And You Make How Much?

May 17th, 2006 · 13 Comments
by Jill Monroe

I’ve mentioned this before here on Booksquare. There’s an odd thing that happens when someone learns you’re a published author. This can be friend or complete stranger it doesn’t matter. Once they know you have a book on the shelf they now have a complete license to ask you anything. This can be your sex life. How much money you make. Whether you get along with your co-workers. Stuff many people would be horrified to ask, say, their dentist.

I was given a roll of “Oklahoma Author” stickers by my local Romance Writers Chapter. Once my book is on the shelves, I go out and obsessively sticker every copy of my book within driving distance (which is not as far as it used to be). So, I’m at a Wal-Mart by my house and see the now familiar large fan that allows me to spot my book yards away. Yes, Booksquare, I went to Wal-Mart (and ran down the aisles touching product). Anyway, I’m down on the floor with all the books scattered about me as I sticker them. A woman casually walks by. Walks away. Walks back. I’m sure she’s security. Finally she asks me what I’m doing. After I assure her I’m not defacing the books (sort of) she asks me questions #1.

Did you get a lot of money?

My friend Gena Showalter told me to expect this question. A lot. Someone told me once to turn it around, ask the person how much THEY make. I can never remember that suggestion when this actually happens. Usually I just smile and babble something incoherently.

So, is there a lot of sex in this book? Is it really smutty?

This question used to really irk me. My book also has plot, dialogue…bunch of other stuff I learned in school. I work hard to deliver a good story. Sex is only a small part blah blah blah – I’m sure you get the picture why this is irritating. Now – how I answer this depends on which response I think will make you buy my book. (Acquaintances of mine might be rethinking past conversations.)

Now my husband gets versions of this question. I’ve suggested he just look really, really tired. Sigh heavily and say “yes”.

Is your husband really romantic? Is your house like that?

It takes every once of effort on my part not to laugh and laugh and laugh. I’m married to an engineer, need I say more? I’m curious, is there a particularly romantic profession out there? Actually, my husband gets off the hook in that department. I’m a romance writer, I can turn taking out the trash into a romantic gesture.

So, Brenda Hiatt did a lot of work on answering the question just how much authors make. You can see it here.

File Under: Perennials

13 responses so far ↓

  • Shawn // May 17, 2006 at 6:20 pm

    LOL! I’ve never understood why people feel they have the right to ask such invasive questions.

  • Booksquare // May 17, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    Sigh, WalMart. We talk, we talk, we talk, and still you go to WalMart.

    Oh, this isn’t about me? I am curious, though. How much did you make? I mean, was it enough to buy me a drink in Atlanta? Also, I would not be your friend if I didn’t question the “small part” comment. C’mon…we’ve slept in the same bed!

  • Jill Monroe // May 17, 2006 at 7:33 pm

    I’m pretty sure I can afford one drink, but only if it’s blue.

    So…sleeping together – that’s the standard by which we judge our bank accounts. That’s comforting and scary at the same time.

  • gena showalter // May 17, 2006 at 8:35 pm

    I’ve been asked those questions and more! And you’re right, by strangers and friends alike. I think, in their minds, we’re like lottery winners. They hear about huge book deals and assume we’ve just landed one, too. If they only knew how little most writers actually make!

  • SusanGable // May 18, 2006 at 6:47 am

    LOL about judging bank accounts on whether or not you “sleep with someone” at writer’s conferences. I’ve got a friend trying to figure that out right now. “Well, if I sell another book, I COULD keep the room to myself.”

    So, maybe THAT’S how we should answer the question about how much money we make. “With this book, I made enough money that I only have to share a ROOM at the writer’s conference, not a bed.”

    “Well, with this book, I made enough money that I get to have a WHOLE ROOM to myself at the writer’s conference.”

    “I made enough money with this book that I’m treating my friend to a suite at the writer’s conference, and buying her all the drinks she can comsume, whether they’re blue or not.”

    “I’ll be staying in the Presidentail suite at the writer’s conference.”

    So, there ya go. A new scale for evaluating book contracts. LOL.

  • colleen gleason // May 18, 2006 at 10:17 am

    Susan, that’s perfect! Thank you for the new scale. I’m sure I’ll put it to good use.

    Now, what about when someone you know, but isn’t one of your real bosom buddies, says, “Oh, you’ve got a book coming out! Do I get a signed copy??”

  • SusanGable // May 19, 2006 at 5:35 am

    I like to say, “I’ll be happy to sign your copy. Let me know when you’ve bought one and we’ll make arrangements for me to come sign it.” LOL. (I actually did tell my husband’s boss that once. LOL.)

  • Cece // May 21, 2006 at 1:44 pm

    >>Is it really smutty?

    Whooooooooooooweeeeeeeee yeah! It’ll peel the paint off your bedroom walls!!!!!!

    Sorry Jill I couldn’t help myself!

  • ErinGordon // May 16, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    Ah, I heard: Ewwww, you write romance? Why don’t you write a real book.

  • Stephen Tiano // May 29, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    More years ago than I care to remember I used to tell people who thought it was a big deal that I’d written two-and-half abd, unpublishable novels that writing a book that contained onlt the word “the” over and over again for 300 pages required more imagination than most people have.

  • Laural // Jul 28, 2008 at 9:18 am

    I think it’s not just authors who get those invasive questions. As a bookstore owner, I get them all the time. “Are you making it?” “How much does it cost to start a bookstore?” “Amazon’s Kindle – how do you feel about that?” I don’t get many questions about my sex life…hmmmm. I really think that being an author or owning a bookstore is the fantasy life of a lot of people. So…they ask questions to make themselves feel a little better about…not being an author…not owning a bookstore….

  • Julius // Jul 19, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    You’re writing porn for women, what do you expect? Of course they want to know about the sex scenes. They’re not buying it for the romance, are they?

  • Nobody // Sep 16, 2010 at 9:51 am

    So, did you get a lot of money?