What’s a Writer Worth?

Domer just loves to push my buttons.

Recently, I was bemoaning an article in Writer’s Digest magazine, where author Jane Friedman discusses the basics of e-publishing.

“Independent novelists charge very little for their work, usually between $.99 and $2.99,” Friedman wrote.

‘That sounds about right,’ Domer said. ‘Nobody knows you. Why should they pay good money for your book? Besides, wouldn’t it be better for you to charge $1 for a book and sell a million copies than to sell only 10 copies for $30 each?’

Not necessarily. If “nobody” knows you, how are you going to sell a million copies?

More to the point, I for one haven’t labored the better part of six years on my series to sell each book for a measly dollar. It’d be too demeaning.

Look at it this way: To become a doctor in the U.S., a person must spend four years in undergraduate university, four years in medical school, three to five years in residency, and two to three years in a fellowship. Nobody does all that and charges each patient $2 per visit!

Why should what I do be of less importance?

True, writing novels isn’t exactly saving lives, but how many doctors are saving lives? Honestly, don’t they sometimes make people sicker — from worry and fear, from side effects of medications or procedures?

Domer is looking at it as a numbers game. Fair, since he’s studying Business. And you can’t argue with his math — one million copies at $1 each totals $1 million, whereas 10 copies sold at $30 each amounts to only $300. That’s a big difference. Huge, even.

But how many novelists are trying to “get rich” from their work? Isn’t it more likely that we can’t NOT write? That we believe we have something to say, something that might change another person’s life? That we might take our readers on a thrilling journey, far from their possibly mundane existence? That we might scare the socks off them — and ourselves — through the power of our written words? That we might inspire them to be their best, to unshackle themselves from burdens they don’t need to bear?

I say creative people have endured far too much devaluation over the centuries of civilization. It’s time we appreciated our own worth and realized our world would be a wretched place without writers, musicians, and artists. If we don’t believe what we do is worthwhile, how can we expect others to believe it? And, believing it means rewarding it.

Any thoughts from my fellow creators?