Monday, May 27, 2013

The ‘Writers Don’t Write to Make Money’ Myth

If you can't guess what this book is about, you may have been living under a rock for four decades.

Ed  here: Bill Peschel writes one of the savviest and most enjoyable blogs around. Here's an excerpt from a recent column he did on Indy writing and making money.

The ‘Writers Don’t Write to Make Money’ Myth

Then there’s this quote from Wensink: “If you’re just doing it to make money, then you’re not going to make money, whether you’re self-publishing or not. . . .”
Again, let me call in an expert: John Scalzi.
Every once in a while someone in the comments here says, usually as an aside to something else, that no one becomes a writer to get rich. So as a point of clarification, and to give everyone else who is slightly exasperated by this sort of comment something to point at:
Hey, I became a writer to get rich. I’ve always been in the writing business not just to write, and not just to make money, but also to make a lot of money — basically, to get rich at it. Why? Because speaking from experience, being poor sucks, and in the world we live in, things are a whole lot easier if you have a lot of money.
If you can’t guess what this book is about, you may have been living under a rock for four decades.
Then there’s “Redshirts,”  his 2012 Star Trek parody novel (published from Tor) for which he gave the per unit sales from the hardback, ebook and audiobook sales. Now, he didn’t give us the dollars and cents, but he didn’t have to. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, based on commonly accepted royalty rates found online, and I came to the conclusion he made nearly $150,000.
From that one book.
Before it even went into a trade paperback edition.
Now, he worked hard for the money. I knew him when he was reviewing movies for the Fresno Bee back in the late ‘90s, and even then, he infused his reviews with tons of personality and humor. I reviewed his first book, “Old Man’s War,” and anyone could see that he was a boy who could Go Places. He earned his riches, damn him.
The point, however, is that it is possible to make money from writing. It’s not easy. It’s not guaranteed. It takes practice, drive, some ability to market and dumb luck. But it can be done.
Just ignore to the sneers.


Peter L. Winkler said...

It is possible to make a lot of money writing. It is also possible to become a millionaire if you're currently working a minimum wage job. It's possible, but highly unlikely.

Writing is not a get rich quick scheme, unless you're born lucky or are a celebrity.

Highly successful people in any profession are statistical freaks, and encouraging people to pursue a certain profession by dangling rare success stories in front of them will likely lead to bitterness, frustration, and heartbreak.

Having realistic expectations will lead to a better outcome for writers just starting out.
They would be well advised to read this.

Mathew Paust said...

Thanks, guys. Peter, your link is greatly appreciated.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I write because I love to write, But making some money at it might have been nice.

RJR said...

I write to make a living. That means for money. What I don't write for is awards. Now THOSE people make me crazy!