Just a quick update that I am now back in the office in San Francisco after quite an incredible week in New York. The meetings! The weather! The food! The general sense of panic in the Financial District!
But as much as I fell in love with New York all over again, man oh man is it good to be back in the land of cool nights and driving to the grocery store. Ah, San Francisco, I thank you.
My Inbox could probably compete with Ben Bernake’s at this point for sheer madness, so I’m afraid the query moratorium is still in effect. And yes, You Tell Me on a Tuesday – I’m going to go Coffee Talk on you and ask that you “talk amongst yourselves.”
I’ll give you a topic. Would you still write if you knew you’d never make a cent doing it? Would it change what you write and how you write?
Yeah. I’d still write, because I don’t write for money. I write because it’s f%$#ing cool.
Well most of us aren’t going to make a dime so we are already doing it. I guess what you are really doing is nudging everyone (a little nudging is good) to do a reality check and remind themselves that while this is a business it is one of the toughest and the chances of anyone of us ever making a living at it were never very good — even before the present financial crisis.
I believe that if you are meant to do something you will do it no matter what the cost or lack of reward. Think of Van Gogh and other artists who were never appreciated or rewarded in their lifetime but became greatly influential after death. They created and wrote because they had to- because it was their vision, passion, etc…
If you love to write, then you can’t stop. That’s how I have been all my life. I have to write to think well. Writing is the only way I have to properly express my thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences, and ideas.
Even if someone has chosen a different career path than professional writing, if they love to write, they will do it privately for their own personal pleasure and sanity. They will blog, journal, write poetry – whatever satisfies the writer inside. And if such a person is also able to earn a living from writing, then they are really blessed.
I AM still writing and I know that I will never make a cent! I sit at my computer as the thoughts fly from my mind to the screen. I get so intense that I laugh or cry out loud with the characters I am writing about. I can’t abandon them. I will write to give them a chance at life and not to put a cent in my pocket.
It would depend if I was still published or not. I would still write, but I would write differently depending on if I was published or not.
No. No I wouldn’t.
I’m pretty sure that I am not going to make a cent and I still do it, more for the release of things in my head. So I suppose that’s a yes.
I came back from the SCWC in Irvine, California and listened to agents and editors as well as authors. I learned we should not expect to get paid until our 4th book, at least.
I no longer expect to get paid, in fact, I’m the one who has to pay to get my book promoted. I have to hire a freelance editor, a publicist, do my own marketing, and pay for hotels and travel expenses to promote my book. Sounds like I have to be rich to make it as a newbie author. At least I know what to expect.
I pretty much assume I’m not going to make a cent anyway, it’s not exactly a booming business. My big goal is not to have to pay to have it published!
Forbes has updated their annual guesses on the earnings of the most successful authors. This year’s list, covering June 1, 2007 to June 1, 2008, estimates the top 10 authors “pulled in a combined $563 million.”
1. J.K. Rowling, $300 million
2. James Patterson, $50 million
3. Stephen King, $45 million
4. Tom Clancy, $35 million
5. Danielle Steel, $30 million
6. John Grisham, $25 million
6. Dean Koontz, $25 million
8. Ken Follett, $20 million
9. Janet Evanovich, $17 million
10. Nicholas Sparks, $16 million
I’m at a “Me First” place in my writing. For nearly two decades my life has been about taking care of others. I need something that nourishes and replenishes me. Writing seems to do that in a way nothing else does.
For me, like sex after your child-bearing years have passed, writing is purely and deliciously about pleasure.
I write what I want to write. I couldn’t care less what someone else wants to read.
Selfish? Absolutely. But at this point in my life, writing is a place I feel entitled to be selfish.
If someone wants to pay to read my stories, that’s terrific. If not, that’s fine too.
I don’t consider myself a “Writer” as much as a “Storyteller” so I would continue telling stories whether or not I ever earned a dime.
Of course, I’d love to make money from my storytelling and do my best to make it professional and well-presented so people want to read them and would be willing to pay to do so.
The problem, of course, is finding a way to get them out to the public in the first place.
A retired Army Master Sergeant
Steve Olenski says
I would write if I were naked in a forest with nothing but York Peppermint Patties to sustain me. Does that answer your query?
Deirdre Mundy says
I’d still write, but I probably wouldn’t put as much work into revising, especially when “pure joy” turns to “backbreaking labor”.
The possibility of publication and royalties makes me work harder and gives me a concrete goal. (Currently, a manuscript ready to sub to agents by January!)
Michelle L. Devon says
I cannot NOT write. I’ve written all my life, and it’s a passion, an obsession, if you will. Yes, I’d write. No, it wouldn’t change what I write too much as far as fiction goes. I probably wouldn’t ‘freelance’ anymore though. Articles aren’t my passion; they just pay the bills.
Love and stuff,
I can’t imagine not writing, so yes, I would write just as often and I wouldn’t change my work. What matters most to me is how many people I can inspire/piss off/make cry/make laugh. As long as I could be published, I’d do it for free.
The Dan Ward says
I can’t believe I’m adding to the 167 previous comments (but apparently I can’t help myself).
I just wanted to say that this is kind of a dumb question with an obvious answer. Did someone point that out already? There were too many comments for me to read them all.
Of course we’ll all write even if we weren’t paid. I think that’s basically what the first 167 comments said (aren’t writers supposed to be more creative than that?).
What I want to know is: How many of us would stop writing if someone paid us. How many of us would even be able to stop writing, if we were offered money to stop?
Now THAT would be an interesting question…
I’m glad I came back and read all 168 of these comments.
I can’t help thinking how things never change. That millions of years ago when there were cave people- some were hunters – some were gatherers- some were inventors (fire/the wheel) and some were using sticks and blood to etch/scrape/paint on cave walls because they felt compelled to write. I wonder if they got paid?
I am coming to the point of venturing into writing for profit, but have not taken that step yet. It is easier for me to write for the love of the topics. Out of reverence for the potential influences of compromise/conflict of interest that writing for profit might bring to my writing and how sad that would be, my husband and I are reducing our expenses, widening our margin, in order for me to write, but not need to write.
I am sure it is something to constantly be aware of and monitor. Just like all motives in all areas of our lives.
I'll join with the minority – No I wouldn't & don't write for free. I like getting checks in the mail.
I would still write for free. I do write for free. I’ve been writing for free since I was ten.
However, I will admit that I would rather not have to *continue* writing for free!
As for how I write and what I write….if I knew it would never see print, I might write a bit raunchier than I do. ;o)
P.S. To “the dan ward”:
I wouldn’t stop writing if someone paid me. I enjoy it too much, and money just isn’t worth that much. :o)
Let me put it this way…
I know how hard it is to find an agent and publisher. I know that publication isn’t synonymous with wealth- or even making enough to pay the bills in many instances. I also know that I have over a dozen writing projects going on at once… and that at the rate I’m going, I might not live long enough to finish a darn thing. And yet I keep going. I write because it makes me happy, it challenges me, and it keeps me off the streets.
It’s not much of a leap between “might never make a cent” and “will never” for me. So, yes. I’d keep going. What would I do differently? I’d take more risks. Maybe write some of those stories I tell myself: “Oh, no one would ever read that.”
Katiek patrianoceu says
As everyone has already said in one way or another, yes, I would definitely write if I knew I’d never make a cent. If I ever do make a cent, that will be a fabulous bonus, but it’s not my goal.
That being said, I must admit that, even though I love writing and it’s a part of who I am, I might stop if I knew no one would ever read anything I ever wrote. I’d get lazy.
I’d write less. A lot less, probably. But yes, I would still write.
Lucy Jones says
Yes, I would continue to write. I do write a blog, but it’s not for money. Other things I write are for my own pleasure, and if they ever get published it will be a miracle. I find that I can’t NOT write when something is gnawing at me.
Of course! And since I value myself as a writer, I’m always open to suggestion… in all fairness would probably be set to negotiate the swinging door of broad-mindedness.
I used to know these guys in a death metal band who took pride in the fact that the most money they’d ever made on a gig was seven bucks. Not seven bucks apiece, but seven bucks total, split four ways. To them, it was proof of their dedication–proof that they’d never prostituted their craft.
Between Camus and Hemmingway, most writers these days would rather be Hemmingway, even though Hemmingway never seized on an idea that outlived him quite the way Camus’ ideas did (e.g. The Myth of Sisyphus, The Rebel). Poe, who was quite prolific, made little from his writing; Melville had to support himself as a customs officer. The number of people who made their living exclusively from writing, prior to the Great War are relatively few in number: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, was one of the few 19th century writers who earned his sole income this way.
To answer the question, I’ve NEVER made a cent, and I still write. I’ve been published in professional journals, one of which never even paid me in copies. My best writing doesn’t depend on the paycheck, but on the fear that someone might read something I’ve written and feel that it was sub-standard. The point of getting published–for many of us–wasn’t to gain wealth or even fame, but to get our ideas out there.
Getting paid a lot isn’t a metric for skill in a given profession. If you need proof, you need look than those Wall Street CEOs who were drawing 9-figure salaries while their companies were going under. If you think they were worth what they were being paid, I’ve got a bridge in Alaska I want to sell you.
The point of getting published–for many of us–wasn’t to gain wealth or even fame, but to get our ideas out there.
Now that’s a good point. Would you still write if no one else was going to read it? I suspect that will give a myriad of answers.