— Anna Maguire (@digireado) May 17, 2012
The gist of this article is that children’s authors are able to pull rock star like crowds – which is fabulous news, not just for myself as an aspiring author. It comes back to the question of what is an author’s job. To write books, duh. But how do you manage to sustain yourself, and possibly a family, while writing said books. This is not like the old days when only a few were published. As you know many a book is self published through Amazon etc, which makes your book just one tree in the forest. Have you ever noticed that people still refer to a hugely successful author as “the next JK Rowling”. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published 17 years ago, a phenomenon like that does not come around every day. Also, I think the general public would be horrified to discover how little of the cover price goes to the actual author. You must realise that there are a lot of links in the chain that gets a book from the brain to the bookshop.
So how does an author make some cash, to be able to give up the day job and keep writing. By building a brand, for more on this, please take a look at Authors and the Marketing Conundrum
A lot of authors’ work these days consists of public appearances. Many years ago now, Mal Peet spoke at a CBCA NSW International Connections dinner in which, I’ll paraphrase and possibly exaggerate, he told us:
“I became an author because I wanted to shut the door and write in privacy. Today I have spoken to 600 students at 3 schools, and am up here speaking in front of you now. Please buy my books. The CBCA will receive 10% of books sold here tonight, and so will I.”
And with the advent of piracy in the digital age, the notion that authors can write a book and kick back, living off the royalties is even more out-dated Check out the Facebook group Authors v Pirates if you want to read a real horror story. This dilemma was discussed at the #SWF2012 #Forestforthetrees seminar. I asked the panel if they thought there was anything that could be learned from the music publishing industry, to which the answer was “We can’t live off concert ticket and t-shirt sales”. Well maybe, just maybe, we can! Can you imagine a hipster walking around with Roald Dahl’s mug on his tummy? Or William Kostakis in his gym wear? He he he! I can just picture it! Oh yay for the rock star book writer in lycra.
Mum bought me gym clothes for my birthday. She’s very proud of herself. pic.twitter.com/DHY1i2xL89
— Will Kostakis (@willkostakis) June 4, 2014
As I muse in previous post, “Stories by the Digital Fireside“, the rise of social media has not lead to the decline of good literature, in fact making authors, and other fans of said literature, more accessible has obviously had a very engaging effect on the community. I was going to use the word youngsters, but if you take a look at the crowds at a literary festival you will see a great diversity of age.
I hope that, as Tristan Banck’s article alludes, we will one day see stadiums full of crowds cheering for their favourite wordsmiths (there was a National Poetry Slam entry circa 2010 who spoke about this, but unable to find the clip I have instead included one of my other favourites below)
In my future, authors will be recognised on the street, hopefully not mobbed by paparazzi, but I think we are on our way to achieving the rock star status of the article above.
I once proposed a community service announcement to promote the CBCA/Book Week in which authors briefly described their memories of book week as a child. Very sensibly, my CBCA colleagues suggested we approach footballers, actors and other celebrities to do the talking and appear in the CSA. Authors, you see, were just not cool. Ok, we maynot be totally cool yet, with the exception of Oliver Phommavahn, but thanks to the work of people like Tristan Bancks, who recently appeared on breakfast TV as an expert giving his opinion of Disney’s Frozen, we may be on our way to being, well, not-totally-uncool.