Friday, March 9, 2012

Can Children's Book Authors Make a Living Writing?

Today I have a guest blogger -- Cynthia Levinson, a wonderful nonfiction writer whose new book, We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March is gathering many awards. For the mathmatically challenged, it takes ten "mills" to add up to one penny.

While the situation should outrage us, it¹s oddly reassuring to learn that even established, revered writers make incomes well below a living wage, despite the hours they devote to the craft. 

My son-in-law once semi-computed that, writing for the COBBLESTONE magazines, I made something like a mill a month. And, with the modest advance I got to offset part of the expenses for researching my book, on which I worked a good part of two-and-a-half or three years, my income is in the dreaded parenthesis column. 

When people ask me for advice about writing and topics, I say they must love their topics‹love to the point of obsession. They must love them in the face of negative cash flow, exhaustion, and limited socializing. I told a blogger I had to love it enough even to care that all the commas were consistent.

 If only I had a mill for each of those commas, I¹d be financially ahead of where I am.

Cynthia Levinson
We¹ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children¹s March (Peachtree Publishers, February 2012)
Available in audio from Random House/Listening Library in Summer 2012

Blog: Emu¹s Debuts @


Gail Gauthier said...

When my children were in high school, I was careful not to let them know anything about my income. They worked part-time at a bakery, and I was afraid they made more than I did.

WendieO said...

I think you're right!