counter create hit Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living

Availability: Ready to download

In the literary world, the debate around writing and commerce often begs us to take sides: either writers should be paid for everything they do or writers should just pay their dues and count themselves lucky to be published. You should never quit your day job, but your ultimate goal should be to quit your day job. It's an endless, confusing, and often controversial conver In the literary world, the debate around writing and commerce often begs us to take sides: either writers should be paid for everything they do or writers should just pay their dues and count themselves lucky to be published. You should never quit your day job, but your ultimate goal should be to quit your day job. It's an endless, confusing, and often controversial conversation that, despite our bare-it-all culture, still remains taboo. In Scratch, Manjula Martin has gathered interviews and essays from established and rising authors to confront the age-old question: how do creative people make money? As contributors including Jonathan Franzen, Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, Nick Hornby, Susan Orlean, Alexander Chee, Daniel Jose Older, Jennifer Weiner, and Yiyun Li candidly and emotionally discuss money, MFA programs, teaching fellowships, finally getting published, and what success really means to them, Scratch honestly addresses the tensions between writing and money, work and life, literature and commerce. The result is an entertaining and inspiring book that helps readers and writers understand what it's really like to make art in a world that runs on money-and why it matters.


Compare
Ads Banner

In the literary world, the debate around writing and commerce often begs us to take sides: either writers should be paid for everything they do or writers should just pay their dues and count themselves lucky to be published. You should never quit your day job, but your ultimate goal should be to quit your day job. It's an endless, confusing, and often controversial conver In the literary world, the debate around writing and commerce often begs us to take sides: either writers should be paid for everything they do or writers should just pay their dues and count themselves lucky to be published. You should never quit your day job, but your ultimate goal should be to quit your day job. It's an endless, confusing, and often controversial conversation that, despite our bare-it-all culture, still remains taboo. In Scratch, Manjula Martin has gathered interviews and essays from established and rising authors to confront the age-old question: how do creative people make money? As contributors including Jonathan Franzen, Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, Nick Hornby, Susan Orlean, Alexander Chee, Daniel Jose Older, Jennifer Weiner, and Yiyun Li candidly and emotionally discuss money, MFA programs, teaching fellowships, finally getting published, and what success really means to them, Scratch honestly addresses the tensions between writing and money, work and life, literature and commerce. The result is an entertaining and inspiring book that helps readers and writers understand what it's really like to make art in a world that runs on money-and why it matters.

30 review for Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manjula

    I edited this book, so hell yes I am giving it five stars!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I have a confession to make: I only requested the book because Cheryl Strayed and Roxane Gay's names were on the cover as contributors and I adore them both. I am not a writer, I have no intention of becoming a writer or working in any other creative capacity ever - so I am not exactly the target audience for this book. But I still very much enjoyed this book and I think other people will do, too. There were several contributions that I enjoyed immensely; Cheryl Strayed's of course, because she I have a confession to make: I only requested the book because Cheryl Strayed and Roxane Gay's names were on the cover as contributors and I adore them both. I am not a writer, I have no intention of becoming a writer or working in any other creative capacity ever - so I am not exactly the target audience for this book. But I still very much enjoyed this book and I think other people will do, too. There were several contributions that I enjoyed immensely; Cheryl Strayed's of course, because she just rocks at this kind of "talking about herself in disguise of advise for others"-spiel she does. I also enjoyed the interview with Roxane Gay, although I would have prefered a proper essay (I guess, I'll just have to wait for her upcoming memoir (Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body) for that.) Also great, as usual was Daniel José Older with an appell to make publishing more inclusive. Melinda Lo's personal essay was super interesting as well. But for me, the absolute best essay of the book came from an author I had never heard about before: Jennifer Weiner. Her essay was both heartbreakingly honest and resilient at the same time; and while I am still not interested in her novels, I am strongly considering picking up her memoir because she sounds like somebody whose story I would enjoy immensely. Overall, I did enjoy the personal essays more, the ones where the authors told about their way or their life or their struggle, while most of the industry talk wasn't quite as interesting to me (but, like I said, not the target audience here). PS: Jonathan Franzen seems to be a bit of a knobhead. ___ I received an arc curtesy of NetGalley and Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for that!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eilonwy

    This was a pretty interesting collection of essays about professional writing and money. Some of the writers were quite upfront about how, and how much, they get paid. Cheryl Strayed's contribution was very honest in describing how she and her husband were deeply in debt before she sold Wild, and even then, her $100,000 advance was paid to her over 4 years, so it was more like a grant than a living before the book hit big and the royalties came in. Other writers were very reluctant to discuss th This was a pretty interesting collection of essays about professional writing and money. Some of the writers were quite upfront about how, and how much, they get paid. Cheryl Strayed's contribution was very honest in describing how she and her husband were deeply in debt before she sold Wild, and even then, her $100,000 advance was paid to her over 4 years, so it was more like a grant than a living before the book hit big and the royalties came in. Other writers were very reluctant to discuss their own money situations at all. But since everyone in here is a professional writer, all of the essays were entertaining, if nothing else. The biggest takeaway from this book for me? Get a day job you love, because you are most likely never going to be able to live without one by writing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachel León

    It took me a while to get through this collection of essays and interviews about writing and money, which I'll admit I mostly picked up because Roxane Gay is listed as a contributor. Some of the essays and interviews were more interesting than others, but overall it's a solid collection about making a living as a writer.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    An endlessly fascinating topic, but unfortunately many (or most) of the writers who contributed essays (or submitted to a Q&A) didn't really get into the nitty gritty of their finances, fees, book advances and other specifics -- as advertised on the cover. There's a whole lot of suffering here (what writer wouldn't pass up the opportunity to biographically sketch out their creative and personal misery?), but a lot of these essays either stray off-topic or decide on a different topic. I guess it' An endlessly fascinating topic, but unfortunately many (or most) of the writers who contributed essays (or submitted to a Q&A) didn't really get into the nitty gritty of their finances, fees, book advances and other specifics -- as advertised on the cover. There's a whole lot of suffering here (what writer wouldn't pass up the opportunity to biographically sketch out their creative and personal misery?), but a lot of these essays either stray off-topic or decide on a different topic. I guess it's no surprise that the more successful the writer, the more willing they are to talk about money, since they no longer have to worry about it; I particularly enjoyed Cheryl Strayed and Jennifer Weiner's contributions. And here's one more opportunity to simply say: Leslie Jamison just totally sucks. Also, perhaps selfishly, I would have liked to see more thoughts from people who write for an actual, year-to-year living, whether on salary or contract, rather than the MFAs who are trying to get another novel published and swing from grant to gig to grant to gig. Aside from one writer who begins to tell us quite a juicy bit about her years as a ghost-writer, including what she earned on some of those projects, most of the writers here only furtively mention the assignments they take (nonfiction, journalism, editing) to get by, like that work doesn't matter. Although I'm sure it would seem a fate worse than death to some of the writers in this book, I have worked in newspapers for a few decades now and, very luckily, have always found it creatively rewarding, allowing (and assigning) me to write longform and short features on all kinds of subjects, as well as writing essays, reviews, big news and giving me a chance to take leave to write two books. And, after moving up through a couple of papers, it's been a good living and has surrounded me with an endless supply of colleagues, editors and others who were willing to treat column inches as something close to art. (And even when it wasn't a great living, from the start I had health and dental insurance and always paid my bills. Health insurance looms large in many of these writers' stories about their professional lives.) So, if nothing else, this book had me thanking my lucky stars that I got to be a writer in my own way, without my career hanging on the words Iowa or New York.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amy Rogers

    As many followers of ScienceThrillers.com know, I run a very small, boutique independent publishing company that specializes in stories with science (ScienceThrillers Media). I’m also very involved in my local Sacramento writers’ community. Therefore when I heard about Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living edited by Manjula Martin, I immediately went to my library’s website to request a copy. In the publishing business, money is like an STD: some people definitely have it, but As many followers of ScienceThrillers.com know, I run a very small, boutique independent publishing company that specializes in stories with science (ScienceThrillers Media). I’m also very involved in my local Sacramento writers’ community. Therefore when I heard about Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living edited by Manjula Martin, I immediately went to my library’s website to request a copy. In the publishing business, money is like an STD: some people definitely have it, but no one wants to talk about it. Writers have little or no idea how much income other writers actually earn from selling books. In this vacuum of ignorance, expectations inflate. No, you won’t earn much money even if you get a “big” advance (typically spread out over several years, and diminished by taxes and agent fees), nor even if your book makes a best seller list. According to the cover, Scratch aspires “to confront the age-old question: How do creative people make money?” A highlighted quote claims, “Manjula Martin…has done more than perhaps anyone else to shed light on the financial nitty-gritty of the writing profession.” Well, I don’t know what Manjula Martin has done in general, but I can tell you that in this particular book, the only light that was shed came from a flashlight in your dad’s glove compartment powered by a couple of five-year-old C cells. In other words, the cover copy lied. In this collection of essays, there’s no financial nitty-gritty. Actual numbers are as rare as snow in July. Instead, the essayists tiptoe around pragmatic questions of money to instead navel-gaze about issues of privilege and class. Several of them explicitly repeat the problem this book was supposed to solve: they flatly refuse to discuss specific financial details. Now, I understand why a person wants to keep her income information private. But then don’t write an essay for a book that purports to reveal data about income or advance money. Part of the problem is the working writers chosen to contribute to this collection are pretty much all traditionally published writers of literary fiction. The Iowa-NYC-MFA crowd. None are scrappy indies of the kind who are sweeping the amazon Kindle bestseller lists. And almost none of them write genre fiction, which is were the money, such as it is in the book business, can be found. They share a proud disdain for money, acknowledging it as a necessary evil but definitely unclean. As you might expect, this makes it rather difficult to have an honest, open conversation about “the financial nitty-gritty of the writing profession.” These people write beautiful essays, I’ll give them that. But they’re not essays that are of any use–and that (I thought) was the point of this book. Compounding my dissatisfaction, the essayists in general make some of the most titanically bad financial decisions that parts of the book could be re-issued as a cautionary tale in poor personal financial planning. I’d rather take medical advice from Huck Finn with his dead cat in a graveyard than take financial advice from these folks. Is it because these people are creatives? Is it because they’re living in an MFA bubble? I don’t know. Plenty of indie writers have embraced the practical side of the writing business. The fact that many of the essayists are also Park Slope-dwelling millennials, a group not known for its get-up-and-go tenacity, does not help. So unfortunately I will not be recommending Scratch to my fellow authors in Sacramento, nor will I give it to the authors I sign at ScienceThrillers Media. I’ll give them straight talk about the likelihood of very small royalty payments, and a copy of a book that they can actually use (Online Marketing for Busy Authors by Fauzia BurkeOnline Marketing for Busy Authors: A Step-By-Step Guide for business, and Troubleshooting Your Novel by Steven James for craft Troubleshooting Your Novel: 100 Incredibly Practical Ways to Fix Your Fiction).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Scratch: Writers, Money, And The Art Of Making A Living is authored by Manjula Martin founder of Scratch Magazine (2013-2015), explores the skilled innovation of writing for self support and profit. Included are over 30 essays by successful and highly acclaimed authors, as well as those who haven't yet reached that status. Regarding those "day jobs " it was Oscar Wilde that said "The best work is produced by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread." "I write for pleasure, but publish Scratch: Writers, Money, And The Art Of Making A Living is authored by Manjula Martin founder of Scratch Magazine (2013-2015), explores the skilled innovation of writing for self support and profit. Included are over 30 essays by successful and highly acclaimed authors, as well as those who haven't yet reached that status. Regarding those "day jobs " it was Oscar Wilde that said "The best work is produced by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread." "I write for pleasure, but publish for money. Vladimir Nabokov (1955) In these essays the writers used many means to write as much as possible, dealing with editors, literary agents, reviews good and bad, all forms of commerce--whether blogging, tweeting about books liked or disliked, talking about books at dinner parties, book events. These connections are necessary for a serious writer that wishes to publish. Many writers work under extreme stress anxiety and their writing doesn't always bring much satisfaction but can be somewhat disappointing. There are living expenses to be paid, student loans are due, and building a career in writing eats up every spare minute the writer has. According to Leslie Jamison talking about money forces the acknowledgement of aspects of the creative process that makes people uncomfortable. Writers are not only producers but produced. Like it or not, money is present in the creative arts: an independent book vendor sells his books on the street, Zora Neale Hurston's death in a welfare hospital, Jean Rhys impoverished obscurity and alcoholism, Nellie Bly going undercover in a mental asylum with hopes of a staff writing position at the New York World. Raymond Carver openly discussed his dismay and resentment over the interference of his children and family responsibilities on his writing career. Not all tenured professors at prestigious universities found personal fulfillment, an example of David Foster Wallace was noted. Included were interviews with Cheryl Strayed, Jennifer Weiner, Jonathan Franzen, Nick Hornby and others. Many writers had impressive credentials from assorted MFA writing programs including the Iowa Writers Workshop. Whether the writers taught as adjunct professors, teaching fellowships, or in MFA writing programs, the interesting process of professional writing, the honest and often ordinary life of a writer, also family life, friends and fans. This is an encouraging inspiring read for a better understanding of a life in writing. Many thanks to NetGalley for the e-ARC for the purpose of review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ava Jae

    4.5/5 stars So I saw some reviewers say they found the book depressing, but maybe my expectations for making a living as a writer are super low or something because I actually found it encouraging. While not all of the essays focus exactly on making a living, the ones that did were frank and honest and most importantly to me—though most of them struggled at first, they did eventually reach the point where they were comfortably making ends meet, often through multiple streams of income. Some were 4.5/5 stars So I saw some reviewers say they found the book depressing, but maybe my expectations for making a living as a writer are super low or something because I actually found it encouraging. While not all of the essays focus exactly on making a living, the ones that did were frank and honest and most importantly to me—though most of them struggled at first, they did eventually reach the point where they were comfortably making ends meet, often through multiple streams of income. Some were more open about numbers than others, but they all ultimately talked about their own experiences and how they got to where they are today. The interviews and essays reveal many different options out there for writers—everything from writers living solely off their fiction, writers living off several writing income streams, writers with full time jobs, writers with part time jobs, and writers dependent on someone else's income. To me, it was an encouraging reminder that one way or the other, writers figure this stuff out, and so can you. While there were a couple essays/interviews that I didn't particularly care for—especially one interview that was pretty literary elitist and eyeroll-worthy, to say the least (looking at the lineup, I'm sure you can probably guess which contributor it's from)—I found most of the essays and interviews to be enlightening, interesting, and even entertaining. All in all, if you're looking for some frank talk on a writer's income from a variety of professional writers, I definitely recommend picking up Scratch. Whether you find it encouraging or depressing will probably depend on what you're expecting in terms of how writers make a living, but either way it's an eye-opening read that I'm definitely glad arrived in my lap at the time that it did.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Richard Thomas

    Really enjoyed this. A few essays were a bit flat or dry, but overall the majority were really interesting, and I enjoyed this a lot. Great advice. Loved the essays by Laura Goode, Jennifer Weiner, Alexander Chee, Roxane Gay, Julia Fierro, and Nina MacLaughlin

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

    An interesting collection of essays and interviews. I didn’t care for the first couple or few essays but then I really enjoyed it. Manjula Martin is an excellent interviewer.

  11. 5 out of 5

    PS

    Misleading title; instead, it should read Scratch: Writers Skirt Around the Issue of Money and the Art of Making a Living. Overall, this was an uneven collection – some essays were really interesting, but barely scratched (ha) the surface of how writers really make money. There is a lot of I worked two jobs to support my writing career/did an MFA and made contacts that helped me/did an MFA and nothing worked out but someone read something else I wrote and I am now successful/just got really lucky Misleading title; instead, it should read Scratch: Writers Skirt Around the Issue of Money and the Art of Making a Living. Overall, this was an uneven collection – some essays were really interesting, but barely scratched (ha) the surface of how writers really make money. There is a lot of I worked two jobs to support my writing career/did an MFA and made contacts that helped me/did an MFA and nothing worked out but someone read something else I wrote and I am now successful/just got really lucky. Nothing groundbreaking. Essays I'll revisit: – Owning This by Julia Fierro (“But really I buy too many books because books were, and always will be, my redemption”) - With compliments by Nina McLaughlin - Not a complaint by Nell Boeschendtein - The Jump by Sarah Smarsh - The Wizard by Alexander Chee

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Barron

    I've followed Manjula Martin since her 'Who Pays Writers?' blog and online magazine (also called Scratch) days. Scratch, the book, is a brilliant resource for writers, to help them understand and navigate the complicated world of making a living (or not) through writing. Freelancing - yes or no? How much is enough marketing and promotion? Should I write for free to build my profile? Creative writing courses - yes or no? When do I know I've made it? How much do writers earn? Martin and her contri I've followed Manjula Martin since her 'Who Pays Writers?' blog and online magazine (also called Scratch) days. Scratch, the book, is a brilliant resource for writers, to help them understand and navigate the complicated world of making a living (or not) through writing. Freelancing - yes or no? How much is enough marketing and promotion? Should I write for free to build my profile? Creative writing courses - yes or no? When do I know I've made it? How much do writers earn? Martin and her contributors (including Cheryl Strayed and Jonathan Franzen) answer other such complex questions in this book of essays on 'Writers, Money and the Art of Making a Living'.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeannine

    Definitely interesting set of essays and interviews on how different writers interact with and think about money, from struggling poets to millionaire novelists and television writers. Several essays set my teeth on edge, but every one of them was refreshing in its sort of perverse glee in discussing that most taboo subject for artists - money.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    As with any essay collection, this was a mixed bag. I read it over the course of about 7 months so it would be difficult to pinpoint my favorites, although I'm a huge fan of Cheryl Strayed and loved reading the story of her writing career. The essay towards the end from Daniel Jose Older was also excellent and made me want to read some of his books, although urban fantasy isn't usually my thing. I most enjoyed the personal essays about the real lives of writers. A few were pretentious or cynical As with any essay collection, this was a mixed bag. I read it over the course of about 7 months so it would be difficult to pinpoint my favorites, although I'm a huge fan of Cheryl Strayed and loved reading the story of her writing career. The essay towards the end from Daniel Jose Older was also excellent and made me want to read some of his books, although urban fantasy isn't usually my thing. I most enjoyed the personal essays about the real lives of writers. A few were pretentious or cynical but that's to be expected. Aside from Strayed, who said she received a $400,000 advance for Wild, and Roxane Gay, who said she made about $150,000 in 2014 through writing, teaching, and speaking engagements (but has $130,000 in student loan debt), few contributors got specific about their earnings. The prevailing theme here is don't quit your day job. If you're going to be a writer, expect to have other sources of income as well. A few contributors were the exception to this: Jennifer Weiner's piece, about how she had achieved financial success from her writing and yet has continually been critically derided, was particularly honest and moving. Overall a worthwhile and interesting read for anyone who writes or has literary aspirations.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Beth Browne

    As with any anthologized book, there were great essays, mediocre ones and very good ones in this collection. Overall, the theme is welcome. Money is always such a twitchy subject, and for writers, or any sort of creative type, it can be downright pathological. I was really hoping to find some words of wisdom in here and there were some, but after finishing the book I realize that everyone has their own personal relationship with money and ultimately, everyone has to come to their own particular As with any anthologized book, there were great essays, mediocre ones and very good ones in this collection. Overall, the theme is welcome. Money is always such a twitchy subject, and for writers, or any sort of creative type, it can be downright pathological. I was really hoping to find some words of wisdom in here and there were some, but after finishing the book I realize that everyone has their own personal relationship with money and ultimately, everyone has to come to their own particular peace with it. However, this book offers a very intimate look into the lives of some very well-known authors, some of whom may be your idol. For that, I would recommend the book very highly. Asking people to talk about not just money in general, but *their* financial situation is extremely personal and the vast majority of the authors in this book were surprisingly open, at times touchingly so. Jennifer Weiner (not my idol, btw) captivated me with her very personal, very moving essay. It was the highlight of the book for me. If you're looking to solve your creative financial woes, look elsewhere. If you're looking for thoughtful, intimate essays about your favorite writers' take on writing for money, pick this one up. It's a good one.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Denny

    An impressive collection of essays by a wide range of working writers with wildly varying voices and styles. Although at first I felt a couple of the essays didn't belong due to their tone or subject matter, I later decided my opinion of the book's scope had been too narrow. If you are looking for advice on how to break into a career as a writer, you'll find little of it here. But if you've already embarked upon that path, you'll appreciate the honesty and the plethora of dispensed wisdom from t An impressive collection of essays by a wide range of working writers with wildly varying voices and styles. Although at first I felt a couple of the essays didn't belong due to their tone or subject matter, I later decided my opinion of the book's scope had been too narrow. If you are looking for advice on how to break into a career as a writer, you'll find little of it here. But if you've already embarked upon that path, you'll appreciate the honesty and the plethora of dispensed wisdom from this diverse pool of those who have gone before. If I were younger and still entertained realistic dreams of becoming a working writer, I'd purchase a copy of Scratch and consider a subscription to Mrs. Martin's magazine of the same name.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aditya Hadi

    THERE IS NO REAL ANSWER FROM THIS BOOK !! Scratch is a collection of essays and interviews from various literary people. They're talking about a big question, whether a writer should focus on composing a great art, or in making money. And like what i said at the beginning, there is no real answer from this book. Yes, you can understand the real situation by reading this book, but you still have to answer by yourself which path that you will choose. Don't take it wrong, it's not a bad thing. Even, THERE IS NO REAL ANSWER FROM THIS BOOK !! Scratch is a collection of essays and interviews from various literary people. They're talking about a big question, whether a writer should focus on composing a great art, or in making money. And like what i said at the beginning, there is no real answer from this book. Yes, you can understand the real situation by reading this book, but you still have to answer by yourself which path that you will choose. Don't take it wrong, it's not a bad thing. Even, it's a good thing. Some writers told how they can become rich after struggling a poor life, and some writers told how they still broke until now after publishing several books. This book give us a freedom to choose our own path. Beside that, SCRATCH also told us about the racism in publishing world, how to determine a so-called serious novels, and even how a writer can buy a house. For me, it's a must-read book for every writer that still want to figure out their future. The interview with Austin Kleon and Jonathan Franzen is my favourites :)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Petry

    One of the most useful and interesting books about the economics of being a writer. Full disclosure Manjula is a friend of mine and thanked me and our writing workshop group in the acknowledgments (thanks Manjula! We miss you) so I'll admit to a bit of a bias. But that doesn't take away from the wonderful job she has done editing this collection. The book contains interviews, essays and memoirs by (and with writers) covering all the various ways money and writing intersect. It raises more questi One of the most useful and interesting books about the economics of being a writer. Full disclosure Manjula is a friend of mine and thanked me and our writing workshop group in the acknowledgments (thanks Manjula! We miss you) so I'll admit to a bit of a bias. But that doesn't take away from the wonderful job she has done editing this collection. The book contains interviews, essays and memoirs by (and with writers) covering all the various ways money and writing intersect. It raises more questions than it answers and that's a good thing. It's important that these questions are asked even if no one has the right answer. I enjoyed reading some sections more than others but I found something interesting or useful in all of them. A great book for writers at any stage of their career. I hope this books continues the conversation it's started.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    Interesting read for readers, to understand what a labour of love writing is even for those at the top; and writers, especially those unknown/ aspirational ones who would probably do well to enjoy the life directly around them today, because writing doesn't seem to get significantly easier for anyone. Will cover this in the podcast asap :)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    These essays were inspiring and insightful. In some ways, I thought they'd be more practical - few people other than Cheryl Strayed talk specific dollar amounts in the ways that financial advice books typically do - but they cover such a wide range of topics and aspects of living and working as a writer. I highly recommend this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I'm still processing my thoughts on this. The most meaningful essays/interviews for me were the ones where authors gave real talk about how they were actually making money (especially Cheryl Strayed's and Jennifer Weiner's). It was a good view of how many have to hustle for work and money, and for how long. Some of the other essays were more poetic and nice to read, but not as helpful for me, an author trying to figure out if I'm ever going to make this work as a career, or if it will always be I'm still processing my thoughts on this. The most meaningful essays/interviews for me were the ones where authors gave real talk about how they were actually making money (especially Cheryl Strayed's and Jennifer Weiner's). It was a good view of how many have to hustle for work and money, and for how long. Some of the other essays were more poetic and nice to read, but not as helpful for me, an author trying to figure out if I'm ever going to make this work as a career, or if it will always be what feels like a very time-consuming hobby. More than anything, I'm grateful to Manjula Martin for even daring to bring this ridiculously taboo subject into the public conversation. The weird notion that writers should write for free or almost-free because we love it won't seem to go away, and it's books like this one that will hopefully get people to think about why it's worth it to pay writers.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jess Kibler

    This is something I've been thinking about a LOT lately, so I was very excited to read this book. It's full of so many different perspectives on writing and making money and is without question one of the most useful books I've ever read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Crystal King

    While enlightening when it comes to how established authors are making money (a subject rarely discussed), mostly I found this book to be terribly depressing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Bunnell

    Interesting collections of essays and interviews about writing as a career, and specifically making a living at it. I like it when I learn something in a book I read. In this book I learned (when previously I had only suspected) that I will never ever be able to make a living as a writer. I will always need to work a fulltime job. Super. With that cheery news that my writing will always be a late night, early morning, sneaking time away from my family on the weekends ordeal, I got to read stuff f Interesting collections of essays and interviews about writing as a career, and specifically making a living at it. I like it when I learn something in a book I read. In this book I learned (when previously I had only suspected) that I will never ever be able to make a living as a writer. I will always need to work a fulltime job. Super. With that cheery news that my writing will always be a late night, early morning, sneaking time away from my family on the weekends ordeal, I got to read stuff from a bunch of people who are making a living by their writing, but many of them also by teaching and speaking and blogging or whatnot. When I was in college, majoring in English and not also majoring in education, I had a very snarky professor who had all in this category memorize Hamlet's soliloquy, the prologue to Canterbury Tales, and other memorable ditty so that we could have something to recite by memory in the subways while we were starving, as we were not going to be able to make a living by writing without teaching. So I went to law school, as I don't enjoy the thought of starving in the subways. Like any anthology, some of these entries were more interesting to me than others. Some were quite insightful, some were funny, many were sad - and some of those were poignant, some were pretentious, some were whiny, and every time where writing a novel was compared to the act of childbirth I thought should entitle the readers as a group to a take a shot of peppermint schnapps shot - social (says the mother of 3)! There were also a number of interesting quotes by these writers, and two stood out. My favorite - in the very last article, Laura Goode quoted the Rudyard Kipling poem "If". Loved that one. My least favorite, and this annoyed me because I otherwise really liked this article which compared MFA programs to New York insiders, called "Against 'Vs'" - the author quotes the Biblical passage of Mark 5:1-20. The author (as was famously done before by Walt Whitman) quotes this passage which states: "I am Legion, for we are many" - or, for the Whitman translation, "I contain multitudes." This is a pet peeve of mine, as the writer quotes Mark, not Whitman, so clearly she knows that this is a Bible passage. And then ends her piece with the pithy, "Whether we publish or not, whether we write or not, we contain these multitudes. We are all legion." Ok - cool usage right? Until you look at the Bible verse, in which the speaker saying "I am Legion, for we are many" is a man possessed by demons. The speaker is Satan / the demons / no-one you'd generally elect as your spokesperson. And there are so many demons, when Jesus casts them out of the possessed man, the demons leave the man and possess 2000 pigs, which all then promptly drown themselves in the sea. And the swineherds are very unhappy with Jesus for the loss of their pigs, so they drive him out of town. But the healed man speaks of his good works. . . . anyway, I digress. Go look it up. It's a very bizarre miracle. Huge pet peeve of mine: If you're going to quote the Bible, then you should know the Bible. Or at least the passage that you are quoting. This isn't buried in some other book. This isn't subtext or translation. This is the bare bones story. Ack, read for some context. When I read the end of this chapter, I put the book down for a week in dismay. And I reignited my "Whitman is a complete loon" mantra from college 2 1/2 decades ago. But otherwise, an interesting read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Maas

    A no hold bars, honest look at the monetary aspect of the craft This book, curated by the inimitable Manjula Martin, interviews authors to see what they thought about the monetary aspect of what they do. We have Cheryl Strayed going into debt for twenty years, selling her book - and just getting out of debt. We have Yiyun Li giving up everything to be a writer - and inspiringly still not seeing writing as a source of income. We have Jonathan Franzen being the outlier. He had a big hit, and now does A no hold bars, honest look at the monetary aspect of the craft This book, curated by the inimitable Manjula Martin, interviews authors to see what they thought about the monetary aspect of what they do. We have Cheryl Strayed going into debt for twenty years, selling her book - and just getting out of debt. We have Yiyun Li giving up everything to be a writer - and inspiringly still not seeing writing as a source of income. We have Jonathan Franzen being the outlier. He had a big hit, and now does not have to worry about money. If he was the first interview it would be one thing - but I read him after so many tales of writing poverty - that I saw him as the exception. Note that he comes across very well - he is still in an epic quest to make the cliche-free novel, and is very humble and grateful. In short - what is the ending message? I'd say write because you love it - despite the fact that every character here tried to do this, with varying levels of success - I'd say don't even think of it as a business until it is one. Have a hit? You have a business. Until then - keep writing, and you can achieve quite a bit of glory, and reach quite a bit of readers before that first deal comes through. Thank you Manjula! Great book, all around!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This is a collection of essays and author interviews from the ezine Scratch which, like the book, was edited by Manjula Martin. Martin wanted to tackle the topic of writers and money because it was such a murky gray area. Writers come in all different forms--journalists, novelists, professors, bloggers--but for the most part they don't know what other writers make. Such opaque-ness in the industry breeds insecurity and uncertainty. Then there's the idea that most writers view themselves at artis This is a collection of essays and author interviews from the ezine Scratch which, like the book, was edited by Manjula Martin. Martin wanted to tackle the topic of writers and money because it was such a murky gray area. Writers come in all different forms--journalists, novelists, professors, bloggers--but for the most part they don't know what other writers make. Such opaque-ness in the industry breeds insecurity and uncertainty. Then there's the idea that most writers view themselves at artists and/or truth tellers who float (or want to float) above the practical world of commerce. Actually, there's a diversity in how writers deal with money. Roxane Gay is frank about the advance she got for Bad Feminist ($15,000), how much student debt she'd amassed ($130,000) and how much she earned in 2014 (read the book); whereas Austin Kleon declines to say how much he makes. Susan Orlean also refuses, but admits that she's actually a shrewd businesswoman and negotiator. Lauren Weiner describes what it's like to make bank as a novelist dismissed by the critics and Jonathan Franzen explains why he doesn't like writers who are great at promoting themselves. I found myself relating to many of these pieces, while others stopped me in my tracks. Harmony Holiday's essay Love for Sale is a standout piece from the margins that questions the role white privilege and and capitalism in squashing freedom of expression. I found myself arguing with Sarah Smarsh, whose choice to leave a safe career in academia I found to be stupid and ill-advised, only to be left wondering what it was about her piece that provoked such a visceral reaction.

  27. 5 out of 5

    David

    eclectic format [some interviews, some career retrospectives, some close examinations of a single topic such as the economics of ad-supported websites, or ghostwriting, or.....] for a bunch of brief contributions by working writers on theme of supporting oneself as a writer. Most of the contributors are novelists or poets -- may have dabbled in journalism at some point. No real representation at all of academic writing or issues therein such as the rapid rise of open-access publication in which t eclectic format [some interviews, some career retrospectives, some close examinations of a single topic such as the economics of ad-supported websites, or ghostwriting, or.....] for a bunch of brief contributions by working writers on theme of supporting oneself as a writer. Most of the contributors are novelists or poets -- may have dabbled in journalism at some point. No real representation at all of academic writing or issues therein such as the rapid rise of open-access publication in which the money flows the "wrong" way (not only do you not get paid for articles, you pay to publish them). Any position at all on questions such as "should you quit your day job and go all in on your writing, or should you write in the time left over from your steady, health-insurance-providing gig?", "should you go into debt to get an MFA, or is that a waste of time and money compared to just practicing your writing?", "do you have to schmooze and self-promote, or is it ultimately about the greatness of your work?", and "is the Internet opening up new possibilities or killing off the old remunerative publication structure?" can be justified by citing one or another anecdote from this collection. All told, it's probably more useful as inspiring (or discouraging, depending on prior expectations) behind-the-scenes stories for aspiring writers rather than how-to; few of them really describe in detail how they marketed themselves, what pitfalls to avoid, etc. I did pick up one handy new phrase, though, to "earn out" an advance against royalties. I got an advance for my one and (so far!) only book, an abnormal psychology text, that Jonathan Franzen apparently considers small. It was, however, enough that I was deathly afraid of having to pay it, or a large fraction of it, back if the book didn't sell. I remember being thrilled to receive the royalty statement that indicated i was off the hook and had made back the entire advance....and then slightly let down later to infer from books like this one that even if you don't earn it out the publisher does not actually come around and threaten to break your legs. If you're naive as I was about royalties, read this book as a starting point in your education.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Knobby

    This book was simultaneously interesting and depressing. Interesting, because I learned a whole lot about publishing and money that had previously been a mystery to me, and depressing because it doesn't really seem like a lucrative field unless you're one of the lucky few who get struck by lightning. Some interesting tidbits: even after Cheryl Strayed sold Torch, she qualified for food stamps? (She said she didn't take them, because she put herself in the situation of having higher education degr This book was simultaneously interesting and depressing. Interesting, because I learned a whole lot about publishing and money that had previously been a mystery to me, and depressing because it doesn't really seem like a lucrative field unless you're one of the lucky few who get struck by lightning. Some interesting tidbits: even after Cheryl Strayed sold Torch, she qualified for food stamps? (She said she didn't take them, because she put herself in the situation of having higher education degrees but stayed in NYC to eke out a living as a writer.) Jennifer Weiner writes that she has a ton of money from her books, but she is panned critically and she views her success as a fairy-tale bargain (riches but no respect). Though, she muses, would it be better if she had respect as a writer but was struggling at the poverty line? I learned about a few other writers because of this anthology: Sarah Smarsh, whose work I want to know better; and Malinda Lo. Laura Goode made me want to seek out her movie Farah Goes Bang based on the one screenwriting inclusion in this book. I also really want to see more from Mallory Ortberg, whose piece on buying a house when you're making a living as a writer made me laugh out loud. I also nodded along to Daniel José Older's article about diversity in books ("Lack of racial diversity is a symptom. The underlying illness is institutional racism."). A great blockquote: But let's go back to this: "it's not for you to relate to!" Write that in the sky. And it's true — often, as writers of color, to portray our stories in all their vibrant authenticity, in all their difficult truth, means we're not writing for editors and agents, we're writing past them. We're writing for us, for each other. (p. 239) There were a few pieces I found tedious and ended up skipping (won't name whose) but overall a good read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Varga

    A little context: I'm the ideal audience for this book. I'm working towards a MFA in Playwriting, do some freelance writing on the side, and am hoping to build a career around my love of words. I also loved Chad Harbach's MFA vs NYC, which is in the same family of "essays about professional writing" books as Scratch. Reading this book is like going to a dinner party full of working writers and listening in on their conversations. None of them will be able to tell you exactly what you need to do t A little context: I'm the ideal audience for this book. I'm working towards a MFA in Playwriting, do some freelance writing on the side, and am hoping to build a career around my love of words. I also loved Chad Harbach's MFA vs NYC, which is in the same family of "essays about professional writing" books as Scratch. Reading this book is like going to a dinner party full of working writers and listening in on their conversations. None of them will be able to tell you exactly what you need to do to make it as a writer. Instead, they'll talk about what worked for them and what seems to be working for others. They'll repeat each other a lot, often with slight nuances. They'll disagree. By the end of the night, you'll want to hug some of them and punch others. The rest you'll just shake hands with. It's rare for me to read every single piece in a collection of short work, but I found every essay interesting and was disappointed when I finished the last one. My personal favorite were the ones by Kiese Laymon (am excited to read his books now), Meaghan O'Connell, and Jennifer Weiner. But I'm glad I read them all.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Crystal-lee Quibell

    I am always grateful to any writer willing to share the ups and downs of their experiences and especially the financial aspect and reality of being a writer. Each essay and interview provided insight into the financial behind-the-scenes not so talked about aspects of being a writer. I did find the female authors to be much more helpful and forthcoming with information than the male authors. Could be my bias because I'm a fan of the female contributors of this book, but I felt they really gave a I am always grateful to any writer willing to share the ups and downs of their experiences and especially the financial aspect and reality of being a writer. Each essay and interview provided insight into the financial behind-the-scenes not so talked about aspects of being a writer. I did find the female authors to be much more helpful and forthcoming with information than the male authors. Could be my bias because I'm a fan of the female contributors of this book, but I felt they really gave a broad spectrum of what to expect, things that they experienced and also that most likely, writing will not be your full time gig. Always have a back up. I appreciate the candor and honesty and will recommend to new writers I meet!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.