How much can writers earn?

Reading time: About 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a New York Times article addressing the question ‘how much can writers earn’?

It’s a great time to be a writer. The internet puts the world at our doorstep and new technology has lead to such developments as on-demand printing, which makes producing books much more affordable for the average person.

But it’s also a terrible time to be a writer. The median pay for full-time writers was just $20,300 in 2017, and that number decreased to $6,080 when part-time writers were considered. Worse, this represents a 42 percent drop since 2009, when the median was $10,500.

If you want to reflect on the wage gap facing writers, check out a New York Times article headlined, “Does it pay to be a writer?

According to the article, the decline in earnings is largely because Amazon is claiming the lion’s share of the self-publishing, e-book and resale market. As a result, the article says,

…small and independent publishers, which have fewer resources and bargaining power, have been particularly hard hit. Book publishing companies are passing these losses along to writers in the form of lower royalties and advances, and authors also lose out on income from books resold on the platform.

Most writers these days perform a variety of tasks in order to make a living. In my case, I write, I coach, I edit and I consult. (And I do it without any involvement from Amazon.) It works for me but I also have the benefit of 40 years of experience, 11 of which were at a major metropolitan newspaper. I think it’s hard to see writing as a viable career choice for very many people.

Unless, of course, you’re able to get a job at a major corporation in their communications department.

My thanks to reader Glenn Hyman for sharing the New York Times article with me.