Honesty is the best policy

In today's vein of depressing things about the world, there's a lot of worrying and complaining (kvetching, if you will) around the publishing blogosphere about trying to get an agent, trying to get published, and the mountain of rejections that comes with all of that. But what happens once you're published? More of the same, it seems.

An anonymous mid-list writer with four books under her belt writes about the insecurities and difficulties of a writing life, even after being published. After getting national media attention, a first advance of $150,000, and winning several awards she still can't make the writing life work financially. Proving, yet again, that anyone who wants to write for money better do it for love. Love the craft, people. Love the craft.


  1. I'm trying to figure why this post--and conversation--makes me crazy. I think it's because we pretend that these problems are insolvable.

    I'm not unlike the author in that article. My first novel sold in a two-book, mid-six deal. I'd written nonfiction for low-five before that. My first novels tanked so hard that I walked away from my name entirely. I just got an offer for $30,000 for two novels--just North American rights, so we're hoping that the Brits will come through. Or the Italians, the glorious, glorious Italians.

    And yeah, paying the mortgage isn't easy--and yeah, this increasingly sucks as I now have kids and real expenses, and can't afford to ignore health insurance for much longer.

    But what this proves isn't that I oughtta write for love. (I don't; I write because I suck even _more_ at everything else in the world.) This proves that there are some changes--even some easy ones--that the publishing industry oughtta consider if it wants to be sustainable.

    In the UK, authors get royalties from libraries. Up to six thousand pounds per year, I believe. That would change a lot for writers--and publishers, too.

    (Also, unless I'm mistaken, the author in that article made well in excess of $200,000 for four books. Yeah, that took her fifteen years--but still, that's a living wage in most places, if you write one book a year, as most of us do.)

  2. Bingol, I like that royalties from libaries idea. But this is America.

    All these miserable writers' stories reminds me of Dickens, except maybe just the worst of times.

  3. FYI -- this article is from 2004.

  4. Anon--Jeez, you'd think I'd check things like that. Alas, in my imagination anything that shows up in my reader is brand new...thanks for pointing it out!

    And bingol, seriously, I kind of adore you and your realism right now. Don't take crap from anyone!

  5. I'm sorry but I can't get past the incredible urge to make waffles by the truckload every time I visit this blog. It's really messing up my ability to post any kind of intellectual comment on a topic that I really am interested in. Well, that and the fact that I'm battling the worst flu on record.

  6. You should see me rant when people start talking about writers spending half our time marketing. That's when I really go berserk!

    I considered starting my own blog--Midlist Misery Loves Company?--but I wrote a few trial entries, and they all devolved into: 'motherfuckers! motherfuckers! I hate them all!' Which I wasn't so sure really moved the conversational ball down the field.

    So now I vent in various blog comment sections. I like this one! I feel appreciated.

  7. Dear bingol,

    We are officially best friends.



  8. You only say that because you still owe me $20 for the 'man stamp.'

    I'm onto you, Ombreviations.

  9. I must say - as I traipse from place to place, I too am feeling a small amount of affection for bingol. Welcome to the Curmudgeon Union!

    (although I must confess, most of my cantankerous ire is pointed at things besides writing these days.)