Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Write Or Be Rich!

Lately I'be been inundated with ads and emails of a certain singular nature.

"Write Your Way to Riches!"
"Quit Your Day Job and Write Full Time!"
"How to Publish Your Way to Financial Security!"
"Write and Grow Extra Appendages!"

I made that last one up, although now that I've released it to the internet a spambot out there is already parsing it and thinking 'Yeah, okay, makes sense."

I don't bother clicking n any of these pleas that I garner vast wealth simply through the brilliance of my prose. I am writing, and I am selling, but I enjoy a distinct lack of urgent attention from Porsche salespeople, and I receive very few inquiries from shipyards concerning the trim on my luxury yacht.

Writing your way to being rich, as a business plan, is right up there with 'traveling to Europe via a hot-air balloon assembled from items in your garage.' Technically, it might be possible. If tens of thousands of people tried it, a few might make it across the Atlantic.

But most will wind up bobbing in the drink. That's just a reality.

I blame TV and the movies for the odd notion that publishing a book brings immediate wealth. How many TV and movie characters find themselves on whirlwind book tours, or buying new houses with cash, after their first sale? How many fictional authors live in luxury and ease, without ever appearing to, you know, write (I'm looking at you, Castle)?

What annoys me most about these silly tropes is that a writer had to write them down. A writer had to push aside his daily bowl of congealed Ramen noodles, take a swig of warm Discount Brand beer, and use the instantly-wealthy author as a plot device. I'm left to shake my head and ponder why any writer would commit such a heinous act of treachery.

Wish fulfillment? Bitter irony? Do scriptwriters actually make that much money?

I have no idea.

What I do know is that the writing business is located a vast gulf away from the realm of easy money portrayed by the spam emails and the media.

Writing itself is work. Hard work. It's not just typing. And even when you put in the hours and do everything right, there's no guarantee you'll see any sales. Worse, there's no guarantee you'll live long enough to see your wild fame rise and grow. Poor Edgar Allen Poe never knew he'd adorn tee shirts a century after his death. Note to the Universe: If I'm going to be on tee shirts, I want to see that. Make it so.

So, to add authenticity to the spam emails and the fly-by-night 'writing courses' and sketchy vanity presses, here are a few fact-based subject lines they should consider.

"Writing Your Way to Skinny: The Royalty-Only Author Diet!"
"Which Organs You Can Safely Sell, and Where: The Author's Guide to Supplemental Income"
"Deals With the Devil for Dummies"
"Scratch and Dent Canned Soup of the Month Club"

You're welcome, spammers and scammers.

Meralda and Mug News

The new installment in the Mug and Meralda series hit a minor snag this week when I realized each of the 78 pages completed thus far shared one small flaw -- they sucked.

Well, that's a bit harsh. The pages themselves weren't bad, but they weren't the book I want to write, either. So, after a few days of blank staring and incoherent mumbling, I've figured out where the whole thing went wrong (page one, chapter one) and I know how to fix it.

All those hours of work? Gone, but not wasted. Yes, I'm starting over, but I try to look at it this way -- charging off in the wrong direction led me to the unexpected clearing that caused me to pause, blink in the sudden sunlight, and realize I'd been going the wrong way all along.

That's just the way it happens, sometimes. You take a few deep breaths, start a new file, and keep going.

Markhat News

The Darker Carnival will be available for pre-order on March 29! Here's the 'coming soon' page at Samhain, including the funny warning label for the book.

That's it for this week! Remember, tonight is the season premier of The Walking Dead! If you're a Walking Dead fan -- even if you're not -- you should watch the short video I'm posting a link to. It's hilarious -- love the singing walkers -- and you don't need to watch the show to enjoy it.

Carl Poppa

You can't handle my flow!


  1. I thought it was "Write and increase your size by 5 inches." I have to check that email again.

  2. I once worked with a woman you had the impression I was bringing in "thousands" of dollars. I think I made $8 that month. I don't know why people have this impression writers make so much. I mean with a $0.30 royalty on a $0.99 ebook, it's kind of hard to buy that beach house... or even get enough gas to drive to the beach, in my case. Nice post!