This post comes with a spoiler warning. If you are nursing dreams of handing in your resignation letter and making a living through writing, then I am about to spoil that vision. Writing doesn’t pay – this is hardly news – but how much doesn’t it pay? Michael J Sullivan has done some number crunching here. The article’s pretty interesting, especially for a comparison of the paper vs e-book market. But for those who just want the bottom line, it comes out at around $4,000 per year for a decent three-book contract.
Don’t spend it all at once.
Fortunately, I am more in line with Charles Bukowski’s outlook on getting published:
For me to get paid for writing is like going to bed with a beautiful woman and afterwards she gets up, goes to her purse and gives me a handful of money. I’ll take it.
Also, bear in mind that a contract limits your writing choices. You have to write what you’ve promised the publishers you’ll deliver, and never mind if an awesome new idea comes along or the book you agreed to is – for whatever reason – not really lighting the spark you anticipated. This is your job now and you have to do the work that’s in front of you.
Whereas I, though hoping to be published, am currently contract-free and can therefore say (as I did this week) “Animus is not really exciting me so I’m abandoning it and finally giving vent to Mercy the Goblin.” Because, other than me (and the raptor because he lives with it), nobody cares.