Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Great Expectations? Yeah, Not So Much


            This morning I tuned into Jessica Faust’s BookEnds LLC blog, as is my usual routine when I first wake up.  Before my eyes are even clear, I grab my iPhone off the nightstand and open to her blog.  Her posts are usually quite brief and include some bit of advice, whether it be about writing a book, or querying, or the publishing business in general.  All the stuff I want to know more about. 
I love her blog, especially Critique Wednesdays where she puts up someone’s query for the benefit of others so that we may see what is good or bad, ineffective or inappropriate.  Fridays are for Author Speed Dates where we get to better know one of her clients. 
Today was similar to that, but the author who participated, Ellery Adams, answered questions regarding cold hard facts, especially about the numbers:  How many books she’s written, under what names, what genre, word count and whatnot.  I found the most interesting facts pertained to money, that is, the average advance she received from her publishers, how much they give her for promotion, and how much she makes in income off of her writing.
While I know writers, in general, do not make much off their writing, I was rather shocked by the dismal numbers from such a prolific writer.  I do realize that the Stephen Kings, J.K. Rowlings and Stephanie Meyers of this world are rare, but I found the actual statistics quite sobering.  Now, I certainly didn’t get into writing novels for the money, but I did think the financial payoff would, on average, be a little higher.  Perhaps it’s the author’s genre, God knows I don’t read cozy mysteries, but I think it is likely indicative of the industry overall, especially with the tremendous changes it’s undergoing in today’s market. 
Then I thought, does this really make a difference to me?  Will I stop writing because— even if I did manage to land an agent then a publishing contract—the money’s just not there?  Nah, I don’t think so.  I write because I enjoy it, because I love meeting new characters and delving into their world.  I’m not sure what my other motivations are other than I’ve found a hobby I really love and which brings me great joy, along with frustration.  But I do get a tremendous amount of satisfaction out of it.  So even if my story lives on only in my computer and I make nothing for all my efforts, I will still write.

What about you?       

   

15 comments:

klahanie said...

Greetings Nancy,
Hi it's Gary aka 'klahanie' :) So, how are things in Klahanie, my friend?
You have posted a very interesting article. Much of what you note I can certainly relate too. I write for therapeutic and cathartic reasons. Indeed, I write for two people, myself and the one person I visualise is reading whatever I may attempt. I truly like to think that writing becomes involvement between the reader and the writer. Nancy, you nailed it when you noted, "I write because I enjoy it, because I love meeting new characters and delving into their world."
Nancy, here's wishing you the very best with your ongoing writing pursuits. Kind wishes and happy writing, Gary :)

Bryce Daniels said...

I think any writer who gets into this for the money is in for a huge disappointment. Sure, there are the occasional lightning strikes, but most of us should be prepared for a soft drizzle at best.

But I love the rain, so I write.

Laila Knight said...

I'd continue writing regardless. Yes, I'd love it for the world to read my books, but it's that warm seductive feeling I get whenever I stroke the keys and conjure up a world out of the depth of my imagination that keeps me going. The money takes second place. Ahem, I still wouldn't be opposed to it.

Al Penwasser said...

I've written a book and tried to get it published. Sadly, nothing materialized. So, I decided to serialize quite a bit of it here on Blogger. It's the "Once Upon a Time" series of posts, which I only put out every two weeks or so. I've discovered that I enjoy writing much more than anything I could get from it. Of course, that means I have to have another job. The good news is that I have summers off (you may now guess what I do), which frees me up quite a bit to wax lyrical (or wax car). Money, schmoney, I just like writing.

Nancy Thompson said...

@Al: I LOVE your writing. You're hilarious. I'm gonna have to introduce you to my friends.

@Klahanie: Weather in My Klahanie kind of sucks so I'm headin' out to Oregon for the 4th.

@Bryce: So very, and sadly, true. Care to go for a run in the drizzle, my friend? I could use the company.

@Laila: You took the words right out of my mouth.

Thanks so much everyone for dropping by!

tfwalsh said...

I;m with you... I know writing is not about making money, of course it would be nice, but I write because I want to share my stories with people and I just love writing. Great blog.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Wasn't that a great post? I'm not in this for the money. That's not a motivation to me at all, so I'm not put off by her numbers.

Lisa R. said...

Great post! I knew this going in. If you look at the deals posted daily on Publisher's Marketplace most authors are only making "nice" deals which is between $1 and $50,000 per book. I've really only seen established writers or bestselling writers making more than that for their books. In Stephen King's On Writing he talks about how (if I remember correctly) he got a $200,000 advance for Carrie which was the first novel he sold. That's unheard of these days for a debut author. How times have changed! It is very depressing but I've never had any illusions of making a real living from my books. Also a book contract doesn't come with a benefits package so I'd have to keep my day job no matter what! I would definitely keep writing even if I didn't make any money from it.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I'm definitely with you on this one. :) I always hope writing will earn me enough to help me get out of school debts, and that's as high as my expectations go. Otherwise, I'm writing for the writing. :D

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I didn't start off with delusions of making a lot of money as an author. Which in retrospect, was a good thing!

Jennifer Hillier said...

That was an eye opening post. And I so agree with what's been said here - writing can't be about the money. There are so many other ways - sure fire ways! - to make money, and writing just isn't one of them. Write because you love it. If you don't love it, then I'm not sure that any of the frustration will be worth it.

Nancy Thompson said...

It's funny, I think the only people who actually think there's money in writing are those who DON'T write!

Marsha Sigman said...

What? We actually get paid?

You can't be in it for the money, that's like being a parent for the gratitude. Don't hold your breath.lol

BlackLOG said...

Thankfully I don't write for a living , although thinking about it if I did, living on the old breadline might actually prove very beneficial to my waistline….

Joylene Butler said...

I'm not writing books for the money either. If I was I'd be in big trouble. Currently, I make about $1.90 for every book sold. Hmm. Good thing I have another source for my income. LOL. That's another reason I admired authors so much. They're talented, prolific, and poor. But that hasn't stopped them.