Saturday, July 16, 2011

I just want to write good books that children will want to read...

This article you to Tracy Ann Baines for the link via facebook) just about sent me screaming down the corridor when I read it. Yes folks it is getting harder to be a children's author. Not only is the chance of getting published diminishing, but if you do manage to get a yes, the likely financial returns have also reduced. We cannot keep writing just for the love of it. Other careers are not predicated on the need for the worker to expect no recompense for their efforts. Some might say that if the book industry cannot sell enough books then that is fair enough, but people are still selling books whether in print or in digital format. There has been a lot of negative focus on bookshops recently with the collapse of a number of high profile chains around the globe. Commentators point to the decline in book sales as the reason but the world has been in a recession - plenty of other businesses have been struggling, not JUST bookselling. Part of the cause for the demise of these bookselling chains has been the application of a business model that would have never fit with selling books. Partly it was greed, and the drive for expansion at any cost. You never thought the movie 'You've got Mail' would be anything other than a substandard romcom now did you? And the 'books are broken' way of thinking that is being touted is creating a risk averseness amongst industry players. Its not the 'books' that are broken folks. When JK Rowling advised she was selling Harry Potter e-books through her Pottermore venture there was some criticism that she was biting the hand that fed her. And also biting the new and untried authors yet to be discovered because the industry needed the income from Rowling's books to fund those risky debut writers. Publishing lists have shrunk and many hopeful writers can tell stories of how hard it is to break into the business. If there is money being made from the big authors, less of this is going on risky debuts. The number of previous titles being re-issued is worrying.

People still believe in the power of the written word. People still believe a literate society is a good thing. And a literate adult society comes from creating literate children. The world population is increasing not declining. Reading, for information or pleasure, of non-fiction or fiction, in a variety of genre that entertain and inspire will never be a bad thing. Good readers cannot grow on the classics alone. They also need contemporary work that speaks like they do, about issues relevant to the here and now. Somewhere along the way writers have been devalued. I know there is a lot more to it than just the issues I have raised above. I don't know who is responsible. But things cannot continue this way. Go have a read of this blog post - (thanks for the link Yvette) - I don't agree with everything that's said but there is a lot of food for thought.

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