I've always been frank with my readers because I respect your opinion. Years ago, as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t strive to be another Hemingway or Fitzgerald; I just had the drive to be a good story teller. There is a lot of power in that. When you can create fictional characters that readers become so involved with that they give them human characteristics such as: They worry about them; they want them to be happy, they hurt when the character “hurts” – when you can do that well enough that the heroes and heroines become real to the reader that is powerful stuff.
But writing is a lonely and solitary activity. And it takes time, lots of time to turn out a 250 or 300 page novel. It takes me a year of writing every day. It’s also a low paying job. When you count the hours you’ve devoted to writing that novel and divide them into the money you make from sales of that novel, you are not even making the minimum hourly wage. The guy who picks up your garbage makes more money than the writer.
“Well,” you say, “money is irrelevant to a real author. The writer is an artist. He or she gets his or her reward as an intangible.” BULLSHIT. Tell that to Danielle Steele or Stephen King. According to that logic, it’s supposed to be enough reward or satisfaction from knowing that your readers get enjoyment from reading your work. That’s all well and good, but try to trade that in at the grocery store instead of money and watch the reaction of the cashier. “I’m an artist, so I don’t have to pay for that pound of beans.” And the cashier waves you along and says, “Next!”
Writing was never a hobby with me, it was a serious business. And as a business it has failed and I am disappointed. I knew I would never get rich, but I did believe that I could make a living as a writer. I was wrong.
Of course the drive to keep writing is there, but do I give up a year of my remaining few years when the reward is so little money? Let’s look at the pros and cons. Let’s analyze it in an unemotional manner. And let’s use some real world numbers to see if it is worthwhile.
I'm a long time “ham,” or Amateur Radio Operator, I’ve collected boxes of old radio parts over the years. Hams who still build some of their station equipment use these parts. So I decided to clean out my cabinets and sell these old components on eBay. It’s not hard to do. It doesn’t take any skill, there’s no stress involved or very much time. In two months of casual selling on eBay I made over $2,000.00.
At about the same time my tax forms from Amazon came in showing the money I had made in royalties from sales of my novels for the whole year of 2017. The total, before taxes, was $745.95.
It’s obvious here that the incentive is to forget writing and keep selling old radio parts. Is there anyone who can survive on an annual income of $745.95? Is it worthwhile to work one’s ass off just to be able to say, “I’m a writer.”? I’m going to have to give that one some long and serious thought before I commit to another year-long struggle to write anything other than this web site.
Scroll down to see all my books and Stories.