As the market shifts toward benefiting authors who use open-platform publishing, it’s good to temper expectations and think about how much profit you might realistically make with your book. While it’s easy to get starry-eyed when looking at the profits of prominent self-published writers, it’s also best to consider the average, and even the low end, of the spectrum. This CNN article cites that Do-It-Yourself authors earn an average of $10,000 a year (which means that many self-published authors earn less than that a year.) While $10K is a significant amount to supplement an income, it does not make for a full-time job.
It’s rare to find an author who gets to write for a living, rarer to find one who makes a good living doing it. There’s a long history of writers who have taken jobs to supplement their income while they worked on their writing. MacArthur “Genius” and fabulist George Saunders worked in a slaughterhouse. Nicholas Sparks sold dental supplies by phone. Stephen King was a high school janitor.
Jobs have a way of getting in the way of writing, but they also have a way of providing inspiration. Stephen King thought of the opening scene for Carrie while pushing around a bucket to mop hallways, and T.S. Eliot thought of scenes from The Wasteland on his way to work at a bank.
Writers tend to take advantage of the weekend or late nights to work on their writing outside of the office, and to make sure they don’t put aside their passion in lieu of a living (you can really have both). A great portrayal of this was this season on Mad Men, when Ken Cosgrove, an ad executive, revealed that he stays up late at night, writing, and becoming a successful science fiction author. Watching that scene, I found myself realizing I’ve been in the same position — staying up late, the only time in the day I had time to write.
So what are your day jobs? How has your work inspired you to be a writer? How do you find time in your busy schedule to write, and how do you make sure it doesn’t get put off?