Writing and illustrating books is a dream career for many, but making money from it can take time, and many people will not be able to work full-time on their creative work from the very beginning of their career.
The news of some writers being offered six-figure advances can create an inflated or unrealistic perception of how much authors can earn - whereas in actuality it's only the biggest or best-selling books which fall into that category. There are thousands of new books published each year in the UK alone, which means unfortunately it's just not possible for all of them to command the same levels of remuneration. The average annual earnings for an author are less than £10,500 (solely from writing), according to research on behalf of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, which can be dispiriting. But, as long as you are realistic about the possibilities, there are also reasons to be optimistic.
The brilliant thing about writing is that it's flexible - most writers are able to fit it in around other work they might do. Author Jane Corry says: “If you don’t have a book contract that provides you with peace of mind, the best piece of advice I can offer is to have a part-time job that can just about pay the bills while giving you enough hours in the day to write.”
Many authors, particularly those just starting out in their writing career, have a full time job alongside working on their books. Your editor and publishing team will be mindful of the realities of your day-to-day life – any deadlines or timescales will be decided with that in mind, and with your input.
As you publish more books, you may decide to focus more of your time on writing. This is a decision that is completely up to you.
Read about advances and royalties to find out more about how authors are paid.