It would be nice, huh?
One of the things that people often ask writers about is money. They may not do it directly. For example, they may ask when the writer is going to quit their dayjob. They may ask whether the writer is as rich as Castle or J.K. Rowling. (Yes, I’m aware one of those is ficitonal.)
At the same time, it’s not very common to walk up to, say, bank clerks or computer programmers and ask them how much they make. You don’t ask your dentist that question, even though you suspect he’s making boat payments off you.
Yet people seem to feel confident asking (even indirectly) how much artists make.
Some artists have absolutely no heartburn telling people how much money their art brings in. I have done it in the past, although in the controlled environment of my blog. There I have time to think about what I say and to fully explain what I’m talking about. I usually do it so that other nascent writers can judge whether they think this path is worth their time. (I also like to empasize that the money is flowing toward ME, not away. See Yog’s Law)
Also, artist’s incomes seem to fluctuate wildly. My income from my current contract will be spread over a three year period, and any slowdown in the process can cause a backup in payment (which is happening to me this year.) So that makes the discussion even more complicated.
So may I profer a suggestion? Perhaps you can ask, “Are you happy with how much you’re making?” That question doesn’t ask for a number, it just asks whether the number is acceptable to the author.
Just a suggestion, if you’re going to talk to one of us…