no idea whether this is true or not – perhaps she revealed it in an interview or maybe it’s an invention – but for the sake of this post I am going to assume it is true.
Some people thought, ‘Good luck to her’. If that was how she wanted to spend her money, fair enough. But others complained that it was hardly fair that one author could buy her way to success when another, just as good or better, with only five pounds in her pocket and a second-hand thesaurus out of a charity shop, could not afford do this too and so was doomed to languish unread on the physical and electronic shelves. It was not a level playing field.
Dealing with those who complained, two thoughts occur. Whoever said it was a level playing field in the first place? Taking authors as a whole, some are more intelligent than others, some have wider experience than others and, here’s one to think about, some have a better way with words than others.
But, the argument goes, money is different! Unlike having a winning way with words, having money is not a talent. It is not an authorial skill.
This is true, but surely if a book is unmarketable, no amount of money will make it sell. There has to be something to market which people will want to buy.
We don’t have to like this state of affairs, it may not be fair, but complaining about it won’t change anything. I think we should all just relax and have a bad time. That’s what we enjoy, isn’t it?