Diversifying only to find I've returned to where I started - Lynne Garner

When I started to write professionally just over 15 years ago I read that apparently the average author earned £10,000 per year. Recently I read (sorry can't remember where so unable to include a link) that this figure has now dropped to £5,000 per year. A scary figure and one that unfortunately in my experience appears to be true.  

I started writing for magazines when they paid a fair amount for the work involved and didn't expect world rights. Some magazines are now paying less per page than I was earning 15 years ago and are demanding full world rights. This means I'm no longer able to boost my income by selling the same feature abroad.  Publishers are lowering their advances and I've noticed some are even saying they no longer offer advances.

So I have had to diversify. I've returned to teaching, something I was able to stop for around two years whilst my writing actually earned me a living. The way I teach has also changed. I not only teach face-to-face in a traditional classroom setting but also teach via the web (links below if you're interested). Some of my books have been turned into iTunes apps and eBooks available via Kindle and Kobo (one of my better ideas because it introduced me to the fab bunch of authors who are Authors Electric). 

Just one of my picture books
available as an eBook and an App 

But recently I went in a different direction. I've had a website built (TheCraft Ark) so I could sell craft materials and tools. 

You may wonder why craft items. Well part of the marketing strategy was to include a craft how-to blog, something I knew I could do as I used to write lots of hand-outs for my craft classes. These hand-outs I adapted and sold to craft magazines. Now I'm adapting my craft class/workshop notes for The Craft Arks blog. A little ironic really as I decided to diversify and have found I've returned to where I started.

Having told you my story of diversifying I was wondering what you do to boost your writing income (if you have to that is) as I'd love to know. 

Lynne Garner 

I also write for:
The Picture Book Den - all things connected with picture books
Awfully Big Blogging Adventure - subjects connected with writing
The Hedgehog Shed - concerned with hedgehog rescue
Fuelled By Hot Chocolate - my own ramblings
The Craft Ark - craft how-to blog

My online classes with WOW starting November:


What a good idea! I think we all have to diversify in some way - with the exception of a lucky few and you could probably name pretty much all of them. Although eBooks have definitely made a difference in a positive way for so many authors I know. I sell antique and vintage textiles from an eBay shop called The Scottish Home. The biggest advantage is that I'm in control of how much or how little of it I do at any one time - but it's a bit exhausting running two businesses side by side!
JO said…
it's sad, to see how hard it is for writers to make a living these days. I'm retired, and have a pension which gives me enough to live on, so don't need to scrabble round for other sources of income.

But I am concerned about the flood of creative writing courses, some of which suggest that writers can make a good living if only they complete this course - it's creating false hopes, when the reality is that making money is so hard now.
You're right, Jo. And it bothers me too. Especially with undergraduate courses. By the time they're doing some kind of Masters course they seem to have a better grasp of the realities. I remember being asked to speak to a group of undergraduates on one such course and hitting them with the £5000 figure (It came from Society of Authors statistics, Lynne, and some of their members earn an awful lot more, so you can imagine how some earn even less!) and they were all shocked.
Lydia Bennet said…
I used to lecture on an MA creative writing (very part-time) and give random writing workshops when asked, though I don't seek them out, and a couple of years ago I turned down two offers of univ teaching work. it's hard to find enough time to write and that's what I want to do. OTOH, the residency funding etc that poets can survive on has now dried up mostly, festivals are expecting us to work for nothing, so may have to consider doing something else as well. But it seems rather ironic that people are supporting themselves by teaching other people they can make a living from writing... students of CW have ludicrous expectations. The last year I taught the MA, the novelists in particular expected six figure advances and film rights etc being fought over.
Nick Green said…
I tell people that you can get very rich from writing books, in exactly the same way that you can get very rich by filling in Lottery tickets. I then point out that Lottery tickets are a lot shorter and easier to complete than books.

As for me, I have a full-time salaried job writing marketing materials, and pursue fiction writing in my spare time. Which still doesn't mean it's a hobby.
Lee said…
OT: Anyone attending the Frankfurt Book Fair this week/weekend? Apparently the indies & startups are out in numbers this year.


I'm not a conference/festival/whatever sort, but it's only a bit more than an hour from my home, so I might be persuaded...
Susan Price said…
You could go and report back to us, Lee!
Lee said…
Hi Susan, I could, but after listening to several firsthand reports about heat and crowds, I doubt that I could take in anything worth imparting. It actually sounds quite overwhelming i.e. dire.

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