September 14th, 2012


Making a Living

I don't make a living from writing.

It's important to remember that for when I say that, I do make a living from writing.

Today, it occurred to me that I am now a professional speaker, and have been for a while, and that I am paid to speak about fiction. I am paid, in part, because I have a few too many degrees which give me a fancy title, and because I have a reasonable list of publications. When I am introduced, I am done so in rather nice terms, which you can all pretend to imagine are being said to me (depending on who you are you might have to pretend really hard). But the money that I get from public speaking is, in no way, comparable to the money I make from writing--which is to say, public speaking will allow me to pay my rent, and writing will allow me to take my girlfriend to a movie. But since being an author is what allows me to speak, it is still the author who makes the money.

A lot of the time, I hear authors complain about how they don't make enough, or get enough, and it's a fair complaint. Publishers don't really pay that much, unless you're well known, or working for high profile publications. But it's also true that you can make a living as an 'author' if you're a little bit creative about it, if you look around at all the venues by which you can go to, and say, or be, an author. Afterward, you go to to a quiet place in your office and you type type, because the work needs to be done, but it's important not to think that money only comes from a publisher if you're an author. There's lots of ways to make cash. It's not all glamour: some of the things you can do for money by actually writing are a bit shit. Some of the things you can do while being an author are likewise. I'd be happy, for example, if I never had to look at another badly structured essays for the school system ever again.

But being an author is a business, and a good business is always seeking to be diverse, be multifaceted, being out there in different ways. Or so I was once told.