Parents Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up To Be Writers

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be writers. That’s the take away from the latest report by the Authors Guild of America.  It examines the current lack of opportunities for writers. Writers’ incomes have dropped by nearly twenty-five per cent in the last seven years and more than half of people who earn their living by writing full time have an income below the federal level of poverty.

Christine Larson a journalism professor at the University of Colorado says the era where a relatively large number of people enjoy financial success as writers is coming to an end due to the closure of thousands of newspapers and magazines and the fact that e-books, sold mostly by Amazon, generally earn less money for writers than print books. Bestselling authors are still doing fine but other writers are seeing their source of income evaporate.  

I know first hand how incredibly difficult it is to get published these days. I have been in the journalism game for several decades so I am still able to earn money for some long-standing freelance writing gigs and their attendant connections, but in the new genre of children’s writing I have been exploring, I have hit a brick wall when it comes to publishing. 

This week I heard that Couteau Publishing, the Canadian company I thought was the best fit for my middle-grade novel set on the prairies, is going out of business. No wonder I didn’t receive any kind of response when I sent them my manuscript.

Another prairie publisher Great Plains, to whom I submitted my manuscript, has reduced production to only eight new books a year across all of its various markets.  They were kind enough to send me a letter of rejection so I knew where I stood with them.

A major Canadian publisher I approached about a picture book of mine that had won a contest for new Canadian children’s writers, said my book wouldn’t appeal to their American audience which makes up 60% of their customer base. 

I guess the good news is that you can publish your writing online, as I do every day with this blog and in that way, I can share my writing with a small audience.  To widen that audience, however, I would have to pay substantial fees to social media sites and the hosts of my blogging platform.

I did meet a woman recently who is earning a healthy income from blogging but she must embed a great deal of advertising for a lengthy roster of businesses on her site and she goes regularly to blogging conferences and takes blogging courses, another financial investment.

I have started exploring the possibility of self-publishing for my children’s books, which is increasingly becoming the way authors share their work. This means writing will become an expensive hobby rather than a source of income but maybe that’s okay. 

I wasn’t really serious when I said parents shouldn’t let their children grow up to be writers. I believe everyone should be a writer, able to express their thoughts, ideas and feelings in writing for a whole variety of purposes both personal and professional. But writing as a career is becoming a much less viable way to earn an actual living. That’s just reality. 

Other posts…………

Well At Least You Like Writing

Relentless Persistence

Connecting with Rejoice

A New Writing Gig



Filed under Writing

4 responses to “Parents Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up To Be Writers

  1. Discouraging news, MaryLou. I’ve self-published as well as gone the the conventional route. It takes grit & tremendous drive for both. I quickly found that although the writing piece is much the same, it takes business saavy and loads of time to make a go of it when you self-publish.


  2. gabe

    Coteau’s demise is a huge shocker. Makes me nervous. Money would be nice but it’s never motivated me. It’s readers I crave—some sort of validation. Self-publishing seems so dead-end. Or maybe not? I don’t know.


    • Money doesn’t motivate me either. I too am just looking for an audience. The problem isn’t that you don’t make money writing but that you need money to be published, to gain a wider audience. Perhaps I am just not being creative enough? My nephew has suggested doing video versions of my picture books and posting them online. This could be done at very little expense. I could also publish my novel online one chapter at a time. I know some people doing that. I am going to try to prioritize getting published more and try to apply some of that grit and determination Larry talks about in his comment.


  3. Pingback: A Published Novel! Can You Believe It? | What Next?

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