Like Kristine, who states her opinion about the Amazon/Macmillan feud in “Bullies,” I have no quarrel with a publisher or a book seller making a profit. If they’re not in the business, my business is curtailed. Actually, being paid for a book is itself a great reward, even if the remuneration is small. Not all writers are driven to write whether or not they’re paid, but I suspect most are, at least at the beginning of their careers. When I was in graduate school, one of the most talented women writers decided not to continue writing. She had already published a couple stories, in good journals, and her decision seemed crazy. She said that being on the publishing end appeared more lucrative, and a better business choice. That made monetary sense, effort sense, and no sense. I was bartering with myself then: one good publication meant nothing–it could be an accident; three publications meant I was somewhat competitive, perhaps a decent writer; a collection of fiction meant I was definitely a writer, but a minor one (maybe even the designation of “minor” was presumptuous); three collections and I was a short story writer; five collections, a minor writer of note; a novel, a promising writer; three novels a novelist.
I’m short of all the upper levels, and not quite content where I am. Two collections and one novel published, numerous single stories, some poems; and a few good unpublished novels on my shelves. The unpublished books I consider my best work and believe that writing them was a compensation in itself, but certainly not the best compensation. All my criteria require outside judges applying standards shared by a literary community, and publication of the work in printed form. Now, having sold a book through the efforts of a wonderful agent, to an excellent publisher, “commerical” is edging its way into my standards. I have to learn more about what it means in practiceand if I want–and am talented enough–to rise to the bar.