The age old question. Can anyone really make any money from writing?
Whether it’s freelance or fiction plenty of people will tell you the answer is a resounding NO.
Once when I was volunteering at a literary even I got chatting with a published author who was sitting on the panel. When I told her I wrote short stories she told to stop immediately. She said there was no money it and I should focus solely on novels.
Yes, why not put all my eggs in one basket?
My writing income has fluctuated over the years due to my changing lifestyle and commitments, but I thought it might be interesting to look back and share my writing income from the very first dollar.
The first year I made money from writing
In 2015 I made I made $15. It was for my short story ‘A Girl and her Dog’ in SQ Magazine and I was stoked.
Yes, that author was right. Short stories aren’t always lucrative individually, but I love writing them so I’ll keep doing it.
The second year I made money from writing
In 2016 I made $151.06. That’s more than 100 times growth. All of this came from articles and essay published in literary journals, one of which was an academic essay I wrote in my Masters degree.
[related post: Academic Publishing for Beginners]
I also won a short story competition this year. The prize was a mentorship and an iPad mini.
The money boom
In 2017 I made $939.60.
The difference between 2017 and 2016 is that this year over half of my writing income came from fiction writing. I won a single short story competition with a prize of $500 (starting too look a little more lucrative).
[related post: How I wrote a crime story when I’m a fantasy writer]
The year I could have gone all in
In 2018 I made $3123.65.
This obviously isn’t a living wage but I was also working two part-time jobs in both 2017 and 2018.
It was the perfect time to throw myself into freelance writing as that was where most of my money came from, and that was the plan.
I left one of my part-time jobs, but I didn’t really have the tools I needed to reliably source freelance work.
Fear and doubt crept in.
I saw a job listing on Seek for positions at two major Sydney based publishers. I got one of those jobs.
I don’t regret that choice.
I learnt a lot working in publishing, full-time in a corporate environment and commuting five hours a day. I also met some amazing people.
But I didn’t pitch any ideas, send any query emails or submit any stories.
I still wrote, because I had 5 hours on a train 5 days a week in which to write.
But no money was made.
I’m really starting to embrace all the rhetoric about leaning into your phase of life. Sometimes you need to lean into opportunities when they present themselves even if they’re not what you think you want, but you also need to back yourself.
And to back yourself, you need to know it’s possible to succeed. I may not be the most glowing example of making money from writing (yet).
But I do know it’s possible thanks to other writers out there willing to talk about their income.
Everyone already knows it’s hard to make money from writing. But when we tell ourselves that writers don’t make much money, we are setting ourselves up to not make much money.
We need to change the narrative we tell ourselves about how much we can expect to earn.
Do you think it’s possible to make money from your writing?