Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On the Money We Make (or Fail to Make) Through Writing

Getting paid more than zero for your work is the first step toward learning what it’s really worth to you, the best way to learn to stop obsessing about what it’s worth to everybody else.

This brilliant piece I just found on Slate.com touches on some of the key elements of making a living through writing. Many authors I know say it should never be about the money. Many others believe it shouldn't be about anything else. Some feel that making money off their 'art' is akin to 'selling out'; some consider payment the ultimate validation.

Either way, though, and as the article says, 
"Few connections are more mysterious than the one between writing books and making money."

Oh, and this:
In their candid moments, most publishers will admit going into business with writers whose work they regard as subliterary because they believe that they can profit from their books. This is still considered shocking in some unsophisticated quarters, but publishing isn’t literature: Literature is literature.

Read the full article at Slate.com.


  1. I'll try to remember to go read that later. No time, now.
    Actually trying to work (write). And, yet, here I am on your blog.
    (Actually, I opened your page hours ago and am just now getting to it.)

    Also, I follow Jack London's example on all of that.

  2. I think people who love to write, write first for the love of it and if they make money from it...all the better! Who would complain about making money from something they love. Publishers are business men so money is first for them I would think. There are also others who only want money and know people to get their horrible books published and, unfortunately, they make money.

  3. Interesting article which confirms what I've heard for years. Unfortunately (or maybe for the best) I don't have any kind of personal experience to relate regarding this topic since I've been too lazy--or maybe too afraid or lacking in writing confidence--to actually pursue completion on any of my writing. Articles like these don't do much to encourage me which is totally a wrong and feckless approach on my behalf, but that's where I've been.

    The other night I watched a documentary about F.Scott Fitzgerald which pretty well confirmed what this article talks about. How sad that Fitzgerald (and so many other writers) never achieved the wealth and fame during their lifetimes that came later. Then, on the other hand, there was a great deal of irresponsibility that he displayed while he was alive that was a detriment to his attainment of greater success so I guess fame, fortune, and the like have other aspects to consider.

    One of the best blog posts I've read (and sadly I forget who wrote it or where to find it) was an author who provided a meticulous accounting of her income from a book and every detailed expense related to it. She had been published by a big publishing house and had reasonable sales, but it the end she had make essentially nothing. It was the most honest post about the business of writing I have seen. It's one thing for writers to brag about how they wrote an Amazon "top seller" and to present some tangible proof that the endeavor was financially worth it.

    I guess I'm not the high-minded literary sort to find satisfaction solely in what I've produced having some vague notion of being recognized for my efforts when I'm real old or dead. Writing is not just work, but it is an intense labor of heart and soul for many who write. It would be nice to reap great (or at least adequate) financial rewards for ones artistic labor, but for most who pursue this avenue the rewards to be settled on don't necessarily pay the rent.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  4. Well it seems we just have to keep writing for the love of writing and not hope to make money from books. I haven't published any yet and am still appalled by websites that encourage me to write for them for the publicity but they can't afford to pay writers - perhaps because they know we'll keep writing anyway they just take advantage of that. Sad
    Individuality #Lexicon of Leaving


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