Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 34- Thank an artist

Thank an artist

Contrary to what you may think, artist's don't make a lot of money. I am going to over simplify a very complicated issue, but stick with me on this.

Writers: A writer can spend anywhere between a year to twenty years working on a single book. Let's say they are lucky enough to get published (I won't share the statistic for that, it's pretty depressing), then the money comes rolling in... Um, no. For every $25 hardcover book that is sold, the author will get about $2.00.

The other $23 is split between the store and the publisher. Is this fair? Well, for every book there are lots of people at the publishing company who worked on it to get it on the shelf. And the store has to employ people to sell the book. Pretty much only leaving the creator of the book with $2.00 per book.

Expect that some authors get an advance. This is money the publisher pays the author up front. Let's say the author gets $20,000 advance. WOW that's a nice chunk of change... well not really, look at how long the author spent writing the book. Anyway from that $20,000 the author will most liking need to hire a publicist to promote the book, because the publisher has a lot of other books to promote too. So now author got a whole lot less money. And author has to pay his or her agent as well and maybe a lawyer too.


On average there are about 100,000 books published every year. Only 20 authors make millions of dollars.

For a pretty fun video about what it takes to be a writer--- forts are involved.

Music is even worse. For every Lady Gaga or Faith Hill, or Britney Spears or Rolling Stones, or Bruce Springsteen or Green Day, there's hundred or thousands of musicians trying to get by.

Do you remember those long car trips you used to take with your parents? Five or six hours in a car just to get to your aunts house? Being in a tour band is like that, but a billion times worse.

Ok now imagine your in a van, with seven other guys (the fives guys in the band, the merch guy and your manager) you drive five to six hours a night to get to a gig, where you might make $100 a night and hopefully your fans will buy enough tee shirts so you can have gas money to get you to next gig. They do that 300 shows a year! And THAT'S WHERE THEY ARE MAKING ALL THEIR MONEY. Bands will make about a dollar per CD that is sold.

So why do artist put themselves through all this? For you.
Fans are the life blood for artist.
They write, sing, act, paint, dance because they want someone to feel something. They will never know unless you tell them.

I've e-mailed writers before because I've really enjoyed their writing. I wrote to John Green and Tiffanie Debartolo and since by now you should know how much of a spaz I am, I'm not going to share the letters. I will say that Tiffanie Debartolo wrote back in about a day and I will buy every book she writes for the rest of her career. John Green is very busy---he's a brand new daddy.

When it comes to musicians, I comment whenever a band I love posts something on Myspace or Facebook. It takes ten seconds and at least they know someone out there is reading and cares. I'm off to write an comment Motion City Soundtrack to tell them how amazing their new CD is. I also commented on Socratic's post that they were practicing for a new album. I said, "Your music makes me happy, good luck on your new album."

Socratic PERSONALLY responded back to me. They thanked me. They said, "Erinn: thank you. We're Excited!"
Now I'm off to buy their first album. I have their second album... it's fun and every song makes me smile.

Don't know, but I'd like to think that all the artists do a little dance of joy whenever their in-box gets a happy note from someone. I know I do. Seriously I check my e-mail like a hundred times a day whenever I post something up.

What's the lesson? If you like what someone is doing... tell them. The second round of Project Nice would never have happened if I didn't get such positive feedback from people.

Would I do this again: YES!
Cost: Nadda
Effort: Sometime it did take a little while to track down a valid e-mail address
Time: anywhere between 10 seconds to write a quick comment on facebook to 20 minutes to write a letter.


  1. Hi Erinn. I've been following your posts because they make me feel good! I always try to chitchat with people in the places that I go, such as where I go to get my coffee, etc. I like seeing people smile and...relax. When I smile and make an inane comment they can interact without thinking that I'm going to be mentally tapping my foot and thinking "Yeh, yeh...hurry up and ring up my coffee order!" The other day I decided to be nice in a different way. I left work early because I wasn't feeling well. I stopped in to get a yogurt at the convenience store where my university has parking places. As I came out, I noticed that a delivery truck was parked crosswises blocking 5 or 6 of the university parking spaces - and my space was right in the middle. I couldn't get out. Now, normally I would have turned right around, gone back into the store, and asked the truck driver to move his truck immediately. Instead, I thought "Ok, you don't have an appointment, and you have this yogurt to eat. Just go sit in the car, eat your yogurt and listen to music." I flipped my feelings around so that I thought of the truck driver as actually saving me from trying to eat as I drive. It's amazing how one can change a whole situation by framing it differently! In the end I actually did have to go in and ask him to move, but I was very calm and smiling. He came out in a few minutes and even asked me which way I was going out of the parking lot so that he could move the truck out of my way completely. Situation saved!

  2. John Green sent me an email once. I did a happy dance and couldn't stop smiling.

  3. Rhonda-- that's pretty cool. I love how you took a situtaion that would have sent ME into a fit a tiny rage and turned it into something positive.
    My general feeling about people is that they're pretty nice as long as you are nice back. Not everyone is kind and considerate, not everyone knows about Project Nice. But I like that you were calm, made the situation better for yourself and the truck driver did the right thing and took it a step further by making sure he wasn't going to be in your way. All in all a pretty awesome outcome.

    Clover I'm blinded with jealousy. I think John Green is one of the best writers in YA right now. He's sort of my hero... no, not sort of... he is my hero.