Sunday, August 29, 2010

What's Your Real Net Worth?

You'll never believe this. I'm actually doing a blog post that does not involve some sort of promotional push for a book I'm in. Yep, this is just a "sit around on a Sunday and contemplate the writing life" kind of post. It's a nice change.

My motivation for this musing is a blog post, "How Writers Really Make Money," that a writer friend forwarded to me. It's from the blog of Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4 Hour Workweek. Ferriss' book is a NYT bestseller because, as far as I can tell, it taps into the fantasies of working men (and maybe some women, too) to have more while working less. Very American. As another type of writer who deals in fantasies, I certainly respect his ability to please his audience.

Business-oriented though it is, I found this post to be very educational for a number of reasons. Ferriss discusses making the choice between self-publishing and trying to score a spot with one of the Big Six publishers. While self-publishing may be the better choice if you have an audience in place and money is the main object, the advantage of the latter, he says, is that you get access to the big media and can make better connections. Good common sense, that, but what really made me like Ferriss was a comment he made in the Youtube video about "net worth," which he defines as what you have left if you take away every penny you own. That is, your real worth is your experiences, knowledge, wisdom, friendships, all the things money can't really buy (although it can help you along for sure).

He also talks about e-books and suggests that the headlines announcing the death of print are overblown, but that in the genre market, e-books seem to be gaining fast on print. That includes erotica, folks, and as Herr Doktor observed, it certainly makes sense that downloading a dirty book on your Kindle is a lot more discreet than carrying around a copy of Amorous Woman with that "Adults Only" label on it!

Often the hard truth about publishing is pretty depressing, but Ferriss' post did not depress me at all. It gave me a clear sense of what "success" in publishing really involves--catering to readers' desires--and reminded me that I personally write to enrich my life in other ways than cold hard cash.

Always good to be reminded of the the message! Thanks for listening.


Craig Sorensen said...

I too was not at all discouraged by the message. Both the Ferriss post and yours, Donna!

I have remained a relatively happy author over the last few years by loving what I'm doing, and not worrying (too much, that is) about getting published.

It truly is the real worth in life that makes the difference.

Thanks for sharing this!

Donna said...

Humans do seem to seek out unhappiness, don't they? Being the contrarian has its drawbacks, but not when it helps you stay happy as a writer, I've found. Not that I'm always happy, but I still do love the writing more than anything! And sure it is discouraging if you want to be rich and famous, but if you don't, there's still a lot of wealth in them thar hills.