Should money flow toward the writer?

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Yes, money should flow toward the writer, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. Money should flow toward the dancer, the actor, the dog trainer, the mime, the auto mechanic. In fact, why stop at money flowing? I want money to grow on trees, appear (just like in Paul Auster novels!) mysteriously in the trunk of my car or in my freezer. I checked my trunk and freezer regularly after reading Auster, but so far, no luck. I like to revisit this subject because it’s always coming up on list serves as writers come back to the dream of money. I like this dream, like the dream of God being a candy machine. It sounds good in theory. But God may have given us a brain so we can make our own candy.

But, you say, I read the famous Neil Gaiman post and he says money should flow toward the writer!

“I read a sad case today of a young writer who had had her story rewritten into illiteracy by a so-called publisher, who then abused her in email when she wrote to complain. She wasn’t getting paid for her story — instead she was actually buying copies of the anthology to show people that she had sold a story. And I thought, it is time to remind the world, and to enlighten young writers, about…
Yog’s Law:
Money flows towards the writer.

That’s all. All writers should remember it.

When a commercial publisher contracts a book, it will pay an advance against royalties to the writer. Money flows towards the writer.

Literary agents make their living by charging a commission of between 10 and 20% on the sales that they make on behalf of their clients, the writers. When advances and royalties are paid by a publisher the agent’s percentage is filtered off in the direction of the writer’s agent but the bulk of the money still flows towards the writer.

If a publisher ever asks for any sort of financial contribution from a writer, they’re trying to divert money away from the writer, in direct contravention of Yog’s Law.

If an agent ever asks for up-front fees, regardless of what they call them (reading fees, administration costs, processing fees, or retainers), then they are trying to divert money away from the writer, in direct contravention of Yog’s Law…

Money flows toward the writer.
No, that doesn’t mean that the author should get paper and ink for free, or that he won’t pay for postage. It does mean that when someone comes along and says, “Sure, kid, you can be a Published Author! It’ll only cost you $300!” the writer will know that something’s wrong. A fee is a fee is a fee, whether they call it a reading fee, a marketing fee, a promotion fee, or a cheese-and-crackers fee.
Is this perfect? No. Scammers have come up with some elaborate ways to avoid activating it. But it’s still a good and useful tool, and will save a lot of grief. Any time an agent or publisher asks for money, the answer should be “No!”

First of all, if you are Neil Gaiman, lucky you, yes, money will flow toward you the writer. And yes! Writers are often taken advantage of in all sorts of ways. So sure, if your agent or publisher asks you for money, that’s not cool.

But, that ignores the fact that you, the writer are not Neil Gaiman. And as such, let’s talk about money and writing which are almost never in the same sentence outside the world of big writers.

1. While you are learning your craft, you should plan on paying someone to teach you. You pay therapists, coaches, karate teachers, and yoga masters. If you want to learn your craft, you need to go to have a teacher/mentor.
2. Once you have something worth publishing, you are going to send it out into the marketplace, and that will cost some money. I would suggest that you send out some of them to awards listed in Poets and Writers and some to magazines that require reading fees. Here’s the example I always give: My aunt Hildy is a famous dog person. She has prize winning dogs, and she also judges dog shows, but for many years, she went around to dog shows and paid her fees. She paid to enter, for the groomers, for the trainers to help her. She paid her dues. When you write a check/pay online to a literary magazine or press, you are supporting the world in which you live. You are keeping your world afloat. And that’s a good thing.
3. Some of you will say that you don’t have enough money to send out anything. Then get a job. That is how people make money. They get jobs. I know that makes me sound like a Republican, and I’m not a Republican so I don’t want to sound like one, but seriously, when I hear writers complain that not enough money is flowing to them, I think –making money as a writer is a long shot, most writers don’t make much, but there are ways of making sure you have enough money to live on and it’s called working. And if you live in a part of the country where there is no work, if possible, move to a part of the country where there is work. Mexicans are willing to cross deserts, rivers and borders to find work. Can’t you just move to another state?
4. And then decide what you want to invest in your writing life. People invest in their yoga life, their karate life, their soccer mom life. Your writing life is worth it. You might budget $40/month or $100/month, but send your work out there and quit complaining.
5. The most important thing in writing is NOT money, it’s having fun playing with language and story, so if you get caught up in money, you’ll miss the best part. Think of how sad it would be to focus on money your whole marriage and miss that you are having the great experience of messing around in the water with this one amiable, crazy person who is willing to put up with you. That’s how I see marriage. A whole lot of wild.

Published in: on March 26, 2014 at 7:28 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Reblogged this on jilliesbookshelf and commented:
    Good words, so true. We invest in ourselves. We invest in our happiness. If writing is your happiness, you must invest in it.

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