Wednesday, October 14, 2009

People Who Write For Money

I'm a bit late in putting this out there in the wider world, but the new column is up at Bookslut. The latest examination of books far and wide, "American Psychos," gets down on the latest titles from Sara Paretsky, Andrew Vachss, and the always entertaining James Ellroy, who finishes up the Underworld USA trilogy with Blood's A Rover.

I haven't decided yet whether to go take another hit of Ellroy's performance art when he comes to town to sign books next week, but I've been following the latest news. The most interesting interview so far comes on video from the eagle eyes of Mediabistro's Galleycat, who interviewed Ellroy last week. In it, he offers some questions for working writers to ponder.

"It's survival of the fittest," Ellroy said. "Who wants to write? How bad do you want it? Will you write, even if you're poorly paid? I will. That gives you a leg up on people who write for money. I got 3500 bucks for my first novel, 3500 bucks for my second novel. Five K for my third, five K for my fourth. Six K for my fifth, ten K for my sixth. Then big jumps to twenty. All of which was realistic renumeration at the time."

Just to give you some perspective, Ellroy's first novel, Brown's Requiem, was published in 1981. In relative terms, the author's renumeration would be somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 dollars in present-day value depending on the economic indicator you use. $20,000 for his seventh novel, 1987's The Black Dahlia, would equate to nearly $40,000 today.

Things to think about.

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