How I Make Money Writing and Editing Books: Freelance Income Report February 2017

Feb. 2017

Last month I posted my very first income report because I have found there is a serious lack of these reports for experts in my field (namely, books), and I want to provide some hope to those of you thinking of entering it. I want you to know that it’s possible. You can feed and clothe yourself running your own book-focused business. I also want you to know that my monthly earnings are still on the low side of what is possible in this business, though you will see this month has me pretty happy. I’m finally back in the range I enjoyed before the holiday slump took me down hard.


This chart is from my accounting software, Freshbooks. (You can read more about it here.)

February Gross Income: $1,934

I actually invoiced a total of $2,010, but sending an invoice doesn’t guarantee a swift payment. One of those invoices went to a university, and the check is stuck in all the red tape. I give non-corporate clients a one-week window for payment, so there was also one payment that was invoiced late and didn’t come through before month-end.

I’ll break down where everything came from in just a moment.

February Business Expenses: $223

This is higher than normal, but I spent it on worthwhile stuff, which I’ll talk about later.

February Net Income: $1,711

This is before I put 20% into savings in preparation for taxes. This is a good practice so you aren’t forced to cough up cash you don’t have in April. However, I’m not taking it out of the net income calculations because I still have that money, just not in my checking.

This amount still isn’t where I want it, but I’m finally breathing a little easier after those disastrous holiday months. I’m also hoping to see a serious rise in income in the next few months. I have raised my ghostwriting rates, and I made serious strides this month toward landing a job at the standard book ghosting rate of between $15,000 to $30,000 (for more about ghostwriting, read this post). I was accepted into a ghostwriting network called Gotham Ghostwriters. They act as a hub for ghostwriting projects, and they filter out the clients who can’t afford professional rates. They then send the viable projects out to the network. If you think you are a good fit, you apply. Gotham then sends the best applications to the client. If you are selected, Gotham’s team acts as your agents, negotiating the contract and regulating the payments, protecting your interests while also making things easier for the client. There have been a number of calls for applications since I joined a few weeks ago, so I’m confident that something will come down the line that is a great fit for me soon. Thanks to Kelly James-Enger’s book (which you can read about here), I’ve also pitched a few book packagers, which are another sort of middleman for ghostwriters. Vacation and a large new project have slowed down my pitching, but I’m still keeping my name out there, and hopefully when I follow up on the pitches already sent in February, I’ll get a bite.

But this report is about what I actually made in February, so …

Where Did It Come From?

Manuscript Editing: $1,285

I got the final payment for a novel proofread and got the down payment for a memoir copy edit. This is pretty typical for me, and the down payments were actually larger than usual, so I’m happy. I also edited a university department’s tax report (though that payment is still out in the ether). I’ve never done this sort of editing before, but one of my regular authors works at the University of Arizona. He had to submit a section for the department’s report, and he asked me to edit it for him. He was really pleased with the work I did, so I’m hoping that the university may hire me for other work like this. When you work in long-term projects like books, it’s a good idea to have smaller projects to squeeze into the downtimes between large assignments.

Ghostwriting: $350

Once again, my product review ghostwriting gig only gave me one assignment in February. I’m not sure what the reason for the slow down is. That’s the only ghosting gig I was able to invoice this month. However, my ongoing book gig is back in full swing. The client had fallen behind in his review of the first draft, but now we’re only two chapters away from finishing all the rewrites. I’ve been compiling a document of all the larger new additions that don’t fall under the rewrite stipulations in our contract, and when we are done, I will send him an invoice for all of them. So hopefully March’s ghosting section will be more impressive.

Other: $299

I have actually made $5 with affiliate marketing. Woohoo! But sadly, I don’t get a real check until I hit $50. So, this month the money is mostly from tutoring. Again, it’s always a good idea to have some small, quick jobs in your arsenal to pick up the slack when your big projects slow down. Plus, I’m really enjoying the work.

The rest came from a pretty direct deposit from Channillo for the novel that I post biweekly on the site.

What Did I Spend Money On?

As I explained in last month’s report, I’m beginning to invest more in my business upfront, so this is a little higher than the summer and fall months. I spent it on hardware like shelves and a keyboard for my home office, coffee with my tutoring client, payment system fees, and a photographer for my website head shots.

Am I on the Right Track to Meet My 2017 Goals?

Goal 1: Annual Gross Income of $25,000

I need to make an average of around $2, 100 each month to meet this goal. So, not bad this month. That goal is double my 2016 income, so just coming close will make me happy.

You know what I made last February while working part-time? $400. Sometimes it’s good to look back.

Goal 2: Shift PurpleInkPen’s Focus to Manuscripts

It’s done on the website. Now I have to fully make the shift in my income (or at least 90%). That will take a little more time while I work on landing ghostwriting clients at my brand new rates. Still, the largest portion of my income this month came from editing books, so I’m on the right track.

Goal 3: Land Two New Ghostwriting Projects

This means full book projects. Working on it with the Gotham Ghostwriters membership and those pitches to book packagers.

Goal 4: Actually Make Money from Affiliate Marketing

I’m deep into laying the groundwork. It’s going to take time to build everything up and get the ball rolling, but I feel happy with what I’m doing at the moment. And hey, $5! Even if it’s not actually in my bank account yet.

It is Possible!

I hope this has been helpful. I hope it’s convinced you that this career path isn’t a pipe dream. I’m not an expert. I started this right out of college with no “real world” experience, sweet samples, or any sort of clue. It takes time to build credibility in this niche, but with dedication, it can become very lucrative. That wasn’t my main goal in becoming a freelancer, but it’s definitely a huge bonus. I look forward to that day, but for now, I’m grateful for what I’ve already achieved.

If you’re interested in this niche, I hope I’ve given you some ideas on avenues to explore. If you aren’t looking to get into the manuscript business, but you’re starting out as a freelance writer or editor of any sort, I hope I’ve been able to assure you that freelancing isn’t a fairytale only achieved by people with tons of free time or years and years of experience in a lucrative field.

Please feel free to connect in the comments if you have any questions or if you have any awesome stories about how you’re making a living as a freelancer. Are you on track to meet your 2017 business goals? Are you working toward landing that first “big break” gig?Did you kick this month’s butt and make more than ever before? I’d love to hear about all of it. Thanks for reading!

7 thoughts on “How I Make Money Writing and Editing Books: Freelance Income Report February 2017

  1. Claire says:

    Really inspiring Hannah, well done on a good month. I’m struggling to know how to find initial jobs to get some experience at the moment. Once I’ve earned a little money I’d like to do an editing course. Almost there, just need a few more little jobs. Once I have a qualification behind me I’ll feel more confident I think.

    • IJustWanttoWrite says:

      CJ, thank you! So glad I could spread a little inspiration around. For the record, I definitely felt more confident after I finished a certification course. That course focused more on the publishing and book editing industry rather than actual tips on proofing and copy editing (which I already had experience with through internships), but that was an area where I felt I was lacking, and getting that certification title helped me feel more confident in my pitches. So, chase those small jobs with all you got and take the best course you can find if it will give you the confidence boost needed to up your rates and go after bigger projects. Keep me posted! I love hearing about your progress.

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