OK, so here's what you wannabes can look forward to. Info courtesy of Publishers Lunch, who pointed to an article in the Wall Street Journal.
You slog away for years, banging on doors, working your fingers to the bone, destroying your relationships, depleting your bank balance -- and then, TERRIFIC! You actually sell a book!! And it gets published!!! And it gets wonderful reviews!!!! And it sells lots of copies!!!!!
So now you're made for life, right?
Er, no. Not quite.
What happens, all too typically, is that first book does OK; then your second book is so-so. And your third book is, frankly, a definite disappointment. And then your publisher writes you a Dear Jane email. And then you wonder what to do next.
Fortunately the WSJ rides to the rescue with a solution. You just re-invent yourself, that's what. Get yourself a new name and a new career. The WSJ has several case histories which are really encouraging. There is light at the end of that awfully dark tunnel after all.
There's only one snag. You may end up writing books which are quite different from what you intended to write when you started out. And this does not appeal to everyone. 'If I was a sensitive person I'd be suicidal,' says one male writer who, under a female name, is now the Queen of some bizarre niche genre or other. And gets to be interviewed wearing a female wig.
I ask the question here that I have asked many times before, principally in my extended essay On the Survival of Rats in the Slush Pile: is this a business that sensible people should ever get in involved in?