A: I Can’t Even Imagine Having That Much Money!!! All the $s:
More money than the Queen of England, could buy an island, could buy a president (What! I wanna be that person pulling the strings behind the scenes. Do I bash your dreams?), sets up a trust for a scholarship to a private university that’ll fund kids going there for hundreds of years.
B: Nope, Still Can’t Imagine It: $$$$$$$$$$
You have huge TV shows/movies based on your books, are a household name, can buy a few Senators, go on talk shows for your books (It theoretically happens), have lessor authors actually write your books under your name, and don’t even bother going to cons because you’re above mixing with the hoi polloi of common street writers.
C: Could Pay Off Law/Med School Loans With One Year’s Net Earnings: $$$$$$$$$
Otherwise known as The Dreammmmmm. This is around where Larry is (I’m guessing based on his descriptions.) You could pay expenses, taxes and then write a check for those loans in one fell swoop and still live for the year. For normal people who didn’t bet their future on a brand name law school, substitute house for law school. And after that first year, you have enough money each year to help out poor students of your choice by paying their tuition in a scholarship or two.
You’re also probably the guest of honor at a con or two a year and have signings with hour long lines.
D: The Top 1%: $$$$$$$$
According to some BS literary journalists (I use journalist as loosely as possible because you know they do), these are the authors raking in at least a hundred thousand a year. They don’t count Indie authors, so if you’re Indie, you don’t get to be on this list because some literary fop who couldn’t make it as an author and became a magazine writer says so.
E. The Indie Authors Top 1%: $$$$$$$$
You make as much as (probably more than) the D list, but can’t be there because you’re “not a real author.” And it’s still in the arena of enough money to pay off those student loans, it just may take you two years instead of one. Or you could buy a Congress person, invest enough to be at risk of being accused of insider trading if you know anything, or buy that stupid literary mag… just because you could. You go to the cons as a guest of honor, a normal guest, whatever. You’re doing well and want to help the newbies learn.
F. Livin’ Large and Lovin’ Life: $$$$$$$
You’re living comfortably, paying those student loans off at a steady pace that’ll get them out of the way in a very reasonable five years or so, buying a new car, and looking into running for state judge, legislator or local mayor with your own funds. It’s probably not enough to buy the election, but hey, that law degree has to be good for something, at least enough to make you more qualified than the jokers actually in office.
G. Professional and Proud: $$$$$$
You live off your writing, and it’s enough to live comfortably and pay off some amount of those loans. Not fast, but you make your monthly payments to get the suckers out on the ten year plan. You have some savings after that and are considering a new house, or at least a new car. And your spouse is no longer carrying your ass like they have been since you quit your day job.
H. Quit The Day Job! $$$$$
You make enough that you make more by writing and marketing your books during the time you were doing your day job than you would by “authoring” at night and doing your day job. You are making the ten year loan payments but are really glad your spouse is covering the house payments and half the utilities because if you lived on your own, you’d be seriously pinched.
I. You Would Quit The Day Job If It Weren’t For Those Pesky Loans: $$$$
You make enough that you could live off your writing, but can’t get rid of that extra income just yet because of those damn student loans. You’re finally paying them down though, so go you! You pay the loans with day job money and food/utilities with your book profits, even have money left over to go clothes shopping! If you weren’t too exhausted after your two jobs to go do something, of course.
J. Wow, People Think I’m a Real Author? $$$
You make more as an author than you did in your first job out of school. In all fairness, you weren’t making that much because it was a BS public interest job you took to get experience so you could get a real job, because these days that big, expensive grad degree just doesn’t mean that much… no matter what they charge. But hey, you’re paying your loans down between the two jobs, so it wasn’t the biggest mistake of your life, right? Right? Maybe it’s a good time to spring for another expensive bottle of something or other because you have enough profit for a splurge here and there.
K. Quarterly Taxes Are Bullshit! $$
I can’t believe I have to do this four times a year! Who came up with this *%#$ rule? Wait, that means I’m starting to make it, right? I have enough that I have to deal with this bullshit even after taking the taxes I go over and would usually be my refund from my day job and my author expenses into account. That’s pretty cool. And I can pay expenses and my loans with my spouse covering my ass on the house… as long as we don’t have kids for ten years.
L. Shopping Spreeeeeeeee! $$
You made enough one month to go shopping from your profits (the real profits, the ones you calculate after you take expenses and taxes into consideration) after you pay your bills. And this is real shopping. The I’m buying silk, suits, shoes and scotch shopping, and then getting a fancy ergonomic chair to do the writing in… that last one counts as a business expense, right? Maybe it’s time to get an accountant. Wait, have I made enough to have to pay quarterly taxes? It’s definitely time to get an accountant.
M. Time To Pop The Champagne! $
Holy shit! You made as much off one book in a year as you would’ve if you had gotten a deal with the Big 5 with a typical new author advance. That means you made it! You’re an author! You get an expensive bottle of champagne and pop it. And after the euphoria wears off, you realize that’s not that much money. It’s enough to cover your half of the bills if you stop blowing the money on booze and dinners out though. Not bad.
N. I Can Actually Pay For Something Monthly With My Profits?!?! 1/2$
Checking Amazon once an hour to see where your royalties are, checking CreateSpace at least three times a day to see paper sales, and getting a happy every time someone buys something or there’s a spike in KU sales. Calculating at least once a day how much you’ll make over the year if the trend keeps up, and crashing whenever your sales do because that’s all you’ll make ever and since sales went down you must be a failure and it’s time to just give up and focus on your day career, and hey, sales went back up, you’re happy again. And doing the math, you can pay your phone bill from profits as long as sales don’t go down again… oh crap, why do they keep going up and down like that?
You do conventions to network and shove your books down the throats of anyone who comes to your panels.
(This may or may not be where this author happens to be hanging out right now.)
O. I’m An Author! 1/4$
Published some shorts or a book so you’re getting some sort of monthly royalties, got something published in a magazine for a one time payout and get to tell people at work you’re an author! You start planning what you’ll buy when you make it big and dream about how quickly you could pay off your student loans while you’re at it. You take your spouse out to dinner and that’s pretty much all the profit you’ve made so far.
The average literary writer who won some award or got something published in one of those literary magazines that at least pay the writers, so that’s something.
P. Literary Fop $?
You tell everyone in your writer groups you’re a real writer, while they are just commercial and you’ve sold stuff, but can’t tell anyone where it is because, well, reasons. But they exist and you are the only real writer there. And you proceed to tell all the writers in your group about how bad and shallow their writing is, while yours is deep and symbolic so you’re going to get published soon. You’ve got an agent, which means it’s only a matter of time until you get published and of course the house is going to put their all behind promoting you so you’ll make it big overnight, so there.
Q: All Bow Before The Next Dickens… Emphasis On The Dick: 0$
You work at Starbucks, but that’s just while you finish the next great American novel. You’re going to be a star, like J.K. Rowling, but not all commercial like she is. You’re going to be rich and famous on true literary merit. You have an MFA in creative writing so you know what you’re talking about.
If you stay here, you may become a high school English teacher or a creative writing professor in college who will churn out other P and Q-holes.
R: Couldn’t Make It As Authors:
So they became editors and agents. Not necessarily a bad thing. Some people are great at reading, editing and analyzing without having the ideas or the wherewithal to become authors. It’s what they do in this position that makes them good or bad.
S: Yeah, I’m A Writer, I Guess: $0 (so far)
The people who have written a few books and shorts but know enough to know they aren’t up to par… Yet. You made the basic newbie mistakes and are pounding out words every day whenever you can get away from work and life. You already know this is a profession and you have to put in the work, and you’re well on your way. You’re the future of writing.
T: Dude, I’m Totally A Writer Too! (Never gonna have $$$$$)
The guy who says he’s a writer too and goes on to describe his amazing book. Sure, it’s not done, but he has a few chapters and wouldn’t you like to read them and tell him how brilliant he is?
U: Starting To Write But Not Really Telling Anyone Yet: (Not thinking about the $ yet.)
The people who’ve started writing, don’t know what’s going to become of it besides the fact that it’s a fun hobby. You can go from here to S or T. If you find yourself saying how cool your book is and doesn’t someone want to read the rough draft, go home, grab a drink, and keep writing, sparky.
V: I’ve Got This Great Idea!
Sit here and let me tell you about it… half an hour later: so that’s brilliant, right? So I’m thinking you write it and we’ll totally split the royalties. 50/50 sound fair?
W: The Writer’s Group Troll: (No $, no sense, no respect, just no.)
They’re in the writing group, they do write, or so they say, and they just love to tear up everybody’s work. They rip your work up because they don’t like your politics, they tell you that you need to explain every tiny detail in the first chapter for “world building,” which would just destroy your book because it’d be so boring.
These are also the people that hang out on review sites or have blogs, tearing up others’ work under the guise of reviewing.
X: The Subterrestrials on File 770 and 4Chan: (No $ ever, probably don’t even have one job, let alone a second one as an author.)
These are the people sitting in their parent’s basements and ripping apart authors, actors, photographers, basically anyone who dares put anything out there.
This is the dark part of the internet, that shadowy place is outside our borders. You must never go there, Simba.
No, really, don’t go there. Not because those pussies are dangerous. (No offense to real cats, who, even though they’re neutered, have more balls than those wankers.) But because if you go there, you’ll get violent when you see what they’re saying about your friends and you can’t afford that good of a lawyer yet.
Y: The Anti-Authors: -$
The people who get jobs as literary critics or just write about it in whatever passes for journalism online these days. Technically they get paid, but they do it at the expense of real authors, which is why they’re the negative dollars. They pass judgement from on high, and might have a government grant or two to produce “art” but never actually stop drinking long enough to do it.
Z: Politicians Getting Illegal Campaign Contributions… I Mean Advances.
And the cream of the creepy… drum roll please.
Publishers give them great huge brib… I mean advances, the politician gets a ghost writer to write some non fiction thing about their life or their thoughts (which are created by other people who are footing the bill for the politician) and then people buy the book so they can put it on their coffee table and tell their friends they are up on the issues and cultured.
Alright! That took so much longer than it was supposed to. I am literally a starving artist right now.
And since I’m a starving artist and still figuring out this marketing thing, here’s an oh so subtle push of my new book, Psychic Undercover (with the Undead),
Singers are a dime a dozen in Nashville, so despite her mama's urging, psychic Ariana Ryder's working her way towards a career in law enforcement at the FBI, one tray of fetched coffee at a time, instead. She's got an extremely handsome boss, a dancing partner among the lab techs, and a solid year as the team rookie under her belt...
Right until the director gives her a big break, working undercover as a singer at a club to investigate why it's being targeted by a serial killer. This might have worked better if the club didn’t happen to be a vampire nest.
Now, with the vampire's investigator, Quil, on her case, the jurisdictional battle isn't the only thing heating up as they race to solve the case before the killer strikes again!*
*Vampires aren't the only things that go bump in the night...