How Much Money Do Writers Really Make?

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Rebecca Joines Schinsky

Chief of Staff

Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the executive director of product and ecommerce at Riot New Media Group. She co-hosts All the Books! and the Book Riot Podcast. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccaschinsky.

Flowers aren’t the only thing in bloom this spring! Book Riot is featuring an excerpt from Mazey Eddings’s charming new sapphic romance Late Bloomer today. Don’t miss it.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

One of the things that surprised me most when I went from starry-eyed book lover to industry insider was how few authors are able to make a full-time living from writing. LitHub and Dirt are collaborating on a new series about “the myth of a the middle class writer,” and it should probably be required reading for anyone dreaming of getting their first book deal and striking it rich. 

The median gross pre-tax income of full-time, established authors was $25,000 per year, only $10,000 of which was from book-related sources. In contrast, in 1989, the median author income was $23,000, not adjusted for inflation. 

Had their income kept up with inflation, authors would be earning close to $58k now, which would put them very close to the average salary here in the U.S. There are many ways to spin a response to this, and “pay writers more” is certainly a valid one. But publishing is already feeling the pinch of higher costs, so something else will have to give, too. I’d love to see a real conversation about what a “fewer, better” model could look like.

Catch Up on Cult Classics

It’s a rare book list on the internet in which all of the titles are new to me. How many of these cult classics have you heard of? Which one should I start with? 

When You Say Nothing At All 

Sometimes a Saturday night at home alone with a good book is utter perfection, but if that’s *every* Saturday? Consider trying a silent reading club. It’s a low-key way to step up your social fitness and combat loneliness, and you know going in that you already have one important thing in common with everyone else there: books. Which makes me wonder: how important is it to you that your friends and/or romantic partners are also into reading?

Make it Meta

Books about books are a surefire way to make your brain tingle. I’d add What We See When We Read to this terrific list. Pick this one up in print; Mendelsund’s illustrations are best experienced with a physical book. 

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