“The majority of authors make less than $1,000 a year, according to a new report from Digital Book World. Almost 80% of self-published authors and more than half of traditionally published authors earn less than $1,000 a year, according to the report.Â A little more than 40 percent of hybrid authors (both traditionally published and self-published) made less than $1,000 a year and not surprisingly 90 percent of the aspiring authors made nothing….
The research revealed that only 10 percent of traditionally published authors made more than $20,000 a year and 5 percent of self-published authors made more than $20,000 a year.”
I’m pretty sure that these stats aren’t the entire story, but they’re much of the plot. Depressing, isn’t it? Â Writing has rarely been a self-supporting business for the majority of its participants, which is why we once upon a time had sponsors, and now have bankrolled publishers, and reader-driven Kickstarter and Indiegogo, etc. So if you’re a reader who wants to see more work from a writer, support it!
All this is why I have always, always hammered home the fact that writers – all creators, really – need to be businesspeople, too. It may not be what we thought we were signing up for, but guess what? Â We’re only artists when we’re writing. Â The rest of the time, we’re sole proprietorsÂ of Me, Inc. Â Keeping an eye on financials is essential, even if it’s often not a fuckton of fun.
This is also why I encourage anyone who wants to become a freelancer to not get too hung up on the title. Â Yes, “full-time writer” is a lovely thing. Â There’s a happy sort of glow about it, for many of us. Â Poverty, less so. Â When the story-related money doesn’t come in, have something else on the side. Â It might be another kind of writing, some other desk work you can do on a contract basis – or it might involve picking up shifts at the local retail store, movie theater, or restaurant or moonlighting as a teacher, a cabbie, a carpenter (if it was good enough for Harrison Ford, it’s good enough for you). Â Don’t ever let anyone give you shit about how taking other jobs make you any less of a full-time freelancer. Â You’re still selling your lance…just for a different war.
But keep writing. Â Because even if you only earn $1,000 this year – next year you could be making $25,000. Â But only if you have something to sell.
(And keep those non-writing skills in shape, too! Â Because two or three good years might be followed by two or three dry ones. Â That’s just how it goes.)