“It’s possible to make a good amount of money as a writer. Most writers don’t. You should assume, strictly for business purposes, that you won’t, or at the very least, won’t for a very long time. It’s not all about you, it’s also about the market. Don’t get defensive. The median personal income in the US in 2005 was $28,500. You have a lot of company in the bottom half.”
A realistic yet not damaging quote from Science Fiction writer John Scalzi. Most of the time all we hear is that writers are always poor, and you should never hope to earn a living solely from writing — definitely not from travel-writing.
Having said that, this recent article by Scalzi was a much needed read. Being a writer himself, he completely understands where we come from (…”when it comes to money â€” and specifically their own money â€” writers have as much sense as chimps on crack”). It doesn’t give you false hopes for e.g. he made $164,000 last year from his writing — something a result of his skills, business sense and luck. However, as a writer you must initially prepared to be broke.
The piece is full of personal and blunt anecdotes — some you may feel are arrogant. He doesn’t say anything that we don’t know already, but adds to it personal experience with a flair that hits you as “this is how it is, honey”, which is what makes it a worthy read.
I’ve done many (most in fact!) of the things he says are a complete NO NO if we want to survive as writers: I left my day job, I date guys who are broke, use credit cards as therapy, buy cheap things that don’t last, am planning to move to NY, and often forget that I need to write for a market and not for myself. Argh. All of a sudden it’s very clear why I’m not making much money writing! Sigh. Anyway — READ IT.