A few days ago, after returning from GalaxyFest, I posted on my private Facebook page on this topic. I have a lot of friends who talk about being an author. I meet a lot of people, who talk about being an author. I know a lot of people who are authors. They all eventually come back to this question, asking it or answering it. Why would anyone want to be an author?
Why this question? Because the world is changing. Peek back at my last post Helping Out Your Favorite Authors and you will start to get an idea why. Things aren’t the way they used to be. But then, they never really were. For the most of history, writers didn’t make very much money. It has only been in recent years that a few, a very few, have done well. Most authors who live the life most people envision (write books for a living, get paid by the big publishers, get asked to write books, are famous) make less than $40,000 a year. And those are the pretty big name ones. Yeah, I know J.K. Rowling or whoever… Those are the lottery winners. And the chance of doing what they did is probably worse than winning the lottery, because people win lotteries all over the world all time.
Most authors make a very modest wage. And with the new trends in publishing, that is dropping very quickly. But you can find this information anywhere, just dig a little past how much John Grisham made last year, and try your favorite, lesser known authors. You might be surprised and wonder why they bother.
And that brings me back to my original post on Facebook. I will re-post it here, with names removed so they don’t have to admit they know me… (I replaced names with letters randomly, they don’t stand for anything)
Over the last week, three separate times I have been pulled into conversations about why anyone would want to be an author. There’s no joy in the solitary work, there’s no money to be made for anyone but the most successful, the whole industry is falling apart because of e-books and self-publishing ‘hacks’, etc…
Well. I guess that is all true. And honestly I don’t expect to make any money at it. In fact, by rough, very unscientific calculations, writing has cost me 1,000% more money than I have earned (I believe this to be a fairly accurate estimate, honestly). So why do I keep at it?
This last week alone, and admittedly most weeks are not like this, I got to see X’s eyes light up, at seeing me, at her book release. That made me feel very special. I just got tagged by Y on Facebook, and she called me ‘awesome’. Seriously -me! *fanboy giggle*. Z went out of her way to tell me it was good to see me again. Q teased me about my name (not in a mean way, but in an ‘I like you, and I want to tease you’ way). L,M, and N let me conspire with them on how new things will be wrought out of our minds and forced into physical form. J, after over a year, can still amaze me with his networking skills and convince me he could introduce me to anyone I would every need to know. I had drinks with K and T. I got to share shy/knowing smiles with celebrities who will remain unmentioned. I was told secrets that the rest of the world (the part that cares about them anyway) will have to wait to find out.
I could go on for at least another paragraph. For just this week alone. So why am I an author? Well, its obviously not the money. On the surface, it looks kind of like I’m a name dropper, doesn’t it? Like I’m an attention hound? A publicity seeker? Two things I’d like to note here.
1) This is my personal friends list here. If you are reading this, I really do know you, and like you already. And I hope the reverse is true. I’m not trying for brownie points and I seriously doubt that I could impress (or unimpress as the case may be) you any more than I already have. (Ok, that was true until I re-posted this.)
2)These people I have mentioned are but a small sampling of the group of people I have met who are genuinely friendly, strange, weird, unusual, and interesting. I am never bored around them, I never feel left out around them, and I rarely feel judged by them. Even then, that is mostly in my own head, or a response to something really stupid I just said.
So, why do I keep writing if there is no money in it? Well, I like to do it, but more importantly, it has led me to a place where I am accepted and surrounded by people I love and am in awe of. I get taught new ways of looking at things, and new things I had never even thought of, on a regular basis. And I make friends while I am doing it. What more can you really ask for out of life?
You know, besides money, that is.