Do You think J K Rowling should stop #Writing ?

So this is my plea to JK Rowling. Remember what it was like when The Cuckoo’s Calling had only sold a few boxes and think about those of us who are stuck there, because we can’t wave a wand and turn our books into overnight bestsellers merely by saying the magic word. By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure – I would never deny anyone that – but when it comes to the adult market you’ve had your turn. Enjoy your vast fortune and the good you’re doing with it, luxuriate in the love of your legions of fans, and good luck to you on both counts. But it’s time to give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe.”

J K Rowling Lynn Shepherd
J K Rowling Image via Daniel Ogren

This is what I read on my feed this morning. Curious, because the link was to Hufftington Post, I clicked  through to the article. Lynn Shepherd basically says that she hasn’t read a word of Potter, but since Rowling, just by virtue of her fame alone, can turn a non-seller to a mega-bestseller, she should stop writing.

I’d like to say a few things to Lynn Shepherd, who I understand is a literary mystery writer. I’d like you guys to tell me if you disagree/ agree with any/ all of it.

Dear Lynn Shepherd,

1. Writing is like golf, you’re your only competitor. Someone else’s success doesn’t automatically ensure your failure. If you are a writer, it’s because you have a story to tell. What other reason is there? How does someone else selling a gazillion copies play into it?

2.  It wasn’t just that the hype was drearily excessive, or that (by all accounts) the novel was no masterpiece and yet sold by the hundredweight, it was the way it crowded out everything else, however good, however worthwhile. That book sucked the oxygen from the entire publishing and reading atmosphere. And I chose that analogy quite deliberately, because I think that sort of monopoly can make it next to impossible for anything else to survive, let alone thrive.”

The publication of a mega best seller actually helps the ecology of writing: it draws more folks into reading, it encourages publishers to take more chances because their pockets are deeper.

3.    By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure – I would never deny anyone that – but when it comes to the adult market you’ve had your turn.”

Writing for children is way harder than writing for adults. So stop patronizing those who write Children’s fiction or YA. Or maybe try writing some.

4. If you’re going to ask an author to stop publishing her writing, you should have read at least one of her books. She worked hard at writing those novels– and kept writing despite adversities.

5. When Rowling first broke into the industry, there were mega-sellers before her. That didn’t prevent her from selling. Amanda Hocking self-published her way to stardom, this was post-Rowling. So, there’s enough oxygen for all of us to breathe.

6. Rowling didn’t expect to sell at all, her agent told her she wouldn’t make any money. She was rejected by 12 publishers. I met one of them, and his fave dinner story was his tragedy of rejecting Rowling. No one knows what will make a book sell, so it is pointless to accuse a more successful colleague of your failure.

Could the Potter books use a better editor? Definitely. Would we have had less of a noise about The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling if it weren’t for the hallowed Rowling name? Absolutely.

Does Rowling’s work have as much literary merit as Alice Munro or Toni Morrison or Franz Kafka or Ernest Hemingway or Amy Hempel or Lydia Davis?

In my own, very subjective opinion? 

Possibly not. (I have read all these authors, and worship all of them. I loved reading Rowling as well and have read all the Potters, and The Cuckoo’s Calling.)

But does JK Rowling have the right to write whatever she wants, when she wants, and publish it? Hell, yeah.

As long as she has a story to tell, in my not so humble opinion, she should be able to tell it. At the end of the day, that’s why a writer writes at the core of it all, in order to write. Not to please other writers (All Nobel Laureates should stop writing, then). Not even to please readers. (Stephen King would stop writing too, in that case, because his readers are happy).

As a writer, dear Lynn Shepherd, I don’t understand those in my profession who want to pull their colleagues down. And how do you think this article of yours is going to win over more readers and writers to your side?



Do You, dear reader, think JK Rowling should stop writing just because she sells a gazillion copies with each book she writes? Does Shepherd’s article have anything to do with rumors of a seven-part crime series from Rowling?


Add Yours
  1. gentlekindness

    Excellent editorial. I love the Harry Potter stories.
    And of course you are right, no one has a right to say anything about someone’s writing without knowing their books.

    Some people just want to crush down someone else’s self esteem for their own agenda and for fun.

    Some critics feel glorified by crushing people down. It is not the side of human nature that makes me want to be associated with the human race.



  2. shanechall

    I have to spread this around, because I’d gladly rather draw attention to a well-reasoned rebuttal than give the original article any more attention (I’ve no doubt it’s gathered enough). Thank you for standing up against these bitter, negative accusations against an author who has injected energy into the lives of so many young adults in my generation.


  3. Catastrophe Jones

    I could probably talk about this for years. I will try to sum up:

    1. Lynn Shepherd is likely either thrilled for the press (no press is bad press, it has been proven) or so humiliated she wishes the internet had a better ‘delete’ button
    2. She was wrong — so unfathomably wrong it kind of embarrasses me
    3. Writers write to write. They just do.
    4. To complain that someone else should get off the stage so ‘other people’ can have more air time is at best, childish and greedy, at worst, of appallingly poor taste. It reeks of sour grapes and the kind of arrogance that only the most selfish can have.
    5. I hope to god I never stick my foot that far in my mouth.


  4. sbjamestheauthor

    Reblogged this on S B James and commented:
    I had first read this article that Damyanti is talking about on Huffington Post. I still think the whole article was more “click bait” than anything else. However, since the premise of the article was so egregious, and since I LOVED the responses from this blogger, I decided to reblog it here.


  5. Rinki Debnath (@V_RinkiD_V)

    I agree with you completely. I am a recent blogger and wish to write up a book someday, but that would definitely not mean sabotaging the reputation of other writers. And to be known out there You have to put in your best foot and wait for people to appreciate your work. If your book fails, it is not because some other author wrote a brilliant story and his/her book was a bestseller but because you failed to engross your readers into the story, into the world you created.
    My blog link is , I hope you view it and provide me with you valuable insight, so that I can improve and deliver better.

    Thanking you,
    Rinki Debnath


  6. Sandhya Menon

    Well said! JK Rowling definitely should write write and write. HarryPotter, the thought of it makes us so excited isn’t it? Writing for children is very hard than for adults. I totally agree!! And not to forget, she had a pen name when she wrote The Cuckoo’s calling and it was one of the best selling novels even before the JK rowling’s identity was revealed!!


  7. blessmyjourney

    Hmmm I ‘ve complete series of potter, but I’ve only read couple of pages and left out. It’s not that I’m not interest. But the movies pretty much describe for me. But then my sister told me, the movie is very far away from the book, and I should read it! So since you write quite interest me about JK, I consider to continue reading it again. Thank you for sharing Damyanti :)


  8. Brittany Tenpenny

    Rowling should not stop writing. I think the world of literature is big enough to accommodate everyone. If Ms. Shepherd has a problem with authors taking all the glory, shouldn’t she have come after James Patterson, who has a novel out every month? Everyone should continue writing no matter what.


  9. Christopher Peter

    Broadly I agree with you. Of course we shouldn’t seek to stop anyone writing, even if we could. And I have a lot of respect for JKR – yes she’s a major celebrity and ridiculously successful, but she’s what I would call a real writer. It’s what she does, it’s how she became famous in the first place. She’s not some actor or reality TV star who grabbed an easy publishing deal on the strength of existing fame in a completely different field rather than off the back of any real hard work or talent in writing (I confess that’s one of my pet hates as my recent rant about an 80s pop star made plain).

    And yet I can see where Lynn Shephered was coming from, to some degree at least, even if I wouldn’t have expressed it the way she did. Of course it’s true that JKR’s success does not prevent others finding success of their own, albeit almost certainly on a far more modest scale. Her example can be an inspiring one. On the other hand, her continued stellar success, her ability to shift truckloads of books on her name alone, is symptomatic of a chronic and steadily growing reliance of the publishing industry on the established brand, the sure bet. The whole Cuckoo’s Calling saga underlined that fact, as if it needed to be. And hence the willingness of the publishers to publish anything that seems to have a ready-made audience, rather than take more risks on unknown talent. Yes, new talent does still break through, and I’m sure there are enough people in the industry who understand that they need to be unearthing the JKRs of tomorrow, not just milking the ones of today. (Which of course is much easier said than done – just ask all the publishers who rejected the first Harry Potter book.) And I get the fact that publishing is a business and that revenue from star authors like JKR can be invested in less-known prospects – it’s just that I suspect that not a great deal is in reality.


  10. Nathaniel Dean James

    This is a tough one. I can understand where Lynn is coming from, And it’s obvious that she isn’t complaining here about any disadvantage to her own work, which belongs to a genre that is probably alien territory to most Rowling fans. But I think the assumption that the column inches and the book displays would have reverted by default to better or “more deserving” authors is maybe a little presumptuous I remember making my way through the Harry Potter books. Not because I found them particularly riveting, but because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I also picked up a copy of the Casual Vacancy for the same reason, but managed only a few chapters. As for whether or not Rowling should stop writing outside her debut genre, the question is moot. I also think that making an appeal to Rowling personally is a slight of hand that should not be lost on those reading the article. Rowling didn’t self-publish any of her books. If Lynn thinks there is a genuine case for tempering the ambitions of a fellow published author, maybe she should take it up with the board over at Bloomsbury, who I’m sure will take her views into careful consideration before committing the company to another book deal with its highest earning author. . .


  11. nibirdeka

    The bitter fact is how so called intellectuals look down upon writers who write children fiction. I remember my english teacher telling me that ‘The’ is not used before children fiction like Alice in the Wonderland, Harry Potter. So JK may have subjected towards that mentality that her writings are more famous that the real worth. As for the blog, I completely agree with you. Anybody can write if one’s got a story to tell,


  12. shegyes

    When I first read the article on the Huffington Post, I though, “Surely, these comments were made in satire. Surely this was supposed to be like ‘A Modest Proposal’.” When I discovered that was not the case, I was horrified that another author would think those things, much less say them aloud. It’s one thing to be jealous and think that you wish another author would stop writing (even though you really don’t), but it’s a completely new ball game to say it aloud and not expect people to be angry about it. I believe your response hit the issue dead on. Thanks for writing this.


  13. Joe Perrone Jr.

    I totally agree with you! That writer’s premise was ludicrous. I had one of my books, As the Twig is Bent, reach #24 best seller in the Kindle book store in 2007, and no one (believe me, not one person) had ever heard of me before. J.K. Rowling serves as an inspiration to me, and does not represent “competition.” Your golf analogy was “write” on! My wife is nearly finished writing her first children’s book, and I can tell you that she has worked her butt off constructing a story and characters that children can relate to. I’d never have the courage to write a children’s book. I wish J.K. Rowling all the continued success she can have (she’s earned it).


  14. Zienna Lorren

    I agree with you,We Patterson! I have never read a Potter book. I bought the entire set for my daughter which daunted me because she read it again and again and still reading it in her spare time. I thought doing it would make her more cluey in her spelling and writing competition. But for the past two years from getting a high distinction in writing, spelling and her english competition test, all she’s getting now is a participation. I’m not saying the book is not good. I like it simply because I couldn’t stand bullying

    In my opinion, as the bible said and I quote” the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.’ Unquote. Why? Because the rich never have the time to procrastinate others. All their thinking is how to accumulate more wealth, thereby using their thinking to what else they can do to better themselves. While the poor continued to sour grape and beating their hearts for the things they don’t have. And worst, blame God for it all the time. I grew up remembering my religion teacher words everyday in our class. God help those who help themselves, do not blame anyone for your shortcomings because you brought that upon yourself.

    I believe everyone is a writer and to each its own. YOUR TIME TO SHINE WILL COME. Hell! I want to become a writer too, but I don’t even know how to start. Nevertheless, if she’s really so worried about ther writing that no one will read it, for J.K. Rowling had it all. Remember there is always a place for everyone, as God had said there is always a place for us in heaven. So master your craft and you will be put on the right pedestal.

    Instead of telling her to stop writing, why don’t she start creating her own masterpiece. THINK HARD. Do not give J.K. Rowling even a millisecond of her time. Or maybe she can start and think of writing a 200 pages story as to HOW J.K ROWLING RUINED HER ABILITY TO WRITE…There! that’s a start. People love reading stories about underdogs. Make the characters really sad and pathetic and it can be turned into a movie.

    I’m not a writer but as I can see it now J. K. Rowling positioned herself to writing stories that are really good for a movie material. She better head into that direction too instead of stopping her. for no one can stop her now. HER TIME TO SHINE HAS COME and the next one is nearly there. Who knows it could be her and yet she got side-tracked again.


  15. W E Patterson

    I have never read a Potter book, and don’t plan to. But the mere suggestion that anyone should have to give up their profession simply because they have succeeded at it rubs me the wrong way. Maybe the Beatles should have given up the music business in the mid-sixties because they had achieved a great deal of success. Any writer who begrudges this lady success is simply sour grapes.


  16. c2iowa

    I agree with your position with some reservation. I have read each of the books in the Potter series; twice actually. Oppression and suppression share a common battlefield with few contrasts. Is the Harry Potter series worthy of distinction as Shakespeare, Hemingway, and dare I say — Tolkien? Time will tell. I have the belief that literature is created to engage an audience, share a message, or provide an escape from the grind of life. This is evident by the many different genres and blends of genres utilized by writers.

    I ask only one question — regardless of the genre; should the quality of a work be based upon its impact on a single reader, revenues generated, or its total impact on society? We each have our own answers to this question. All are correct responses based upon our backgrounds and experiences.

    Well done post.


  17. Louise B. Leger

    I would definitely NOT say she “waved her magic want” and got her book published as this lady worded it! Anyone who knows anything of her story knows that she struggled for a very long time before she became a success. Rowling earned every bit of her success


I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !

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