Around here we tend to refer to Philip Pullman as PP, because it’s more convenient, and we all know who we mean. I was very pleased to see yesterday that Philip agrees with me on hyped books and other unnatural things in the publishing world. He also seems to favour J K Rowling, surprisingly enough.
I subscribe to this children’s literature email list, which is people interested in books discussing them with each other and asking for help and ideas and anything else. And anyone can email in with their thoughts. So far I’ve only jumped in twice, and that was when someone had got things wrong, and we know how I feel about people being wrong. Unless it’s me who’s wrong…
The question this time was someone who simply wanted to know how to do good characters and good plot, and Philip suggests that she just starts writing, without thinking too much about it. Then he goes on to say:
“One other thing: you don’t need to think about marketing at all. Few people
agree with me about this, but consider: what do the marketing experts say?
“We need the next Harry Potter!” No originality, you see. Marketing people
never lead – they always follow. The person you should be emulating is the
one who thought about Harry Potter in the first place. No marketing expert
would have advised her to do that. Do exactly what you want to do, and the
marketing will take care of itself.”
Now that I’ve insulted the marketing people, the very people who send me books, I had better finish for today. But I’ve said this before, and it’s worth repeating; publishers can’t decide in advance what’s going to be a popular book. It just happens. And I hate it when it’s taken for granted that a book will be a big hit because someone said so.