Joyce Carol Oates Quotes & Wisdom from a Prolific Successful Author

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Art is the highest expression of the human spirit-Joyce Carol Oates Quotekk

These Joyce Carol Oates quotes and article were motivated by an inspiring interview with Joyce on the popular Tim Ferriss podcast. It was my first time to learn about this inspiring and profoundly prolific writer of poetry collections, fiction, novellas, short story collections, plays, articles and essays.

The eldest of three siblings, Joyce Carol Oates grew up on a farm with a lifelong love of books. Fortunately, her natural talent for writing — no doubt informed by her love of books and reading — was encouraged recognized early on by a teacher who recognized wrote to her parents, asking they they encourage her in that.

Born in 1938, Joyce Oates’ momentous first book was published in 1963 when she was just 23. She’s been writing and publishing ever since, at over 70 books to date by early 2021, with an average of two books published per year. Today, Joyce is as in love with books and writing as ever.

We love learning from those who have achieved professional success in their creative endeavor, and there are certainly some nuggets of wisdom to be gained from tuning into these Joyce Carol Oates quotes. We love quotes for they are as they are the seed of a larger idea… its essence summed up and condensed, and provide the opportunity to reflect on the lessons in the message and thereby glean more of our own wisdom discoveries.

Many of these quotes were extracted from Joyce Carol Oates’ interview conversation with Tim Ferriss on his podcast, and those were so noted, and that show link provided at the end. Meanwhile, you can peruse these Joyce Carol Oates Quotes for a preview of more to come if you tune into the podcast, as well as her other work, such as the courses and classes she teaches.

Joyce Carol Oates Quotes

Art

“I’ve always felt that art is the highest expression of the human spirit, and art is the way that we communicate with one another.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates The Art of the Short Story, MasterClass trailer

“That instinct to transcend the particular in a finite and to reach for something universal, that speaks to people across generations. I think that is the instinct for all kinds of art.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates The Art of the Short Story, MasterClass

Becoming

“I never change, I simply become more myself.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, b.6/16/1938

Beginning to Write a Book

“Novels begin, not on the page, but in meditation and day-dreaming – In thinking, not writing.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, v, b.6/16/1938

“If you feel that you just can’t write or you’re too tired or this, that, and the other, just stop thinking about it, and go and work. Life doesn’t have to be so overthought. You don’t have to wait to be inspired. Just start working.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates on the Tim Ferriss podcast

“I need to see the ending of the novel in a kind of cinematic way, to envision it. I need to have a beginning and an end and I need a title. The title is sort of what brings it all together, it’s like a triangular shape. So the title will give you a sense of what the totality is. The beginning… is the precipitating factor of the story, should be in the first line, and then everything is a consequence of that. And the ending is the ending you’re moving toward inexorable ending, so you have a destination.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates on the Tim Ferriss podcast

Creativity Quotes

“Distractions are the great adversary of creativity.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates on the Tim Ferriss podcast
CREATIVITY QUOTE - JOYCE CAROL OATES QUOTE:"Distractions are the great adversary of creativity."~Joyce Carol Oates, author, professor, b.6/16/1938 #Creativity #CreativityQuote #DistractionsQuote #Writers #JoyceCarolOates #iCreateDaily

Distractions Quotes by Joyce Carol Oates

“Distractions are the great adversary of creativity.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates on the Tim Ferriss podcast

“If you feel that you just can’t write or you’re too tired or this, that, and the other, just stop thinking about it, and go and work. Life doesn’t have to be so overthought. You don’t have to wait to be inspired. Just start working.” ~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates on the Tim Ferriss podcast

Habits and Writing Quotes by Joyce Carol Oates

“I can basically write all day long with interruptions. It’s not really that I sit down to write as if it were some extraordinary act, you know? It’s basically what I do.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Writer Joyce Carol Oates at home – Profiles – The New Yorker on YouTube

Meditation and Joyce Carol Oates Quotes

“Novels begin, not on the page, but in meditation and day-dreaming – In thinking, not writing.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

Reading

“When you’re a writer, you’re not just reading for pleasure, you’re reading as a writer, so you have a special eye for prose.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates The Art of the Short Story, MasterClass trailer

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

Revisions and Edits Quotes

“A revision is so much fun, it’s so exciting. The first draft is like material, and the second draft, the revision, is my use of that material. Subsequent revision… I revise all the time. I tend to write the first chapters over and over and over again. Then as I go on in the novel I get more momentum, so I’m going forward a little more fluently.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates on the Tim Ferriss podcast

“When I come to my desk in the morning, I definitely always revise what I did the day before.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates on the Tim Ferriss podcast

“Revision is really 99% of art, I think. There have been very few artists who don’t revise.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates on the Tim Ferriss podcast

Self Discovery

“It’s where we go, and what we do when we get there, that tells us who we really are.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

Writers and Joyce Carol Oates Quotes

“I think a born writer wants to tell a story and that instinct to tell stories is very natural. All you need to do really, is to take that instinct and transform it into a craft.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates The Art of the Short Story, MasterClass trailer

If anyone who’s listening to me feels that he or she is a writer, you probably are.
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates The Art of the Short Story, MasterClass trailer

Writing Quotes by Joyce Carol Oates

“To me it is thrilling to be writing. If I’m not writing a short story or a novel, I would then be writing a short story or an essay, or a book review, or I could be doing Twitter.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Writer Joyce Carol Oates at home – Profiles – The New Yorker on YouTube

“Much of writing, like art, is exploratory. We don’t always know what we’re going to do, but ideally, if you have an outline and a sense of where you’re going, it’s much easier.”
~Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author, professor, b.6/16/1938

SOURCE: Joyce Carol Oates on the Tim Ferriss podcast

How Much Do Authors Make?

So how much does an author like Joyce earn by publishing two books per year on average? Naturally, the numbers vary widely and wildly. To say how much authors earn from books is akin to asking how much a house costs. It really depends on the house and the location. Similarly, book income depends on even more variables. However, one thing is consistent. Just as all houses provide shelter, all writers who are prolific are bound to earn more than those who are not. It’s just simple math and physics – Law of Cause and Effect.

The important factor for success that’s entirely up to you is your own learning and growth and how much you invest in yourself and your craft. The other is how much you create… how often, how consistently and persistently over time.

The more you immerse in learning and application, the more you will derive from your efforts, both in personal pleasure and in professional compensation.

Top Selling Joyce Carol Oates Books

These figures are approximated by an Amazon sales ranking software and generally fall within something like an 80% range of accuracy. So it’s not enough to file a tax return by, but it’s enough to gauge the approximate earnings of authors per book in round averages.

NOTE: The monthly revenue per book figures are calculated by estimated sales x estimated net profit per book as provided by an Amazon sales software service. The books are listed chronologically in order of top ten best sellers for this author.

Top 10 Best Selling Books by Joyce Carol Oates

  1. The Oxford Book of American Short Stories (Paperback), 896 pages; 2012; – 325 sales/mo. x 3.42/book = $1,111.15/mo
  2. Blonde: a Novel (Kindle)- 743 pages; 2017; 247 sales /mo x $2.90/book = $716/mo*
  3. I’ll Take You There: A Novel, (Paperback)304 pages; 2003 – 203 sales/mo. x $10.01/book = $2,032/mo
  4. High Lonesome: New and Selected Stories, (Paperback) 688 pages; 2007 – 200 sales/mo. x $4.39 = $878/mo
  5. Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, (Paperback) 328 pages; 1994 – 182 sales/mo. x $2.90 = $528/mo
  6. Blonde: A Novel (Paperback), 752 pages; 2009 – 178 sales/mo. x $5.50 = $979/mo
  7. The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art, non-fiction (Paperback) 176 pages; 2004 – 168 sales/mo. x $5.81 = $976/mo
  8. Them: a Novel (Paperback) – 592 pages, 2006 – 167 sales/mo x $4.60 = $768/mo
  9. On Boxing [Essays] non-fiction (Paperback): 304 pages; 2006 – 160/mo x $8.28 = $1,325/mo
  10. Wonderland (The Wonderland Quartet) Paperback: 528 pages; 2006 – 148 sales/mo x $4.79 = $709/mo

    *NOTE: Net $ sales were not available for this one bestselling Kindle title by Joyce Carol Oates, so we’ve taken the lowest net income of her top 10 books for an approximate total. These are a part of the Kindle Direct Publications (KDP) or Amazon Kindle Unlimited (AKU) programs. KDP yields between 35% and 70% royalties depending on your book price. The AKU is more complex as it pays by the number of pages read.

NET ESTIMATED INCOME FROM OATES’ 10 TOP BESTSELLING BOOKS
$8,911/month
$106,932/year

Now that’s a decent income accrual over time, and it’s just her top 10 books, not all the ancillary revenue from the long tail of her books sales as well as for those made into movies!

RESOURCES:

  • Jungle Scout SaaS app – Jungle Scout is an AWESOME RESOURCE for anyone selling — or considering selling — on Amazon. For authors and product creators, it can help you find a good and viable niche that may be in demand but underserved.
  • SmartBlogger article on how to make money on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing, KDP – an extensive article with great info.

Yes, it’s Possible to Make a Living as an Author… But Most Don’t

Remember, these calculation are based on just Joyce Carol Oates’ top ten best sellers on Amazon, and yet she has published over 70 books, though they may not all be in print any longer. This does not include bookstore sales and other online sources such as Barnes and Noble. In addition, due to Joyce’s background and success as an author, she’s also an in-demand professor and MasterClass instructor for aspiring and seasoned writers.

So that above isn’t a picture of her total financial situation, and nor are we trying to pry into that. But anyone considering devoting years to writing books for a living, needs to know what kind of income is possible for a prolific and persistent writer over time. Toward that, the more information that’s available on the varying scenarios of successful authors, the more encouraging and vitally informative it can be.

In It for the Long Haul

What’s also super important is that Joyce is getting paid to do the work she loves to do. The love of any craft makes the long haul bearable and even enjoyable. The career of a writer is definitely a marathon and not a sprint.

If you’re an aspiring author, keep in mind that it’s a long journey. Success is absolutely possible but not easy nor quick. So you must be in love with traveling this path of writing daily rather than focused on making money by writing and selling books.

However, the author’s journey and creator’s journey is definitely one that compounds over time and picks up speed. A couple of Joyce’s top selling books appear to be collections of several of her earlier shorter books. She also appears to have re-released earlier titles with a fresh cover and possibly other updates.

As for additional income, chances are that Joyce may get paid for speaking engagements, and certainly for teaching. Further, her success gets her onto podcasts like Tim Ferriss’ podcast with hundreds of thousands of downloads per episode, which exponentially increases her exposure to vastly larger audiences of new readers.

Remember to check out the interview with Joyce’s on the Tim Ferriss podcast.

Joyce Carol Oates Masterclass

The Art of the Story

You can enjoy this free 3+ hours master class for writers, taught by Joyce Carol Oates.


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