Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What Salary Do You Need, Writer?

I ducked over to Joe Konrath’s site yesterday, which I admit has been a sporadic occurrence since Joe has opened his blog to guest bloggers; not because the guest bloggers are bad, or that the posts are uninteresting or poorly written. I haven’t read a Newbies Guide regularly because I enjoyed reading Joe and his viewpoint.

Yesterday Joe had a post- sort of. He tagged a very long comment on the end of a finely written guest post by author of the Mr. Monk series, Lee Goldberg.

Joe provided a detailed list of his sales, and I have to say that it was eye-popping. Half a million dollars and his e-book sales account for a large chunk that is only increasing. His numbers made me wonder, “What do I need? How much money makes me a full time writer?”

Has everyone wondered this? In my mind, I see huge book sales, overwhelming traffic to my blog and the basic fame and fortune rigmarole. In short, I had a fantasy on a constant loop down on the edge of my sub conscious. It was a fantasy I could peek at like a shy boy who spies on the pretty neighbor lady through the backyard fence hanging her laundry on the line. You feel giddy, excited, but there’s guilt at the edges after the heady moment passes and you reflect on what you’ve done.

It’s silly, the fantasy, but it exists.

Writers need fantasy, for certain. Writers also need a measure of pragmatism in order to make their fantasies come to life.

So where do I stand? Financially, I mean, without the fantasy, with only hard, real numbers as a guide?

$80.00 dollars a day. Would I quit my job for $80 dollars a day? No. The fact is, though, roughly $80 dollars a day is what would replace my day job in absolute money terms. If I could guarantee that I could have a steady income that matched what I make now, I would be tempted. I have no retirement any longer as my retirement after fourteen years of working with the same company was taken away and I’ve had no raise for five years.

My expectations are low, is what I’m saying. Steady money at the rate I’m making now would be a sweet temptation.

Here are the three things I have reduced this post to in my mind (three things that could, in the future, be expanded):
  1. Decide what you need financially.
  2. Build in a comfortable buffer- you don’t want to constantly worry about money
  3. Decide. How do I get where I want/ need to be financially?

I’ll leave it at that, I guess. Right now that’s where I am; nothing fully formed but there is something there, you know?


Brenda Drake said...

Hmmm...this really gets you thinking. I haven't thought past the fantasy - LOL! Maybe I should. Great post! <3

MT Nickerson said...

I peaked out of my fantasy when I wrote this post- might just go back to wishful thinking! Felt better when I wasn't dealing with reality.

Thanks for the comment, Brenda.

Karen Woodward said...

I have thought about it, and it's kinda depressing. :(

Great post Michael!

MT Nickerson said...

It is depressing at times, but then again, if your love of writing is strong, I guess the money isn't the most important part of the equation. It is something you have to think about on occasion, though, if writing as a career is something that interests you- even if it does depress, at times.

Anonymous said...

I would like enough to get my parents and sister out of any debts they have then after that, enough to buy a house which would be mostly down to saving in the long run I would say.

It does not have to be a big house, but big enough to start a family in (that won't happen for a good while I would think, but still, best to think ahead!) then after that a yearly salary that would be enough for me to pay my bills, pay for food and a little bit over in order to pay for recreational things (cinema, meals out etc)/emergencies/random expenses that tend to pop up.

I would be happy with that, but I wouldn't say no to millions.

My fantasy is that I would have enough to own houses/apartments in different countries around the world and be able to fly anywhere I want at a drop of the hat.

At the end of the day I write because I love it and I need to do it. If I never made money off it I would still do it.

I hope that I am able to make enough to live on because frankly, I cannot imagine doing anything else, nothing else interests me in the way that writing does, but if I have to, I will find something else to do.

Luckily I don't have to worry about finding a permanant career for another year and a half or so, I have until I finish my english & classics degrees and to get an MA in creative writing. After that I'll have to figure out what I am doing (assuming I don't continue on with college education of course or a year after that in which I would get a degree that will allow me to teach in my degree subjects)

MT Nickerson said...

Hey, Alan.

Your goals sound great, but you are correct in thinking of the writing as being the important reward. Always keep the attitude that writing comes first.

Hard work and a plan, which it sounds like you have, are necessary steps in making fantasies real.

Keep at it and good luck!

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Hmmmm - all I can say is that unless you are already well-known and have a huge back list, or happen to be Amanda Hocking (and the day of using social media to market is already done because everyone and their dog is doing it), you will make less money than you think.
Not that you shouldn't fantasize. Fantasy is good.

MT Nickerson said...

Yes, the bubble has burst, but the dreams live on...

David P Perlmutter said...

I am not earning a great deal now doing what I do BUT I am living on the beautiful island of Madeira, leaving the UK 5 years ago....I am writing, a first time writer, about an event that happen to me and I am now on chapter 17.....if it sells well, an ebook by the summer then I dont require a great deal of dosh, just enough for my kids, my home close to the beach and a study, yes a study to write, instead of the dining table or my lap.....So there we are, a great post by the way and following you now. Also follow me and read my first non edited chapter at

Thank you and I keep on checking you out!!!

MT Nickerson said...

David, I want to wish you the best of luck on getting that study! It's a dream we both share, much the same as your choice of living on a beach. (My wife and I are looking at beachfront in Maine.)

As for following, I thank you much and will jump over to follow you as well.