Over the years, I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts and read a few blogs that writers do. What’s fascinating is that in a way, I’ve been on their journey with them. I’ve watched their careers grow and seen them become full time writers, which is a dream for most writers. Yet when they’ve become full time writers, something changes. Writing is no longer about putting out the best story they want to tell. Writing becomes a commodity and is all about the money.
I’m all right if people make money. We all need it to live. But I feel like a lot of these writers lose something when writing becomes not only a job but a business to them. I also think they’re wrong in talking about it as a business. Writing’s more of an investment.
When you write, you invest in a fan base. You should (I hope) try to put out the best product available. And say you write a few books and never write again. Theoretically, you can make money for the rest of your life off it much like a stock, bond, or fund. You don’t have to do anything with your works and you’ll still make money. A business requires so much more energy and time. Publishing is a business. There’s schedules, marketing, outsourcing, etc. to take into account. And while you can equate writing with manufacturing, it’s far more creative than that.
I’m a bit saddened that most of those writers rarely talk about writing anymore, how to interact with fans, what to do at conventions, editing, hiring the right editor, copywriting, audiobooks, etc. Everything they speak about seems to be about money. The very small parts of when they talk about writing also pertains to money usually along the lines of “if I break this book down into two parts and end with a cliffhanger but not resolve anything, it’ll sell more!”
I get it. I really do. We all want to do something we enjoy and love and be able to live off it. But I feel as if the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. And I don’t feel like they continue to work on their craft, which I feel is the most important thing. How could they? They spend all their time and energy into trying to make money, and if they’re successful at it, they no longer feel the need to get better. It’s good enough. They’ve got fans and they have other books to put out or talks to give.
Over the years, I’ve read a few of these books–some traditionally published, some indie, some big names, some not so much. The majority of those books I read had a lot of promise and I did enjoy quite a few of them. I read either their next book in the series or the next thing they published, and more often than not, I was sorely disappointed in those following books.
While I thought their first books had things I enjoyed, they were by no means perfect. They still had issues. What I expected from the subsequent books was either fixing those problems or growth. Sadly, I would say most of the books I read showed neither, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s indie or trad. I never read anything from most of those authors again.
I’m not against people making money by any means. In fact, I like money. I use it a lot. It’s just not my driving force behind why I write. When it comes to money, I tend to think of this:
and more recently this:
There should be a balance between the two. You just have to find it.