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. Trying to figure out whether you can earn a living doing writing and writing-related things is excruciatingly difficult because there’s so little concrete info out there. So, here’s my 2010 edition:
Keep in mind, 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 worked out to about $17,000).
As always, I found myself juggling a ton of different activities in 2010 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 the Children’s Literature Network. In 2009, this accounted for $3,167 of my income. I used to do some other accounts, too, but all I retained this year was CLN. I like being in contact with children’s writers and illustrators, and it’s pretty low-stress occasional work. Just a couple of hours per week.
Trade Book Sales: I didn’t make a single trade sale in 2010. I am SO depressed. On the income side, I did get my advance for a book I have coming out with Millbrook in spring 2012. After my agent’s percentage, that came out to $2,590. I am really hoping I have at least one trade sale in 2011.
Work-for-Hire Books: $12,000. This is the same amount as last year! I wrote five Colors of… books for Capstone, one leveled reader that almost killed me for a book packager, two books of verse about emotions for Capstone, and a very nifty book about using photos to inspire poetry, also for Capstone. The bad news? I didn’t get a single assignment for this winter/spring from Capstone or any of its imprints. Not sure what that signifies.
Assessment: $2,600. This was actually mostly from poetry! I wrote a bunch of poems on contract for an assessment company. The poems have to be long and detailed enough to support 12 questions each, or sometimes a related pair of poems can support 12 questions. I can often use an already-written poem as the starting point and then expand it, add specific poetic techniques they need to assess, etc. It’s an interesting challenge.
Teaching/Speaking: $1,225. This is a huge drop from 2009. That’s because I didn’t really teach online at all in 2010. I pretty much put that on hiatus in order to do the marketing consultant work below.
School Visits: $11,750. This was a great year for school visits for me. I did a bunch of school visits and Young Authors Conferences. However, this year, all I have booked is one day at a school and four Young Authors Conference days. My school visit income will be WAY down in 2011.
Marketing Consultant: $20,275. This was new to me at the end of 2009 and throughout 2010. It was interesting work and good pay, so I put aside my online teaching and a few other things in order to make time for it. However, the big projects are finished now, so this has dropped down wildly since the new year. It will likely only be a few thousand dollars for 2011. I knew going into it that that would happen, so it’s not a shock. This year, however, I’m trying to figure out anew how to balance my various income-producing activities.
That’s a total of about $53,600. That’s up almost 50% from last year! After my income dropping the past two years, it’s a nice change of direction. However, dwindling school visits and marketing consultant work will bring it back down for 2011. Way down. But just like I couldn’t focus too much on the lower income the past two years, I can’t focus too much on the higher income this past year. I worked intensely hard all the years–as a freelancer, you have to work unbelievably efficiently and hard in order to earn a livable income. And the income doesn’t necessarily vary as a result of my efforts. It’s market conditions. Sometimes there are higher-paying jobs available, sometimes not. So I’ll just keep plugging along, trying to keep all the balls I’m juggling in the air, ever grateful to earn a living through writing-related stuff…
So, those were my income sources in 2010. I hope you supported yourself doing something you love, too!