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Question for those writing full time

StarFleet Carl

I realize that the question I'm going to ask is a bit personal. But there's a reason for it. From what I've gathered from assorted conversations and posts, many of those who write full time and then post / sell your books on Amazon / Lulu / etc., are doing so because you are disabled or past working age.

Do you have another source of income, or are you totally dependent upon your writing for living? And just curious as to an approximate ballpark on how much you make doing so.

My reason for asking is pretty simple - writing right now is a hobby for me. But I'll be eligible for full retirement in 12 years at 67. That would allow me the time to write full time, which is what I've wanted to do since ... well, I was a kid. Do your stories pay you enough to keep the wolves (not the Keystone Cops, Ernest) away from your door? Or is it disability or a pension that pays the bills, and your writing simply provides an extra bit of mad money? I realize everyone is going to have a different set of circumstances, I've been doing retirement planning for years, it's just that until recently I never considered writing full time as a potential source of income for during retirement. (I know technically that means I'm not retired, but you know what I mean.)

Replies:   Switch Blayde  REP
Ross at Play
Updated:

One in a hundred, by all accounts here. :(

Those who make "real money" from writing are the tip of the iceberg of those whose writing is worthy enough.

Spending a lot of time to wattpad may provide the best chance of getting into print. Scratching enough backs of others may result in them creating a buzz for your stories ... but start young if you're hoping for any prehumous rewards. :-)

oyster50

It was real money, just not very much of it.

Oyster

Ernest Bywater

I co-own the house I live in with my son. I bought it with my savings and put it in both our names to make it easier for him to take over when I kick the bucket. It's little more than a hovel out in the sticks, but it's ours.

I've been selling via Lulu for about ten years now, in that time I've made about $11,000 with most of that in the last 4 years. Some of the sales are due to people reading earlier books and now looking for when I post a new one, and some are from people on SoL who can't wait for the book to be fully posted. I can usually tell when I have a brand new non-SoL reader, because they buy a bunch of the older stories after they read the first of my books they bought.

I'm a pensioner on a fixed low income. I get enough to live on, but it's the income from sales that've helped with computer upgrades and the occasional extra food item. However, a lot of what I earn from sales I use to help some of my editors who are having a harder time getting by than I do. I know there are times when the money I send them makes the difference between eating for the last few days before their pension arrives, and not eating during that time.

I've also taken on publishing books for a few others. I do the work and put them up on my Lulu site, Lulu pay me after they take their cut and withholding tax, and I pass on the rest to the other author. I know the sales of his books have made an important difference to Mike because I was able to send him the money when he really need it.

I'm sure if I were a bit more prolific with my writing I could earn more, and that may improve after I finish with the Gestapo, which is supposed to happen in November. Just have to wait and see.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Joe Long

I hope to one day make some money from fiction writing. At this time I'd consider selling a couple thousand ebooks a year at $2.99 each to be a success.

I have started a home consulting business that combines both technical writing with coding, data analysis & delivery. That's doing well and I hope within 5 years will surpass my regular job's income and will allow me to 'retire' to working only from home. Instead of hoping for a thousand people to pay $2.99, my goal is a hundred clients paying me $1000 each year (I'm now at 15, averaging $2000 each)

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@StarFleet Carl

I only know of four authors on wattpad who gave up their day jobs and live off their writing. Actually, one hasn't quit yet. He's thinking about it because his debut novel is selling thousands each month and getting over a million page reads each month in the KU program. But he lucked out. Some famous fantasy author blogged that if you can only read one fantasy book this year, read his. But his sales are dropping. He really needs to get a second novel out there.

Of the other three, only one is doing really well. I guess he's famous in the fantasy genre (Michael J Sullivan). But he's a hybrid publisher. Most of his books are traditionally published. He gets half a million dollar advances on a new book. However, he's moving away from traditional publishing because he wanted to keep the digital rights (ebook) for his new books and Hatchett's CEO said they won't do that. But he has a large following so he'll be successful. And before he took up writing full-time, which was years ago, he owned a marketing company so he knows how to market.

The other two are more the normal case for successful authors. One traditionally publishes and the other self-publishes. The one who self-publishes gets a new book out every few months. She says that's required to be successful.

They all say, even the ones who can't quit their day jobs yet, that you have to treat it as a business. That means paying up to $500 for a cover, a few thousand for an editor, and marketing, marketing, marketing, which might mean buying ads, paying for book tours, etc.

Me? I'm retired and have no intention of writing full time. It takes me over a year to write a novel. I'm on my 3rd novel now. Because of the amount of work I put into it, I expect to be paid. But I'm not doing this to earn a living. There's an author in my retirement community who writes 5 hours every day. Not me. I just get a kick out of someone buying the novel. So for me it's the kick, not the income.

ETA: Also, the reason I'm a stickler on grammar and a style guide is because I hear the same thing from these self-published authors who treat it as a business and want to make a living from writing. QUALITY. They all talk about quality and that most self-pubbed novels don't live up to the standard of traditional publishing. And that's the key. Your self-pubbed book needs to be equal to a traditionally published book

Replies:   Joe Long  Crumbly Writer
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

Because of the amount of work I put into it, I expect to be paid. But I'm not doing this to earn a living.


In the consulting work I mentioned above, I put many hundreds if not thousands of hours in over several years to write software, develop the product and market myself - with little or no compensation at the time. It took until the seventh year for the income to blossom.

REP

@StarFleet Carl

For what it's worth, I posted a similar question on May 31, 2016 called "I could use some advice". You may find some of the responses helpful.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I'm much like Ernest. I've been on disability for some time for a condition which prevents me from working. Disability payments aren't much, but I get by. My books provide spending money, plus expenses related to publishing, but we're only talking one, maybe two decent dinners a month.

You're unlikely to ever become wealthy publishing (or even live off your writing earnings). Hell, I don't even earn enough to risk compromising my disability payments, but then, I don't write for the money. However, it does buy me some nice tech gadgets (which I use for writing).

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Me? I'm retired and have no intention of writing full time. It takes me over a year to write a novel. I'm on my 3rd novel now. Because of the amount of work I put into it, I expect to be paid. But I'm not doing this to earn a living. There's an author in my retirement community who writes 5 hours every day. Not me. I just get a kick out of someone buying the novel. So for me it's the kick, not the income.

It's an open question how often you need to publish. Many insist you have to continually publish, while the traditionally published caution that publishing more than once a year 'diminishes your brand'.

Since most of my income comes from new readers purchasing my older books, I find the 'often is better' a workable model. I purchase several novels (3 to 4) each year.

There's a definite financial incentive to writing series (depending on what genre you write it), but generally how many sequels you can (or want) to write varies depends on the story.

StarFleet Carl

@REP

For what it's worth, I posted a similar question on May 31, 2016 called "I could use some advice". You may find some of the responses helpful.


I'll look it up, thanks.

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