Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Real Income of the Indie Writer

There's been a lot of talk in the blogosphere lately about the real income of indie writers. I'm probably as average or median as they come. The following is my experience. Mine alone.

I currently have eight stories for sale under my name in the urban fantasy genre: four novels under one series and four novellas under a second series. I have one perma-free novella under the first series.

Alter ego currently has eight novellas and one short story for sale in the contemporary erotica genre. Four novellas are under the first series, two novellas are under a second series, and one novella is the start of the third series. The rest are individual stories.

In both cases, I'm only selling e-books, though I hope to expand into print by the end of the year.

For 2013, I'm averaging $392 per month before taxes.

For comparison, I averaged $649 per month at my former part-time, retail job before taxes.

Yet, I'm a little further ahead by writing full-time. Why?

Because there are a lot of expenses that people don't take into account when they work outside of the home. In my case, there's gas money. There's the business casual wardrobe. There's the sheer time of the commute. There's the stress of dealing with the public, which makes getting my head back into writer mode all the more difficult.

On the positive side of being an employee are things like health insurance. Even when you make a decent income as an author, simply buying a policy can be impossible. Writer David Farland tried to get health insurance, but he is a Type II diabetic. Any company willing to insure him and his family charged more than he could afford.

A few months ago, David's son Ben was severely injured in a snow boarding accident. Ben's medical bills already exceed a million dollars and will climb higher. David and his wife are facing the possibility of bankruptcy and losing their home, much less keeping their other kids in college.

There's also the fact that your taxes are doubled as a self-employed person. It amazes me how many people don't realize half of their taxes are paid by their employer. Once again, it's those little things we don't think about that trip us up.

These were among the many things that my husband and I considered before I left my job. Overall, it's been a success for us. However, the long-term goal for me is to get to the point where I'm selling enough books to match DH's salary, bonuses and benefits.

Just in case.

Your mileage may vary.


  1. Very nice to read this stuff. Tim does posts like this about his gaming sales. It's nice that you both share.

    PS: I laughed at your last line, your mileage may vary. Good line.

  2. Thank you for posting this information. Very helpful for the state of mind I'm in right now. I'm so tired of working at a job (day job) that I see nothing ahead but counting down the days until I can retire. More than 13 more years and the fact that I'm too tired when I get home to do something I really love to do--write. I am definitely not getting any younger and I feel that I'm wasting my life at a dead-end job even thought it does pay the bills. You are so right when people are comparing working at home versus working outside the home such as gas expense, lunch expense, clothing, etc. My husband and I work at the same place so I am actually on his insurance (we work for the state at a college) so that wouldn't really be an issue for us. However, right now I do not make nearly as much as I make at the day job with my writing which brings me back full circle. If I only had more time or more energy to focus on writing and get more out there, then that money difference could possibly change. Oh, well, thank you again for posting this information.

  3. @Whisk, YMMV has been around for a while. I cannot take credit for it. LOL Sharing info is the only way we'll understand our field.

    @Savannah, I'll be quite blunt. Money's not everything. Part of the reason I had to quit being an attorney was my out-of-control blood pressure. It's was starting to creep up again at the retail job, but luckily, that was about the time I hit the tipping point money-wise. Everybody's got to decide for themselves what they can live with and what they can't.

  4. It's funny because after I read your post, someone else wrote it on a coupon blog. It's like when I hear a new word, then right after that, I hear it a bunch more times.

    Your blog was my first hearing it.