A few weeks ago I wrote a post about finding markets for our writing, and promised a second post the next week.
Then our presidential election results were announced, and like Americans all across the voting spectrum, I spent the next few weeks wondering what alternative universe I’d stumbled into.
I’ve just about got my bearings now, so it’s time to get back to that most fascinating of all topics: getting paid! (Which only differs by one letter from my husband’s favorite topic. Chance?)
Full disclosure: I don’t make very much writing. Yet. In fact, I love the photo that goes along with this post because it clearly illustrates just how fast I’m earning money over here at Casa Claflin. But I love all you other writers out there, and it’s frustrating as heck to trying to figure this out when everyone keeps everything a secret. In fact, I’m doing a career fair next week at the school I used to teach at, and apparently it’s bad form for students to ask, “How much money do you make?”
But, folks. That is important information! It’s like Starbucks putting calorie counts next to their drinks. It might not convince me to get the straight black drip, but I did discover that the White Chocolate Mocha my husband loves is worth almost two vanilla lattes.
So here is my 2016 breakdown.* All figures are rounded to the nearest number that sounded right.
- Editing someone’s self-published novel: $900
- Essay-writing tutoring for college students: $400
- Article getting published (1): $200
- Essays getting published (2): $85
- Poems getting published (2): $14
*not for tax purposes
Impressive, right? I’m finally able to have a conversation I only dreamed about before:
Student: Do you make a lot now?
Me: Nah, I got paid more at my last job.
Student: What was that?
Me: Public school teacher.
Student: (falls over dead from shock)
Clearly I have a loooooong way to go, and much more beans and rice to eat, before I can “make a living” at this.
Fun Facts about “Being A Writer”:
- Working on other people’s writing pays the most;
- Articles pay better than essays;
- Which pay better than poetry;
- Poets, according to Billy Collins in “Monday,” basically work for free.
Had any of my short stories been accepted, they would have fallen somewhere between two and four, depending on the genre and market.
The main takeaways here:
First, at some point, you’re going to need to decide where to put your efforts. Lots of writers only work on writing for other people, or only write articles, or focus solely on long-form essays. I’m still in the process of figuring this out for myself. My guess is that I will always have my fingers in many different projects, but my forward momentum in just one or two areas. (Psst! I hope it’s novels!)
Second, if you want to write to establish yourself, or heck! for the love of writing, there are lots of markets that will be happy to publish good writing for free. Once you are ready to get paid, hunker down for the famine. Unless you are made of magic or Stephen King, it takes awhile. (Not made of Stephen King. I mean if you actually are Stephen King. Unless this is maybe one of his creepier novels, of course.)
So! Hang in there, keep writing and etc, but don’t quit your day job unless:
- God says, or
- You are independently wealthy (which, why do you even have a day job? Hmm?), or
- You have a Sugar Mama or (as I learned about in the Marine Corps) a “Debt Daddy” (as in he pays off your debts, not makes them), or
- You are willing to be homeless and write from the library.
They do have free wi-fi.