The worst thing that can happen to a writer

July 6, 2020

The worst thing that can happen to writers is that nobody reads their work.  I used to get upset when I found some of my books were being pirated, but then I realised that I was getting free publicity.  Many readers, when they finish a book they have enjoyed, pass it to friends or family members.  The book often ends up in a second hand or charity shop.  Authors have no choice but to accept this, but what is unacceptable is that there are unscrupulous individuals out there who exploit the endeavours of an author for their own gain.

Sometimes a reader will not like a book and may leave an unfavourable or even a bad review.  It happens as a writer cannot please everyone and hopefully those occasions will be very few.  But at least this person will have read the book.  Of course, if it happens too much then the author must seriously rethink how they go about their trade.  A new author or even an establish author will give away free copies of a new book in exchange for a review.  It is very unusual for a reviewer to take advantage of this and sell the book on, but it can happen.

I have been surprised to find some of my books for sale online for far more money than they are advertised by my own website or reputable book stores.  There is a market for early editions, especially those signed by the author.  Some early copies of my first books, complete with typing and formatting errors, have even ended up online for exorbitant amounts.  There is nothing an author can do about this.  But it is publicity and how much income authors can loose must be offset against the free publicity they get.

Most authors earn little from selling their work.  I know very few who earn a living from their writing full time.  They write because they enjoy their craft, but above all they love to bring enjoyment to readers.  The best thing that can happen to a writer is when a reader who you have never met picks up your book and writes to you to say how much they have enjoyed it.  Those are the moments I savour.

Keith Jahans

Books that inspire writers to write

July 13, 2010

Writers are always readers first.  Novelists write fiction because they love stories and story telling.

At the foremost of these stories is the Odyssey.  It has everything action, adventure, humour and romance.  Most of all it has a fallible hero who is up against it.  I read it many times as a teenager and in my early twenties.  I have lost count how many times but it must be at least twenty years since I last read it.  I will read it again but as I get older I realise there are so many wonderful tales waiting to be read and enjoyed.

The first book I remember reading that was not a picture or comic book was “The Dog Caruso and his Master” by R. M Ballantyne.  I found it in the library at Hanham Church Primary School when I must have been nine or ten years old.

At the time westerns were the most popular genre for small boys on TV and Saturday morning cinema.  I played cowboys and Indians with my brother, sisters and friends, on my own or with toy model figures.  My imagination was often in the Wild West.

Popular on TV at that time was Champion the “Wonder Horse; a series about a boy, his cowboy uncle, his dog and the magnificent wild stallion he befriended.  Therefore it was easy for Ballantyne’s story about Dick, his bold Newfoundland dog and tamed mustang to hold me entranced.  I knew then that I wanted to know about more adventures.  I wanted to live them myself and if I could not do that I would make them up.

Keith Jahans

Editor, Peatmore Press

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