To answer the question before it gets asked: The reason I talk about money I make as a writer is because someone should. People get weirded out about the topic and I think that’s damn silly, and I think it’s particularly silly in a field like writing, where authors sharing information about money is a net good. Then we all have an understanding about what people are making and what’s a decent amount of money to expect for one’s work in the writing field, and in the case of science fiction, in this particular genre. We’re in a business (or want to be); let’s make sure we talk about it as a business from time to time. I think the fact that people don’t talk about money is a large part of the reason some publishers can offer ridiculously low sums to authors and pretend like they’re doing them a favor.
The fact I made $67K writing science fiction last year does not make me a better writer than someone who made less in the field; it doesn’t make me a lesser writer than someone who makes more. I think we all understand that beyond a certain level of literary competence, the quality of writing and the popularity of writing are functionally independent from each other. Lord knows I’m not offering up the amount to brag; $67K is a decent chunk of cash but it’s not all that. Also, I’d look like a dick. And anyway, in my circle of writer friends I can can point to a bunch who’ve made more. I’m not under the delusion I’m king of the SF writing world (if I were, man, this world would suck).
It’s also to the point that I’m not worried that you know how much I make. I assume most of you aren’t so lame that you’d factor in my income when it comes to whether you’d wish to consort with me or not, and if you are that lame, well, of course, I’d rather you avoided me anyway. I’m not so naive that I don’t think money matters in terms of how people approach other people, or that it doesn’t matter in life. But personally I find it a poor indicator of personal quality.
I’ll tell you what I make because I know people are curious, and because I don’t see any reason not to share. There’s lots of stuff I don’t tell you about me, because it’s none of your damn business, but how much I make is trivial enough, and it might also be useful to some of you. I understand many people are not comfortable in talking about money, or have personal or strategic reasons for talking about it, and that’s fair enough; sometimes I’ll be strategically quiet about it as well. This, however, is not one of those times. I also accept some people find it vaguely unseemly when I talk about what I make. Since there are lot of things I write about that seem vaguely unseemly to people, I’ll just add it to the pile.
My point in talking about money is simple: I’m a working writer, and as a working writer I’m not particularly special — what I do is what any competent writer can do, with effort and with a little luck. This is me saying: This is how I do this. This is what I make. This is how I make it. Just in case it’s helpful for the rest of you to see how I get this thing done.