Rich authors, Part Something-Million

So, there’s been a minor kerfuffle on teh intertubes regarding an author named Emily Griffin Giffin, who reallyreallyREALLY wanted to see her new book hit the Number One spot on the New York Times Bestseller List.  She tweeted her fans and urged them to buy her book and push her into the winner’s circle.

Well, OK, fine.  We all want our books to hit the NYT list.  And apparently Emily had more reason than, say, I do, to think that her book had a shot.

Except…the book missed Number One.  It did, I’ll note, hit the Number Two position.  But still, Emily was sad.  And very, very disappointed in her fans.

And she told them that.

You may imagine the uproar that ensued, or, if you have a hankering to view a train wreck, you can Google on Emily’s name.  I’m not here to talk about bad author behavior, but I am going to talk about assumptions.

There was a meme going around a couple years ago, I guess.  It was apparently designed to make authors feel like inadequate slackers, because it made certain base assumptions and asked questions from there.  Questions like:  How old were you when you won the Campbell?  How old where you when you won your first Nebula?  How old were you when you won your first Hugo?  How many books had you written when you won your first Hugo?  How many of your books have been on the New York  Times Bestseller List?

. . .and so on.

The assumptions are clearly that All Writers Worth Reading have achieved these career milestones — Campbell, Nebula(s), Hugo(s), bestsellerdom.  And that you can quantify artistic success by using the same measuring stick used for corporate success.

And that’s a sad, and bad, set of assumptions.  Not that it isn’t nice to win a prize.  Very few things are as heady as Feelin’ the Love.  But winning a prize is…a privilege, not a right, and certainly not a career move.

The bestseller lists are a little different, and subject to manipulation, but for an author whose book hit Number Two to throw a hissy fit and scold her readers for not taking her to the top slot?  That writer needs to take a step back and look at what she’s doing, why she’s doing it, and what she hopes to achieve in her life.

I’ve said it many times, and here I am saying it again — the writing business is brutal; if you do not love to write, if you don’t have stories that you must tell; if you’re in it purely for the fame and riches, for ghod’s sake, get a day-job.  You’ll have a far  better chance of making real money, achieving recognition in your field, and security for your old age, than you ever will as a writer — even if you hit all of those “career milestones.”

I’m happy that people buy my books.  And I’m very fortunate that I’m able to devote myself to full-time writing.  The vast majority of writers never, ever achieve that.  I still have stories I want to tell, and all I ever wanted to do with my life was to be a writer, so I’m living the dream.

How many people get that in their lives?

So, what I guess I’m saying here — there’s rich.  And there’s rich.  And by the yardstick that matters, I am wealthy beyond belief.

Thank you all, so very much.

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