This isn’t something that can ever be “known” by anyone but me—but, to anyone who knows either the history of publishing or my personal history, the idea itself is improbable on the face of it. Concocting new, paradigm-challenging theories is hardly a promising way to make money.

I think, for example, of Soren Kierkegaard, who spent his life writing paradigm-challenging books—books read by a very small audience and for the most part critically scorned and derided; far from making money off his books, he lived modestly off his patrimony, which was exhausted by the time he died.

During the twelve years I spent working on the book that ultimately became Ishmael, I had virtually no income and no promise of any income from this book. Two literary agents who saw it at various stages, far from seeing it a money-maker, assured me that I was wasting my time on a book that would never even be published, much less make money.

Any author who “just wants to make money” would be very poorly advised to choose Ishmael as a model.

ID: 71
Posted: 08 Feb 1997