So, here I am, and it’s late’ish [originally written as e-mail, 3/11/2000]
And I’m still on a slight high after being at the cinema (another post to follow this one/precedes this one about that), and thought I’d ramble in the direction of the list for a while about a few things.
Why do authors publish their books?
I mean, I think I know why they write them. Creative urge, desire to express themselves, because they enjoy writing or can’t help but do it.
But why do they publish them? What is it that makes an author put their heart’s work out into the book store, in front of a hundred million potential critics?
I suppose it’s the same for any ‘creative’ activity, such as painting, music, etc.
I guess with ‘performing’ arts, they are only going to work if you have to perform for some people. However, with writing, the joy and the fun is in the writing? Why then do authors publish their work?
Non-fiction I can understand – to explain, to educate, to inform, to expand understanding and spread knowledge, to help.
And sure, fiction authors probably hope to some extent that their work might do that, but there must be more to it? It earns money, which is a good reason, and if you’re good at something and you enjoy it and it makes money, then hell, you should be doing it, right now. But is that why all authors start writing, start publishing? What about authors who can’t afford to live of their income from the writing, but they still do it?
Is it a subconscious or conscious desire for acceptance?
Is it to entertain? In the hope that their work brings others enjoyment? Isn’t that a bit vain? Is vanity an essential part of being an author?
When a musician performs live, they get a buzz, a response from the crowd, and I can see how that might be almost addictive. But when do authors get that? When they meet the fans at book signings? Perhaps, but it’s not on the same scale is it?
And they don’t know it’s going to happen, they have to publish the book first and then see if it happens?
Are they goaded into it by friends and family? “Go on, send it in, it’s good, really.”
I know it’s all of these things really, we’re to complex to do things for a single reason, but I wonder, about the authors I read, which of the reasons were at the front of their minds when they published their first book, and which were there when they published their latest one.