Consider the paths of these three writers, then answer the question below.
Novelist Nick: Nick works very hard at his writing. After years of submitting his work to agents and publishers, Nick finally lands a publishing deal with a commercial publisher for one of his novels. The advance is $2,500. As Nick's publication date approaches, he gets the impression that his publishing company isn't going to market his book with much diligence; the early reviews are less-than-thrilling, his cover looks slapdash, and the company just doesn't seem intent on making his novel successful. Nick has worked his whole life to succeed as a novelist, so he decides to spend some of his own money on an independent publicist, and still more on an updated website. When Nick's novel comes out, he winds up doing much of the promotional work himself. At the end of Nick's novel's published life, it sold 1,000 copies and didn't recoup Nick's advance. All in, Nick spent $3,500 of his own money, for a net loss of $1000.
Lit Mag Lucy: Lucy works very hard at her writing. She starts submitting her short stories to literary journals and contests shortly after grad school, with the hope of landing one at a respectable literary magazine. This process requires that she spend money on contest and submission fees, and she also pays to fly to a prestigious writers' conference that she's lucky enough to get invited to, where she hob-nobs with writers and editors. Finally, after years of submitting, she succeeds in landing a story at a reputable literary journal. The journal has a circulation of 3,000, and Lucy's story is towards the back of the issue. The journal pays Lucy $50. Over the years, Lucy spent $1050 trying to get a short story published, for a net loss of $1,000.
Subsidy Sam: Sam works very hard at his writing. His best work consists of two novellas, both of which utilize NASCAR racing as a prominent backdrop. Sam decides, after being told by a few in the publishing industry that his work is strong but for various reasons unsellable, to pay to have his work published, consolidating his two novellas into one book. Sam is intimidated by the idea of designing and formatting his own book, so he enlists a subsidy print-on-demand publishing company to do this grunt work for him. They charge $300 to design, format and publish his book. Sam spends much of the next year promoting his book of novellas, investing in independent marketing and taking a trip across his region for a series of readings. Sam receives some good reviews, and through legwork, word-of-mouth and the Internet managed to sell 250 copies of his novel. Still, he didn't make back all of his initial investment, losing a total $1,000 on the venture.
You can assume in all cases that one half of the people who read the works actually liked them, and one quarter liked them enough to consider another similar work by the same author in the future. (In other words, the works were of the same appreciable quality as judged by their respective markets.)
Here's my question: In the instances above, which of the writers exhibited vanity? Answer using the poll below, and feel free to comment in the comments area. Keep in mind: There is no right or wrong answer, just your opinion.
Yours in laying down the law,
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