If You’re Not in it for the Money, Why Publish?

I’m in it for the money. There, I said it. Writing is an art, writing well is a more refined art. Money is how you keep score – publish for the money.

Dollars & More Dollars!

As I have recently embarked on this trip to become an author – and I’m taking you along with me – I have been reading just about everything out there on how to write, how to publish and how to market a book (namely a self published one).

I’ve noticed a pretty consistent dichotomy in the writing world.  Those that write for money and those that write for art.

What’s the difference and which side am I on?

Do I even have to choose sides?

I think I do.

There are those writers who treat writing like a business and run it as such (with their books and stories being their primary products).  Most of them take different approaches, with varying degrees of art vs. pure product, but the main goal is to get words on pages, pages into chapters, chapters into books, books into a sales channel and money in their pockets.

There’s the other camp who treat writing and authorship as a sacred art form and are actually offended when you ask them “how are your sales?”.  These guys will toil for weeks, months and years to create the best book they can muster.  Most of them shoot for recognition and bestseller status.  They will work hard to make it a masterpiece before publishing.  They aren’t in it for the money – so they say – they are in it for the creation.

I fall in the authorpreneur camp (I don’t know who should get the credit for that word but I like it).  I’m writing because I see it as a way to be creative, create something that didn’t exist before I came up with it, and a way to make some money if I do it well enough – if I’m prolific.   I want to write a lot and often.  (I have some big hairy goals for the rest of this year and next – subscribe to my email list to see what I’m up to!)

In my study and research I have come across this trend and here’s what I think about it.

I read a lot of threads in forums and articles on writer blogs where writers defend their crappy sales numbers and justify not advertising by saying things like “it corrupts the art of my writing” and so on and so forth.

What I think that really means is they don’t know how to do what they know they should do to actually make money.  They are using “ART” as a thinly-veiled excuse, or justification, for their shortcomings as business people.  They can’t sell, don’t want to sell and are unwilling or unable to learn.

So my only question is “why publish then?”

I understand the desire to see your work in print.  It’s nice to have something tangible that you can hold and show off but if that’s the only reason you publish then you’re better off with a short run printing or just vanity publishing so you can have a copy.  Why try to sell if you’re just in it for the art?

Really, if you aren’t in it for the money – don’t publish!

As most people know writing isn’t exactly the best career plan if you want to become wealthy.

There are numerous studies that show that most “writers” make less than $10,000/year from their books.  Others show that a professional writer makes an average of $30,000/year – that’s pathetic.  I’ll make that much in the first few months of the year at my day job… why would I leave that, or desire to leave that, for the promise of the paltry average?

Because of the potential.  That’s why.  Just like every business, I see opportunity.

As with everything, there are a select few who make hundreds of millions.  They are the outliers.  They are the ones that have the right combination of art, creative power and luck.

If I didn’t have bad, horrible, terrible luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.  I know this about myself.

So if I have bad luck and I’m an unknown author just starting and if I know it takes more skill than I have, more luck than I have and more raw talent to become uber-successful, why try?

Because there’s a middle group that sees great success, they create great art and they are successful as a mid-level authors. Most if them aren’t famous, they aren’t a “household name”, just the opposite, most if them are unknown.  They aren’t lucky… they just work hard and smart.  They put it out there, refine on the fly, market and enjoy a good, independent, life.

It’s this group that has success that can be replicated.  That’s part of the reason I’m willing to try.

I’m just going to come right out and say it – I’m in it for the money.

Sure, I could lie like a lot of the self-righteous, self-absorbed, artsy-fartsy people out there who say they are in it for the art, but that would be a lie.  And I certainly wouldn’t want to feign being one of those types either.

I’m in it for the money.

But, I thought you just said that you know that writing doesn’t pay well?

Right, it doesn’t.  Not all the time.  Especially if you’re not a good writer.

But for me the money is just a way to determine how I’m doing.  That’s how I approach most of my businesses.

The money is how you keep score.

If people like my product or service they’ll buy it; +1 point.  If they don’t they won’t; zero points

Same with writing.

I would be lying if I didn’t think my writing was awesome – but yes, I’m totally biased.  However if it doesn’t appeal to anyone else then part of the reason for doing it is empty.

I want my writing, my business, my art, to appeal to others.  I want them to enjoy it as much as I do.  If they don’t then part of me is missing.

I’m a “People Pleaser”

If I’m succeeding at that then I will earn more points and I can “see” that others enjoy it.

Like I said, it’s a way to keep score.

So yes, I’m getting into writing because I feel like I have some stories to tell, but I’m also just doing it for the money.

So, if you like my stuff (once it’s published in the future), then give me a couple points – I would love to see if it has any value to anyone outside of me and maybe my mom (I’m not even sure if my wife will like it at this point!).


What I do know:

I’m still trying to find my way as a writer.  In fact, I’m still trying to figure out my voice  and my style.  On top of that I’m trying to decide how I want to use my blog/website.  I want to make it a place where people can learn about me, my books and about my journey of becoming an author.

Does that mean that I’m going to become an authority on writing books?  No.

Does that mean that I’m going to become an expert at how to self-publish?  Maybe, but probably only for myself.

Does that mean that all my posts will be about me which means they probably won’t have a point?  More than likely.

Does that mean that I will ignore what the reader, you, my audience wants to read?  No it doesn’t.  I would like to know what you like and don’t like about my stuff so far.  I want you to tell me what I’m doing right and what I could do better.  Go ahead and leave a comment and let me know below.

If you want to be notified when I update my journey or progress, I would love it if you join my email list… subscribe here to see what I’m up to!

Thanks!  (my 7 year old daughter told me to end with that)

Ben

Author: Ben

They call me Ben. I'm a Husband, Father, Cyclist, Business Owner, Author and Lover of Green Chile - Just to name a few.

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