Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Getting Paid

That's the goal, right? All the hours we writers spend honing our craft - hours we can't possibly be compensated for (unless, of course, you happen to be in that hallowed 1% of writers who make a living from fiction) - are spent in hope of someday being paid to do it. Yes, there's passion behind it. Yes, when the writing is pure it doesn't feel like work.

I know all that. I feel all that.
I also know this isn't the business to get into if your goal is to make a lot of money (see 1% comment above). But I'll be honest - it'd be nice to earn a paycheck from my fiction writing someday. I didn't start thinking down those lines until I'd finished the first draft of my first manuscript, but now, during revisions, there's no way to escape those thoughts. After all, what am I doing if not polishing the book to the point that I might one day be able to sell it? And if not this book, hopefully the next. Or the next.
Or better yet, all of the above.

In the meantime, though, I've been dealing with another issue: getting paid for my non-fiction writing. I've had several instances lately of having to quote my rates to prospective freelance writing clients, and that's a tough thing to do, at least for a novice freelancer. I've been lucky so far to have built a strong roster of writing clients in a relatively short amount of time. Well, it's not actually luck - I've been working as a journalist in my market for more than a decade, so I had a firm foundation to build on. Good contacts. Years of inadvertent networking.

But I digress.... again. I had to quote my rates to a prospective client recently, and for the first time, I managed to spit out a number fairly easily that I felt comfortable with. I'm finally (blessedly, thankfully) in the position of being busy enough that I don't have to take every job that comes my way, so I've figured out a solid theory about how to charge: Charge a rate that, if I get the job, will pay me as much or more as other jobs I could be spending that time on.

So that's what I offered. And I got the job! I meet with the new client Wednesday. Meanwhile, my existing clients are keeping my working hours (and off hours when I'm not careful) full. So full that I haven't had time to spend on fiction in more than a week - but that's OK. The fiction work is a marathon. The non-fiction work is a series of sprints. It's nice to be so busy with paid work right now that I have less time to spend on the unpaid stuff. I know that won't always be the case (it's a feast-or-famine business), so I'll take it while I can.
Hopefully one day, someone will pay me for my fiction work too. But as it is, I'm happy to be able to say I'm making a living as a writer.


  1. Making a living writing is huge :D. Good luck finding time for your fiction, too!

  2. Thanks Cheryl. I'm trying to make time. I'm trying to make time to do it all lately - that's the problem. Work, marriage, house, motherhood, social life, church, organizations ... and book. I put life on hold while writing the first draft, but with all the changes I've been going through work-wise, that hasn't been possible while revising. It's like a one-woman juggling act, all the time. I know you know what I'm talking about!