Tuesday, December 11, 2007

So, you sold your book. Tell us about the money!

The past couple of days have been interesting. Using that word loosely. I've had two old friends whom I haven't spoken to in months call to say hi. That's nice, huh? Well, both people asked about my books and I told them I was busy writing the second. The next question--"so, how much did you make on that book?" Um. Well. Do I ask your salary? Would you ask me that if I had a "normal" job? I've been asked that question before and it always trips me! I never know the right response and I feel all awkward and weird. I've read about this on author chats and listservs and it does seem there is no right answer to this question.

Still, don't you think it's just proper etiquette not to ask? After all, it's really your own business. :) What would you say?


Jessica Ferguson said...

Isn't it funny how non-writers think that selling a book is just a stroke of luck, like you won the lottery or something? When people would ask me how much I got for my Silhouette Romance I'd pop off: "Not as much as you might think!" or "As much as a brain surgeon!" depending on who was doing the asking and what kind of mood I was in. There's no good answer so I think something hilarious is much better than a serious answer:

I got two bags of fresh corn, a gift certificate to Mabel's Fat Farm and a couple of Dr. Scholl's foot warmers. LOL

I'll be checking back for more creative answers. :-)

Cate Gardner said...

Oh that's just awful. I'm sure I would be a stuck as you for an answer... But if I did say something I guess it would be along the lines of: "Three million, bye now!" or "Ten pounds (I'm British) and seventy-six pence and a bus ticket outta here".

And of course, as you said: "And you?"

Keep smiling - you're the winner here.

Jessica Burkhart (Jess Ashley) said...

Good one, Jess! :)

Thanks, Catherine. :)

Gina Black said...

I'd just say, "Not enough." And I think that would be true at least until I was making major deals. ;) Or even Very major ones.

Emily Marshall said...

I love the suggestion to get creative with the responses above. I wouldn't know how to respond to this question, either. On some level I get why people ask it, because it's a creative field and is viewed by the masses as more of a hobby than a career. But still, it has to be annoying getting that question, since publishing is afterall...a business. But so many people just don't get that.

Anonymous said...

This is interesting. See if I were you and these friends happened to call me because of that news, but otherwise I wouldn't have heard from them (which I actually do deal with quite often, people flock to me when I have something to offer, but otherwise I am quite invisible), I would be thoroughly annoyed. Asking how much someone makes, rude! You're right, you don't ask other people, why would they ask you?
I had a friend once ask if I make a lot of money writing. Since I write articles mainly, it was easy for me to simply say "it varies from project to project."
I agree with what Jess said, non-writers seem to think things like this are like winning the lottery. They don't get that to us it's a job we work hard at.

Danette Haworth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danette Haworth said...

I've had quite a few people ask me that and I give them a non-answer. Miss Manners would be the first to tell them it's rude. I wonder how Miss Manners would tell us to respond--it would have to be civil.

Maybe something like, "My publisher asked me not to discuss my salary." And yes, even though it's not really a salary, it would serve to fix the concept in the other person's head that your advance is the same as their salary.


"That's a great question! How much do you make?"

(Okay, I would never say that, but it's fun to think that I might!)

Jessica Burkhart (Jess Ashley) said...

Good one, Gina. :)

Exactly, Emily. It's a business!

It's true, April, that people seem to think it just fell into your lap. Not true at all.

Danette, I should have thought of Miss Manners, LOL!

Michele said...

I think this is horribly rude! I've been in your shoes, Jessica, and frankly it DOES feel awkward and weird. How else should it feel? After all: PEOPLE ARE NOSY! That's what I'd LOVE to tell them, but I try to be nice ;-)

I'd personally never ask anyone questions like that at all. I'm clueless as to why they feel they have the right to delve into our private "business." I mean, come on! There's no couth anymore...

Jessica Burkhart (Jess Ashley) said...

I agree, Michele. I'd never ask anyone his/her salary. It's just an odd question!

New Year's resolution: come up with a final answer to that question. ;)

Unknown said...

My response when people ask me this - "That's between me and the IRS."

Shuts 'em up everytime.

Carrie Ryan said...

What's funny is that in my day job, everyone knows what I make because most big law firms report their salaries to NALP.

As for how much I make writing -- I'll usually tell a writer who asks what category it fell in under PM standards just because I think it's helpful for writers to have that info.

Other than that, I've never really had anyone ask. I guess I'd just dodge the question or say that authors rarely make as much money as people think they do or something like that. Another answer would be to say "I don't know, royalties haven't finished coming in yet" or something like that.

Barrie said...

I like Danette's first answer. It totally closes the door for future questions.

I've been in this position several times myself. And...yuck.

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