Everyone wants to write a book, or to say they have written a book. Publishing a book is still an honor, a point of pride—but like pretty much everything else, it’s also dependent upon a capitalist business model. And the financial side of publishing can be opaque, unfair, and downright contradictory. Combined with the distinctly American habit of not wanting to sully talk of artistry with talk of money, this means that many people who want to make writing their full-time career have no idea how the money part of writing actually works. In this TED talk I will answer some of the most common questions I get as a literary agent about the money side of things. I will try not to make it too depressing.