A number of academic bloggers have been posting lately about the New York Times article about writing for free: columnists and such being asked to write for "exposure," to the point where it seems like writing is almost never compensated. And, of course, there was the dust-up surrounding the editorial staffer who called scientist Danielle Lee an "urban whore" because she politely declined to write a column for free.
In general, we academics do a lot of writing more or less for "free", simply because it's how we get/keep/get promoted in our day jobs, which do pay. Or, as one senior colleague at another university put to to me when I noted that I wasn't going to see one red cent from my first book, "No, this book will make you more money than anything else you ever write... because this is the book that gets you tenure." Fair enough. But the bulk of informally kinda-sorta-compensated writing that we all do simply underscores why so many of us are not interested in taking on additional non-paying gigs.
All this is a long preface and prelude to saying that last week, something like three years after my book was published, I was notified of my first. royalties. ever.
How much? Well, let's just say that this amount plus seventy-nine cents would buy me one (1) full-priced copy of my own (hardcover) book. Still, that's more than I ever expected to make.
And it makes me think that I ought to start writing books about the knights templar.