You are visited by a genie. He offers you two choices.
One, your book will become a runaway commercial success and you will want for nothing. You will sell bazillions of copies, make bazillions of dollars, but even though it’s popular, pretty much everyone thinks your book sucks.
Two, your book will not sell that well, but it will be remembered forever. You will win a major award and be widely regarded as a notable writer, but you will receive very little financial benefit and will have to continue to scramble to make ends meet.
What do you choose?
Art: Lais Corinthiaca by Hans Holbein the Younger
Lexa Cain says
Either would be an improvement over the didly-squat I've gotten so far from being published.
I'd rather have money. Especially since I can't think of a book award I have any respect for (except Hugo, but I don't write SF).
Kelly Stone Gamble says
I would take option A, which would allow me the free time to write the book that would get me option B.
Steve Eells says
In my youth, I dreamed of being a rich and famous author, but I now prefer to concentrate on writing well. But don't get me wrong: it would be great to be rich and famous!
This question was the heart of a book (and later a movie) called RICH AND FAMOUS: two friends who became writers. One became famous for the literary quality of her fiction, but didn't make a lot of money and lived a life of erotic trash; the other wrote erotic trash, but made a lot of money and lived a life of sophisticated intellectual fulfillment.
It has to do with personal taste, and what personal values you would have to burn to achieve the riches. You know the line: "I've been both and believe me, rich is better."
I was about to say money, because I don't care what others think of my writing. It satisfies my soul and if others aren't on board with it, oh well.
But then I thought of 50 shades of gray and was like "I'm not willing to be THAT bad!"
So I guess it depends on whether my readers think I'm a bad writer, or if I actually am.
I'd take the award over being a bad writer any day, but I'd take the money if the only consequence was a lot of bad reviews and I could actually write despite what people said, and I could go on to write good books (under a different name).
Emily Moore says
Award! I was never writing for the money or the glam. I just wanted to be published and make a difference to someone. An award would be icing on the cake.
Also, I couldn't stop writing even if I was set for life financially. It's an outlet, an experience that gives me the same boost of self as chocolate and exercise. Storytelling is in my blood and will be until I take my last breath.
Bret Wellman says
The former! I first started writing because I wanted a way out of the bad situation I was in. Awards and recognition would be pretty cool, but it still would suck to have to go to a crappy day job and not have any other options.
If I had all the money in the world I would be able to expand on my writing and be at the helm as I took it into other fields. I would make video games for a start.
I am not a good writer now, but I intend to get better with practice. Whether I will actually improve is a crap shoot. Therefore, I would take the money and continue to practice, and maybe roll a heater someday.
Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale says
Honestly, I'll take the money. I've spent too much time in poverty. I never want to go back.
I can make a greater impact on the world with money than I can with an award. I can fund scholarships and microloans and more.
I'd be okay with a "popular" opinion that my work sucked, because deep down, that simply isn't true. If I'm selling a kajillion copies of my book, that speaks louder to the overall quality than the accolades of foxes crying "sour grapes".
Every single book in the world sucks if you compare it to the wrong scale.
+1 for money – as others have said, it would afford me more time to write, and make the next one better!
Eric Chandler says
Getting rich is a lightning strike anyway. I'd rather be considered a good writer.
Phoenix Grey says
I would choose the second option. Having people think my writing is worth something is way more important than money ever will be.
Kathryn Packer Roberts says
First off, I wouldn't use the power of a genie to take away someone's free will. It's totally uncool. Second, I don't think contests are based on talent any more. I've read (parts of) the latest winner and runners up for a particular YA award contest and all they care about is if you put enough drama and/or smut in your book. Or certain minorities which shall remain nameless. (I'm a minority that is always overlooked–not that I care–and I wouldn't want to win that way anyway.) The writing was mediocre in each case. So, if my book fit into that category I'd be very sad.
I guess what I'm saying is that I'd tell the genie to jump in a lake and I'd go about my business trying to get to the top on my own steam.
Terin Miller says
Got to this late because I have a "day job," as I have since before I started writing fiction.
So: my answer–major award. Even if it is only in the form of an Italian "Fragile" scultped lamp of a woman's leg.
Sure, I'd love to ditch the day job for gazillions. But am getting to the stage where someone else will reap the gazillions anyway–like a publisher, a producer, my heirs, anyone but me.
So, award. Thanks. I'd rather (personally) make a mark on writing as an art (I know. I did go there) than want for nothing.
Either way, someone else is likely to get gazillions rather than me.
I'd kinda prefer to have my friends and colleagues and even competitors acknowledge my efforts while I'm alive, than Jay-Z or someone reap the rewards of my work when I'm dead.
And I've got the (lack of) sales to prove it!
Belinda Mellor says
I could do with the money, but I'd have to say no, not if it meant everyone thought my book sucked. At the moment, sales for my current book are low, but feedback is great and I feel okay about that. More acclaim would have to equal a few more sales at least! So, I'll take the award, thank you! Now, where do i go to collect it?
Calorie Bombshell says
I'd take the money then hire the world's best creative writing minds to help me create an artistic masterpiece.
Steve Eells says
I have faith that I have some talent as a writer, so the big bucks are soon to follow. If the return is meager, I continue on and trust that things will be better next time.
Jessica Wilson says
I think the writers like Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain did not write for the riches. They wrote for the love of storytelling. I would rather just write and it be loved everywhere. The riches will come later.
Money. I have bills to pay.
I choose award. Money is important but if I get the chance to make my work eternally unforgettable, I'll risk.
Depends why you're writing. If you want to make a career out of it, then unless you're astonishingly lucky you're going to have to compromise and and up writing tuff you may not be too proud of. Most jobs are tedious, but as long as you don't feel its morally bankrupting you then you stick at it because bills need to be paid. If writing is your chosen career, then you should expect the same rules to apply.
If, on the other hand, you want to write because you want to love what you do, then ignore the riches, and just write the best you can. But you'll probably be writing in your spare time.
As I don't expect to ever be able to give up my day job, I'd therefore opt for option 2.
Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva says
It really depends on how much money was at stake. That being said, if it were a small prize vs. a prestigious award, I would go with the award.
I hesitated for a minute, because I want my books to be successful, but when I write, I'm hoping that people will be entertained by them, get lost in them, enjoy them, and love them. And to do that, don't they need as wide an audience as possible? I need money and will always desperately need money, but that's not the thing that was worrying me. I don't want people to hate my books. But is that worse than no one knowing of my books at all?
And then I realized the question didn't make sense. You can't say "Everyone hates 50 Shades of Gray/Twilight/Other successful commercial fiction." If they did, why are so many copies being sold? Books just don't become runaway successes that reach huge audiences if EVERYONE hates them. People buy books because they love them.
So give me the first option. I don't mind if there's a hater crowd. If a lot of people are buying my books because they're enjoying them a lot, then who cares what some pretentious award-followers think?
Victoria U. Arlost says
I am not a big fan of fancy interviews, not do I wish to be a social media demi-god. Book signings would be okay…Option #2 for sure. I just want to write and paint and hope my kids will someday understand what it means to live life and survive the consequences. Funny thing is I wish for them Option #1 so I dont have to wory about being dead and gone.