So where does the blame lie? In the complacent self-sustaining world of publishing, where agents and publishers alike employ young, middle class interns to weed out the chaff and find the next big thing. Except of course most of these readers, being young and middle class, haven't actually got a clue about good writing OR the real world...
It's been a month since my debut novel Try Not to Breathe came out in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, and another couple of weeks before it comes out in America and then Germany. It's been thrilling, numbing, weird, wonderful and at times, raw and scary. I'm prouder than I thought possible but I've also learned a few things along the way.
If you've written a book, chances are you have at least considered self-publishing. There are many excellent reasons to self-publish, even if you have the chance to publish traditionally. Where self-publishing was once seen as the last recourse of the desperate, it has fast become valid method of publishing.
You may have been toying with writing a book for your business for a while, but you're unsure. You're not good enough to write a business book. You're not sure it's worth the investment. You're terrified at the prospect of self-publishing. You're worried nobody wants to read about your business, and you don't really know what you're talking about anyway...
I'm trying not to be too negative. It could still turn around. I could get a job tomorrow. Maybe one day I'll have my dream job where I'll be paid for my work. I'll laugh with my colleagues and have business lunches until one day ... So I beat on, scouring the internet for jobs, borne back ceaselessly into the couch.
They're not a daily newspaper but a niche weekly magazine assumed by all to appeal only to a young demographic? Many of the commentariat think not. And there is certainly an argument that NME's readership is teenagers who, unlike Evening Standard fans, are not going to pick up a free copy to read on their commute to work.
So here I am, no longer in the world of generous advances. My book will have to work quite hard to earn its keep. But at least it's out there. Amazon is criticised for undermining bookshops. But if more novels see the light of day and more readers get to read them, that surely has to be a good thing, doesn't it?