“Biographies? Serious travel books? Moneylosers for most of their authors. How so? Well, say you’re lucky and your agent nails a $100,000 contract for you for a biography you’re dying to write. Sounds good, huh? But run the math: First, subtract the agent’s fee (10-15%), and then subtract taxes. You’ve got to write the book on the, say, $55,000ish that remains. Keep in mind that almost all books take longer to write and publish than expected. But, heck, you’re a fast worker — it’ll only take you 3 years. That means you’ll be living on $17,000 a year. And wait: you’ve gotta do some research — what’s a biography without research? Visiting some archives, interviewing whoever’s still alive … Guess where the money for these travels and aventures comes from? Your own pocket.” —Tacit Knowledge — Writing a Book (2 Blowhards)
For more depressing statistics on how institutions crush our creative fantasies, see “Courtney Love Does the Math,” which presents the recording industry execs as a bunch of mean, evil dudes.