Thursday, March 5, 2009

Does She Live in a Mansion?


I was talking to a friend yesterday, a non-writing friend. We were talking about my novels and I mentioned to her that a friend of mine had signed a contract for her first novel last year.

"So does she live in a mansion now?"

I'm pretty sure my mouth fell open. Fortunately, we were on the phone so she couldn't see my expression.

"Um, no. She lives about a block away from me."

I bit my tongue to keep from saying more. I know how much my friend's advance was and I can guarantee it wouldn't cover the property tax, let alone buy a whole new house! And I know other writers who have published multiple books and still live pretty much the same lifestyle that they had before.

So where does this misconception come from? Very few people get the big advances. Fewer still reach the level of J.K. Rowling (who is reportedly worth more than the queen of England).

Luckily, I'm not in it for the money. I mean, sure, I'd LOVE to make a ton of money from my books. But I write because I love to write. And I want to someday hold a book in my hands that has my name on it. And hide behind the stacks and watch someone actually pay to own one of my books.

Mansions are for famous athletes, actors and reality stars. I don't want to have to clean that much. I'd rather move into Barnes & Noble. Right under the shelf that has my books :)

18 comments:

Kelly H-Y said...

That is so true ... I think some of that misconception also comes from stars who publish books ... the publishing companies know they can easily market and sell their books, so they get huge advances! People have no idea your regular author may get only about 1%-10% and - if they're lucky - a small advance! You are so right about the cleaning ... a mansion would be too much! :-)

Kelly said...

I remember when a children's author (Jamie Gilson) came to my school when I was in fifth grade. Someone asked her how much money she made. She answered it politely, but made sure we understood that it really wasn't that much!

PJ Hoover said...

Hey, it's a picture of my house!!!!

Yeah, this is such a funny thing. But way back when, I used to think it, too :)

taralazar said...

That is funny!

Mansions are overrated. You can only be in one room at a time.

Sarah Laurenson said...

McMansion maybe.

The misconception is interesting, but I like your idea of living in a bookstore. Much more practical for me since that's where most of my 'extra' money goes.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Kelly H-Y -- You're right that the "stars" with the big advances make it seem like all writers make a fortune

Kelly -- How cool that you remember meeting that author! See, school visits pay off!

PJ -- I snuck into your back yard to snap this photo :^)

Tara -- Mansions are overrated. Blame Robin Leach :^)

Sarah -- All my extra money goes to books, too...

Rena said...

I keep hearing this sort of thing too. "Remember us little people when you're rich & famous." Ummm, I write picture books, so that might take awhile. It's funny how people think getting a book published will earn you millions of dollars.

Lady Glamis said...

Yeah, I hear this all the time. I would never expect anything like that! The percentage of authors who make it BIG time is so miniscule that no newbie published author should actually expect it to happen to them! I wouldn't want it anyway. I like my life simple, thank you. :)

Thanks for a great post!

beckylevine said...

This is funny--do people really think writers make a lot of money? I guess maybe books ARE getting more expensive to buy, but still...Whatever happened to the image of the starving writer in the garrett? (Not that I want to go THERE, either!)

The Things We Carried said...

However, I think people authors should make more than athletes. Their work is more valuable!

Solvang Sherrie said...

Rena -- See, it's that Robin Leach thing...Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Children's Book Authors! Ha!

Glam -- I like my simple life, too :)

Becky -- I guess people don't think writers are artists, especially since we're not starving...

Meredith -- Writing is SO much more worthwhile than carrying a ball. Those sports figures get more in one year than anyone should need in a lifetime!

Suzanne Casamento said...

I think most people who aren't in the publishing industry are under the impression that authors make tons of money. People have asked me what I'm going to do with all the money. WHAT money???

I like your idea of living in a bookstore. Great idea for a book. In fact, I remember a book from when I was kid called, "Help, I'm a Prisoner in the Library."

Not a bad place to be imprisoned!

Beth Kephart said...

Oh, this is so true, so very true. Writers and architects—the romanticized professions. Most of us, I can assure you, have day jobs!

Shelli said...

i feel the same way - but I woulnd't mind a mini-mansion that someone else cleaned :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

Suzanne -- You write it, I'll read it -- I would LOVE to be locked in a bookstore :^)

Beth -- We can all dream about being able to ditch the day job, huh?

Shelli -- Yeah, I guess if you can afford the mansion, you can afford the cleaners, too :^)

C.R. Evers said...

I think it's 2 things. 1st is the movies and t.v. They always seem to portray writers as those who hermit themselves away in a European country-side retreat or a posh NYC loft or a Mansion in Beverly Hills.

and then there's the real life media. The only authors they tend to talk about are the ones who are making lots of $$$$$.

Well--I guess there's a 3rd thing too. Most people don't really like to write, so they probably figure that writing wouldn't be worth it unless there was some good $ involved. ;0)

Those are my guesses.

Christy

Kimberley Troutte said...

Sherrie,
I think I might know this author down the street from you. Mansions are overrated. I lived in one once and had to clean six toilets. *Shivers*. Of course a mansion equipped with cleaning service might not be so bad, except then people other than your family sort your underwear. Nope. I don't need a mansion, just give me the people I love around me, a comfy bed, a working computer, and spending money to go out to eat with friends.

lotusgirl said...

Great post! So true. It is a lot to clean, and I hate cleaning.

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