You’re up at 5:30 in the morning. The glow from your cave-like writing space provides a small level of companionship—that, and the voices in your head. If you’re like me, getting up early is not fun. There’s something wrong about being up before the sun. It doesn’t matter though, because you’ve found your passion and this is the only time you have to write. After pounding out a quick 1,000 words, you shift gears and get the kids ready for school or pack up and head to the office for your “real” job.
It’s a scenario that thousands, if not millions, of writers struggle through each day. How do you balance the dream of writing and publishing with the reality of putting food on the table?
We here at Indies Unlimited believe that self-publishing is the way to go. That being said, it’s still good to review what happens on the other side. A recent Author’s Guild Survey reported that the average author earns about $10,000 per year. If you break it down into categories; First time authors make between $4,000 and $10,000 per year, midlist authors range between $20,000 and $40,000 a year and the A-list can make between $60,000 to $100,000 per year. This is not taking into consideration the outliers like a Stephen Hise King or J.K. Rowling.
Looking at it a different way, the minimum wage in the State of Florida is now up to $7.67 per hour. If you were working a normal minimum wage job, you would earn roughly $15,900 per year before taxes. Based on these numbers, you are better off working at Burger King.
So this brings us back to the original problem. Most writers are not in position to “quit the day job” in order to write full-time. So how do you make ends meet? What options do you have?
This leads us to the world of Grants and Fellowships. This is another way to supplement your income while doing what you love. Grants come in all shapes and sizes and many in the Indie world may have never even thought of this option.
When researching grants, you might be surprised at how many are available. You might want to start within your state. Various organizations have grants for the arts that are just waiting for you to apply. In Washington, where I have recently moved from, I found a couple of groups that provided for residents. For example, Artist Trust is dedicated to supporting Washington State artists working in all creative disciplines. They award various grants ranging from $1,500 to $25,000.
Now that I’m in Florida, I’ve researched locally and came across the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs that provides Artist Fellowship Awards in Literature. They offer fellowships of $2,500 to $5,000. Below I will post a list of opportunities, from poetry to fantasy. The key is to search for the one that fits your niche.
Outside of traditional fellowships and grants there are a few organizations that just like to fund a great idea. If you are in for something unique, check out Kickstarter. You can post your project and set a funding limit. Individual investors will pledge money to your project and if it achieves 100% funding by the deadline (from many different small investors) BAM! Your project is funded. This requires real word of mouth to drive people to the funding site and then, you never know. You only have to give a “reward” to the funding sources, and in our world, that is easy. A free download of your ebook upon completion would satisfy that requirement.
Another unique funding source is The Awesome Foundation. This is a growing trend across the country and world. They fund $1,000 grants on a local basis from an entirely independent and self-funded community. This is a grant with no strings attached.
Below are links to several legitimate and active award programs. I’ve even included a couple for those in the UK. These are just a few ideas, the key is, get creative! Search for other opportunities both locally and nationally and you can come up with literally hundreds of opportunities.
Florida Division of Cultural Affairs http://www.florida-arts.org/programs/fellowship/ The Literature discipline has four sub-disciplines: Children’s Fiction, Creative non-fiction, Fiction and Poetry
Artist Trust http://artisttrust.org/index.php/for-artists/money#grants_for_artist_projects They provide Washington State artists of all creative disciplines the necessary support to launch and sustain successful careers through financial grants.
Sustainable Arts Foundation http://www.sustainableartsfoundation.org/awards They provide a $6,000 writing awards to multiple winners. Additionally, they award a number of smaller Promise Awards.
The Author’s Foundation – UK http://www.societyofauthors.org/grants-and-prizes —
The Foundation provides grants to writers to assist them while writing books. There are two rounds of grants each year, awarded in the summer and in the winter.
Authors League Fund – Emergency Funds www.authorsleaguefund.org
The Authors League Fund was established by the Authors League of America, Inc., to help career authors and dramatists in the United States and in financial distress due to an urgent situation.
SFWA Emergency Funds http://www.sfwa.org/benevolent-funds/emergency-medical-fund/ The SFWA Emergency Medical Fund offers interest-free loans to members facing unexpected medical expenses.
Eksperten https://eksperten.com/ Great resource for borrowers in Norway and Finland, but also Sweden and Denmark as well. Provides loan comparison tools to help borrowers discover the lowest interest rate offers.
McCloy Scholarship for Mystery Writing http://mysterywriters.org Available for unpublished mystery writers. Scholarships to cover your tuition for courses, classes, workshops, or other live (not online) educational programs to improve your writing skills. Every year, two scholarships of up to $500 each are awarded.
Kickstarter http://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq/kickstarter%20basics#HowItWork See description in blog post above. Unlimited potential.
The Awesome Foundation http://awesomefoundation.org/blog/faq/ See description in blog post above. $1,000 grants.
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Jim Devitt is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the #1 Kindle Bestselling novel, THE CARD. For more information, please see the IU bio page and his blog: http://jimdevitt.blogspot.com/
16 thoughts on “I Get By With a Little Help From My …”
Hmmm, wonder what's available in Canada? Nope, I'm not gonna go there. No time to write as it is. Maybe next year.:-)
Yvonne, I had the exact same thoughts, in the exact same order, lol!
Thanks for the article, Jim. I love some of the very practical stuff that's getting posted here, it's priceless.
Jim, great post! Someone recently emailed me an opportunity for a $7500 grant here in WA State. I feel really weird about doing it, but there are so many opportunities out there for authors – they just have to look.
Thanks everyone, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Probably the best part of getting a grant or fellowship is the PR that you get out of it, in most cases, worth more than the money.
Jim – Good stuff brother! Well in.
I'm up at 3:00 a.m. by choice…and get help from my cats…music…and anticipation of the sunrise. During the night, poems are formed in my mind, in sleep.
I feel the same about getting up at 5:30. I'm not a nocturnal cat, after all. I like to sleep when it's dark out. I have heard of Kickstart, or something similar as an online acquaintance went that route a couple of years ago. I'm not sure what the final outcome was for her. Yvonne, I think there are grants available here in Canada, but have never researched who is eligible. Good post, Jim. I hope those suggestions will benefit some of the people here.
Thanks for the comments, here is something available in Canada, maybe it will point you in the right direction:
WRITER'S TRUST WOODCOCK FUND – EMERGENCY FUNDS
90 Richmond Street East
Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario
416-504-8222 / F- 416-504-9090
Provides emergency funding for established writers in mid-project who are facing financial crisis. Since its inception, the Woodcock Fund has supported 103 Canadian writers in financial difficulty. The total amount dispersed to date is $380,000.
A woodcock is also known as a timberdoodle. Just in case anyone was interested. LOL
That's a neat word, Kat. Sounds like something that needs a poem to display it.
Thanks Diane. I'm a bird nut. So now you know, in case someone ever holds you at knife point demanding the alternate name for a woodcock – you're all good.
All I know is that if my tomes brought in 4 to 10k per year, I'd be dancing a jig that Michael Flatley would envy.
I'm with you on that one, Christopher! I've got 8 books out…I'd love to do that math LOL.
Wow, I didn't realize you had 8 books out, I would kill to have 8 books out right now. Okay, maybe kill is a little strong.
See what a good job I do of "selling myself"? No one knows I have 8 books out LMAO. I'm a hermit. That's why I can get 4 books out in one year. I am selling more than I've ever sold, but it's certainly not to the compensatory level of that survey.
that was an amazing and informative article. You nailed some important facts. Thanks for sharing. What great insights indeed!
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