Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living

Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living

A collection of essays from today’s most acclaimed authors—from Cheryl Strayed to Roxane Gay to Jennifer Weiner, Alexander Chee, Nick Hornby, and Jonathan Franzen—on the realities of making a living in the writing world.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...

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Title:Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living
Author:Manjula Martin
Rating:
ISBN:1501134574
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:302 pages

Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living Reviews

  • Manjula
    Dec 20, 2016

    I edited this book, so hell yes I am giving it five stars!

  • Hannah
    Dec 15, 2016

    I have a confession to make: I only requested the book because Cheryl Strayed and Roxane Gay's names were on the cover as contributors and I adore them both. I am not a writer, I have no intention of becoming a writer or working in any other creative capacity ever - so I am not exactly the target audience for this book. But I still very much enjoyed this book and I think other people will do, too.

    There were several contributions that I enjoyed immensely; Cheryl Strayed's of course, because she

    I have a confession to make: I only requested the book because Cheryl Strayed and Roxane Gay's names were on the cover as contributors and I adore them both. I am not a writer, I have no intention of becoming a writer or working in any other creative capacity ever - so I am not exactly the target audience for this book. But I still very much enjoyed this book and I think other people will do, too.

    There were several contributions that I enjoyed immensely; Cheryl Strayed's of course, because she just rocks at this kind of "talking about herself in disguise of advise for others"-spiel she does. I also enjoyed the interview with Roxane Gay, although I would have prefered a proper essay (I guess, I'll just have to wait for her upcoming memoir (

    ) for that.) Also great, as usual was Daniel José Older with an appell to make publishing more inclusive. Melinda Lo's personal essay was super interesting as well. But for me, the absolute best essay of the book came from an author I had never heard about before: Jennifer Weiner. Her essay was both heartbreakingly honest and resilient at the same time; and while I am still not interested in her novels, I am strongly considering picking up her memoir because she sounds like somebody whose story I would enjoy immensely.

    Overall, I did enjoy the personal essays more, the ones where the authors told about their way or their life or their struggle, while most of the industry talk wasn't quite as interesting to me (but, like I said, not the target audience here).

    PS: Jonathan Franzen seems to be a bit of a knobhead.

    ___

    I received an arc curtesy of NetGalley and Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for that!

  • Julie
    Jan 27, 2017

    I'm still processing my thoughts on this. The most meaningful essays/interviews for me were the ones where authors gave real talk about how they were actually making money (especially Cheryl Strayed's and Jennifer Weiner's). It was a good view of how many have to hustle for work and money, and for how long. Some of the other essays were more poetic and nice to read, but not as helpful for me, an author trying to figure out if I'm ever going to make this work as a career, or if it will always be

    I'm still processing my thoughts on this. The most meaningful essays/interviews for me were the ones where authors gave real talk about how they were actually making money (especially Cheryl Strayed's and Jennifer Weiner's). It was a good view of how many have to hustle for work and money, and for how long. Some of the other essays were more poetic and nice to read, but not as helpful for me, an author trying to figure out if I'm ever going to make this work as a career, or if it will always be what feels like a very time-consuming hobby.

    More than anything, I'm grateful to Manjula Martin for even daring to bring this ridiculously taboo subject into the public conversation. The weird notion that writers should write for free or almost-free because we love it won't seem to go away, and it's books like this one that will hopefully get people to think about why it's worth it to pay writers.

  • Leo Robertson
    Jan 29, 2017

    Interesting read for readers, to understand what a labour of love writing is even for those at the top; and writers, especially those unknown/ aspirational ones who would probably do well to enjoy the life directly around them today, because writing doesn't seem to get significantly easier for anyone.

    Will cover this in the podcast asap :)

  • Jess Kibler
    Jan 16, 2017

    This is something I've been thinking about a LOT lately, so I was very excited to read this book. It's full of so many different perspectives on writing and making money and is without question one of the most useful books I've ever read.

  • Michelle
    Jan 02, 2017

    Scratch: Writers, Money, And The Art Of Making A Living is authored by Manjula Martin founder of Scratch Magazine (2013-2015), explores the skilled innovation of writing for self support and profit. Included are over 30 essays by successful and highly acclaimed authors, as well as those who haven't yet reached that status. Regarding those "day jobs " it was Oscar Wilde that said "The best work is produced by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread."

    "I write for pleasure, but publish

    Scratch: Writers, Money, And The Art Of Making A Living is authored by Manjula Martin founder of Scratch Magazine (2013-2015), explores the skilled innovation of writing for self support and profit. Included are over 30 essays by successful and highly acclaimed authors, as well as those who haven't yet reached that status. Regarding those "day jobs " it was Oscar Wilde that said "The best work is produced by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread."

    "I write for pleasure, but publish for money. Vladimir Nabokov (1955) In these essays the writers used many means to write as much as possible, dealing with editors, literary agents, reviews good and bad, all forms of commerce--whether blogging, tweeting about books liked or disliked, talking about books at dinner parties, book events. These connections are necessary for a serious writer that wishes to publish. Many writers work under extreme stress anxiety and their writing doesn't always bring much satisfaction but can be somewhat disappointing. There are living expenses to be paid, student loans are due, and building a career in writing eats up every spare minute the writer has. According to Leslie Jamison talking about money forces the acknowledgement of aspects of the creative process that makes people uncomfortable. Writers are not only producers but produced.

    Like it or not, money is present in the creative arts: an independent book vendor sells his books on the street, Zora Neale Hurston's death in a welfare hospital, Jean Rhys impoverished obscurity and alcoholism, Nellie Bly going undercover in a mental asylum with hopes of a staff writing position at the New York World. Raymond Carver openly discussed his dismay and resentment over the interference of his children and family responsibilities on his writing career. Not all tenured professors at prestigious universities found personal fulfillment, an example of David Foster Wallace was noted. Included were interviews with Cheryl Strayed, Jennifer Weiner, Jonathan Franzen, Nick Hornby and others.

    Many writers had impressive credentials from assorted MFA writing programs including the Iowa Writers Workshop. Whether the writers taught as adjunct professors, teaching fellowships, or in MFA writing programs, the interesting process of professional writing, the honest and often ordinary life of a writer, also family life, friends and fans. This is an encouraging inspiring read for a better understanding of a life in writing. Many thanks to NetGalley for the e-ARC for the purpose of review.

  • Ava Jae
    Feb 15, 2017

    4.5/5 stars

    So I saw some reviewers say they found the book depressing, but maybe my expectations for making a living as a writer are super low or something because I actually found it encouraging. While not all of the essays focus exactly on making a living, the ones that did were frank and honest and most importantly to me—though most of them struggled at first, they did eventually reach the point where they were comfortably making ends meet, often through multiple streams of income. Some were

    4.5/5 stars

    So I saw some reviewers say they found the book depressing, but maybe my expectations for making a living as a writer are super low or something because I actually found it encouraging. While not all of the essays focus exactly on making a living, the ones that did were frank and honest and most importantly to me—though most of them struggled at first, they did eventually reach the point where they were comfortably making ends meet, often through multiple streams of income. Some were more open about numbers than others, but they all ultimately talked about their own experiences and how they got to where they are today.

    The interviews and essays reveal many different options out there for writers—everything from writers living solely off their fiction, writers living off several writing income streams, writers with full time jobs, writers with part time jobs, and writers dependent on someone else's income. To me, it was an encouraging reminder that one way or the other, writers figure this stuff out, and so can you.

    While there were a couple essays/interviews that I didn't particularly care for—especially one interview that was pretty literary elitist and eyeroll-worthy, to say the least (looking at the lineup, I'm sure you can probably guess which contributor it's from)—I found most of the essays and interviews to be enlightening, interesting, and even entertaining.

    All in all, if you're looking for some frank talk on a writer's income from a variety of professional writers, I definitely recommend picking up

    . Whether you find it encouraging or depressing will probably depend on what you're expecting in terms of how writers make a living, but either way it's an eye-opening read that I'm definitely glad arrived in my lap at the time that it did.

  • Hank Stuever
    Mar 13, 2017

    An endlessly fascinating topic, but unfortunately many (or most) of the writers who contributed essays (or submitted to a Q&A) didn't really get into the nitty gritty of their finances, fees, book advances and other specifics -- as advertised on the cover. There's a whole lot of suffering here (what writer wouldn't pass up the opportunity to biographically sketch out their creative and personal misery?), but a lot of these essays either stray off-topic or decide on a different topic. I guess

    An endlessly fascinating topic, but unfortunately many (or most) of the writers who contributed essays (or submitted to a Q&A) didn't really get into the nitty gritty of their finances, fees, book advances and other specifics -- as advertised on the cover. There's a whole lot of suffering here (what writer wouldn't pass up the opportunity to biographically sketch out their creative and personal misery?), but a lot of these essays either stray off-topic or decide on a different topic. I guess it's no surprise that the more successful the writer, the more willing they are to talk about money, since they no longer have to worry about it; I particularly enjoyed Cheryl Strayed and Jennifer Weiner's contributions. And here's one more opportunity to simply say: Leslie Jamison just totally sucks.

    Also, perhaps selfishly, I would have liked to see more thoughts from people who write for an actual, year-to-year living, whether on salary or contract, rather than the MFAs who are trying to get another novel published and swing from grant to gig to grant to gig. Aside from one writer who begins to tell us quite a juicy bit about her years as a ghost-writer, including what she earned on some of those projects, most of the writers here only furtively mention the assignments they take (nonfiction, journalism, editing) to get by, like that work doesn't matter.

    Although I'm sure it would seem a fate worse than death to some of the writers in this book, I have worked in newspapers for a few decades now and, very luckily, have always found it creatively rewarding, allowing (and assigning) me to write longform and short features on all kinds of subjects, as well as writing essays, reviews, big news and giving me a chance to take leave to write two books. And, after moving up through a couple of papers, it's been a good living and has surrounded me with an endless supply of colleagues, editors and others who were willing to treat column inches as something close to art. (And even when it wasn't a great living, from the start I had health and dental insurance and always paid my bills. Health insurance looms large in many of these writers' stories about their professional lives.) So, if nothing else, this book had me thanking my lucky stars that I got to be a writer in my own way, without my career hanging on the words Iowa or New York.

  • Aditya Hadi
    Mar 18, 2017

    THERE IS NO REAL ANSWER FROM THIS BOOK !!

    Scratch is a collection of essays and interviews from various literary people. They're talking about a big question, whether a writer should focus on composing a great art, or in making money. And like what i said at the beginning, there is no real answer from this book. Yes, you can understand the real situation by reading this book, but you still have to answer by yourself which path that you will choose.

    Don't take it wrong, it's not a bad thing. Even,

    THERE IS NO REAL ANSWER FROM THIS BOOK !!

    Scratch is a collection of essays and interviews from various literary people. They're talking about a big question, whether a writer should focus on composing a great art, or in making money. And like what i said at the beginning, there is no real answer from this book. Yes, you can understand the real situation by reading this book, but you still have to answer by yourself which path that you will choose.

    Don't take it wrong, it's not a bad thing. Even, it's a good thing. Some writers told how they can become rich after struggling a poor life, and some writers told how they still broke until now after publishing several books. This book give us a freedom to choose our own path.

    Beside that, SCRATCH also told us about the racism in publishing world, how to determine a so-called serious novels, and even how a writer can buy a house. For me, it's a must-read book for every writer that still want to figure out their future.

    The interview with Austin Kleon and Jonathan Franzen is my favourites :)

  • Caroline Barron
    Mar 19, 2017

    I've followed Manjula Martin since her 'Who Pays Writers?' blog and online magazine (also called Scratch) days. Scratch, the book, is a brilliant resource for writers, to help them understand and navigate the complicated world of making a living (or not) through writing. Freelancing - yes or no? How much is enough marketing and promotion? Should I write for free to build my profile? Creative writing courses - yes or no? When do I know I've made it? How much do writers earn? Martin and her contri

    I've followed Manjula Martin since her 'Who Pays Writers?' blog and online magazine (also called Scratch) days. Scratch, the book, is a brilliant resource for writers, to help them understand and navigate the complicated world of making a living (or not) through writing. Freelancing - yes or no? How much is enough marketing and promotion? Should I write for free to build my profile? Creative writing courses - yes or no? When do I know I've made it? How much do writers earn? Martin and her contributors (including Cheryl Strayed and Jonathan Franzen) answer other such complex questions in this book of essays on 'Writers, Money and the Art of Making a Living'.