Writing Income, Beyond Bookselling

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Surveys and data collection sources in the UK, Canada, and the US, have shown that writers’ incomes have decreased significantly over the past decade. 2020 made things worse for many, so I thought I’d share ways that authors can potentially earn some extra cash through their writing. The list below represents things I’ve done over the years to supplement my income.

  1. Submit, articles, personal essays, and short stories to magazines and periodicals
  2. Enter contests
  3. Guest speaking
  4. Workshop presentations
  5. Facilitate creative writing sessions for my local community center
  6. Joining PLRC and Access Copyright (available in Canada)

I haven’t submitted shorter pieces or entered competitions for years, so maybe it’s time to reconsider. Most magazines don’t pay well but every bit helps and it’s a great way to build your CV if you’re just starting out. Competition prize money averaged around $200 for me, which was a great sum when I was starting out. Still is, actually.

I know writers who also offer professional editing and publishing services. Others conduct virtual courses for reasonable prices. Of course, grant money can be available, and many cities have writer-in-residence programs for authors. There’s also mentoring and coaching for beginning writers, plus tutoring for people who have difficulty with English or writing in general.

Until November’s shut down, I was facilitating creative writing sessions through my local parks and recreation community, which is work I really enjoy. It also pays better than my day job did, although facilitating is only 2.5 hours a week. Happily, that might be starting up again in April.

For those of you unfamiliar with Access Copyright and PLRC, here’s a little info.

The Access Copyright Foundation is a Canadian non-profit national organization that compensates authors whose work is being photocopied at educational and other institutions. Those of us whose work is not directly copied still receive a small share of the collective pool every November. It’s available to any Canadian who registers with the program and has published work (but not self-published, as far as I know) in a variety of categories. To learn more, check out the link HERE.

The Public Lending Right Program compensates authors whose books are available for free use in Canada’s library systems. According to their website, over 30 countries offer similar programs, so it’s worth checking out to see if this is available to you. I joined many years ago when I published my first book in 1995 and still receive money for it. Seven more titles have been added over the years, so the check I receive every February is now in the modest four-figure range. To learn more about how the program works, see the link HERE.

I’m sure more opportunities are out there. It’s just a matter of doing a little digging. So, do you find other ways to earn writing-related income or plan to near in the near future? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired me to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for my my Casey Holland transit security novels. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at dpurdykong@gmail.com

16 thoughts on “Writing Income, Beyond Bookselling”

  1. These are all great ways to make some extra money and showcase your writing and communication skills. Most schools have a budget for author visits too. The PLR is a wonderful program.

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  2. That’s interesting, Debra. I teach online classes and review products online but all of that is through my education side. I haven’t found anything to help the fiction sales!

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    1. You might. As I rec all, there is a category for multiple authors who’ve contributed to an anthology, but best to check out both guildeines. Things do change from year to year and if you can’t find an answer, you can always email them for more info.

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    2. Also, Mallee, have you searched for contests, not only for your books, but to submit an opening chapter? A google search might produce interesting results. If you’re looking for a publisher/contests, I can send you some links, as I subscribe to a couple of newsletters that provide contest and publishing info.

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  3. Debra, an informative article and you seem to have explored all the options I can think of within fiction. I hope to start up school visits in the Spring but even so these are rarely paid (the schools simply do not have the funds for this) but they do make an effort to advise parents beforehand, giving out slips for pre-payment of books which the author will sign at the visit … does that count as a form of supplementing income? Enjoy your teaching in April again – won’t it be wonderful to be doing the old normal once again! 😀

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    1. Schools in Canada do have a budget for author visits. Here in Spain I visited an International Private School and read from my books. They didn´t pay me but told the children to bring money if they wanted to buy books. I brought 50 books and soldout! So that was great!! Yes, it is a way of supplementing income.

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      1. Darlene, schools and authors here in England would be envious of that specially allocated budget! Wow! Great news about the books selling out but I am not surprised! You are gifted and the books sound like adventurous fun reads driven by likeable characters!

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    2. Thanks, Annika. Yes, it will be wonderful to be in touch with students again. Many of them don’t like Zoom and refuse to do any online critiquing. I understand about the school’s budget. I was lucky to be paid $200 for a high school visit (the only one I’ve done), which involved giving 3 different presentations. Libraries used to pay but their budgets are smaller, so we’re allowed to sell our books at events.

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