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To ask if any mumsnetters write for a living?

(151 Posts)
squishyeyeballs Thu 30-Jul-15 00:30:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Merrylegs Thu 06-Aug-15 20:29:46

The ALCS survey I linked to above concurs that 11,000 is the median salary for an author.

Merrylegs Thu 06-Aug-15 20:31:51

(Incidentally am.sure you know that if you register with UK and Irish PLR and ALCS for European plr/photocopying rights etc you can bump your income up, Linda. Congrats on the the book!)

Linds53 Thu 06-Aug-15 22:24:11

I've registered very recently, Merrylegs. Thank you! It's something I have always wanted to do and I feel very proud of having achieved it, even if it makes me very little money.

FallingGoldfinch Fri 07-Aug-15 23:00:26

Was away so only just came back to this thread - I think the ALCS thing is misleading as anyone can say they're a writer if they're a member. If they earn £5k a year, that's seen as their salary for writing but, really, if that's what you're making, it isn't your job - you need to be doing something else.

I know that probably sounds harsh, but if you make so little from it, it's your hobby and it is very negative for people who want to do this job properly to read such figures. I was a journalist before this, and I wouldn't have left that if I couldn't earn a similar amount (and I was a journalist when you got paid properly as no one was writing blogs and giving it away for free!).

If you write non-fiction, there is plenty of work out there if you're willing to do it.

SolidGoldBrass Fri 07-Aug-15 23:29:11

Another writer here. i used to make a living from it, but it's got a lot harder and I now have a part time job and get tax credits. The main problem is that there is so much shit out there (either self-published or content-mill stuff) that it is very difficult to stand out enough to make much money, unless you are either very well-connected or you have a particular niche that you excel at.

Merrylegs Fri 07-Aug-15 23:40:54

But ALCS collate and distributes payments. There's no point in being a member if you're not writing enough to make money. And they have to verify your work as published. I should think most every UK writer is a member. (They would be crazy not to be).It's quite a broad spectrum.

FallingGoldfinch Sat 08-Aug-15 10:49:52

But one of my points Merrylegs is that if someone is making £5k a year from it, they're not earning their living as a writer so it's misleading. I could bake a tray of cupcakes once a year and sell them but it wouldn't mean my job was baker. I'll have six books out next year, this is my job - and, if I could write quicker/was less lazy, it could be twice that. So, it's my job. If I faffed about writing stuff no one wanted, or no one wanted to give me an advance for, I'd go back to a different job and write as a hobby.

FallingGoldfinch Sat 08-Aug-15 10:55:45

I'm trying to be positive but maybe that's not coming across! What I mean is this - if someone wants to be a writer, they should know that it is absolutely possible to make a living from it.

It isn't pie in the sky, it doesn't have to be funded by a rich husband (I'm reading that a lot recently), it doesn't have to be backed by a trust fund. I'm sure connections do help, and of course you have more chance of being published if your parents are famous, or work at a publishing house, but it is also a brilliant job for people who need a flexible, easy job that affords a great work/life balance - and you can make money from it smile.

SolidGoldBrass Sat 08-Aug-15 11:48:21

FallingGoldfinch: I think you have to accept that luck plays a large part in it. There are plenty of competent writers with a good work ethic who are making sod all, simply because, while there have always been more people who want to write than people who want to pay to read what those writers have written, the current climate (not just WRT writing but to photography/music/art as well) is to for large companies to pay as little as possible for 'content' and throw it all out there at random. So you get 'Writers wanted' ads where you are offered either nothing but 'exposure', maybe a few free products, or something like £1 per 500 word article.
And writing as a job these days is likely to involve far more time fucking around on social media trying to get attention in a way that doesn't look like you are trying to get attention; building a blog or website that 'showcases' you, which quite often means doing a fair bit of work for free...

The other exception would be people who combine writing with a particular type of specialist knowledge, who can do nicely (like a writer pal of mine) writing articles and books for a technical organisation: he understands the science AND can write fluently.

And there is, actually, something badly wrong with the whole set up, which is that really we are heading towards a state of things where only the wealthy/well connected witll be able to write, make art, make music. Because everyone else will be too miserable and worn out from trying to scrape together enough income to pay their bills. And that is fundamentally unhealthy for society.

Freeble Sun 09-Aug-15 13:25:40

Just wondering if anyone knows about self publishing in the young adult field? I've been bashing away at a manuscript for years and no idea what to do with it. Thanks for the very interesting thread by the way

squishyeyeballs Sun 09-Aug-15 13:41:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

paintedfences Sun 09-Aug-15 13:43:59

I write non fiction as a sideline to my main job - I've published three books now, and a fourth will be coming soon.

All I want to be is a full time writer. Dream life.

squishyeyeballs Sun 09-Aug-15 13:44:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Freeble Sun 09-Aug-15 16:15:39

Wow really I just can't imagine anyone wanting it... Feel so intimidated by sending it out. Maybe I should try that. Thought that self publishing might be better but open to any advice!

MoJangled Sun 09-Aug-15 21:59:26

Pinkdelight , are you still on the thread? I would love to ask you about screenwriting!

(Warning, frustrated novice screenwriter alert...)

getinthesea Mon 10-Aug-15 14:15:23

FallingGoldfinch, do you mind me asking you a few questions, as I want to write non-fiction for a living, and am not precious about what I do.

I know that I'm a good writer (and have spent 15 years in the media so know how to structure stories too), but I'm finding it really hard to know where to begin.

FallingGoldfinch Wed 12-Aug-15 09:47:13

Go ahead, getinthesea - not on MN a lot just now as a million things happening in RL, so reply might take a while though!

FallingGoldfinch Wed 12-Aug-15 09:47:29

Go ahead, getinthesea - not on MN a lot just now as a million things happening in RL, so reply might take a while though!

FallingGoldfinch Wed 12-Aug-15 09:49:40

(so I'm saving time by posting twice confused) . . .

Luvverly Wed 12-Aug-15 10:38:21

I write as a hobby/not a jobby.

getinthesea Wed 12-Aug-15 14:19:15

Thank you, although having said that I hardly know where to begin. Are you a specialist or a generalist, and do you work through an agent or directly with publishers? And do you bring projects to them, or do they approach you?

My background: as well as the media stuff, I have had two small books published (worked directly with publisher, v little money in it) and I run a niche blog. I was approached by an agent about turning the blog into a book but it didn't get anywhere and then he stopped answering my emails rather than tell me this directly

FallingGoldfinch Wed 12-Aug-15 14:58:53

I ghost anything - if for a major publisher, it's commercial, mass market stuff. For private commissions, I'm more flexible.

I do have an agent - and I find him invaluable. I suggest things to him, or people approach me, or he sees things in the media that we chase up, or publishers ask me to do projects - all sorts of different ways really.

That's very rude about the emails - when I was looking for a new agent, I was so frustrated by some of the replies. I would guess that maybe 10% of them had actually read the email I sent as the responses were often so inaccurate. I had one that was really cross that I approached her with my ideas for children's fiction - she didn't represent that, she wasn't interested, I should have read her website properly, I'd get nowhere if I was so lazy that I didn't do my research etc . . . I've never written children's fiction in my life and have zero desire to do so! It's a very odd business really.

getinthesea Wed 12-Aug-15 16:38:56

So how did you start that? Did you get the agent first, or get commissions then get the agent?

I would very happily be a writing gun for hire, but don't really have any way to show that to an agent right now.

Yes, I was profoundly depressed by the whole experience with that agent - particularly since he approached me in the first place, and was saying things about trying other subjects if this book didn't get placed as he loved my writing.

I do have another agent who's interested in the non-fiction, but she doesn't want to represent my novel (she thinks its good, but not for her) and so thinks she should step back in case I find someone who wants to do both. But this then puts me straight back to stage one again, so I don't know what to do. But I suspect it's the non-fiction that will make money, rather than any novels.

FallingGoldfinch Wed 12-Aug-15 16:41:38

Yes, I've had an agent from the start. I couldn't do it on my own, but plenty of ghosts do.

I actually think it might be better to have a different agent for ghosting and fiction - when/if I move into the latter, I'll get a different agency for that. So, maybe separate yours?

getinthesea Wed 12-Aug-15 17:10:01

Thanks for all of the answers, it's really helpful.

So how did you persuade an agent that you were a good ghost (so to speak)? Were you a journalist before, or what other qualifications did you have? [The subtext to all of that being how do I break into the market with only the ability to write fast and well as my qualification).

Do you work with book packagers, or is it more true life stories?

FallingGoldfinch Wed 12-Aug-15 22:25:21

Yes, I was a journalist but I'd fallen into that too - it wasn't my 'real' job. I interviewed an agent for an article (not in their role as an agent though), and I think I was wittering on about something I wanted to write one day. They said they would represent it, and I admitted I'd probably never do it. I then fell into ghosting quite soon after that and they were happy to be the agent for it. Actually, reading that makes me realise I'm not very sure how I ended up doing this confused . . .

I also have to admit I have no idea what book packagers are.

I think the only thing a ghost needs is this - you can never question that you can write. The actual writing is such a tiny part of it that you can't have any wobble over it.

SolidGoldBrass Thu 13-Aug-15 00:01:08

At the risk of total derail FallingGoldfinch, one of my fiction projects features a ghostwriter as the protagonist. Just reading your advice on here made me go 'Hmm, sounds like my depiction is reasonably accurae' so ta for that wink

LaurieJuspeczyk Thu 13-Aug-15 01:59:14

I'm a bit hesitant to join this thread as I don't want to be one of those people who goes 'oh yes, I'm a writer too' when they've done sod all writing in the last three months grin I make no money at all from it, never mind a living, as I've had nothing published (although it's a serious and hopefully not completely unrealistic ambition), but as I currently spend more of my time writing fiction than I do working at my actual job I hope I'm qualified to at least say hi smile

To OP and others who are struggling for time, I once read some good advice that said you should try to write at least 250 words per day - it's not much, but you have to do it every single day until you have a first draft. It's not my style personally - I'm more of an '800ish words per day (well, night, realistically) with occasional days off' person - but it's a serious possibility once I'm back to full time work plus other work-related projects draining my time.

getinthesea Thu 13-Aug-15 09:06:43

Thanks Goldfinch, I really appreciate this - although I'm not sure I'm going to be able to emulate your career path! Perhaps I will just have to chip away at some agents with anything I've got and see what happens from there. Although I do need to start earning money with some urgency, but that's a whole other thread.

And yes, I see what you are saying about the writing being a small part of it, but my job used to involve a lot of dealing with every kind of people and trying to persuade them to do things that they might not actually want to do so I hope I'd have the skills needed. What else do you think is key?

Book packagers tend to do those kinds of illustrated design and interiors books - they tend to commission authors on a fixed fee and source the photos for an idea that they have had. Much of what I've done has been in the design area, so it's something I need to look into.

FallingGoldfinch Tue 27-Oct-15 14:17:55

Just looking at old threads and wondered if you went for it, OP?

Also, SGB - would love to see what you've written about ghosts! Is it out yet?

ZoeTurtle Wed 28-Oct-15 11:04:24

I earn £31k in a full-time writing job (non-fiction). I'm getting ready to send my first novel to agents over the next few months. I don't expect the fiction to ever be more than a nice bonus to my real source of income but I'm not doing it for the money.

HorseyCool Wed 28-Oct-15 11:35:38

What a great supportive and positive thread!

There was a thread last year about someone wanting to write and they were almost ridiculed, everyone posted about terrible earnings, someone father wrote for his entire life and made £13k total, etc etc.

Keep up the good work and best of luck to people starting out!

fuzzpig Wed 28-Oct-15 11:42:32

I would love to write anything.

I'm going to start a blog just to practise getting my thoughts out but also now I've got a couple of big work projects out the way I'm determined to actually start writing the books I've had floating around in my head for a while. Not that I'm expecting to get anywhere with it, but it would still be an achievement for me to write it (I find getting words on paper very hard).

Vaguely wondering, now that my DCs are home educated and we have more time, seeing if DD (8) would like to try a little NaNoWriMo project alongside me.

MissBattleaxe Wed 28-Oct-15 12:00:57

What a great thread. There's a whole Creative Writing Thread too and I was starting to think it was just a little gang over there but there's loads of writers on MN!

I found a blog was a great discipline to write every day and it got my writing muscles working again. I write when the kids are at school and didn't get much done when they were still at home TBH.

I find that reading the Writers and Artists Yearbook always really inspires me and fires me up to think anything is possible.

I have an agent and am at that scary waiting stage.

FallingGoldfinch Wed 28-Oct-15 12:07:28

The Creative Writing section is very quiet - it can be a lonely job, so it was lovely reading this earlier on in the year and seeing so many people in the same boat smile.

I really do think there are lots of options and opportunities out there.

Good luck MissBattleaxe - I love that waiting stage as there's nothing I can do, it's all up to other people!

Squishyeyeballs Wed 30-Dec-15 01:39:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Anotherusername1 Wed 30-Dec-15 08:31:58

I also make a living writing, but it's business writing rather than fiction.

Mistigri Wed 30-Dec-15 09:54:11

Writing is a big part of my (salaried) job too, but it is technical and business writing rather than fiction. I publish two fairly substantial reports a year, which I mainly write in the working day, although as I work mostly from home I'll write in the evening too if I'm on a roll.

I have a friend who is an author of historical fiction with three books published by a mainstream publisher - but she has a salaried job as a teacher too.

The only person I know who earns significant amouts of money from writing in a self-employed role (rather than in a salaried job like a journalist) is my sister, who writes non-fiction, mainly books for teachers. But it's still not her main source of income as she also runs training courses, which is a lot more lucrative.

soyvanillalatte Wed 30-Dec-15 10:09:37

I know this is an old thread but am so grateful to whoever revived it. I hadn't read it previously and am really fascinated by how many mumsnetters are writers!

I am "small biccies" and write articles for health magazines. These are mostly online and I do a lot for free. After reading this, I realise that 1) I need to improve my skills and 2) I need to charge for my work.

My question to those who write professional texts etc: Do you hold a PhD in your area and do you feel you need to in order to write educational works?

Russellgroupserf Wed 30-Dec-15 10:16:15

My friend has had a few children's books published but still has a main job. DH has written books but this is academic publishing so not quite the same. He has had dozens of journal articles published but again academia.

hefzi Wed 30-Dec-15 12:35:18

The trick to money from academic publishing seems to be textbooks - preferably an all encompassing one that surpasses everything in existence, that will run to at least 10 editions! I have one colleague who finances his research expenses off his textbooks, and another who uses her yearly royalties check to pay for her holiday: I don't think academic publishing in general is the path to riches, but things like popular science and popular history are better as income generators.

Squishyeyeballs Wed 30-Dec-15 17:24:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DragAct Wed 30-Dec-15 19:18:40

Well, speaking for myself, I have to be very disciplined about not frittering away precious writing time on a chat forum, so I tend to imagine other writers are equally unlikely to work on a PC with the Internet connected! I'd be more surprised if the Mn writing forum was buzzing, because it would suggest not a lot if writing was being done...?

GrayJane Thu 31-Dec-15 00:10:32

I don't write novels, but as a corporate communications consultant 90% of my job is writing - be it video scripts, interviews, twitter feeds, newsletters, business strategy or speaker notes. I'm writing all day.

MercedesDR Fri 01-Jan-16 15:18:17

I have been self publishing online and have been making a bit of money. I write more because I enjoy it, than for financial reasons. My speciality is erotic romance or porn depending on your viewpoint - don't search me if you are easily offended.

Mercedes Del Ray

Missdread Fri 01-Jan-16 15:32:14

I write for an online copywriting agency: it's great fun, I can do as little or as much as I want and can do it around the kids so I'm not shelling out on childcare. Most days I write 700 words or so in a couple of blogs. Love it!

Abraid2 Fri 01-Jan-16 16:58:44

I write novels for a living and do quite well at the moment. I tend not to go into a lot of details online as it would blow my cover on MN. It has taken me about nine years from the publication of my first book to build up my career, but there are no guarantees that it will continue. Don't go into fiction writing if you like a steady income and career progression. smile On the other hand, I would give up if I didn't make some kind of reasonable income--I place too much value on my time and craft to work for nothing. I would go back to corporate writing.

MissBattleaxe Fri 01-Jan-16 17:40:03

Hi Squishy, no update, but looking at progress early in New Year. I have learnt to be incredibly good at waiting and not biting all my nails off.

Squishyeyeballs Fri 01-Jan-16 22:35:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Abraid2 Fri 01-Jan-16 22:46:15

Historical/literary/women's-- kind of Kate Atkinson/Helen Dunmore/Diane Setterfield; said in an aspirational way!

MorvahRising Sat 02-Jan-16 01:01:55

I'm a freelance copywriter. Mostly for small businesses and often with some marketing thrown in. I also have two self published novels on Amazon which bring in a small amount. One is full length and has done quite well, the other is a novella and I haven't got around to any sort of marketing for it so it's had less interest. Or perhaps people just aren't keen on novellas!

I also have one novel currently undergoing some revision as an agent has expressed an interest, having read the full manuscript, if I make some alterations. It's taking me ages though and the agent will quite likely have forgotten who I am by the time I finish it!

My DS is a teen now but I did very little writing when he was small. I wasn't sufficiently organised to fit it in.

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