An Open Letter To People Who Tell Me that Writers Don’t Make Money

open letter

Dear People Who Tell Me that Writers Don’t Make Money,

Let me start by saying this: you are wrong.  Writers make money.  The good ones make lots of money, the okay ones probably don’t.  In truth, I’m an unpublished eighteen-year-old girl who has no authority to be speaking on the financials of my future career, but you asked me so I’m sharing what I think is true.

I think there are professions that we as the youth of the world can choose.  Some of these professions are fast-tracks to financial security, a steady source of income, a moderate college savings for our children, and a new car every few years or so.  These lives are comfortable, easy.  This is the life desired, dreamed of, coveted by some, but I’ve never met a child who said he or she wanted to push paper one day.

Don’t get me wrong: the world needs accountants and dentists and corporate bumblebees.  My dad has worked in the corporate world his entire career and loves his job.  He thrives off of the routine and stability, the knowledge that he can contribute to his three kids’s education.  Doing so by working at a desk in an office is not a problem to him.

For someone who is the byproduct of two corporate workers, I could want nothing less than to work in an office.  As much as I love routine and stability, I have to move.  I have to change.  I have to communicate and do things differently every day.  I have to create new systems and solve new problems.  I could be okay working in the corporate world, but I don’t think I could be happy.

So this why, in the middle of my junior year in high school, I decided to choose a different path.  When I asked myself what I wanted to do after college, I started to answer honestly: I wanted to write.  I still get giddy thinking about the first time I said that sentence aloud, listening to my words fill the room because saying them made them real.

And so I refocused: I poured my soul into drafting my first novel during my senior year independent study (which you can read about here).  A few weeks in, I got giddy again after realizing that I wasn’t just writing a novel, I was writing my first novel with the intention of writing more in the future.

About halfway through senior year, reality threatened to wreak havoc on my creative mojo once again.  As I started getting college acceptance letters, I began to count up the loans that I would have to pay back after graduation.  Have you looked at how expensive college is these days?  It’s freaking ridiculous.

So I modified again: I would teach until this writing thing took off.  I come from long line of teachers, so why deny the occupation that seems to be my namesake?  With this modification came a double concentration in Creative Writing and Teacher Licensure under the umbrella of a degree in English.

This is my plan: teach during the year, write during the summer, hope and pray that people read what I have to say.  I may not have a two-story and a nice car my first year out of college, but I’ll have a steady income and a happy life.  Besides, I’m more of a quaint-little-flat kind of girl anyways; flats are much more poetic than houses.

What I’ll earn from this life will expand far beyond the capacity of my checkbook.  I’ll gain the pride of teaching kids a new skill, teaching them to see the world in a different way, teaching them to read.  Do you know how happy that makes me, knowing that I will help people read?  I think that’s amazing.

I’ll earn the satisfaction of doing it the hard way.  I’ll earn the satisfaction of looking at my choices and picking the road with the most joy.  I may not fall asleep in a giant house surrounded by lavish possessions, but I’ll fall asleep book in hand because I wanted to do a little more of what I loved before I passed out after a long day of teaching literary analysis.

So, People Who Tell Me that Writers Don’t Make Money, maybe you’re right.  But what we lack in income we have in passion, in heart, in dedication, in grit.  A life like that doesn’t sound to bad to me.

Thanks for reading!  This was a fun and eye-opening post for me to write and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts 🙂

Don’t forget that I have a little Q&A planned to celebrate 250 followers (yay!) and I want to know what you want to know, so drop some questions in the comments or on my Twitter and I’ll respond on Saturday, July 8.  And of course, keep the party going and check out my Pinterest, Goodreads, Wattpad, and Spotify <3



35 thoughts on “An Open Letter To People Who Tell Me that Writers Don’t Make Money

  1. In most cases, people who enter a writing field for the purposes of making money won’t succeed. Even the sales giants like Stephen King talk at length about it all starting out of a love for the written word.

  2. Even Stephen King, who always worked hard at writing his whole life, started out teaching 🙂 They struggled with money up until Carrie took off. You have the passion, do what you have to do and go for it!

  3. Insightful post. I try not to think about money too much at the moment, but rather building a platform, but I would love to earn money from being a writer — not millions (as nice as it sounds), but a comfortable amount — and though right now it doesn’t seem too likely, I try to remain positive. I also offer editing, which although hasn’t skyrocketed, I’ve earn a little bit of money because of it. I’d hope that too increases some day, but it’s one day at a time for now!

    1. Love that perspective! Networking and building a platform was one of my primary motivations in starting my blog because I’ve heard left and right how pre-marketing before your book hits the shelves is super effective, but you’re right–a million or so would be nice right about now 🙂

  4. Annie, you’re 18 and already know you’re going to be a writer. Great! Not only that—you have a plan for how you’re going to make it all work. So, don’t wait. Write and journal while you’re in college. Write short stories about what you see going on around you. What is campus life like; How are you and others adjusting? jot down what you see, smell, taste, hear. Those things will leave you, so capture them while they’re fresh. Write right now! You’re going to be awesome and you’ll probably be one of the money-makers!

  5. Thank you for writing this. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, ever since primary school, but I was told by certain family members that there’s no money in it, and I should concentrate on getting a job that would ‘put bread on the table’. That kind of negativity made me stop writing for years, which made me very depressed, but then i came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter how much money i make from writing, it’s something I love doing and is very much a part of who I am.

  6. Even Indie authors can make money. My sister is self-published, and she makes a decent profit after expenses. 🙂 I think writing can be a career … but you’re not gonna want to quit your day job, even if you are amazing; it takes hard work and perseverance!