Why am I evil for wanting to make money from my writing? Tell the naysayers to bugger off!

This is a guest post by Harlow Drake

If another person says, “You should write because you love it, not because you want to make money,” I’m going to scream. What’s so wrong with looking for a way to quit my monotonous, unfulfilling, the-reason-I-went-to-college-but-it-sucks day job? Sure I make a good living, but at a cost — my creative juices.

I’ve come to abhor working 9 to 5. In fact, I may have a disease. It’s called, “I’m-going-to-kill-myself-if-I-have-to-keep-doing-this-sh**.”

I feel physically ill when I rise at 7:10 a.m. to begin my day. The husband, kids, and even the dogs know to let me rise on my own on the weekends or suffer dire consequences, much like poking a sleeping bear.

I truly believe we’re all here for a bigger purpose. I used to think it was to train my husband. Done. Have and raise kids. (The kids are teenagers now—teenagers are evil, but that’s a totally separate blog post.) Are you ever really done training kids? For the sake of argument — done. Train the dogs. They were already trained when we got them from the Rescue. Done.

For years, I searched for my calling. First, I thought it was to become a court reporter. Been there, done that (almost). I completed the training, but never actually got a court reporting job. So I went back to college, got a degree in business administration, and went to work.

I can honestly say there’s never been one job I’ve “loved,” not like when I write. Some days I can’t get the words down fast enough. There’s nothing like coming up with a scene that makes you stop writing and say, “Ooh, that’s good.”

I yearn for a more flexible life that includes: not waking before 11 a.m.; working in pajamas; eating at my leisure; napping with the dogs (don’t tell the husband I let them sleep in the bed when he’s not home); spending more time with the husband and kids (again, teenagers are evil); and earning an income to sustain (not exceed) my current lifestyle.

I’m supposed to be a writer. It’s written in the stars. I’m a Leo and so are Ray Bradbury, Emily Bronte, James Baldwin, and J.K. Rowling. Also, I think I have adult ADD, which will serve me well in this career field. There’s not a darn thing wrong with wanting to sell your work. Writers are artists. We want to be appreciated for our work. Paying for it is proof of that.

So the next time someone gives you that spiel, tell them to piss off or not. It’s up to you.

I’m going to finish my book, publish it, and see if there’s an appreciation for it.

Buy the ticket, take the ride.


About this post’s author:

Author Harlow Drake was born in Kansas City, MO, but grew up in Denver, CO. She relocated to North Carolina five years ago with her husband, two dogs, and 16-year old twins. Her debut novel, Life in Death (to be published in early 2012), is a murder mystery that pulls from real-life situations in her own family history. She felt compelled to share her story with the world while offering a thrilling, entertaining, and amusing escape for readers. She loves to connect with her readers on Twitter, her blog, and on Facebook.

Emlyn Chand

And here’s my favorite TR quote for Harlow: “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” That’s become my mantra. Many people will never understand the drive to pursue writing as a career–they’ll think you’re unrealistic, immature, and even selfish. But you know what’s meant for you, not them. Make the TR quote your mantra too 😀

Sophie Duncan

I hear you and raise a glass to your sentiments. I too am working to earn a living, but would much rather be writing to earn my bread. I am forced to write part time by the millstone of a mortgage, but one day, one day, I will have enough of a name to make my living through my words, I am determined.

It’s been a bit over a year since my sister and I set up our publishing company, Wittegen Press, and we have several novels and numerous short stories out there, and we keep working at the publicity side of things as well, I’ve lost count of how many blogs, social networking IDs and such I have.

Good luck to you and keep pushing at your dream :).

Kimberly Kinrade

Here, here, Harlow! I couldn’t agree more. And while I have to wait a few more years to sleep past 7 a.m. (my kids still need a mom in the morning), I do adore working in my pajamas. It’s not all writing, but it’s all writing related. Authors deserve to get paid for their work and I fully believe in you and your work. Don’t give up! 🙂

Felicia Rogers

Here-here. The fact is that as it stands whether you are writing part-time or full-time, you deserve to be paid. Yes, write because you love it. I know I enjoy placing the words down on paper. I love finding that special thing about my newest hero or creating the world for them to live and play in. But after all that work an author wants to be rewarded and paid.

Good luck in your career and with those teenagers!

Melissa Luznicky Garrett

Writers really shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed for wanting (and needing!) to make money for what they do. I’d also like to add that readers shouldn’t expect writers to give away their product(s) for free or at deep discount.

Richard White

There’s a perverse idea circulating that art doesn’t warrant payment. I call it perverse because the oddest thing about it is that everyone enjoys art, everyone wants a photo in their house, has a music collection and owns books. Every form of art requires attention, diligence, effort and time, and – rightly or wrongly – in our society time is money and we all deserve payment for what we do. If nothing else, payment is a physical appreciation, a way of telling the artist/musician/writer “hey, thanks for all the work you’ve put out there, it’s really enriched my life.”

We should write because we love it, though. And write music because we love it. And this is why manufactured bubblegum pop music is the antithesis to all of artist creativity – jumping onto a bandwagon for the sake of earning money is not the same thing as wanting to earn money from a favourable profession.

I’m lucky enough to be earning a living from literature, although i’m not limited just to writing – i write articles and ghostwrite books, but i also do a lot of editing and proofreading and i’m just about to branch into tuition and consultation. My love of the written word extends far beyond wanting to just have my own content out there, i also want to help others improve their own standards.

Marc Vun Kannon

No one ‘deserves to get paid’ for doing anything that no one wants to have done, whether they’re an author or a songwriter. They get paid if and when someone decides their work is important enough to their lives to spend money on it. (If you mean that authors deserve not to have people demand they give away their work for free, then I agree with that.) You want to get readers to feel this way about your work.

A book that is written to make money is not a book that I would either buy or read. It should be written because you love it, you want to write it, you can’t do anything but write it because there’s nothing in your world like it and you need to improve the world by making it. If you feel this way, that attitude will probably come through in your writing and I probably will too. In other words, loving your own work maximizes the probability that other readers will love it and give you money. (If your attitude is a craving for indolence and a general dissatisfaction with a life that you apparently created for yourself, that will probably show too. You can only put into the book what you have in your life.)

JH Glaze

When there are so many books available for free on the web, it devalues books that are not free. 10 years ago, there was no such thing as a free book. But the web has changed the paradigm, and anyone can self publish ebooks.

My first book took 18 months to write and a lot of time was spent writing, editing, designing, and figuring out the process. Believe it when I say that everything but the writing sucks, but after all of the work, the frustration, and even disappointment and tears, trying to get published, nothing sucks worse than when you hear a non writer say “I’ll never buy a book again, all I have to do is enter drawings or just download free ones.”

So I ask you, would it hurt to actually buy something from a good author, or would you prefer that all books ultimately are free and every author worth reading stops writing because it isn’t worth the time, expense, or even the grief?

You pay for cable tv, Internet, phone service and even to listen to your music and if you go see a movie, you pay twice as much as a book for two hours of entertainment.

Now I don’t expect you to buy my books cause they may not be right for you, but the least you can do is let your favorite author know you appreciate them by paying once in a while. Maybe it would inspire them to keep writing and thrilling you with the product of their imagination.

To those who think I’m being selfish, I say write your own book, go through the hell of trying to get published or even read, then criticize all you want. Everybody knows – haters gonna hate.

JH Glaze

I would like every person who disagrees that writers shoul be paid to post the links to their free art, books, music or product that they normally work a 40 hour week to receive payment for. Sign your paycheck over to charity and work for free in everything you do, because you love it. If you can’t agree with that, your opinions on this topic are moot.

    CF Winn

    Very well said!

Gwen Patton

I totally agree with you! Every time I hear “profit is theft,” or “you should just give your stuff away,” or “ideas should be free,” I want to choke someone. I took a class on intellectual property, only to find out after I had signed up and paid my fees that the professor was *against* it — he wanted to do away with copyrights, trademarks, and patents! His idea was that we artists and creative types should go back to having patrons, like Mozart and such had in the old days, to make our living. The works themselves, however, belonged to the world, to “inspire creativity” in others.

To be hacked apart, stolen, derived from, copied, and sold without my getting so much as a shaved farthing, according to him. I don’t think I’ve ever been angrier than when I left each lecture. When I finished the course, I was shaking and almost sick with rage.

I already make my webcomic available to be read online for free. But I sell print copies to those who like to hold a paper comic book in their hands — such people do exist! — and I sell prints and posters and stuff too, and someday I’ll be doing sketches. I want to be able to make SOMETHING off that, not have some yahoo think it’s ok to download my webcomic and print it up so HE can make money off my work!

And the ones that think I’m some kind of “ebil capitalist 1-percenter” because I sell my comics online, guess again. I would LIKE to make money off my work, but I don’t. I’m not that well known yet. But I have hopes! And until then, I would like the option to be left open!


Well said. Alleluuuuuah! Also, I might add that cooking is the next thing I want to eliminate. I absolutely hate it. Personal Chef please.

Loved this post. Made me laugh and say Amen at the same time.

Take care and keep on keepin on.

Frantastically yours,

Lane Diamond

I love this article. I want to shout it from the mountaintops. Actually, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll now go to the mountaintops.

CF Winn

Great post. Could’ve been me who wrote it except for the psychotic kids, the dogs, and training the husband (I’ve decided to give up on him completely). Our time IS just as valuable as the cashiers at Stop and Shop, so we deserve to be recognized for the love, effort, and creativity we put into our work. Well said!

Nicole Alexander

Harlow, I couldn’t agree more. You are in good company with this attitude. I think the best arrangement for any writer is to get paid (and paid well) for doing something they love. Isn’t that supposed to be the point of every career? How is it okay for doctors, teachers, etc. to get paid for healing or imparting knowledge with no flack, but not for writers to want to earn a good living while telling a great story? Keep at it and hopefully we’ll all be on the best-seller list together soon!


Love this post, I personally blogged about something much like this a while ago. If I could support my family while writing my stories it would be a dream come true!


Absolutely loved this. I have the misfortune of having family members tell me I need a “real” job on a regular basis. I have taken to smiling, nodding, and going on doing what I want to do.

Comments are closed