I had to chuckle this morning when I stopped by Michael Bracken's blog and read his post about the "riches" of being a writer. He'd just received a payment of 43cents for a story he'd had published in an anthology. I laughed because a week or so ago I received a royalty check for 17cents. Yep it cost the publisher more to mail the check than I received. Of course this is the sixth or seventh check for that story so the total for the past two years comes up to a bit over $25 for the story. But I have to say that it's a tad embarrassing to walk into the bank and cash that seventeen cent check. On the other hand I do have the consolation of knowing that at least I got paid for my work.
And those are the realities of writing that the business world tends to skip over. If you read Writer's Digest or Publisher's Weekly, you read about the three book deals, the six and seven figure advances, the millions that Stephen King makes. They make it sound like everyone who writes is going to get rich and it's simply not true. According to an article in Media Bistro/Galley Cat most authors only make a thousand dollars a year.
Chuck Wendig has a post up today about how long it takes to be an overnight success. For him it was twenty years and millions of words. And he's still counting his pennies and not his millions. He's doing work he loves and making a living, and that's the best most writers can hope for.
The romance of writing and being rich beyond our wildest dreams is what drives many writers. The truth lies in those small checks. If you're in this to make tons of money, you might want to reconsider your writing career, because the truth is not as wonderful as it's painted in the publishing industry's articles. Those are just carrots being dangled in front of your nose.
I'm not saying that you won't be one of the lucky ones, but write with the realities in mind, not your day dreams.