Why Everyone’s An Author Now
The Observer just ran an interesting article that confirmed my suspicions. A marketeer uploaded a fake book onto Amazon, took a photo of his foot for the cover and added it into Amazon’s format, bought three copies and was awarded a ‘Number 1 Amazon Bestseller’ banner by the company. What he did was tick two madly opposing categories that the book supposedly covered – there are sixty of them to choose from – so that technically he was number one in a field of three.
It’s incredible how many authors feel threatened by Amazon and outraged by the idea of non-professional authors writing. I don’t. I think anything that gets people writing is a good thing, and there are those who through writing will discover a skill in themselves.
Back in the 1980s everyone was panicked by the idea that video would destroy cinema – it didn’t; after the early days of plunging box office admissions video eventually grew the market and encouraged it. In my neighbourhood alone we’ve gained arthouse screens, indie cinemas, rep houses and too many pop-up cinemas to count.
In books, hardbacks are having a resurgence and people are reading more. The problem remains that the young have too many other distractions, but many discover a love of reading as they get older. So let them read – and write – but there’s no quick fix. I live opposite the film director Mike Figgis, and his partner is a concert pianist. Yesterday she sat down at her piano first thing – and was still there at ten o’clock last night. I get it – this is exactly what you have to do.
I started yesterday at 6:00am and finished at 9:00pm – this is quite normal. On the flipside of this I have a friend who tells everyone he’s a writer but to my knowledge has no interest at all in putting in the hours, and has never produced anything. Rather, he likes the idea of being a writer, a bit like kids who decide they’ll go on a talent show and sing. But the real pleasure of writing is to see a well-turned phrase or look at the shape of your finished work. You don’t become a writer to get dates. In my experience, writers usually work without a readership in mind.
So everyone’s a writer now? Maybe. Not everyone will put in the sheer hard graft to become a halfway decent one. But those who do will find it a very satisfying vocation.