Friday, January 30, 2015

Money Talks (The Truth About What This Writer Gets Paid)

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I was talking to a class of fourth-graders last year about my job as a freelance writer. After I showed them my website and passed around copies of the magazines I contribute to regularly, we had a Q&A session. One of the students raised his hand and asked, "How much money do you get paid to write?" I saw the teacher put her head in her hands, but I had fully expected the question, especially from a group of 10-year-olds. My own kids ask me the question all the time, as they check the mail almost every day and get excited when they recognize a check has arrived.

I told him that the pay depends on the length of the article and the publication, and also how many articles you sell/write in a given month. He seemed satisfied with that answer and we moved on to the next question.

This week I came across a very interesting blog post one of my friends shared on social media, "Sponsored by my husband: Why it's a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from." What struck me the most was the subhead, which read: "The truth is, my husband's hefty salary makes my life as a writer easy. Pretending otherwise doesn't help anyone."

I had to laugh and nod my head in agreement. I could also admit that my writing career is "sponsored" by my husband. I will say that I have been regularly freelance writing and cashing checks since 2005, but with the exception of 2008 when I worked on staff part-time at a local magazine, my income has not been steady. Depending on what projects/articles I'm working on, my writing can bring in anywhere from $300 to $1,500/month. My husband's salary provides money to pay the larger bills and keep us in health and dental insurance.

Let me explain. Right now I have a few regular clients which provide the bulk of my income. I work strictly part-time hours--anywhere from 15 to 40 a week depending on where deadlines fall. I have time to take my kids to school, pick them up, volunteer at their school, shuttle them to after-school activities, and help them with their homework. They are almost 9 and 11 now, and as they have gotten older, I've tried to pick up more and more work. With one heading off to middle school next year, I plan to increase my work hours and hope to contribute more to our monthly income.

But without my husband's support, I would never have been able to get three novels written and ready to submit or work such a flexible schedule. And that's the honest truth. I tell everyone we make a great team, and one day, the tables will turn, and my writing will be able to support our family and give him the chance to follow his own entrepreneurial dreams.

For my local friends, I will be participating in a panel discussion on the topic of "I’m Published, So Now What? Making a Living Writing" at the Women's National Book Association/Charlotte Writers' Club event on Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. in Charlotte. I hope to see you there!

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