I went to a small (SMALL) convention last weekend, which wasn’t aimed at readers/writers, but rather queer anime/manga (with some other sorts thrown in). While there, I went to a panel, the name of which I don’t remember, but it was something like “How to Make Money Selling Your Book” or something of the sorts. I’m always curious to learn more, so I grabbed my notebook and scurried off.
Warning: ahead is a rant about the idea of authors “selling out” as the only way to make money, which probably stems from my annoyance at the objectification of queers for profit (as it was presented).
Now, I’ll note by saying that the presenter was an author who earns a living by selling her books (according to her). I was not familiar with her name, and I didn’t google her (before or after). And I will say she was very upfront about everything.
Her advice for selling enough copies of your book to earn a living? Sell out and whore yourself.
I might be truncating it a little. Just a bit. But the general gist of everything she said was, “Do what makes money.” Screw your “morals” or “muse” or “standards.” If a movie producer wants to option your book for $$$ but you have to let them change your one male character in a romantic pair into a female so it’s not gay? Go for it.
Don’t write X if X won’t make you money. Write Y. If you want to write X, well, have fun at your day job! *insert derisive laughter here* (Because having a day job is laughable, I guess?)
I’m not stupid or naive, I know that writers should be at least a little bit aware of what genre in their scope makes money. Yes, they should be familiar with what’s popular and how to reach the biggest audience (ie, which vendors to prioritize, perhaps).
But the way she presented this to the group was that your work really means nothing and you shouldn’t think that it does. And that your only two options were not making money and holding on to your pitiful little dream, or make money by whatever means possible. As if there was no middle ground. As if there aren’t authors who haven’t sold out (as far as I know) who make a living off their books.
Is it easy? No. Is selling out probably going to make you more money faster? Yeah.
Will it make me feel really grossed out and leave your panel halfway through? Definitely.
Because this con was sort of supposed to be a celebration of queerness, and while I know a lot of people make money off of it, I’m a little squicked when someone comes into what should be a safe space and says “this is the type of gay porn you should be writing for older straight women.”
And maybe don’t mock people who would like to only write what they like (and what makes them comfortable). Possibly–here’s a wild idea–offer suggestions for how someone can make money without selling out. Because “selling out” is shitty advice (even if it is the most financially rewarding). If that’s the only advice you can offer to help someone make money selling their book, then you’re a shitty presenter.
Did you get the feeling I didn’t like that session? Because I didn’t. I do recognize a lot of what she said was true (and maybe factual), but her presentation style and her view that there’s only ONE way left a lot to be desire. And I just needed to rant about it.