Of course, I’m too introverted to actually say that on KBoards. :D But it’s true.
The survivorship bias is huge on the boards, because no one wants to talk about what it means to earn a living writing, and yet not be one of the superstars. Some of that is because quite often any income that falls below HUGE is met with stuff like “if you want to be average that’s all well and good but I don’t want to be average so I have to do the things that will make me not average.” It’s a terrible paraphrase, but that’s the attitude I feel like predominates the talk when writer income gets mentioned.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported in September 2014 that:
- U.S. real (inflation adjusted) median household income was $51,939 in 2013
- Real median household income averaged $50,781 from 1964-2013
I bolded this, because household income is not personal (per capita) income. It’s the income of everyone in the household. $51,939 yearly comes to $4,328.25 a month. This isn’t after-tax money. Oh, no. This is pre-tax.
Median household income (in 2014 dollars), 2010-2014: $53,482
Per capita income in past 12 months (in 2014 dollars), 2010-2014: $28,555
The per capita income is the one to look at: $28,555. That’s $2,379.58 in pre-tax money per month.
A new writer might want to make a lot more money than this in the longer term, but at the beginning of a career, to expect a whole lot more from a job that requires more skill than money to get started with seems kind of crazy.
And yet so many writers on KBoards are getting the idea that income like this, normal income for U.S. citizens, is failure.
That’s why I titled this post the way I did. It’s just crazy to think of oneself as a failure because you aren’t a superstar.
This has been my public service announcement to all writers everywhere, especially to those just starting out.
Don’t quit when you’re just getting started because the income you’re earning is less than that of a superstar. Everybody can’t be a superstar. If that’s really your goal and you aren’t getting there, then quit, but if your goal is to just write and make a living, start with realistic expectations and go from there. Dreams are great. Pushing for more is great. But don’t feel like a failure because you’re average out of the gate. It can take time for most people to build up to better earnings in a career. This career path is no different.