Sad, but true, there will never be another J.K. Rowling. And here’s why:
Rowling came in at the end of the economic boom. Things were great in America and other places. I myself was getting 12% quarterly compounded interest on my savings account. I was working part time and going to college and not having the least bit of problems with money.
And then it all went down hill.
By the time I graduated, three years later, degrees were worthless. The old adage of “Get a degree, get a job, stay there 40 years and then retire.” were long gone, but we hoped it was temporary. It wasn’t.
And then it got worse.
By the time Harry had grown up, the world economy had collapsed. I made half of what I used to while the cost-of-living had doubled. And I was far from alone. The publishing houses were in the same boat. Paying less and less, many of their editors went freelance, and the houses replaced them with cheap alternatives. And they also made a shrewd, but ultimately fatal, business choice.
The publishing world has never been one to take chances. Look what they did to Rowling. Her book broke the mold. It wasn’t the same garbage they had been regurgitating for generations (see Dr Seuss’s story who, by the way, was told that his books were “too silly for children”.) It was fun. It was different. And it sure as heck wasn’t boring! Publishing companies don’t like that. They like reliable, boring, mundane even. They want it to fit in with everything else so they know exactly how to treat it, or think they know how to anyway. So with Rowling, they made her change her name so people might think it’s a man and printed 500 copies. Wow. 500 copies. That’s bad. That’s really bad.
Hollywood’s changed just as well, so getting your best-seller on the big screen is almost as difficult. They still take a few risks, but not many. They’re rehashing tired themes and going so far as to go back in time and change the originating plot so that the premise remains the same, but the actors can change (see Star Trek). As I write, they’ve just released the latest Star Wars, are coming out with a new Star Trek, there’s a new Chipmunks, the new Charlie Brown, another Hunger Games, Sherlock Holmes, Peter Pan, Macbeth, Alfred Hitchcock, need I go on.
So what does this have to do with anything? Well, let’s say another amazing book comes out that breaks the mold, which it will. It’ll even be better than Harry, yes I said that. But it will have to be self-published because a traditional won’t even take those from established writers, let alone a newbie. And unless an Act of God or the best luck ever (which Rowling most definitely had) comes to play, it will never be treated the same as the publishers used to treat books because they don’t do that anymore. Period. They can’t. They don’t have the financial backing that they used to. I’ve heard countless stories from established, contracted, successful authors who are doing most of their own marketing, including using their own money. Some have actually made the switch to self-publishing, and are making more.
So there you have it. It is sad, but true. There will never be another JK Rowling.