Thursday, March 28, 2013

Money Money Money...

Three thought-provoking discussions of making money as an artist (and if you write and illustrate for children and teens, that's what you are.)

#1: This Salon article, My Amazon bestseller made me nothing.

In it, author Patrick Wensink details exactly how much he made from having his novel become

"The international bestseller at the center of the "World's Nicest Cease and Desist" from Jack Daniel's. Featured in the New Yorker, New York Times, Forbes, London Telegraph, Esquire, The Atlantic, NPR's Weekend Edition and more."

#2  A newly discovered letter by Oscar Wilde, written to an aspiring young writer, that includes this advice:

“The best work in literature is always done by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread and the highest form of literature, Poetry, brings no wealth to the singer,”

#3 And this TED talk by Amanda Palmer, which I found in a great post by author Grace Lin at Blue Rose Girls.

Grace also quotes Neal Pollack on the questionable value of hype for an author, and says she found it

"both hopeful and disheartening. Hopeful because I think it just shows that the only real success one can can have being an author is writing something you truly love. But disheartening because that success may never pay the bills."

There are always going to be the stories of J. K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins-level mega-bucks, but the vast number of books that get published don't make their author rich. 

So, if you are an artist whose work is not (yet) bringing in the income you need to make your life work, there are two questions to consider:

How are you going to support yourself? 

And maybe the larger issue,

What are the measures (besides money) that you are going to use to determine the success of your art?

Certainly there's no definitive answer someone else can hand you, but it's an important conversation we should be having - with ourselves, and our community.

Illustrate and Write On,


The Pen and Ink Blog said...

We are on the same page, Lee. Last week over at Pen and Ink I interviewed Sariah Wilson whose lovely book was self published on Amazon. I plan to do a similar interview with Sarah Wynde because I loved her books A Gift of Ghosts and a Gift of Thought.

Most of us are never going to make the kind of sales Hunger Games enjoyed. I think the fact that Patrick made 12,000 is pretty good. (Of course he owes a lot of that to the IRS.)

I think if you are lucky enough to finish a book and then revise it a thousand times and have it accepted for publication that you should rejoice and do numerous dances. While money is great, if you need that to feel sucessful....I'm sorry. Cause a five thousand or six thousand dollar advance from a book brom a traditonal publisher is, as far as I can tell, fairly average. Very few writers get to give up their day joys unless they replace thier day job with school visits and teaching writing courses.

Don't judge your sucess by money. Try judging it by the joy it gives you.

If a self published auther is making over six thousand on a well written, well edited beautifully covered book, more power to them.
Susan at Pen and Ink

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

Lee I wanted to tweet this and Facebook it, but your button for doing that isn't in your template design. I think I will do it anyway, but it is easier if the site has a button for that purpose.
Namaste, Susan

Jan said...

Love these ideas, especially...
"What are the measures (besides money) that you are going to use to determine the success of your art?"
for those who are not relying wholly on their income from writing or illustrating this is the nub. For those who do rely heavily on this income, and the consensus is that making a living from art is hard, Amanda Palmers idea of trust as opposed to risk is well worth exploring.
We're thinking about Making a LIving from Writing and Illustrating on Words & Pictures this month over at SCBWI BI.