Artist vs. Hack

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There are certain creative endeavors: composing, painting, sculpting, writing, which are thought of as artistic. The common belief is that these artistic activities are, by their very nature, separate from the more mundane and commercial activities of, say, manufacturing and selling shoes. Or kitty litter. Or toasters.

But here’s a little secret. Most of the people making these artistic creations would like to get rewarded for their efforts. And when I say ‘rewarded,” I mean paid.

That’s right. Most artists would like to get paid for their art. And when you think about it, that makes perfect sense. Who wouldn’t want to get paid to do what they love to do?

Here’s the kicker.

Artists lie to themselves.

They characterize the pursuit of ‘money for art’ as vulgar. They create a myth that art is somehow separate from commerce. And that the reason that they are not earning a living from their art is because that whole notion is fundamentally wrong. Art belongs in its own rarified silo, to be pursued for its own sake. Without the taint of filthy lucre.


Most so-called art is actually part of something called “the entertainment industry.” Movies, music, and books are all included in this category. So if you think the latest Marvel superhero movie or Adele album or James Patterson novel was made without any consideration of making money, you are sorely mistaken.

The word “hack” actually comes from hackneyed and it originally meant hired or mercenary. It’s related to the British term “hackney carriage” (which is a carriage or taxi cab for hire). A “hack writer” was a writer who got paid to write. In other words, the opposite of a starving artist.

So why do some writers try to distance themselves from making money from their writing? I have an answer for that.


More specifically, fear of failure.

They are afraid of failing at making money with their art and so they don’t even try. In fact, they denigrate the very effort. But that’s just a mask to cover up the fear.

That’s where this Shelfbuzz Professional comes in. Together we’re going to attack your fear of failure by laying out exactly what you need to do in order to make your writing business successful, step-by-step, in plain English.

And the first step is to recognize that your writing is a business.

A business’s goal is to make money for its owner.

We are going to learn how smart authors make that happen.