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

Mar. 2017Sheesh! This one is a long time coming. I’ve got to get better at posting these.

This year, I started posting income reports 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. You’ll see in the chart below that I didn’t do quite as well this month, but at least April is back on track. I’d really like to get back in the $2,000 range that I had last month and that I held steady for about six months last summer and fall.


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

March Gross Income: $927.86

Again, this is lower than I had hoped, but still better than the infamous December slump.

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

March Business Expenses: $209.30

This is higher than I would have liked for a lower earning month, but I spent it on worthwhile stuff, which I’ll talk about later.

March Net Income: $718.56

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 during tax season (to learn how my taxes went this year, read this week’s regular post: Filing Taxes as a Full-Time Freelancer). However, I’m not taking it out of the net income calculations because I still have that money, just not in my checking.

March felt about three month’s long. It wasn’t bad—I had a lot of fun for much of it—but it was super busy for not a lot of payout, as you can see from that chart. I got to go on vacation (woohoo!) and did some work on the beach. I also celebrated my 24th birthday this month. Just a lot going on. And the major job I was working on this month sadly didn’t pay out at all. It was a huge memoir editing job that I got thanks to my new Publisher’s Marketplace membership, and it kept me super busy. However, the down payment was paid at the very end of February, and the final payment wasn’t due until the middle of April (you can see the results of that payment in April’s bar on that chart). So, most of the legwork was done in March, but I didn’t see the payout at all this month. Thus is the nature of freelancing sometimes. It was an intensive job, and I didn’t have the time to take on a bunch of other work. Still, I feel good about the groundwork I laid this month. Thanks to Kelly James-Enger’s book (which you can read about here), I’m still pitching book packagers for ghostwriting work at my new rates. I also landed an independent contractor editing gig with an up-and-coming publishing company: Jalapeno Publishing. However, that job isn’t going to bring me work immediately, as the company is still getting established, and they won’t need to outsource editing until they get a larger pot of clients. Still, it’s a good connection, and I’m excited about it. I’m sure all this legwork will pay off; it’s just a matter of when.

But, I’m fortunate enough to have work right now, so let’s get into that.

Where Did It Come From?

Manuscript Editing: $270

A client I’ve worked with before got in touch in March, needing copy edits done on three of his latest short stories that he is submitting for publication. I, of course, was also editing that giant memoir, but didn’t get paid for it. So, my workload in this area was slightly higher than normal, but my income was much lower.

Ghostwriting: $485.36

Yet again, my product review ghostwriting gig only gave me one assignment in March. I don’t know the source of the slow down, but I’m not expecting any more from that client from now on. The nonfiction book I’ve been ghostwriting since June is about to wrap up, and it gave me a little work this month in the form of rewrites. I include provisions for free rewrites in my contracts. If I haven’t captured the client’s voice correctly or I didn’t add enough detail in one section, I revise those for free. You should always expect some revisions like this in ghostwriting. However, my client also wanted to add some brand new sections that were not included in his original outlines, and that is not covered in my contract provisions, so I was paid for those.

(Want to learn more about book ghostwriting? Read these posts: Ghostwriting 10110 Things You May Not Know About Ghostwriting, and How to Craft a Ghostwriting Bid.)

Other: $172.50

This is from the tutoring job I unexpectedly obtained at the beginning of 2017. 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, and I’m still really enjoying the work.

What Did I Spend Money On?

As I’ve said in my last few reports, I’m beginning to invest more in my business upfront, and as a result, my expenses have sort of leveled out in this $200 range instead of the under $100 range I stayed in for most of 2016. I spent it on coffee with my tutoring client, payment system fees, my Publisher’s Marketplace membership (only $25, and the job I got from it was nearly $2,000, so well worth it), and the renewal of my website hosting (this was the biggie).

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. Definitely didn’t get there this month, but I have high hopes. That goal is double my 2016 income, so just coming close will make me happy.

You know what I made last March while working part-time? $383. 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%). Right now about 70% comes from books, typically, so I’m on the right track, but I’ll need to land a new ghostwriting client or two at my new rates to fully make the switch.

Goal 3: Land Two New Ghostwriting Projects

This means full book projects. Working on it with my new Gotham Ghostwriters membership and those pitches to book packagers. I have a new hot lead thanks to Jorden Roper’s Facebook group, too. I’ve talked about Jorden a few times on this blog. She was one of the few bloggers who provided me with solid advice when I was first starting out, even though her niche didn’t match mine. She’s awesome! You can read her response to my “expert roundup” post about the scariest obstacles freelancers face here.

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, I’ve currently made $5! Woohoo!

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!

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

  1. Claire says:

    It’s so encouraging to hear about your month and what you’ve achieved. Your posts somehow seem more real than many I read, and you break it all down very well so I can understand how your work balances out. I always love to read your assurance that one can make a living from running a book-focused business, I hold on to that thought! I’ve had an unproductive month as the children have been off of school for a couple of weeks over the Easter break and I’ve been hopelessly lazy in the evenings. I’m really looking forward to getting back into it all on Tuesday though. Good luck for April. CJ xx

    • IJustWanttoWrite says:

      CJ, you always bring a smile to my face. As long as these keep bringing encouragement, I will keep posting them. And everybody goes through a lazy slump. I’m fighting one off right now. I’ve been lollygagging a little too much during the day and having to make it all up at night. Gotta get back on schedule. Hope your kids had fun on their break. Thanks for reading!

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