It’s the party season. The time when authors can look forward to experiencing the excruciating blurring of social boundaries when discussing one’s work.
Most authors I know have told me that they have experienced this, in particular the one, very un-British, question at its zenith. There you are at a perfectly lovely party, chatting to perfectly lovely people, who (when they discover you’re an author) ask, “So what kind of books do you write?” So far so good. But hot on it’s heels, more often than you would imagine, comes, “So how much money do you make?”
I’ve done various jobs in my life (and still do) and no one has ever asked me about my salary or earnings in them. I mean not ever. Yet there I was again at a really lovely little party this weekend, mingling away, and before long there it was. “But really, do you sell many? I mean, how much money do you actually make from writing?”
Even though I’ve been asked this before, and usually by complete strangers, it still took me aback. I found myself standing with my mouth agape, wondering what the most socially acceptable way was to extricate myself from this line of enquiry. Fortunately someone in our group changed the subject on my behalf, but it got me to thinking I really should have a ready answer to deal with this more seamlessly.
Here are ten I’ve thought of so far. Do you have any to add? I’d love to hear them.
“How much money do you make?”
1) Oh millions. I honestly can’t keep up. And you?
2) Oh, no one makes any money out of books these days. Well, not many people. Well, I don’t. *Short melancholy pause* How do you think I could sell more books?
3) My therapist says that I shouldn’t answer that question at any cost. It always sets me back months.
4) I’m so glad you asked that. Would you excuse me? *Leave to mingle/get a drink/etc*
5) Have you tried the mini-kievs?
6) Is money important to you?
7) Have a guess! *Produce a small notepad* I’m running a sweepstake. Go on, guess! What’s your name again?
8) Well we only have a couple of hives, so really only enough for our own consumption, maybe a few pots for gifts, but with the bees’ habitat being destroyed I do think anyone who has room could think about keeping just a few, don’t you?
9) *Roll eyes and laugh maniacally*
10) Percy asked me that at a party last Christmas. You know Percy, of course? Wasn’t it terrible what happened to him?