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 so hard for writers to figure out if they can earn a living through their writing and related activities, largely because there’s little info out there. So I share every year, sometimes with pride, other times (cough, cough) with dismay and more than a little embarrassment. I know income does not directly correlate, necessarily, with skill, passion, or a job well done. The people in some of the professions I most admire make very little money. Still, as a small business person…ack. Anyway, here’s my 2011 edition:
Keep in mind, this is only gross income. (And for 2011, gross really applies.) This doesn’t include any of my own expenses–travel, promotion, office supplies, etc.–nor the taxes I have to pay.
2011 was a bad year, financially. My worst in a long time. Sigh. The rough economy and my huge time commitment to doing a year of drum corps combined to squash my income like a bug. So be warned. And here goes:
Web Work: I maintain and update webpages through the Children’s Literature Network. In 2011, this accounted for $1,545 of my income. This is not a big chunk of income, obviously, but I like keeping my hand in with this fantastic organization.
Trade Book Sales: Another year without a trade book sale. Ugh. I did get the second half of my BookSpeak! advance, plus $450 for a couple of poems in a Georgia Heard anthology–yay! (And I have made a trade sale for a follow-up to Leaf Can Be… in 2012.) So that came out to a total of $2,150.
Work-for-Hire Books: $5,768. This is only about half of 2010’s amount.That included the second half of payment for two Picture Window books about emotions, three really fun monster-related e-books (can’t wait to see them!) with Jackson Fish, and one easy e-reader. This also includes some copyediting I did for a book packager and the kill fee for a work-for-hire fiction middle-school book that was accepted by the editors but then killed by the project manager. Not a stellar year.
Assessment: $1,200. This was a mixture of nonfiction and poetry, mostly poetry, sold to assessment companies for use in their standardized tests. The poems usually have to be fairly lengthy and detailed, so that they can support a dozen or so multiple-choice questions. A lot of times I’ll use an existing poem and then make it longer and edit it in other ways to make it usable in a testing situation. It’s always a challenge, but interesting to do.
Teaching/Speaking: $2,500. I really enjoyed this work in 2011. This income came from two events: the Redbery Writer’s Retreat I co-led with Lisa Bullard in Wisconsin and the first half payment for the Shabo Mentorship I was the mentor for for The Loft. Both were great experiences, and I connected with many terrific writers!
School Visits: $2,067. The other half came from 5 or 6 days’ worth of Young Author’s Conferences and school visits (of course, the prep time was lots more than that). I’m re-vamping my school visit presentations and also hoping to get into Skype visits shortly.
Marketing Consultant: $2,670. This was the tail end of a short-term project that I took on for 2010. I put aside other income streams like online classes to take on this project, which was interesting and paid well. It wrapped up in the first couple of months of 2011, and I’m still trying to figure out how to?balance my income streams.
Addendum: Mentors for Rent: $1,200. I somehow deleted this entry earlier! Mentors for Rent (new website coming soon) is a small business I run with Lisa Bullard, where we mentor kids’/ya writers for an hourly rate. We started out very slow and small, but we’re getting great feedback. We’re hoping to really grow this business this year!
That’s a total of about $19,100. Only a bit more than 1/3 of my 2010 income ($53,600). Ouch. I could make more money working at Target. But could I do that full-time and let go of my writing? No way.
So, those were my fairly pathetic income numbers in 2011. This year, I’m really focusing on getting my income back into shape. We’ll see if it pays off.
I hope you’ve supported yourself doing something you love, too! Or, if you weren’t able to support yourself at it (like I couldn’t have this year), I hope it at least kept you in cute shoes and caramel brownies.