It’s a new year, and that means it’s time for another look back at last year’s writing income. I’ve been doing this since 2007, because I think it’s important to have open conversations about trying to make a living as a writer — as well as dispelling the myth that we’re all making Rowling- and King-sized paychecks.
My Background: I’m a primarily “traditionally published,” U.S.-based SF/F author with 13 books in print from major New York publishers. The first of those 13 books came out from DAW in 2006. I’ve also sold about 50 short stories. I’ve never hit the NYT or USA Today bestseller lists, but my last five books have been lead titles for my publisher. In late 2015, I mostly-quit my full-time day job. Since November of 2015, I’ve worked 10 hours a week for the State of Michigan, and spent the rest of my time as a writer and stay-at-home Dad.
2018 Summary: 2016 was my best year as a writer, thanks in large part to a three-book deal I signed with DAW. I spent the next two years working on those books. My agent has also been shopping around a middle grade project, and will begin shopping a second in the coming weeks, but those won’t boost the income levels until if and when we sign a contract.
In total, before taxes (but after any agent commissions), I made $38,812.29 from my writing last year, down about $4000 from 2017.
Here’s the annual income graph going back to 2002.
The biggest check of the year was for the delivery and acceptance payment on Terminal Uprising. The smallest, if you’re interested, was a $0.89 royalty payment from Smashwords in September.
2018 Breakdown: I added a category for Audio book advances and royalties this year, since that’s becoming a more important source of income for a lot of the writers I’ve talked to. The bulk of the self-published income came from the release of Imprinted early last year. Interestingly, I didn’t have any new short fiction sales in 2018; all of that is royalties, primarily from one anthology that’s done surprisingly well.
- Novels (U.S. editions) – $26029.29
- Novels (non-U.S. editions) – $4406.39
- Self-published Work – $3569.10
- Short Fiction – $810.62
- Audio – $3396.89
- Other – $600
Other Notes: With my wife’s health issues, I’ve written pretty much nothing for the past two months. I’m hoping that will change as she continues to get stronger, but this is going to continue to impact everything. I’m hopeful that 2019 will see the sale of at least one of those two middle grade projects, but like so much else, that’s out of my control.
Anyway, I hope this is helpful to folks.