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Writing – Personal VS Professional

Writing – Personal VS Professional

By Rebecca Besser


Yesterday I posted about having inner peace as a writer and how a writer shouldn’t base their creative worth on book sales (Giving Up – Writing Isn’t An Option).  In no way did I mean by that post that writers shouldn’t get paid and shouldn’t seek to get paid. Because I believe all artists should be paid for their work.

Being paid for your work and book sales are two different things.

An article writer, for instance, gets a flat rate for their work or gets paid a rate per word – this rate of pay has nothing to do with later sales of the publication.

As far as book sales, advances or signing bonuses a writer gets paid for their book are merely royalties paid in advance in the hopes of the publisher making that money back from book sales. A writer makes no more money until the sales of their book have exceeded what they’ve already been paid in advance. Then they receive royalties (a percentage of sales that was agreed upon in their contract).

For writers that self-publish, they hope to get what they put into their book as far as editing and cover cost, etc., back through royalties earned from book sales, because they are author and publisher. This leads to self-published writers getting discouraged easily, because they’re all in and not making their money back when there are little to no sales.

Not placing your value as a creative artist on book sales does not mean that you shouldn’t get paid for the skilled work you do. You can control what you agree to write for as far as advances and per word rate by agreeing to those terms. You cannot predict sales or force anyone to buy your books later or if you self-publish. That’s always a gamble. Many marketing strategies can be tried, but none of them are a guarantee.

You can determine (to an extent) the worth of your work when you agree to terms, but you can never control sales. You can’t base your worth on something you can’t control. You can determine your work’s worth on terms you can negotiate through a paying market/publisher. You have the right to charge for your skill and your time.

Writing is a business once you seek publication through a market where you make money or self-publish a book for which you charge money. And that’s a choice – the choice to be a professional writer. You are choosing to be in the writing business, that you want to be paid for your skill and time.

But there’s another choice…

There are many writers who only ever seek to write for personal reasons. They’ll post on their blog or through non-paying markets, or give their books away for free all the time. That’s “personal” writing. Some make money eventually, once (or if) they get enough attention and someone offers to pay them, but they don’t seek out payment for what they write.

There’s nothing wrong with either option as long as you’re happy. You just need to understand the difference. And respect that people have the right to choose their own path.

The fact that I sought out and now have an agent speaks clearly for the path I’ve chosen. 😉


©Rebecca Besser, 2016. All rights reserved.