JK Rowling has shifted somewhere in the region of 450 million books — give or take the few thousand which have been sold since I typed the title to this blog post…oh, and the few thousand which have been sold since I typed this sentence (and obviously that’s not even mentioning the Harry Potter phenomenon of films and Harry Potter Studio Tour…). A fairly serious number which makes Stephen King look just about mildly successful by comparison.
Then there’s me, and authors/artists/poets/hopefuls like me who are just starting out on this very rocky road (it used to be lonely, but now it’s crowded with people saying God I’m lonely, are you lonely? I am). Actually, that list includes 90% of all authors, as nobody in the history of everything is anywhere near as successful as JK Rowling.
I wonder what it’s like to wake up knowing that. Being her, I mean.
I like to remind myself that JK Rowling also misses a step in the dark from time to time and feels, just for the tiniest fraction of a second, like she’s going to die and money doesn’t matter.
So, JKs done a staggering 450 million. I, on the other hand, have sold 100 paperback books of my debut novel (who knows, it may even be two more by the time you go to bed!) and a load of ebooks. Selling books on your own, as an indie author, without anyone to vouch for you in a professional capacity, is bloody hard work I can tell you. First you spend ages writing the thing, then you have to spend an equal measure of time marketing it and, more importantly, convincing people that your writing is at least reasonably good and not total crap.
After all that, what you earned in book sales in one month is spent in a single afternoon and you have nothing to really show for it.
So I won’t deny it, it’s slightly disconcerting to think that, potentially, by the time I have written this post, JK Rowling will have sold more books in this time than I will ever sell in my entire lifetime. It hurts a bit to think that even if they invent the cryogenic chamber tomorrow and manage to freeze me when I die — I’d say it’s unlikely — I will still definitely wake up in four-million years and find out that I’ve sold less than JK Rowling. Still, unlike JK Rowling, at least I’d have eternity on my side and I wouldn’t have aged, ha! Also, I’d be living in the future, which would mean I’d get to visit Mars and other planets, and romp about with sexy aliens. I don’t think you can put a price on that.
Yet with being an unknown author comes a certain freedom — one that JK once had, back before she was discovered and her books unleashed upon the world; unlike JK now, who has a universe of expectation on her shoulders — today more than ever, with the official news that she’s set to release her first adult novel soon — nobody bar my gran is expecting me to produce books which are wildly successful in any way (in fact, I have a few friends who make a point of telling me that this is a hopeless game. Fortunately I have an unhealthy amount of optimism which banishes most negative thoughts about my work, or at least a lot of the time. I do sometimes spend ages writing total crap. I’ve written 6 novels which I seriously hope never see the light of day, for example…). Right now, I own all the rights to The Number 3 Mystery Book, and I’m happy like that. I might not be selling thousands or millions of copies, but at least the fate of my novel is in my hands and my hands only, and the feedback so far has been wonderful. There’s something pretty cool about that. About knowing that I designed the cover and wrote the book and published it myself. It’s not all about monetary gain. It’s more about keeping on producing, after all, if you don’t create it, failure will be a certainty.
Still, for now at least, while I work on new writing, I can smile and be smug and know that I have written more blog posts than JK ever has or will. The number now stands at 4,000. Howdyalikethemapples, hu?
And nobody knows what the future will hold for any of us, do they? Words are organic; authors are not superstars, they’re people, miracles can and do happen frequently and the longer you hold on, the more your chances improve. I say to hell with success and wanting it all; I’m happy to just have whatever comes my way.
Did you enjoy this post? Well, if you did that pleases me! My disability-related comedy novel, The Number 3 Mystery Book is available in paperback here and from Amazon UK. If you live in the US, you can get it from Amazon US here. Thanks for reading and goodbye.