Last week I received two invoice payments for my writing. One was a royalties transfer from a small press I had work published with a couple of years back, another was from Black Library. Needless to say there was a bit of a contrast in the amount paid, and seeing the two juxtaposed at the same time helped reinforce an old writing adage – you don’t do it for the money.
My first short story, published back in 2011, received no advance and a few dollars in royalties. The following nine stories I wrote received between nothing and about $10 each, over the space of four years. Only my novella, Werekynd: Beasts of the Tanglewild, received a slightly more substantial sum, and that was just because it won a couple of competitions.
All the while I kept writing away, and I was happy. That’s the crucial part. Nobody should become a writer for the love of money, because a) it will take you a long time to actually start generating that money and b) even when you do, it won’t actually be that much. I believe the current average yearly pay of an author in the UK is around £11,000. You’re just not going to become rich.
Writing because you enjoy it is the only way to go. The pay is just a bonus. Getting professional rates from Black Library is amazing, but there’s no denying that if they let me writing for them for free, I’d still do it without a moment’s hesitation.
Just don’t tell them.