Writing for Love… and Money

Making money is NOT an evil thing. Unless you’re a Christian writer, agent, or publisher. Then, suddenly, the tables turn and you’re supposed to do it simply for “the love of the game.”

I’ve never quite understood that.

I taught at a church recently. Two services. My topic was “Loving God
With Your Mind.” As the day approached, I debated whether I should use
that event as an opportunity to set up a book table and sell my first
novel. One part of me — the rational, business, professional part of me
— saw it as a no-brainer. It didn’t matter how awkward it appeared, or
if I even sold any books. The point was to start acting like a real
writer and get my face out there. Well, the other part of me — the artsy, idealistic, Bohemian part — argued against setting up a table. You’re NOT in this for the money,
I told myself. After all, this was a church. And you know what Jesus
did to the moneychangers in the temple. Besides, if I really felt called
to write I should be writing for the love of it, not constantly looking
for promo-ops.

The money-changer in me won out.

I’ve heard this charge leveled more than once: The Christian book and music industry is “all about money.
” Exhibit A: The Left Behind series. Did the publishers of The Left
Behind series intentionally stretch the series out (to 12 books!) simply
to capitalize on the series’ success, as some have suggested? If so,
was that blatantly un-christian or a smart business practice?

I’m not sure the answer is as clear-cut as we’d like it to be.

Whenever
this issue of Christian publishing and the role of the Christian artist
comes up, the subject of “profit-making” is not far behind. Have the
“moneychangers” really stepped in? Is the bottom-line for Christian
publishing really “all about marketing and money”? Is the real reason so
many authors are left high and dry simply because of greedy publishers
who are looking for the most marketable product, er, person?

When I
signed a two-book contract with Charisma House, my agent negotiated
with the publisher for the best possible deal. Was this wrong? Should I
have simply accepted what the publisher offered? On top of this, my
agent wants a cut. In fact, I hired her with the agreement that she
could have a cut! So who’s the “money-grubber” in this scenario? The
publisher, who thinks (hopes?) my books can sell? Me, for negotiating
the best possible deal? Or my agent, for requiring a percentage of my
profit?

Or maybe the “Christian” thing to do is to do it all for free.

Jesus
told the parable of the talents (Matt. 25: 14-30) about using our
resources wisely, which in that case meant multiplication. Applying this
to us writers, simply: God wants you to multiply your writing talent. Build upon it. Grow it. Leverage it. But for what purpose? Fame? Nah. Fortune? Okay, forget fortune. For a few bucks?  Why not? Christ rebuked the unfaithful steward for not making a return on his talent.
Question: Are you getting a “return” on your writing talent?

Of
course that return need not be strictly monetary. Perhaps you’re
inspiring others, growing personally, etc. That’s terrific. But does it
need to stop there? Making money, as a writer or publisher, seems
intrinsic to being a good steward. Sure, we can become greedy and
materialistic. Yes, publishers can abandon Christian principles to the
Almighty Dollar. Nevertheless, growing your writing talent means cashing in on it, literally and figuratively.

This is not evil. This is biblical.

The
truth is, the average writer makes very little, if any, money off her
craft. That’s just the way it is. The business is competitive. But this
is not justification for resorting to some “moral high ground.”  Like
you’re the principled writer who didn’t sell-out for fame and fortune.

Well, excuse me.

It makes me wonder if the writers who talk most about writing “for the love of writing,” not for money, subconsciously believe they never will make money.
On the surface they appear principled, but in reality their
self-righteousness allows them to curse us sellouts while doing little
to really multiply their talent.

Might as well write your novel and bury it.

So go ahead, call me a shill, a sellout. Either way, I AM writing for love.. and money.

Mike Duran writes supernatural thrillers. He is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket, and is represented by the rockin’ Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Mike’s novels include The TellingThe Resurrection, and an ebook novella, Winterland.  You can visit his website at www.mikeduran.com.