HomeReviewsInterviewsStoreABlogsOn Writing

Jennifer Weiner’s blog entry confirms something that I’ve suspected for a while now.

Readers are truly the only people who matter once your book is published.

Literary plaudits count for nothing if people aren’t buying your books.

Jennifer writes about the plight of Mary Gaitskill, a highly acclaimed author, who as we speak is currently one of the finalists for the National Book Award. To put it quite bluntly, she’s broke. A fact which seems to have surprised Jennifer herself, as apparently, Gaitskill was the very reason why she started writing (so she says, I’m sure there were much better reasons really).

Jennifer quotes from the NYT article:

On weekends Gaitskill shares a rented house in Rhinebeck, New York with her husband. During the week “she lives in a student dormitory at Syracuse University, where she teaches creative writing, an arrangement that is both cost-effective and loud. “But what can you really do?” Ms. Gaitskill said. “You can’t tell an 18-year-old to keep it down and turn off Britney Spears or whatever it is that they listen to.”

Wow, can you imagine Nora Roberts living in a one up-one down, eating two day old pizza, gurgling on Heineken, and bopping out to Justin Timberlake? No, neither can I.

Jennifer adds:

“But Gaitskill was one of the writers who made me believe that I could be a writer, too, and her characters, while creepy, live and breathe on the page. If she’s in debt and living in a doom room trying to write over the noise of Britney Spears, there’s something wrong with the modern-day patronage system that I always figured was working pretty well.”

I guess it only works if enough people buy your books.

So for those romance authors who are able to actually earn a living off writing, yet insist on bemoaning their lack of respect from outside the genre, this is what I have to say to you:


If I had to choose between being a Nora Roberts, and being a Marilynne Robinson (Pulitzer prize author of ‘Gilead’), I sure know who I’d choose.

In conclusion, in my ever-so-humble opinion, the readers who vote with their hard-earned cash, are the only people you authors need to concern yourself with, everything else is just there for shits and giggles.


  • Eve Vaughn
    November 7
    3:01 pm

    Awards are greats and if you win one more power to you, but I will always value what my readers say over any award. I would love to win a reward, but if I never do, it’s okay,just recieving letter from reader who have enjoyed my work is reward enough.


  • Ann Wesley Hardin
    November 7
    3:30 pm

    I once read that the average “salary” of a literary writer was 5k/year (US$), and I’ve openly blogged about the fact that billions in sales and 51% of the fiction market is respectful enough for moi.


  • Tammy
    November 7
    5:13 pm

    Lol at the image of Nora Roberts bopping to Justin Timberlake!
    I guess along with most people, I assume that authors like Gaitskill are rolling in cash, and their biggest worries include how to count all their money. I guess that isn’t the reality.


  • Sam
    November 8
    9:13 am

    It’s like football – there are a few stars who are making millions – and millions who are playing in minor leagues and smaller clubs and who are barely scraping by.
    It’s called passion – playing your favorite game or writing what’s in the heart and not giving a damn about money or awards.
    There are millions of writers who write because they love it. And a few who make millions.
    I wonder which catagory I’d like to be in, LOLOL!


  • Sharon
    November 8
    2:11 pm

    Lol you won’t ever hear me apologizing for writing romance. And respect? I can be bought *g* I’ve got enough respect, I don’t however have enough cash, so show me the money. You can keep the respect 🙂


  • Marianne LaCroix
    November 8
    7:53 pm

    Oops…that was me up there deleting.

    Anyway, this is what I said:

    *the readers who vote with their hard-earned cash, are the only people you authors need to concern yourself with, everything else is just there for shits and giggles.*



  • Karen Scott
    November 8
    8:41 pm

    Eve, don’t forget the money!!!

    Ann, all the respect in the world aint gonna pay your bills, I’d rather write in a popular genre than starve for my art I’m afraid *g*

    Tammy, if we knew what the mid-list authors earned, I think we’d probably die from shock!

    Sam, that’s a perfect way of looking at it, and yeah, my motto would be “show me the money” too!!

    Sharon, you and me both!

    Hey Mari, congrats on the book coming soon at EC!


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment