One way to meet SWFA’s membership requirements is to have three publications in professional-paying magazines, which it defines as markets paying at least five cents per word. That’s not chump change. Some writers (a subset that does not include me) can knock out a 5000-word story in an afternoon. Sell to a pro market, you just snared $250 on one sale. That in itself isn’t bad.

However, it just occurred to me I get paid at better rates than that doing freelance work for my newspaper. (For the print stuff, anyway. My online rates work out lower because they’re flat fees and it doesn’t matter if I blather on and on online.) The sum total of these princely fees I command barely covers my rent, which I split with two other dudes in a shabby house built by the government during the 1940s. (Originally I mistyped that as 1490s, which wouldn’t be unbelievable if you got a look at our Cask of Amontillado-esque basement.)

Two common misperceptions of making a living as a writer are a) we all live like Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling and b) no one except those two can pay the bills selling words. But if I were writing full-time at professional SF short story rates, my back-of-the-envelope calculations which I actually did in my head show I’d be living right around the poverty line.

I started this post thinking pro rates are unliveably low, but I just convinced myself they’d work as a valuable income stream for someone like myself–young, no real expenses, renting in an inexpensive part of the country, and a small but steady paycheck doing other freelance work. If I could bank on a handful of pro sales a year, I wouldn’t need to find that much more work to subsist in a dayjob-free existence.

Huh. Uh…anyone got any writing or editing they need done?

Share this:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Me

I am a Science Fiction and Fantasy author, based in LA. Read More.
My Book Genres