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. https://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Locke’s admission that he doesn’t consider himself an exceptional fiction writer reminded me of an unpublished writer friend who told me a couple of years ago she wanted to write fiction to make money.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.