Tao Lin Is Selling His Stuff, Penguin Is Suing Its Authors, All Writers Are So, So Broke

09/26/2012 2:16 PM |


Today is not a great day for those of us still hoping that someway, somehow, it is possible to make a comfortable, even lucrative living as a writer.

No, not a great day at all.

First, the Observer brought us news of a strapped-for-cash Tao Lin selling off personal belongings (including a $99 juicer) to drum up extra funds, a tactic he’s actually resorted to in the past.

On a brighter note, he does have a book advance and some teaching money from Sarah Lawrence on the way, and a stranger sent $200 to his PayPal account just to be nice, but still, not encouraging.

Even less encouraging is the realization of every author’s worst nightmare, Penguin’s spurt of lawsuits against authors to whom they sent cushy advances for books that never ended up being written. Turns out they would like that money back!

Reportedly, Elizabeth Wurtzel owes $33,000 (plus interest) on a $100,000 deal she received in 2003, Ana Marie Cox has been asked to return $81,250 of a $325,000 deal from 2006, and the New Yorker’s Rebecca Mead owes $20,000 from a $50,000 deal for a collection of her journalistic writing.

Well, that is a lot of money, and all paid for books that didn’t actually happen, so this does make quite a bit of sense. Nevertheless, this is a terrifying, terrifying scenario to consider.

Want to feel better about literature and the people who write it? Would you care for a link to our brilliant, totally comprehensive look at all things related to Brooklyn lit? Why yes, you’re very welcome for that!

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2 Comment

  • Tao Lin’s story is not exactly the epitome of the starving artist but it does make u oddly smug that u didn’t waltz off on a whim to follow the path of Jack Kerouac lets say. I can now give my self a pat on the back for not having enough passion or courage lol.

  • Nonstory here. Tao Lin doesn’t typify anything. And writers getting sued for not delivering the books they were paid to write is nothing new, and should not be troubling to anyone. If they were asked to pay back advances for books that didn’t earn out, that would be different.