I launched my professional writing career in 1990 with the sale of a feature article to Hemmings Motor News. Over the course of the next fifteen years I wrote a stream of feature articles for an array of publications, had a part time job as associate editor with Cars & Parts, and wrote a few books. A couple of the books garnered international accolades and awards. And two of them landed me an interview with Jay Leno in his famous garage.
Still, I had a full time job that supported the writing habit. Then in 2015 my dearest friend and I launched Jim Hinckley’s America as a multifaceted travel network that was built on books I had written and would write.
I have no complaints. I greatly enjoy writing. But what I enjoy most are the friendships that are made through writing, and the doors for amazing adventures that writing have opened. So, from that perspective I am a very successful author.
Well, the contract for book number 20 has been finalized. That as well as the negotiation for that contract inspired a great deal of reflection on the changes that are transforming the publishing industry, the challenges associated with making a living from the written word, and the misconceptions that people have about writing.
First, it has never been easy to earn a living as a writer. Very, very few authors earn their entire living from the writing of books. That was the case in 1890, 1940, 1960 and today. Even though word processors, research using the internet and other modern wonders have made the job easier, the money earned from writing has, in general decreased. Case in point, last year in search of work I contacted a major publication that had published some of my work in the 1990s. The amount paid for a feature article is now $50 to $100 less than it was twenty-five years ago.
And yet, if the author is willing to take side jobs, it is easier than ever to supplement income. Content is king. Websites and marketing companies that build websites realize the value of well written blogs to boost SEO as well as traffic. So, I write blog posts for pest control companies, marijuana dispensaries, chambers of commerce, RV sales and service companies, and others. It pays the bills. For each blog post I am paid almost exactly what I was paid for feature articles when I was writing for a regional newspaper – in the 1990s.
As the writing is but one component in the Jim Hinckley’s network, I am fortunate to be able to solicit for advertisers. And I am fortunate to have fans that will trade support of our crowdfunding initiative for exclusive original content.
If you would like to read more about becoming a published author, the challenges associated with juggling projects to provide an income flow, or updates on the current project, please consider becoming a supporter of our crowdfunding initiative on the Patreon platform.