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

Apr. 2017

You might be wondering why I’ve jumped on the income report bandwagon recently. A question I’ve seen on a few online freelancer forums is, “Isn’t income supposed to be a private thing?” My question in return is, why? Why should we be afraid of talking about our personal finances? Maybe if more people talked freely about money, twenty-somethings wouldn’t find themselves in debt so quickly. They might also be more inclined to chase their dreams if they knew that somebody out there was already doing it. Most importantly, they wouldn’t jump into that dream career with unrealistic expectations. 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 thinking of entering it. I want you to know that it’s possible to feed and clothe yourself running your own book-focused business if you’re willing to work hard to get yourself started. I also want you to know that my monthly earnings are still on the low side of what is possible in this business.

This month, I got back on track toward my steady $2,000+ a month goal (something I enjoyed for 6 months last year, but lost after the holiday slump back in November), but I didn’t quite reach it. Still, I’m happy. On average, my husband makes $1,600 a month at his 40-hour job, and I came pretty darn close to that. If I can make a 9-to-5 worker’s income each month, I feel like I’m doing something right.

If you look at last month’s report, you’ll notice the chart below is different from the one I usually post. That’s because I finally got my FreshBooks accounting software updated to the latest version. Woo-hoo! However, they don’t have the old chart that shows each month’s income as it’s own bar. Now, they provide a chart that shows your income growing month to month. It’s nice for my personal use, but for the purposes of this blog, I miss the old chart. Still, I suppose it gets the job done.


(I’m going to update my post on FreshBooks, as promised, now that I have the latest version, but for now, you can read the old post here if you’re interested.)

One last thing before we start talking numbers. On April 24th of last year, I purchased my domain name for PurpleInkPen, officially making the switch from part-time to full-time. Here’s to many more years to come.

April Gross Income: $1,490

Scooting back on up there. I’ll break down where everything came from in just a moment.

April Business Expenses: $63

This is the lowest it’s been all year. I didn’t really have anything special going on or any new courses I wanted to sign up for, so that kept it down, which I’m not complaining about.

April Net Income: $1,427

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 my post on 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.

April was pretty much as busy as March when it came to my personal life. That’s probably not going to change until July. We’re smack in the middle of wedding and graduation season, plus there’s Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and my parents, husband, and my youngest sister all have birthdays in the space of like two months. Then, on top of that, I was pitching like mad to make up for time I lost in March. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have any work this month (May). 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. In April, I officially got myself onto two book packagers’ lists, so if they have a project that will fit my specialties, they will get in touch with me. Woo-hoo! (Sneak peek: I’ve gotten on more lists since the start of May). I’ve also been cold pitching authors for fiction editing, too. I’m sure all this legwork will pay off; it’s just a matter of when.

(Curious about book packagers? Read 5 Things You Need to Know about Pitching Book Packagers.)

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

Where Did It Come From?

Manuscript Editing: $915

This was the final payment on that large memoir that I started at the very end of February. It was the only editing job I had this month, but it was more than enough. So far in my career, editing usually supplies my largest income percentage. However, based on my pitching habits lately, that may change soon.

Ghostwriting: $455

This came from two places. I did one assignment for my semi-regular review writing client, and the rest came from the final adjustments on a book project I’ve been working on since June. The book is finally done, and the client is super happy with the result. He should be; it’s a book on addiction recovery, and I think it’s going to help a lot of people. He’s gotten the cover designed and had it formatted, and it looks awesome. He’ll have it printed and ready for distribution at a book fair at the end of May.

(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: $120

This is from my tutoring job. 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.

This is also where I will start putting affiliate income when I make some. *Hint hint* Be sure to check out this section in next month’s report.

What Did I Spend Money On?

This month, my expenses came from my Publisher’s Marketplace membership (still paying off so far) and the small fee FreshBooks takes on each paid invoice.

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. Still not quite there, but I have high hopes. That goal is double my 2016 income, so just coming close will make me happy. However, if I can land one good book ghostwriting gig at my new rates, thanks to my new pitching strategy, I will exceed this goal for sure.

You know what I made last April while switching from part-time to full-time? $844. Sometimes it’s good to look back.

Goal 2: Shift PurpleInkPen’s Focus to Manuscripts

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’m on some lists, so now it’s a waiting (and pitching) game.

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.

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 April 2017

  1. Lindy says:

    I love that you’re sharing this Hannah! It’s refreshing and honest and I’m sure for lots of people who want to do what you’re doing, incredibly inspiring. It’s wonderful that you’re coming so close to your income goals.

  2. Claire says:

    I do find your income posts really encouraging. It’s good to see what areas you’re working in and how things are going. You’re right that it’s helpful for people starting out to know the realities of the business end of things. I always need lots of reassurance that making an income in writing and editing is doable, and I always find it here, so thank you. Happy one year anniversary to PurpleInkPen, that’s a great achievement, you’ve come a long way in a short time. Are you cutting back on your editing work? I am still thinking about doing an editing course, but I’m wondering if it’s a lot less lucrative than writing. Yesterday I finished the ebook I was doing, hurray. Waiting nervously for edits now though! Well done again on one year of PurpleInkPen, I’m wishing you much success for the future too. CJ xx

    • IJustWanttoWrite says:

      Claire, thank you for the congratulations. And, well, I have cut back my pitching for editing work, but only because I’m focusing very hard on landing a ghostwriting gig at the new rates at the moment. I still really enjoy editing. But, yes, ghostwriting at professional rates is more lucrative than editing work. However, I have found that it is easier to find editing clients willing to pay professional rates than it is to find ghostwriting gigs that pay professional rates. So, in my opinion, an editing course would be worth it if you’re interested in that type of work. Always glad to hear that you’ve found encouragement in these posts. And congrats on finishing that first ebook!

Leave a Reply