Tuesday, December 10, 2013

And This is Why I Should Skip the News

My parents warned me about this when I told them my career choice, but yesterday at Forbes.com they confirmed it: writers don't make a lot of money.

Based on a survey conducted by Digital Book World and Writer's Digest, 20 percent of self-published authors report earning no income from their writing and the median income for traditionally published authors isn't much better: $5,000 to $9,999.

Talk about depressing.

And yet, I know there are people out there making enough to quit their day jobs. The question is, will I ever become one of them?

Read the Forbes article here.
See the results of the DBW/WD survey here.

I've never had delusions about getting rich from my writing. I don't expect to become the next J.K. Rowling, or even Darcie Chan. But I did harbor an outlandish hope that I could earn a living from it.

Today I plan to take some advice from Susan Quinn and draft up a five-year plan for my writing life. Maybe having it all out there will help me focus on making this dream a reality. I'd love to add my name to the growing ranks of mid-list authors making a living at doing what they love.

So hey, screw Forbes. They don't have all the answers. And as far as I'm concerned, the people who did the survey were asking the wrong questions. The important thing to figure out is how those top sellers got to where they are. What best practices did they use to help generate sales? That, for me, is the big takeaway. That's how writers can do better, earn more, live happier.

What do you think?


Anne R. Allen said...

Sherrie, I think we can mostly ignore Forbes' stats on self-pubbed writers. That's because it includes all the hobbyists who only publish one book and do nothing to promote it. They write a memoir or cookbook for family and friends. Or they have unrealistic expectations and pour a bunch of money into advertising a single title. I know authors who make good money and own homes and drive luxury cars, and they're not just the ones you've heard of. (But they usually are hybrid authors.) You can do it!

Sherrie Petersen said...

I totally agree with you, Anne. I think they enjoy pointing out the extremes which doesn't help anyone see the bigger picture. Thanks for the encouragement (and the reminder to keep my goals realistic)!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Forget Forbes.

It's true that writers don't make a lot of money. But that will never stop us from writing!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Too true! If I was doing it for the money I would have quit a long time ago!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

This seems pretty inaccurate to me. I wonder who they got to fill out their survey?

Sherrie Petersen said...

I don't know who responded to the survey. Maybe the people who actually make money as writers were too busy writing to respond!

Rosi said...

I think it's well known that few writers become rich, but I actually know a couple who make a living! Besides, we don't do it for the money. That is, by the way, what I said about teaching when I was doing that. We write because we must. Do what you love, and the money will follow.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Wise words, Rosi. I work at a school now so obviously I've never been on a get rich quick sort of path! But I am doing what I love :)

Kristan Hoffman said...

"Maybe the people who actually make money as writers were too busy writing to respond!"

I think there's something to that, actually. I know one of these internet-famous writers (Chuck Wendig, maybe?) said exactly that: I make a living, and no one asked me to fill out this survey.

I also think the outliers (thousands upon thousands of aspiring-but-self-proclaimed writers, plus a handful of millionaire-or-more writers) skew the results in such a way that they're barely useful.

On the one hand, realistic expectations are good. On the other hand, we're fiction writers. Who cares about realistic? ;P

Anonymous said...

It is depressing, but I won't stop writing. It's in my blood. Maybe one day I'll do it full-time.

Laura Pauling said...

It is hard work and perseverance but the more I see and watch titles the more I'm convinced that it has little to do with marketing but writing a book that people want. There's nothing wrong with combining what we love to write into something that has a chance of appealing to a broad number of people.

I've seen all the marketing in the world for both traditional and self pubbed titles not impact sales the way it should and I've also seen the opposite of that - books taking off with little marketing.

The answer is to just keep writing!

DMS said...

We may not make a lot of money- but there are authors out there that are able to write for a living. I don't need to make millions- but it would be nice to make enough that I could write full time. :) Luckily, I live on a small income now- so I don't need to make too much in order to make the change. Still- more that $5000-$9000 dollars.

Best of luck and happy reading and writing. :)

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