The author of bestselling memoir Maid has revealed that her literary success and subsequent deal with Netflix has not made her rich.
Stephanie Land, 45, said she has had to turn down charity donation requests and friends asking for loans after she shot to fame with the 2019 novel based on her own experience as a single mom working as a cleaner for wealthy families in Seattle.
Maid became a surprise bestseller just before the pandemic, and it was adapted into a highly-popular 10-episode Netflix series starring Margaret Qualley in 2021, with a $10 million budget.
But Alaska-born Land said her success came with the assumption that she was now wealthy – telling the New York Times that an unnamed charity asked for a donation of $30,000, which she politely declined.
The writer revealed that when she got her first book payment, she had to forgo much of it on clawing her way from below the poverty line to a basic level of financial stability.
The author of bestselling memoir Maid has revealed that her literary success and subsequent deal with Netflix has not made her rich
The writer revealed that when she got her first book payment, she had to forgo much of it on clawing her way from below the poverty line to a basic level of financial stability. (Pictured: Land as a new mom and maid in Seattle)
Maid became a surprise bestseller just before the pandemic, and it was adapted into a highly-popular 10-episode limited Netflix series starring Margaret Qualley in 2021 with a $10 million budget
Land said she was snowed under with $50,000 in student loans and $16,000 credit card debt, which she paid off straight away.
Her two children also needed health insurance at a cost of more than $30,00 per year, after he book earnings rendered them ineligible for state-subsidized health coverage. She also spent $7,000 on a second-hand Subaru.
‘I had years of not being able to make ends meet to make up for,’ she told the Times. ‘And that includes mental health and our physical health.’
Land said she even struggled to scrape together a down payment for her first house.
She got married to Air Force veteran Tim Faust in 2019, who didn’t qualify for a VA home loan due to two late student loan repayments.
In 2020 the couple tried to move from Missoula in Montana to Raleigh in North Carolina, seeking a $350,000 mortgage – but her book payments and promise of future payment weren’t enough to qualify.
‘I couldn’t prove to them that I had a job,’ Land explained to the Times. ‘The book advance felt like some kind of weird loan. It was scary… I’m still really struggling with job security’.
Land said she initially turned down loan requests from friends who assumed she was now rich – but that she did lend some up to $15,000 later.
The author turned down bolder requests from charities, but she did pay for a week’s worth of camp tuition for 12 low-income families in her community.
Land wrote her memoirs Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will To Survive in 2019, when it quickly became a bestseller
In the Netflix show Maid, Land’s recollections of her time working as a cleaner are told through the central character, a single mother named Alex who flees her abusive partner and takes refuge in a women’s shelter
She added that her relative riches now compared with her life before might make her appear ‘inauthentic’, as her next book, called Class, was published this week.
This fear partly stems from public reaction to her new social status – as Land revealed that fans gave her disapproving looks for sitting in first class on a plane – though what they didn’t know was that a client paid for the seat.
Land said she secured a house after months of wrangling with brokers – with a small down-payment which required mortgage insurance.
In the Netflix show Maid, Land’s recollections of her time working as a cleaner are told through the central character, a single mother named Alex who flees her abusive partner and takes refuge in a women’s shelter.
Struggling to make ends meet, Alex takes a job as a maid in order to support herself and her daughter – all while battling her former partner to retain custody of their child.
The experiences very closely echo the events of Land’s own life; the author comes from a middle-class Alaskan family, however she found herself homeless in her 20s after falling out with her boyfriend.
She got pregnant unexpectedly and this led to the break down of her relationship when Land’s boyfriend tried to intimidate her into getting an abortion, which she refused, before ultimately leaving him and taking their baby with her.
In the show, Margaret Qualley plays Alex, a single mother down on her luck who works as a maid to make ends meet while fighting to keep custody of her daughter
In order to survive, Land took a job as a cleaner for middle class and upper-class families on the wealthy Camano Island, near Seattle, where she was paid $8.55-an-hour.
In order to make the boring and ‘lonely’ job more interesting, Land began to imagine made-up stories around her clients’ lives based on things that she would see while cleaning their homes.
When her book was published, many middle to upper-class people reached out to Land, admitting they were ‘unnerved’ by home much their cleaners could know about them.