March 14, 2006

"No one ever writes a book to make money."

So says Kos. You might want to try to say things that at least seem true.

The most famous quote on the subject is nearly the opposite: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." I've never believed that one either... although if you say it fast enough, it might sound like "No man but a blogger ever wrote except for money." And that's got truthiness.

58 comments:

Eli Blake said...

The greatest writing though is that which is done from passion.

That's why I like blogs. Yeah, I've seen a lot of trash around, but I've seen a lot of good ideas on blogs.

chuck b. said...

Remind me please, where did "truthiness" come from? (Thanks in advance.)

PatCA said...

Sure, right, Markos, but they at least want people to read them!

I'm sure those people who did buy your book are passing it around to millions of their friends. :)

Matt Barr said...

Stephen Colbert, Chuck.

Almost every man who writes started to do it to impress women. To an extent, most who still do write still do.

This also accounts for at least some men's interest in left wing politics, but that's neither here nor there.

CB said...

On the topic of bloggers writing obviously incorrect things, I was baffled by James Taranto's assertion in yesterday's Best of the Web Today, re Claude Allen, William Bennet, et. al. "But a moralist's own propensity for immoral behavior does not discredit his moralism." Am I missing something, or is this as ridiculous as it seems?
chuck b.: have you never heard of Google or Wikipedia?

Freeman Hunt said...

No one ever writes a book to make money.

That is a particularly funny quote. I know three people who are presently writing books specifically to make money. One of them went so far as to build the plot and characters around market factors in hopes of maximizing sales.

37921 said...

a moralist's own propensity for immoral behavior does not discredit his moralism

Well, my mother and father always warned me never to start smoking. The fact that they both smoked like chimneys didn't invalidate that advice. They knew what they were talking about.

L. Ron Halfelven said...

If we accept the sincerity of Kos' remark, it's a piece of evidence in favor of Dr. Johnson's.

Palladian said...

"Almost every man who writes started to do it to impress women. To an extent, most who still do write still do."

You mean like Truman Capote, Oscar Wilde, Jean Genet, Gore Vidal, Marcel Proust, William S. Burroughs, Christopher Isherwood, Somerset Maugham...

Ok, ok. I get your point.

Eli Blake said...

Matt and Palladian:

Are you suggesting that most women are liberals?

Or that they view conservative men as a bunch of knuckle dragging, slackjawed neanderthals?

Or is it that they think that liberal men are better lovers?

I'm perplexed as to what your point is, but whatever it is, I'll take it. ;)

Wickedpinto said...

You mean like Truman Capote, Oscar Wilde, Jean Genet, Gore Vidal, Marcel Proust, William S. Burroughs, Christopher Isherwood, Somerset Maugham...

They needed to get advice on the most Fabulous shoes from somewhere palladin. Impressing chicks doesn't mean getting them into bed. In my experience, thats just where it Starts BOOYA!

Palladian said...

Eli: My point was that not all writers are/were trying to impress chicks.

TWM said...

"Eli: My point was that not all writers are/were trying to impress chicks."

Maybe not, but it is a great fringe benefit.

Oh, I am glad they didn't go into it to make money because they certainly aren't going to make any.

Palladian said...

Maybe I'm not being clear enough. I didn't mean to imply that the writers I listed went into writing for loftier reasons than getting chicks. I meant that they were GAY GAY GAY.

Does subtlety not work on blogs?

Jennifer said...

Hey, I got it, Palladian. And I was totally lost on the whole brick shithouse thing.

peter hoh said...

I'm betting that making money was the only reason for books like those by Donald Trump. Frankly, any bookstore is littered with books that were written for no other purpose than to make money.

FXKLM said...

I've pretended to be a lefty to pick up leftist women. I'm actually pretty good at it. It feels dirty, but it definitely works.

Jacques Cuze said...

"No one ever writes a book to make money."
So says Kos. You might want to try to say things that at least seem true.

The most famous quote on the subject is nearly the opposite: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money."


So you don't believe Kos, and yet you don't believe Johnson either, and your echo chamber fills with commenters trying to take Kos's statement literally instead of figuratively.

Jebus, this is just another of your cheap smear attempts.

Harkonnendog said...

"You might want to try to say things that at least seem true."

Lol!

From my personal experience I have to say it is a lot easier to get women, rather than money, by writing novels.

Lol at palladin's dialogue too. classic!

pr9000 (paul) said...

Okay.

Does this work?

"Almost every man who writes started to do it because of sex. To an extent, most who still do write still do."

37921 said...

quxxo, your reply must have been cut off, I didn't see anything about George Bush.

Aspasia M. said...

The greatest writing though is that which is done from passion.


And the worst. Think pre-teens and and poetry.

reader_iam said...

"No one ever writes a book to make money."

LOL. That's not even true if you take this out of the realm of non-fiction or so-called "hack" fiction.

You brought up Johnson already. What about Dickens, who thought, on principle, that writers should write for pay and made conscious efforts form groups to combat amateurism and patronage among writers? (Brief reference to this.)

Then there's this:

"Modern poets talk against business, poor things, but all of us write for money. Beginners are subjected to trial by market."--Robert Frost

And this:

"I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money."-- Dorothy Parker

And .... well, thanks for giving me an excuse to wallow in literary quotes.

reader_iam said...

One more:

"In the same way that a woman becomes a prostitute. First I did it to please myself, then I did it to please my friends, and finally I did it for money."--Ferenc Molnar, on how he became a writer

Gaius Arbo said...

Robert Heinlein once said the the most wonderful words were "Pay to the Order of".

Sounds like Kos has a bit of Insta-envy.....

Wickedpinto said...

Un related. Ace of Spades, seems to be stopping his netcast of "hoist the black flag" because of his move to boston, and karol's schedule. If you listen to the althouse pod, find a link to "Hoist the black flag"

I don't know what got into him, apparently he got tired of eating a meal alone in a restaurant, and not getting a good F from other people, PLEASE ANNE and others harrass his ass, and keep him honest.

Karol will return, he is still a new yorker, and his opinions are still valid.

vbspurs said...

Almost every man who writes started to do it to impress women. To an extent, most who still do write still do.

Dude.

You really believe Plato was thinking, "Yeah, this polis-thingie will really impress the chicks".

Your comment does remind me, however, of how much of a modern Western man's comment it really is, and bless your heart for thinking what you do.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

LOL. That's not even true if you take this out of the realm of non-fiction or so-called "hack" fiction.

Or how about just journalism, yellow or otherwise?

For every Rube Goldberg, there were 1,000 ink-stained churners in back offices typing out whatever would make the 5 o'clock deadline.

Once again, MarKOSito talks utter, blinkered baloney.

Cheers,
Victoria

Aspasia M. said...

You really believe Plato was thinking...

I thought Plato was thinking that poets were dangerous and Phaedrus was cute.

Wickedpinto said...

I'm not a scholar, but basicaly, I read "The Dialogues of Plato" as a stream of consciousness acknowledgment of personal failure.

All of the things we use FROM the dialogues, are actually selfish rather than critical. Well, not ALL, but many.

Matt Barr said...

Palladin: I'll lay odds at least some gay male authors started to write to impress their mothers.

Eli: Seeming to care about leftwing causes, or more broadly, maybe, causes bigger than one's self, scores points with some women. There is no other sensible explanation for my having volunteered for Tom Harkin's 1992 campaign for the presidency, for one personal example.

Victoria: I do try to avoid modern Western-centric thought when I can, irrelevant as it mostly is to people who read blog comments in the 21st century. Sorry about that.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Rejected Kos book subtitles:

No one ever runs for office to win.

Ever wonder what it would be like to crash into a gate at 100 mph? I'll show you!

My half-baked grand f*ckin theory, assholes!

brylin said...

Isn't Wiki a great source of information?

Gaius Arbo said...

Althousefan: How about "Crashing the Bore; The Kos Kronicles"

XWL said...

Almost every man who writes started to do it to impress women. To an extent, most who still do write still do

To gender and orientation neutralize Matt's earlier comment;

Nearly all authors when starting to write do so with one or two things on their mind, either to get laid, or get paid, and many times both.

(this formulation of that idea allows for an evolutionary process in motivation for the author as they gain in prestige and recognition)

Clearly everyone is missing the clarity of vision and singleness of purpose in Mr. Zuniga's selfless sacrifice in taking the time to write down and get published his passionate thoughts on how to reshape the polity in the United States.

What other activities can you say 'no one ever does to make money'?

Sex? nope.
Acting? nope.
Politics? hell, no.
Preaching? unfortunately, no.

Becoming a Philosophy Major or Prof.? That should do it, I think you could safely say 'no one ever became a philosopher to make money'.

So that must mean Crashing the Gate isn't a book, it's a philosophical manifesto, and therefore no pecuniary interests are considered by either of the co-authors of this earth-shaking tome.

(and like all great philosophical works, it will only be properly appreciated in the fullness of time)

And one last comment within this comment, Quxxo's skin has been developed using the latest in nanotech manufacturing processes to ensure that it's exactly the thickness of a single molecule.

Why would anyone go to so much bother to be that thin-skinned? (only Quxxo knows)

Ernst Blofeld said...

The kos statement doesn't pass the giggle test. Books and other non-blog media, like lectures, seem like a very significant way to monetize blog traffic.

Jacques Cuze said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Charlie Eklund said...

That silly Kos guy. Can someone remind me why we're talkin' about him again?

Subject-matter-appropriate word verification: tool

Charlie said...

I think Kos has you. Having had well over a hundred authors back in my days in book publishing, precisely one made a living at it.

Publishers Weekly claimed, back in the 70s, that less than 5 percent of book authors made a fulltime living at it and most of those from the movie rights.

From experience, I'd say well over half are lucky to break even.

Ann Althouse said...

Charlie: I'll have to assume you didn't do too well on multiple choice exams. Hint: "no one." And the question isn't how much money people make, it's the original motivation. I could do something for the money and still end up losing money. Do people play the lottery for the money? In your logic, the answer would have to be no.

I'll bet Kos is trying to extract money from the popularity of the blog. Denying he's trying to make money from the book is just part of the sales pitch. He's sincere, you know.

Ernst Blofeld said...

Shifting goalposts! The original Kos claim was "make money", not necessarily make a living at it. I think it was reasonable to expect his making $25-$100K on the book. Spread out over a couple years that's not really enough to live in Berkeley, at least at the low end of the range, but it's still a nice chunk of change.

It was interesting to hear Glenn say that he could make a living at Instapundit during the CSPAN interview. I suspect Insty really isn't in it for the money Well, not _completely_ the money, since I imagine he'd like to spend even more on gadgets. I think he likes it because it gives his ideas a wider platform, plus he likes building up the blogosphere.

Besides, we all know law professors are excessively compensated.

chris said...

I'm 18 in '08

"I'm 18 in '08" is a documentary film being made by high school students who will vote for the first time in the 2008 presidential election. The film explors the issue of voter apathy among youth.

It's not just a film, its an interactive experience. As production continues the filmmakers update the blog in real time and post daily podcasts with clips from their interviews.

"We want the help of all Americans, especially young people" said the filmmakers. "This is not just our film, its the youth of America's film. That's why we really want their input on the blog"

Check it out today. 18in08.com

Seneca the Younger said...

I roughed some numbers as PJM was getting started, and yeah, Glenn could live on what he makes on ad revenue alone. Not high, but live.

it for sure pays for the RX-8 and the other toys.

Seneca the Younger said...

I'm sure those people who did buy your book are passing it around to millions of their friends. :)

Both of them.

Maxine Weiss said...

Ann: I've told you this before.

Fran Lebowitz never wrote a sentence. Her books were fashioned out of other people copying what she wrote on napkins and dinner parties. All of her published material came from notes on a napkin.

I see you as the waspy Fran Lebowitz of our time.

Follow the money; it's not in blogging. You've got to be published.

Call your Agent, immediately.

Peace, Maxine

Synova said...

A friend of mine who writes under the pen name Lydia Joyce says that you should write what you love, but that you should write what you love that will *sell*.

Thersites said...

I'll bet Kos is trying to extract money from the popularity of the blog. Denying he's trying to make money from the book is just part of the sales pitch. He's sincere, you know.

That devious scamp.

When Kos uses definite articles he really means indefinite articles. I HATE that fucker!

Interrobang said...

Actually, most writers write because we can't stop. The perqs (if any) are just that. It looks as though the crowd of Kos-pessimists are actually quite optimistic about his book, though.

Ever heard of the law of diminishing returns in publishing? No? Basically, it means if you write a book that sells 4000 copies out of an initial print run of 5000, which is a very good return indeed, the best you can hope for with your next book is that the major chain bookstores who hold the publishing companies' leashes will say, "The maximum number of copies of so-and-so's next book we'll order is 4000," which probably means the author won't get offered a contract next time around.

In other words, Markos is more or less right, if inexact in his phrasing. I think L. Ron Hubbard actually nailed it, saying that writing for a penny a word was ridiculous, and anyone who wanted to really make money would start their own religion. We all know how that turned out.

If Markos makes $25K from his book, I'd be surprised. He's hardly a household word, and run-of-the-mill political writers (that is, not people like Safire and Coulter and Moore and Chomsky) rarely command even moderately big advances, and don't usually see much in the way of royalties after the advance anyhow.

trza said...

Wow, that's classy.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Maxine can be hyperbolic, but not this time.

But I don't know if the art of blogging can really be translated into book form. And blogging is an art, a very new art, still rough and in the process of being defined

Things are changing. The old media distribution systems are creaking. The suits are confused. And when they get confused, they buy stuff (except when they don't). I think some bloggers could make some serious money. A lot of the blogs that get bought will be shaped, melded with others, maybe even discontinued, whatever, but first there would be a big payday.

If this shift happens, it won't look like Pajamas Media. It will be bigger. The Japanese will be involved.

I love Glenn Reynolds, but history will not remember him for his book. But it will make a chunk. I think.

I know what you're thinking: All that's been said before and bloggers still don't make shit. Patience.

Eli Blake said...

Matt (4:46):

I'm sorry that you feel you had to get involved for the wrong reasons.

I got involved politically because I want to build a better country, and I don't care what the 'chicks' think (I'm a married guy anyway). I'm a Democratic precinct committeeman and I do it because it's important work that has to be done. And that's the only reason.

The Apologist said...

Eli Blake is the patron saint of Earnest Altruists. It's a shame you're married Eli, I bet that crap could score you plenty of squirrel at Democratic primary after-parties.

I got involved in politics because I like verbally abusing earnest young socialists. It doesn't get you laid (much) but it's fun as hell. I find a good sense of humor is usually enough to get the job done on the hunt front so long as you're not a total jackass.

Ken Pierce said...

There used to be a basement cafe at Princeton, back in the '80's, that was decorated with posters crudely drawn by (apparently) the janitorial staff's small children. This was, I presume, supposed to give it some sort of atmosphere. I've never forgotten one shining nugget among the dross, though. A leering college guy sits on a couch with his arm draped around a girl whose vapidly earnest expression is instantly familiar to anybody who has been around undergraduates trying to take themselves seriously. The caption:

"Dan is a feminist. Chicks are suckers for feminists."

(No offense, Ann.)

Ken Pierce said...

cb,

a moralist's own propensity for immoral behavior does not discredit his moralism

Since practically nobody manages to make it through life, or even any given week, without doing something that violates his/her own moral code, to hold the validity of a set of moral propositions hostage to the moral perfection of the person who formulates the propositions, would in essence render all moral propositions invalid.

Perhaps when he says "moralism" you hear it as "when someone says they're better than you"? That's the way a lot of people use the term "moralizing," i.e., to mean "saying you're morally superior to somebody else." The moralizer's own moral failings would very greatly inhibit his ability to moralize in that sense, of course. But I don't think that's the sense in which Taranto is using the language.

Matt Barr said...

Eli: Hey, no one was holding a gun to my head! When you're in law school in Chicago at roughly the time Anita Hill is becoming famous you don't get a lot of dates working for George H.W. Bush's re-election campaign. And anyway, I wouldn't call impressing women the wrong reason to do almost anything. Flatulence, maybe.

The Zero Boss said...

Anyone who starts writing a book to try and make money will be sadly disillusioned the moment they talk to an agent or publisher. Booksellers these days are looking to cash in on blockbusters. Very few titles, however, ever reach blockbuster status. The "midlist" is essentially a dead concept in the industry.

Swen said...

Why do I suspect that Kos would be singin' a different tune if his book was making money?

Pyrthroes said...

Money or fame, or chirping chickies, we presume you characterize authors' motives as they pertain to non-junk fiction or non-fiction.

No, it seems more reasonable, indeed historical, to think that substantive authors are "artists" in the true obsessive-neurotic sense: Regardless of readership, regardless of sales, they draft their manuscripts because there's no help for it... and if some publisher's fool enough to think that there's a market, well and good.

At the moment, I am completing a 150,000-word work, not a "novel" but a Fable (distinction with a difference) having to do not only with Two Worlds but with "wise choice". Learn how to learn, set your path and act accordingly... there is none of Hitchcock's "McGuffin" here, not is this theme sectarian or chronocentric in any way. Because such issues are inherently and radically un-PC, if anyone attends at all there will probably be controversy.

Who cares? Tocqueville didn't, nor Thoreau, and if their works aren't precisely "fables", then what is? Mine is meant as a "good read", but let's face it-- an author is the absolute worst judge of his own product. Except for editors... the most egregious recent example was Rowling's 21 rejections for the best-selling "fictional analogy" (not Fable) in the history of English literature. We include Dickens, and understand that Rowling does not "scale the heights". Cavil as you will, the fact that someone comes from nowhere with such results
testifies to potential in the arts.

Van Gogh never sold a painting. Did he burn his palette? Understand Samuel Johnson's quip-- he is not saying, "write only for money", but calling HIMSELF a fool. As a man of principle and spirit, he knew the truth of that, but under no circumstance, fool or no, was England's great Lexiphanes about to quit his project.

Writing a Fable? I'm a fool. Should Rowling's ten trillon nuggets splatter down, they would change nothing. So, advice to "artists": Stick with it, maybe you're worth more than you think. In any case, you'll learn more than you might have otherwise. What is "literature"? Hint, almost never is it words that merely sell.