Like a distant planet with a very weak field of gravity, I seem to be accreting followers singley, as if they just happened to accidentally drift a little too close, like small lumps of matter in the vastness of space - spin-offs from heavier bodies. Welcome Anne Gramme, you little lump of matter, you.
On a book-club radio programme yesterday, I heard an author who used to live in Bath who has made millions from self-publishing. He said that it really doesn't matter if the publishers and critics think that your writing is shit, just so long as you sell the books. I know it is pretty obvious, but he has a very demonstrable point. Jack Vettriano said the same about his paintings.
There was a ruthless junk-shop dealer in Bath some years ago, who only paid pennies when he bought things from desperate people, and sold them on quite cheaply, but for many more times than he paid.
One day, someone went into his shop and snapped up a small set of chairs. They turned out - as the buyer knew - to be from the Chippendale workshop and sold for thousands at auction. I mentioned this to him one day, and he said something like, "Good luck to them. I like it when I can give people a bargain." He was lying through gritted teeth, obviously, and he reminded me of all the publishers who turned down best-sellers when they had the chance.
The successful self-publisher gave advice to would-be authors, and it was very cold, impersonal advice which seemed to have nothing to do with the content, but he had already covered that issue.
He said that most people steam through the first 18,000 words, then hit a brick wall. A few days before he was on, a writer had broadcast a whole half-hour program about his prolonged bout of 'writer's block'. He ended up - rather incestuously - writing about writing, or not writing. So he did have something he could write about after all.
I don't believe in 'writer's block'. I think that if you stop writing under pressure from agents or publishers, it is because you have nothing to write about - or worse, nothing worth writing about - and you find that you are in the same sort of boat as the rest of us, but uniquely on your own. Like an unwise choice of partner, you chose the wrong muse.
That's the difference between professionals and people like me (I would say 'us', but I know there are a few real ones in here) - if we have nothing to write about, we write about it anyway.
If you really want to be able to hold a block of bound paper with your name on the cover in your hands, I think it costs around £6 to self-publish one book, but that doesn't include getting the shops to take it. That bit must be harder work than writing it.
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