The folks over at the Western Fiction Review have a great Q&A interview up with author Joseph A. West, who wrote those terrific GUNSMOKE tie-ins a few years back. Lately, he's been writing the Ralph Compton books as a work-for-hire writer and his comments about that will give you some insight into what it's like to be a working writer these days:
"The Ralph Compton books are all work-for-hire, and I write them because I like to eat. I can’t write in Ralph’s style, nor do I try. I do the best I can, send the novel off to New York and keep my fingers crossed. Touch wood, they’ve never bounced one back to me for a rewrite, so I must be doing something right. At the moment times are hard for writers, and I appreciate any work I can get. In a way, a work-for-hire is a great compliment from the publisher. Three or four times a year, I get an email from my editor that says simply: “Joe, write me another Compton, due XXXX.” I never hear from him again until the next assignment. I guess he knows I always send him a professional product on time."
I have great admiration for guys like Joseph West…talented, hard-working professional writers who do the job because they love it and because it's what they do. And they do it damn well. Aspiring writers could learn a lot from him.