• Tough times for newbloods

    26 July 2011

    There was a worrying article inthe Bookseller in the UK recently about the difficulties that children's authors are facing. You can read the full article here: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/childrens-publishing-haemorrhaging-talent.html


    It paints a pretty bleak picture, but then again, making a living as a children's author has ALWAYS been hard. Writing, in general, is a highly risky business. That's why so many children and teenagers are warned against going down that route by their teachers and parents, or at the very least told that they must get a "real job" to support themselves during the lean years. And most writers DO experience lean years, when they make little or no money, when nobody seems interested in their work. Even if they persevere and get published, it can still be extremely difficult to make enough money to pay all the bills and allow yourself to write full-time as a living -- as this article shows.


    I say all this not to worry young writers out there, or to deter them from following their dreams, but because I think it's important that you know what you're letting yourself in for, so that you don't lose heart if things are going against you. Most of us struggle. Most of us have trouble making minimum wage. Most of us have to hold down other jobs and write in our spare time. That's the nature of the beast, and it's something you've got to be aware of and be OK with before setting out on the path of a writer. My prime hope, in my early 20s when I started writing full time, was to hopefully make a living wage, enough to allow me to have my own little pad, go on one or two holidays a year, and be able to affird a few comfort items every now and then. If I had achieved that, I would have been delighted with myself!


    But even if I hadn't achieved it, I would have pressed on. If I'd had to work a regular 9 to 5 job and only write in the weekends (as I did for two years after finishing university) then I would have settled for that and pressed on as best I could. I would never have given up on the dream -- because that's what writing should be about, the dream and not the pay cheque. It's a struggle for most of us at one time or another (all the time for many!), but you've got to be ready to embrace that struggle and live with it, because if that's the price you have to pay to chase your dream, then it's worth paying. At least, it was worth it to me. Ultimately I got lucky and became one of the few writers not just to make a living out of their craft, but to positively flourish. And, yeah, it's nice making lots of money from my books, I won't deny that! But the stories I create were always far more important to me than the money I made, and if you're a young author, they should be the most important thing for you too -- because the chances are you'll have to settle for the satisfaction they bring instead of the comfy wages that most jobs offer. You MIGHT turn out to be one of the lucky one like me -- but writing the best stories you can needs to be enough for you if not.

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