Can a writer get rich?

1810EconomicalSchoolI remember in high school, when I started writing seriously, people would tell me that writing was a fine hobby but that I should have a primary job and do writing on the side. Even back then I thought that not pursuing your dreams was malarkey. That’s a good Joe Biden word – malarkey. I don’t exactly know its origin but it describes that sentiment pretty well.

Not following your drive or dream is a waste of energy. No two ways about that. However, it took a while before I had direction for my writing, so I put it aside for many years. Sometimes you need a crop to ripen before you harvest it. Writing is a lot like that. You write, edit, let it grow in your head and on paper, and eventually come away with a final product that is full and lush like a verdant field of grain.

So can a writer get rich? Definitely. Look at John Grisham. Granted, he was an attorney before he was ever published, so he would have done all right anyway, but he has found greater wealth than he would have if he had simply stayed in the courtroom. Look at J.K. Rowling, E.L. James, Dave Barry, or Suzanne Collins. Are they all famous and rich to the point they never have to work again? Probably not. Well, some of them, perhaps. But the point is that they all figured out how to crack the nut of the writing game as a career.

Will you get rich? Some of it is luck, and some is talent. I have known some great writers who were unlikely to ever get rich and others who were not great at the craft but were lucky, or knew how to promote themselves well. Part of it is a crapshoot; I won’t lie about that. But the other part is hard work, crafting a great work of art, and knowing the market. You set yourself up for success, however you define success, and that makes everything else easier.