Saturday, November 14, 2009

Writers and their (lack of) money

Are writers especially prone to money woes?

Well, it depends on which writers we're talking about.

But in general terms, with writers one often finds: low and irregular pay, lack of money skills, poor financial planning, occasional creative-type flakiness and risky financial behavior.

That's not only writers, of course... but anyway, here's what John Scalzi has to say in his very interesting blog post on the subject of Writers and Financial Woes.

Read and weep.


  1. Necessarily, I approach things from a literary point of view, instead of one mathematical. This means, in the end, I have about zero dollars.

    Just last night, I bought a round of drinks and a game of bowling for the crew, totaling $40 with tip.

    This week, I had a net income of $85 or so.

    A mathematician and financial planner would shiver at this painful wound to my net worth. I, however, was glad that I still had enough to buy the ingredients for today's bread pudding and an accompanying six-pack.

  2. Hmmm, I must not be a writer then, because a lot of that doesn't apply to me. However, It might if I didn't have a full time job, and was writing for a living.

  3. John Scalzi oversimplifies the situation, as do you. It is certainly true that writing isn't the best paying pursuit. Perhaps because society sees "writing" as an easy, no-special-talent-required occupation (anyone can write a novel, right?), it attracts a larger proportion of people who don't have a great success rate. But to tag writers in general as being more prone to poor financial skills, flakiness and risky financial behaviour is insulting to serious writers and successful authors.

    I majored in English, Science AND Math, believe in working hard to supplement what I earn from my writing passion, and I follow the basic premise that you don't spend what you don't have. And since I know of several other writers, none of who fall into Scalzi's statistics, I don't believe I'm an "exception". I suspect the article would be better not to single out writing but to recognize such characteristics are found among people in every self-monitoring career.

  4. All I can add to this is that for short fiction the pay scale is pretty horrible, even in the major magazines like Weird Tales, but a lot of erotica/porn type mags pay well. You have to be extremely disciplined in a self-monitoring career. I guess there's also this iconic image of the poor, drunken writer stemming from people like Poe and Bukowski, there's so much romance in that.

  5. Interesting article by John Scalzi, and the comments are most telling.

    But I think the same-old, same-old applies: Don't quit your day job.

  6. Good thing my husband makes the big bucks then, and everything I make on the side is cake. Still, it'd be nice to know that all this writing, editing, and teeth gnashing amounts to more than a pile of pennies...

    Thanks for the link!

  7. Interesting post/link. I think that I will post on the issue of writing and money.


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