Writing – Since you won’t get rich, it helps if you enjoy the work
Every once in a while, a writer makes it big. The stories usually make the Huffington Post for all to see. You’ve probably read them. Writers like Amanda Hocking and Christopher Paolini.
According to the bean counters, one million new books are published each year in the United States. Of that considerable number, 93% will sell less than 1000 copies, 80% will sell less than 100 copies and only 500 titles will sell more than 100,000. In mainstream publishing, the powers that be say you’re doing well if you sell 5,000 copies of your novel.
But doing well isn’t a living.
Perhaps the odds of winning the next giant Powerball jackpot are better than getting rich on writing—or even making a living from it.
Even having an Amazon bestseller isn’t striking it rich, as author Patrick Wensink said in his article in Salon called My Amazon bestseller made me nothing. Really? Well, that’s discouraging. Looking at his experience in making nothing, he said:
“But the truth is, there’s a reason most well-known writers still teach English. There’s a reason most authors drive dented cars. There’s a reason most writers have bad teeth. It’s not because we’ve chosen a life of poverty. It’s that poverty has chosen our profession.”
Author Bryan Furuness (“The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson”) said in an interview on Julianna Baggott’s blog:
“I figured out that the writing life is a black sky of rejection, punctuated every few million light years by a tiny starpoint of success. In other words, the writing life is full of things that can make a body feel despair, so you better enjoy the daily work itself.”
Goodness knows, most of the authors of last year’s one million new books would be very lucky to have done as well as Patrick Wensink’s nothing. And, while most of us hope we’ll be the next Amanda Hocking and Christopher Paolini, I believe our hopes about the writing business will work out better (and with far less stress) if we feel the way Bryan Furuness feels about what we’re doing.
It’s easy to like the work until the Huffington Post or Yahoo news comes up with another WRITER MAKES ONE BILLION DOLLARS WITH NOVEL WRITTEN IN GRADE SCHOOL story. That’ll make the work look a little sour for a while. But, time will pass and it will be hard to spend 100% of our time wondering why we’re the only people in the neighborhood with old clothes and an older car.
The characters we were thinking about before the GRADE SCHOOL story showed up will come into our thoughts again, and we’ll be lured away from our “woe is me” thinking into some more “once upon a time” thinking.
At least, I certainly hope so.