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Comment from the book world in August 2014

August 2014

'Vibrant, optimistic, profitable, energetic, full of very smart people'

25 August 2014

In response to one commentator, Melanie A, who said the "publishing business is corrupt, sick and almost dead", Child stated: "When you say the publishing business is corrupt, sick, and almost dead, you're completely wrong. Yes, it's cautious and careful, as a result of the recession you mention, and the changing entertainment environment you note, and contracts are certainly stricter, but it's vibrant, optimistic, profitable, energetic, full of very smart people, most of them young, most of them women, and I find it a very pleasant place to work (but then, I came from television.) No publisher I know is cheating anyone, or screwing them. I understand disappointment, and blaming the messenger and so on, and I know plenty of writers fail, but really, the institution ain't that bad.."

Explaining his appearance on the blog, ahead of flight back to the US, Child said: "I read blogs like these and comment occasionally because, yes, I really do care about these things, am endlessly fascinated by new developments in anything, and - again - feel privileged to be watching the self-publishing revolution, which I truly feel to be the biggest single radical act in arts history. Plus, I'm fascinated by the psychological dynamics on display from certain quarters ... how could a novelist not be, about any of those things?"

Lee Child, author of 19 Jack Reacher novels, including Personal, after appearing on UK's Newsnight TV programme



'The money was a bonus, really.'

18 August 2014

‘I never started writing thinking I would make a lot of money out of it. Most of the writers I knew in the early days had day jobs. When I started making a bit of money from it that was nice. When it became a full-time occupation that was lovely. So the money was a bonus, really.

Now, as a successful author, the bad news is that having been successful financially previously does not make the books any easier to write. Once you have become a No 1 bestseller then the pressure is for the next book to be a No 1 bestseller. Or at least to sell more copies than the previous book. Once you have got to a level of sales you kind of reach a plateau and pretty much the only place you are going to go is down, eventually. One can only hope that a nice long leisurely stay on the plateau is possible.'

Ian Rankin, author of Saints of the Shadow Bible and many other Rebus novels in the Sunday Telegraph

'My greatest feat is that stories will stop coming to me.'

11 August 2014

‘Crime fiction is the natural medium for writing about social justice. I used to write books about an environmental concern or a healthcare concern, but I was beginning to be tiresome, so now I tend to make those issues part of the backdrop to a crime story instead. Most of the time, so-called mainstream novels that tackle crime do it in a ponderous way, as writers fancy themselves to be Dostoyevsky...

My greatest feat is that stories will stop coming to me. I write stories that I want to tell - then find a way to add the thriller and crime elements to them. When I don't have a story, it feels very manufactured.'

Sara Paretsky, author of 16 novels including Critical Mass in the Independent on Sunday



'Ripped-off author'

4 August 2014

‘Last month, if you will excuse the self-advertisement, I published a novella as an Amazon Kindle single. A mere £1.49 to download, but already a site called is offering the thing free. Call me a spoilsport, but this ripped-off author would prefer the authorities to send a policeman with a search warrant.

The implications of this squeeze on arts world incomes will take some time to work themselves out, but essentially they will require most writers, musicians, and actors to obtain some form of patronage capable of subsidising their work. A little of this, but not a great deal, will come from the state. An equally meagre amount will hail from private sponsors. But wherever the source of the additional income, it will bring difficulties which, for most of the artists involved, will be the equivalent of pouring your creative spirit down the drain a flagon at a time. The great patron of the modern literary novelist, for instance, is the university creative writing course - a racket, most of the fellow-writers I know who teach on them generally insist, which involves saying things you don't believe in jargon you find abominable, but does at least have the advantage of paying you a salary.'

D J Taylor, columnist and author of The Windsor Faction and 10 other novels, and biographies of Thackerary and Orwell, in the Independent on Sunday

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