In the literary world, the debate around writing and commerce often begs us to take sides: either writers should be paid for everything they do or writers should just pay their dues and count themselves lucky to be published. You should never quit your day job, but your ultimate goal should be to quit your day job. It's an endless, confusing, and often controversial conversation that, despite our bare-it-all culture, still remains taboo. In Scratch, Manjula Martin has gathered interviews and essays from established and rising authors to confront the age-old question: how do creative people make money?
As contributors including Jonathan Franzen, Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, Nick Hornby, Susan Orlean, Alexander Chee, Daniel Jose Older, Jennifer Weiner, and Yiyun Li candidly and emotionally discuss money, MFA programs, teaching fellowships, finally getting published, and what success really means to them, Scratch honestly addresses the tensions between writing and money, work and life, literature and commerce. The result is an entertaining and inspiring book that helps listeners and writers understand what it's really like to make art in a world that runs on money - and why it matters.
What members say
Interesting thoughts on the business of writing...
Some people have criticized this book as having very little concrete information on writer earnings. Personally I did not expect high-earning authors to disclose their earnings, because doing so can make you a target for frivolous lawsuits, etc, and is generally not a good idea. What I wish I had anticipated was the amount of language that was used. I follow Austin Kleon, and while he does not swear on his blog or in his books, he does in this interview. His occasional f-bomb is nothing compared many of the other writers who contributed. I also did not anticipate the political views expressed. At one point, Kleon describes his ability to work at home and write full time as something with which he’s never quite comfortable, as if “they will one day show up and take it all away.” The way some of these authors talk (and occasionally the editor), he should be genuinely concerned. It would have been fun to hear an economist’s take on the writer’s market, although I get that the book was about what writer’s have to say about their own industry.
Overall well-produced and thought-provoking, although it would be better if the book be noted as having explicit content for those who would rather not listen given the warning.
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