Claire King


Party Lifesaver: Top 10 Responses to *that* Question

Posted on: December 16th, 2014 by Claire - 16 Comments

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?

Party Nibbles

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?


16 Responses

  1. Great answers – and here’s another, which I must say I haven’t yet had the guts to use – but will one day:

    “How much money do I make? Tell you what, you tell me how much you weigh, and I’ll tell you how much I earn … how’s that?”


  2. tu says:

    “I have piles.”

  3. Paul B says:

    My answer would be “More than you!”

  4. Charlie says:

    “Not enough to be invited to the kind of party where they know better than to ask…”. Exit stage left towards the buffet. Divers alarums.

  5. Leila Ghaddab says:

    What Charlie said. Exactly.

    Or…. say nothing. Just use your facial expressions and body language (very slowly and deliberately) to signal surprise, distaste, and very, very faint amusement. Then remain silent until the tosser asking the question becomes visibly uncomfortable or embarrassed.


    Do you really get asked that?

  6. Annecdotist says:

    I’d like to try “Of course you know writers don’t get a regular salary …” and then go into minute detail of how royalties are calculated, and the large cut taken by some retailers, plus the complexity of working out expenses until their eyes glaze over.
    Alternatively, you could try “You know, I get asked that quite a lot, and I never know what to say, so I did a blog post about it and came up with these possibilities – which one do you think I should use?”

  7. Hi, Claire!

    Safe in the knowledge that anyone who asks me what I make from writing will be a non-writer extracting the micturition (a real writer would already know the pathetic truth) I usually reply that I do notionally get paid, but at a rate I wouldn’t have got out of bed for in my previous life as an electrician. This usually leads to knowing smirks, and a change of subject. As a bonus, it usually means I don’t have to buy a round. 😉

    All good wishes for the festive season, Claire, and a healthy, happy and successful 2015.

    PS Things are looking up for me though, I recently stumbled across a possible alternative revenue stream, as I discuss here:

  8. tracy says:

    my answer would be ‘ do you know that you have bad breath?’

  9. Whisks says:

    Oh, I’m incredibly poor; I have to send my children out with their knives and forks, scavenging the neighbours’ bins. It’s a bit of a worry, so I’m thinking of crowd-funding my next book. Can I sign you up for a grand or two? You’ll get a free book at the end.

  10. Lol! Someday I’ll be asked this question. I look forward to saying No. 8. Xx

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