The reason I’m asking is that a person I know, new to writing, has told me today that very soon, their intention is that writing is to become their ‘main source of income’ and it’s definitely ‘not a hobby’.
Now, while I applaud the ‘not just a hobby’ part and I’m the first to encourage anyone to try to earn hard cash from their writing, I had to voice my concerns to this person and say that it’s very, (VERY!) hard to make even a half-decent income from writing. Even established novelists have to supplement their income by teaching and the like – and if you’re a beginner, it’s even harder to earn anything.
See this SHOCKING article from the Guardian (January 2014), which claims that a writer’s average yearly earnings is £600! Gulp. Gasp. Now, that includes all kinds of writers, including ‘aspiring’ and those who self-publish and hardly make a bean (but are still writers, of course) but it’s still surprising.
Take yours truly. I am not a beginner by any means but could I live on what I make from my weekly writing class, my Writers Bureau tutoring, my ALCS income, my short stories, my (occasional) articles, my (very occasional) competition wins and my e-book of short stories?
*Pause while she laughs hysterically*.
Er.. no. Not even with my part-time job at the charity, which brings in a little bit each month. I can only do what I do because I have the support of a lovely partner, who is happy to pay the bills (and er.. just in case he is reading this and not on the golf course, “I am ETERNALLY grateful! Would you like a cup of tea?”)
What’s really annoying though, is that everyone thinks writers are rolling in it – right? But the reason that there’s such as song-and-dance about novelists who secure a 6-figure deal for their first novel is because it’s so unusual!
My dad, bless him, is convinced that if I can only get a short story accepted for Radio 4 and/or a novel published, I will be made, financially. But everyone knows that the BBC doesn’t pay very well and I read somewhere that the average amount made from a debut novel is £5000.
So, the answer to my friend who wants to make writing their ‘main source of income’?
1) Write for love, not money.
2) Don’t give up the day job!