April 18th, 2006


Making a living day to day

If you're not a beer salesman like James McMurtry*, making a living in the arts is a pretty precarious way to make a living. The music industry, especially the local in-the-bar music industry, has always been about selling more beer and wine for the house; it was only the exalted groups that got to put on concerts.... the other singers and groups were busy doing three sets and out, with lots of mentions of the tip jar, remembering to tip the waitress and bar tender, and as Billy Joel alluded, much of the music was designed to let people forget.... And on the whole, the small time practitioner gets a cut of the door, free beer-and pretzels, and an occasional tip from admirers. Health care is not paid for by the bar...

And hey, guess what? Most genre fiction writing performs that piano bar function: something to do at the end of the day to unwind, something to do at lunch that gets you away from your boss, something to fill the weekend with other than the worries about Iraq, oil, global warming, cancer clusters, taxes. In a lot of ways writers *are performers* and for the most part they lack that face to face opportunity... and while they may get a small advance to often don't get a cut of the door, and if they do it isn't until well after the royalty period is over. Health care is not paid for by the publisher...

Some writers have noticed this similarity between writing and the performing arts: here's Don Sakers online article about sponsorships for writers.

We've been lucky -- we've been guests, special guests, and guests of honor at conventions. We've had a few meals paid for, a few glasses of wine and plates of cheese covered, some parties flung in our honor....and so in some ways we've been able to benefit from the support readers have for writers, that fans have for their favorite books. On the other hand we're told at conventions and signings -- usually be people holding a dog-eared edition of a book held-together by tape -- "I wish I could do more for you guys."

There it is: in general there's not an easy way for readers to throw an extra buck into the tip-jar on after they've just finished a book. So we're joining in the movement Don Sakers mentioned, but rather than a tip jar... for us it's The Liaden Universe®
World Tour Trip Jar
... use only as directed.

*and by the way, I am not throwing rocks at James McMurtry -- he's a great song writer and performer please visit his site, go to his performances...
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