We tend to think of authors as fairly reclusive characters. The word ‘bookish’ summons up images of fairly self-absorbed, introverted characters, with a slight detachment from the real world. And from the authors I have met, I would say that is, in the most, a fairly accurate characterisation. Some were larger than life – Dickens, perhaps, and certainly Hemmingway – but they also led largely artistic careers.
Now, however, something is changing.
Authors are becoming entrepreneurs.
The books industry has changed. Even when you are published by one of the big houses – Headline in my case – you still need to do a lot of marketing of yourself to make sure your book finds an audience. You need to build a website, get on Twitter, and give talks. There is no point in expecting the publisher to do it all for you.
And, more and more authors are turning to Kindle as well. They are bringing out their own books, and promoting then themselves, either entirely on their own, or in conjunction with traditionally published books. They are in effect setting up small businesses.
One consequence, however, is that the books we all read will be increasingly produced by people who are as much entrepreneurs as writers. That may well not be a bad thing. A lot of fiction in the last half-century has been very inward-looking. It doesn’t have much of the energy and involvement in the world of Victorian fiction.
But it certainly means that the types of books that get written are going to be very different.