Thursday, November 19, 2015

Freelance isn't Free

Most fiction writers can't make ends meet on the money they earn from their writing. A 2014 article on Publishing Perspectives cites a survey that gives average incomes for traditionally published and self- published writers, and the results are grim:  54% of “traditionally-published” authors and nearly 80% of self-published authors earn less than $1,000 a year.

So how do authors survive? Some teach writing, but find the after-hours work (grading, counseling, planning curriculum, administrative reporting) saps their energy and depletes their writing time. Others find unrelated day jobs, but find that the 9-to-5 doesn't give them the flexibility they need to pursue a fiction writing career. As a result, many writers (and artists and musicians) turn to freelancing.

That works well — if you get paid, and paid on time. As one graphic on the Freelancer's Union page for the #FreelanceIsntFree campaign says, a 90-day pay cycle doesn't work well for the creative person's 30-day rent cycle.

Here are some starling statistics that they cite:
  • 77% of freelancers have been stiffed at some point in their career.
  • The average freelancer loses over $6,000 in wages every year due to late payment and nonpayment. 
  • Freelancers account for 1/3 of the workforce — nearly 54 million Americans.
"Emerging from New York City, the #FreelanceIsntFree campaign is a nationwide movement aimed at putting an end to nonpayment through legislation that will strengthen protections for freelancers. Our goal is to get freelancers everywhere paid on time and in full."

 To join the #FreelanceIsntFree campaign, go to