Getting Paid

LitKicks member Steve Plonk writes:

Many of us are published in small print zines, either in print media or online media and want to break into the ‘real money’ category.

Does this describe you? Only a tiny fraction of the writers in the world ever make money for it. If you have any personal stories to share on this topic — either the thrill of success or the gut-wrenching agony of failure — we’d like to hear them. How do you think the desire or need to earn money for writing affects the way you or others write?

9 Responses

  1. I have enough …I have
    I have enough …

    I have enough problems (not money) getting paid for teaching.

    Besides, I don

  2. Kooser AlertI don’t really
    Kooser Alert

    I don’t really know what the answer to this is for me, personally, but here’s what US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser has to say on this topic:

    If I could have made a living at poetry instead of insurance, I probably would have. But I don’t think that would have been good for my poetry. If poems were worth thousands of dollars apiece, it would be a corrupting influence.

  3. Write what YOU likeI haven’t
    Write what YOU like

    I haven’t yet been wildly successful in book sales, but on the other hand, my gut has remained relatively un-wrenched. I do have an observation on this subject.

    Much has been said bout “commercial vs. artistic” in music, literature, and film. If someone gets too successful, they are accused of “selling out.” All I do is write what I would want to read. I don’t try to anticipate what others want. I’ve been reading books for a good many years, and I know what I like. When you write something, go back later and read it and ask yourself, “If someone else wrote this, and I came across it, would I like it?”

    I favor the bizarre. I like it sprinkled with humor, mystery, satire, and horror. Every now and then, I like something lighter, for variety.

    I’ve come to realize that many of the things I like do sell. I’m not ashamed to admit I like certain popular movies and books. I don’t care if someone thinks my tastes aren’t elite. I saw a biography of John Travolta on TV. They lauded his performances in Grease and Saturday Night Fever, barely mentioned the Look Who’s Talking movies, then presented Pulp Fiction as his big comeback, implying that Look Who’s Talking crawled with the sewer rats. Now, I love Pulp Fiction! I’m a big Quentin Tarrantino fan! Yes, I would rather watch Pulp Fiction than Welcome Back, Kotter. But look: my family and I liked Look Who’s Talking. It was witty and entertaining and nobody involved in the making of that film has anything to be ashamed of. I wish they showed one of my stories on TV as often as they show that.

    And by the way, I was spotted recently with Paris Hilton and Matt Damon in front of a trendy Manhattan restaurant, drinking Evian. We were all sporting our new leather jackets from Gucci.

    (Not really)

  4. Hi Bill — I was just sitting
    Hi Bill — I was just sitting in my Aika chair reading and over the weekend my son picked up your book and said “who’s Bill King?” and I said he is an indie writer from Florida and he said “I see that.” I was reading the story about a haunted house and thought to myself a better answer on Sunday would have been to say, “Hand me that book and listen to who Bill King is.”

    Anyhow I came into the computer area after to check my e-mail and thought I would drop you a line.
    Only in college was I ever published and that was for two poems “Lycanthrope” and “Jesus is a Chinese launderer” and although I have read these poems with Half a brick Harry at the University Of Pittsburgh poetry readings only the Arab students applauded so I guess that makes me similar to Travolta in a way. Most of my truly entertaining work is un-noticed by the critics at large. Anyhow “Time fAdes inTo nexT” is a really good indie book (my personal favorite) and should be bought by everybody and sent to Quentin Tarrantino too and would make a great TV sit-com too!

    Let me reiterate for ya…

    In true response, some of the most fun I have had in reading has been in the volumes I have picked up of the writers on this site and of the books and authors that are referred and recommended, many on an independent press type label. I encourage all of the people who post to check out the writers that are mentioned in the posts and profiles and those who have independent works available . . . they are all just a couple of links away. Check ’em out!

    I do love your book Bill and hope that soon there will be more. . .
    I am going to go sit in the sun now. . . much peace.

  5. Thank you to all who brought
    Thank you to all who brought me here

    “Many of us are published in small print zines, either in print media or online media and want to break into the ‘real money’ catergory.”

    Thank you for featuring my idea for a thread. I have a correction for my statement. “Catergory”, should read: category…

    I have been published in many small magazines — the last being “Bog-Gob” Magazine,issue 30, in the Fall of 2004. My column is a perennial favorite of the editor, but I was not published in the last issue which came out in April. So, I have concentrated on the on-line publications and trying to get my stuff published in anthologies of which Action Poetry was one–I contributed to the “24 Hour Poem” at the end of the book and was given a credit for it.

    Small publications which have included my pieces are too numerous to mention. However, like many, I got my start in a local newspaper, and in college publications.

    The most money I have made was when I was working for a small publication called “Writers’ Newsletter” which was edited by a black lady. I still write her a Christmas card every year and occasionally visit the flea market where she operates a stand.

    I have participated in poetry slams and contests and have won two. I won a contest in “Writers’ Newsletter”. Also, I won the “consolation prize” at a poetry slam at Barking Legs Theater here in Chattanooga. I’ve been published in all the southern states around here: Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Alabama… “LitKicks” is my first steady on-line publication. I started blogging on here exactly a year ago. The first person who answered me back was Judih(sic?) from Israel. I thank everyone who published my works and encouraged me to keep writing.

  6. minfin, you have filled my
    minfin, you have filled my heart with a golden glow. I’m going to a spoken word/poetry reading later tonight, and to be honest, I didn’t feel like going. But suddenly, I’m all fired up again and ready to read!

    oh, there are more stories on the way.

  7. thoughts on thisWriting would
    thoughts on this

    Writing would probably be the only thing I like to do which I’d also like to make money on. But I’d like to get published first. If money came later, great. And yet, if I were to just have a few stories published in elegant lit mags, well, at least someone was reading my writing.
    I think sometimes when you mix money with a hobby one can be tempted to write a style they wouldn’t normally, because it is monetarily smart. Or one of their books gets popular and they stick to that style and don’t break out because of the money. I don’t think I’d let that happen. But I’ve seen it in the art world so that’s why I didn’t want to be a paid artist. But does one only keep their integrity by not getting paid at writing? Probably not. I think it depends on the person.

  8. It’s bad karma to disparage
    It’s bad karma to disparage one’s own writing. Criticism’s only opinion with no essential validity.

  9. I’m trying to do a commercial
    I’m trying to do a commercial project now because my last’s nearly wrapped and all these thoughts about integrity are just that–thoughts.

    Write while you think.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!