Monday, January 30, 2006

The "Are You a Hack?" Quiz!

You must answer yes or no or pick one of the choices offered.

No maybes or I dunnos allowed.

As Winston Churchill said: We've already established you're a whore, we're just quibbling over price...


  1. Is commercial success your goal?
  2. Would you ever write a movie or TV novelization?
  3. What's more important: Integrity or making a living as a writer?
  4. Do you rewrite based on editor or agent suggestions even if you don't entirely agree with those suggestions?
  5. Would you ever write an adaptation of a comic book or videogame?
  6. Would you ever change the ending of your book in order to make a sale?
  7. Would you write about something you didn't care about if you got a fat paycheck?
  8. If forced to choose, would you rather have artistic integrity or fame and riches?
  9. Would you rather be Dan Brown, author of The DaVinci Code, or Marilynne Robinson, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Literature?
  10. Would you rather be known as a genius by hundreds of people, or mediocre by millions of people?
  11. Would you ever write for a character you didn't create?
  12. What's more important: Getting the words right, or getting the words sold?
  13. Would you write in a genre you don't enjoy for a lot of money?
  14. Have you ever submitted something that you know isn't your best work in order to make a deadline?
  15. What is more important: Fans or awards?
  16. Would you rather have a bestseller that is critically panned, or a poor seller that is critically praised?
  17. Would you ever ghost-write another author's series?
  18. Did this quiz amuse you, or annoy you?



Webster defines a hack as: a writer who works on order; also : a writer who aims solely for commercial success.

To grade this test, check your answers with the key below, and keep track of how many times you scored as a "HACK" and how many times you scored as an "ARTIST."

  1. Yes - HACK. No - ARTIST
  2. Yes - HACK. No - ARTIST
  3. Making a living - HACK. Integrity - ARTIST
  4. Yes - HACK. No - ARTIST
  5. Yes - HACK. No - ARTIST
  6. Yes - HACK. No - ARTIST
  7. Yes - HACK. No - ARTIST
  8. Fame & riches - HACK. Integrity - ARTIST
  9. Dan Brown - HACK. Marylinne Robineson - ARTIST
  10. Medicore - HACK. Genius - ARTIST
  11. Yes - HACK. No - ARTIST
  12. Words sold - HACK. Words right - ARTIST
  13. Yes - HACK. No - ARTIST
  14. Yes - HACK. No - ARTIST
  15. Fans - HACK. Awards - ARTIST
  16. Critically panned bestseller - HACK. Critically acclaimed poor seller - ARTIST
  17. Yes - HACK. No - ARTIST
  18. Doesn't count.



  • 0-1 HACK answers: you are an ARTIST whose integrity is solid.
  • 2-3 HACK answers: you are an ARTIST who realizes that publishing is a business
  • 4-5 HACK answers: you have some artistic integrity, but you'd rather make a living
  • 6-14 HACK answers: you are a hack, but may have some integrity left
  • 15-17 HACK answers: welcome to hacksville, population: you