Monday, April 5, 2010
Do you write for money?
So, are you motivated by money? It's a good question and a hard question each writer faces at some point in their career. Yes, even bestsellers will face that question when they are on their 20th book with a character and want to move on but the publisher won't let them step away from the cash cow.
When you first start out writing somewhere in the back of your mind is the goal to make a living as a writer. It might be a dream. You might think you only want to see if you can publish one book, but why only publish one book? To say you did? Is that what truly motivates you through all the writing and revisions and rejections and edits?? Others say they want to publish a book that will change someone's life for the better. Nice altruistic thought, but if the book doesn't have widespread distribution or decent sales will it even find its way into the hands of the person whose life it could change?
Someone asked-what genre makes the most money? Their contention was that they would write that because they believe in making a fair wage for their work. I think the only guarantee of making a decent wage for your work is to ghost write or freelance and be paid by the word in advance. Or better yet go to work for a corporation as a technical writer. Otherwise it's a craps shoot.
I know a writer who is happy to say she is a writing whore- she'll write anything for money and happily puts out six series books a year to prove it. It's a business that works for her. It makes decent money and she can live off her work. Other writers put out six books a year and still make below the poverty level. It depends on the publisher.
Still some writers are offended by the idea that their books are anything less than works of art. And- while the book should make millions like any good work of art- the author themselves refuses to change anything about their art to make those millions, instead insisting that the book will find it's market.
Let's say you enjoy writing Regency romances. Would you write a futuristic zoombie horror story if your publisher paid you enough? How much would be enough?
I don't have any answers to the title question. I don't think there is one right or wrong answer to it. I only hope to make you think about your goals as a writer and an artist. Do you hope to create art or make a living? Or is your goal to hit the top of the New York Times list? If it is, then what? Writing is an art and a business. How do you see yourself balancing them both? Is it enough to simply say you're published? What do you think? I'm dying to know. Cheers~