A Moment of Financial Clarification

Every once in a while someone in the comments here says, usually as an aside to something else, that no one becomes a writer to get rich. So as a point of clarification, and to give everyone else who is slightly exasperated by this sort of comment something to point at:

Hey, I became a writer to get rich. I’ve always been in the writing business not just to write, and not just to make money, but also to make a lot of money — basically, to get rich at it. Why? Because speaking from experience, being poor sucks, and in the world we live in, things are a whole lot easier if you have a lot of money. The thing I do best in the world in a professional sense is writing, so if I were to become rich, getting rich through writing seemed like the most likely way for me to do it.

Making money — and making a lot of it — has always been part of my professional writing game plan. It’s one reason why I have been both shameless and unapologetic about the commercial aspects of my writing, whether it’s me working as a writing/editing consultant for business or writing accessible novels. The money I make from writing means less time now I have to devote to sources of income other than writing, and less time later having to find other sources of income when (inevitably) my career slows down from its current happy level. The money I make from writing allows me to do nothing other than writing. So it helps to make a lot of it if at all possible.

Do I write only to make money? No; I write for lots of other reasons as well. Do I only consider money when it comes to choosing writing projects? No; I’ve written things for the pure enjoyment of writing them as well as for other factors, although once I was done with them I often looked to see how best to profit from them. Does writing with money as a consideration and being rich as a goal mean that waving money at me is the magic key to unlock my participation in something? Not always, because not all money is created equal, and the money I’m looking at is not only what’s being waved in front of me now, but what taking the project will make available in the future. I can afford to look long term because making lots of money was always part of my thinking, and because it has been (along with many other factors including staggering good luck) I have the ability to turn down work that doesn’t meet the long-term financial goals, and work that just doesn’t appeal to me, for whatever reason.

(Nor do I think that everyone has to write with the goal of getting rich or making money. People like to quote/paraphrase Samuel Johnson, who once said “No one but a blockhead ever wrote except for money,” but Johnson is as full of shit as any writer on the subject. You can write for all sorts of reasons, money being only one. If you want to be a professional writer, writing for money helps. Otherwise? Optional.

Also, sadly, acknowledging you write for money (or to get rich) will not guarantee success in that endeavor. Yes, that sucks. But there it is.)

At the end of the day, however: This is what I do for money. I don’t want to have to do anything else, now and (as far as I can imagine) in the future. As luck would have it, much of what I like to write, and the style I prefer to write it in, appears to lend itself to the acquisition of money. So, yes, I write to become rich. It’s always been part of my plan. I suspect that there are at least a few other writers probably write for the same reason. I imagine, like me, it’s not their only reason. But it’s still a reason.

As a final thought on the point, one of the reasons that “no one writes to get rich” and “no one writes to make money” bug the crap out of me is that this is the sort of thinking, intentional or otherwise, that gives bad people cover to screw writers with regard to money, and gives uncertain writers a reason to shrug off being screwed. If you as a writer buy into the idea you can’t/won’t make money and that you can’t/won’t get rich, then you are more than halfway to ensuring that you won’t, in fact, make money (much less get rich).

So don’t accept it. When someone says it, feel free to contradict them. Some of us do write to make money, and maybe even to get rich. It doesn’t lessen what one does as a writer to acknowledge that making money, and maybe even hopefully making a lot of it, is one of the reasons to do it — if in fact it’s one of the reasons one does it. It is for me.


My Sugary Flying Adventure In the Air

The background for this series of tweets: My flight out of LA yesterday was delayed, and I ended up in DFW with lots of time to kill. A service representative from American Airlines gave me a couple of food vouchers.

This was all true and really happened. I SWEAR.

Also, the thematically appropriate video.


The Office: Now Spotless

This is how awesome my wife is. 

Plus, for the fan club, the video features all three cats.

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