Ah, what a question! My non-writer friends ask it a lot. To which I say: no. Not really. Well, some. Wait, what? Define “money”. Authors definitely make money. I’m just not one of them.
The process is like this: we sit in a room and we write. Sometimes we write in spurts on our lunch break, sometimes we write in a nice office with zero distractions. Usually I write with at least one child crawling over my lap, unplugging my computer and trying to turn it off. So it takes time. Time that could be spent elsewhere, you know, raking in the dough.
After the piece is written, it is edited. More time. Then it’s time to research markets to sent it to. Contrary to popular belief, markets don’t tend to knock on your door and request a piece. (Although it happens. Again, just not to me.) We have to find them. We have to study and see if our piece fits. We have to format it exactly how they want to see it, and then we have to send it by email or snail mail. I’m thrilled anytime that somebody wants it by email, because postage and materials add up quickly.
A sale is fantastic. They make me happy and joyful. I’ve given pieces away. I’ve sold some for three dollars, or five dollars, or ten dollars. One sale was enough to buy me a sewing machine once. But it isn’t enough to live on by any means.
I know that these are “tough economic times”. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “Well, guess I better write my novel and take in the dough.” It’s a lovely thought and if you want to write, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do it. But if you’re doing it for purely financial reasons? Writing takes time. Be aware of that up front. I’d hate you to feel like you’re wasting it.
Now I’m interested! What the most that you earned from writing?
I used to write for “confessionals.” Oh, the bad girl stories I have told. I usually got about $20 for a story. At a penny a word you don’t get much. That was probably the highest pay I got for writing. I have won books, coffee cups, a toaster and other interesting prizes for my writing, just no real money. It doesn’t stop me. I write to live, it is my passion.
Yeah, I don’t make much writing. It’s negligible, and as Aaron Polson just wrote on his blog, variable. The most I ever made from a short story sale was $180. More often it’s within the $20-$60 range. I suppose when my novel finally comes out I’ll be able to claim a bit more.
I refuse to incriminate myself with how little I’ve made but I did get to buy an executive leather chair with one payment so I have that…erm, one.
One of my colleagues is convinced I’m going to sail away on a fancy cruise ship and build a mansion ‘when’ (his words) I sell a book. Poor, wretched fool.
A short story sale for $100. That was nice, but only kept me in vodka for a week or two.
Good thing I have a dayjob.