Writer Envy?

There has been a bit of a furor lately about John Locke’s book on how he became a bestseller offering ninety-nine-cent eBooks while also admitting he isn’t that good of a writer.  I have not read his how-to book.  From what I’ve read about it, it appears he takes a cold-blooded business approach to making money from writing, which many other authors who’ve honed their craft for years may find offensive.  It’s also possible they might envy his approach and wish they could be so hard-headed and business savvy and make the kind of money from selling fiction that Locke does.

I read one of Locke’s books and blogged about my opinion of it recently.  http://barbmeyers.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/picky-reader-and-a-kindle-book-1/

What I find interesting and somewhat amusing is the reaction among some published authors to Locke’s approach.  Let’s face it, any of us could have done what he did, and probably still can.  The book he’s written detailing how he did it is selling like hotcakes.  I’d love to know how many disgruntled authors bought the how-to book versus bought and read any of his novels.

Locke’s admission that he doesn’t consider himself an exceptional fiction writer reminded me of an unpublished writer friend who told me a couple of years ago she wanted to write fiction to make money.  She didn’t think the writing had to be that good.  At the time I was offended by her attitude, but with the dumbing down of America, turns out she was right.  The John Locke story proves her point.  If I were him, I’d be chuckling all the way to the bank at how easy it is to take advantage of the reading, book-buying public.  First they will buy his fiction because it’s cheap (as I did) and even though it’s may not be well-written, they either don’t care or can’t tell.  (I do and I can.)  Then they will buy his how-to book so (God forbid) they can go out and write their own not-so-great novel and make millions from it.

Although I’ll refrain from naming names, I’m sure we’re all aware there are traditionally published, best-selling authors who are not great writers. 

Ever since I started writing what I heard from the “experts” is there are no new ideas.  You need to put a new twist on an old idea.  Simple, enough, right?

What I also heard ad nauseam was “Write the best book you possibly can and it will sell.”  The cream, supposedly, rises to the top no matter what.

In my heart of hearts, I want to believe this is true.  I haven’t spent twenty-plus years writing so I could slap garbage between the covers of a book and laugh at the readers who lap it up.  My goal was and has always been to write the very best books I am capable of writing.  It’s my mission statement.  I care about my readers. 

Would I love to be a best-selling author and make piles of money from my work?  You betcha!  But money isn’t what motivates me to write, and there’s something sort of sad about money being the motivation behind almost anything.

For years I worked with people who hated their jobs but were there for the money.  Life is much more joyful if you find something you love to do and are good at, and you can get paid for it.  John Locke found something he’s good at and obviously has a passion for (selling his books) and he makes money doing it. 

I admit I have a Pollyanna-ish view of life and writing and business.  I don’t have piles of money, but I’m pretty satisfied the books I offer to the reading public are my best effort.  No one can take that away from me.




  1. You know, I have come to the conclusion editors are jaded. They get sick of reading, but it’s their job. Jobs are hard to come by with the economy. They reject the majority with the belief that the few they accept should keep them safe and working. Dollars and cents rule that business. That’s what it is a business to make money.

    Only a very few ever rise to the level of great writer. Many will try and try hard. I love to write but with all the silly rules about what the reader doesn’t like (namely editors and academics) they reject the manuscript. I find it comical that as examples, Stephanie Meyer and Charlaine Harris can garner a large power base of fans and make oodles of money. They don’t follow the rules someone made up. I’m sure they try to write good novels. They may not know what certain people think is the proper way to write fiction. Goes to show it’s more in the story than the writing style. You think any of the readers except teachers and published writers notice the no-nos? The person with the 10th grade education gives a flying fig if either of them wrote cliche’s, too many words such as it or said. NO, they like the stories and wouldn’t recognize the flaws those in the industry are anxious to point out.

    Book stores are closing and people are self-publishing, building websites to sell their books and by-passing the publishing elite. More power to them. I hope writers get together and form a publishing co-op, hire an honest editor and laugh all the way to the bank.

  2. Renee, I like the way you said this. You go, girl! Same conclusion I have reached…mostly. Instead of having other writers read and critique for me, I look for avid readers who read the kind of stuff I write. I’ve found one in particular so far who is FANTASTIC at giving me her honest opinion and the feedback I need. Having said that, my editor at Samhain is also FANTASTIC and she does a wonderful job of making my book(s) better without changing what I wrote. Feel like I have the best of both worlds at the moment. I hope more writers achieve this. Thanks for commenting.

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