When my first book came out, this was exactly what the Chairman of my day job said to me. True? I wish!
It’s not his fault. He subscribes to the same myth that most people with no experience of the publishing world does. We all remember the success of J K Rowling and E L James. I admit, I thought the very same: perhaps I can write books and live off the royalties? However, the reality is very different.
Sara Sheridan examines this issue in her recent article, What Writers Earn: A Cultural Myth, for Huffington Post. She quotes the median average earnings of a professional author in the UK as £12,330. Although there is a caveat on this – the information is based on 2005 figures, the last available, and she claims that the Society of Authors believe that the figure has now decreased in real terms. This suggests that even a contract with one of the big six is unlikely to match the day job of someone earning a national average wage. You may be lucky and have another source of income. If you do, great! If you don’t then the reality of this is that most new writers squeeze their work into those spare moments around a day job that pays the bills.