If you think it’s impolite to talk about finances, skip this post!
Every year for the past few years, I’ve shared my income breakdown on this blog. It’s hard for writers to figure out if and how they can earn a living through their writing and related activities, largely because there’s little info out there. So I share every year. And it’s that time again.
2012 was definitely a better year for me than 2011. Thank goodness. It was nice not to need to get a holiday retail job!
Here’s the breakdown of what I earned last year.
Web Work: I update webpages through the Children’s Literature Network. In 2012, this accounted for $2,405 of my income. One of the reasons I keep doing this freelance work is that it lets me interact with lots of other writers, which I love. It helps me stay a little bit on top of new and forthcoming books, too, as I see what various members have coming out. Of course, it also contributes greatly to my looming TBR pile. Sigh.
Trade Book Sales: My trade sales totaled $4,993. Yay! More than twice my 2011 total. Um, not exactly a livable wage, however. Like most writers, I would love to earn a living off of trade books advances and royalties. Clearly, I still have a long way to go! I did meet one goal and sold a follow-up manuscript to Leaf Can Be…, Water Can Be… (coming out in 2014). And although Stampede has not earned out its advance, BookSpeak!: Poems About Books did! It was so exciting to get a royalty statement with a real check attached! I had about $2,100 in royalties for BookSpeak, plus my $2,700 advance for Water Can Be…, plus a few small sales to anthologies, magazines, etc., for that total of almost $5,000.
Work-for-Hire Books: $7,913. This amount includes four math picture book/board book sets for Capstone, a very short novel for reluctant readers for Heinemann, and several kindergarten-level shared readers (for an educational publisher through a packager–for digital production). Those shared readers were a mix of nonfiction, fiction, and rhyme. (If you’re interested in doing this kind of writing, learn more about my textbook for writers here.)
Assessment: $7,075. Well, this is a part of my writing business that’s growing that I wish wasn’t. I mean, I actually enjoy a lot of the writing I do for assessment companies–I just wish there was less testing in the schools and therefor less need for those passages. I mostly write nonfiction passages and poetry for use in standardized tests. The poems usually have to be fairly lengthy and detailed, so that they can support a dozen or so multiple-choice questions. And I have to write them so that certain standards can be covered, like using context clues to determine the meaning of a word. So that would mean I’d include a word 2 or 3 grade levels above the grade the passage is for, and I’d make sure to include enough context clues in the sentences surrounding that word that a student can figure out the meaning even if she’s never heard the word before.
Teaching/Speaking: $3,250. This was fun stuff! I again co-led a writing retreat/intensive with Lisa Bullard in Wisconsin (though this was the last year for that, I think). I judged a community poetry contest in the Chicago area and also finished out my commitment with the Shabo Mentorship at The Loft. These were all great experiences!
School Visits: $4,670. School visits and young authors conferences were up somewhat in 2012, and even more so so far in 2013! I love visiting schools, and it’s demanding but rewarding work.
Mentors for Rent: $3,650. Mentors for Rent, the hourly writers’ mentoring business I run with Lisa Bullard, is growing little by little. We’re starting to see many repeat customers, which we love. We have an ebook on How to Query an Agent or Editor and an ebook on Writing for the Educational Market, too. This year, we hope to keep growing and also to produce more helpful materials for writers–probably with a focus on quick tips.
That’s a total of about $33,956. That’s a 77% increase over my 2011 income. Thank goodness! NOTE: This is gross income. This doesn’t include any of my own expenses–travel, promotion, office supplies, etc. (ballpark of around $8,000)–nor the taxes I paid (which were around $4,500).
My goal was $40,000, and I didn’t hit that, but I at least came closer. For 2013, my income goal is again $40,000, and I have lots of writing goals and writing dreams, which I’ll share more about another week.
I hope this info is helpful to you. If you have a different job and write just for self-expression or love, great! Or if you write full-time, but don’t need to contribute a certain amount to your household budget, great! This info is for those of you who, like me, want to write, love to write, but need to earn income, too. I hope you met your 2012 writing goals!
P.S. Please Like or Share with other writers you know if you think this info might be useful to them. Thanks:>)