Home » Royalties, The Business of Writing » The Writer and Money

The Writer and Money

7 April 2013

From Booktrust:

This week I had an argument with a couple of writers online about money. I said that writers shouldn’t write for money. The writers I was talking about were proud to say that money was the sole reason they wrote.

. . . .

I thought I’d try and pin down what I believe the relationship between a writer and money should be. So here is everything I know about writing and money.

  1. Firstly, writing is not for those who want the security of knowing what they are going to be earning. If you are after something financially predictable try something more sensible. Like acting. Or street-performing. Or the lottery.
  2. Every writer starts out not earning. You have to write a book. And then get an agent. And then a publisher. And that takes, on average, two lifetimes.
  3. You cannot write for a market. You can only write for humans. And humans are fickle.

. . . .

6. Writers are meant to be poor. Even when they are rich they live like they are poor. There is a limit to how much you can spend on toasters and dressing gowns.

Link to the rest at Booktrust

Royalties, The Business of Writing

101 Comments to “The Writer and Money”

  1. “Writers are meant to be poor.”


    Tripe, utter tripe.

    Mind, I have cash registers for eyes.


    • I have bank vaults for eyes, then. “Meant to be poor,” my pinfeathered butt!

    • Well, writers who think that writing isn’t a business are meant to be poor, because that’s how they’re going about doing it.

      This man has given me the urge to coin a new word: Businesswriter.

      A businesswriter is a writer who knows that she must both write and be an informed businessperson. Writing and learning about publishing go hand in hand with the successful businesswriter.

      Now, this procrastinating businesswriter has to (sigh) fire up TurboTax and work on her taxes from last year. I didn’t earn a lot (published the book in October), but I sure will be learning a lot.

      • I did my own taxes for the first time in more than a decade this year. TurboTax handled the royalty income with aplomb. You should have no issues.

        It was a lot less plomb about how to treat the money I made from selling a domain name, but you can’t have everything. 🙂

  2. The really funny thing about his reason he says “Writers are meant to be poor” is that he says that they live frugally even when they are rich. I wonder if he’s read The Millionaire Next Door? (Which was a study of millionaires, and found that most of them …. live frugally.)

    I suspect that this author is projecting his own lack of business sense on authors.

    • Agreed. And his reason for writing. Just like many writers don’t understand why someone wants to write for only themselves, and not others I do not understand why writers care who reads their books once they’re written.

    • Yup. He seems to revel in that stereotype.

  3. I never write for money, but I do publish what I write for money.
    I’ve been writing for over twenty-five years and I doubt I’ll ever stop. However, there’s no way that I would publish exclusively for free.
    As a writer, I’m an artist. As a publisher, I’m a businessman.
    You can be both, and the most successful of us in this business are both.

    • Yes.

    • Exactly what I was thinking! We don’t write for money, we publish for money.

    • This.
      I write because writing is a passion, but I publish my stories for money. I was quite happy when I published my stories for free on fictionpress, I have overgrown that site though. But here’s the deal, I still don’t mind giving away free stories here and there, but I do mind a third party profiting off my stories while I should have a day job. So reading this article felt to me like somebody is telling me, I should be poor while somebody else earns money instead of me. Well, you know what? ?8%&6 that.

      • P.S. I just read the whole article. And I can’t get over the:
        “Agents are very important, precisely because writers as a breed are not very good at money.”
        Is this a joke or is this supposed to be a satire? If not, I actually feel sorry for him.

        • Yeah, that line made me laugh out loud, at both the “Agents are very important” and the “writers as a breed” parts.
          Writers are a breed?
          Personally I’ve always thought of myself as a lucky mutt.

          • With attitude like that no wonder that publishers threat authors like they do.
            And mutt is good, that means that you are a special snowflake like me. 🙂

        • “Is this a joke or is this supposed to be a satire?”

          I wondered the same thing. He was so ‘marvin the paranoid android’ about being a writer that I can’t help but think he is attempting to spark a conversation instead of spouting bs. Either way, the results are entertaining.

        • I find this either very bad satire or even worse logic, because agents do nothing to alleviate the alleged shortcoming of writers: all they do is take the money owed the writer, decrease it, and absent malfeasance pass the remainder on. How is this helpful to someone who’s “bad at money?”

          Maybe he means they’re bad at negotiating. In this case it might make more sense, but as has been pointed out ad infinitum, ad nauseum if you want good negotiating you hire a lawyer, not an agent.

      • well said Elka.

        toasters? who uses more than one toaster, dressing gown? dressing GOWN? really. Like if you’re a guy, you get the toasters, if youre a girl you get the gown?

        My sense honestly, is not to be hard on that writer. Sounds naive and inexperienced. People use money differently. Writers have fought to be paid for their words for at least a millennia. We do huge amounts of pro bono, and Elka hit it; give what you wish, charge what you want, but it you give for free, it’s not there for the coyotes to drag off to their den and feast on.

        Just my .02

        • “toasters? who uses more than one toaster, dressing gown? dressing GOWN? really. Like if you’re a guy, you get the toasters, if youre a girl you get the gown?”

          To be fair to the author. He is British. Dressing gown is gender neutral (I wear one). What you would call a bathrobe.

          • thanks Robert, for the clarification. Appreciate it. Here, we’d say, amongst other things, men’s bathrobe, women’s bathrobe. They are oddly, gender specific, and found in two different departments at the stores. I was just thinking too, I think Dickens had Scrooge in a dressing gown with a night cap! Here in the US, often a ‘night cap’ is a drink before bedtime… or as you might call it maybe? ‘retiring’… which here, usually means to quit working at one’s job at age 62-65or thereabouts. Fascinating that it’s all English, but often quite different images w/ same nouns.

          • Yep!

            I have two, one of which is basically something for me to put on if I get cold while I’m writing and I’m too lazy to go clear up to the bedroom (my office is in the basement, my regular robe is in the bedroom on the second floor.) It makes me feel quite literary!

      • Exactly this.

        I put free stories here and there, but sites where SOMEBODY isn’t making money off your content are pretty damn rare. If somebody is making money off my content there will be a plurality of people making money off my content and one of them will be ME.

    • “I never write for money, but I do publish what I write for money.”

      This. Totally this.

      Honestly, “toasters and dressing gowns”?! Please!

      How about meals of nutritious foods, a roof over one’s head and preferably one in decent repair, attendance at the the odd ballet or concert, college tuition for one’s kids.

      Good grief!

      :: shakes head ::

  4. Samuel Johnson: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”
    Vladimir Nabokov: “I write for love, but I publish for money.”
    Evelyn Waugh: “I write for money, but I would not write differently for more money.”

    • Allan , excellent quote research! thanks. I thought I heard that trope before. Waugh is esp. humorous

  5. Guy’s a moron. I disagree with every word he says. Writing is WORK. Hard, incredibly satisfying work. It deserves to be paid and paid well. Gah, what an idiot.

    • I’ve heard this sentiment before and it always baffles me. Writing is the greatest pleasure I know (That’s done alone) and I absolutely love every moment I spend doing it.
      Maybe I’m just blessed and the words come relatively easy to me, but I’ve never found it an unpleasant act to write.
      I not only love writing the first draft, but also revisions and editing.
      I realize that I may be a freak in this regard, but if I never made another penny from it, I would still write. Now, as I said above, publishing what I write is predominately done for money.
      I think there are a lot of writers that confuse writing the work with disseminating the work.
      Writing and publishing are not one and the same thing.

      • I also love farming. That doesn’t mean it’s not work.

        • Doing something that I love never feels like work to me, but I fully understand that it might to someone else.
          I’ve had jobs that were pure work. One of my first jobs was one where I spent all day loading 80lb. iron bars onto trucks. This was during a hot summer and let me tell you, that was work.
          As I said above, I may be a freak because I feel this way, but I’ve always found writing to be a pure joy.

          • Whether you enjoy it or not, it still has a cost associated with it, in time if nothing else (and that’s the most valuable asset we have). And that cost ought to be repaid by those deriving benefit from it.

          • I think maybe you don’t understand what people mean by “work.” The word “work” does not preclude sheer joy.

            As I said, farming is sheer joy, that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard work. It doesn’t mean you don’t fall into bed exhausted.

            To me, if you are doing it for the love, you don’t want to do anything else, so of course you need to make money at it. (Unless you have some other remunerative thing in your life that is sheer joy.)

            Writing takes time. It takes energy. You can fall into bed happily exhausted, but still exhausted. Your concentration causes neglect of non-writing things in your life. You get RSIs. (Sometimes really bad ones.)

            When people say that “writing is work,” they’re not saying that it is unpleasant (although it can be, depending on what you write and are trying to express) but rather they’re pointing out to those who are driven by the idea of being an author (rather than by the joy of writing) that you actually have to, you know, WRITE.

            • My woodcarver husband met with this attitude all the time. He made huge, beautiful wood sculptures, including enormous rocking horses, like real horses. Whenever he did a show, people would say ‘what a nice little hobby.’ He loved doing it, but it was hideously hard work, which he did for money. Now he has serious arthritis as a result of that hard work. But I sometimes think the attitude that ‘if it’s something you like doing, it can’t possibly be work,’ is particularly prevalent in Scotland! I sometimes think all writers who take their work seriously should do some kind of business course. I too write for love, but publish and produce for money. What really bugs me and always has done, is when some large media company asks me to devote time and energy to a project while telling me that there’s ‘no money in the budget’ to pay me. The sad thing is that there are always plenty of volunteers.

              • I sympathise. It happens not only in Scotland, and not only in writing… It’s very, very bad in photography (“But we’ll give you credit!” Gee, thanks, do you work for credit? Do you think it’s “just” pressing the shutter?) and quite bad in academia as well. In both cases it’s an oversupply problem.

                But giving one’s work away, or selling it for very low fees, means it’s perceived as worthless by the recipient – that has been my experience in photography, certainly. If they are not paying, they are not going to bother to say much more than thank you – or not even that. It goes sorely against the grain, and it was a hard lesson to learn, but I do not give away my work any more.

              • your husband’s artwork sounds AWESOME. Let’s hear it for the woodworkers and woodturners of the world! The ancient art. I understand that attitude; it’s here in North America also; you’re just out in your workshop for a few days here and there. I just gently remind that “Creator made the universe in around only 6 days– what value ought be set on that?” That bends a few beaks. lol

  6. There were truths embedded in his humor, especially this one:

    “Trying to create art by thinking about money is like trying to stay sober by going to the pub.” 🙂

    Writers write. Businesses sell. And yes, both are necessary skills to succeed, especially in the E world.

    But sometimes you have to put the business person behind a steel curtain–or maybe in a Hannibal Lecter face mask–to get the writing done. Thinking who will buy this, how will I sell it, when you should be imagining story and building on craft can be both counter-productive and discouraging. For some of us…

    • …sometimes you have to put the business person…in a Hannibal Lecter face mask–to get the writing done.

      EC, you’ve given me a visual to treasure. From now on it’s “You! Back in the mask!”

    • Actually,many create while thinking of money. Pixar comes to mind, Disney overall, any of the cable media art directors and artists, film makers and etc.

      There’s a reason there are ‘formulas’ for storyline/ trajectory/ action shots/ certain looks/ kinds of dialogue. It’s all about money first and foremost while creating the moderate to huge sized projects. In part or perhaps in all because of the significant money investment up front in time, props, people’s salaries etc.

      The lone artist, writer, may not see that their time, their props, their investments in equip, and perhaps pay to other people, ought be factored in if they love their work, want to write without thinking about money [i agree that would be the ground note] … but, unless independently wealthy, or writing as a hobby, most /many writers have day jobs to make the rent and food.

      The love of writing, the joy of writing, seems it can occur across many philosophies about how to live life, how to live a creative life and a business life. I note that my heroic sized sculptor friends do not have a breezy outlook about being paid, in part because their materials and the foundries that bring their works into bronze are costly and bills must be paid.

      I wonder sometimes if ‘free spirit’ thinking about being renumerated for one’s works, comes from no pressure to pay bills associated SOLELY to bringing the work into being. We could write on foolscap, with a borrowed pen… as opposed to some who must have far more expensive tools for their works.

      Just an .02

      • I would say that Pixar is not a good example of what you are describing, though the corporate culture at Disney often is.

        If you knew how John Lassiter works — the amazing, devoted joy and commitment to story that imbues everything at Pixar — you’d never bring them up as the example of creating just for money. Disney, yes. Pixar, no.

        But… otherwise, yes. Your points are well taken. There is “manufactured” art — and you will find it in spades in Hollywood. And artists in all the other fields are not blithe about money.

        • Hey Camille, love so much of what you say here on TPV, but just this small thing: I didnt say pixar created “just for money” as you mentioned. I said “create while thinking of money”. Pixar is a business. Has shareholders. Ay, there’s the rub.

  7. Doctors are meant to be poor. Lawyers are meant to be poor. Architects. Engineers. Landscapers, too. After all, aren’t they just hobbiest gardeners?

    How dare any of them ever expect or attempt to make a living at their chosen profession!


    • And CEOs are meant to be poor. After all, they act as if they are aristocrats, & aristocrats have no money sense. There are far more penniless aristocrats with impressive pedigrees than financially secure ones. And the American economy would do much better if CEOs didn’t make several hundred times as much as their average employee.

      It’s the same reasoning as the guy at Booktrust.

      • [charitable tone of voice] I think that CEOs could be lower-middle-class. They probably have some use or other, after all. [/charitable tone of voice]

    • great analogy J.A. Marlow. Puts it in perspective. Again, either the writer is inexperienced, or is writing satire.

  8. “Writing is WORK. Hard, incredibly satisfying work. It deserves to be paid and paid well.” This. Right on Elizabeth.

    This is another case of not seeing that writing is a job. It takes up your precious time, involves skill and concentration and in that sense is like any other career.

    Personally I wonder how a man with such a big braincase-– has no brain?

  9. Truly, the writer-should-be-poor myth helps other people make money. If the writer assumes poverty is the natural state, the writer doesn’t question why she makes so little.

  10. Through my many business endeavors I learned one thing, don’t start anything for the love of money, first enjoy and love what you’re doing, and then you’ll make the money. Writing is a long haul, and only love for what you do will take you to the end of the rainbow. If you want to make money, get a job. Donald West said it very well a few posts above, for money you publish. The selling part is where the money is made. And you shouldn’t feel shy or apologies for asking to be paid for your work. Hobbyists do it for fun. Professionals get paid.

  11. You, looking at these points, I can’t help but be reminded of two things:

    One is a book about surviving in Hollywood by a sassy young (female) screenwriter — who points out that in Hollywood culture, the writer is “The Girl.” And she compared every situation you find yourself in as like a 1950’s date.

    Which was the other thing that this reminded me of: 1950s attitudes toward women. You’re supposed to look pretty (be creative) and not bother your little head about things and let other people take care of you, and hope it will be someone rich and nice, but most of us have to settle for someone poor and not at all nice.

    It’s all about be helpless and precious.

    • Yes. Perfect comparison.

    • +10

    • Brilliant analogy, Camille. I thought that too when replying at the Booktrust site, but didn’t articulate it as well as you have. Probably because I was foaming at the mouth with indignation. That piece does precisely represent a desire to return writers to the state of silly, helpless, naive little souls who need big strong agents to hold their hands and tell them which toaster to buy with their deservedly tiny proceeds from writing. Sorry to Matt Haig, who is an experienced and award-winning British writer, but as a paid novelist myself, his bizarrely naive approach to ‘the writer and money’ left me feeling quite annoyed.

  12. I have a book in my library titled, “Writing for the Joy of It” by Leonard Knott.

    It’s a Writer’s Digest publication with a cover price of $11.95.

    I guess even ol’ Leonard didn’t much care to write for the joy of it.


  13. He seems happy in his misery. Better to wallow in the pig sty, complaining of the flies and mud and stench. Everyone knows the castle is for our betters, like agents and editors and publishers. If misery inspires creativity, then the piles of dung must truly be magnificent.

    • Truly, seems like an excuse to accept failure to me. Easier not to sell and pretend you never expected to than to admit that maybe the thing you love writing so much is either so esoteric, cryptic, obtuse, or narrow that no one but yourself can enjoy it, even though you desperately want others to read it and understand, and maybe even love you a little for it. The truth is, I’ve seen so many people write about how they want to be read lately that I’m boggled. Is it a search for validation? I don’t know, and I might not ever understand, because for me the only reason to write is because I enjoy entertaining myself with my own stories. Yes, I reread my own stuff, the same way I reread the stuff of authors I love because that’s the reason I write, and no other. But darn if I’m not going to try to sell and sell a lot, so that I can spend as much of my time entertaining myself as possible. Why should some other person get to make the money off my work? I don’t think so. No way. No one else gets to make more off my work than me. That’s probably the single biggest reason I’d rather give my stuff away on my website (I don’t) than ever go traditional. I deserve the biggest part of the earnings for anything I create and if I’m not going to get it, then by golly, no one else is either… :-0 Whew. I’m in a mood.

  14. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Rubbish.

    “I’m as much a victim of the unfulfilling meringue of capitalism as everyone else in the first world.”

    Yeah, because other, unnatural, economic systems result in SO MANY people doing SO WELL. Those Dark Ages sure were great for everyone, weren’t they. And hey, I hear Soviet Russia was THE PLACE to live.


  15. “The average waiting time between signing a contract and seeing money from that contract is six and a half years.”

    Where on earth does he get that from? Signing a publishing contract usually produces an advance. Even, if there isn’t an advance, you should get royalties with the first royalty statement which should come considerably sooner than six and a half years after signing.

  16. Although I applaud the writer’s right to write what he wants, I disagree 100% with the statemates.

    Writers definitely have a right to spread their message, entertain and of course, God-forbid, make a living.

  17. I enjoyed his take on the issue of money. He wrote in an amusing and self-deprecating manner. Very British. A little sad.

    What he said is what I heard, what I believed, and what was true back in the nineties and early oughts. I battered my brain against the dream of making a living as a writer and the reality of writing around my day jobs. I submitted some pieces over the years and received rejections (which did not bother me as I had read every essay written by the greats about all of their rejections) but I never pursued publication with the intensity I knew was needed to push passed the gatekeepers. I knew I could write a masterpiece and poor sales would relegate me to obscurity and I would always struggle. I was told that was how it was supposed to be by agents, by publishers, by other writers. My own father published seven books through the Big 6 and he lives below poverty level even though his books ‘have legs’ according to his publishers. I felt like a failure because my writing stayed in a drawer but I could not stop writing.

    When affordable self-publishing became an option, the sun came out. Even my dad has decided to start writing fiction and eschewing the normal channels.

    E-books are the future. Prometheus has brought us the Fire.

    I hope the sun comes out for this guy. Although I hear it rains a lot in the U.K.

  18. This –

    Prometheus has brought us the Fire.

  19. 6. Writers are meant to be poor. Even when they are rich they live like they are poor.

    This guy has never seen Stuart Woods’ estate (I have) or his twin engine airplane that he used to fly himself to Europe from America.

    Just 1 example.

    What a tool.

    • Agreed Barbara,

      A certain Mr. King lives not too far from me in the winter months. I would not classify his seaside home as “living poorly”. Nor the last new Jag I saw him driving as a simple car. I don’t know if he has a plane or not, but I’m sure he’s living within his means.

      Tool doesn’t begin to cover it. Ninny.

    • Or author Clive Cusslers, ka-jillion classic cars that he built super-garages for on a mountain top.

  20. ಠ╭╮ಠ

    $&@% this guy.

  21. “Writers are meant to be poor” is why authors have let publishers abuse them for so long. Even the ones making big bucks could have better contracts but they just feel so lucky to be breaking away, magically, from the poor part.

  22. The only comments showing (on the original article on the other site) are ones that made it through the editor’s approval. No wonder they’re all positive. Ick.

  23. Elle I sent in a comment and it also didn’t make it through. I think he is either an agent for the publishers or is so ‘washed’ that he simply will not even consider the new reality in the publishing world. Its funny because he mentions EL James at one point I believe. If you’ve been in prison your whole life, you might not want freedom anymore. There is a name for that but it escapes me.

    • Well there’s the Stockholm Syndrome where you begin to like and trust your kidnapper…..

      • He’s a participant in a Stanford Prison Experiment, and doesn’t get that he could just walk out the unlocked door.

        • And once more:

          Dilbert: “Wally’s in jail. Can you help get him out?”

          Dogbert: “Tell him to try the door. The guards only pretend to lock them.”

          Wally, eating a sandwich in the cafeteria: “But I’d have to say it was the lifers who were the most embarrassed.”


          Ever seen one of those horrifying videos of captive animals “released” into the wild who do nothing but pace the dimensions of their former cages?

          That’s this guy. And all the tradpub authors who act as though indiepub is some kind of trick. Not all the tradpub authors, mind. Just the ones with this mindset.

          • “Ever seen one of those horrifying videos of captive animals “released” into the wild who do nothing but pace the dimensions of their former cages?”

            Yes that’s it! I remember now. It’s called “Learned Helplessness” Thanks Marc.


            But I’m thinking Stanford Prison Experiment –as mentioned by PD Singer
            Stockholm Syndrome –as mentioned by Neely Lyon above

            are all in this guy’s head playing a role.

            Stanford Prison Experiment symptoms , Stockholm Syndrome, Learned Helplessness–> they’re all in there swimming around in his head. If this gentlemen ever goes to a therapist I would say said therapist has his/her work cut out for them.

        • that made me laugh right out loud PD. Good one

    • I tried to comment as well – nothing showing.

  24. I get really irritated when people come in with their own rules and reasons and think these rules are so great they should apply to everyone and even to my ideals.

    Writing isn’t stable income – well when I was laid off of that well-paying job I had for seven years, I learned NOTHING IS STABLE. And just in case I didn’t get the message the first time, the Fates made sure I understood by laying off my husband from his well-paying 5 year job on the same day! That so sucked!

    So when I perceive my writing income as relatively stable, I have my reasons. 😉

    But folks have their sandbox where their rules apply and more power to ’em. I love writing, and in my sandbox, my rules work well enough for me, thank you.

  25. Trollope's Ghost

    I thought we handled this in the 1870s:

    “But it is a mistake to suppose that a man is a better man because he despises money. Few do so, and those few in doing so suffer a defeat. Who does not desire to be hospitable to his friends, generous to the poor, liberal to all, munificent to his children, and to be himself free from the casking fear which poverty creates? The subject will not stand an argument;—and yet authors are told that they should disregard payment for their work, and be content to devote their unbought brains to the welfare of the public. Brains that are unbought will never serve the public much. Take away from English authors their copyrights, and you would very soon take away from England her authors.”

    — The Autobiography of Anthony Trollope

    • I love it! Thanks for posting that. Not sure if that makes this a case of those who learn nothing from history are doomed to repeat it or youth attempting to make themselves relevant by adding opinion to an argument that’s been dead a century or so.

      Either way does that mean we get to watch a new version of Groundhog Day? (That will probably be painful though.)

  26. Gee, I am glad that software engineers don’t have the same opinion of how best to do their art else we’d have planes falling out of the sky.

    As a writer I can thoroughly say from experience that being poor sucks, and suffering sucks worse, so I would prefer to be rich thankyouverymuch.

  27. For those writers who embrace poverty, I wish you the best. But you speak for yourselves.

    • I think this is the key thing to take out of this:

      I like writing for the love. I have set up my life so I don’t have to necessarily make money at my writing to survive. I embrace a frugal lifestyle.

      But that’s a personal choice. It allows me to write what I am driven to write, regardless as to whether it’s something anyone else wants to read. Which means a lot to me.

      And I sure as heck don’t think others should think the way I do. If he had been writing about his own choices — saying “I” or “me” when he talks about “authors” — then this would be a funny and self-deprecating essay.

      Also, I’d just like to point out: living a frugal lifestyle requires having good money sense. You don’t get the freedom to write what you want by being bad with money.

  28. “If he had been writing about his own choices — saying “I” or “me” when he talks about “authors” — then this would be a funny and self-deprecating essay.”

    True, that. I went back and re-read the article and then the comments (there were only a handful of oddly supportive ones) and realized he was being serious in a just-shoot-me way. Perhaps ‘they’ are blackmailing him. But what would they get? It’s not like he has any money.

    The fact that I happen to be in my fuzzy blue dressing gown right at this moment does not reduce my desire to make a living wage writing books.

  29. I certainly hope this wasn’t satire. I (sadly) don’t think he pushed that mindset far enough for people to go, “Oh! Yes, indeed! I see what he’s really saying!”

    Instead, I was left feeling angry and then very, very sad.

    Yes, he’s welcome to decide he ought be poor evermore. There have always been that sort, haven’t there? Punish themselves or deny themselves in the hopes of receiving enlightenment. But any inference that anyone who expects to receive proper compensation for their work isn’t a “real” writer is out of line.

  30. While I agree with many of the comments, and totally understand them, you may need to go easy here. The guy is British. There’s a very British sense of humour at work here. The piece isn’t necessarily satire, but a lot of is at least tongue in cheek. It’s subtle and contradictory, and not supposed to be taken at face value. Which, I admit, is a tricky business, especially on the interwebs.

    • Wow! you are right Simon! In these comments you can really see the huge cultural differences:
      Americans do not get British tongue in cheek humour. Not when the talk is about money. Then you get a right twist in your knickers! (British for underpants)

      Death to art, long live the bank account!!!

      • “In these comments you can really see the huge cultural differences:
        Americans do not get British tongue in cheek humour.”


        I spent 40 years living amongst Brits in mostly Hampshire and London. I have lived in Atlanta for 17 years now, spending an average of 3 months a year back in Blighty.

        It is a commonly held idea that Americans don’t get English humour, especially the ironic sort. I held this view myself until experience taught me that a lot of American irony passeth about 15 feet above English heads.

        There are over 300 million people in this great big place called the USA, it is an error to assume that any generalization holds sway. As it would be a mistake to assume that all the denizens of say, Yorkshire might be white-skinned and related to Sir Geoffrey or Harvey Smith.

        I do not believe this writer wrote tongue in cheek. I think he’s a full-blown witless dope with a particular line in insulting drivel.



        • Of course you are right Brendan about the generalisation! Let’s do a bit of both: Enjoy our art regardless and then enjoy the selling of it as well.
          Sunny Greetings from Southern Spain

          • “Sunny Greetings from Southern Spain.”


            Hasta la vista, Baby:)

            I’m glad to hear its shining, I shall be over to check out a little property in Callosa De Segura (about 20 miles west of Torrevieca) very shortly.

            I will drink a lemonade to your health, keep a sharp look out for the tax man and the Essex thug:)


            • aaaaay thanks I will! …Before you commit check out Orgiva in the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Nevada! Snow capped mountains, eagles in the sky and one of the last republics of free-spiritedness on the planet, only 20 minutes away from the coast… The land of Chris Steward and ‘Driving over Lemons…’
              I shall drink a fresh orange juice on your health and mission
              hasta la vista!

      • You’d be surprised how many Americans consume British media. I wanted very much to believe it was British humour at work here, but I think that it’s impossible to get across in text with the words used. If it is meant as a joke, then it failed. But, hey, I’m only an honourary Brit, according to an English friend or two.

  31. Like a couple of others, couldn’t decide if this was for really real or just hamming it up. I’m a citizen of the Commonwealth and even I couldn’t decipher, tone-wise.

    It started immediately for me before he’d even written a word actually, what with that date posted above the article … 12 April 2013! Seeing as how it’s only the 8th today … psychic article, anyone?

    If you reframe his ‘arguments’ in a humorous vein, it was a hilarious piece. Really had me laughing. Well done, that guy. And my Editor’s Hat was also grinning at the hidden commas and few missing full stops / periods, but that was probably unintentional.

    So now I’m annoyingly intrigued enough to bookmark the page and go read more of his stuff, just to find out whether that was really for real! But I guess that was the whole point, gosh durn it.


    nb: I think the scariest thing is that there are lots of writers out there who do believe that, even if he may or may not!

  32. I’m British, have lived in Britain all my life, and I didn’t find it even remotely funny.

  33. Some writers write for money. Some writers write for Art.

    I wish they would stop arguing about it and just respect the other’s position – people are different.

  34. I don’t know how I missed this post and I’ve only skimmed the comments so sorry if I’m repeating what everyone is saying. I wrote my first book because I really wanted to tell that story–however, I also had visions of a huge advance and was sure that once I finished it and got the tedious stuff like finding and agent and publisher, I’d be on easy street. Then as I was writing, I did lots of research on how to become published and some of those dreams took on a more realistic tone–but I still needed to write the story and didn’t worry too much about selling it until it was done. I started writing the second book shortly after I published the first, and by that time, I knew that riches were pretty much out of my immediate grasp, but I still wrote the book with the hopes that the second book would spur more sales of the series. I did do pretty well, but not riches territory by any means. Third book–I approached it much more business like. I wanted to get it out there, but I still wanted to tell a good story. Despite my business like attitude, I feel it is my strongest writing to date. My point being, I don’t think it has to be either/or. You can be creative but still business-like.

  35. I write to try and make sense of the world. And I write because I love stories. How I spend my time is more important to me than the money I have to spend. And I am lucky.

  36. We are given four facts – I believe they are all wrong.

    You can’t generalise like this and get away with it.

    I guess I disagree.

  37. I’m just so depressed. British and depressed. There are some points in Matt’s blog post that I agree with and some I don’t. There are some (well made) points above that I agree with and again, some I don’t. But I’m shocked at how rude, unkind, judgemental and binary many of you are. What happened to debate? This is someone’s opinion. Another human being. Who has a right to an opinion. Remember that? Discuss, argue, question, by all means, but insult, dismiss, trash… That’s not good in my book, but maybe that’s because I’m wet behind the ears from all that rain.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.