Episode 129: Let’s Talk About the Money — Interview with Manjula Martin

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds!

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Manjula Martin on the show. Manjula is editor of Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living from Simon & Schuster. She’s the creator of the blog Who Pays Writers? And was the founder and editor of Scratch magazine, an online periodical focused on the business of being a writer.

Manjula’s work has appeared in various publications like the Virginia Quarterly Review, Pacific Standard, SF Weekly, The Billfold, and The Toast, plus, she is the managing editor of Zoetrope: All-Story. Today, she and I will be talking about writers and money, how to make ends meet, and generate revenue from your writing.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Why it’s so difficult—but so important—for writers to talk about money, and why it doesn’t have to be hard.
  • Different options and strategies for how writers can make a living beyond a book deal.
  • The pros and cons of working for free, and the broader implications this has on the publishing landscape.
  • Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and leveraging them to help you make a living.

Plus, Manjula’s #1 tip for writers.


About the Author

Manjula Martin is editor of Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living (Simon & Schuster, January 2017). She created the blog Who Pays Writers? and was the founder and editor of Scratch magazine, an online periodical that focused on the business of being a writer. Her writing has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Pacific Standard, SF Weekly, The Billfold, The Toast, and other publications. She is the managing editor of Zoetrope: All-Story and lives in San Francisco.

You can learn more about Manjula Martin at her website: https://manjulamartin.com/.

Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living

scratch-manjulamartinA collection of essays from today’s most acclaimed authors—from Cheryl Strayed to Roxane Gay to Jennifer Weiner, Alexander Chee, Nick Hornby, and Jonathan Franzen—Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living is all about the realities of earning money in the writing world.

In the literary world, the debate around writing and commerce often begs us to take sides: either writers should be paid for everything they do or writers should just pay their dues and count themselves lucky to be published. You should never quit your “day job,” but your ultimate goal should be to quit your day job. It’s an endless, confusing, and often controversial conversation that, despite our bare-it-all culture, still remains taboo. In Scratch, Manjula Martin has gathered interviews and essays from established and rising authors to confront the age-old question: how do creative people make money?

If you decide to purchase Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link, which means DIY MFA gets a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 129

(Right-click to download.)

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome!

  • Aura Lewis

    Thanks for this episode! So important.
    A few thought (gripes!) about money and creatives: first of all, financial literacy is almost non-existent in the educational system. So no one really knows about money or credit unless they ACTIVELY decide to learn about it and make it their career. So creatives aren’t bad at it- they were just never exposed to it. They are simply expected to know what to do!
    Second, in the U.S (as opposed to other countries) people are generally very secretive about what they make/how much they pay for things like rent. Things are opening up more now, but I think that this contributes to lack of knowledge about how the system works.
    So, I think a few changes can go a long way in terms of money knowledge.
    There is hope yet for creatives 🙂

    • DIYMFA

      So true, Aura! There’s this HUGE misconception that being creative and financially literate are mutually exclusive things, and a big part of it is the lack of education about it. This was one of the main reasons why I wanted to bring Manjula on the show. While this episode is a good start to the conversation, the money discussion is far from over and I hope to have more guests addressing this issue on the show in the future.

      I also completely agree about the secrecy and how it does NOT benefit writers (especially those just starting out). Funny story: I remember a discussion about publishing in one of my writing classes and during the Q&A I decided to ask the tough question. “So, we’ve heard about the big, fancy advances writers get, but for the sake of being realistic, what might a debut author expect for their first book deal. I’d love to hear actual numbers and not just vague conjectures.” A collective gasp rippled through the room as all my fellow classmates looked shocked and horrified, but I do not regret asking the question. FYI I never got a straight answer either.

      The truth all this secrecy is only benefits the people already making a lot of money. The only way for up-and-comers to find their footing is for those already established to create some transparency. There are definitely some writers and artists helping to pave the way for more open conversations about money, we’re onto a good start, but there’s definitely still a ways to go.

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