Many years ago, I learned that the average full-time writer in Australia earns $12,000 per year (that is, considerably less than minimum wage).
Here’s what I earned over the last three years:
Soooo…. this year was better than last year. Yay?
The main reason I lost so much money last financial year was that I accidentally started a small business—”Murder in the Mail” and “Magic in the Mail”. Starting a small business is even more expensive than writing for a living—and yes, I’m still very behind financially on those stories (which, in small business terms, is perfectly normal).
Don’t start a small business, kids. (I mean, unless it’s what you really want to do, and you’ve saved up a huge pile of money to invest.)
As you can imagine, all this puts a huge strain on our finances. Which in turn puts a huge stress on my already-teetering mental health. Not to mention physical health (as a relatively minor example, I currently need a CPAP machine to treat my sleep apnea—that’s been on the ‘to-do’ list for about a year so far).
I’m relatively lucky, by writer standards. Weirdly enough, the main reason I’m able to write full time is that I’m not well enough to do anything else (so our finances would suck whether I wrote or not). And I also have a husband who works full-time. It’s a dirty secret that most full-time writers have a spouse who’s paying most of the bills.
The positive side of this is that writing doesn’t have to be expensive. You got a computer? at least one finger? Internet? That’s all you need. (Yes, it’s a good idea to do professional development and networking and so on, but you genuinely don’t need to bother until you’ve written and polished at least one novel, which most people will never do.)
(Yes, writing takes time. If you care about it, you find time. If not, then why fight it? Watch TV instead, or garden, or whatever.)
If you want to write, write. But remember that every dream has a cost.
2 thoughts on “The income of the full-time author”
$20000 is an insane amount of money to make in a year. I’d never be able to actually spend $10000 and not suffer from the consequences of it.
Our mortgage works out to $24,000 a year (not counting rates). I also eat food and use electricity. And running water. Minimum wage is around $12/hour here, which would make $22,000 working full time (like I do).