Sunday, April 13, 2014

You're In It For The Money

Oh yes, you are! And that's nothing to be ashamed of even if it sounds crass to admit your intentions aloud.

I've been blacklisted on at least one artsy site and bad-mouthed on others for blatantly saying "I like to make money from my writing." I blame my attitude on my early years as a journalist. In those days I was paid to put words on paper and I grew to like having an income. It felt good to have people reading my articles, even when my precious words were tossed in the recycle bin after a day. Now there are few newspapers and my degree languishes, but I still like the notion that my words are worth a few dollars.

Kudos to those who write simply for the sake of their art. Perhaps satisfaction comes from pieces published in literary magazines for limited readership. Me--I want lots of people reading my stories and books. I want those hours (years) I put into my work to be rewarded. This is a business for me and the IRS concurs.

Not that it's ALL about money. I have no problem contributing to Novel Spaces because I'm investing in a site I respect and hope readers will possibly invest in me. I give books away when I'm on panels to pepper the pot for sales. I've donated my novels to the local Senior Center and VA Hospital. I've even gifted to people who were too broke to spend $12 on one of my books.

Does expecting money for my work make me a hack? Possibly. I know what readers want and I strive to give it to them. They want an entertaining story, interesting characters, a few cringe-worthy moments (I write mysteries) and a satisfactory ending. But, to keep my standards high, I also give them craft, personal insights, soul-searching questions and a bit of astrology. Yes, it's worth much more than the few dollars I'm asking in return.    

What I'm against are those people who make money off of the one segment that can't afford the cash--new authors. When starting out, it's hard to resist the carnival barkers promising quick routes to the bestseller list. They come in the form of costly conferences, webinars, PR people, paid reviewers and businesses that impersonally shovel titles to the Internet. All of this can be done for free--and should be. The info is readily available in your computer if you know where to look. Since we're close to Easter, I'll liken the process to hunting for those colored eggs. The search will take exploring websites, following leads and a bit of time.

Time is money. I realize that and I also understand the World Wide Web can be a very confusing place. My solution was to start a Posse. Several years ago I decided to share my own searches with others. Authors just send me their email addys and they're in. They get emails from me pointing them to articles on marketing, platform building, inside business info, places looking for guest bloggers and yes, my blogs.

There's no charge because the effort is minimal on my part. It's my way of paying it forward. Consider it a gift from one author to another. I hope others do the same with their future network. And, who knows? Perhaps I'm make a fan or a friend who will buy one of my Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries. Because, as the L'oreal ads say, I'm worth it!  

17 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I don't generally say that I write for money because, given how little I make, it makes me sound like an idiot. If I were making a lot that would be one thing, but the pittances I take in hardly count in the greater world. On the other hand, I'm certainly not adverse to money and I really, really, really wish some of my writing would take off and bring me some money. I write the way I write not because I think it will make money per se, but because it's the kind of thing I like to read and I think others also might like that stuff. It seems to me that money should follow that as well but so far it hasn't happened very much. When I do get a nice pay day I sure do enjoy it though. And I would never say that I write for art alone. That would also be a lie. Mainly, I want to be read and have my work enjoyed

Sunny Frazier said...

That's very honest. Finding a readership who will pay for the privilege of reading your work is difficult but can happen. It's all in marketing--a topic I love but that's for another blog.

Liane Spicer said...

It always makes me a bit uneasy when people say they're not in publishing for the money, but for the love of writing. If that was true I think the thing to do would be to post the stories free on the Internet, or even in the e-stores.

Like Charles says, it's a balance for me. I do love writing the kinds of stories I like to read, but I would also like to be paid for my trouble.

Melodie Campbell said...

I come from a journalistic background too (I was a humour columnist and wrote standup) and it's hard for me to accept writing without any sort of payment. I was trained that a professional was paid for his/her work. At the same time, I say, we'd better love being authors and the writing process itself, because it's so much darn work, and the pay does not merit the hours! Great post, Sunny.

C.L. Swinney said...

I write to entertain, but I spend every other moment trying to figure out how to make enough money to retire...

Sunny Frazier said...

Looks like we all have our expectations firmly rooted. Will we make buckets of cash from our efforts? Probably not. Do we love what we do? Certainly. But when I hear a writer say they aren't doing it for money but for love of the written word, I want to tell them to keep a journal. Let's face it--we want readers. And they should show their love in return by paying the cost of a book.

James Callan said...

I write because I like to write. Do I want to make money on it - you bet! Do I make money on my writing? Yes. I know many artists in many different fields. They all like what they are doing. Do they expect to be paid for their work? Absolutely. Loving what you do doesn't mean you don't want to be paid for your effort. Many teachers, nurses, computer people - you name it - love what they are doing, but they all want to be paid for it. Why should a writer be any different.

If you're not interested in making nay money on your writing, then publish digital books and give them all away. (I say digital, because there's no cost of printing.)

Che Gilson said...

I certainly hope to make money with my writing, even enough to live on and I don't think it's a conflict of interest!

As an artist I have SOLD art. I don't generally give it away for free! It's part of being a professional and nothing to be ashamed of.

Dean K Miller said...

The "Free Market" is always available for those who choose to market there. The draw back is that seems to be the only place where many of the "shoppers" go.

I, too, have gifted a book to those who can't purchase one, but also had to overcome the slight twinge of guilt in accepting payment, when the "freebie" is so often touted as the route to success.

Over that now and gladly selling to all who apply!

Joseph Chiba said...

Like Che Gilson and the others, I hope to make money with my writing too. Enough to make a living would be good. I agree. More would be better. And even more would be even better! If I have to give away a free book here and there, it doesn't matter. As long as readers are enjoying what I write and my books are being bought. The more the better. And...just think of how many more books we could all write, and sell, if we could earn our living solely by writing, and didn't have to worry about having that other full-time job we really don't want.

Amy Reade said...

Hi, Sunny,
As usual, another great, thought-provoking post. I've always told my kids to do what they love and the money will follow, but I've learned that isn't totally true. I hope to earn money by writing. Otherwise, would I rewrite and revise again and again and wake up in the middle of the night worrying about a plot line? It's all to make the story better so people will buy it and read it and enjoy it. I tell everyone, and it's absolutely true, that I love every single minute of the writing process. But that doesn't mean I want to do it for free.

Carole Avila said...

Thank you, Sunny, for bringing up this topic. I'm in the ranks of "love to write; love to get paid for it; write because I love it." For everyone who read this blog, visit Sunny's site or join her "posse" so you can learn how to make money on your writing without sacrificing your craft. She has quite a bit of helpful information to share!
~Carole Avila
Eve's Amulet, Book 1

marja said...

If you don't make money, that means your books aren't selling. If your books aren't selling, that means people aren't reading them. I write to entertain, but I'd like to make some money in the process. It goes hand-in-hand. And, I also "gift" books. Sometimes it's just the right thing to do.
Marja McGraw

daytonward said...

I love to write, I love to have people read what I write, and I love to make money from my writing. These are not mutually exclusive goals.

I've tried the "Hey, let me drive this car off your lot, and you can keep your label on it the whole time I'm driving it, because you'll get great exposure," bit. Doesn't work. Ditto letting my doctor tattoo his practice's address and phone number across my back after he took out my gall bladder.

Those people expect to be paid for the services they provide. We as writers also provide a service to readers. There's no shame in wanting to be paid for your time and effort.

Augie said...

Hi Sunny and everyone else, well here goes...I write because the characters in me want out...who's to say someday they will be forever in print. That's the idea to earn a living eventually (full/part time). If not, then why write and try to sell those books. Sure, I want to make money, but first I want to entertain and from there I will be able to cash a hefty check or four. Or, you can read for free at different venues like many of us poets (I think they want to get paid too, interesting cycle) augie

Sunny Frazier said...

Looks like all of us are on board with the idea of making a profit from our work. But, I'll point out that every name I see here is a genre writer. No literary types weighed in (I doubt if they subscribe to this site). They do have a different mind-set and that's all well and good. The types of venues that publish literary don't usually pay. The rest of us like that dirty lucre.

Liane Spicer said...

Sunny, you're right. I actually write in several genres, including literary (which is a genre, much as the literati in general despise that label) and I've had a short story published in a journal that doesn't pay. With lit you start off with nonpaying markets, and graduate to paying markets once you've got a few creds. I'm not down with this writing for free business at all.