Paul Casselle 20th February 2016
There are many things that cause an uncomfortable knot in my stomach, but none more than injustice. I am not talking about the law, I am referring to people in privileged positions using their big guns to skew society’s choices for their own gain regardless of merit.
I am an independent novelist. This means that I write full-time, but do not have an agent or publisher. I write books, then let my readers judge how good they are. I strive to write the best novels I possibly can. Like thousands of other independent authors, I believe I have something interesting to say, and manage to say it in an entertaining and enlightening way.
Through the modern miracle of many online sites – mostly Amazon – we, independent writers, now have a marketplace, and the great thing about a marketplace is that anyone can set up a store and show their wares, equally. The market goers can peruse the stalls and choose of their own volition if they want what is on offer or not. That is as long as it is a free market; not skewed by powerful people with big sticks or big wallets.
For a number of years, it has been a popular belief that many aspects of society are becoming unfairly biased; Caucasians over Blacks, Heterosexuals over Homosexuals and Men over Women. Therefore, it is a logical corollary to create rules and laws to redress these inequities. But who has the objective view as to what this redress should be and how far it should go. And who believes they are clear enough to know what the correct status quo would look like?
I am not talking about nepotism or favouritism. If my dad was John Grisham I would be very happy to have his help getting my work recognised. Likewise favouritism; when I was an actor I often argued with fellow theatre people that if a director feels comfortable using the people he/she knows rather than taking a complete chance on someone totally unknown and untried, that is fine with me. The opposite of that situation would be my friend the director choosing some completely new actor over me, when both he/she and I agree that I would be perfect for the part.
The important thing is that we each have freedom of choice; that the market is open and free. Each of us has a right to make up our own minds. I believe it is wrong to legislate away or coerce other’s freedoms just because we think our opinion is the correct one. Or worse still to use a socially prominent and trusted position to cajole or enforce other people’s choices.
Just recently I noticed a new novel hitting the headlines. It is reported that this debut novel has had over 100,000 downloads on Kindle, has garnered (at the time of writing) 314 reviews on Amazon, and has been green-lighted for a movie. I can hear the jeers of ‘sour grapes’ loud and clear – thank you. If that was you I heard, I will take it on the nose. Damn right I would love to be that debut novelist! But allow me to dig a little deeper into this success.
All of the above happened in just nine days (at time of writing). Yes, just nine days. Furthermore, the 100,000 Kindle downloads are reported to have happened in just three days. I know successful writers that have been earning a good living from their books for a number of years that are still to reach 100,000 Kindle downloads on a single book.
It is simply not possible to achieve that many downloads in three days unless someone with powerful connections and a bottomless investment budget makes it so. Most of the positive reviews for this book simply talk about how good the book is, re-tell the plot or celebrate the author, but the critical reviews talk in depth about the unbelievable storyline, underdeveloped characters and how they feel they were hyped into choosing the book. It seems to me that if someone uses their industry position and large cash budget to promote a book, then they could make anything a best seller, even Dan Brown. There is no doubt that The Da Vinci Code is a fabulous story, but Mr Brown’s writing ability has made him a laughing stock, a very wealthy laughing stock – and good luck to him for that – but not a great writer. I apologise, but for me the greatness of a book should be the writing not how well marketeers can spin it to fool the public – Emperor’s New Clothes style – into making choices they would never had made in a free marketplace.
I am dedicated to writing the best books I can. I am one hundred percent behind individual, personal enterprise, and will support anyone who wants to bring their hard work to market. But more than anything, I will fight for your free choice to make your own decisions based on what you like and what you deem worthy of your money.