Should a writer ever stop writing?

The internet is full of responses to this article that calls for JK Rowling to stop writing for the adult market because her books end up dominating the market and that means she is stopping other books from being read. There will always be ‘star’ writers whose new book heads straight to the top of the charts and sells based on their name. But should these writers stop and let others take their spot?

All writers start off at the bottom (I’m not talking about celebrities who then publish books as this is a very different issue). JK Rowling had many rejections and when she got her book deal just 500 copies were printed with no marketing. It was her words that brought her success. Harry Potter became publishing legend. It also got people reading. The article says it’s a shame that adults read the books and I have to disagree with that. I think getting people reading is a brilliant thing and people should never feel guilty about what they like to read. Hopefully people who read and loved Harry Potter went on to read other books as well.

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If JK Rowling is like other writers then she loves to write and has a need to write. Just because she had a massive amount of success, does that mean she should let her passion go? I don’t think so. She has tried to use her success positively – her charitable donations are well known, and she tried to keep her crime books way from the name that breeds success. Of course, we know that didn’t work but again, credit to her for trying to avoid the books selling on just her name and for her trying to be like other writers who have to just rely on their words. She didn’t have to do that. She was guaranteed sales based on her name but I think trying a pseudonym showed that writing was more important than money to her.

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Everyone has an opinion about publishing. Sure, it’s really hard for debut writers out there but ‘star’ writers were debuts once too and you really can’t tell someone to stop writing just because they’ve had success at it. We all want success. There’s always a joke that when you tell people you’ve written a book they ask if you’ll be the next JK Rowling. Yes, it can be frustrating and annoying. But let’s face it, we’d love to be able to answer “YES” :)

Do you think a writer should ever stop writing because of their success?

Victoria

xoxo

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25 Comments

  1. A writer should write and a writer should seek an audience. That’s what we do. I think the comments on the article’s thread were articulate. Funny thing is that people are going to the blogger’s Amazon page and using her silly words against her on reviews. What did she think would happen? As one commenter states, should Spielberg stop making movies? The blogger admitted she supposedly knows nothing about the HP books or movies. If so, she should stop writing articles about which she knows nothing about.

    Reply
    • It does almost seem like an article written to get a reaction but I’m not sure what the writer will gain from writing it as you say. Exactly, there are many successful creators in the world and should they all stop once they get some success and how do you decide what level of success is acceptable and what isn’t? I think creative people should support each other. It’s such a hard world to be in and so many don’t find success, we shouldn’t turn on each other :)

      Reply
  2. I had not encountered this before, so thanks for posting it, since I can always use a good laugh.

    The article itself is obviously click-bait (I recently saw an article about famous writers who were actually jerks, or something like that, and they also used Rowling as a hook), and apparently it’s doing its work. But it’s idiotic on two levels.

    One is that Rowling won’t stop. Why would she? Would you, or I, or the writer of that piece, in that position? It’s easy to say that it’s ludicrous for the Rolling Stones to still be playing rock and roll in their 70s, but they’re still doing it and you can’t stop them. Tough.

    The other reason is that it betrays a fundamental misunderstanding about how publishing works. It’s the big sellers that enable publishers to take chances on younger writers. Editing and promoting books takes money, and that money has to come from somewhere. I was at a party once with a few friends who were all in the publishing business, and they ended up comparing notes about the embarrassing (but revenue-generating) titles that they were publishing, in order to keep their companies going (it was sort of a “try to top this!” of cringe-worthiness).

    To give a classic example, in the 1920s Scribner’s took a chance on some young writers named Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Wolfe. One reason that was possible was that they also published S. S. Van Dyne, the author of the Philo Vance mysteries, who happened to be the biggest selling author in the United States during that decade.

    Reply
    • I completely agree – I’m sure it’s written for views and it definitely has fired people up. Like you, it seems misguided for a writer to take this kind of view. Exactly, money is good for publishing. With how the industry is right now, we need big sellers, we need people to read books and JK Rowling helps make that happen. Hopefully the money does go into supporting new writers and they will be the publishing stars of the future. At least this article has shown how much in general writers support one another and how much we want writers to be successful!

      Reply
  3. I think that’s why Stephen King published under the Richard Bachman pseudonym — his books were flooding the market for his genre. But now that JK Rowling’s pseudonym is uncovered, it might be better for her to come up with a new one. But no, she shouldn’t stop writing just because she is “stopping other books from being read.” Readers will find what they like to read no matter what.

    Reply
    • It’s really the same through the arts – you have big directors, actors, musicians, that have become ‘brands’ and will sell a product off the back of their names but hopefully some of their money goes back into their industries to help nourish new talent. I think if people still have passion and want to create, it should be encouraged. Like you say, people who love reading will read a range of talent – established and debuts as with music etc.

      Reply
  4. Writers need to write. Good writers need to write. While I personally think the publishing industry is broken because it doesn’t allow room for unknowns, that doesn’t mean people like Rowling should stop writing. But, I would like to point out that even if she was using a pseudonym, her publisher certainly knew who she really was, that got her foot in the door to get the adult books published. I’m not saying that’s wrong, it’s just the reality of the publishing industry. You need a name to make a name, or one lucky break. The lucky break is the hardest thing to find. However, the success of other writer’s should only make the demand higher, so I’m with you. Rowling should write. Readers should read. And we shouldn’t give up hope.

    Reply
    • According to editors on Twitter, they didn’t know who it was when it went out on submission to them, only her agent but it ended up with the same publisher as her other adult book so who knows for sure. I guess though they supported her by keeping her real name out of it when they could have made a lot more from it. I agree though getting your foot through the door is hard but hopefully talent still finds a way in and definitely we should never give up hope! She was unknown once too :)

      Reply
      • I don’t fully believe that, but even if its true, nowadays the only to get in is having an agent. You can’t tell me her agent didn’t work harder for her than for others. This is not saying anything against her agent, but the agent gains if she gets published under any name. Maybe I’m too jaded at this point, but it still seems she had an advantage. More power to her, of course. This doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be writing, but the system is skewed.

      • Oh yes definitely, you have to have an agent to get published with the big five and I’m sure hers worked really hard on it as they should! There is of course no way of knowing if it would have got published as a debut and it’s really hard for debuts to get deals and be noticed but you know she did go through that herself at the start of her career.

      • Of course you are right about that. But, I would argue that HER CAREER has changed publishing. Think about it, after Harry Potter, all of a sudden everyone is writing these magical realistic genre based series, which means an influx of not always well written works. She was, in a way, the last one to really break through a wall that became thicker because of that shift. I admire her and her journey, but I wonder if there has to be a new model because of that? Sorry, I guess I should write my own blog post about this. ;)

      • Oh definitely, when there’s a big success the market is flooded with copies e.g The Hunger Games and 50 Shades, along with copy-cat covers! I think publishing is such a gamble, no one knows what people will read so when a ooh becomes popular, there’s a sudden – quick let’s publish more like it and the trends are never predicted, no one saw Harry Potter or Twilight or 50 Shades coming. People will read what they want to read at the end of the day!

        Haha do it!! :)

  5. I think this kind of article is born from jealousy. Instead of taking the time to look at their work and make it the best they can, some authors’ reactions to rejection or lack of success is to blame successful authors. Like you say, it is extremely difficult for first time authors to get published, but determination and hard work will help them go a long way, not badmouthing successful authors.
    Great post.

    Reply
  6. What would you do with all those words if you stopped writing them down?

    Jim

    Reply
  7. I read this article the other day and I was so indignant on JKR’s behalf. How dare that writer even suggest that JKR quit writing and move over so others can have some success? It’s like telling some famous singer to stop releasing songs because they’ve already had the spotlight for a bit – stupid and ridiculous. No writer should be made to stop writing. Ever.

    Reply
    • Exactly – there will always be a few in any career that have a lot of success but it doesn’t mean others can’t breakthrough. I don’t just listen to one singer and I don’t just read one author!

      Reply
  8. Haters gonna hate. Besides, there is no guarantee that new writers would emerge if JK Rowling did stop writing and publishing books. I think if the plethora of BAD writers stepped aside and stopped cramming up the inboxes of publishers, then some newbies might have a better chance at getting published.

    (For the record, I do agree with some of the other commenters here that that article was just click-bait).

    Reply
    • That’s true – the people who read JKR might just stop reading, they may not turn to other writers! Yeah the article is obviously written to get attention, I just think it’s a shame when writers don’t support each other, this business is as hard as it is!

      Reply
  9. I would say no. I understand that alot of poeple will buy her books based on hername, but they do the same with Stephen King, Danielle Steel, and even Jon Patterson. They aren’t stopping so why shoudl she. I understand what she’s trying to do. She wants to share the room with other great authors that are being overshadowed by her name. It’s nice, but she needs to write for herself, otherwise she might miss the opportunity to “Harrypottertize” us again.

    Reply
  1. Hiding Behind a Pseudonym | Lisa A. Kramer: Woman Wielding Words

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