I did something yesterday that I have never done before. I deleted a published blog post. I had posted some of my thoughts on the whole JK Rowling is Robert Galbraith thing. If you don't know about this story...
The NY Times shares some of my suspicions that this was a publicity stunt. My blog post took things a little farther and called JK Rowling careless because she was basically playing a game pretending to be a new writer and it hurt.
My point was that she was taking for granted something that any new, struggling, and/or aspiring author would hold of the utmost value.
But I realized--I was making a judgement call on JK Rowling's actions. I don't know where she, personally, is coming from. I can guess she's at a stage in her career where the overwhelming fame brought by the Harry Potter books has her doubting if she could cut it on her writing alone. Maybe she's scared she'll have to lean forever on her name.
Maybe she wanted nothing more than to never have to be named as the real author, and the publishing house she is with basically said, if this book doesn't sell under the pseudonym we're either pulling it or outing you. Cos sales is sales, baby. Maybe she's as much a victim in this as the duped readers. Maybe this is a situation like The Prince and the Pauper.
Anyway, my point is, I don't know. And I shouldn't presume.
But I'm apparently not the only one who sees it that way. I discovered this article in The Guardian today. The quotes that stood out most to me are:
"...what Rowling has done, however admirable her intentions, was less risky than it first appeared. She took a gamble when she wrote as Robert Galbraith, instead of under her own name, but she admits that the chances of keeping the secret were "incredibly remote". "
"Indeed, while I don't doubt Rowling's motives for one moment, it's instructive that the revelation of her authorship has quickly become a story about a well-known writer doing something quirky and eccentric – rather than a telling tale about the state of publishing. Whether she likes it or not, she is in that category of stratospherically famous authors who have become brands; Dan Brown is another obvious example. This is a recent development and its impact on other writers is disastrous, creating a situation in which huge publicity budgets are placed behind a handful of authors, skewing bestseller lists."
Of course I worded things rather differently in my post yesterday--and it implied more than I intended. Maybe as a not-at-all-famous author what I said came across as resentful. That wasn't my goal. All I wanted to say was that starting off as a new author and pretending to start off as a new author when you have the ginormous safety net of your world-renown name are not at all equal in risk.
I am at a point where I grab hold of and value every opportunity. If I get to have a table at a craft fair and sell four books in six hours, I'm thrilled despite the fact that those kinds of sales numbers are actually quite pathetic compared to large press authors who might sell 40 or even 400 books in one hour (much less six). I'm at a point where I have no luxuries yet--nothing is assumed, I'm tested at every turn, I have to battle for reviews and respect as a writer.
I get that JK Rowling was in this exact position years ago when she first wrote Harry Potter. If she hadn't hit the right editor at the right time, she could still be struggling to become a published author. She's been through exactly what we aspiring and indie authors are going through right now. She made her way to the top with talent and an amazing story, and hard work. She's earned every bit of success she's gotten, and I never meant to imply that I believe otherwise or that I begrudge her that.
Am I envious of her? Probably to a degree. But even if I am, is that wrong?
Is it wrong to point out that it's a lot easier to take a risk when you have the ultimate sure-fire back-up plan?
Or is it wrong only because I'm down here at the bottom looking up?