Writing Books: Money and Fame Versus Personal Enjoyment

I’m often asked if I’m writing to make money or become famous. I’m pretty certain that will never happen. I mean the famous part. I may make some money, but I doubt it’ll be enough to make it a full-time career. So, is it for my own personal enjoyment?

I love making stories. I love to create a world I can call my own, make my own rules, and have people live the way I wish I could live. And I want to share it. I want my world to inspire people, make them want to live there, and give readers a temporary place for their minds to live in. I think that’s what a lot of people enjoy doing while they read, experiencing another way of life. And I’m enjoying doing it (if I can find the time).

But part of me wants to become successful at it. I want to be able to make enough money to do this full time. But fame? As an introvert who doesn’t particularly enjoy being the focus of attention, I’d like to skip that. But the money, sure! I mean, what author wouldn’t want to be able to make money doing what they love?

What am I really doing this for? I think the main thing is for myself. I want to enjoy telling stories. If I make money at it, that just makes it easier for me to devote more time to make more stories for people to enjoy.

What about you? If you’re an author, how would you explain the balance between money, fame, and personal enjoyment? Let me know in the comments below.

26 thoughts on “Writing Books: Money and Fame Versus Personal Enjoyment”

  1. I’m pretty much where you are in terms of the money, fame, enjoyment equation and I figure that I do my best when I’m passionate about things and I’m passionate about blogging. I figure if I earned a few pennies as a very random, occasional blogger, it would follow that if organize it up a bit more and pour more effort into promoting I’d make more, right? Then yesterday when read @sachablack who posted about ditching New Year resolutions in favor of setting unrealistic goals to reach unbelievable success, I drank a bit of that Black koolaid. So I wrote a piece yesterday outlining my unrealistic goals for 2016 and I’m feeling pretty good about that…

    1. I always make unrealistic goals for myself at the beginning of the year. It’s always too much, but I push myself to do whatever I can. I tend to get more done that way.

  2. Personal enjoyment? Absolutely! Money? Sure. Writers gotta eat and deserve being paid for their time just like every other job. As for fame? Not even a motive. An unwanted side effect. And I figure that writers who are in the game to be famous are there for entirely the wrong reasons.

    1. I wonder how many people think that wishing for money from writing is selfish and entitled. If it’s work, you should get paid, right? If you sell a product, you should get paid for what it’s worth, right? As for fame, I could do without it, but would accept it if it meant more sales. But then, authors tend to be able to live quieter lives than actors.

  3. Fame, or at least getting noticed, would be nice, but it’s not my raison d’etre for writing. That’s more like my Winning Powerball plan: I highly doubt it would happen, but it would be nice to have. 🙂

    If I’ve learned anything from self-publishing in the last year, it’s that I can finally confirm my motive for writing really is that I love doing it, and love sharing them with others. 🙂

    1. Yeah. I think anyone who self-publishes must be doing it because they love doing it. It’s difficult to become a bestseller when self-publishing. But it happens!

      1. I am currently working on putting together a collection. I’m not sure if the manuscript will be finished this year or next. I will submit to small, independent presses and, perhaps, some contests, looking for a publisher willing to take a chance on a first book. My aim is to have a book published by the time I’m sixty, so I have five years. That may or may not be enough.

        1. Hopefully you can do it. I helped edit a book written by one of my students, and it was not the kind that would sell well, unless there are a huge number of patchwork quilters who like to see pictures of quilts. She only had a print of 100 copies. I got a copy! But she went through a small press that was willing to take on her project. I don’t think they’d make much money on it, though.

          1. Poetry books, even by established poets, have small pressruns compared to fiction/nonfiction. I’m hoping to get accepted by a publisher so that I don’t have to hire an editor and designer and pay for the printing myself. It would also be great to have someone to help publicize. I don’t think I could make it work all on my own. I admire those who can, though.

            1. Except for the rare authors who are with a major publishing house, it isn’t too surprising. Most small publishers have pretty limited promotion budget/personnel. Some are better than others, though.

            2. Yeah, that’s true. As I understand it, R. A. Salvatore of Forbidden Realms fame may be their most prolific and famous author, but he still has to do crowdfunding to help him with funding new novels. He also has to do a lot of promotion himself.

            3. I’ve noticed a lot of people using Kickstarter to raise funds for an editor, cover artist, and so on. Those that contribute, typically get a free copy in return.

            4. It’s always fun to get a reward, especially if it is a book! I haven’t received any Kickstarter requests for book services, but I have given to some documentary film fundraisers that have sent DVDs of the finished work. So great!

            5. One was about our local area. There is another about a doctor in our area who was one of the first to treat AIDS patients but who later succumbed to cancer. I also am supporting several faith-related documentaries, including “Radical Grace” on three Catholic sisters and their work, which is currently making the rounds of film festivals.

            6. “Radical Grace” has gotten recognition at some film festivals, including Toronto. It may make it onto television through HBO or a similar channel eventually.

  4. Yeah, the small amounts of money I got for writing when I was only a writer and not the writer/game designer I am now were worth more than gold to me. Would I love to get a huge book deal? Sure. Is it the be-all and end-all of my existence? No. If I manage to get a game together based on some story of mine, that ends up well-loved, and I’m able to tell little girls yes, you can do this too, then THAT’S my happy place.

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