The idea of only writing because you love it pops up in writer conversations all the time. The ideal is usually spewed by someone who has been writing for decades with nominal success. The frustration and disappointment are palpable. “Real writers would write whether they were making money or not.”
Let’s get this straight: I’ve written my whole life for no money. I will continue to write, regardless of where my career takes me. I need it in a way I need food and air and chocolate. It’s an integral part of my mental health, my creativity, and my existence.
Also, I have three kids. I have four dogs. I work. I maintain a house. I am committed to my neighborhood and my church. I chauffeur and cook and clean, and I am overwhelmed most days. Carving out time to write is a constant struggle. It is hard. I lose sleep, and I let things fall through the cracks, and I pay for childcare on days when I just cannot function anymore.
Writing, publishing, and marketing are an immense amount of work. Being compensated for that work is not just reasonable–it is necessary.
People in non-creative professions are never asked to work for free. Nobody would say to a surgeon, “You should operate for the joy of healing people.” Nobody would say to a farmer, “You should farm for the joy of feeding people.” Mostly because it would be completely irrational.
Writing is a skill. Writing takes time–so much time. It requires a command of language, an understanding of grammar, and an interest in humanity. It takes years to hone storytelling skills. Training, practicing, and skill development are not something we should be expected to donate to the greater good.
Musicians deserve to be paid. Artists deserve their commission. And authors deserve to be compensated for the intense labor of love that brings a book into the world.
Yeah, I want to make money with my books. I’m not embarrassed to say that. In fact, I think more of us need to say that. We need to demand what we are worth. We need to understand that our skills and our time are worth something.
Know your value, authors. And don’t let anybody make you feel less devoted because you want to get paid for your work.
About the Writer: Allie Gravitt is a mom of 3 and lives in metro Atlanta with a house full of animals. Her debut poetry collection, prisonbreaks, is available now on Amazon. Follow Allie’s writing journey on TikTok and Instagram.