Writer’s income

A post at Kill Zone Blog on this perennial topic: Why Do You Do This?

The basic take-home here is: You’d better do it for fun.

In 2022, according to 5,699 published authors who responded [to this Publisher’s Weekly survey] the median gross pre-tax income from their books was $2,000. If you combine that with other writing-related income, it jumped to $5,000. That’s actually up 9% from the year before, adjusted for inflation. Most that increase came from full-time authors. (Their income was up 20% vs part-timers who saw a 4% decline.)

And so forth and so on. One interesting contrast here would be to the 2023 Written Word Media survey, which is here, because survey participants are self-selected for both, but almost certainly drawn from different pools of authors. WWM breaks income into blocks by number of titles published, which is sensible.

Anyway, I think there are a couple things to keep in mind:

A) If you’re going to spend time on a hobby, writing novels is potentially going to bring in income, whereas most other hobbies will not, so, I mean, if you’re deciding whether to spend free time writing vs binge-watching tv shows, there’s that.

B) I’ve been paying attention while writing MARAG, and for me, the experience of writing this book has been honestly quite similar to the experience of reading an absorbing novel. Just much, much slower. This is why I like writing.

C) Personally, my income from writing in 2023 was within close-ish shouting distance of my income from my job. Even though self-employment taxes, which are evil btw, are going to take a big chunk out of that income, and even though I directed another good chunk of this income back into writing expenses, even so, I continue to maintain –>

D) That if you’re willing to build income gradually, you can build a solid income from self-publishing.

However, basically I agree with this KZB post: if you’re going to write at all, it’s definitely best if “doing it for fun” is at the top of your list of motivations.

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2 thoughts on “Writer’s income”

  1. I had an immediate reaction to point A, because there’s been so much pressure in recent years to monetize hobbies, which sometimes takes away their effectiveness as a pressure reliever. Even if it’s a part time job, once the objective is to make money it’s a job, not a hobby.

    But, do agree that something productive feels better for me than something that isn’t (but, by the time I’m done with this quilt I’ll have put so much time in on it, there’s no way I’d sell it).

  2. That’s a good point, SarahZ. I hadn’t thought of that, but yes, if you start feeling pressure to produce, then that’s not much of a hobby.

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