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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?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • 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.


  • shanechall says:

    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.

  • ritzy182000 says:

    At times, failure or lack of success to be precise can make lesser known writers look for an outburst. Rowling is the writer’s scapegoat.

  • liamiman says:

    Well said!

  • alkaplan says:

    Excellent post. Writing comes from the heart and no one should every be discouraged to create. That’s like withholding food from a starving person.

  • Awesome blog and I agree with you. She is a writer and brings people to reading…our books, hopefully! Thanks for your visit and your follow. I look forward reading your blogs.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Great question whiçh brings to mind Julia Cameto ‘s book ” The right to Write”. Something everyhuman has a right to do, successful witer or novice.

  • craiglock says:

    Reblogged this on Craig's Writing Articles.

  • 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

  • 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!!

  • 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 🙂

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Great piece.

  • 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. . .

  • nibirdeka says:

    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,

  • shegyes says:

    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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Barbara Ann says:

    Excellent points! Well said.

  • 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.

  • c2iowa says:

    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.

  • 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

  • Agree with you!

  • valeriantea says:

    Reblogged this on Life and commented:
    So true. Thank you. I agree.
    We should all do our best and not blame someone else.

  • To a writer, wrting is like breathing. We write because we have to write. Not for book sales, although, to sell is a concrete way to receive validation. It is not the validation, or the sell, or the accolates, that drive us to write. We write because we breath.

    As a writer, I choose to compare and challenge myself to do better and I use my own works to drive me. Do I read others works? Absolutely. Do I want to be J. K. Rowlings or Hemingway or any one of the others thousands of writers who have lived and breathed before me. Absolutely, no!

    I have a story to tell. Actually, I have lots of stories to tell. And they are all unique and different. And they are all mine.

    So J. K. you just keep on writing and creating. I’ll do the same. And If I should ever get so talented as to knock elbows with one or your books, I’m not going to begrude the shelf space that you inhabit. I’m going to be to busy smiling at my little neck of the woods.

  • syvarnam says:

    It’s easy to feel defensive and territorial in the arts scene, but that ends up just resulting in no connections (which is never good in the arts or any other business venture). The need for connections and mutual support is a large part of why I run The Quilliad and Apple of my Odd Eye. By supporting other writers and artists, I get to know them, work with them, and find wider audiences (it’s also a nice way to combat the bullshit of unpaid internships and the “paid with exposure” economic virus). Plus, I think as much as you’ve said writers write TO WRITE, readers read the same way. It’s about quality of experience, not meeting a quota and then stopping.

    And anyway, Harry Potter is a fun read. 🙂

    P.S. Thanks for the like and follow on Apple of my Odd Eye.

  • theapplestar says:

    I can’t tell you how hard i’ve been laughing and being confused for laughing for a few minutes now after reading what she said.

  • I had no interest, and heard no buzz on her adult novel, but, I am a Harry Potter loving freak. I am hoping her kids need an island or something so she write a sequel series to Potter. That’s my hope and dream.

  • My theory is that her knickers have been in a twist since she found out that Snape killed Dumbledore. Of course J.K. Rowling should continue writing! I think Ms. Shepard is talking about a brand without realizing that the brand is nothing without the writing. How sad would it be if Rowling writes only those Harry Potter books and that’s it. It’d be like if Vonnegut stopped Sirens of Titan, or Dickens never wrote past Bleak House. Or Salinger never got past…well, never mind, you get the point. Let a writer write.

  • wolfennacht says:

    If she finally gets the mainstream success that she’s so envious of, will she stop publishing? I don’t think so. As a writer myself, I can almost appreciate in theory what she’s saying, but what kind of writer would begrudge a fellow author their success? Sounds to me like she’s writing for the wrong reasons herself; of course it’s nice to be successful and frustrating to get there, but ultimately shouldn’t we be writing because we have stories to tell, not books to sell?

    • wolfennacht says:

      P.S.: If we can make money telling our stories and getting them out there to touch people’s lives, why would we not take that chance? Publishing is not all about the money and sales, but getting your work out there to people, which is important to many authors, perhaps the most important part for their writing.

  • J.R.Barker says:

    What a strange POV to have. Then again some people always need to pin the blame on someone else.

  • matheikal says:

    I read only one book of Rowling and my view on it is here:
    I didn’t like it much, in short.

    I enjoyed the Potter movies more.

    But Rowling is free to write what she wants, it’s and should be her choice.

  • fikayo says:

    It is surprising that a writer would tell another writer to stop writing. Writing is what makes life worth living for a writer.

  • writefitz says:

    Agree completely. When I read about Rowling publishing Cuckoo’s Calling under a pseudonym, I thought that was an amazing and bold move. Obviously she wanted to see her book published on it’s literary merit rather than her famous name.

  • ladydevz says:

    I agree completely!!!! Lynn sounds like a sore loser!

  • A writer is to write a story, not to sell the copies. Most of us dont write half as good as Rowling, and nothing can stop us from writing.

    And Damyanti, so many comments on the post, awesome

  • Nathan Dulce says:

    Hi Damyanti,

    It pains me to think that one would think that others should curb their creativity and ‘step down’ in order for them to succeed. Writing is not politics; it’s an expression of one’s thoughts, and expression is a basic right.

    Lynn Shepherd has obviously gotten it all wrong and to me it seems that she has thinks that the reason for her failure is somebody else’s success; she has gotten it all mixed up.

  • bringreaner says:

    Ugh thank you for writing this! I felt the same way when I read this. It was so unnecessary and unnecessarily mean. The idea of ‘being done’ when you’ve sold a certain amount of copies is ridiculous.

  • smilingldsgirl says:

    I think the Huffington Post will now publish anyone’s rants no matter how silly.

  • smilingldsgirl says:

    This is so ridiculous. It’s like if we said only compete in one Olympics because other people need a shot at a gold. It’s just nuts.

  • Writing for children is all the more difficult ..because one can be never sure that playing which chord would appeal them most. I’ve read every book of the HP series and often lamented over the fact that she was not there when I was a little girl.

    As far as Shepherd’s comment is concerned…..I surmise that it is sheer jealousy…

  • no she should not. If she has any other fascinating character in her mind other than Harry Potter she must create a fantasy story around it.

  • teresazz2 says:

    I do truly agree with you all the way. I also agree that if Lynn Shepherd feels this way about Rowling, then I know I have no desire to ever read any of her writings. As you said we should not be putting each other down but if anything encouraging each other. Maybe she should read Rowling’s books. She might learn from her.

  • Natasha O says:

    I’ve read Shepard’s reply, and so I understand what she was attempting to communicate.

    Sigh, the problem with her piece is that it will always sound like sour grapes. Even if that wasn’t her intent.
    Yes, before everyone knew that JKR had written a crime novel, it had only modest sales, but (and here’s the rub), when you have a success like JKR has, the reward is faithful readers who will buy your book on name alone. She’s earned that right.

    And yes! It does seem frustratingly unfair when an author’s book doesn’t sell well on merit alone, but then when the general public realizes it was written by some famous author it all of a sudden becomes a top seller. But that’s not her fault. It’s no one’s fault. It’s life. It’s why CSI Miami and NY were immediate hits. We follow what works, what has once brought us joy and happiness. We hope for a repeat.

    And the sucking out the air comment… Again, yes, it did. Whether it was a well-executed marketing strategy or simply the way things played out, again, this is how it works! A former grad school teacher of mine launched her debut novel on Sept 10, 2001! Now that sucks!

    There are simply some things outside of our control, and so all those (debut) crime novels who we’re being reviewed and were going to get front page write-ups in the book section of newspapers and blogs were “backpaged” or “postponed” or simply forgotten bc the world realized that JKR had written another novel, under a pseudonym, and that’s news! It’s news that will sell.

    So I guess I understand where Shepard is coming from, but this is a business, and based on my understanding of Shepard’s piece, she reacted on emotion and didn’t think her comments through thoroughly.

  • Tom says:

    Before I respond to your article my friend, I must first of all say a sincere ‘thank you’ for Tweeting the review ‘Echoesofthepen wrote on my novel, ‘Beyond The Law’. Thank you also for ReTweeting my piece of Flash Fiction today – ‘Silent Witnesses’.
    Now, to that rather insightful, and if I may say, restrained review of Lynn Shepherd’s opinions … because that is all they are. I’m inclined to go along with your findings 100%.
    I’ve never read any of JKR’s work, but I’ve seen a couple of the Harry Potter movies. She is undoubtedly one of the greatest writing talents we’ve ever produced – irrespective of the genre. The job we have as writers, is to suspend belief for the reader. I think that just about sums it up for JKR’s ability as a writer.
    I would also agree with your later comment, re: the possibility that Ms. Shepherd is climbing over somebody else for her own ends. Hopefully anyone with more than two brain cells will see what she’s up to – and give her a wide berth. See how successful she is then.
    I’ll be back in the next day or two to catch up with you. I’m so deep in my own next novel I’ve forgotten what the real world is doing! LOL.

  • Word up.

  • I would cry if Rowling just stopped. I have read the Potter series as well as The Cuckoo’s Calling. I didn’t pick up The Casual Vacancy because I heard it wasn’t great. I read the Potter books because I related to the character as I was exactly his age each time a book came out. It is my childhood. The only reason I read Cuckoo’s Calling is because my mother said it was great. And it was. And guess what, it’s not because of the name. It’s because she has a way of making me feel as if I’m in the book with her the way she describes setting. I think that is her strongest skill as a writer. From page one of her latest book, I felt familiar with murder even though I have not committed one, nor do I watch or read murder mysteries. It is not okay to tell any writer to stop writing. Lynn Shepherd included. I read what people like or what sounds good to me. It is in now way Rowling’s fault that her books are so well accepted. She was sitting on a bus one morning and decided to write a story about a boy with magic. And viola. Isn’t this what we all do? Sit somewhere or walk and think “Oh! I have an idea!” Rowling got famous because her books were amazing. Lynn Shepherd, you can too.

  • JW Najarian says:

    One thing I found really interesting was this story by the Hollywood Reporter that showed sales of JK Rowlings book vs Arnold Schwarzenegger and a couple of other books including Osama Bin Ladin Seal Team Six and Neil Youngs book.

    The same week out of the gate Arnold did appearances on every major talk show and his PR people had him show at every major event to create buzz and sales… His sales were a dismal 21,000 copies in the first week. JK Rowling did very little press for her release and sold 350,000 in six days!. No Easy Day, a Navy SEAL’s account of the death of Osama Bin Laden, which was the biggest nonfiction debut of the year, moved 254,000 copies its first week and Neil Young’s sales were around 27,000 copies in the first two weeks along with Penny Marshal’s book which sold around 6,000 copies…

    Sooooo this means people like and want JK to write and there is room for others to do as well at the same time. Also, having a huge name and tons of PR still won’t sell your book if no one likes you or have forgotten you.

  • Ali Stegert says:

    While I agree with you and the comments, I’d like to toss one thought into the ring. Imagine having a book finally ready to go to market after years of toil–ink, sweat and tears. And on the day (or even week–or month) of your launch a JK Rowling book is released. Total eclipse. Remember when Mother Theresa passed away? It was in the almighty shadow of princess Diana’s death. That saintly, deserving woman missed out on the lion’s share of the honour she deserved because the media was in a complete tizzy over the royal tragedy. I think Lyn Shepherd might be feeling this kind of frustration. Like all writers, she’ll buck up and get back to it after a good rant. I bet she’s banging out prose already.

    • JW Najarian says:

      Ali I liked your comment because I love when someone looks for the silver lining and not just the dark cloud. Thanks for taking a look at things from the other side and sharing that with us.

    • Damyanti says:

      Ali, I hope that’s what Lynn is doing, and thank you for voicing what you felt.

      None of us are saints, and it is quite possible for all of us to feel frustrated, even envious, when something like what you described happens. But that’s what your best friends are for– someone you can rant out to and feel safe.

      As a writer, one of things we also do is become a public figure. Lynn Shepherd is a public figure writing on a public platform. Had she chosen to speak about her insecurities in a better way– not been condescending to Rowling’s readers, put in a word about at least some positive aspect of the whole situation, and not asked Rowling to ‘stop writing’ I’m sure she would have had more sympathetic ears than she does now.

      Riling up Rowling fans hasn’t helped her– they have all gone on a rampage over Shepherd’s books and given them 1-star reviews everywhere. Not cool of them, but it just goes to prove the sort of emotions Rowling has evoked in an entire generation of readers.

      I do not support folks who have taken to lynching Shepherd, but a little more empathy, tact, and positivity in her article would possibly have won Shepherd pats on the back and not brickbats.

      Anyway, I for one will not boycott Shepherd’s books due to this one article, and wish her all the best. She has now apologized for her article:

      I think we ought to be gracious and let bygones be bygones.

      • Ali Stegert says:

        Thanks for including the link to the apology. I don’t envy her being in the bad books of Rowling’s fans! I agree with you–rants best vented in private! Thanks for a very interesting discussion.

  • sandradan1 says:

    You are absolutely right, no-one can tell anyone else to stop writing! SD

  • Maybe the intent, in the first place, was to start an ignited discourse around it!

  • Cimmorene says:

    Speaking as a writer, I can sympathize with the sentiment expressed by Lynn. I can’t count the number of stories I’ve published on Cimmy’s stories and not gotten the response other writers were getting. Aussa Lorenz just got over 400 responses on her blog and she doesn’t even write fiction. To my knowledge, nothing I’ve ever written has ever been so popular.
    However, not once in all the years I’ve spent in writing stories have I so much as thought I might be more popular if Aussa stopped writing. Nor would I ever consider writing such a post as the one Lynn wrote asking her to make room so “other writers” material could breathe. Instead, I am one of her most avid followers. I read what she writes and try to emulate it in my own writing. In short, Lynn, you can’t make Ms. Rowling quit writing, but you can learn from her. That’s what any good storyteller would do.

  • altheasarah says:

    I totally agree with all your points Damyanti! I love this post! 🙂

  • lawrenceez says:

    Very good article.

    Stop writing? I don’t think anyone has the right to tell JK Rowling (or any other writer, published or otherwise) to do that.

  • I would gladly defend anyone’s right to publish. It’s understandable to be envious of someone’s success but that should be the driver to achieve rather than an excuse for failure.

    Sure, we’d all ultimately like to make a living from writing so we can devote more time to it, but I suspect for most it’s not about the money. If we have stories to tell we should tell them, experiences to share we should share them.

    Readers don’t read just one book a year, some get through one a day. Even in the presence of the most prolific writers, that leaves plenty of room for everyone to contribute.

  • Peter Nena says:

    Ms. Shepherd is wrong. One writer must not discourage the other. Almost all writers share similar experience in the industry. To discourage, or berate, the other is abominable. A writer writes because she/he has a story to tell, whether intended for children, young adults, or adults. A writer has freedom to choose his/her own theme, style, audience, et cetera. He/she cannot be forced onto any of these; such as Ms Shepherd declares that Rowling should continue to write for children. I wonder if Ms. Shepherd is inspired by jealousy; if so she need not be. As Damyanti says, there is enough oxygen for everyone. There were bestsellers before Rowling; there will always be.

  • Peace Jaway says:

    Reblogged this on Moments of Awareness and commented:
    No, I don’t think J. K. Rowling should stop writing. And I think Damyanti sums up the why quite well.

  • leesha0304 says:

    Wow. I can’t believe that one writer would ever tell another writer to stop writing – for any reason. All writers share a common bond – to create and share. No one should be jealous of someone else’s success.

    What Shepherd fails to realize, is that Rowling’s books got a whole generation to be excited about reading. And any author that introduces people to the love of reading should be celebrated and thanked, as some of her readers may one day be your readers too.

  • I’m not sure I see the argument Ms Shepherd was trying to make. The way I look at it, the success of Harry Potter encouraged a lot of people who didn’t normally read to start, and once they got through Rowling’s series they were still interested in reading, and that meant they went in search of more books. That is clearly a good thing, for Rowling, and for every other author out there, including myself.
    Assuming Rowling did take the advice given and stop writing because he has been TOO successful at her chosen career, it doesn’t mean anyone else’s books are suddenly going to start selling better.
    Perhaps MS Shepherd should try and work out why she has never done as well as Rowling, and see if there is something deficient in her writing before she criticises anyone else.

  • Great points. It irked me to no end when that article said about adults reading children’s books. I love YA and I’m in my thirties. When I was in my twenties, it was a YA that got me back into reading. Just think of how many future readers might not pick up a book again if JK Rowling actually listened and stopped writing… wait, I’d rather not imagine that. Thanks to all the writers who get people reading.

  • Miss Alister says:

    I think giving energy to either side of this issue is fueling futility. Writers are free to write whatever they want and publishers are free to publish whatever they want.

  • MELewis says:

    Couldn’t agree more (and I was not a fan of The Casual Vacancy). Sour grapes, I’m afraid, from the HuffPost writer. Thanks for putting her in her place!

  • dleboot says:

    Excellent! There is no shame in Rowling trying a new market. She’s allowed to write whatever she wants to write, just like everyone else.

  • Interesting post: J.K. is certainly making the news this month. There is no debate, really. The only person who can make this decision is Rowling. To write or not to write is a personal one.

  • Kim G says:

    Sheesh! I’d be embarrassed to be quoted saying what Lynn Shepherd wrote herself with a fully-attributable by-line. Right? She basically came out and screamed to the world, “JK Rowling, Please Stop!!! I can’t compete!!!!” You wonder when she’s going to wake up and hate herself for having written something so cringe-worthy.

    I don’t imagine that’s going to do much for her sales, either. Besides, writing’s one of those things that if you go into it for the money, you’re fool. But if you love it, who cares what other people write?

    Finally, it’s got to be easier than ever for an author to attract and audience and get published. You can self-publish. You can create your own blog and website. You can do email marketing and distribution. You can set up a Facebook page. You can tweet. And things like Kindle lower the breakeven level of sales for anything published, with no remainders, no returns (at least from the bookstores), and infinite capacity.

    So it’s rather a shame that Ms Shepherd is trying to get a wonderful author to stop publishing. Who’s her next target? Anne Rice? Stephen King? Nora Roberts? Dan Browne?


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’re thrilled people actually read our blog.

  • marlainagray says:

    This was well said, and I have less respect for HuffPo for publishing this woman’s verbal tantrum. And frankly, all of my favorite writers have crossed genres at some point or another — Neil Gaiman, for instance, started out writing horror/dark fantasy comic books, and now he’s a respected novelist who also writes award-winning children’s books.

    I can’t help but think the writer wouldn’t have taken such a potshot at a male author.

  • Should she stop writing? No, that is her choice. That would be like telling the Rolling Stones to stop playing.

    Have I read a sentence of her work? No, it hasn’t appealed to me.

    Is she suffocating a market? Possibly, but not through her direct actions. What writers seem to gloss over is the book world is still business. Economics run the scene, if only by those want to profit. Readers only have so much recreational time in a lifetime, reading base is not what it used to be, and there are plenty of books out there. If everyone’s paying attention to Harry Potter, the next classic piece of literature could be shoved in reject pile. We then expect an author to face multiple rejections, because of “marketability” issues, which is barbaric in practice. Sometimes it ends in suicide, such with John Kennedy Toole. He might have written more for people had it not been a matter of economic viability.

    We all want to see an underdog win, but we also need to ask ourselves if we’re taking rugged individualism a bit too far.

    • dweezer19 says:

      Thank you for your comment here. I was about to post again, simply regarding the fact that I was wondering if perhaps she was referring to things more from a publishing aspect. I know that when I first decided to try and get my novel published, I went the traditional route. While I know my piece may not be classic (to me it is of course. ; ) I at least felt it worthy of a read. Publisher’s these days want guaranteed profit to back any book, even the smallest publishers many times. Or they want the author to foot the expenses, do all the PR work and promise to buy the first 100 copies themselves! Enter an author who has already sold millions of copies of not one, but a series of books that have also been made into blockbuster movies, and who do you think they are going to back? Of course none of this is Rowling’s fault. I stand by my word that no one should be told when or about what they can write. I lay this more on the shoulders of the publishers who, like everyone else out there today it seems, only want a “sure thing”. Nothing visionary, no. Just cash in the bank. I don’t care if this has become a book “business”. Long ago it was about supporting a wonderful piece of writing. There are cash cow books out there that I couldn’t get past the first two pages. REALLY. And I am officially apologizing to all Twilight fans when I say it was no literary genius. Enough said. I’ll go back to my corner now, writing in the shadows, happily. :))

  • shoreacres says:

    Honestly. Shepard sounds like a whiney little kid, who doesn’t think it’s “fair” that someone else has all the candy. Grow up, and put your energy to better use. If you want someone to read your work, build an audience and produce something of value.

  • Carolyn says:

    Your points are made from a balanced ego, unlike anyone who would want Rowling to stop writing. Jealousy and envy have clouded Shepard’s thinking, along with a narrow understanding of success as a finite and scarce commodity. Thank you for the clarity!

  • I think you managed to cover all the points with aplomb! Totally agree.
    Susan x

  • indigobunting says:

    Brilliant, Damyanti.

  • timbukturoo says:

    well-said!! i completely agree with you. as a reader, i could never get into the HP series, but as a writer, i applaud and admire rowling. i am sure we could all take tips from her success and hard work. i think the most absurd part of this article is that she has never even read rowling’s work..what?! i honestly think she is just jealous and trying to stir the pot to get some attention herself, however negative it may be.

  • I think that so called writer is an atrocious troll that needs to attend IWSG more than anyone else that’s on there at the moment. I said as much on FB when I read the post.

  • Harliqueen says:

    I read this article, and it just seems Shepherd is getting upset because luck found J.K. Rowling and not her. It’s unfair to ask someone to stop doing what they love because they got famous at it and made money and the other person didn’t.

  • aliabbasali says:

    Having joined the outpouring of comments yesterday, I had a little reflectionon things overnight. I suspect deliberate trollng by Lynn Shepherd, because more has been written about her in the last 24 hours than at any other stage. On the plus side, I ended up blogging on trolling!

  • Lausanne says:

    Sour grapes, I’d say. Doesn’t exactly make me want to run out and buy one of Ms. Shepherd’s books.

  • Lynn Shepherd has definitely “stoked the fire” here!
    Which was most likely her intention.

  • Zen A. says:

    Thank you for this post! That article really left a bad taste in my mouth; as I read it I kept thinking, “This must be a joke. How can a writer even think of telling another writer to stop doing what they do best? There must be something wrong here.” The fact that she was dead serious made me sad.

  • You mean ‘publishing’? The rumor is that she never wrote after first book, which was reformed by editors and thereafter, her ghost writers do the writing part.

  • draliman says:

    I totally agree with you – JK Rowling should absolutely keep writing as much and on whatever subject she wishes!
    To me, Shepherd’s words are selfish and smack a little of jealousy – it sounds like she’s sulking a little bit.

  • lizbert1 says:

    Great letter, thanks! Writing is about a personal story and a need to tell it. To stop doing that is to deny oneself and would be a greater sadness. Lets all keep writing! Cheers, Lizzie

  • I agree with you. No one has the right to tell a writer if they should write, or even what they should write.

  • I think it’s ludicrous to ask a writer to stop writing. It’s not about success for her at this point, Harry potter was what made her name, so she only just broke into the market.

    No one aspires to be a one hit wonder if they have more in them, and it’s insane to think that because one author continues to write best sellers, that is has a significant impact on the ability of other writers to succeed. Moreover, if J.K. Rowling makes it to the best seller list, it’s because she deserves it-just like the rest of the authors with best sellers.

    She is just scapegoating. I’m with you!

  • Excellent post! I was appalled by that article. Whether you like a particular writer or not, I was not under the impression that they were supposed to step aside after achieving success. Rowling worked for her success and she deserves it as much as anyone else, well known or not so well known.
    Not all novels are “literary” so what?? Write what is in your heart to write and let readers decide what to read for themselves.

  • Rajiv says:

    Well, I would say, let her write. It’s her pleasure to write, as is ours. If her books sell, more power to her. If they don’t, then that is life!

  • Hi Damyanti, I agree that Lynn Shepherd’s remarks are off base. If you believe in Lynn Shepard then you believe in the scarcity complex, that if one person has much, then the others have little. That Rowling can be a success and keep getting more successes we should just applaud her, and let her do what she does – just write. People read a lot of books, and if Shepard would get off her “attitude,” and get back to writing instead of throwing remarks, she’ll do much better.

    I wish Lynn Shepard, much success, and to be a great crime writer who turn the world on it’s ear and sells millions of books -then she will care less about J.K. Rowling.

  • Here, here, Damyanti. Lynn Shepherd’s remarks are repugnant in the extreme and I thoroughly agree with all of your comments. I say good luck to anyone who has published a best seller and long may they enjoy success. I can only aspire to that. At the end of the day, it’s about putting your words out there and giving your niche of readers something that makes them happy.

  • ladymaurader says:

    I totally agree with you one hundred precent.

  • ladymaurader says:

    Reblogged this on The Crazy Antics of my Creative Mind.

  • ……and you should stop writing your blog because it’s taking readers away from mine! 🙂

  • scoobyclue says:

    Here’s the thing, there is room for everyone in writing. I write chick lit mysteries because I like it … and I have the voice for it, and it comes naturally to me. Once I have more experience I’d like to branch into other things I am interested in…. The thing is that whether it be JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyer, when a series hits and brings in the cash, it enables publishers to go after other books that will not have the same success. What is great for one, is good for all.

  • journette says:

    Not that it matters– though it certainly helps with cred, I suppose– but Rowling really put in the hard yards to earn that her place in the sun. I mean, the woman was a broke single mother, who wrote in cafes over one cup of coffee when the baby was asleep. I don’t know how one can get more “struggling artist” than that (ok, maybe Stephen King… who wasn’t sure if they could afford the pink penicillin pills for his daughter’s ear infection before the first big cheque came in right on time). And even if she hadn’t, even if she’d been a trust-fund kid who was nonetheless talented and could write and tell a story the way she could, well, suck it up. She had a good story, she knew her craft, her readers loved it, she earned her street credibility.

    If you want to follow that vein of thought, then every child child born in a refugee camp, or to a poor farmer in the developing world getting grossly underpaid for his or her crop that feeds the world, can justifiably say, “look, you’ve had your turn, you’ve had your abundance, you’ve had your time to exploit. Now stop consuming the crazy way you’re consuming and give us a chance, too, man.”

    Oh, hang on a minute…. 🙂

  • erdeaka says:

    hi, there! I totally agree with you. the point of being a writer is to write. if I’m to make an analogy, Katy Perry should stop singing because her name only is already a huge brand for any products. but that’s silly, right?? of course, Katy Perry cannot do that. Your letter is just well-written and deep.

  • Wrong Way says:


  • Total agreement with you. Stephen King did EXACTLY THE SAME THING using the pseudonym Richard Bachman (Thinner, Running Man, etc.) and did not receive this kind of criticism. Makes me wonder if it is gender based too.

  • Anna Tan says:

    I read the article a few days ago and was flabbergasted. Your response is pretty much what I was thinking of.

    I’ve read the Harry Potter series and found them entertaining, though not spectacular. I’ve yet to read any of her other books because they’re not quite in the genre I normally read and the reviews are mixed so it’s not something that I would put on my *have to read* list yet. So, if people are buying them just for the name, that’s their prerogative.

    Also, as bbuck2412 commented earlier, many readers who started on the Potter series in their teens are now adults so it may be a factor to why these other books are popular – it makes sense for fans to try different genres with a name that they already know.

    I don’t think every book written by a famous author is going to be a hit. Some of them will be duds. And everyone will have a differing opinion on which books are hits and which are duds.

  • I personally like when people write horrible fiction – makes it all the tastier when you find something amazing. I think Rowling is a hack, but stop writing? Someone is jelly.

  • Jinryu says:

    Lynn Shepherd should shut the fuck up.

    I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan, but if you don’t like her work, just don’t read it. If Rowling’s work is stealing Lynn’s readers, then I guess that means Lynn (and the other writers she’s saying are having a hard time) will just have to write something better?

    Nobody is forcing anyone to read anything– and if a certain book isn’t good, readers will just eventually stop reading it.

  • dweezer19 says:

    Amen. I don’t imagine Ms. Shepard has considered the daunting challenge of writing another literary “giant” right on the heels of one’s first and highly notable success. Jo Rowling will always be a heroine to me, not only because I adore the Harry Potter series but also for her own personal triumphs along the way and for the integrity she displayed during the time the books were being made into wonderful films. I agree with the blogger above who said her books accomplished urging young males back into avid reading. My youngest was in Sixth grade when the first book emerged and became impressed with the story. I am not one to EVER jump on any hype bandwagon, even dragging my heels at highly rated movies, preferring to see for myself. My son convinced me to read the Potter books, we saw every single film together, usually around our birthday ( we have the same bday) and there was definitely a moment of damp eyes when we saw the last one-he a young man now. That experience is one I wouldn’t trade for anything. Should she keep writing? Should anyone ever tell someone not to do what their soul desires?

  • toconnell88 says:

    Good responses. I’ve not read much Rowling, but this sounds like Tall Poppy Syndrome to me. Thanks for functioning as the voice of reason!

  • I don’t think it matters whether someone likes your work or not. If you want to write, write. That goes for every writer including J.K. Rowling. It’s called freedom.

  • Nina Kaytel says:

    Write on J.K., write on.

  • Speaking of JK Rowling’s name having the magic ability to gain enormous exposure for writing, didn’t this woman just capitalize off of Rowling’s name to get people to care about this vacuous, childishly jealous editorial?

    I don’t know anything about this woman or her work. This article of here is literally the only thing that I have to base my opinion of her off of and I’m 1000% positive that I’m not alone in this. She just put herself out there in a very negative manner that is guaranteed to go viral.

    Like I said, this is all that I know about her and her work and quite frankly, she hasn’t given me any incentive to learn more.

  • Damyanti says:

    Wow, sixty comments before I could wake up?

    I’m glad there are writers (and readers) out there who are generous and giving like you all, and who would support a writer for just telling her stories. And no matter how stratospheric Rowling’s success is, at the heart of it all she’s a writer, and no one should ever tell a writer to stop publishing.

    Let the readers of today’s market and of posterity be the judge, we writers write as birds sing, because that’s our nature. It is hard some days, impossible on others, rarely a very thrilling process, but we do it nevertheless. Would we all like money? Yes, why not? I would like money, too. But I’ll still write if I get no money at all, and no recognition. Because I can’t help it. I’ll do other things to put bread on the table, but I’ll never quit on telling stories, as long as I have breath left.

    I do not wish for Lynn Shepherd to be silent, she has a right to express herself just as much as the next person. But my plea to her: just take into reckoning all that goes into becoming a writer, and why a writer writes. (Shepherd has published several well-reviewed books, and I see no reason why I won’t read her work. If it keeps me interested as a reader, why not? A writer’s personal views, to a large extent, have nothing to do with a book. I don’t like Naipaul or Maugham’s views in personal life, but they’re damned good writers. Ok, this gets me thinking– maybe in another post.)

    If Shepherd wanted to write a click-bait article, she has succeeded. But I’m wondering if notoriety will help her sell more of her own work? Is this the right way for one writer to move forward, by trying to bring another down?

    A big thank you to each one of you, for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Sooner rather than later, I shall visit you all. Thank you again,

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    Woa a writer asking another writer to stop. That’s never heard of and it’s preposterous… If she thinks YA is beneath adult brains… Then maybe I never fully developed. I totally agree with your answers…

  • LindaGHill says:

    I agree with everything you said. Ms. Shepard has done nothing with her article but act like a spoiled brat. It’s incredible… beyond words.

  • I agree! JK should not stop writing, Lynn would not if she hit it big.

  • jeanryan1 says:

    We will always find authors who are more prolific, more successful and more talented than we are. We are not in competition with them. We are here to write our own stories, to offer the world our best effort. Our greatest challenge is measuring up to ourselves.

  • I agree with you. I know Rowling had a hard go of it before she became famous. That tends to be how artists start out. By this woman’s logic, anyone who’s ever won an Oscar should stop acting and anyone who’s ever had a number one hit song should stop singing. Ridiculous.

    I also clicked over and read the full article. I think the part that has me the most incensed is where she’s criticizing adults for reading a YA novel, saying YA is somehow beneath adult brains. Really?

  • Lynn must have written that just for the reaction. What a ridiculous concept.

  • According to Google, Lynn Shepard is an Oxford (doctorate) grad. It’s a shame that not even higher education can teach a person how to respect another’s work. After reading her Huffington Post entry, I was disheartened to see that envy was the underlying thread throughout her article.

    I purchased the Harry Potter series for my teenagers, but books but I have seen the movies. I have, however, watched all the movies and I thought the story was wonderful and great for both children and adults alike.

    What Ms. Shepard’s article does for me to move Cuckoo’s Calling to the top of my To Read list. Maybe I need to give Ms’ Shepard’s article kudos because by speaking against Rowling’s books, more people might go out and purchase her books. Making her books even more popular.

    I wish Ms. Shepard well in all her endeavors; however, I if she keeps up this streak of envy and hate, I don’t see how success crossing her doorstep and entering into her world. What I will say to Ms. Shepard is – “Bitterness does not look good on you.”

  • Shepherd has just voiced her insecurities loud for the entire world to see, comment and react on it, I have read almost all the Potter books haven’t read her adult fiction but yes, as Brenda pointed out no other author had enjoyed such tremendous success in children fiction post Dickens and that itself is commendable. Rowling brought reading back into the lives of our children, who otherwise were hooked on to numerous gadgets available to them.

  • Dixie Minor says:

    I agree with you! I think you made some great points, and I also believe that you have to write the story you need to tell! And if you write it well, it will find its audience. I think Rowling is continuing to be true to herself.

  • J.K. Rowling didn’t give up her dream of writing, even after 12 rejections. Now that she’s gotten the successful breakthrough she yearned for and deserved, I don’t see why she should take a break from writing to give others a chance in the spotlight. Her books are exciting to read, and even I enjoy turning the pages. We are all entitled to our opinions, as is Ms. Shepherd, although I disagree with her.

  • akaimiko says:

    Wow how miserable does a writer have to be to ask a more successful one to stop writing so she stands some sort of chance? Her gauge for success, and her priorities, are way way off. I agree with your points. J K Rowling is no Hemingway, but she’s earned her place fair and square and is entitled to continue writing whatever she wants whenever she wants.

  • You write what you write! And true nobody’s success or failure is because of anybody else’s failure or success!
    And yeah on the note that writing for children and YA is more difficult to capture, cheers for that.. So true!

  • Brenda says:

    Well, whatever JK Rowling writes, I will read, and I disagree that she needed a better editor. Maybe the later Potter books have some sentences that go on and on, and yet, they are still magic. The story is intricate and amazing and empowering to kids. No other writer has had such astounding success since Dickens. I doubt publishing or anyone will forget that anytime soon. If she were a man, no one would be impertinent enough to suggest he stop. Women need to stop picking on other women. Shepherd is entitled to her opinion, and even to expose her insecurities for the whole world to be irritated by, but I wouldn’t tell her to shut up either.

  • Was she serious? Would she have told Michael Jordan to stop playing basketball because he’d already won several championships and was denying another player a place in the NBA? If she wants to keep writing, let her. Only jealousy would want her to stop.

  • JW Najarian says:

    I agree on all points, but I believe Sheperd was trying to get this kind of rise. It is simply stupid to say you have had your turn, let someone else write!

    Should we had said that to Shakespeare about his plays?

    It reminds me of a quote I love from the movie Amadeus

    Emperor Joseph II: “My dear young man, don’t take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.”

    Mozart: “Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?”

    So Shepherd is either as idiotic as Joseph about music or just trying to get some attention.

  • JunkChuck says:

    Shall we ask painters not to paint? Actors not to act? I’m unfamiliar with Ms. Shepherd, but I don’t think Ms. Rowling throwing in the towel will change that.

  • I full-heartedly agree. You write for yourself and if you sell, you sell. That’s it. Your success in writing does not depend on the failure of others. Sounds trite to me. Sounds like the whole point of it all is lost in his argument.

  • librarylady says:

    Sounds like sour grapes to me. I didn’t love the Potters, but millions of others did, namely children. As a librarian, I’m all for anyone who gets children to read great whopping books like those.

  • ksmagnus says:


  • Jennifer Marshburn says:

    At the risk of reminding everyone of a certain Full House character, “How Rude!”

    I agree 100%. The fact is, J.K. Rowling isn’t even the only mega-seller out there. Stephen King has a huge following. John Grisham was knocking out books left and right in his day. Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice – these are names that sell books, hands down. (A note on this: I misspelled Crichton initially, and the correct spelling was the only suggestion that Google gave me. That’s popularity!) Would Ms. Shepherd ask any of them to quit? If she’s writing crime fiction, shouldn’t she be more worried about the author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and other, you know, crime fiction? Why single out Rowling? I would argue her name is no bigger than some of the others I’ve mentioned, and several I haven’t. And let’s not forget that her “children’s books” were read, and loved, by both children and adults, so even sticking to the genre Ms. Shepherd “allows”, Rowling’s still “sucking the oxygen” out of a large part of the general reading audience. There’s no reason for her to quit what she’s doing if she still loves it. Every book she takes to her publisher is still subject to rejection, editing, and lack of readers’ interest – just like the rest of us. A good book will sell itself, so I would recommend we all focus on writing the best book we each can!

  • I can’t believe someone actually wrote that drivel. What utter nonsense! All writers are artists. Would you tell Leonardo Da Vinci to stop painting just because people liked it too much? (Not that I’m comparing J.K. Rowling to Leonardo). We all have the right to write! And being a writer is so much more than being a published author. Most writers have had the passion and drive for so long, that it is part of what keeps them sane. Just because her books are wildly popular doesn’t mean she should stop. If someone else has a good story to tell, it WILL get published. We don’t tell pro-sport players to stop playing because they make too much money (and they do). So why is someone tell a writer to do so? Absolute shame on Lynn Shepherd. I’ve never read her books and now have no desire to. J. K. Rowling is a writer. Let her write!

  • bbuck2412 says:

    I totally agree with you. One of my biggest pet peeves is saying she shouldn’t or “can’t” write for adults. I was in the sixth grade when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came out. I am now 25 years old. This author that wrote this piece should realize the Potter fans from the beginning are adults now. The audience has changed, although I do believe since Potter is such a “classic” now children are still becoming fans so Rowling should still want to write for children as well.

    Every author’s successes vary. I found The Casual Vacancy mediocre, and yes I read it because of the author. Just because that book wasn’t brilliant does not mean she cannot write for adults. She should be able to write as she pleases.

  • Franny Marie says:

    J.K Rowling is an amazing writer and I would love to follow her in her foot steps and No she should never stop writing, its like telling someone not to eat or breath or drink water You HAVE to do it, its her passion and many others passion! I sense some jealousy~

  • I don’t think I could agree more with this. Just because someone is successful it doesn’t mean they should stop. Likewise this author has come off as unprofessional and incredibly negative.

  • K.J. Scrim says:

    Lyn Shepherd must have low self esteem in her own writing to write such drivel. Her own lack of confidence shines through with each new sentence. To say someone is “too popular” and should stop writing to make room for others is the same as saying, “you’re too good and you make me look bad so quit.” Come on Lyn, get real.

  • John Guillen says:

    J.K. Rowling is one of the great writers of today. Period.

  • calmgirl06 says:

    No I don’t think she should stop writing . She obviously loves it. I have to admit to preferring her Potter books to her adult ones but that’s just my opinion. The original Huffington post article reads like sour grapes.

  • Franny Marie says:

    Reblogged this on Franny Marie .

  • davidprosser says:

    J.K.Rowling entertains. As long as she does so she should write for her fans. When the books no longer entertain then sales will dry up. She can still carry on writing at that point if that’s what she needs to do for herself, she obviously won’t need the money but if the work ethic is there, go with it. It has to be her choice though, not that of someone who feels they don’t sell because there’s no room in the industry as long as another writer is there.
    I write, if I sell all well and good but if not it may be that my books don’t appeal rather than J.K. Rowling prevents them.
    The argument sounded petty.

  • Sammy D. says:

    Your response is well-reasoned and well-stated. Worthy of being posted on Huff Post as rebuttal.

  • Should we stop breathing? Eating? No. Writing is what makes her happy, an essential part of her life. No one should stop doing what they love doing, or what they must do.

  • My mother used to call it “Sour Grapes” meaning lynn shepherd is just envious of J.K. Rowlings… 😀

  • Does she have an advantage? YES! She wrote under a pen name and when that pen name was finally linked to her, the book became an instant hit. So what?!
    Does that mean she should stop writing and selling books? NO!
    I agree 100% that if she has a story to tell, an agent and publisher willing to sell it, then she has that right.

  • jwdwrites says:

    I read all the Potter books and found the world she created compelling and the characters sympathetic, yet I felt the books had been edited with an incredibly light touch and could have done with a sharper scalpel. That said, the thought than another writer should have the audacity to tell anyone, let alone one of the most successful authors of recent times, that she should stop now because she has ‘had her turn’ smacks of professional envy on scale seldom seen. Who is this Lyn Shepherd and why is anybody bothering to give her the platform to spout her deluded, self defeating nonsense? Lastly, what a wonderful story of grit and perseverance for a struggling single mum to follow her dream despite adversity and to rise to become a household name around the world. Now that really is a powerful story. Good post. 🙂

  • I dont see any reason why she should stop writing. Jk rowling rocks

  • emaginette says:

    I’ll add another “hell, yeah” to yours.

  • The idea that anyone should “stop writing because you’ve had your turn” comes from the same basket that believes in rationing, in “You have/I haven’t” … which may have some credibility when applied to economics, but is nuts when we are thinking about creativity. No room for JK? Of course there is. xx :-))

  • ccfordwords says:

    I totally agree! To hell with whatever anyone else says. Usually it is said out of jealousy and if I was J.K. Rowling that would make me want to write more! She is an amazing writer and should continue on with her unique and imaginative stories, adult or not. She can’t just throw in the towl when she inspires so many of us. I say keep writing!

  • I read that article and won’t get those brain cells back. I’m with you, and you put it more eloquently than I could have. Thank you.

  • aliabbasali says:

    There is a reasonably well documented effect from the Harry Potter books – that they brought young boys back to reading. From that you could argue that Rowling has created a market for all other writers, because there was a broad section of the population that just did not read.

    Other children’s and young adult writers have thrived in the oxygen she has created, and give it time – the adult writers will benefit as well.

    Personally I am intrigued by the adult aftermath of the Potter books – my take on the Romione furore below – which I wrote because I enjoyed the books, and because I love writing, and that is reason enough!

  • Kelly Jensen says:

    I agree with you as well. Writers should write for one reason: because they love to write.

  • How to write a viral post that gets your name onto as many blogs as possible, gets people to visit your website/blog and hopefully sell a gazillion copies of your books: write something ridiculous and cutting about a famous author. And I’d say Lynn Sherperd accomplished that objective really really well.

  • malissastark says:

    Well said. I am one of the few out there who has never read or seen the Harry Potter series, I have never been a fan of young adult or magic, even when I was young. However, never tell someone to stop writing, especially for the petty reason that you wish your books could sell more. Writers who only write solely to get published irritate me to no end. And though I wish people who know nothing about literature would stop bringing up Harry Potter when I tell them that I’m a writer, I don’t wish she would disappear. Like everyone else has said, at least she’s getting people to read. Now it’s up to the rest of the writers in the world to write something else worth talking about.

  • I say keep on writing if you have something to tell the world.

  • This is quite crude, you have diminished your freshness and posibilities by creating bilge in your deep and clever tank of energy and focus

    Don’t get out of your depth the old croakers will cut you down and your day will have come but there will be fewer and weaker days ahead You were tinkering something even ms r doesn’t really fathom. Drop it and leave to go back to your genuine dignity. Bless you! Paddle first and don’t dive in now!

    Sent from my iPhone


  • egehlin says:

    I must confess that I’ve not read a single J. K. Rowling book. I haven’t even seen any of the Potter movies for that matter. What is it about some people (not just writers) that makes them so insecure in themselves that they feel the need to criticize others because they’ve become more successful?

    Success is hard enough to achieve these days and should be applauded.

    Lynn Shepherd should be ashamed of herself and I think an apology is in order.

  • Julia Lund says:

    Why would any author want to clip the wings of another writer? If it weren’t for JK Rowling, my son would never have picked up a work of fiction. If it weren’t for JK Rowling, my daughter, who has severe dyslexia, may never have developed the confidence to read books. I have just published my first eBook and have even sold a few! But even If I never make a penny, I won’t stop writing. I know that JK Rowling’s story is one of dreams come true, but for me as a writer, that dream coming true has more to do with captivating readers than making millions. And I have no doubt that, even if JK Rowling never published another word, it would not mean her fans would flock to buy my work. I can’t understand why someone would even hint at that being the case.

  • Amanda says:

    Reblogged this on Amanda McKee and commented:
    I agree with the post’s author 100%. Asking someone to stop writing because they’re hurting your chances of success is like asking someone to stop dating because you’re not able to get a date.

  • Amanda says:

    I’m on board with your opinion. Can you imagine how agonizing it must have been for Rowling? She’s slaved over her manuscript, she feels like she has a story that must be read, and she is rejected and told that her book won’t sell. That she will be a failure. That’s pretty harsh words for any writer, especially considering how many of us feel when people just tell us no.

    Quite frankly, you hit the bullseye on your point about her fame drawing people into reading. Do you know how many kids fell in love with reading because of Harry Potter? I don’t, but I’ve heard that there are kids out there who won’t read a word… except for Harry Potter. And since Harry Potter, are more open to other books.

    Quite frankly, Rowling’s fame or success certainly won’t hurt my changes of being published. Only one’s self can do that.

  • I think it’s absurd to suggest she stop writing. Personally, wizards and magic aren’t really my thing, but any book that can prise youngsters away from their Xboxes, play-stations, and TV sets has my whole-hearted support. I appreciate that JK Rowling is now writing in the adult market, but ultimately the long-term success of these books will depend on whether people like them or not. She has every right to continue her writing as does anyone else. Just because a lot of people buy her books doesn’t mean they’re not going to buy anyone else’s. It’s also worth remembering that all those children who’ve read her books will one day grow up into adult readers, buying adult books, ie, the books that Lynn Shepherd herself writes. I just think the whole idea of telling someone to stop writing because you think their success is somehow detracting from your own is, well, nonsense.

  • douglasce says:

    What a nasty little woman. That kind of thinking will rust her from the inside out before long.

  • I was reading the front bit of this thinking I do not agree on that….but then I read your responses….and well, I do agree with you on those….I especially agree about the ecology of writing.

  • Jen A. says:

    I agree with you 100%. Wonder if anyone ever told Stephen King or John Grisham they ought to throw in the towel.

  • Crysta Icore says:

    I love that you have a solid opinion on this. So many people just follow along like lemmings and have no idea why they feel the way they do. Should Rowling keep writing? Hell yes, because she has inspired not only millions to start reading again, but writers to believe that they too have the chance to make something out of their efforts. Does her famous name mean she’ll write out the next Potter craze? Nope! She’s going to have to work her ass off in order to pull off something that epic or risk damaging her reputation. I don’t know if I would have the nerve to try out a new genre after the fame I had, like Potter. Brave women rarely do things that are expected, Good for her! And good for you for standing up for what you believe in!

  • estyree says:

    As a self-published, non-agented, extremely un-known author of YA fiction my plea to J.K. Rowling is this..please continue to write. I want to know more of your characters! I haven’t read the adult books. I focus on my area of knowledge most of the time. But her personal struggles and stories, along with the professional and published works, are inspiring to me. And I don’t care who you are or what you’ve written, no one brings you down unless you allow it. Do not place your fear of failure, or fear of success, on the head on someone else.

    For the record, I believe that crime novels flood the market and are often not well written. I’m not asking any of their authors to quit writing. Just like I’m not going to beg Rick Riordan, J.K. Rowling, Tim Tingle, or any of the other numerous amazing YA authors to stop their work. Their success inspires me to work harder. End of Story.

    I’m done ranting for the moment! Thank you for responding to that tasteless post and giving us the opportunity to do so as well!

  • kirstywirsty says:

    Well said. JK had her own ideas and story to tell and everyone regardless of fame is entitled to write whatever and whenever they choose

  • jacheree says:

    People sometimes have tendencies to want to tear others down. I, for one, would feel MORE successful if I were to stand out at ALL with JK Rowling still writing… because she does have such a following of avid fans. Right? Makes sense to me. And you’re right–as a writer your only true “competition” should be with yourself. As with most things in life–your success should not be determined by the failures (or giving up?) of others. And like I said, to stand out among such well-known writers would be an honor!

  • Arlee Bird says:

    You said it well. If someone wants to write then that’s what they should do. If someone hates writing and they do it out of obligation to readers or whoever or they do it for the money, then let them write and deal with themselves. The markets and audiences will sort it all out and nobody should be told not to write.

    I’ve never read any Rowling and don’t know that I ever will. Haven’t read most of the authors mentioned above. But just because I don’t read something doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be out there. I’m thankful for the vast quantity of reading choices available to me just like I’m happy that there’s a lot of different brands of ice cream. Freedom to choose and a vast quantity to choose from is consumers paradise.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  • colemining says:

    I can’t even believe that HuffPost ran that piece. I agree with you completely. There seems to be a frightening trend that encourages writers to (often blindly) critique the work of others. I don’t understand it. At all. Great response post!

    • laledavidson says:

      I was a bit surprised they ran it, too. To give her the benefit of the doubt, perhaps it was satire, sort of what Jonathan Swift did with a Modest Proposal, but in this case, perhaps she was speaking aloud the secretly envious thoughts we all sometimes have…. I mean, she can’t have been seriously asking her to stop writing.

    • Frankly, I think this piece, along with a lot of other pieces HuffPo runs, was click bait. The more outrageous the title and premise of the article, the more likely someone is going to click it.

  • Oma's Heart says:

    Well said! I’ll purposely avoid this Lynn Shepherd’s books because she doesn’t deserve support in the writing world even if she’s a good writer. You don’t tear others down to lift yourself up. Shame on her.

  • I personally have not read a single word that she has written and I lump her in with the likes of Stephenie Meyer. They can sell a lot of blah yet will history remember them for any kind of literary contributions? I think not, these are purely pop fiction, but I completely agree with your post. I think we all, at times, compare ourselves. How could we not do that? The important thing is not to get stuck there though, who cares what she sells? What are you selling? If people aren’t buying your stuff maybe it’s something wrong with it? If she writes or not, I don’t care. I won’t be buying it.

    • laledavidson says:

      Oh, no, no. She’s WAY better than Stephanie Meyer. Not in the same park at all. Her humor is excellence, and the sheer cohesiveness of the plot stretched over 7 novels is truly brilliant. Yeah, there are some books that should have been shorter, and maybe she uses too many adjectives, but the Harry Potter series deserves its success. Meyer’s first book, on the other hand was full of cliches. She might have gotten better as she wrote, though. I didn’t give her a second chance.

  • cardamone5 says:

    Yup! Because we live in a free society that allows us to pursue our dreams. This idea that because she’s successful, she should stop is ridiculous. I enjoyed her books, enjoyed the movies more because they cut out a lot of unnecessary stuff except for Peevsy, my favorite ghost. I look forward to more stuff from her. She’s inspiring to both readers and writers.

  • petejoem says:

    There is no reasoning that can justify someone telling another to stop writing. If they don’t like what they write, they don’t have to read it. I haven’t made much more than a nickel from my writing, but I have never considered just stopping. I would like to make money, but that isn’t why I write. Why would a super successful writer be required to stop?

  • lauralord says:

    I agree with you one hundred perfect. Writing/publishing isn’t some market where if one person is really making it, no one else can. You write because you need to, because you have something to tell, something to say. You don’t look at your bookshelf and think, “If they hadn’t gotten published, I would have.” Bullshit.

    And I can’t stand the Potter series, and never read anything else by the woman, but I’m all for her success. Good for her and keep going with it.

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