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~


Joanne Elliott said...

I write and would like to make money from it so I can spend more time writing. It is a business if you want to make money at it and I'm ok with that part. I'm just starting out, but I'd much rather work for myself than someone else.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

My writing career started as a hobby. I’m still in awe that I’ve been published. I’ve learned a lot in the process and have no expectations on growing wealthy from my writing career. I’ve never been able to write on demand, though I admire authors who can. I have no idea how many books are in me, but I plan to keep writing what I enjoy writing as long as possible, regardless of the monetary gains or lack or them. Like you, I don’t think there is a right or wrong – it’s simply a personal decision for what works best for the individual involved.

Linda Kage said...

Right now, I write what I like to write, and if I make any money at it, then hey, that's great. But I don't expect to make much money, so I'll just keep writing what I like to write.

Though I have to say, I'd be flattered if someone loved my voice to the point they offered me enough money to live off of. I could probably be swayed to give writing a different sort of book a try if that were the case!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Joanne, thanks for stopping by. I think making a living at writing is what we all want, but the question to me is would you write something you don't want to write for money?
Hi Jane, thanks for stopping by. What brought on the blog is I met a doctor who said to me that she always wanted to be a writer but didn't because she didn't want to starve. :)
Hi Linda, Thanks for stopping by and congrats on selling your fourth book!

Marilyn Brant said...

Thought-provoking post, Nancy. I can't speak to anyone's reasons but my own, but I certainly didn't want to be a writer because of the money. I knew it would be extremely hard to make a living at this, so my motivations to follow this path had to be more internal. However, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I don't want the money :). My desire for it, though, is only partially based on what the money itself can buy (saving for college and retirement!) and more for what a higher advance means to the industry professionals around me. I may not write for money, per se, but I think most publishers work hard to make their investments pay off. The more they're willing to pay an author, the more they're also willing to work to make that sale profitable for them...

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Marilyn, that's a really good point. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Anonymous said...

I began writing because it was what I enjoyed doing.

One day, I woke up at 5 am or so, banged out a new story, and realized that this story "felt" different from the others (I'd already written approx 1,000 pages "for fun"). Curious about what "real" writers did, I took a workshop from a Big Name author, and I learned basic craft.

I sold several stories that year to pro-pay markets.

Yet I wanted to remain anonymous and just write stories and send them to slush piles.

I guess that I definitely didn't start writing for byline or money. I always told people it was a "sickness" that I couldn't get rid of! I flat-out didn't want to do anything else with my time. Learn, read, write. Learn, read, write. Serious bookaholic whose idea of a fun time was pouring through the dictionary.

As the years rolled forward, I had 2 children to support, and the only skill I had was writing.

Now, I just want to write what I enjoy - period. Learn, read, write.


Anonymous said...

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sanjeet said...

I'm ok with that part. I'm just starting out, but I'd much rather work for myself than someone else
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