Last three days! If you’re willing, please click on the aqua banner below and vote for Stampede! Thanks so much:>)
Each year for the past couple of years, I’ve shared my income information in the hopes of making money a less taboo topic among children’s writers.
2008 money post
2007 money post
Our taxes are now done, so I’m ready to share my 2009 info! Of course, this is only gross income. This doesn’t include any of my own expenses–travel, promotion, office supplies, etc.–nor the taxes I have to pay (which work out to somewhere between 30 and 40% of my gross income).
As usual, I do a whole bunch of different things to make up my income. Most relate to and interact with my writing in some way.
Web Work: I maintain and update webpages through both Winding Oak and the Children’s Literature Network. In 2009, this accounted for $4,600 of my income. I recently stopped doing the Winding Oak work, though I am still maintaining author pages for the Children’s Literature Network. I kept the CLN work even though it pays a lower hourly rate than the Winding Oak work. The reason I did this is that the CLN work is more reactive. I just respond to requests to add or update pages. And the pages are templated, so there’s very little learning curve. There are no urgent deadlines, and it doesn’t require mental energy on behalf of clients, where I had to think about, "Hmm…it’s almost the end of the month, and I don’t have Writer XYZ’s beginning-of-month updates. I should contact her!" I can barely keep track of all my own stuff. It was too stressful to always have that in the back of my mind for other people. I do miss the contact with the fabulous writers whose Winding Oak sites I maintained, but it was the right decision for me, stresswise.
Trade Book Sales: Bleh. I didn’t make a single penny on trade book sales in 2009. I did sell a trade book, so that’s good news (in fact, I just got my first half of the advance on Saturday!). Stampede is nowhere near earning out its advance. But with a new book sale and a previous sale finally moving forward, here’s hoping this category will look a lot better in 2010! Total: $0
Work-for-Hire Books: $12,000. I wrote four Science Songs books for Picture Window Books and eight Alphabet Books for Capstone Press. Oh, and one leveled reader for a book packager. Not all the income for all 13 books came in during the calendar year, but that is most of it!
Assessment: $800. These were four nonfiction passages I wrote for an assessment company. I also sold a boatload of poems to an assessment company at the end of the year, but I didn’t get paid until after the new year.
Teaching/Speaking: $9,600. This money came from almost exclusively from teaching online last year! Hardly any in-person stuff, which is unusual. This year will be more of a mix.
School Visits: $5,800. This was an area I’ve been trying to increase, and it’s working! I did 12 days’ worth of school visits and Young Authors Conferences in 2009. They take a lot of prep time, but they’re a great mix of promotion for my books, connections with my audience, and income. They exhaust me, but I actually really enjoy them.
Marketing Consultant: $3,500. This is something new for me. I am doing some freelance consulting work for a financial firm. I’m helping with things like a book they’re self-publishing and a website redesign. I’m not actually doing the designing or anything, but I’m kind of the middleman between their marketing person and the subcontractors. It’s a bit out of my comfort zone, but I’m applying the stuff I’m learning there to my writing career. For instance, I learned all about Constant Contact, a service for sending out html emails, and I just started using that service for my own monthly update emails. Plus the cash is nice:>)
That’s a total of about $36,300. That’s down about 9% from last year. Shoot. That’s down two years in a row. But I’m trying to find the time to work on trade projects, which don’t bring in any immediate money but will hopefully figure into the budget in the future. And I’m just trying to lower my stress level enough to actually enjoy the fact that I get to make a living from writing-related stuff. Don’t get me wrong. I worked my butt off for that amount of income. Lots of books. Lots of poems. Several trade projects that my agent is trying to sell. But I just mean I can’t focus too much on the lower income, because if all I concentrate on is the money, I’ll be miserable.
So, those are the main ways I made income in 2009. I hope you’re finding ways to support yourself doing what you love (or at least tasks related to what you love!).