Financial Realities for Writers: Tradition vs Online Publication

I’ve been a freelance writer for more than 15 years. My writing has generated regular income for me though I wouldn’t say that I made a living at it. There have been many times when things would have been VERY tough if I hadn’t had supplemental income. I wonder, if I were starting out today, whether I would be able to make enough for a cup of latte.

I am paid by the article.  The amount per article typically doesn’t exceed $150. The range depends on the length of the article, whether it is is a front page story or published on an inside page, and determined by each publishers pay scale. The sums being offered for content on various sites on the Internet seem ridiculously low, not enough for a  writer to make a living from cyberwork, and there’s no guarantee that payment will be made. Cyberpublishers require a minimum number of views for an article before they pay the author.

Writers needing up front payment or speedy remuneration appear ill advised to invest much effort in writing on line. Companies have a minimum view or sales requirement before they pay for work. Once the minimum is achieved there is a delay before the publisher disperses the monies. For example, my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories is available for Kindle. Amazon stipulates that an author must generate at least $10 worth of sales before they will pay. then the payment is not made to the author for 60 days. In the lightning fast world of Internet I cannot see the logic in any of this.

There are other disconnects in Internet commerce for writers and publishers. John Austin, in a recent post on his Writers Welcome Blog!, discusses the possible impacts on publishers and writers as a result of the release of the iPad. Austin suggests that Apple’s new release will help the publishing world. The iPad may provide a way to generate income for digital content. Austin also says the future for newspapers and magazines is unclear. He notes that e-books have shown strong growth in the first day’s downloads for iPad. This could be positive news for writers. If media publishers can find a way to get back in the black surely this will generate more work for writers.  There is, of course, likely to be delays in those benefits. Therefore, authors should remain realistic about their immediate financial success.

What I advise for those whose financial needs are in the here and now, keep your day job. Continue to exercise your writing skills, and keep your social media skills limber. Combine online and traditional publication and marketing rather than focusing on one medium rather than the other.

Find out about my new book which is the reason for this blog at

Click video preview to see the YouTube video of my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories.

My other blog is Living in the Heartland.

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Filed under book, distribution, income, indie writer, media, practice, royalty, social media, success

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