Writing is a side hustle for most of us. This is an unfortunate truth to swallow at first, but I'd like to make the argument it's something to be proud of.
Throughout time, writing has been a poor person's job. In the digital age, that much is especially true. Aspiring novelists: regardless if you're pursuing traditional or independent publishing, the hard truth is this: you may not be able to make a living solely on writing. And guess what? That's okay.
Via an article posted in Publishers Weekly: A survey conducted in 2015 by the Codex Group based on responses from 1,674 Authors' Guild members, 1,406 of whom identified either as a full-time author, or a part-time one. The majority of respondents also lean older—89% are over the age of 50—and toward the traditionally published end (64%).
The federal poverty line in America in 2017 was $15,060.
Working in the arts is not easy, and it's often not fiscally fruitful. It's unstable, it's unpredictable, and it's compounded with variables that we can't control entirely. This can lead to all sorts of problems, especially when rent is due and things keep getting pushed back, delayed, cancelled, or compromised.
Writing feels futile more often than it does not. There's no universal solution to this. If you want to be a full-time writer, prepare yourself: you've got a steep hill to climb, and only a few make it. The big stars (and the Big 5 that illuminate those stars) occupy so much space that it seems like there's so many. But how much do we really know about their lifestyles? Is your favorite author a millionaire? Probably not.
The average advance for books lies somewhere between $5,000 and $20,000. That's right around the poverty line.
This trend is especially true for first-time authors.
Many of us have other jobs to supplement our art. 9-5ers and freelancers and entrepreneurs alike commit much energy to their "day jobs" and their families. Carving out time to write is difficult, and the hours in the week--let alone the day--can be far and few in between.
There's no shame in being a part-time writer.
There's no shame in only making pocket money from your writing.
Be proud of your writing, regardless of your situation. What comes to you lies in those variables that you can't control. The value in what you have is something you curate, and there is no standard. The economic scale of your success is not the rule. What other authors are doing isn't going to be the same thing that happens to you.
You are a writer. You are an author. There is no denying that. Be proud of what you have. What you have may be more than what someone else has, and someone may find inspiration in you. They may discover what they have and see the value in themselves because of you.
That is what makes the hustle worth it.