Sunday, April 30, 2017

No, Being A Writer Doesn't Make You Rich

I think the biggest misconception about writers is that since we've published a book, we're rich.  I can't tell you how many people think I have money to burn since my first novel will be out shortly.  That's right - I haven't even officially published yet, but a lot of folks think I'll soon buy my own private island.

I spoke a little while back about trying to reach the exalted status of those at the very top.  I don't think there's anything wrong with shooting for the stars.  However, the stars are all most people ever know about.  Yes, they've heard of Rowling, King, and Patterson, but how many know the plethora of other authors who struggle to keep their heads above water?

I think this is due to many thinking that if you're on your own, it must be because you're supremely successful.  I know a few business owners, from those who own restaurants to those who have cleaning businesses to those who run mortgage refinancing businesses, and none of them are rich monetarily.  Most are month to month, and sometimes they get a month or two ahead, but they can't take a year off to explore Europe or hitch a ride on the Virgin Atlantic spaceship.  Writers are the same way.

I too once held this misconception, and I think it comes from both seeing the very successful, as well as not daring to go out on their own themselves.  Going out on your own is scary - your chances of success are enormous, and you could be out big bucks if that happens.  Since most people are risk-averse, they assume that the only reason someone would write full time id because they've "made it."

Don't get me wrong - I measure success as a writer in far more than monetary terms.  I can set my own hours, I have freedom to decide my topics, and I get to do something I'm passionate about.  And I hope one day to become super-successful like Hugh Howey or JA Konrath(or Dan Brown, if you think that's even larger), but I'm happy trying to make a living at my passion.  It doesn't mean I can fly first class to Hawaii or that I'm front row at a Rolling Stones concert, but maybe I can put food on my table and have my house heated in the winter.

I just smile and nod when people imagine my wealth.  It's fun, and people don't like their fantasy balloons popped, but it does get annoying.  I guess I'll just have to get that way eventually in order to justify their imagination.


  1. Hehe isn't that a terrible truth to face? Not like I thought I would be rich. But I always imagined success would be so much easier. At least making ends meet with writing is immensely satisfying.

    1. That's a stage I hope to get to shortly. :-)